Welcome to The Rumpus’s National Poetry Month project. We’ll be running a new poem from a different poet each day for the month of April.
The Story Gets Away From Him
is dining with friends.
As the hors d’oeuvres arrive,
he begins recalling the best meal
he ever ate,
the night he went to his favorite restaurant
and it was simply
He begins by telling them
how the flavors did not overwhelm –
he believes there was a loaf of bread
and vinaigrette, the finest pears
he has ever touched, a manicured cut
of perfect, perfect steak – oh,
the way it mixed together, he sighs.
He tells them of the white wine,
not chilly but just properly chilled,
about putting down the flute
and watching it sink into the table.
He does not mean to say this.
He pauses, tells it again, and this time
the glass is barbed
and he must drop it to the floor.
Looking at these friends,
he sees a woman he has known for years
holding one of the pears –
It has sprouted wings.
She just wants to eat it,
but it begins flapping maniacally.
The perfect loaf of bread
becomes a dozen baseball-sized dinner rolls
spilling across the table,
one, in his mother’s mouth,
begins filling her like a balloon
and she is clawing at her lips,
trying to make her jaws wider
but Billy Collins cannot help her.
He is tending to his steak
that has begun to bleed;
it is bleeding impossibly much,
filling the plate, pouring over,
staining everything, blood on the table
and he is trying to remember the taste instead,
to remember something
that is not the swell
of screaming diners around him,
but the carpet is bleeding, too,
and Billy Collins is pulling the cloths
from nearby tables, but they never,
never it seems, are able to dry the room,
and there is running, there
is fleeing, Billy Collins’ dinner
is killing everyone, his mother’s jaw
has burst from her, has collided
with the far wall.
recalls the best meal
he has ever had:
There is screaming, and he
is trying to call for help,
but he can only chew.
He cannot get past
the bursting, brilliant flavors
to swallow them.
He can only chew
If you like what the Rumpus is doing for National Poetry Month, you’ll probably like this multimedia anthology of original poems we’ve run at The Rumpus over the last three years. Available only for iPad. Check it out!