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Metropolitan

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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.


Cities are built for trade, where women and men may freely
through knowing each other become more like themselves;
the mother of cities is built for government, where women
and men through fearing each other become more like each
other than they care to be.
    South the short, West the soap, North the sheets, East the
    shivers.


In cities the church fund is forever stuck below blood heat; in
the mother of cities the church is a community arts centre.
    West the Why-not, North the Now-then, East the End-
    product, South the Same-again.


In cities nobody can afford the price; in the mother of cities
nobody dares to ask the price.
    North the telephone smile, East the early appointment,
    South the second reminder, West the hanging button.


In cities the jealous man is jealous because he is himself in his
imagination unfaithful; in the mother of cities the jealous man
is jealous because he reads the magazines.
    East the endless arrival, South the astounding statistic,
    West the wasted words, North the night of nights.


In cities we dream about our desires; in the mother of cities
we dream about our dreams.

John Fuller, “Metropolitan” from Collected Poems, published by Chatto & Windus. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited, http://www.randomhouse.co.uk.
Source: Collected Poems (1996)
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Metropolitan

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