Mr. Crab

This is the first poem I wrote when I started taking poetry more seriously, as a way of exploration. It’s eleven years old now, yet it speaks to me more as time goes by. I look at it now, and wonder how I knew to write that when I feel I’m still learning the deeper truths within it. I think it goes that way with a lot of poets. There is this tapping into a well of wisdom that may not be there in everyday life or conscious realization?so the poem guides the spiritual development that is to come (or should come)!

that’s MISTER Crab, to you!

I am not my skin
I am not my name
any answer you expect when you ask

“who are you?”

only removes you from the truth:


now rock?
not a rock,

but rock.

the stuffs of the stones by your steps
are the matters of which I am made.
carbon frames and fathers my every cell.

I am one with the coal of the mines
and the diamonds of crowns.

cousin to comets
and brother to pebbles.
child of both Adam and atoms.

and neuronfire
shooting synapses
an electric soul from scalp to toe
a Kirlian orchestra
of magical microsparks.

now hearthlight and heartfire
warmth and passion
a burning faggot
?and wildfire, deathfire in the night.

a worldful of magma underneath
untapped flamefluid

(dare I journey to the center of my earth
and voyage farther than even Verne ever ventured?)

and what creature?
is that ill-hewn rock alive? endowed with fire?
am I crab or hedgehog or maybe anemone?
do I pinch or prick or sting?

jagged and hard outside,
ugly as a brain and frightened as a heart
but alive and alert,
always aware of all around
scurrying sideways…
crazy cancrizan crawls
ever-wandering anywhere, everywhere
but forward.

eyestalks swivel wildly
scanning a panorama of dangerous possibilities
and inviting curiosities.

you mustn’t forget the pincers?pincerquillstings?
pincers waving:
don’t hurt
watch out

(i’ll hurt you back
. . . if i can)

above all
above all

carelessly crush me underfoot

I’m praise and slur,
kiss and curse?
a Havdalah in skin.

I’m godling and devil
angel and imp
lover and loner
healer and harmer
friend and fiend
joy and jab
jade and joke
jewel and junk
jester and jouster
Jesus and Judas

(crabby fire
fiery rock
rocky creature)

rose and thorn.

—jon zuck | kent, ohio | 1994


People usually associate doldrums with summer. My personal doldrums usually don’t happen in summer, but in autumn or winter. The loss of sunshine and warm weather tends to affect me deeply. The last week or so, I haven’t meditated at all, and it’s wearing on me.

Any sailing ship can experience virtual doldrums just by taking the sails down, and for someone on the mystical path, that’s what it’s like when you stop taking the time to center yourself in This.

I’m feeling a certain inner resistance to getting back “on the wagon.” Why is it that part of myself wants to be miserable? I think it’s largely that resistance to change. There’s a lot I need to change, particularly in matters of food, sleep, exercise and personal discipline, things that I’ve struggled with now for … decades. I’m getting blood results back tomorrow. I may well find out I’m “pre-diabetic” or worse.

My teacher points out that the test of spiritual transformation is how it works out in the world of everyday life. Anyone who knows me knows that in spite of my high ideals and longing to awaken, I’m sleepwalking most of time. Sometimes, though, I just happen to be aware of it.

So I know what’s going on. My ego wants to hang on to the discontent rather than move on, change, and relish every moment as the sacred present. Doldrums. Yuck.