1962                                                Havana, Cuba

 Jack and Fidel

 When they dropped brown acid in the air conditioning
 his broadcast went on without a blink: 
 he railed against kamikaze molluscs, 
 the bacilli dusting his wet suit, 
 exploding golf balls and booby-trapped baseball bats: 
 said they should settle war on the field of sport,
 square up and fight like men. 

 Back on the domestic front 
 Jack had paid due regard to the potency of cigars 
 but Fidel possessed an unimpeachable nose,
 could sniff out the fatale in any femme;
 handed her the gun from beneath his pillow,
 asking whether it was love or war
 she was looking for, which side of the bed
 she liked her eggs buttered on.

 By the time he was done, her legs were trembling. 
 You Yankees, once you've had Latin
 you never do WASP again, he said, 
 handing her a bullet, its copper jacket
 etched with the Kennedy name,
 stroking the beard only time would grey
 and tug from his handsome chin.

 1968                                                Paris, France

 Groucho & Co.

 They are old now
 and browning in the sun
 on the four-week beach
 oystering the Seine,
 their walrus moustaches
 frothed with the beer
 of a Left Bank reunion.

 When the Vespers bells
 of Notre Dame clang
 they lug their bellies
 across the Pont des Arts,
 cursing the love locks 
 bracketing the railings,
 the keys tossed away. 

 Back in the Latin Quarter
 they fill a favourite bistro
 that served their stomachs well
 in the bloody days of May
 even as cobbles were prised
 from the Roman streets,
 the beach beneath still burning.
 Yes, life has been good to them.
 You can read in their complexions
 the nights of wine and roses,
 short days and long vacations.
 And if they want anything, it is this
 the right to raise a fist, kiss
 the men they've now become.

 1972                                                Washington Zoo, USA

 Panda Diplomacy

 Chairman Mao resembled a panda
 roly-poly from extras at dinner,
 eyes ringed from the ministrations
 of his ever eager young nurses
 while the cuties chewed on bamboo
 he rubbed his teeth with green tea. 

 'Do as the Empress Wu did,'
 he instructed, 'Send Satan pandas.'

 Darling Girl and Shining Star
 were greeted like pop stars
 when they waddled from their crates,
 then they attempted to mate
 Tsing-Tsing slipping his penis
 into Ling-Ling's purse-like ear.

 'What do we give in return?'
 Nixon asked Kissinger. 

 They settled on Milton the musk ox
 as an exemplary American male. 
 He worked hard to provide for his wife,
 Matilda, to build her a good home,
 before dying of hardware disease
 having swallowed too many nails. 

 1978                                                Fort Roughs, North Sea

 The Crown Prince of Sealand

 He took on the force
 of the oceans, talked
 its waves down to size
 and when they disobeyed,
 violence the only recourse,
 of course he used violence
 a slap, the threat of a gun.

 If a storm blew in
 the royals bunkered down
 in an underwater tower
 listened to the whir
 of propellers, the call
 of a humpback whale
 plotting the next scheme

 to fill their coffers:
 issue stamps at top dollar,
 coins in gold and silver,
 flog peerages and follies;
 all the burdensome business
 of governing a kingdom
 at war with wind and tide.

       Damian Furniss 2015