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Brendan Walsh

god. 26

fiddler crabs fall from mangroves

into pocked mud. a wild metronome. 

click-quiet-click, click-quiet-click,


their bodies bounce and recover.

there’s no word for reverence 

that feels adequate. this isn’t sunrise


or a flock of ten thousand cranes,

yet the ground makes music of 

clumsiness. crab colonies climb,


drop, dig, pick algae from roots,

their faces all abubble with progress

that deadens only a second, until,


mud scooped from their periscope eyes,

they set off towards another tree.

i’ve been given so much in this life.

sand crabs

my brother caught the first sand crab

by accident; its small gray lobster-shaped shell 


half-burrowed a few feet from the tide.

we didn’t notice as we mined wet sand


for yet another structure, hopeless summer

architecture destined for ruin. the sand crab


was so simple, so devoid of malice. 

you can’t even eat em’, an onlooker spat


as the crab dug the pink depth of my palm.

this was something to hold. 


let’s get more, i said. we have to get more.


we excavated a six-by-six beach plot,

all the bright buckets and plastic shovels


we could fill and sift for sand crabs. 

we caught more, dug deeper and further.


we displaced smaller kids and towels

left by absent families. more, i rasped.


buckets heaped with neat layers of crabs

and sand. i stuck my hand into the earth,


clutched a gently writhing mess of legs.

by dusk, we’d rimmed four buckets,


all the crabs we’d never need, and i insisted

on bringing them back to the tiny rented house


down the street. we lined the catch

on the front porch: neat rows of life.


i hung there arms-crossed, shirtless, watched

bubbles pitter from the crest of each bucket. 


what’ll you do with them now? an older cousin 

asked. and i stood blank for hours, maybe years.

Brendan Walsh has lived and taught in South Korea, Laos, and South Florida. His work has appeared in Portland ReviewMaine Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and other journals. He is the author of six collections of poetry, including concussion fragment, winner of the 2022 Florida Book Award Gold Medal. He is co-host of the Fat Guy, Jacked Guy podcast with Stef Rubino. He’s online at

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