Saturday, March 26, 2011


If she were a seaside whore,

She would be the best who ever worked the coast.

Men would dock their toothpick fishing boats between her splayed fingers, set gently into the bay to receive them.

Unknown to their wives,

She would close her hand and lift them up,

Their minds melting from the altitude,

Like hanged men.

Now her fingers become a sieve, and the marks leave their pearls and gold coins before being flung,


To the tides or the tranquil sand.

If she were a seaside whore,

She would never work Sundays.

These would be spent with her tiger-striped cat and her blind flunkee Jim,

One in her arms and

The other wearing white linen and dark glasses, floating by like a puffy cloud, serving tea.

On the third sabbath of each month,

It would rain,

The black umbrellas pouring from the church steps like raisins from a scoop.

Monday comes soon enough,

So she arranges her perfumes in rows like kept birds lined on a perch,

And says to the sea air outside her window,

"I, too, am a fisher of men;

I, too, offer solace and comforting nonsense."

Flunkee Jim lowers his glasses when she says these things and laughs,

Deep, like fermented well water.

His blank eyes are white--

They are moons,

Refracting like confetti

Across the surface of the easy waves.


photograph: Penelope Cruz

One Shoot Sunday


ellen abbott said...

oh the bitch, um, I mean beach.

hedgewitch said...

This one goes beyond even your normal ability to astound me. The picture you paint is perverse, yet natural and fluid, and somehow made right by that. Everything seems to fit and be a real place and time, despite that impossibility inferred in "if she were..." And the imagery is extraordinary, perfect "..The black umbrellas pouring from the church steps like raisins from a scoop..." of course, I especially like "..."I, too, am a fisher of men;/I, too, offer solace and comforting nonsense..."

..and the eyes like moons closing the circle. Exceptionally fine piece, Shay, worth many readings.

Helen said...

As usual (for me) I can never find the appropriate words to tell you how I enjoy your writing. You are among the most prolicic and talented souls out there. How are you inspired? How long does it take to create something like this? Do you think about poetry while you are working? Or riding your bike? Is poetry always in your brain?

Helen said...

Where is spellcheck when you need it ... prolific.

Kim Nelson said...

The poem legitimizes this woman in a most wonderful manner, She shines.

Jacqueline Howett said...

You draw me right in from the shocking first line, that I could smell, taste and feel every captivating word. I especially liked, 'I, too, am a fisher of men.'


Fireblossom said...

First, thank you ladies, all of you, for these especially wonderful comments! I appreciate them tremendously.

I thought I would answer Helen's questions here in the comments, because perhaps others will be interested in the answers, as well.

Helen asks, "How are you inspired?" Almost anything I see, hear, or experience can inspire me. This morning, it was being introduced to Lorca's poetry by my very dear friend Hedgewitch. I had heard the name, but not read anything he had written. I was blown away. It made me want to write something wonderful, myself.

Helen asks, "How long does it take you to create something like this?" This poem took about an hour.

Helen asks if I think about poetry at work, on my bike, or all the time? I don't think about it all the time, but I may be thinking of it at any time. I think about it a lot. And yes, I think of poems at work, or traveling, or drifting off to sleep, or listening to music, or just really any time at all. A single word or image may lead to a poem. I generally begin with one line and build from there. With this one, it was the opening line, but it isn't always, or even usually.

I hope these answers were helpful or at least entertaining!


Brian Miller said... the description of your comments as well on where you find inspiration...i am much the same...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I mean, even a tossed-off-lightly line like "she arranges her perfumes in rows like kept birds lined on a perch" --- if I wrote a line like that once in a MONTH I would be delirious - you scatter these richly through every poem with an original vision that is just remarkable. Thanks for your interesting comment on your process. But you have more than a process. You are a genius, I do humbly believe. The whole docking between splayed fingers thing........and "their minds melting from the altitude like hanged men". I have no clue how words like that come to you so easily. I am just so very glad that they do and I get to read them.

Raven said...

I was gonna ask how the hell you come up with such awesome stuff, but you already answered that so after I write this I'm going to read it.

I absolutely ADORED this one. The first line is genius and it just gets better from there. You go girl! You're rockin'!

Lisa said...

I'm with the rest of this lot. You're brill, totally enjoy every single thing your crafty mind comes up with. Also, was very interested in your response to The Questions!

Nice work!


Anonymous said...

Weird. We looked at the picture and then sung the other halves of its tale. This is jazzy and jocose, the mermaid imagined as a seaside whore whose intentions are indifferent to her gig of drowning men's souls in their own lust. Just a job ... to part the curtains and see this gal on her day off, about her own business, her own life, shows that much of the tales are the clutter of men's minds. And that it's possible to exult in blue rooms beyond. I'm dizzy - and entranced. - Brendan

Aquarius63 said...

Sublime, such imagery, I love the way you transport words into such vivid pictures.


me_duress said...

You really are a storyteller - its just such an added advantage that you can make it flow in a rhythm so :)

Andy said...

I agree with the others. Great write on the prompt. Very imaginative.

Anonymous said...

stunning! striking! amazing! what words can i use to describe the magic of your poetry? i love it! {i wish i could have written it.} ♥ dani

Sioux said...

Shay---I don't know why you think that some of your work is more mired in muck than this one. Perhaps this is one of which you're particularly proud?

What I see--every day--is a poet at work who has to have (I must believe this or I will dig at my veins and let myself bleed out, rather than attempt to write when compared with the "spirit of the day") multiple personalities. Your voice is so distinct, yet so different.

Are you planning on a collection of your poetry to be published? If no, why not? There are small, independent publishers, and your flying monkeys/spirits could help hawk them. (And I ain't talkin' 'bout a vanity press, neither!)

The images in this poem are, as usual, mind-boggling. Toothpick fishing umbrellas, like raisins from a scoop...eyes refracting like confetti...

Spirit--are you assuaged now?

Jinksy said...

The black umbrellas pouring from the church steps like raisins from a scoop

Magical moment!

Anonymous said...

Funny! It made me laugh, thanks!

jen revved said...

superb, my dear. xxxj

Trulyfool said...


This is outstanding. Kinda where human behavior melds with the metaphor, where extended scene isn't 'mere extension', where one sliver of social behavior becomes representative of . . . social behavior.

Very, very good.


(P.S. Nothing like Penelope Cruz works the seaside, the streets, the phones or even -- I do this out of belief, not firm knowledge -- the escort ranks of Charlie Sheen's little black book.)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's quite a mind trip for a whore who lives and works by the sea ;) Like the layers and hints that you add to this as you build the momentum towards the last stanza Shay. You're work is deserving of more than one read because of your metaphors.

flaubert said...

Shay, you have woven a magical tale here, the imagery is beautiful. Oh yeah, I love Penelope:)


Anonymous said...

A poem with character, and an engaging one at that, masterfully playing with metaphor and imagery. Descriptive and hard-hitting, an exceptional piece that certainly hits what I would call poetic elegance. Strong, very strong - keep up the good work.

Lynn said...

That was pretty cool hearing how you are inspired.

Steve Isaak said...

Wonderful, stunning versifying.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Everything about this is so damn magical that I just want to scream myself green with envy.

Helena said...

Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I appreciate your interest. I love to play with pictures and words...

♥ ஆεlεɳa ~.^

Mama Zen said...

I love comforting nonsense.

The image of the perfume bottles lined up like birds on a perch is so striking to me. This is just gorgeous all the way through.

Irish Gumbo said...

If she were...but in my mind, I don't think she is.

But, a fisher of men? Oh, my, that grabbed me by the short and curlies, my dear!

So many layers, so much beauty.