The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method is “Twelve”. I am convinced that Jon is doing payback because I foolishly remarked¬† about one or two easy themes.

Twelve isn’t a theme.

12 is the amount of months in a year, it’s the amount of signs in the zodiac, it’s the amount of notes in an octave, it’s the price of two hamburgers at the local chipper.

I don’t care what Jon says, It’s not a theme.

Click here for today’s poem [audio:JVG_Poem20090503.mp3]

Today we have Ed Bates playing appropriately themed backings on slide guitar.


Twelve, as “Pig” Mills had recently found was not without tribulations
Not yet an adult – no longer a child – stuck, like a train between stations

Once you crossed over you could never return, driven by hormonal surges
Resistance was futile, besieged and seduced by increasingly bewildering urges

“Spanner” Chaplee had vowed to fight to the end before joining, what he called “The Undead”
But he found hair appearing in numerous places other than the top of his head

The greatest pre-pubescent engineer – the universe has ever seen
Determined to build his Magnum Opus before his brain turned to soup as a teen

He had to work quickly – time was against him so he fast tracked design and construction
His legacy for all the children who’d follow – a weapon of mass destruction

A catapult based on a Roman Ballista, – “Spanner” laboured by day and by night
Too big and too heavy to erect in the garage – it would have to be assembled on site

He hack sawed and bolted, welded and wrought – it was poetry fashioned from steel
If forty years later they’d had “Spanner” at Docklands there’d be no cracks in Melbourne’s wheel

Leaf springs cut from a Chevrolet – old train track gave balance and length
Truck tyre tubes cut into strips then plaited to quadruple their strength

Construction completed and ready for testing, the local football ground was selected
“Squirrel” Tyrrell entrusted with transport and labour while “Spanner” fine tuned and directed

Every kid, every dog who could walk, crawl or roll was shanghaied and pressed into service
Then the moment of truth, a brick in the slider, “Spanner” both excited and nervous

He wound back the ratchet and pulled the winch lever, his heart beginning to pound
The Ballista lurched forward, nearly toppling over as the brick slammed into the ground

Close to exhaustion, broken and gutted, for the first time wracked with self doubt
To make matters worse his voice began breaking – he knew time had almost run out

Lindy Dent, the only person alive who could understand “Spanner’s” designs
She cast her eye over his drawings – then added a few squiggles and lines

“I’ve got it” she yelled to “Spanner’s” delight, “Any twelve year old drop out could see”
V equals F divided by S over M to the power of three

“We have to anchor the frame” she cried “It won’t take long to install”
“And the projectile should be symmetrical and preferably round, like a ball”

To rig up a brace for the front of the frame they borrowed the Gibb’s front gate
They called on “Pig’s” talents to balance the rear – tied on as a counter weight

“Squirrel” donated his late Granddad’s lawn bowls – they were perfect for ammunition
Once more “Spanner” strode to the winch – would his dream finally come to fruition

The whole structure pitched as the springs were released – this time it wasn’t a dud
All watched in awe as the ball split the clouds – except “Pig” who was face down in the mud

It arced, like a rainbow, the length of the oval then whistled down through the goals
“If only Grandad could see this” “Squirrel” lamented – “He never did that with his bowls”

Then it slammed into the side of the Richard’s new Holden – put a huge dent in the door
“Ha” sniggered “Pig” “Would have bounced off a Falcon” which sparked another neighbourhood war

Now they knew owning up was the right thing to do – but not as smart as running away
As “Pig” clarified when reflecting years later “It was before they invented DNA”

Police found the gate and on turning it over saw “Gibbs” and “Number 29”
Old man Gibb’s seemed to relish the attention – confessed, and paid the damages and fine

And what of “Spanner” Chaplee and his moment of triumph? – Alas, it was all too late
Puberty claimed him with the ball in mid air – Lindy asked him out on a date

Though his engineering talents were Da Vincian – his social skills were embryonic
He responded to Lindy the only way he knew how – by going totally catatonic

When the Chaplees moved out of the neighbourhood – “Spanner” seemed to just diss-appear
But rumours persist he found work in Iran and later in North Korea

Some say he went into banking – and made a fortune trading sub-prime
The most destructive weapon the world’s ever seen – and still not considered a crime

As “Pig” Mills observed in a moment of insight, more George Bush than Zen
“Those twelve months felt like they lasted a year and that’s the last time we turned twelve again”

© Copyright 2009 Ian Bland

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