David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Smooth Mussel Beached

October 21, 2017

Many years ago for Father's Day I attempted to capture my perceptions about my father's leadership abilities through the poem "Smooth Muscle," which referenced his specific pharmacological research interests in context of a leadership style I admired.

Smooth Muscle

The trick to being a good leader

Is being a damn good reader

Of situations and your players

And bending the nay-sayers.

Of encouraging the meek

And getting the mute to speak

Perhaps a little louder

Than your perpetual doubter.

Listening to those who must talk,

Sensing when the timid might balk,

Being ready with the praise,

Getting in some people's ways.

Shaking the table with a hand slam,

Getting attention with a well-placed damn,

Giving dignity to the entire staff

And breaking the tension with a well-placed laugh.

Such an approach trembles under force

And leads everyone off course.

Forget about the power and the hustle,

Fall back on the beauty of smooth muscle.

However, I am now beginning to wonder if I was a tad naive back then, either about how he led or about leadership in general.  It leads me to

Smooth Mussel Beached

What's that washed up on the shore,

Gasping for breath, sucking at air?

Textbook bivalve from the ocean floor,

A filter feeder truly rare.

It tried the gentle ways to survive

Probably to great success,

But just when it started to thrive,

It grew weak and depressed.

Evolution rewards the stout,

The species with no Achilles heel.

Your soft underbelly of doubt

Makes you the food chain's bottom meal.

We grew legs to crawl out of the sea

And to adapt to a life on land.

We may no longer be what we thought we'd be,

This weaker version of man.

Pity the smooth mussel beached,

No longer safe in its shell.

Every predator easily within reach,

Every heartbeat a funerary knell.