Libretto for ‘The Lobster’

I am a lobster,
Monarch of the deep
Sovereign of the seabed,
Spring tide and neap.

I am a lobster,
Solemn, serious.
Single. Solitary.

Prehistoric beast.
Feared the most,
Fears the least.

Loathed and feted.
Dainty dancer.

More than fish,
Fantastic creature.
Peeved to meet you.

I am a lobster,
Crustacean queen.
Hard to catch,
Seldom seen.

Today in a state of high agitation.
He’s dropped his pot again.
Predator. Him up there.
The pred. The man with the trap.
The breather of air. Homo erectus.
Most barbaric and primitive
Brute on the map.

Don’t ask me how but he knows where I am.
He puts down his pot here whenever he can.
When the sea’s not too rough or the tide’s off the rock
Right on the threshold. Down comes the pot.
Inviting, enticing, the neck is so wide,
Instinct impels me to inspect the inside
I know what I’m doing but can’t stop the urge
Appetite uppermost, reason submerged!

Pity the lobster;
Five hundred million years since our creation,
Still unable to resist temptation.

Salt mackerel. The perfect lure.
Stale. Potent. Tantalizing.
The oil bleeds out through the milieu
And sets my receptors vibrating.
The gut of the fish, the succulent gut,
The glorious stench of decay.
I cannot ignore his bait.
It’s death to go in there
But there’s no escape.
My destiny is the dinner plate.

I’m his most elusive prey
My price is more than most can pay
I can’t be got with net, trawl,
Hand, hook, I evade them all.
If I could control my greed
Stop in my hole amongst the weed,
Not go out, withdraw, detach,
Then I’d be impossible to catch.

When conditions are bad
I don’t go outside,
More often than not
A conger eel slides
Before me into the pot.
Inter-species co-habitation
Might occur in the air
But I am the queen of crustaceans.
I don’t share.

Safe in my hide
I sit by the door
And witness
Lesser species ride
Out the storm.

Dogfish tossed
From rock to rock,
Bass bashed
Black bream bruised,
Mullet buffetted, Cod confused.

Flounder floundered,
Flatfish folded round,
Roundfish flattenned flat.

Crabs crushed, dabs dashed,
Catfish crashed,
Wrasse wrapped in bladderwrack,
And rockling ravaged.

Seaweed by the acre stripped
Like tissue paper off the slate
Sand picked and shifted by the ton
Sucked and spewed across the shore
Boulders big as mountains
Marble down the ocean corridor

When it’s over
The pot’s still there.

He’s not the only carnal savage,
The predator,
To indulge in bestial acts.
There’s the guzzler,
Less intelligent, but fat.
Wealthy. Arrogant. Full of hot air
Dines at fancy restaurants in Mayfair.
Corpulent bipeds straining their seats
Slaver at the prospect of biting my meat.
I top the menu at wedding feasts
For monarchs and moguls
I’m a rare treat
Best taken simple.
Cold with a squeeze of lemon,
New potatoes, fresh or sauted
And washed down with Haut Brion,
Chateau d’Yquem or a Montrachet.
In haute cuisine I’m given a name,
Thermidor, Newburg, Amoricaine.
Grilled with fines herbes is a popular dish
Or baked in a flan with inferior fish.
Covered in sauce laced with cheap liquor,
They reckon its chic, I call it murder.

Who should I despise most completely,
The predator who catches
Or the guzzler who eats me?
Each is dependant on the other,
If the latter didn’t crave my flesh
The former wouldn’t bother.

I bear neither any grudge.
I wish them both the best of health
She has no time to judge
Who reserves all loathing for herself.

Pity the lobster;
Five hundred million years since our creation,
Still unable to resist temptation.

Supreme crustacean!
Spectacular carapace!
Eight limbs to dance with!
Four to feed!
A claw to crush
And one to saw!
Mighty abdominal muscle
For backward propulsion!
Exo-skeleton defies destruction!
Self-amputation! Re-generation!
Five hundred million years
In the making!
All gone for nothing!
There for the taking!

A predator drowned.
I picked him clean.
Fell off his boat, tumbled down
Through the sunlit zone.
Settled here
Outside the crevice I call home.
I chomped through his external organs
Then feasted on the stomach
And when his heart was stinking rotten
I devoured that.
The bicep on his upper arm,
The pot hauler,
Tasted particularly sweet.
O yes I’ve partaken of pred flesh
But don’t tar me with the same brush.
I didn’t lure him here,
Set a trap with bait,
Sell him to a merchant
Go back and catch his mate.
He came of his own accord
And made his own mistake.
No lobster looks a gift horse in the mouth.

So let the guzzler who melts
My muscle with his saliva
Dwell on this:
I have banqueted on bloated cadaver
Since I was half this size.
I’ve ecdysed twice, sloughed off two shells
Digested nowt but predmeat.
He who swallows me swallows his brother.
Its called getting your own back.

The flesh is pure white firm not flaky like cod nor tough as a gastropod the taste is so subtle sweet but not too sweet and nothing is wasted all can be eaten even the bones in time believe me there’s no fish mammal mollusc so noble so sublime.

Except mackerel.

Salt mackerel. The perfect lure.
Stale. Potent. Tantalizing.
The oil bleeds out through the milieu
And sets my receptors vibrating.
The gut of the fish, the succulent gut,
The glorious stench of decay.
I cannot ignore his bait.
It’s death to go in there
But there’s no escape.
My destiny is the dinner plate.

It’s time.
Take bait.
Bite flesh.

See Parlour.
Home. Safe.
No! Trap!
Work muscle!
Thrust back!
No response.
Paralysed by desire.
Rigid with greed.
Tail first,
Dance through gap
And feed.

Here I sit in the predator’s chamber
Nothing to do now but wait
For the tug on the rope, lift-off
And the long ascent through
Endless mid-water.

Let the suffering begin.
Auctioned, sold, handled, frozen,
Wrapped in hostile air.
Shell shattered, beaten, wacked.
Cooked, eaten, discarded,
Picked over by rats.

Judgement time.
Hear the crime:
A minor lapse of self-restraint.
Now the sentence:

Queen of crustatea
Miracle of nature!
After five hundred million
Years of evolution
You still cannot resist
A bit of stinking bait.
You will be taken from this ocean,
Plunged into a steaming vat
And boiled till you’re pink as a cardinal’s hat.

Flounder floundered,


No mobster. I work alone. I live apart.
I don’t frequent the ocean floor.
antisocial mythical
More than fish. Fantastic creature
Seldom seen on ocean floor
And yet its most striking feature.

However you eat me, grilled with fines herbes,
wrapped in ravioli with basil and spinach,
sauted with saffron and Chambercy,

My flesh is so pure
I’m best eaten simple
Hommarus gammarus.
Evasive, solitary, a loner.
Avoid capture
Delicious to eat.
I am beautiful, multi-facted,

Royal blue

I have fed off bodies
Who strayed too close to the cliff edge
And stumbled.

I have crushed
The external organs
Of sailors who tumbled.

Oil bleeds out through the milieu
And sets my sensory receptors vibrating.

Their flesh is pure white
Firm, not flaky like cod

There’s no meat more sublime
Than the external organs
Of a predator in his prime
The muscle of the upper arm
Boiled baked sauted cold hot
Moussed spruced bisqued juiced
Bruised schmoozed
Any way you choose
This air-bred fish-fed hair-covered biped
Beats the lot.

Temptation will wipe us out.

Pity the lobster.
For five hundred million years
The exo-skeleton had em all beat.
This indestructable shell of nitrogenous polysachherate
(anguished) How?!
Does it harden to a brittle stress out of water
Then crack and craze to facilitate slaughter?

Sun zone/gravity
Hauls pot up through the salty deeps into the sun zone
balance/nerve ends/ganglia/jangled

No deep turbulence.
Sea temperature degree

Don’t punish our misdeeds too harshly, I have mouths to feed

closely observe the behaviour of these people
bone-bleached decks

how does man keep alive? by bestial acts

contemplating the composition of the air

the puffy bloodless flesh drowned folk
you live up there beyond the salty
In your world of flowers and perpetual sunlight

a firestarter

Lobster mousse at La Gavroche
A swanky fish and chip shop I’m told,
Bisqued with Haut Brion ‘45
They call it gourmet cuisine,
I call it murder/homicide.
Washed down with Krug,
Five-sixty a litre.
Krug champagne – £560
lobster mousse
salmon au paillotte
DRC Montrachet, a white burgundy – £1400
La Romanee Conti – £5000
beef and lamb + 1945 Haut Brion – £2100
Chateau d’Yquem 1967 – £1070 + omelettes Rosthchild
brandy @ £200 per glass + cigars @ £50

An arm and a leg is nothing to us.
Naturally, being the superior species,
We can grow them back again.

Sometimes conditions arn’t right.
When there’s too much swell I stay at home,
Pick up bits and bobs floating by.
If I’m lucky, crush a mussel.
My long antennae can pick up a storm
A day before it arrives.
And in that time when the water’s tranquil,

That’s when instinct drives me,

After five hundred million years we
Occupy top billing in this sea

But still the composition of air is
Beyond our ken

When he sees me coming up through the salty, flashing blue
He’ll whoop for joy and slap his shiny yellow thigh
No brown or spider I, I am the highest prize.
When cooked my flesh is sweet, milky white, firm but tender
We are the highest priced fish. Our flesh is delicious.
Unlike our cousins the crab and the cray to catch us is hard.

ground sea

Teeth on the outside
They eat us.


These preds live in air
And for many months throughout the year
When the temperature is cold/told
We lobsters I must enter the trap
I will enter the trap
Instinct demands it
Unlike the crab
protein, chitin, lime salts
chitin = nitrogenous polysaccharide – insoluble
autotomy – regenerate limbs/autotomize
My realm is the ocean, my palace a crevice
Today I’m in a state of high agitation.

Three movements
I dance with anticipation around the outside of this trap
Inside is such a meal
We have much in common – cannibalism, scavangers
I sit here all day in my lair
Contemplating the composition of air
I know where I’m going
down here in the salty
thoughts of a lobster before entering the trap
as Bertolt Brecht said –
quickly the roof, but never the sky overhead
La Gavroche
in Mayfair

serve with mistrust even the slightest action

many of us have thought carefully
about the earth’s movement around the sun, about
the human body, the laws
Of universality, the composition of the air
And the fishes in the ocean
And they have
Made great discoveries

The composition of the air/lair

Above the swelling sea, the salty ?

technology steps in
clamped in a vice

but I didn’t lure them into the deep,
and drown them for the
they were there, and I ate them.
Where’s the sin in that?

Us lobsters, we know what’s going on
cabbage reeks from the stove

I know there’s a fish and chip shop close to here called La Gavroche which serves lobster mousse and salmon au paillotte with Chateau d’Yquem 1967 followed by omelettes Rosthchild for a mere £5000 per head! I’m worth more than that! If the latter didn’t eat me the former wouldn’t catch me. If the former didn’t catch me, the latter wouldn’t eat me.
The man who catches me is a lot more clever than the one who eats me. He has to be. Because I’m damned elusive. I don’t walk into anybody’s pot. It has to be positioned in exactly the right place.
Seldom are they one and the same.
Here I am, deep in the salty

I have fed off the bodies of bipeds the little ones who stray too close to the cliff edge and stumble sawn their flesh crushed their bones ground my stomach-teeth on the internal organs of drowned predators the flesh is pure white firm not flaky like cod nor tough as a gastropod I have ingested most things in my time believe me there’s no meat more sublime.