The History of Upward Mobility

Part I.

Evolution of the Landwalkers

                  From the first moment that anything moved

                  Methods of motion have ever improved

                  Self-preservation may be the objective

                  But “getting somewhere” is the Prime Directive

Millions of years before joggers evolved

The problems of motion had still to be solved

By the very first creatures to travel intentionally

Mobility started one day in the water

When a minuscule, sea-going, single cell’s daughter

Decided to fight_ with all of her might

To get from point A to point B

Most protozoa were loath but to move

By flowing wherever the waves would behoove

And scoffed at the thought of attempting to stray from the herd

So while they went off in their haphazard fashion

Aimlessly driftin’, splashin’ and crashin’

She squirmed and she struggled with all of her passion

Till something amazing occurred

Her nucleus shuddered and split with a spasm

And then there were two in her cytoplasm

Which quickly expanded, preparing to further divide

But before separation was thoroughly done

She noticed that two “selves” were stronger than one

And agreed there and then_ with her “Siamese” twin

To keep struggling side by side

She continued to multiply as she divided

Till hundreds of millions of cells were united

And as they progressed in the purpose to which they had sworn

They then formed a few synergistic conjunctions

With various cells of assorted compunctions

Who signed on providing their own distinct functions

Rather than sit there and scorn

And the first social system was born

Like kinds of cells gathered into divisions

The group at one end handled all the decisions

The rest began work on the vast architectural plans

Messenger cells formed a chain of corpuscle

That prompted the proteins to hustle and bustle

Producing a primordial system of muscle

That flexed when the head sent commands

A stomach-like organ came into ascension

As soon as necessity caused it’s invention

Energy needed a rapider means of renewal

An army of enzymes got into the act

And built her a crude sort of digestive tract

A simple esophagus hooked to a sac

That turned carbohydrates to fuel

The total assemblage consisted of flocks

Of regenerate-able building blocks

Pulling together like so many soldiers at drill

With each loyal member performing it’s role

The cells lived and died on behalf of the whole

Faithful to reaching their ultimate goal

To move through the water at will

A vessel that moved of it’s own accord

Required a shape that was wont to go for’ard

And had to transcend the amorphous design of a germ

At last they came up with a flexible frame

That went the direction in which she took aim

And she, with her proud maiden voyage, became

The aqua-dynamic___   worm

She propelled her gelatinous mass through the ocean

Achieving the power of self-locomotion

By wriggling this-way-and-that in pursuit of her lot

Her lot were those insouciant erstwhile mates

Who’d heedlessly chaffed at controlling their fates

And now found themselves turned to carbohydrates

Deep in her fuel burning pot

Whether they liked it or not

                  Prior to food, even shelter and clothing

                  Without locomotion, survival is nothing

                  Having motility sends a clear message

                  Method-of-movement is one’s rite-of-passage

 

This daring new prototype proved so efficient

That every component was nearly omniscient

Able to “ape” the entire design on it’s own

If part of her tail-end broke off into space

Another one merely grew back in it’s place

The end that came loose_ ended up the caboose

For the front-end’s identical clone

As she continued to metabolize

Her single-celled cousins began to get wise

Taught by a series of hair-raising, narrow escapes

They too started forming their own “Socialisms”

They turned complex cellular organisms

And found an assortment of ways to convey

Geometrically practical shapes

One took the form of a five-fingered star

And traipsed off in search of caviar

With tiny tube feet on the tips of each leathery ray

Others evolved into flaccidy jellies

They moved through the water like pumping “umbrellies”

With tentacles dangling from under their bellies

That paralyzed unwary prey

Reacting to such predatory invasions

Many developed defensive persuasions

Ranging from passive-resistance to counter-attacks

Some produced chitinous calcium cells

And covered their vulnerable vitals with shells

They crawled on their bellies and lived very well

Transporting their homes on their backs

Some sought protection through camouflage

Disguising their defenseless fuselage

With colors and patterns that blended right into the rocks

Others, with greater sensational sense

Found an aggressiver means of defense

With sharp, bristly scales_ or barbed pointed nails

Protruding right out of their hocks

That conducted electrical shocks

In millions of years there were all shapes and sizes

Each with their own unique gimmicks and guises

Marching and flouncing, cavorting and bouncing about

The simple physiques that they had to discover

To ferry themselves from one place to another

Provided the basic designs from which

Variations continued to sprout

Some felt the problems of motion were solved

And though they continued, no longer evolved

Not adding even so much as a tooth or a limb

Meanwhile, our leader’s descendants were growing

A “rudder” for steering and “paddles” for rowing

Destined to be_ the first in the sea

To actually learn how to___   swim

In millions of years her corporeal form

Went so far beyond the original norm

That self-replication depended on farming a brood

A partner of opposite gender was needed

One fertilized while the other one seeded

And after a duration_ of group incubation

Miniature copies ensued

The copies continued evolving, unhurried

Long after their ancestors’ bodies lay buried

Pressed between gathering layers of sand, stone, and lime

Each morphological link in the chain

Endeavored to master it’s salty domain

Ever improving the shape it attained

One modest step at a time

Their segmented spines were the culmination

Of hundreds of eons of cultivation

And gave them the means to proceed with the greatest of ease

Their streamlined physiques, so sassy and smart

Their methods of movement, state of the art

Were works of devotion_ to pure locomotion

Advanced to it’s furthest degrees

Deep in Devonian seas

                  Long before history started to dawn

                  Upward Mobility had to catch on

                  Needing a lengthy head-start to develop

                  Once it got going, broke into a gallop

After epochs, give or take a millennium

The process was still in a state of momentum

But now the most daring wayfarer of all was at hand

For there on the edge of a fresh water lake

An heiress apparently started to take

Her very first steps from out of the depths

And try moving on to dry land

Her brothers and sisters were not interested

In having their tender extremities tested

And so they continued exactly as they had been spawned

But she, never satisfied swimming in schools

Managed to break an assortment of rules

By poking around in the shallows and pools

That led to a whole world beyond

Now, walking one’s fins was an odd way to travel

The going was rough on the shore bed of gravel

Muscle and tissue were pushed to the utmost extreme

These efforts at first had no outward results

Aside from sore fins and a number of welts

But by being so bold_ a critical toe-hold

Was gained in her far-reaching scheme

The exercise caused her pituitary organ

To alter her chromosome’s programming jargon

Affecting the genes in the next generation of eggs

The DNA molecules then rearranged

The offspring adopted the pattern and changed

Eventually trading their flippers for lobes

And lobes for a real set of legs

This painfully slow but complete transformation

Included a new mode of oxygenation

For venturing out of the water, each day a bit more

Exchanging their gills and their sea-going status

For actual air-breathing apparatus

A branch of the species was finally reached

Completely at home on the shore

And so they went off to explore

At first they were still the most primitive crawlers

Limbs splayed out sideways, no better than sprawlers

Scraping their bellies and dragging their bulks thru the swamp

A few individual creatures believed

The ultimate walking gear had been achieved

And chose to remain_ in the marshy terrain

Content with the clumsiest stomp

While this group wallowed in Cambrian mud

Their cousins with hotter, competitive blood

Were urging the species away from the mire and peat

With each generation the stance was enhanced

The pelvis adjusted, the shoulders advanced

Until situated_ to points elevated

Straight over their scaly-skinned feet

A host of new environmental conditions

Brought further enhancements with future editions

That slowly refined along various structural themes

Every advance in their methods of movement

Added things where there was need for improvement

Unused appendages shrank out of sight

While useful ones grew to extremes

The planet played host to an agro-agora

Of fauna in search of digestible flora

Mountains and seas were now teeming with organic life

As more and more members replaced their deceased

Our single-celled daughter’s descendants increased

Like branches and stems on the trunk of a tree

Mutations were steady and rife

Building on matters of food predilection

And some anatomical means of protection

Each generation brought larger designs than the last

Though something within their molecular chains

Restricted the size of their Jurassic brains

They carried them off in gargantuan frames

That have never yet been surpassed

For sheer disproportionate mass

                  Movers and shakers, what all of them do

                  Is carry themselves from square one to square two

                  And capitalize on the progress they’ve made

                  By constantly looking for ways to upgrade

Web-footed genotypes paddled up creeks

And scooped leafy greens with shovel-nosed beaks

That – used in defense an opponent would want to avoid

Bone-headed bipeds grew tubular shoots

That swept back in long hollow arcs from their snoots

They courted each other with amorous toots

And bellowed out threats when annoyed

One super genus preferred to make feasts

Of smaller or helpless herbivorous beasts

And as a result of the habits to which they were prone

Their forelimbs retarded from utter disuse

Their teeth became tools for inflicting abuse

Their jaws could expand_ on a moment’s demand

For swallowing muscle and bone

Some were content eating grass on the ground

But others insisted on pulling things down

Extending their reach to the fruit at the tops of the trees

Their neck bones grew ‘roof ward’, their tail bones grew ‘floor ward’

Keeping their front ends from toppling forward

Until they were standing sufficiently nor’ ward

To grasp the high branches with ease

While stretching themselves to incredible lengths

Others developed great weapons and strengths

Bone-plated armor of various styles was contrived

With horns on their faces and spikes on their flanks

They marched through the forests like four-legged tanks

Fiercely defending their place in the ranks

From those that would eat them alive

In millions of years there were so many models

Each with their own distinct shuffles and waddles

The Earth was a showcase of colorful gadgets and gear

And somewhere amidst all this clatter and clamor

Of amphibian fashion and reptilian glamour

A creature of radically different manner

Slowly began to appear

And quietly brought up the rear

It’s costume severely diverged from those

Who had to spend half of their time in repose

Absorbing the warmth of the sunlight before they could stir

This timid newcomer had hit on a way

To quickly traverse to point B from point A

With equal efficiency, nighttime or day

In a soft coat of something called___   fur

Deep in the bushes and shadows beneath

It barely evolved by the skin of it’s teeth

While titans around it were plundering untold domains

It ‘doggedly’ clung to the end of the age

When Natural History turned a new page

The sovereign saurians walked off the stage

Relinquishing reptilian reigns

As undersea volcanic action occurred

Continents shifted, ecologies stirred

Habitats shrank and their tenants were jostled about

With narrowing climatic temperature ranges

Behemoths no longer could weather the changes

And mammals, though small_ inherited all

As the cold-blooded giants went out

Many a petrified part became locked

In stratified, timetable layers of rock

That show where the old ages end and the new ones unfold

All the way back in the telltale progressions

Their skeletal structures and footprint impressions

Attest to the fact complex systems evolved

From the simpler versions of old

The dinosaur fossils beneath the Earth’s surface

Suggest they had finished fulfilling their purpose

Whatever phenomena led to their rapid decline

For traits to live on, it’s expressly inherent

There have to be offspring to mimic the parent

But the mightiest landwalkers ever to roam

Stopped reproducing their kind

Sometimes Nature changes her mind

Part II

Rise Of The Bipedals

                  Something all creatures unconsciously know

                  Is how to instinctively get up and go

                  Upward mobility is nothing other

                  Than working to keep going further and further

This fossilized history of locomotion

Is what has inspired the scientists’ notion

That Man can be traced to a creature now found in the zoo

We ended up having the foot and the hand

Because we descend from the Cro-Magnon man

Who’s tree-climbing, primate, precursors began

From an ambitious, poly-pawed Shrew

Protected by layers of heartwarming fat

It carried it’s own built-in thermostat

A custom unknown to a distant and earlier ilk

It’s young were not laid, incubated, or hatched

But emerged from the parent live and attached

And drank from the mother’s mammary sac

A peculiar new substance called___   milk

And one prehistoric fine day in the thicket

One raised his front paws on the trunk of a cycad

While stretching his back, perhaps, in the afternoon heat

And just for a moment, before he was settled

He let go the tree trunk, becoming bipedaled

Which helped to inspire_ the sudden desire

To balance on only two feet

And from the new angle he now had his eyes on

He noticed a brightly expanded horizon

And started to see the advantage now at his command

If he could remain for a moment this way

With practice, his progeny’d do it all day

And some instinct told him_ if two legs could hold him

He’d give his descendants a hand

Because of this type of atypical action

Mobility started to gain greater traction

And led to the monkeys’ more semi-bipedal designs

With only their hind limbs supporting their booties

It freed up their fores for auxiliary duties

Like scratching their armpits and picking their cooties

And swinging themselves through the vines

While maintaining uprighted spines

 

(Aside)

Now some say it’s downright preposterous

To hold that the primates fore-fathered us

Worse yet to think we’re related to Rodents by blood

But Naturalistic Historians feel

The shrew has a more realistic appeal

Than a mythical Man who suddenly sprang

Complete from a handful of mud

The venerable ancients that offered his story

Were not big on science, but loved allegory

When trying to guess the Creator’s original acts

Millenniums later, the tale is still told

Accepted by biblical fans, young and old

But under the light_ of latter-day sight

It doesn’t stand up to the facts

One problem confronting this time-honored fable

Is that it denies the first person a navel

Thus he could not have been “human” as we understand

So even if he came before us, in theory

And fathered the whole human race, it is clear he

Wasn’t like us, so he wasn’t the first

If ever there was such a man

If ever there was such a man, who was second?

And how did that person get here, do you reckon?

The answer, if any, should be scientifically sound

Assuming, of course, that the strict limitations

Ma Nature imposes on all her creations

Have not undergone any great alterations

Since Adam was walking around

He may have been first to encounter Jehovah

But males can do nothing but fertilize ova

So where was the casting in which the next copy was poured?

If ever there could be a very first human

It’s ten times more likely that “he” was a___   Womb-man

One of those creatures_ with all the right features

For not only praising the Lord

But bringing new members aboard

                  Think what our ancestors had to endeavor

                  Leaving the safety of square-one forever

                  Shaking a tail-feather’s only a start

                  Moving is basic, walking’s an art

For one to be human in every last detail

You have to come forth from the womb of a female

Made for begetting and being begotten, we’re told

Just why would a rational, practical Lord

Design and create the umbilical cord

Judge it and choose it, then not go to use it

On the first people out of the mold?

But whether or not the first persons on earth

Were subjected to a conventional birth

There probably never was any such woman or guy

Where Nature in all other cases took time

And went to great lengths to perfect each design

It’s hard to believe that her crowning achievement

Was done in the “wink” of an eye

The body of evidence clearly convinces us

To trace himself back to his ultimate genesis

Man must look further than ancient, religious folklore

The very idea that his undertaking

Was hundreds of millions of years in the making

Does not give it less_ miraculous-ness

It gives it, if anything, more

For wasn’t the shrew just another extension

Of an earlier hybrid, too lowly to mention

Who stood as a bridge between species, one old and one new?

And couldn’t that archetype’s family claim

Some royal amphibian blood in it’s veins

Whose ultimate parent was simply a cell

That merely divided in two?

Then doesn’t the cell boil down to a matter

Of smaller parts swimming around in some batter

Conducting themselves like commuters arranged on a bus?

Perhaps when we sift through molecular chains

Of fossilized cells of the earliest strains

We’re finding our own great ancestral remains

And seeing what used to be us

Just after evolving from dust

 

(End aside)

The tiniest cellular, organic features

Determine the whole outward structure of creatures

And go into action before the cell ever divides

The chromosomes practice a self-replication

That not only renders exact duplication

It also allows for the chance variation

That Nature routinely provides

The genes have an ingenious way of preserving

Not only the traits that are currently serving

But those left abandoned at each evolutional bend

And there in the cell’s library facility

Is safely recorded in faithful fidelity

It’s entire history of upward mobility

In code, from beginning to end

The more the successful revisions completed

The greater the number of genes that are needed

To carry the complex instructions on RNA strand

The more a repeated behavior’s involved

The likelier each organism evolved

Increasing ambition_ with every edition

To go just as far as it can

Whatever conversions an entity’s apt to

There must be external demands to adapt to

So as the young tree-dwelling primates were learning to climb

Their hind-pedals turned into “pedestal stands”

Their fore-pedals turned into what we call___   hands

The clever prehensile_ grasping utensils

That move several ways at a time

As life in the canopies grew more complex

Their heads became more at the tops of their necks

Their eyes moved around to the front of their simian brows

This gave them binocular, stereo-vision

Essential when swinging with any precision

To get where you’re going without a collision

And learning to hunt and carouse

High up in the branches and boughs

                  Start with a method of self-animation

                  Finding the power to change your location

                  Practice improving, become a crusader

                  Next thing you know you’re a peregrinator

Five million years ago, A. Afarensis

Dared to come down from his treetop defenses

And challenge his simian kin to a steeple- “leg” -chase

While some of them finished the race as gorillas

He sprinted across into Homo habilis

He won by a streak_ “hands down”, so to speak

And split off to start his own race

The methods of movement endowed him at birth

Were wholly unique among creatures of earth

In detail above and beyond any previous shape

He crawled under bushes on hands and knees

He leapt over boulders, he shimmied up trees

What others did solely, he copied with ease

He was, after all – sort of – Ape

He even could swim (well enough to get by)

The only thing that he could not do was fly

He wasn’t the fastest afoot, but he soon understood

That as his physique was becoming refined

His consciousness grew and expanded his mind

Which gave him the vision_ to plan his decision

Better than other brains could

He had no organic accoutrements

That he could employ in his own defense

Which nature had given to most other locomo-pods

But talons and tusks were no match for a man

Who had an opposable thumb in each hand

And changed all the rules_ by fashioning tools

That helped him to even the odds

For here was the only bipedal to date

Who stood so straight up in his natural state

His vertical posture was even maintained when he ran

His hips became wider as he became straighter

His face became smaller, and sooner or later

His offspring connect us_ to Homo erectus

The next nearest thing to a man

In the on-going Hominid plan

Homo erectus is known in particular

For keeping his body the most perpendicular

Because of his stature he had to take care not to trip

But there was one subsequent gimmick he knew

For getting himself from square one to square two

That no other creatures on Earth ever do

Homo erectus could___   skip

If he was the Hominid’s acrobat

Sapiens was the aristocrat

Combining a bigger brain still with a gracefuller stride

He soon revolutionized methods of motion

By stumbling upon the redoubtable notion

Of exploiting some other landwalker’s motion

He wanted to go for a___   ride

He fastened some wheels to a box and of course

He harnessed a yoke to the neck of a horse

And sat at his ease while the beast took him off to his goal

For thousands of years now our kind has been smitten

With making a fancier box to sit in

And finding new sources_ still measured in horses

Of power to make the wheels roll

Since science began we’ve been trying to master

The secrets of getting the wheels to go faster

And sometimes it looks like we still have a mountain to climb

For Man is the sort of an ambulator

To care if he gets somewhere sooner or later

But in spite of his surrey_ he still has to hurry

And still doesn’t get there on time

Before we pass judgment upon the futility

Of Man’s contribution to upward mobility

We have to examine just what makes his motion unique

Aside from his outward contraption behoovements

His pure biological methods of movements

Have undergone several modern improvements

That help to evolve the physique

As humans perfect the technique

                  Manners of getting one place to another

                  Seem to go spiral-advancing forever

                  Once you start making your cells rearrange

                  There is no limit to how you can change

Today we exhibit so many expressions

Of how to achieve the best forward progressions

History must wait to determine the long-term effects

Why, just in one lifetime we’ve seen several kinds

Of species attempt to diverge from the lines

And challenge the norms_ of acceptable forms

For getting one place to the next

Before there was cable, aerobics, or malls

The Beatniks appeared to come out of the walls

And taught that conventional motion was stiff and contrived

They walked with their duffs kind of aimed at the ground

As if they were always about to sit down

They passed into glory_ A Posteriori

Soon after the Hippies arrived

The Hippies believed the correct way to move

Was accomplished by one getting “into the groove”

But weren’t so concerned with the “how” as the “where it was at”

They traveled to all sorts of end destinations

Without ever leaving their starting locations

They smoked marijuana_ then went to Nirvana

And some of them never came back

The marriage of T.V. and pasta alfredo

Produced the notorious Couch Potato

Whose chief motive power consists of but shifting the rear

And then there’s the species of Sunbather man

Who, covered with lotion, lies dead in the sand

You’ll witness more action_ in plant reproduction

Than you will in this kind in a year

A branch that now only inhabits the ocean

Surfers must stay in perpetual motion

Making an odd kind of progress they call “hanging ten

They stand on a board and they aim for the shore

They glide over waves like you walk on the floor

No sooner they land, they go right back for more

Like all their amphibian kin

They love to come barreling in

The Hippies today still survive in the rurals

A few live in cities and paint highway murals

But mostly their era was done with the death of folk rock

One offshoot with great economical gumption

Known to us now as “Conspicuous consumption”

Evolved into Yuppies_ whose offspring are Puppies

Who know how to drive, but can’t walk

Because of the habits which give them distinction

It looks like this group is soon doomed to extinction

For what they do poses no physical challenge at all

They sit at computers all day in their cubicles

Then take to the streets in their four-wheel drive vehicles

Designed to go straight up the sides of mount Fuji

But they won’t use the stairs at the mall

Another sub-species that is not endearing

Practice the method of “simply appearing”

Moochers show up at your doorstep just as you lie down

They have no discernable motivation

For getting themselves to a different location

Beyond the request_ that you go get dressed

And go out and drive them around

The offshoots keep sprouting as fast as they die

Like Punkers, and Rappers, and Goths, Oh My!

But mostly our branch of the species is healthy and strong

Our physical progress is borne on the feats

Of Acrobats, Dancers, and Super-Athletes

Who put on displays_ of the fanciest ways

To simply keep moving along

Remember the next time you’re feeling the drearies

You’re one of the steps in an on-going series

Of Nature’s replies to the problems she’s trying to solve

Of all the landwalkers since time out of mind

You’re one of the best she has ever designed

So jump, skip, or hop_ but bop till you drop

Not only will fat cells dissolve

You’re helping the species evolve

                  Things only happen when something stirs

                  Till there is movement, nothing occurs

                  Sure as an atom or animal lives

                  Nothing can move until something gives

As well as explaining the rise of bipedals

The History of Upward Mobility settles

The age-old conundrum: Was chicken or egg first dispatched?

Before the egg shell ever started to thicken

It came from a species that wasn’t quite chicken

A new trait awoke_ it passed to the yolk

And Gallus domesticus hatched

But don’t be mistaken in thinking that Man

Descended from any Orangutan

You might as well say we’re a branch of the Rhinoceros

The rustic precursor of simian brutes

Was merely the trunk from which several shoots

Grew out and diverged along separate routes

Of which one, at least, led to us

It’s not only substance we share with the beasts

But that which inhabits the plasm, that yeast

That primary force, that intangible essence, that mind

That spirit elusive that thickens the plot

In the mightiest Whale and the smallest Zygote

That’s there when alive and in death, is not

Whose origin can’t be divined

For whether Amoeba or H. Sapiens

What doesn’t show up in the microscope lens

Is what motorizes the pieces transporting themselves

Something directs them to do what they ought

When action begins, it begins with a thought

Do cells have a mind? Well I don’t see why not!

They aren’t animated by Elves

Because life itself is so hard to define

And all explanations exist in the mind

Not even Science can pin-point the who, what, or when

When all of the fossils are found and displayed

It still won’t explain how the pieces were made

We see there is both_ Creation and Growth

With no clear beginning or end

In all living things, not just Men

And if we can all be traced back to the cell

Perhaps then our souls have evolved just as well

Advancing in consciousness as we’ve expanded our scope

My guess is, the father of our modern fleet

Was someone you really would rather not meet

He might even think you were something to eat

I’ll bet you he didn’t use soap

One thing hasn’t changed since the dawn of creation

The foremost instinct is still self-preservation

Without which the tiniest molecule never would grow

Although this provides us the strong inclination

To better our powers of changing location

It also involves enough imagination

To see just how far we can go

As long as the problems of motion need solving

(Assuming the planet continues revolving)

If Humans don’t keep on evolving, I want to know why

For Man is the only one out of the whole

To not only ponder his ultimate goal

But sometimes it feels like this passionate soul

Could just about sprout wings and fly

Millions of years from now “Homo superior”

Will think our anatomy vastly inferior

By then they’ll have wings – but will probably still put on airs

Our primitive forms will be in the museum

And people will flock and pay money to see ’em

And there’ll be some sects_ that refuse to accept

Our forms are precedent to theirs

Unless we can look back and give proper credit

We’ll never know where our mobility’s headed

Maybe to fly, we first have to break through the shell

We see what we dig and we dig what we see

When tracing the roots of the great family tree

And find that they all, eventually

Connect to that brave Mademoiselle

Our great – grand – root mother, the Cell

idea Mid 1980s, from material left over from Dinosaur – The Song