Percy the Pianist: Canto 1, stanzas 31-41


Half a day before the gathering storm
Rose Percy, not Percival of Wagner’s
Dour overture, based on the French worm
Of Tours – these were really snaky nagas,
Like an open pack of Lady gagas
Bought from a small Chinese tobacconist
That sells everything except hate. No ragas
Would be played today, nor would F. Lizst
Be taken out of the stool – Ferenc Lizst

Of the blurred hands. Academic reader
Please excuse the above rhyme riche device,
Pleasing to the French, but an English reader
Will at once object to this as a frank device
Designed to mislead. Wheel out your leader
Willy Spear-shaker – Dante has sage advice:
“Go back to Stratford!” Dante was a breeder
Of the Renaissance, Spear-shaker a leader
Of the wooden-O, and also a breeder

Of verse and more besides. Who can claim his
Genes, this mystery man whose life
Is undefined? A vague outline is this
Shadow of a poet, who with rough strife
Marvellously confused the village midwife
Upon his entry to the stage of fools –
The omens of his birth were verily rife
With rumour. But let’s not twist the knife!

Canberra: Meeting place for optimistic
Tools who hope to change the world one word
At a time. Percy had tried serving public
Interest number One: the will of herd
Mentality. “Theatre of the absurd”
Is an apt name for our federal zoo
Of all species: human, chimp and bird –
Not of the jazz variety – here too few
Races made a melting pot – Rather a stew

Of frozen lions, a suckling pig, boiled goat:
Restaurants of the ‘Berra were superb
For filling stomachs ready for the bloat –
The needs of big men and their boys who curb
Their lust not barely. How Greek! A verb
Is a doing word, and here what was done
Was pass the buck and fart and loudly burp
In or out of session, depending on
The orifice used to express the ‘fun’.

Our protagonist went four days a week
To escape the madness of Attorneys-General,
Taking jazz piano lessons from a tall sleek
Man who had the apostle’s name, Paul,
And sought to instil in Percy overall
Confidence – like an Italian stallion
Who need but gesture to the maid and call
Her to his room chinois – steak medallion
For two! Sounds like the old man-boy Byron!

Did Lord Georgie play the keys? He had a skull,
Hollowed out (no doubt) for scented candles
Which wafted elysium spirits so full
Of pregnant scent, recalling handles
Of the many bags he’d opened. Manfred!
The boy to man to boy again: the dull
Ascetic life is not for you. Ahead
Must you march and show us how to pull
Our prey – out back we tend the sodden hull.

Percy bashed out three octaves. His head
Then rested on dorian’s e-flat modal
Scale. Back and forth it lolled and then it said:
“Do-da-deedle doobie-dong – doodle
Doodle day.” Oh yes his head could noodle
Away, his hands could flap, his waist shimmy
As if the piano playeth him – “caboodle
Blonkers dingly dangly tinkly” – gimme
What he’s having – I won’t whinny!

Nay I will! Too much practise, no outdoor play,
No walk to local shops to buy the daily mews,
No aimless frolic to your local cafe:
All this doth evade life’s simple healthy views
That are like “oil on the soul.” News of the day
In the Times of Canberra proffered no clues
To Toucani’s late debut. A supplement may
Have mentioned the band’s assault on the blues
To accompany the evening’s booze

Fest for the military complex, but
Probably not in the Times. His calendar
Noted – Event, seven o’clock – firmly put
In the app for seven September,
A day of reckoning, a night to remember
If he kept his cool. Dark and stormy
Was the day – he could not by the Humber
Feign complaint, so he lay like a bilby
Beneath a shady gum, a Kim Philby

Waiting for a Russian doll. Pure fantasy!
Tonight would show a bold reality:
Bebop for the kakistocracy –
Steady on! Do not be, Squire Percy,
Too ambitious; maintain symmetry,
Calibrate the inner poise, simplicity
Is the purest mode – inner ideality,
An end to effective causality –
Will to win with high fidelity!

The ultimate cast … Jekyll, Frankenstein, but hide the Janus head.



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