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Bob Bradshaw

King Crab

Isolated from others
he taps out code on the tank
with his sharp legs.
Only the high price
on his head has kept him
alive. His legs
are thorned like the stalks
of roses. Up till now
like any man on the run
he has tried
to blend

This time of year
shouldn't he be migrating
into Alaska's shallower waters,
obsessed with the girls,
another vulnerable male?
Instead he rises
onto his angled legs
as if to look beyond
the tasting table,
where a pot

Anxiously he rises
and moves about his tank,
a prisoner without counsel.
For now he is the major display
in this market. But
public execution could find him
at any moment, another
king facing a butcher's
blade. His reign,
the sea's floor,
reduced to a plate
of strewn

Saving Lives in Chinatown

We were on a field trip to Chinatown.
A fish the length of a man's arm
lay on a pile of ice. Its mouth
open, ogling our class.
Long purplish arms of squid
dangled like wilted flowers.
Everyone rushed
from display to display
fingering clams, holding up
blue crabs,
until an old woman
ran toward us shouting
in Cantonese. Then
I saw them. Everywhere
frogs had appeared
at our feet. They were staring
at the traffic, watching
the light turn green. It was as if a firecracker
had been flung at us,
confusion everywhere. A few children
were stooping to pick the frogs up, but the woman
shouted louder, as if we
were thieves, our heist
sure to bring her to the brink
of poverty. Then I saw
the overturned
tank. Frogs were in the crosswalk.
I told my class, "Let's go."
The old woman was too busy
corralling her runaways
to trail us. We turned
a corner and stopped.
Who, I asked, overturned
the frog tank? But no one
confessed. All the way home
I kept silent, watching
Kenny's coat pocket

©2009 by Bob Bradshaw

Bob Bradshaw is a programmer living in Redwood City, California. He is a big fan of the Rolling Stones. Recent work of his can be found at Eclectica, Mississippi Review, Pedestal Magazine, River Poets Journal, and American Poets Abroad.

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