Color Sprawl


You can fit everything but the kitchen sink

in a touch tank.

Vermetidae, Malacostraca, Fissurellidae,

two-pronged snails questioning the world between swirls of brittle star-ways

blue-shoed hermits shaking each other like maracas under cover of kelp

velvet-swathed limpets pooping straight true volcanoes from the zenith and butthole

and amidst it all,

soft and curious hands

of all shapes, sizes, textures, colors, and previous touching resumes

discovering so I discover:

a baby orange bat star the size of a dime with purple eyelinings of its inner galaxy,

a shore-crab tryst twisting at the threshold of a spun-moonlight seashell,

a gaggle of scorpionfish like tiny darting plaid moths between cratered rocks.

An error in the language.

When the people go away, I am left with the critics

behind the jingle-bureau and past the moment’s exit, past the door still

as colorful as a strewn touch tank against my brain:

red crab, white shirt, lily-eyed boy, endings, blonde

tyrant, whale’s rib sighing dead under noon;

cardboard sign: “Native American Anything Helps”

gutter-crunched fuschia straw, 19-year-old-chihuahua, 19-armed evening sun

such a cacophony of creatures, such a clutter of shapes and colors, and the only

thing that makes them all the same is

I am inadequate

and hated by each.


Image credits in order of appearance:

“Mactan Cebu, Philippines.” By TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) – originally posted to Flickr as Crab in a sea anemone, CC BY 2.0,

Cryptocentrus cinctus and Alpheus bellulus.” By User: Haplochromis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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