Art and poetry on page and stage



Donald Gardner

The Unwelcome Dinner

It was intended to have been a delicious dinner invitation.
Posh, in a hotel, in The Hague,
with alumni from my old university.
Five courses, two glasses of wine free, seventy-five euros.

I could meet some people I would never normally see!
Book well in advance, said the letter,
to avoid disappointment.
Cancel with two days’ notice or we’ll have to charge you.

Otherwise you’ll have to pay
I turned it over night and day –
I’d booked – but was my heart really in it, this classy binge?
Was it really me?

At the last moment
I didn’t go.
Paid for not going.
Paid for no dinner.

It was worth the price.

Reading the Poet as his Poetry

decided to take a look
at the poet not the poetry

to read the poet
as his poetry

gave him three marks out of ten
for lifestyle

hardly an innovator,
though he made a great nuisance of himself

raided the larder at 1 am
for supplies of marmite-flavoured twiglets

committed mixed metaphor
in relationships

mistook people for each other
kissed his enemies

did he influence
future generations

did he pass on the message
of the great tradition

adding his own thumbprint
to magnificence

no he came down
late for breakfast

forgot to return
borrowed money

on his bicycle
knocked down old ladies with shopping carts

his poetry was marvellous
passed him

like an Aston Martin
on the motorway

leaving him standing
no apparent connection