“Attack of the Crab Monsters” a poem by Lawrence Raab

So this poem came from somewhere. Seven stanzas of six lines each. Appeared in the Collector of Cold Weather in 1976, but I found it paging through the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, which I remember as a big block of paper with a blue cover which I dragged around with me after turning fourteen or so. I opened it and turned the thin crisp pages looking mostly for poems that started with the word “I.”  

Of course I stopped on “Attack of the Crab Monsters” - it had action and science fiction in it. The title reached out to the Saturday afternoon monster movies I watched often feeling there was more to them than I understood, that I was supposed to know who these scientists and beasts were and the history that connected them.

The poem referenced idiom and language with an assurance and humor; it had an urgent but rueful voice, of a scientist and misunderstood lover. It seemed to give me something of that, a logic to why people would watch stories seemed confused and violent, that they chronicled a buried part of human history that wasn’t otherwise evident - a place of anger and longing and badly transformed feelings I would come to know well later in my life.

Later I was a little obsessed with Raab, with his second collection, The Collector of Cold Weather, which I discovered at Oberlin during the very cold early winter of 1989; I photocopied almost the entire thing and tried to give it to my brother as a Christmas present; I don’t think he found much of interest there.

It’s not the greatest poem - he’s written better. The opening lines are a little hard to grasp; I’ve tried reading it aloud but never gotten great effect. But it does its job and at fifteen I loved it - after the first stanza gains momentum and leaps ahead, the enjambments giving it a kind of breathless staggered rhythm (“I’ve lost/My voice.”) into the voice’s culmination. It’s smart and playful and wistful. It turns something like nothing, like trash into something that walks and feels, and when you feel you yourself are trash you appreciate the trick. I wrote in imitation of Raab; I still do.