Fables - Cutting off one's ears for someone else is wrong

Cutting off one's ear for someone else is wrong

A man paid 110,000 guineas for Van Gogh's mother.
Not even for the woman who breathed, but a picture of her.
If he'd met her when she was what she was
I don't suppose he'd have given as much to her.

And if he had chanced to meet him would he have felt like supplying
The painter, even with enough sausage for the rest of his natural?
He probably wouldn't have wanted him in his house:
An ordinary functioning man, sleeping and glaring about him.

And although he has to pretend to value her
Saying he'd give his eye teeth or at least his worldly wealth to save her,
I daresay he wouldn't really have wanted to give all that money
To have his own mother sitting permanently on his sofa.

A dog would rather have another dog
Than a flat board;

And is just a dog.


from Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 1992), copyright © Jenny Joseph 1988, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

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1Introduction

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2The unlooked-for season

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3Warning

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4An exile in Devon

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5Catch

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6The sun has burst the sky

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7Zenith

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17Fables

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19Dawn walkers

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21A meteorology

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22Rose in the afternoon

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23Tides

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24Married people going to work

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25Love and Justice

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26Meeting up

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27The Goddess of Nature's diatribe to her people

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28Against the personality cult

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29From Life and Turgid times of A. Citizen: Tripping down

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30Lure

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31Back to base

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32Knock knock

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33Derivations

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38Another old tale

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39Untitled

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40In memory of God

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