Two Poems by Matthew James Friday

The Mole Crab

Bandon beach. An elderly woman
caged in a pink coat pokes exposed
soft shells and mechanical innards.

She calls out to ask what it all is.
We stand around hypothesizing:
prehistoric crab? Armored shrimp?

Feathery hems confuses us all.
She asks us to find out, tell her.
Her husband rolls his eyes.

The internet says: mole crab.
They live in the frothy surf,
flying little filament flags to catch

the drifting winds of plankton.
We see the woman on the way back.
Despite deafness, we inform her.

A few waves of gratitude and she
wanders off with husband to bury
herself back into our unknowing.

Route 22 Memorial

On Route 22 to Bend we pass Mill City and
the blasted heaths of last summer’s fires,
so bad they closed Portland, millions muffled.

The road passes through blackened brigades
of Santiam Forest trees and piles of the fallen,
heaped up in snow stained charnel clearances.

In vacated lots the rubble of homes linger,
indiscriminately chosen by the concentration,
a few ironic fireplaces and chimneys still standing.

Skeletal cars lay scattered like shells. Trailers
have multiplied. Blink and you might think tourists.
A few pristine houses escaped the fist of the fire.

The burnt skin of the hills with charcoaled trees
like my grandfather whose hair fell out during
World War Two’s shock and North African heat.

The Santiam river slips past guiltily. We climb
towards the Willamette National Forest, soothing
rain becoming concerning snow. At Detroit Lake,

we find a European battlefield, blackened stumps
memorialising the mud. The dead cleared to create
a buffer zone. On one side of Detroit, a motel sign

hangs by the stony scar of itself. On the other side
the grocery store is still surviving. More rubble piles,
more sudden trailer living and lonely fireplaces.

Leaving we smell woodsmoke and see smoldering
signals that in the earth not all is forgotten, people
trying to live and not worry about next summer.

Matthew James Friday is a British-born writer and teacher. He has been published in numerous international journals, including, recently: Dawntreader (UK), The Dillydoun Review (USA), VerbalArt (India), and Lunch Ticket  (USA). The micro-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, The Residents, Waters of Oregon, and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA).  Matthew is a 2021 Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Learn more about him at

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