The Surrealists’ Summer Convention Came to Our City

by Jo Shapcott

We were as lip as the guidebooks
to the city. We had our ankle tendons
severed to combat the heat.
We dined on carp all summer:
the magazines were full of recipes.

The city fathers talked about a new guidebook
which would inform the tourists
in languages and dialects for all.
It was delightful in the streets but there was
outrage in the suburbs now that
it was no longer safe to stay in at night.

The carp was piquant but we were getting bored
picking out the lead shot. Some of the tourists
said it wasn’t sporting. We got tired
of being barracked and decided to shock
by stringing violins with carp-gut.

The Philharmonia played especially sweetly that summer;
they made a recording of the Floral Dances
which is still controversial because of the sound
of chattering monkeys in the coda.
Weekends we shared dinner in our block, sitting
on the carpet and, by Autumn, eating minced carp.

We ate carp with oranges and, retinas
stinging with zest, waited for the season
to flop- the mayor’s lung complaint
to become fatal, the city’s sheaf of stocks to falter.
But all that flopped that year was
the fishy moustaches on the breeding carp.