The Drug Lunch

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ray miller
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The Drug Lunch

Post by ray miller » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:11 pm

I thought the memo must be mistaken:
The Drug Lunch seemed rather brazen.
They probably meant Drug Launch,
so I went along the once
for the buzz and to find out what’s cooking.

Freeloaders fill up at the monthly drug lunches
on sandwiches, biscuits, biros and badges;
they put on a spread, a regular junket,
The Mental Health Team discover the munchies.
Evidence-based practice shows pies and pastries,
jam scones and canapés will not be wasted.

The calendar’s marked with an asterisk
for the juiciest date on the fixture list;
from the humblest Nurse Assistant
to the godlike Psych. Consultant
who would never allow his judgment
to be impaired or influenced
by the reps of commercial rivalry
and their cheap and shallow bribery.

So when the charmer from Big Pharma
comes to lecture on Zyprexa
or Efexor or whatever,
it’s all to no avail:
his integrity isn’t for sale –
though tomorrow’s medication cards
may tell a different tale.

We watch a slide show and a text:
she asks for any questions next.
I’m the only one, I guess,
who’s observed the side-effects:
the tremors and the sweats,
the dry mouth and restlessness,
the sleeplessness and fatigue,
the urge to kill a colleague

for his readiness to reduce
(in the name of drug abuse)
all we are to the biochemical -
the Mental Health Professional
abandoning couch and confessional.
No more seraphim and devils;
only measuring dopamine levels.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by Antcliff » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:58 pm

"Like" is wrong word for this because of course it is not that sort of poem.
A great performance...restrained howl, howl nonetheless. Strong lines everywhere. So many that I won't pick them out.

One query. I don't know whether there is a named category of poems to which this belongs..where the narrator complains/rails against some ills (all here at drug lunch..biros, shallow bribery, etc) but only at the end do you glimpse that, really, this is something partly produced by a deeper concern. There should be. Like I suppose an Alan Bennett style monologue in which some man complains about say dog-poo in the park but in the end you suspect that something else is the real issue...i.e. the reduction you speak about at the end, which goes beyond a complaint about biros/bribery/distraction from symptoms. As a complaint poem it is strong indeed, but I wonder whether anything could be done place it firmly into the slightly different "revealing monologue category"? Don't know. To do that you need perhaps a bit more of a glimpse of the narrator.
Just a thought.
Admired it.
Ant.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

Vincent Turner
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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by Vincent Turner » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:32 am

I feel its right to say I like this because it confronts something that is often unsaid.

and it has been done very well.

I have not been privy to attend such lunches, but have worked in the system for some years, and have know just how much the GP' and Pyschs benefit ( financially) from prescribing a certain companies medication.

Although you are obviously passionate about what you are observing you have managed to balance what you see and what you feel.

Antcliff is right there are many strong and witty lines here that although come from actual experience do not isolate the reader who has no real knowledge of how these things work.

My only disappointment is that when you list some of the side effects you did not mention the lactating nipples of men...

Very strong and highly engaging poem

Best Regards

Vincent

p,s can you/ do you drive?

ray miller
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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by ray miller » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:02 pm

Thanks, both.

Ant. I'm a big fan of Alan Bennett's monologues so I know exactly what you mean. This is an old poem I've recently shorn. Its original form was more of a revealing monologue but it also over-moralised so I#ve tried to reduce that. I like this version better, anyhow.

Vince. I've written many poems about mental health issues and it is a problem conveying esoteric knowledge without alienating the layman. I'm glad you think I achieved that.
Men with lactating nipples is one I've not come across, in the flesh, so to speak.

Don't drive, can't drive. Is this a survey?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by Vincent Turner » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:23 pm

ray miller wrote:Men with lactating nipples is one I've not come across, in the flesh, so to speak.
Nor me, but a young guy I once worked with, who was diagnosed with severe rapid bi polar disorder was prescribed Seroquel, he ended up reading the side effects on the leaflet and saw that it said may cause lactating of the nipples, to say it was hard to motivate him to take his meds is an understatement!!!
ray miller wrote:Don't drive, can't drive. Is this a survey?
A pointless one yes, but one of sorts.

I have met many poets who don't/ cant drive and thought I would ask the question to those here.

I am learning to drive at the moment but get no real satisfaction from it, I always loved the buses and trains as they were a perfect time for me to watch the world and write... but since moving to rural Ireland I have no choice but to drive.

Thanks.

Vincent

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by k-j » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:02 pm

I was expecting some kind of William Burroughs gonzo piece...

"Charmer from Big Pharma / comes to lecture on Zyprexa" - great stuff.

I like the how the "side-effects" veer back into the polemic at the end. The ending couplet is a palpable hit.

For what it's worth I don't drive either. Took my test twice when I was a student but failed (unjustly I thought). Never really enjoyed driving or been motivated to drive. I dont like being in a car anyway, whoever's driving. Living in North America this makes me a bit of a freak, although I sense that the grip of the auto on the collective psyche is gradually weakening. I prefer bike, walk, train, boat, plane and bus in that order.
fine words butter no parsnips

ray miller
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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by ray miller » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:35 pm

Thanks k-j. I thought the ending might be a bit abrupt as I chopped off a lot from a previous version, but no one's mentioned it so...

I failed my driving test twice about 15 years ago and gave up. I never wanted to drive, only did it at my wife's behest. The world's a safer place. Interesting that the bus is your least favourite form of transport! I love trains.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by Antcliff » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:07 pm

I did not find ending abrupt. Ending is good.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by David » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:55 pm

I like it too. I do think the rhythm, while being pretty regular within each verse,does seem to vary quite a bit from one verse to another, but that's not a major problem for me. I agree that you do well to use the specialised language and jargon without losing or alienating the uninformed reader (i.e. me).

I drive.

Cheers

David

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by bodkin » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:39 pm

Interesting slice of medical life... but I've seen this before, haven't I?

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by Sharra » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:57 am

I liked the idea behind this a lot, and you have some great images in here. For me though I found the rhythm a little difficult. I feel you should maybe either go for the regular rhythm more strongly, or reduce it a lot.... at the moment it feels like its not sure what it wants to be.

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ray miller
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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by ray miller » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:30 pm

Thanks all. It is an old one. I barely have time to think about new poems, find it easier to fiddle with old stuff. I wonder now how it came to have such differing rhythms. I don't think I write like this any more.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:38 pm

David wrote:I like it too. I do think the rhythm, while being pretty regular within each verse,does seem to vary quite a bit from one verse to another, but that's not a major problem for me. I agree that you do well to use the specialised language and jargon without losing or alienating the uninformed reader (i.e. me).
David
That's just what I was thinking.

Seems to be another one to add to the performance portfolio.

S2/L1 - "drug lunches"
I think you could lose "drug" and get a rhythm that matches S2/L2.

At first I stumbled over the clash between "fatIGUE/ COLleague" but I think you could actually declaim it as
"faitIGUE/colLEAGUE" and get away with it!

Nice one, Ray

Geoff

EDIT: Don't drive: sh*t vision in one eye makes judging gaps and distances difficult.
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by ray miller » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:26 pm

Thanks, Geoff. I s'pose I could just have lunches. Hmmm. I stress fatigue and colleague in the same way. Doesn't everyone?!
"sh*t vision in one eye makes judging gaps and distances difficult." Sure you're not a West Ham midfielder?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:36 pm

ray miller wrote:Thanks, Geoff. I s'pose I could just have lunches. Hmmm. I stress fatigue and colleague in the same way. Doesn't everyone?!
In a word, NO! :)
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by twoleftfeet » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:48 pm

ray miller wrote: "sh*t vision in one eye makes judging gaps and distances difficult." Sure you're not a West Ham midfielder?
Positive.
But if I poke a sharp stick in the good eye and dye my barnet red I could stand in for your manager.
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: The Drug Lunch

Post by ray miller » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:25 pm

twoleftfeet wrote:
ray miller wrote: "sh*t vision in one eye makes judging gaps and distances difficult." Sure you're not a West Ham midfielder?
Positive.
But if I poke a sharp stick in the good eye and dye my barnet red I could stand in for your manager.


I wish you would, mate, I wish anyone would.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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