They angle faces like a lamp
and smoke eight cigarettes at once.
The clouds are quite unbearable,
and everyone forgot their gas-masks.
We cough and wheeze and madly splutter.
They pass around some paper ash-trays.
‘Washing them up has proved to be
a big mistake,’ they say. We dry
the ash-trays on the hob. This, too,
has proved to be a big mistake.
By way of an aperitif,
they pass around a tray of cocktails.
‘We’re all about the gin these days.’
our hosts explain. ‘This one’s infused
with dynamite, cocaine, and car wax.’
It’s much more challenging to drink
than beer. Three of the party faint,
four of us poison healthy house plants,
one person horribly explodes,
and seven guests demand a refill.
We seat ourselves around a table
and stare at empty plates, ‘Dig in!’
they shout. ‘It’s Emperor’s Clothes Surprise.’
We talk and smoke and mime
eating until the plates are cleared.
A board made of cheese arrives.
‘Every feast should end with a weak pun,’
they say, and everybody claps
until our hands can take no more.
Cuban cigars and port come next.
‘The finest cigars known to man
or beast,’ they say excitedly,
‘submerged in port.’ We spend the next
hour and a half trying, and failing,
to light this evening’s last surprise.
The conversation fades, the evening
implodes, we grab our summer coats
and make our way towards the front door.
Farewells exchanged, we drive towards
the morning of an unknown future.