Crab Canon

Painting of a shirtless black man facing backwards on a teal and yellow background

by Luke Manning


Crab Canon

Michael Waterson


I was born in the month of the crab, 

so I know how life goes sideways. 


In the myth, on a mission for Hera, 

Karkinos, a crab, attacks her stepson Herakles.


Devotion to the goddess gets the crustacean 

crushed under the strongman’s heel. 


To honor his courage, Hera transmogrifies her crusty pet 

to a cluster of stars scuttling across the sky.


Astrology tells me this connect-the-dots cartoon 

colors my nature. Tracing the silhouette 


of my spirit, I can’t deny my heart 

is often in retreat, that I suffer crab mentality. 


A telescope reveals a horoscope’s shell game.

Born from the womb of suns, 


nebulous neuronets are coded 

to configure familiar features, a trait 


that led Hippocrates to tag a tumor cancer

the crabby queen’s jealousy metastasized. 


Some horoscopes dub my birth sign Moonchild,

rather than name the decapod’s dread genus.


I was born in the month of the crab, 

whose milky stars still nurse imagination.




Michael Waterson is a retired journalist originally from Pittsburgh PA. His career includes stints as a wildland firefighter, San Francisco taxi driver and wine educator. He earned a BA from San Francisco State and an MFA from Mills College. His poems have appeared in numerous online and print journals, including California Quarterly, Cathexis Northwest and The Bookends Review. His collection, Cosmology of Heaven and Hell, was recently published by The Poetry Box:


Luke Manning is a Digital Illustrator and Fine Artist from Baltimore City, Maryland. His art tells an intimate story on relation with one’s own body and sensuality. His work also details an exploration on interpersonal relationships and themes on sexuality and identity.