BARBECUE IN THE SUBURBS


(late 1970s)

Sausages, deceitful odalisques, brown
and dancing in their own fat, burning, spitting
rain charms as the gods of weather and smoke
parley in secret languages.

The adults decamp in colonial demarcations,
men drinking beer and women
performing Eleusinian kitchen mysteries.

Rainclouds roll in like a tide.
Screen doors bang
and a tween rabble tumbles out
over grass seared to sacking,
scrabbling, yelling, squabbling.

So then
the gathered close on the smouldering altar
of sacrificial meats,
engaged in the rites of familial piety:
marriage, adolescence, scolding, and the libation
of the Lares and Penates with cold beer –
a few old friends
who know it’s going to rain, but won’t speak of it,
and the murmuring gods gather around the sacrifice

like fat-eyed blowflies.


Earlier version published in Landfall, Spring 2009

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