The theme for the JVG Radio Method March 11, 2007 was “STICK”.

The scratchiness in the recording was from the microphone at Triple R. Help them fix it by slipping them a few dollars.

Click to play Sticks…[audio:JVG_Poem20070311.mp3] Accompaniment supplied on slide guitar by Ed Bates.


an old man asleep on an almost empty tram
an invitation for some young punk
all day back and forward on the number 96
no-one took notice, just another sad old drunk

some kid began to rifle through the old man’s pockets
found his wallet but knocked the hat off his head
to that kid’s surprise, he stared straight into his eyes
the old man wasn’t drunk, he was dead

sticks came to carlton in 72
late fifties i’d guess was his age
always polite but you were never in doubt
it wouldn’t be wise to rattle his cage

his chest was as solid as the trunk of a tree
his arms like branches of the same
but his legs were like twigs, two thin pissy sticks
those legs we assumed were how he got his name

drank at the stockade on nicholson street
till developers put paid to that
they gave carlton just what it needed
another pub gone for another block of flats

so he took his custom to the tankerville arms
the astor, the clyde then the dan
always nothing but pleasant, if slightly reserved
but always you knew his own man

like clockwork he’d enter the bar right on midday
read the paper, do the crossword till four
have a scotch then two beers, glasses, not pots
never one less, never one more

his passions were roses and stamp collecting
topics he’d gladly discuss
but anything else, conversation dried up
he didn’t like questions and he didn’t like fuss

always well dressed, though his clothes were well worn
more a symbol of order than wealth
roses and stamps he’d share with the world
everything else, he kept to himself

if he heard of somebody down on their luck
he was good for a loan or a meal
no strings attached, between them and them only
never mentioned again, never made a big deal

he used to help out at the mission most days
till his hips made it hard to get round
he agreed to a cane, his only concession
it took a stroke, before he finally slowed down

his funeral was brief, none spoke but the priest
then a few beers down at the clyde
the customary curried egg sandwiches
so everyone’s breath smelt like they’ve died

chatted to an old bloke i’d not seen before
i was stunned by what he had to say
he’d shared a place with “sticks” up in sydney
i asked whereabouts, he told me long bay

“sticks” had a record as long as his arm
as a standover man round kings cross
“sticks” had his own way of getting things done
that didn’t go down well, not with his boss

so they fitted him up for a murder
some punk nicknamed “billy the kid”
twenty years for a crime he didn’t commit
but not a day behind bars for all the murders he did

he wasn’t named “sticks” for his long skinny legs
but the river the dead crossed to hell
the river of hate, according to myth
a nickname that suited, and suited him well

“styx” could be crossed, but only crossed once
once too many as several would learn
a ride on his ferry, was no day trip to manly
a few started the journey, but none would return

finally came his turn to cross over the river
he broke with his own paradigm
back and forth on the tram, st kilda to brunswick
styx crossed the river at least five or six times

it just goes to show, when it’s your turn to go
don’t be fooled by your own paragrams
the ferryman can stick it, with his one way ticket
even dead you can travel all day on the trams

© Copyright 2007 Ian Bland

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