The handmade menu’s intricate crinkles

tickle the fingertips, suggesting textures

the palate will marvel at. Coarse edges

promise cuisine so fresh it’s almost real:

Soup of tomorrow. Imaginary ratatouille.

The egg of the last great auk in captivity.

Steak so rare the cow is not yet conceived.  


Outside, raw tenements boil. Mouths

scream in the square. Windows shatter.

A sledgehammer shudders the restaurant door.

The waiter lifts his eyebrow a centimetre.

He prompts you to imagine dessert. Sorbets,

syllabubs, a chocolate mousse so rich it owns

half the natural gas of the Russian Federation.


Your wife glances at the lobby, hisses The bill.

The waiter mimes a card machine. You tap air.

Your credit’s radioactive. You clutch a sudden

clump of hair. Your face weeps like a glacier.

The mob’s breaking chairs, smashing up the bar.

You rise and pat your pockets for a nonexistent tip.

The waiter assures you there’s a fire escape.