The Manchester Review
Sean O'Brien
Two poems
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Dinner at Archie’s
i.m. Archie Markham 1939-2008

This place, the world, as you have more than once remarked,
More than once in fact tonight
Over this mound of roast lamb-with-no-veg and over the rim of your glass,

This world as we find it consists
Of two sorts of people: those here in the room and the rest,
On the one hand those present and then the great herd

Of the - how shall you put it – the dim
Who are not present to protest,
That one for instance, and her, and God help us, him;

Us and the rest, on the one hand the illuminati
And as you may at one time or another perhaps have remarked
The utterly and irredeemably endarked

Whom fortune and folly have somehow permitted
To be for the most part (catastrophically) in charge,
A theme upon which you are not normally slow to enlarge.

Have you mentioned this ever? Why, yes.
-Because, as you point out, coming back with more lamb
And in case there’s a need an additional bottle of red,

It is of course something that every so often needs to be said,
And the likes of us – we happy few - have to come to the help of the party,
Be it never so small and the truth elusive,

And expulsion – you look at me narrowly – rather more likely than not,
While as for the others, at times they are almost enough,
One must confess, with their blather and rot,

To make one grow frankly abusive, alas,
And if that would be casting pearls before swine,
For example those toadies and gibbering no-marks in Administration,

Well somebody’s got to set an example and do it.
- And yet, though the day is sufficiently evil, no doubt
We shall somehow contrive to get through it

By means of a diet of lamb-with-no-veg and red wine
Not to mention our native good humour
And sheer bloody genius, shan’t we?

Of course we shall, Archie, of course,
For who could deny that it’s fruitless to argue
With one like yourself who contrives to combine

The attributes of the immoveable object
With those of the irresistible force.
More lamb? More wine? No veg. Why, Archie, of course.