Rum Runner How Style Swamps Substance
04/01/2016 - "Rum Runner How Style Swamps Substance" by Donal Carroll

Rum Runner: How style swamps substance

A Happy New Year 2016 gift  What’s a poem for: an unsettler, think-nudger, to voice the unheard, a frolic in language…? All of these? Here’s a poem I wrote a long time ago –a way of saying thank you at the end of the year to all Critical Difference customers and supporters. Thank you again.    First a few questions: In what city was the club, Rum Runner (not London)? When? What group were playing, who were already rising on the style mentioned in the poem?


R um Runner  dress up and drop out’  (Style Dick Hebdige)

Wind-skint, they gird up their macho, wooing

in traditional style: strut, jut, linger

and strategic disinterest that would pull

success… anywhere else but here

where the event pours its insides out

into the alley each time the door opens

showering them with sound and rising salsa:

the doorman fouls their eyes, ignoring them.


Inside, spaced-in, the sound becomes a look:

in a petty-Borges atmosphere,

newage choirboys and matinee dreamboats

ignore teenage grannies who ignore twotones

subalterns of style, ignoring the odd couple,

Eric Flynn and Rita Haywhat, ignoring

Bog-Art, salivating gum, dressed in a conceptual mackintosh,

knocking back stacks of rockn’roll mouthwash

ignoring the spare Ted, well Lazurus’d.


Latin l’amours wear off the shoulder

highwaymen with Dick Turpentine cocktails;

pirates eye-shadow Regency dandies,

bockerknickered with brio and Brylcreem

and suffering from terminal flashback;

the ballet dressed talking bicep with the

authority of Sandra Dee’s underwear

quotes a crinoline: cubby-hole peacocks.


The dearth of cocktail kitsch cruelty wear

goes unnoticed; the military fatigues;

Bowie clones invade the space placed round them,

wiggle their toggle, skeletal small-boying,

with their affliction curtaining one eye,

a hair so conscious it speaks its own lines;

all electronicking about the floor,

they salon, with a chip in their shoulders,

micro-moving the process of dancing:

even a fractured eyelash is action.


This is the world of protective clothing;

style whiles away the climate of doing,

of necessity, other than itself;

sobbing soubrettes sartorial stimulants

– the socially biodegradable;

suddenly ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’

appears, a brown-shirted moment –ignored

like the price of the drinks, in the hunt for

 the glint round the necklace of Narcissus. 


Donal Carroll Critical Difference Consultancy & Coaching  

Written some time ago!    Feedback welcome


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