Colin F. Jones

PETE

He was just an Aussie sailor left over from the war,
He’d been in many battles but never spoke of what he saw,
He humped his kit-bag round the traps but couldn’t find a job,
And his Service pay was running out he was down to his last two bob*

Feeling sick he spent his doe trying to find out what was wrong,
But all the Quacks* seemed not to know where this bloke belonged.
Soon it was he had no bed, no place to call his home,
He slept in parks and ally-ways distraught and all alone.

Feeling weak and famished he found the “House of Bricks”,
Across from Central Station where the outcast folk do mix,
He crept into the kitchen where free pots of soup were served,
A vile concoction of gristle and ‘floating things’ preserved.

Later on he went to bed in a dormitory up the stairs,
Where every kind of tramp and thief plunder others wares.
They found him on the following morn too ill to gain his feet,
So they called a doctor from the ‘Royal’ just up Elizabeth Street.

“I’ll tell it to you strait my friend; you have a bad disease you see,
It gets stuck into healthy lungs and for short it’s called TB.”
So they took away his pension, to pay for his ward-like room,
Where he was fed on special plates with a special taped up spoon.

For many months they kept him there in the house of bricks,
Inside a ward designed for drunks and other useless pricks.
Months moved on to many years, until they stretched to seven,
And the once a month that he went out was what he thought was heaven.

Even then a body guard accompanied him through the streets,
To prevent him entering liquor shops or a pub to have a drink
For seven long years they said he had the illness called TB,
Until a Doctor visiting him, said, “of this disease you’re free”.

Out from the gloomy dormitories, of the House of Bricks he strode,
Into the sunlight of the day despair his bitter load.
He headed off into a world he had not been in for years,
And in his heart was bitterness and in his eyes were tears.

He had no family left you see to welcome him back home,
And though they told him he was free he was scared and all alone.
He was too old and weakened now by that false disease,
Which had kept him locked up in a ward to which he had no keys.

“So this is freedom”, loud he cried, “for this I went to war “,
“For this my comrades gave their lives; ‘cause they’re not around no more!”
They’d bled him dry for all those years taking all his pay,
Left him to whither in a land where veterans have no say.

I don’t know where this sailor went nor how in life he faired,
Nor if by chance he found someone who truly really cared.
He had his mates, I guess in mind, those he would see no more,
Who shared the wave washed decks with him throughout the flamin’ War,

He’d not find friends among this lot who never went to sea,
Aboard an Australian fighting ship to keep them bloody free,
‘Cause all their thoughts were of themselves that still today denies,
That Sailors go in battleships to save their selfish lives.