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It takes muscle to pull a weighted rope up
from the black depths of 300 feet,
open the trap door, shake the cage like popcorn
pink pink pink             scritch-scrabble-scritch
bodies heaving against each other      flailing
as they’re heaped into the blue pail
try to climb out
assailing me with their eyes—wild antennae
searching for the right station

how deadly this breath
of fresh air
so I cover them
with a rag wetted in the ocean

(does this end or prolong suffering?)

Browning        stilling            still     time
to twist and pull them apart    silently
thanking each body dropped into the bowl
head tossed overboard for the crabs

what I do to put food on our table

and they?—did entire families come for a stinky feast,
the concert once in you can’t leave?—not thinking
my elevator goes all the way to the top, what a trap!

Oh my pretty sidestripes and tigers, you are pawns, prey
that I pray for as I have been preyed on and prayed for,
loved in ways least expected, at the mercy of
the slippery praise of someone’s tongue.

Lynne Burnett lives on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada. She loves to boat with her husband and eat from the sea. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies in the US and Canada. A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, she won the 2016 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize and 2019 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook “Irresistible” in 2018. Visit her at

© 2022, Lynne Burnett

3 comments on “Prawns, by Lynne Burnett

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