Lament for a Dinner Party


Certain we are too genteel to fail the test of social grace,

We gather in the evening to prove our culture

To honor someone's special date or lifetime triumph

Or sometimes just to know we aren't alone.


Dressing, I have a fantasy of conversation

Sharing the wit and wisdom of great minds

Whose language is the subject, verb and object of our talk

How we will dazzle one another with

The sparkle of our minds, the magic of their words

The art of thoughts,

The prestige of human life revealed.

We will, I fondly think, enrich each other

With deeper appreciation of our commons.


I mention names I recently surveyed

It doesn't matter who they are, new

As are the names referred to me.

Lacking a common opus, we fail ourselves.

The diversity of some as fatal to my hopes as the paucity of others.

We cannot find words to express ourselves

To bridge across the table

To open minds to unexplored realities


We talk instead as fowls gabble

Of nothingness and folly,

Pooling banal experience, and all the

ideas of our innocence, thoughts of our indulgence

knowledge of our ignorance, truths of our imaginations

And over all, the falsehoods of our convictions.

O, how we drive those home, to no avail.

Presided upon by some who never learned

To unbuckle the stern gravity of the pronoun me.

 © Philip Knight 2018