Among the lemon crescents and crushed ice,
A dozen Duxbury oysters, still alive –
I pry them from their shells, dollop twice
With cocktail sauce and swallow. After five
I’m almost full, salt stinging my lips, till
A sip of water brings my hunger back:
Armed with a tiny fork, I make the kill,
Spilling brine like blood. They taste metallic,
Like oceanic coins harvested in steel
Cages alongside their mussel and clam
Cousins. What, if anything, do they feel
When cracked open by a sous chef’s hands,
Arranged by size on a plate left to right,
Sliding down my throat without a fight?

Katie Vagnino is a poet, educator, and writer originally from St. Louis. She earned her M.F.A. from Emerson College and has taught creative writing at UW-Eau Claire and the Loft Literary Center, Katie has written everything from essays and criticism to opera librettos and exhibition catalogs. Her poems have appeared in more than a dozen literary journals and been featured on public transit. Her debut poetry collection, Imitation Crab, was published by Finishing Line Press in February of this year. For more by and about Katie, visit her author page at


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