The Beetroot Buffet
(for Sister Robert – you’ll always be Top Cat for me)
When Oxford Street got so damned trendy
that even the gays were forced out
Pat bought a small pub in Leichhardt.
His grand opening night was a rout.
Caesars was instantly famous,
a beacon for gays, far and wide
where metro, hetero, bi, bear and trans
could pose, pirouette, meet or hide.
A back room with boom box for disco
became Sunday night party choice
where girls karaoked in dress-up;
you couldn’t match costume to voice.
Then one day the license inspectors
threatened closure; he didn’t serve food.
There were gay patron chefs in abundance
and offers came in, mostly rude.
A head chef was chosen, and buffet
as easiest; opening night
invitations were sent out by gaydar,
decorations and ambiance right.
The food must be eaten with fingers,
we can’t let those twinkies have blades.
Lack of planning and budget meant platters
were decorated with beetroot cascades
so the overall visuals were startling
once you passed the security guard.
(a slinky dark man in a ball gown
white Antoinette wig lacquered hard)
Sister Robert spent hours getting ready;
hair extensions just wouldn’t sit right
but when Carol came out it was worth it.
Full length fur, elbow gloves, diamonds bright
she swept up the stairway in glory
(small stumble, stilettos, size ten)
crying Who needs food! Don’t be boring
let the singing and dancing begin!
So the speakers pumped out Shirley Bassey
then Eartha Kitt making cats purr
and Carol, Top Cat, looked amazing
but the fur coat began shedding fur.
She rushed home to change, came back wearing
a cocktail style coat, shiny blue
while the beetroot bled onto the buffet
and the action was all in the loo.
Many the friendships that started
at Caesars Buffet that strange night
but poor Carol ended the evening alone
on the street with a hot curry pie.
She’d lost all the hairdo extensions,
half the eyelashes, both of her shoes,
her cocktail coat smothered in beetroot—
We all must do that again—soon!
Mercedes Webb-Pullman is the author of the poetry collections After the Danse, Looking for Kerouac, Ono, Bravo Charlie Foxtrot, and Collected poems 2008 – 2014 (all from CreateSpace, 2014), as well as Food 4 Thought (CreateSpace, 2012) and Numeralla Dreaming (Bench Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, poetryrepairs, Connotations, and The Red Room. Mercedes lives on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University Wellington.
This poem is not previously published.