Saturday, July 01, 2006

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.


Blogger Richard said...

Who'se this Richard Taylor bastard!??

Does anyone know or can explain why Lepidus should be invoked? The first clue I will give is - Rome. Jack will know (figure out) the answer so he can't reply (for few days in any case, to let some other person jump in here, if anyone is remotely interested) even if he sees this (and is remotely interested also) - for a few days.

(It must bemuse people to see poetry references etc inter political polemics).

The old guy pictured is not me - he is an older brother - a black sheep.

3:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:23 am  
Blogger Dr Jack Ross said...

I don't know about the free Penthouse, but I gotta say that's a pretty damned good poem from M. Taylor. I saw a copy of Red in the Dead Poets bookshop once -- wish I'd bought it, now. Perhaps Richard has some copies left ... I do know who Lepidus is, too, but will agree to leave you in suspense for the time being ...

5:13 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks Jack - unfortunately there aren't many "Red" s Ron Riddell - who knows about publishing - helped me publish it we did wo print runs - I don't know what happened to all the copies - I think I gave a lot away. Ron got ripped off by Hard to Find BTW - well - (long story) more or less as he put it - I think they took over his mortgage on his shop in K Road,... but the had some copies so I had to "steal" back ("borrow' - I borrowed them back!) (they were really Ron's and thsu mine..) but I have only two of my own copies. I also have an earlier Chap Book called "Singing in the Slaughter House".

Well - Lepidus - is in 'Anthony and Cleopatra' by Shakespear - get's drunk with both Mark Anthony and Augustus Caesr (but he has plied Lepidus with drink wile he is lean and hngry - or alert ) and they start poking fun at him -he is doomed as you know - and they ask him about exotic things he has seen in Egypt -eg about what a hippotamus is like - he says that it is (to this effect): "As long as it is long, as wide as it is wide and large as is large ..." (But he says these tautologies with great passion which causes great hilarity (and, indeed, scorn) and he gets drunker and drunker whlie Augustus stays sober while he organises his (Lepidus's murder)(you know the play of course) (a great play). Tautologies of either the brilliant or the drunk and stupid!!

Mark Pyrie said of the full poem (Scott has cut the start of it as usual - in comment on Salt (in Jaam I think) that was interesting but, 'ulitimately pretentious' - a phrase BTW I echoed in various poems after that...)

12:31 am  

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