The Mishap

The first barbecue of summer –
the last, for Peter โ€“ had a decent turnout,
uni pals and partners mostly, but the odd
school hanger-on and semi-pitied colleague too.
The first hour was a bit damp, naturally –

politics, sport, the time for bores to shine –
but as the yellow bubbles lifted
so did laughter, into the relatively breathable air
tinged with CO and grass cuttings,
and kerosene from Peterโ€™s grill.

He tried to get it going just as rain started.
In barbecuing, timing is everything.
Matty got a big laugh with an impression of him
holding an umbrella while flipping chicken,
then peering up and asking for sun cream.

The damage was somewhat terminal,
it seemed; the coals permanently sodden,
the chicken flesh pink and oozy. Unfed giggles
turned to peals of screams, shouts and playfights,
a dealer was called; things were getting

out of hand. Peter added firelighters,
oils, tinder, all sorts. There was a belly-woosh
as the flame roared up drunkenly;
there was a moment, as Peter turned his face
to us, when everyone was still laughing.



Guy Elston is a teacher in Liverpool. Recently his poetry has been included by Rust + Moth, Atrium, Fly on the Wall Magazine, Anthropocene and others. You can find him on Twitter – @guy_elston – and find his work atย