Poem by Fred Voss

As he has every night for 4 months Frank is reading MOBY DICK

(a novel he has read 5 times)

to Jane before they go to sleep.

Having reached chapter 72 he reads details of how a whale is stabbed and speared

again and again at close range by laughing pipe-smoking sailors until the whale

spouts blood

and rolls over and the sailors carve up its blubber and cut off

its head

and gather whale vomit.

Frank smiles and says, “Melville’s detailing of the tools and skills of whaling

is just like what I do with the machine shop

in my poems,”

as Jane sighs and bites her fingernails.


“Frank, please stop,” Jane says. “I can’t take anymore. I can’t even swim.

We’ve got to get off the Pequod. I want romance.

I want you to read to me from MY BOOK now.”

Frank winces

and reaches for Jane’s pretty little book ELIZABEH AND PHILIP

in which he has reached chapter 2 and reads

of their royal wedding on November 20, 1947

wedding presents

rings and jewelers

wedding gown with rose-and-corn-ear-patterned lace pink carnation floral decorations

chauffeurs and royal coaches and The King’s Valet

and what the Huntley and Palmers wedding cake was made of and how much it weighed

are detailed and analyzed to Jane’s smiling anglophile delight.

Frank and Jane look at the photographs of Elizabeth and Philip standing at the

Westminster Abbey altar waving out the windows of the Cinderella carriage

smiling from the Palace balcony.

“Oh wasn’t Elizabeth beautiful! Royal weddings are so romantic!” Jane gushes

as Frank writhes and slaps shut the pretty little book

unable to take any more and eager for tomorrow night

when he can get back to the fun and pleasure of reading MOBY DICK

with tattooed-all-over shrunken-head-carrying cannibal Queequeg

and a giant Albino whale

who methodically saws off Captain Ahab’s leg and drowns sailors with a slap of its tail

and finally rams and sinks the Pequod itself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

leaving Ishmael afloat on Queequeg’s coffin

like an orphan ready to be rescued

by the ship Rachel looking for its lost sailors.

Now what royal wedding,

dear readers,

could be more romantic

than all that?