A plump gherkin swims round a jar, as chips crackle.
Pasties malinger and saveloys shirk.
Gristle and sinew are scraped with a rattle
off skewers. Through lack of hard work,
thistles continue to flourish, they lurk
in untiled nooks. The misted wall
is panoramic Istanbul.
The boy you can’t take that place out of sits these days
beneath the Brandenburg Gate (a model, leastways)
he’d stitched out of chip-forks. It stands constant, noble,
above the rats, rendering the restaurant global
and took him two weeks full of toil without falter.
Tonight Mehmet natters to his nine-year-old daughter,
a chess-cheating ambidextrous albino,
and says, “One day, darling, your daddy’ll be no
mere half-arsed artist – I’ll add to my arch
a massive meandering wall that will march,
with barbed wire and border guards, in baffling zigzag,
shearing the shop in two, shocking those windbag
hygiene inspectors who come clutching clipboards,
scurrying, scared blind by my skill with chip-forks,
out of the scullery.”
Wallop! And suddenly,
peace is triumphantly,
The door careers open
and onions are woken
by lager-soaked slogans.
My boys are all gathered
as if they’ll emaciate,
wither at racing rate
if they can’t satiate
(Kebab, Kebab, Kebab)
but I’m counting calories,
stopping my mammaries
bulging like galleries
I’m on a muesli menu, a beany bill of fare
complete with daily dashings round out in the darkening air
and sixty lunging lurching sit-ups, looking like an odd
kind of inverse invocation to a Lycra god.
A Chicken Caesar salad with peas might suit me better.
Yes! Hail Chicken Caesar, flinging pheasants bound by fetter
in coops across the crannogs from Byzantium to Lindum,
“I came, I saw, I pecked” the motto of your clucking kingdom,
“Veni Vidi Pecki” squawked across each vale and village
as you plant your beak on peaceful peaks in vicious poultry-pillage,
dwarfing turkeys’ dwellings and pinching their dwindled seed,
quashing quails into quacking Chicken Caesar’s creed,
flapping at the Gothic geese who grab with vandal vanity
and laying a big egg they’ll later label ‘Christianity’!
Then Mehmet coughs, “And you, you brute? A large kebab, of course!”
and I chirp, “Yeah, go on then. Cheers. With extra chilli sauce.”
From “Disoccidented” by Alfie Shoyger: