Captain Scott’s Birthday Dinner

The table’s centrepiece is a Union Jack,
pegged by a silver cruet at either end.
Proper cutlery, two soda siphons, five enamel jugs,
fifteen men and only one elbow on the table.

The one who may be Captain Oates
is holding bread between his fingers,
luminous attention turned towards
the man on his right. He’s caught in the lens

before his voice can follow the line of his gaze;
the other man un-charmed as yet, aims
straight nose and neat moustache calmly
at his deep-bowled plate of stew and peas.

I want it to be him, gleaming white shirt
peeking out above the oiled wool
whose smell you’d know in the dark
if you loved him, but the labelling

isn’t clear; another man is right behind him,
slightly older, dour, dark of cardigan,
with shorter, flatter hair. He could be
the one who walks into the snow.

Scott sits far away, at the head of the table,
St George’s pennants strung behind him;
there’s something odd about his eyes,
a whiteness that looks painted-on.


Nell Farrell


Love Song to a Meteor

I love the way you disguise yourself as precious;
you are jet-bronze,
but sensible offspring of asteroid,
progeny of iron and rock.
and just as we'd know what foods
were in your cupboards
from crumbs on your kitchen floor
so these flecks
tell us which planet
jettisoned you into the undefinable,
because the space we call space
is just that. I love the fact
you make rough-
hewn a must-have look,
how you've cut your own corners,
have the capacity for mass-destruction
yet twinkle benignly behind glass.
But most of all I love your appreciation
of the irony of your own name,
nothing 'meteoric' at all about you,
as now we'd have it,
you are not on the rise, are no shooting-star,
you're fixed, stuck, well-labelled.
And can be felt all over
at certain hours of the day
by sticky exploratory hands.


Pam Thompson

Nell Farrell and Pam Thompson are two of the poets reading as part of Poetry Business events.

Nell Farrell was born in Eastwood, Notts, so shares her birthplace with D.H. Lawrence. She lives in Sheffield, where she works in social work education and as a creative writing tutor. Her pamphlet 'A Drink With Camus After The Match' was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2011 and she won Second Prize in this year’s Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition. She is currently working on a sequence of poems about urban mermaids.

Pam Thompson
is a lecturer and poet and lives in Leicester. She is one of the organisers of Word!, a spoken word open-mic night which takes place at The Y Theatre in Leicester. Her latest collection is 'The Japan Quiz', 2010, Redbeck Press. Other publications are 'Hologram', 2010, Sunk Island Press; 'Show Date and Time', 2006, Smith-Doorstop; 'Parting the Ghosts of Salt', 2000, Redbeck Press and 'Spin', 1999, Waldean Press.