The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Grass“.
JVG was in great form this week and I think may have been a bit surprised by my response to his choice of theme.
It’s a long piece today, a film noirish feel, more prose than poem… it follows on from a piece that I wrote for the book.
This week I am privileged to have Dave Evans of The Band Who Knew Too Much provide an almost noir accordion backing, have a listen to how it went below…
To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:
They say ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’.
I’m here to tell you there’s nothing on the other side except for a few small roots and a lot of dirt – and I know all about dirt.
I was a detective for over thirty years, fifteen with the Bad Grammar Squad.
You see and hear a lot of terrible things and you learn to switch off.
However, there’s one thing that can break even the most hardened detective – Word Abuse.
It’s always the ones you least expect – judges, entertainers, reporters, the clergy, poets – even senior police caught saying “I got” instead of “I have”, “done it” not “did it”, “I” instead of “me” and ‘that’ when they should have used ‘who’.
One morning I was called out to an emergency in parkland at the back of Berwick.
The field was littered with bodies and a mountain of mangled Malvern Star Bicycles.
Immediately behind them was a sign; ‘Take care when shooting cyclists on bike path’.
It was a massacre, all because some idiot left out a full stop.
As the body count climbed I found myself starting to crack.
It wasn’t the carnage, I was used to that.
It was the sight of so many middle-aged men dressed in Lycra.
I had to go behind the car and throw up.
Once I’d composed myself, I turned and saw a man acting suspiciously in the paddock.
I asked what he was up to and he told me he was helping his friend Jack off a horse.
Leaving out a coma after Jack was going to cost him a stretch in the Grammar Reformatory.
It reminded me of the woman in Queensland who saved her life by beating off a shark – I guess you do whatever you have to do to survive though not even a coma could save her from the law.
The following day I was hit by a Dangling Modifier.
The headline in the paper read ‘Despite significant blood loss, doctor saves woman’s life’ – I hadn’t even noticed the doctor was bleeding.
I flicked through the classified ads; ‘White baby stroller wanted’- – and they say there’s no racism in this country.
What do they put the black babies in, a shopping jeep?
It was getting to me.
I was going downhill fast. I stopped shaving, I was jumpy and confusing me pronouns.
At headquarters, people were giving me strange looks and whispering behind my back.
I was sweating and couldn’t sleep.
I went to my doctor who told me it was common ailment for those in my line of work – ‘Irritable Vowel Syndrome”.
I returned to the office after a liquid lunch and found a pile of papers on my desk with a note from the Superintendent.
It said simply “Would you please resign as soon as possible”
I went crazy. If they were going to push me out I wasn’t going quietly.
I barged into his office and told him exactly what I thought of him and his manicured eyebrows.
He suggested I take a closer look at the note.
I glanced down – I hadn’t noticed the dash. “Would you please re-sign as soon as possible”
He put his arm on my shoulder, just like a semicolon.
“You’ve been under a lot of stress detective, you need to relax. Take me for example, I find golf a good way to unwind, frustrating at times, but very therapeutic. Only yesterday I lost four balls in my first two holes.”
I recommended he saw a proctologist.
“Detective, I think you need a change of scenery, a temporary move to another department”
“What did you have in mind? I quizzed
“I was thinking perhaps the Cliché Squad” he nodded
“You’re barking up the wrong tree” I protested. “I wouldn’t know a cliché if I ran over it. ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. When ‘push comes to shove’ I’d be ‘a fish out of water’, ‘I’d stand out like a sore thumb’ ‘biting off more than I could chew’ and ‘that’s the long and short of it.
“Relax detective, ’just take it one day at a time’. I’m not ‘a snake in the grass’ looking ‘to put you out to grass” he counselled “we’ll ‘cross that bridge when we come to it’. You might think The Cliché Squad is ‘like watching grass grow’ but you can’t ‘put all your eggs in one basket’ and ‘you can’t let the grass grow under your feet”
“That’s an awful lot of grass” I noted. “If you’re suggesting what I think you are I just want you to know sir, it was a long time ago and like Bill Clinton I didn’t inhale”
“That’s alright detective” he replied “its water under the bridge’.
‘I know you’re honest as the day is long’ and ‘all’s well that ends well’.
I thanked him. I realised he was ‘between a rock and a hard place’ and ‘I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth’.
I spent 12 months seconded to the Cliché Squad and when I left a year later I still didn’t know what a cliché was – I guess that’s ’just the way the cookie crumbles’.
On the way home that evening I saw a young hippie lying on the lawn in the Fitzroy Gardens.
“Can’t you read the sign son, ‘Keep off the Grass”
“Peace man” he mumbled “I’ve only had one weenie joint and I promise I didn’t inhale’.
I smiled back “Neither did I son, neither did I”
Sometimes it’s best to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ – as long as they’re not lying on the grass.
I booked him.
© Copyright 2018 Ian Bland
Also have a listen to “Everything or Nothing”