Thursday, June 21, 2012


Robert Falcon Scott invites me to lunch.
I say no,
but he tosses his epaulets up at my window in the late hours...

they catch the moonlight.
they are like flying starfish.
Am I, then, his mermaid?

Robert Falcon Scott is not really my type.
He seems full of himself,
and I don't share most people's liking for English accents.

Over the weeks,
he wears me down.
I agree to meet him at La Patisserie just this once.

I take my parasol.
I have chosen a French place just to fool with him.
He is there ahead of me, waiting like a berg.

"If I had a girlfriend who prized me,
or even pretended to,
I would be with her right now, not you," I say to him.

He tells me I am adorable,
He orders for the both of us.
His crew stands around, pretending not to eavesdrop.

"If I loved somebody,"
I confide, lulled by the afternoon sunlight through the glass,
"I would find a way.
I would dance across burning deserts on bare feet
just to drop my petticoats inside her doorway."

His crew laughs.
I'm insulted.
Robert Falcon Scott just raises an eyebrow, annoyingly.
The British,
they are unbearable.

It has grown colder.
Our white tablecloth has gone frozen and brittle.
Falcon Scott weeps diamonds from his uninteresting English eyes,

but they are not diamonds--
they are ice, and blankness, and failure.

"There is always an Amundsen," he tells me.
"No matter the gear, the teams, the will,
Someone else always gets there first."

I sigh.
It's late, I wish I were at home. 
I might have email.

When Robert Falcon Scott leans to kiss me,
I am made ill from the strong smell of rot.
His hands,
his feet,
all black and ruined, are falling from his cuffs and sleeves
like cinders from an industrial chimney.

"You think you're special," he sneers, mockingly.
"The truth is, you are no better than I am, dying for an idea.
Where is this love of yours?
Is she as rare as a flame from the last match?
As beautiful
and captivating
as the last can of beans?"

I gather my things to go.
I know when I've been made a fool of.
Then he smiles,
with a great, awful cracking sound.

His crew have left.
The wait staff stare pointedly at the pretty little clock above our heads.
I sit back down.
Robert Falcon Scott is dead,
as he knew that I would,

I cover his eyes with a napkin,
my fingers trembling against the

for Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads


HermanTurnip said...

Had to read this a few times to soak it in. Was this a physical encounter, or more of a mental exercise? Regardless, conversations with the dead are always something to write about...

hedgewitch said...

It always amazes me how you're able to make me laugh out loud and then want to cry in the same poem, sometimes within seconds. The dead and their dead ideas, how they reflect us. The cold overtakes the ironic irritation of the narrator,(I might have e-mail) and the brittle white end is like a frozen artifact of the heart barely perceptible through layers of clear blue ice. Just an excellent excellent poem.

cloudia charters said...

what imagination creativity whimsy and precision!

Gosh you blow my mind, you really do

Aloha from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

> < } } (°>


Helen said...

This lass has moxie, she's nobody's mermaid .. knows exactly who she is ... I like her.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I especially love "I wish I were at home. I might have email." and "our white tablecloth has gone frozen and brittle." The Amundsen line is hilarious, and "The British, they are unbearable." Such a witty write.

Sioux said...

Hedgewitch nailed it. Most always your pieces are roller coasters--achingly sad, and then laugh-out-loud funny...

Sreeja said...

Your writing is awesome....simply fantastic.

Susan said...

"Then he smiles,
with a great, awful cracking sound."


I wonder what brought you to Robert Falcon Scott ? Was he a statue out the window? a picture on the menu? A relative? Frozen, literally, and despite the sarcastic swipes and the fine depth of the narrator, he lives here, slightly.

Mary said...

Well, I must admit I had to do a 'search' to find out who Robert Falcon Scott was! I enjoyed your write....even moreso, once I knew!

Kerry O'Connor said...

"No matter the gear, the teams, the will,
Someone else always gets there first."

These words fell clangingly upon my eyes - so true, when one lacks the go for the throat mentality that ensures one is always first.. but it's tiring to always be second. That sense of futility is so well explored in so many ways in this amazing meeting of polar opposites.

Helen said...

Intrigued ... I also did a little research on Robert Falcon Scott. Next I re-read your poem. Reading the back story made your poem even better - if that's possible.

Peggy said...

Such an interesting piece and interesting choice for this prompt! Bravo.

Hannah said...

Wow, Shay!! This is skillfully wrought. I had to look up your character, too, I appreciate it on a whole new level. Well done!

Archna Sharma said...

I had to look him up as well and read a little bit, and then I felt what was unbearable and cold. What a pleasure to read, especially when she had control and then lost it for a bit and regained as she covered his eyes. Your writing is like laughter.

Dulce said...

you'll never change... and i keeep loving it

uneven steven said...

just wanted to say enjoyed reading this, well written :-)

Anonymous said...

Quite wonderful - so clever, but also very poignant. A lot of fun. I'm afraid I took a much more boring tack! I wish I'd read this first! Oh well. Thanks much - really enjoyed this one. k.

Mystic_Mom said...

Shay so good. so very good. You are amazing!

Jinksy said...

Stone the crows! Better than the wicked witch of the North!

Mama Zen said...

This just blew me away. You do know that not everyone can do this, don't you?

Heaven said...

I had to look him up too ~ Nice weaving of the tale Shay, the conversation details are creatively done ~ Cheers ~

Lolamouse said...

I will admit to being ill educated in history. I read the poem through first, not knowing who he was and then again after finding out. Amazing. You can be sarcastic, funny, and heartbreaking in the turn of a phrase.

Susie Clevenger said...

How delightful...I laughed, I cried, I never cease to amaze.

Marian said...

well, you are adorable, cute, and crazy, aren't you? ;) very nice.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

First off, I thought "WTF is Robert Falcon Scott?" Then I thought, why him? Why this self-abnegating date? Why are you there at this hideous nightmare lunch date? Then I remembered, this is like the Christ taking on the sins of the world, but rather you are taking on the hellish dates of the world. I thank you on their behalf, but please stop being a martyr. Let them wade through their own bad dates. On the other hand, your write so exquisitely, so fancifully, I don't ever want you to end. I just want both: for you to keep whirling genius artistry out of your pen and to find the true love worthy of you. Much love always, your devoted reader and friend, Mosk

my heart's love songs said...

eeeewwwwwww! gross but REALLY good!

of course, you know you and i agree to disagree about English accents and Englishmen. {smile}

Isadora Gruye said...

my mind = completely blown. I love the concept. The narrator, and even love the pathos of the arctic explorer (or antarctic rather). This poem is jammed packed with lovely images for my brain to devour, but I loved most the crew standing around the table--reminded somehow like of a Wes Anderson film. --meant to be a compliment as I very much like his sense of whimsy and despair.

Even more though the line of "there'll always be an Amundson..." totally and completely brill. Viva la