This week, Jon’s choice of topic for the JVG Radio Method proves that he has regained his sanity after last week’s “Dan” debacle (it’s not a theme, but I have moved on). This weeks theme is “SMOKE“… now that’s a theme.

Today, Jon and I chatted about the Federal Opposition’s lack of ideas (cardboard cutouts? I ask you) and they wonder why they were consigned to history’s ashtray at the last election. Jon also asked whether or not I had felt like a smoke in the last 20 years after having given up. As I told Jon, you will have to check out the poem to find out the answer.

For the fans of Spanner and Rabbit, they make an appearance this week.


Ed Bates playing slide guitar in the background with smoke getting in his eyes. His amp was dying… just kidding.
Have a listen to how it went below…

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


Smoke

A suffocating blue grey plume wafted high above the grate
A toxic pyre of old weatherboards, sump oil and half briquettes
We held our breath and huddled close, so the smoke could permeate
We sort not warmth, but alibis, to mask the smell of cigarettes

Holed up in “Spanner’s” cubby house, at the bottom of the yard
Shielded by the bones of a dozen half wrecked cars
We passed around a Capstan Green, while outside “Pig” stood guard
While sucking on the plastic tip of an old Old Port cigar

Supplies dried up when “Rabbit” was sprung trying to lift his old man’s Drum
So we improvised with pine needles from the Chaplee’s Christmas tree
Our lips and tongues were blistered, our mouths and throats went numb
“Squirrel” rasped, “Bugger this” and went back to smoking tea

We were grown ups now, almost twelve, we knew every answer
We’d been warned about the dangers but parents like to make a fuss
Besides surely they couldn’t be sold if they really gave you cancer
Just adult propaganda and they weren’t scaring us

The tough guys in the movies, they always took a drag
All the pop stars smoked – and they managed to survive
Every James Dean poster had him puffing on a fag
He lived well past middle age, hell, he was almost twenty five

To try — and fail, or never try, which one is the sadder?
At school I had no interest in how to draw or how to spell
My arithmetic didn’t add up and my grammar was much more badder
But in smoking I’d found my calling and I knew I could excel

At first it wasn’t easy, the dizziness, feeling sick
But I never entertained the idea that I might fail
With practice and persistence I edged forward stick by stick
Until the day, my friends in awe, I proved I could inhale

Thus a stellar career ignited, lasting more than twenty years
What started as a puff would finish in a haze
At first, only weekends, at parties or drinking beers
In the end I was smoking up to sixty on good days

Before sleep, on awaking, with friends or alone
While reading the paper, quick, there goes the phone
Tipsy, sober or as blind as a bat
After breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, after that

Marlborough, Fiesta, Stirling and Escort
Viscount, Viceroy, Commodore, Freeport
Camel, White Ox, Black Russians, and Alpine
But I wasn’t hooked I could give up anytime

In a cab, at the pub, on my bike or a train
Nervous, relaxed, in the wind, in the rain
Feeling good, feeling bad, heatwave or freezing
Lying down or walking, pardon the wheezing

Park Drive, Kent, Cambridge, Albany
Buckingham, Grenadiers, Polo and Galaxy
Claridge, Ransom, Cambridge, Craven A
But I wasn’t hooked, I could give up any day

Happy, angry, depressed or irate
After going to bed, hey it’s never too late
On the beach, at work, in the car, on the toilet
Straight after sex, sorry to spoil it

Salem, Pall Mall, Turf and Country Life
Styvesant, Kool, Belvedere, Black and White
Hallmark, Vantage, Fortune, Lucky Strike
But I wasn’t hooked I could give up when I like

Then one day I ran out, so what, no big deal
Cigarettes don’t dictate how I act and I feel
I like pacing the floor, doesn’t mean I’m withdrawing
I’m probably hungry, that accounts for the gnawing
I’m not edgy, or touchy, that’s totally untrue
Pardon me for breathing, is that okay with you?
And what precisely, exactly are you trying to say
What business is it of yours anyway?
If you were a smoker we’d see how long you lasted
You’re really annoying me you smug little bastard
Sitting there like a dummy with those stupid eyes blinking
Okay, you haven’t spoken — but I know what you’re thinking
I’ll show you all, I can do it with ease
I don’t need cigarettes — oh god, give me one please

I gave them up that night, took a while to break the habit
Though on more than one occasion my resolve was found in need
I sometimes think of “Spanner”, “Squirrel”, “Pig” and “Rabbit”
And wonder if they ended up as slaves to the weed

Times have changed and smokers are hunted down like prey
Forced onto the streets like hookers chasing tricks
I ask myself if it’s gone too far the other way
Slinking round laneways like junkies after a fix

There are times I feel the urge to sneak a little puff
The cravings are long gone, more curiosity than desire
But one becomes a packet, and then a carton’s not enough
One little smoke, but where there’s smoke there’s fire

Your filthy fags can’t tempt me, I’ve given up — alright!
Now go back to the footpath — ah, you wouldn’t have a light?

© Copyright 2008 Ian Bland

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