(On a 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 remnant with a leer.
When the billows near them roll
Each will scope himself a hole
In the mud-banks, and therein
Sleep like an embodied sin.
In the world so crass and blind
Human crabs feed on their kind:
Glutted creatures that devour
All that fall within their power;
Skulking each near his own hole,
They smell out each human soul
Tossed up on Life's stony shore,
Weary, friendless, weak and poor.
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