KR OnlinePoetry

Medusae (II)

Along the lip
of its body’s bell

a fringe of calcium crystals

orients the jellyfish
to gravity. Held

             in pockets,

the crystals graze nearby hairs

whose motion
neurons translate into up

             or down.

In this, a jellyfish
steadies into its sea the way

             a human ear

rights its body upon ground.

Having bred sixty-thousand jellyfish
in orbit around the Earth, in bags

             of artificial sea,

NASA discovered in those medusae
later released into our oceans

             erratic pulses:

             their down was

                                       up, their


In those cases when stones
in the labyrinth of a human ear

             fail in their charge,

the vertigo it scripts into
the neurons’ plastic map

             says no,

one is not right with the ground.

R. M. Haines was educated at Kenyon College and the University of California–Irvine. He has received a Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship for his work and is currently a doctoral fellow at the University of North Texas. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Salamander, Spoon River Poetry Review, Faultline, and