Wednesday, October 13, 2010



I met Zelda Fitzgerald
at the supermarket the other day.
She was on the produce aisle
squeezing fruits and vegetables.
She poked her thumb into a tomato
and started to cry.
I accidentally backed into her
and knocked the tomato from her hands.
Surrounded by xylophone corn
and swelled-head eggplant,
I apologized.
She was wearing a black dress with white pearls.
She was wearing a black coat with white fur.
She called it her Elizabeth Arden outfit.
She grabbed a handful of kiwis
like bearded gourds,
little elves with whiskers.
“I want to go swimmin’,” she said, “come back to
La Paix with me.”
We got into her car, it looked so familiar,
the monstrous length of cream colored metal,
a million, tiny, swiveling windshields
that reflected a million suns.
“Why do I know this car?” I asked.
“This is the one in...oh, I never did like
that book.....what was it called? the one
about that pushy little man who ended up
in his swimmin’ pool...”

She wore a one piece bathing suit
and she climbed up the ladder,
dive after dive after dive after dive;
after a while, she made her body limp,
letting it splash into the water
whatever side first
and she explained to me
that she feels like a blade
cutting through a cinderblock
when she does the breast stroke.

Back at La Paix, Zelda bubbled like seltzer,
she wanted me to see her things,
so we talked in the study
and Scott entered, nursing a drink:
“Well, well, what do we have here?”
He set his glass down, took his shirt off,
“Let’s see what you can do, young man.”
Zelda: “Scott, don’t...”
He whirled around me, fists whistled past my ears,
he lost his balance, then caught it.
Zelda quickly said,
“Come look at the lampshades I’ve painted!”
She held one up, waving it desperately.
Scott grunted, “He’s busy, Zelda...”
She begged me to read a passage from her novel;
she tried to hand it to me,
but Scott knocked it out of her hands.
She ran to the gramophone,
cranked it furiously
and set the needle down.
Cellos and violins
bounced off the parquet
to the frescoed ceiling.
She jumped, she floated, she twirled
as Scott cornered me by the bookcase,
she slipped and fell, screaming,
I looked into Scott’s glassy eyes
and said, “That’s enough.”
He bounced back and forth on his tip-toes,
“But I’m not through with you.”
“I said, that’s enough Scott...”

By then the dinner guests had arrived,
they breezed through the foyer,
buzzing, anticipating
a traditional Fitzgerald floorshow.
Giggling women dropped sable and mink,
groomed men dropped ashes and names--
they were all from the literary world
and Ernest Hemingway ran from guest to guest, saying,
“I love your new book. I think it captures the
essence, the spontaneity of the Great American
Novel. Do you have ten dollars I could borrow?”
and Scott said to Ernest,
“I love your new book. I think it captures the
essence and adventure of the Great American
Novel. Here’s ten dollars you can borrow...
Zelda?...Honey?...Did you read Ernest’s
new book?”
“Yes, I read it...bullfighting, bullslinging and
Although the bustle of the table didn’t falter,
everyone heard.
No one dared to look Zelda’s way
and everyone said to Scott,
“We love your new book. It captures the essence
and clarity of the Great American Novel.”
Zelda stood up and shouted,
She wriggled and pulled her panties
down around her ankles.
She stepped out of them
and dropped them on the table.
Seizing my arm, she dragged me
up stairs, down corridors,
to an empty bedroom.

Trunk after trunk,
she piled her clothes
in an old fireplace in the corner:
a French dress with a big bow,
a wrap of Chinese silk,
an eyelet summer smock,
a sailor suit
and her Elizabeth Arden outfit.
“I don’t want them anymore. I can’t stand them.
I never could. I hate them. I HATE THEM.”
She dropped the match and watched them blaze.
She knelt, wild-eyed,
excitement shook her hands
like a child watching fireworks.
She made a nervous noise
like boiling water
and before we could stop it,
the roof was on fire,
the heat and smoke forcing us down the stairs.

Out on the lawn,
Zelda gasped for air
as firetrucks split the night
and shrieked toward La Paix.
Scott ran from guest to guest,
shaking their shoulders,
holding each head between his hands,
repeating, “Faulty wiring...
faulty wiring...”
He grabbed me
and cradled my face
between his palms and
slender blond fingers:
“Faulty wiring,”
he whispered, close enough for me
to smell brandy on his breath...
close enough for his lips to brush mine.

©JEF 1985


Amanda said...

Hello! I'm one of the moderators from Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful poem! We love it so much! If it's alright with you, we would like to post your poem to our blog! Thank you again and we are so happy you enjoy our blog!

Jeff/Geoff said...


I'd be delighted to have my poem featured on your Fitzgerald blog! So glad you like it!

Your blog is fascinating. I urge my readers to visit:


Amanda said...


Thank you so much!! We really appreciate it!!