(Written on the Queensland Beach)
Poisonous, bloated, crab-like shapes
Crawl in gangs around these capes—
Stopping here and feeding there;
Listening, crawling everywhere;
Searching every rotten weed
With a frothing wild-eyed greed;
Fighting o’er a lump of scurf,
Or a red boil of the earth;
Thrusting up their writhing claws
To their grinning, fiend-like maws.
And these horrid creatures wet
With a thick unwholesome sweat
Have most hideous banquets here
On the poor drowned marineer.
Down they hurry eagerly,
Chittering all the way with glee;
They have smelt the tainted air
From that body festering there.
How they twitch their claws and pry
Into each distorted eye;
How they spit on him with spite
As their nippers pinch and bite;
How they strip him clean and bare,
Leaving not a morsel there,
Till they’re gorged and all squat near
Fleshless remnants with a leer.
When the billows near them roll,
Each will scoop himself a hole
In the mudbank and therein
Sleep like an embodied sin.
In the world so crass and blind
Human crabs feed on their kind—
All that fall into their power;
Skulking near their dismal holes,
They sniff out poor wretched souls
Thrown by life’s unpitying sea
On the beach of misery.
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