John Fuller

J
John Fuller
All the Members of My Tribe Are Liars
Think of a self-effacing missionary
Tending the vices of a problem tribe.
He knows the quickest cure for beri-beri
And how to take a bribe.

And so the mind will never say it’s beaten
By primitive disturbance of the liver;
Its logic will prevent its being eaten,
Get it across the river.
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Canicule Macaronique
Heureux ceux qui ont la clim—Corse-Matin (6.8.94) Heureux ceux qui ont la clim
Pendant la grande canicule.
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A Dialogue between Caliban and Ariel
Ar. Now you have been taught words and I am free,
My pine struck open, your thick tongue untied,
And bells call out the music of the sea.

From this advantage I can clearly see
You will abuse me in your grovelling pride
Now you have been taught words: and I am free

To pinch and bully you eternally,
Swish round the island while the mermaids hide
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Edwardian Christmas
Father’s opinion of savages
And dogs, a gay Bloomsbury epigram:
‘The brutes may possibly have souls,’ he says,
‘But reason, no. Nevertheless, I am
Prepared not to extend this to my spouse
And children.’ This demands a careful pity:
Poor Father! Whooping and romping in their house,
A holiday from ruin in the City.
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An Exchange between the Fingers and the Toes
Fingers:
Cramped, you are hardly anything but fidgets.
We, active, differentiate the digits:
Whilst you are merely little toe and big
(Or, in the nursery, some futile pig)
Through vital use as pincers there has come
Distinction of the finger and the thumb;
Lacking a knuckle you have sadly missed
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God Bless America
When they confess that they have lost the penial bone and outer space is
Once again a numinous void, when they’re kept out of Other Places,
And Dr Fieser falls asleep at last and dreams of unburnt faces,
When gold medals are won by the ton for forgetting about the different races, God Bless America.

When in the Latin shanties the scented priesthood suffers metempsychosis
And with an organ entry tutti copula the dollar uncrosses
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Lullaby
Sleep little baby, clean as a nut,
Your fingers uncurl and your eyes are shut.
Your life was ours, which is with you.
Go on your journey. We go too.

The bat is flying round the house
Like an umbrella turned into a mouse.
The moon is astonished and so are the sheep:
Their bells have come to send you to sleep.
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Metropolitan
In cities there are tangerine briefcases on the down-platform
and jet parkas on the up-platform; in the mother of cities
there is equal anxiety at all terminals.
West a business breast, North a morose jig, East a false
escape, South steam in milk.

The centres of cities move westwards; the centre of the
mother of cities has disappeared.
North the great cat, East the great water, South the great
fire, West the great arrow.

In cities the sons of women become fathers; in the mother of
cities the daughters of men have failed to become mothers.
East the uneager fingers, South the damp cave, West the
chained ankle, North the rehearsed cry.
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Pillow Talk
Wondered Knob-Cracker at Stout-Heart:
‘Are you timed by your will, does your pulse
List credit, ready to slam like a till?
Can you keep it up?’

Growled Beard Splitter to Smug:
‘Your forces delay, bibbing at Northern walls
While snow drives rifts between, barring the way.
I am sufficient.’
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The Pit
From the beginning, the egg cradled in pebbles,
The drive thick with fledglings, to the known last
Riot of the senses, is only a short pass.
Earth to be forked over is more patient,
Bird hungers more, flower dies sooner.

But if not grasped grows quickly, silently.
We are restless, not remembering much.
The pain is slow, original as laughter,
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Retreat
I should like to live in a sunny town like this
Where every afternoon is half-day closing
And I would wait at the terminal for the one train
Of the day, pacing the platform, and no one arriving.

At the far end of the platform is a tunnel, and the train
Slows out of it like a tear from a single eye.
You couldn’t get further than this, the doors all opened
And the porter with rolled sleeves wielding a mop.
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The Shires
Bedfordshire
A blue bird showing off its undercarriage
En route between our oldest universities
Was observed slightly off-course above Woburn
In the leafy heart of our sleepiest county:
Two cyclists in tandem looked up at the same moment,
Like a busy footnote to its asterisk.

Berkshire
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Song
You don’t listen to what I say.
When I lean towards you in the car
You simply smile and turn away.

It’s been like this most of the day,
sitting and sipping, bar after bar:
You don’t listen to what I say.

You squeeze a lemon from a tray,
And if you guess how dear you are
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Synopsis for a German Novella
The Doctor is glimpsed among his mulberry trees.
The dark fruits disfigure the sward like contusions.
He is at once aloof, timid, intolerant
Of all banalities of village life,
And yet is stupefied by loneliness.

Continually he dreams of the company he craves for,
But he challenges it and bores it to tears whenever
It swims uncertainly into his narrow orbit.
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To James Fenton
The poet’s duties: no need to stress
The subject’s dullness, nonetheless
Here’s an incestuous address
In Robert Burns’ style
To one whom all the Muses bless
At Great Turnstile.

I’ve no excuses for this theme.
Prescription is less popular than dream
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Well Said, Davy
He went to the city and goosed all the girls
With a stall on his finger for whittling the wills
To a clause in his favour and Come to me Sally,
One head in my chambers and one up your alley
And I am as old as my master.

I followed him further and lost all my friends,
The grease still thick on his fistful of pens.
I laced up his mutton and paddled his lake
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