Photo By Jools Thatcher

Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Melbourne Suburbs” Jon has decided that the topic is just too big for one week, I agree – I enjoyed having the opportunity to revisit a theme.

Ed Bates is on the guitar duties this week

Play this poem directly in your browser! Just click the “play” button below:

[audio:JVG_Poem20100919.mp3]

Have a listen to the current album “Drifter”


Melbourne Suburbs

“Turning to shit, this suburb”
Old Ernie Schwass was annoyed
“We’ve lost our tram, too many migrants”
The area’s being destroyed”

“Silly old bastard” I mumbled
“The stupid old fool’s gone to seed”
“There’s a swamp, a tip and a Milk Bar.”
“What else could you possibly need?”

From an upstairs flat in Elwood
Where playing outside meant the stairs
To a two bedroom shack near an oval
I thought we were millionaires

Then the Butcher’s became a Hardware
Became a bloke who’d fix up your Telly
An accountants, a Christian Book Store
For a year or two a Deli

Pest control, then a gift shop
Antiques saw business booming
A bakery, then a salon
Where your pampered pooch went for grooming

The Milk Bar we relied upon
For Tarax, Snakes and Smarties
Is now something called a Day Spa
And next door is Pilates

They demolished the Picture Theatre
The Drive In came and went
The pub was lost to a fire
They called that an accident

The Corner Store, now an oddity
The couple that still survive
A loaf of bread or a pint of milk
Now a fifteen minute drive

The Shopping Strip, stripped, replaced
On an almost Biblical scale
By a massive retail internment camp
As welcoming as a jail

The shopping centre car park
Can’t drive just any old heap
A sea of BMWs’
Like a paddock full of sheep

Factories flattened for housing estates
The workers all moved away
Just as well, with the prices round here
They couldn’t afford to stay

Developers knocking everything down
Fighting for every crumb
Affordable housing, a euphemism
For tomorrows urban slum

Streets of public housing; Gone
Sold off, to the last
Feral child to blue blood
Decorate over the past

Extended, rendered, blended
Awash with grace and airs
Compact, humble clinkers
Ballooned to forty squares

The banks have long deserted
And the Pharmacy’s been axed
Replaced by hair removalists
Where you get your creases waxed

Hairdressers by the hundreds
As the suburb gets richer and vainer
Relationship Consultant and Life Coach
Not forgetting a Personal Trainer

Bike shops for the nouveau riche
When they choose to leave their cars
Just the carbon fibre wheels
Would buy fifty Malvern Stars

Cafes, rushed and soulless
All glass, cement and steel
Where coffee is the entr’e
And attitude the meal

The seedy late night take away
Lost to the middle class
Where the special burger came with the lot
Including a bag of grass

It’s the Pub that cuts the deepest
Why did it have to close?
No-one would’ve missed a florist
Or the church where nobody goes

Now I sit here like an old man
Embittered by the war
Pining for the good old days
And all that went before

Whose eyes have seen too much
Will not forgive, cannot forget
Haunted by the scent
Of a long dead cigarette

Tormented by the changes
That are neither right nor wrong
Friends, tiring of my rants
Say I’ve lived round here too long

I think of Old Ernie Schwass
And all the changes he outlasted
In that moment; An epiphany
I’ve become that silly old bastard

© Copyright 2010 Ian Bland

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