The poem that started a rest home riot
A couple of weeks back I blogged about the riotous responses that the work of Wellington muso Don Franks and Panmure postmodernist-drunk Richard Taylor had inspired in otherwise-tranquil rest homes. Recalling the response to Richard's chapbok of poem The Red, I wrote that:
An ex-girlfriend of mine worked part-time at a rest home specialising in the treatment of Alzheimer's patients, and was disturbed by the lack of stimulation that some of her 'clients' received. She began to read them poetry once a week, as a sort of experiment. Mostly it was fairly safe stuff like - if I remember rightly - Ted Hughes and Bill Manhire, but one week I slipped her a copy of Richard's notorious chapbook The Red to try out on the oldies.
When my ex-girlfriend launched into Taylor lines like 'The head on the table is an accusation' and 'A Daddy long-legs got drunk and blew up to the size of the First World War' all hell broke loose. Patients jumped to their feet, forgetting their wheelchairs and walking frames, and began to speak in the foulest language imaginable in a rest home. Some appeared to be angered by the poems; others seemed merely excited. A few extra sedatives had to be dispensed with that night's cocoa.
Since then Richard has e mailed and filled in some of the blanks in my recollection. He reminded me that the poem which provoked a riotous response included regular empty spaces, and that the trouble had started when the oldies began to jump up and shout their own phrases to fill in the gaps. Richard has dug up the offending poem, which has the likely title 'Old Drunk Lepidus'. Here it is, in all its glory:
Old Drunk Lepidus
But, to down wind, it’s like this: she was wearing something and he was wearing something and something was happening to something.
They lived in an [appropriate adjective] room, filled with a certain
And the furniture was obviously
And their car was a
And they lived in a
And they did things.
All in all their life was
There was an air of
And there were light bulbs - 25, 40, 75, 100 and 200 watt - oh yes, I can attest to that.