Diana Quandour

The Severe Banquet

We are gathered — this rarified night,

    — before radiant guests:

Bedlamites and strumpets,

Men of honour, of little means;

Common clergy, with burnt ends

and constrained smiles.

     — thieves, surmised. All of us.

 

Here, the Fates are ill of reason,

And we have yet to wet our tongues

with the beatific blood;

 

An artist, seated amongst us.

Glumly, hangs his countenance

wherein, one can clearly see

       — death

supersedes beauty.

 

He, swacked and harrowing, 

errantly announces:

 

“Pay no mind to muses, 

        — instead

pay handsomely the whores,

who, your love, not one refuses!

Asleep with open doors.

 

The sea is but a temptress

the fervent sky — its consort, 

       — nevermore,

than a blue phantasmal headdress

that our solemn mistress wore.”

 

But mere provender is the holy flesh served—

Serrated teeth of the bread-knife rending! 

The concubine sighs, 

      — discontent.

Clergymen, in raptures, sobbing;

They’ve all put down their forks.