top of page

Lebanese Charcoal Chicken

The table was covered with porcelain plates and saucers covered with chicken bones, olive pips and torn flat breads.

‘Oh Mr Benn, that was sooo… delicious!’ Donna sucked her fingers, wiped them with her napkin then dropped it on the plate in front of her.

Swirling the red wine around in her cut crystal goblet, she took a swig and sat back in her chair. Her eyes were glassy, and her face shone. She ran her hand under my blue singlet and felt my shoulder.

‘I love that Lebanese Charcoal Chicken.’ She sighed and, lifting her legs, placed them over my lap under the table.

I took a piece of flat bread and drew it over the Royal Doulton plate, wiping up labneh and olive oil and exposing the delicate floral print beneath.

I lifted my head and covered my mouth with my hand, as I spoke through a mouthful of flat bread and oil. ‘I’ll clean up the table. There’s chocolate for dessert.’

Donna dropped her head back. ‘Chocolate for dessert! I love chocolate for dessert! But you got dinner ready. I should clean up.’

‘Okay.’ I sniffed.

Lifting her head, she narrowed her eyes. ‘Wrong answer Mr Benn.’

Taking a sip of wine, I wiped my fingers with a napkin and thought for a second. ‘No, I insist on cleaning up?’

Donna smiled and slid her legs off my lap. ‘Nnnoooo … We can do the washing up together?’

She dropped a napkin in front of me and reached over and took a pen from the fruit bowl. ‘We’re going to have a poetry competition to see who washes up.’

My shoulders slumped. ‘Oh, for fuck’s sake. I’m happy do the washing up.’

‘No, Mr Benn. We’re having a poetry competition.’ Donna rummaged around in her bag and pulled out a marker pen. She looked at me. ‘Start writing, Mr Benn. You can write, can’t you?’

I sighed and leant over the blank white napkin. I scribbled and crossed out and rewrote and went to the toilet and washed my hands. I sat back down and decided my poem was finished. ‘Okay I’ve got one.’

Donna looked up. ‘Already? Read it out’.

‘My girlfriend gazes at the chocolates,

High up on the shelf.

Though she stands upon her tiptoes,

She can’t reach them for herself.

She locks her dreamy boyfriend,

In a deathly stare,

But rather than ask him for assistance,

She stands upon a chair.’

Donna stared at me and blinked. ‘Give me a few moments.’ She lowered her head and kept writing across the napkin. Then took another napkin and kept writing.

Finally, she picked up her work and smiled. ‘Okay, I’m finished.’

‘I love my fucking boyfriend,

And his mild autistic traits.

The way he sets the perfect table,

With his antique fucking plates.

Placing the perfect saucer,

Under the perfect cup.

Then stacks the c---s beside the sink,

So, I can wash them up’.

She tossed her napkin poem on the table in front of me. ‘Back to you Mr Benn.’

I sat back in my chair and stared at her.

‘Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Dave has a big cock.’

Donna closed her eyes and pursed her lips. ‘Mmm… Mr Benn, I’m having a problem visualising. Was that an eye rhyme?’

‘No, it was one of those Japanese poems.’

‘You mean Haiku?’

‘Yeah. One of them.’

She opened her eyes. ‘Well, nothing beats a big cock, does it, Mr Benn? You get to do the washing up.’

Copyright: text - David Benn; photos - Wix & Royal Doulton.


Posts on this Sydney School of Arts & Humanities blog ( are published to showcase the work of emerging writers who meet weekly to workshop their short stories, memoir or novels.


These posts comprise just some of the responses written in just 10 minutes as a warm up to the meetings.

If you'd like to join any of our groups, contact us at



bottom of page