Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Outlandish (05/19/11)
TITLE: The Hermit Crab's New Shell
By Beth LaBuff
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--with a nod to "The Emperor..."—
By cutting out her plankton snacks
An urban legend states,
A hermit crab, by dieting
Had scaled down her weight.
Her toned-up exoskeleton
With dwindled fatty cells,
Of a slimmer shell.
The shop she chose to patronize
Was Decapod Boutique.
She'd clams to barter for a shell
To show off her physique.
Inside the shop, all eyes on her,
That gave them pause from work.
At once she was converged upon
By two aggressive clerks.
They sized her up from cheliped
To abdomen to claw,
Then grabbed some shells suspended from
The hangers on the wall.
The first shell for perusal was
A modest a-line shell,
Her thoughts—Improper dry-cleaning
Had left a briny smell!
The next shell was a bit risqué,
Très scant –décolleté.
When "scandalous" escaped her mouth,
They whisked the shell away.
The third shell's prior owner had
A heart with "MOM" tattoo
Emblazoned 'cross the backside that
Could not be hid from view.
The next one, a bit worse for wear—
For wrinkles lined the shell,
Apparently 'twas slumbered in
By former clientele.
'Twas then that one clerk winked an eye
As she began to tell
The attributes and glories of
"The shell to end all shells."
"A shell that was exquisite,
'Twas of antiquated fame.
A shell that sensed its wearer's mood
And warranted acclaim."
But there was one disclaimer,
"Though an ancient work of art,
The only crabs that see this shell
Are crabs with cheerful hearts."
They sashayed as they hauled it in,
'Twas plastic-wrap encased.
With pageantry and circumstance,
The crabs were stoic-faced.
Then hanging ties, unknotted by
The sales clerk entourage,
But was this just a shell game
Or an optical mirage?
She squinted thrice then scrunched her eyes
And dread began to swell,
Was not her crab heart cheerful?
For she couldn't see the shell!
Then they commenced to help her—
They pulled and tugged and shoved on her
To wedge her in the shell.
Not sure if it was fitted straight,
She tried to shift the shell,
Not only could it not be seen—
It couldn't be felt, as well!
She could not let them ascertain
Her crabby heart lacked cheer,
Though obviously the reason—
That much was pretty clear.
She paid the price in clamshells
Then departed the boutique.
But breezes filtered through the shell,
'Twas felt by her physique!
She scanned the eyes of passersby,
In shock, they turned away.
And mothers shielded children's eyes
They quickly went their way.
She thought, They harbor malice!
No cheer, their heart's possess!
It's clear my shell can not be seen.
It left her in distress.
Oh, somewhere hearts were cheerful,
Though here, they were appalled!
'Twas vocalized by one young crab,
"She wears no shell at all!"
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