Thursday, October 11, 2012


In order to photograph the natural world,
one must love that world.

In order to capture the essence of a wild thing,
one must allow it beneath one's skin and never flinch.

Only an amateur,
only a poseur, a human monkey with thumbs,
disrespects his subject.
Let such cardboard-souled dabblers eat scorn and vomit shame.

I have been waiting for hours,
flexing my fingers to restore blood flow,
stamping my feet as quietly as I can,
training my telescopic lens on a mountain side,
hoping to capture an image of the rare and beautiful snow leopard.

Today, she has left her injured mate behind,
and she hunts alone, looking for the nimble mountain sheep.
I am nearly as electrified as the leopard when she spots one,
downwind and oblivious.

I should have left the gin alone last night.
I am finding it hard to maintain concentration,
a recurring fault my ex-wife would be happy to tell you about.
I blink hard and refocus...
Yes, there she is, nearly upon her kill!

Too late to double check my settings,
no time to choose a better angle;
I can almost feel her empty belly in my own body,
and I know how badly she needs this meal.

I put my fingers slowly to my mouth,
and let out a shrill, sharp whistle that echoes off the rocks.
The mountain sheep jerks his head up, then bolts,
and the snow leopard misses him by a body length,
or at most, two.

She turns in a quick circle,
beside herself with furious frustration.
I take several dozen shots at high speed--
Yes! I can demand twice, even three times the going rate
for the best ones.
The cover of a glossy monthly will not be out of the question!

The snow leopard disappears among the rocks high up,
and I put away my gear.
The injured leopard may die tonight. The huntress will not eat.
That's a shame, but I can't keep the grin off my face as I stow the last of my equipment.

This could make my reputation,
and pay for a lot of Tanqueray
and eager whores.

for Kerry's challenge at Real Toads: the unreliable narrator.



TexWisGirl said...

oh, this just wrenched my stomach. paparazzi at its worse.

HermanTurnip said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Far Beyond The Ridge said...

It seems to me, as tho there are two people here.
One describing how it should be done, then one doing it all wrong.
Stamps, loses concentration, can't reset, hungover, and then slaps the natural order of things.
And not much love in his motive.
Yet he wins.
A curious contradiction.
Makes me think....

Far Beyond The Ridge said...

Can i trade my comment for herman's?

Anonymous said...

I love it. He sounds so trustworthy in the beginning, but by the time we read "This could make my reputation," it is clear he is only after personal gain and cares nothing for the subject.

Perhaps this also tells a story of humans in which a woman has left her husband and is after some young "guy nobody" just because she is so starved for attention and affection, and this "hunter of art and lover of beauty" comes after her ... but only for the trophy, not actually for her. Then she is left starving while he boasts of his conquest.

"but I can't keep the grin off my face as I stow the last of my equipment" ... Ha. Yeah, "equipment." :)

I love the irony in your title. The piece begins as if he's describing nature and the animal kingdom as being magnificent. But by the end, we find out he only thinks he is magnificent.

This may all be taking place in a bar or club. "I take several dozen shots at high speed" Although that is some seriously excessive drinking. ;)

I posted a new word list. Interested?

Sioux said...

Personally, I'd prefer gigilos (spelling?) and Bolthouse...

The beginning brought back stories of Dian Fossey along with Jane Goodall. They became part of the landscape, the primate community, and brought back so much.

hedgewitch said...

I was hoping that when the leopardess missed her first prey, she'd turn around and find a half-drunk idiot that couldn't run very fast...mmmm, protein, *and* an after dinner high--that's how it ends in my world, baby.
But yours actually fulfilled the prompt--I don't think you could trust one word that came out of this guy's mouth(except for maybe whores and Tanguerey.)

Anonymous said...

"Let such cardboard-souled dabblers eat scorn and vomit shame."

i think this guy(?) should be drowned in Tanqueray.... naw, that'd be a waste of good gin.

Anonymous said...

Naturazzi. Fucking up everything just to get the picture (or not, as it seems). There is so much hubris in this character, which is perfect for the prompt... great work, Shay! Peace, Amy

Shadow said...

oh, come on, couldn't you make the snow leopard come back and get this guy for dinner instead?!?!?!

Jinksy said...

Excellent take on the prompt - well done!

Hannah said...

Heart breaking...yes, how many times I wonder...some of the most amazing shots are at the expense of nature. Selling out respect of the wild for a paycheck. Shay, you worked always! :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

Oof! This was horrible to read, but so insightful of those people who believe it is their right to exploit the lives of others to further their own purposes. The scenario you present works as a literal and figurative portrayal of such human predators, and you have held nothing back.

Daryl said...

is it wrong to hope that the beast circled around and ate the asshat?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I felt this in my stomach, as I read. You painted this portrait to perfection. I wanted the leopard to find him, too, but your version is, sadly, all too realistic. Argh.

Helen said...

This one called for a little revenge, I see I'm not alone in my thoughts ..

Cloudia said...

you well warn us that we will hate the personage you then show so well.

Have a Good Weekend,
Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

Lynn said...

You made me see the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Why have you not written me a new poem? I'm going into withdrawal. I need my Shay fix.

I wrote a hilarious Barbie poem that might make you laugh. Were you a Barbie girl?

Mama Zen said...

Exactly what Hedge said!

Lolamouse said...

Felt like I was right there with this one! What an asshat!