The Mishap

The first barbecue of summer –
the last, for Peter – 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 Peter’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 atΒ