Competition 12

Article Index

Results: Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner?

Just as in real life, your poets’ fears were mostly of food poisoning and boredom -- but, unlike each of us, they were not reluctant to say so. Some were more tactful -- Tony Cloke’s Heaney pleaded a prior engagement judging a Poetry Slam. Others were the stuff of nightmares -- Peter Goulding’s Burns claimed to have been put off all food by an alarming Lowland sighting of a visiting royal Hanoverian item which would have been better confined to the Throne Room.

The determinedly anti-social Mae Scanlan turned down no fewer than three invitations under different aliases. All of them appear below in a precedent which will never be repeated, but which accounts for the larger-than-normal number of deserving winners. (Note: The Editor is not the only Judge of this and other Competitions.)

To read the winning entries, select from the article index on the right or use the first Previous>Next link below.

I'd accept your invitation, but my present situation
Quite precludes such celebration, as my house has just burned
And the missus, whom I trusted, broke her wedding vows
and lusted
For a chap who just got busted peddling heroin uptown.
Then my sister (she's the psychic) had the rotten luck to drown,
While my son the soccer player called his coach a nasty noun.
It's enough to make one frown!

I would love to share your table, but, again, I am not able,
As I just received a cable from my cousin in Corfu;
When the sun will next have risen he is going back to prison,
And he wants some things of his'n to be air-expressed
(who knew?).
My employer has informed me that my job is toodle-oo,
Oh, and yes, my sainted mother has an Asiatic flu.
What a bloody how-de-do!

Perhaps some day we'll find a way to get together; let's!
But meanwhile I have told you why I'm sending my regrets.

Edgar Alan Scanlan

Had I but world enough and time
To dine with you would be sublime.
Your cook's in Gordon Ramsey's class
But sweeter-tongued, a more cut-glass.
You serve a veritable feast
Of line-caught fish and free-range beast,
And all's organic to ensure
Your status as an epicure.

But social life is changing track:
I have a doctor at my back
Who's set in place a protocol
To lower my cholesterol.
No longer may I, carefree, dine
On beef, French cheeses and fine wine.
I'm sorry, but before me lie
Fat-free desserts, eternally.

D A Prince/Marvell

"A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou..."
Is how you phrased your invitation. Now
I sit and wonder whether to accept.
I'm used to eating quite a bit more chow

Than just a loaf of bread. I like a chop,
Perhaps some mashed potatoes, which could sop
Up gravy, plus some peas, a bean or two;
But bread and wine? I'd call that meal a flop.

I know what's on your mind: you think I'll come,
We'll eat, and drink, and hear that distant drum,
And then we'll have ourselves a sexy romp.
I have to tell you, Buster, that is dumb.

It's true you are attractive; even so,
I'd need a lot more sustenance to go.
Regarding your entreaty re tonight,
My moving finger writes, and it says no.

Omar Scanlan

O, never say that I was foul of heart,
Though absence Sunday next might signify;
Too dearly do I love thee, for my part,
To foist a forced politeness on thine eye.
'Tis meet to share a pound of flesh with thee,
My beef, though, would be with thine other guests:
The pompous and the whingey and the twee,
With all their bootless cries and witless jests.
I'd fain not feign an interest or a care,
And they would say the same of me, I bet.
To neutral corners would we all repair,
And truly, thou deserv'st a better fête.
While thankful for the invitation, friend,
We'll both be just as glad I don't attend.

Brendan Beary/Shakespeare



It’s no go the endless talk
of property prices and sex:
and I’ve no desire to meet your friends,
your accountant or my ex:
and I’d really rather prefer to avoid
the risk of salmonella
due to you copying cooking times
wrongly from Nigella.

And it’s no go a repeat of food
which last time looked like slurry.
all I want is a night at home
with a take-away Indian curry.
So I’m no-show for your “Dinner At Eight”
and its lack of fun and laughter --
plus the violent indigestion
which I know would strike me after.

Leo Vincent/Macneice


The Postman, in the Slot for Mail,
Hath flung your Card, at which my Spirits fail;
For lo! the Houri of my Heart hath trapped
My future Ev’nings in a Social Jail.

And so, my Friend, to what a dull Carouse
I go – a Dinner at her Parents’ House –
Foie gras and Pheasant: such a barren Board,
But with their Daughter I am but a Mouse.

And now your Words reviving old Desires;
my thoughtful Mind to Memories retires,
to your White Hand upon the Cooking Pot,
and all your Old Receipts upon the Fires...

A James Blunt CD played that Bit too long;
Lasagne (burnt), and Beer – the usual Throng
around me, baying; how can I resist? –
Alas! I must – such Heaven must be Wrong...

Lynn Roberts/Fitzgerald

Earth has not anything to show more fair
Than food, Earth's natural bounty, fixed just right;
But at your home, were I to venture there,
That's not what I would find tomorrow night.
Experience has taught me, in the past,
Your kitchen is mismanaged by a lummox.
The food that issued forth left me aghast;
'Twas quite unfit to enter diners' stomachs.
Your last repast, including roasted pheasant,
Has left a mem'ry time cannot erase.
The textures, looks, and smells were so unpleasant
I just could not convey them to my face.
To spare myself such painful aggravation,
I fear I must decline your invitation.

William W Scanlan