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Promenade & Dinner: Two Poems

Promenade

I was pursued by an immersive theatre troupe
two of whom lay on the textured paving and performed a resuscitation
she playing my girlfriend and he, I think, an off-duty nurse.

‘The work has not earned this,’ I told them, then phoned my girlfriend
who didn’t answer; a child actor portrayed her mobile
vibrating towards the edge of a stranger’s bedside table.

When my girlfriend called back they had changed my ringtone
to ‘defibrillators’. An actress in a red bib gripped my waist
and whispered “tell her you never want to lose her”

then said it again in Portuguese before dying unconvincingly
in my arms. I told Maya I was in a kitchen emporium
but tried to embed it with meaning. That ended the experience.

I followed the looker who had played the nurse and asked
if he made a living by acting because I know it is tough.
I followed him underground. I was beginning to understand,

I said, the underlying power of the work despite my reservations.
He said he was late to meet someone. All the way home
I eye-fucked the other people on the train. They were all actors

and actresses. I asked them how they made a living.

Dinner

Though I like to imagine my girlfriend alone
with ravioli in a café where they know her name
but mispronounce it I’m aware she’s happier
being thought of in the Korean place her gay
colleagues frequent – tossing porterhouse
on a hot plate and receiving compliments
for eating and still looking, the way she does.

I like to make life hard for myself so I straighten
one of the men. He dismantles a raw egg salad
and glistens at the lips. I turn two more,
to see how I handle it. Soon they’re all enjoying
the raw egg salad. Next thing you know she asks
for her steak bleu. They’ve entered some kind
of parlour. The waiter’s not even Korean.

Joe Dunthorne has written two novels, Submarine and Wild Abandon. A pamphlet of his poetry was published by Faber and Faber.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

has written two novels, Submarine and Wild Abandon. A pamphlet of his poetry was published by Faber and Faber.

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