Advice to Poets

Be patient with the one that calls
when brick by brick you've built your walls.
His muscles may has gone to waste
but he still has exquisite taste.
Although not fit to clear hard ground,
he'll shift your furniture around
and lisp while lounging in the shade
of the strong structure you have made:
"Those flowers and curtains clash, my dear,
and you don't need that lamp in here."

Mistrust the military style
encouraging his rank and file
with manly clasp and shoulder clap -
"Jolly good show, well done old chap!" -
such tokens as the service pays
in standard-issue words of praise.
His firm adjustment of your tie
may interrupt your air-supply,
and fumblings with a ribbon-pin
through khaki folds can find your skin.

Endure the analytic mind,
the ferret face more keen than kind
who'll subject to a third degree
the images in stanza three,
putting their honesty in doubt
until they've turned their pockets out,
then deign at last to let you pass
certificated second class
and stamp his qualified consent -
obliterating what you meant.

© Brian Fewster,
Published in Poetry Nottingham 52/4, Winter 1998

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