One Poem by Tanya Bomsta

When to Tell Your Son How Lobsters Are Prepared

Not at age eight. He’ll start crying
right there on the butcher’s floor
as the lobsters crawl all over
themselves to get a better look.
Bright black beads staring
from their tanked watery world,
claws tied and bug-eyed from the
onslaught of hungry flat faces.
He’ll want to know why this fate.

You’ve already said too much—
maybe telling how cooks can hear
the clang of desperate claws on
scorching pots, the eternal half-
minute it takes the creature to scream
and die—maybe that pushed him
over the edge. Now he’ll want to be
an activist. He’ll ask for a boost,
to pull the lobsters out, free them
one by one to tap their escape across
the tiled floor. You’ll have to say
No, and he’ll want to know Why.

You could give a hundred reasons.
Capitalism, you might say, ethics,
the food chain, such buttery flavor,
humans are smarter anyway,
it’s not our business, let’s pretend
we didn’t see anything. Ignorance
is bliss or is it a flame or is any time
the right time or is this a rhetorical
question? Don’t answer that. Or do.
Careful, though: the water is hot
and so, so deep.


Tanya Bomsta’s work has been published in The Gettysburg Review, The Florida Review, The Iowa Review, december, and has been listed among the Notable Essays of the Best American Essays. She has also published scholarship and reviews in Assay and Pleiades. Her writing has won several awards, including a Florida Review’s Editor Award, an offered Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Award, and a Sustainable Arts Foundation finalist award. (

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