Tonight’s steampunk


They had no need of dogs. Cut through the ice
with heated blades – their ship was iron-clad,
could not be crushed or stopped. Their air-boats had
scouted the way, placed beacons. Once or twice

the powered sledges stopped in slurried snow,
but only to build up a head of steam.
The pressure gauges functioned like a dream
The sledges shook a second, then would go

and then slow down again, to walking pace
perhaps a little faster. At the Pole
they left no flag. Such journeys take a toll.
One said ‘ Good God, this is an awful place’
The pulsing engines’ noise and warm hot breath
silenced shrill blizzard voices’ call to death.


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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5 Responses to Tonight’s steampunk

  1. lnhammer says:

    Hmm. I’ve read enough polar exploration narratives that if this hadn’t been marked as steampunk, I’d be very lost, trying to make sense of the deliberate disparate details from different expeditions. As it was, I still stumble around a lot, which is a shame as that sestet goes a damn fine job of tying the imagery together with a thematic heart.

    But that may be just one reader’s reaction.


    • rozkaveney says:

      It is a collage of steampunk imagery and stuff from actual expeditions, it’s true. But it is part of a sequence of 11 poems so far which use steampunk imagery partly for decor and partly as critique of the real world and partly as a critique of sfnal assumpations of How It Would Be. It’s something I decided to do alongside the sequence of Ancient Egyptian death poems as a break from translating Catullus…

  2. ffutures says:

    Yes, that’s the way many Victorians expected polar exploration to go – until they actually tried it and found out what happens to machinery in those temperatures.

  3. You know, I like that a lot more than standard polar exploration narrations.

  4. anef says:

    Having been fascinated by polar exploration since watching Keneth Branagh play Shackleton, I thought this was great.

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