Johnny Wheel

By | 1 January 1998

sergeant john wheel was blue/ very

blue but lost his way/ like crooks do whose glory
days are waning and find solace lifting barbells in a
gym/ with children peering on/ johnny/ you could
trust him/ he was beyond police street directory of
life/ bit psychic/ took you right into his head

where it’s hard to plan your escape/ john wheel just
pulled the pin/ some say he’s locked up in hills
kyneton way/ and that everyone’s out of his mind/
watches native birds light up the bush around him
at dusk/ their

speeding is just self preservation nothing else and that
the spent shells of gum trees means re growth/
a mate reckoned once that wheels sat on his double
bed/ shared a joint/ tried to talk him out of death
but he also wanted information/ pauli

would say nothing/ but somehow he felt touched/
wheels never painted him into the wall but could
h ave/ he’d help you if he felt there was something
wrong when you could find him/ but he wasn’t like
most cops/ writing up tickets or out of the van

pissing on with licensees at the back of hotels/ or
making love to single mums in the housing
commission flats/ we all knew what was going on/
carlton cops could never keep secrets/ there was a
senior/ always drunk/ every week tell

you how he manslaughtered someone during an
interview/ but never got charged/ once I read
wheels name on the front page of the sun/ asked
what was the breakth rough/ just said meticulously
it was intuition/ probably thought he was having a

joke/ sergeant john wheel the loner/ tracked down/
the young constable with the bro ken heart driving
north non-stop across the border to brewarrina
chasin’ this poet coral when he was supposed to be
on watch-house/ wheels brought him back for his

own good/ that one made us laugh/ I use to drink
with him a bit/ talk in general terms/ at stewarts
hotel/ across from the cop shop/ where everyone
use to mix back then/ sometimes you could spot
him in the side lounge with autopsies professional

crime/ the points of his eyes/ would tell you not to
walk in/ one day he said to me he was leaving/
said/ ‘it’s a promotion & premonition’/ he said
‘you’ve got to have more than one reason for doing
things/ more than one motive otherwise

you fail’/ chewing his cigarette end/ wired up in
stripes/ and government supplied shoes/ ended up
on one of those/ victoria police protection schemes/
doing time/ not necessarily because he had done
anything wrong/ there was a contract

out on his kids/ even the hat felt pity/ ‘one of the
few cops not frightened to over step the mark’/ he
said/ ‘but that put a stop to him’/ reminiscing with
a cronney the other night/ he said to me/ ‘you don’t
call it burning out/ you call it fuckin’ history’/ then

he told me/ with those words it was my bloody
shout/ you appreciate/ colourful language in

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