top of page
Image by Gabriel Cattaruzzi

A "quiver" of cobras, a "cauldron" of bats, the collective

noun for a group of crabs, generally, is a "consortium."

But what do we call a population of ghost crabs, the ones

that so recently thronged the alluvial-quartz beaches

of the Emerald Coast between Pensacola and Panama City,

watching you with their stalked eyes, numerous

as termites on a mound, zooming down their holes

if you got too close? We could adopt a term:

let's call them a "haunting."

Hungry sailors ate all the sea cows. Egg collectors ended

the great auk; sport hunting, the passenger pigeon.

But it was vacationing children with flashlights and toy nets

that depopulated Ocypode quadrata on the overbuilt shores

of the Redneck Riviera. Extinct? No, just less common.

So how might we describe the casual demise of a species?

Perhaps we could adapt a quote from Hemingway about

the dynamics of a bankruptcy: "Gradually, then suddenly."


R. A. Allen has published in the New York Quarterly, B O D Y, The Penn Review, RHINO, The Los Angeles Review, Pennine Platform, Nixes Mate, and elsewhere. His poems have been nominated for a Best of the Net and two Pushcarts. He lives in Memphis, a city of light and sound.

Less Common
R. A. Allen

bottom of page