Fats At The BBC 1939
'Is y'all on Fats' he challenged his vast bum
and span round on a regulation stool.
Forever misbehaving, he'd become
very good friends with British jazzmen: 'cool'
wasn't in vogue and soon the good times rolled.
Coaxed by his fingers Honeysuckle Rose
showered the stuffy air with summer gold
as a wintry Oxbridge voice announced him. 'Those
Happy Harlem Days with Mr Waller
and His Rhythm.' 'Mercy me,' Fats shouted,
'Now looka boy, this here ain't no damn scholar -
jes' call me Fats until I'm good and dead.'
Death soon got him down. He was on a train
going nowhere much when the cold stilled his voice.
But no] I pile all of him on again
and again, he spins, Fats Lives, and I rejoice.
John Lucas lives in Nottingham and is Professor of English at Loughborough University, and Poetry Editor of Critical Survey. This poem marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Fats Waller, and appears in his collection Studying Grosz On The Bus (Peterloo Poets, 1989). His latest collection is Flying To Romania (Sow's Ear Press, 1992).Reuse content