One night, we don’t know how, he slips the bands

that bind his claws and sets to work.  If fast or slow,

it doesn’t matter—whether, in a rage

of thrashing action or, methodical

(the slow precision of a diver bent

on patient reclamation from the sea),

he stalks and disassembles each bound mate

he’s harbored with, and snaps off limbs and pries

between the overlapping plates their shells

can offer only for their weak defense.

He rips them up, thrusts toothed appendages

into the soft connective flesh, and feeds.

 

All through the night his work transpires until,

in morning’s white fluorescent light, he lies

revealed: an armored, glutted emperor,

a sated cannibal astir within

his muddied lair, his realm acloud with limbs

adrift and picked and gnawed to fringe along

the edges of their shells, and tissue ripped

to pennant threads and litter at his feet.

 

Consider how we care for him: the creature we’d

have eaten without thought, though he contrived

to feast before us, had he not consumed

the meat we’d meant to satiate ourselves.

And now, the empty tank near tenantless,

do we declare the victim we’d have made

our own a criminal among the just, or call

him reprehensible in spite of us?

 

by Gregory Loselle

Gregory Loselle has won four Hopwood Awards at The University of Michigan, where he earned an MFA. He has won The Academy of American Poets Prize, the William van Wert Fiction Award from Hidden River Arts, and The Ruby Lloyd Apsey Award for Playwriting. He was the winner of the 2009 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, The Robert Frost Award of The Robert Frost Foundation, and the Rita Dove Prize for poetry (where he won both First Prize and an Honorable Mention) at Salem College. He has won multiple awards in the Poetry Society of Michigan’s Annual Awards Competition. His first chapbook, Phantom Limb, was published in 2008, and another, Our Parents Dancing, in 2010, both from Pudding House Press. Two more, The Whole of Him Collected, and About the House, were published by Finishing Line Press in 2012 and 2013 respectively. His short fiction has been featured in the Wordstock and Robert Olen Butler Competition anthologies, as well as in The Saturday Evening Post, and The Metro Times of Detroit, and his poetry has appeared in The Ledge, Oberon, The Comstock Review, Rattle, The Georgetown Review, River Styx, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Pinch, Alehouse, Poetry Nook, Sow’s Ear, and online in The Ambassador Poetry Project, among others.

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