Photo By Jools Thatcher

Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “ City Of Yarra “.

Good afternoon Jon, and once again greetings from Coventry, which I appreciate falls just outside the boundaries of The City of Yarra, but I am there in spirit.

Big weekend over here, Glastonbury of course, which means a 99.99% probability of rain, but then what’s a music festival without mud.

Talking of mud, I read on the front page of The Times, that the Community Cup was a raging success again this year, despite the usual questionable umpiring decisions – congratulations to all involved.

Perhaps next year they should combine the Community Cup with Glastonbury and have a three day mud wrestling footy match – it might be a bit beyond Stewie Farrell’s physical limitations.

Ah well, something to ponder as I head back north of the Yarra.

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:

Also have a listen to the songs on the new Album “Angel In Reverse

City of Yarra

You’re joking? This place? Fashionable?
Trust me, not always so
I grew up barely a stab kick from here
I reckon I ought’a know

I was born the day Ned Kelly was hanged
Christened Edward, to honour his name
If thieving and violence are traits to be honoured
God knows I brought it no shame

A two bedroom cottage in Napier Street
The youngest, bar one, out of eight
A drunk for a father, cruel and cowardly
A mother resigned to her fate

Scraps from the bootmakers doubled as wood
The smell as foul as the smoke
Still, the stench of burnt leather was better than freezing
It was dubbed “Collingwood Coke”

At school, I learned sums, but they didn’t add up
No patience for reading and writing
Learned more from a razor than I did from a book
My talents, better suited to fighting

Began picking pockets and moved up from there
Did the odd stretch in the bush
These streets were dangerous, even for crooks
We all belonged to a push

The Primrose Push, Little Campbells, The Roses
The Checkers, the Bourke Street Rats
The Wanderers, Woolpacks, Westgarth and Webb Street
Down the hill, the Collingwood Flats

There isn’t a lane or a flagstone round here
That hasn’t, at times, tasted blood
Many a pistol, dagger and safe
Disappeared in the thick Yarra mud

The Richmond mob were nasty coots
They’d slit your throat for a fag
“Squizzy” Taylor, shifty and vain
A liar, a spiv and a lag

I was drinking with friends at the Vine Hotel
The night he copped a slug
Killed with his old foe “Snowy” Cutmore
Now there was a brutal thug

A pair of loose cannons who lagged on their own
A risk to all, running around
They shot one another: the result of a feud
Or so the authorities found

Word on the street told a different story
A story, none will admit
“A bit of spring cleaning”, is how it was phrased
Sydney ordered the hit

Everyone knew, the coppers included
Just glad they were out of the way
But the cops never figured who fired the third gun
And that’s all I’m going to say

Those who had dealings with “Squizzy” will tell you
He was vicious rather than tough
Of the crowd who came to pay their respects
None, spare a few, gave a stuff

Those days are long gone, and all of us dust
These suburbs much more genteel
The Two-Up replaced by gaming machines
Now you can legally steal

The crims, who once loitered in doorways and alleys
These days are much more discreet
Sipping Merlot in pubs, like the Yarra Hotel
Or short blacks in Lygon Street

The Spring Street hustlers spruik hardline on crime
Little more than huffing and puffing
It shows, I suppose, as everyone knows
Everything changes but nothing

© Copyright 2013 Ian Bland

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