The daily poem

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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).