Monday, June 18, 2018

My Likeness - 16/06/2018


You know, I like being a man.

I like having shoulders broad enough that I can pick up a set of shelves and walk up a few flights of stairs, when I've had to.

I like being able to do pushups and  climb things and jump a few fences if I had/have to, or being able to sprint so I don't miss that train (or only just barely miss it, anyway).

I like feeling strong and that I can defend myself when I've had to.

I like having the genitals I have and the way they can make me feel, I like the impulses they give me, in enjoying the sight and smell and touch of other bodies.

I like the hair on my face and shaping it to look how it suits me. I like having big lungs and a big voice so people can hear me, when I want them to.

All of these things I like. It feels like I'm confessing but I have no shame about these things.

What I don't like about being a man is that somewhere between the time where I was more scared of women than they were of me, as an object, was learning all that shame.

I don't like how unsafe women feel in society. I don't like being the object of fear, potential danger, harassment, or even just annoyance.

I don't like thinking back on times, incidents, moments in my past where I have definitely done, said, allowed things like that to happen.

I don't like how I've interrupted, shouted down, ignored, competed with, and taken up more space than I needed, around others.

I don't like that it's taken me this long to get here, figuring it out.

I don't like having to connect all the things above that I like about me, my body and who I am, with all these other things that do not like about who I am.

I don't like how close to home this all is. Whether it's Brunswick or beneath the skin I live in.

I don't like trying to figure out, think through how much of this is my fault. Me. But I'm trying to.

I don't like making this about me, but it is, because I am a man, and because I am a man here with you, with other men and everybody else and we have to.

Enough good people have already been hurt and killed.

I do not like that.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Redeemable Qualities - 02/07/2017


Sometimes it seems pointless

There was a point
Where I was addicted
To not being addicted
To things
Kicked that habbit

Gave up on giving up
Because being a misanthrope
Only works around people
...other people

Truth is I rather like people
When they're not around
Don't tell them but

The most times
I've masturbated in a single day
Is six

After that
I ran out of stuff to think about
Also I was pretty sore

There was a point
That I thought the things
I really liked
Were things I was addicted to
Had to be gotten rid of
I know better now

I know
For example
That I'm not
My own harshest critic

Friend of my girlfriend once saw me
Performing poetry
He described me to her as having
"no redeeming qualities"

I'm unclear if he said this
Not knowing that we're going out
Or because of that

Either way I'm almost certain
She doesn't agree with him
Even if I do, at times

She's the smartest person I know
...except for the bit
Where she's still going out with me
She's also the kindest

Don't know what she sees in me
I do know that-
There are lots of stupid questions
There are always wrong answers
In every situation

You'd be amazed
How often I think
Of the wrong thing to say
But then don't
Mmm then again
y'probably wouldn't

There was a point
I gave up writing poetry
Then I gave up on giving up

I still have some stories to tell
When the kid asked me
What it's like to work in prisons
When someone asks
what all that extra stuff on my bike is for
When my teacher asked who Randall is...

For now
Just throw my garbage over your fence
Without separating out the recyclables
In write

I write for an audience
And any jackass that says they don't
Is a fucking liar
Who probably can jerk off seven times
And even more
Every day
Without running out of ideas
Or getting sore

Such people make for poor friends
I mean not that I don't
Just that I tend to categorise friends
With addictions
Except I like the things I'm addicted to

Which means poetry isn't one
There was a point I thought it was
All pointless

Too much of anything
Makes you an addict
Or just shit-boring
Most of my friends shit me to tears
So I'm fine

Except for
The big fucking hole in my roof
And it's going to rain tonight
And this isn't a metaphor

Even if it is
A perfect

I'm still writing
And masturbating
Most days
They are so similar


Despite my brain's best advice
I have no immediate plans
To quit anything
Or anyone

It's far better trying
To add things to your life
Than trying to subtract

It's sometimes seems pointless
It's not

I just have no points to make

Halfway between
A really fowl mood
And a really minor panic attack
Standing hands in pockets
Trying to look like I know

What I'm doing here.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It catches up with you - 17/ 05/ 2017


Stole a four-pack of batteries from the supermarket tonight, then ate a big bag of potato chips, then ran through three maybe four sets of red lights getting home, because why not. There's no judgement under this moonlight.

Light running on third phase power, off the grid.

Listening to Trent Reznor's social network soundtrack. The ride home has lots of highs and lows. My fingertips are cold, my face is warm. Then it's the opposite, and back again. I love it out here.

My bike is perfect, it is the very height of human evolution and technology. My bike specifically. It is at the top of the ramp above Flemington Bridge Road, with me.

It's all downhill from here.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Large Flat White - 04/ 05/ 2017


somedays so uncomfortable inside this skin
can barely get over my over-awkward enough around people
to order a coffee from one of them

anywhere I look
any place I try to stand
especially anything I say
feels like this big and embarrassingly obvious food stain
splattered right down the front of me
that won't be covered up
no matter what I'm doing with my hands

I must really, really like coffee


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

yeah y'don't say -02 /05 /2017


made things hard for myself over the years

yet despite all that solid state dumb
that my lips lets fly
I'm telling you tonight-

 there is a single star in the sky
for each
             and every one
of the countless
Cuban missile crisis-level of narrowly avoided,

each quickly breath-buried
underneath this teeth marked tongue

look up and wonder
at all those stupid,
and man
             I mean really fucking stupid
that I almost
and barely
give breath too





Monday, May 1, 2017

And the silver spoon -01/05/2017


the young kid
in front of me

with his
smugly-Brunswick-going-bald-in-a-faded-political protest t-shirt

who has made him come here
into the police station lobby
to hand in the $150 cash
he found just before
in an alley up the road,

now silently
thinking to himself-

   ...yeah fuckit

this is the last time
I'm honestly telling Dad




Saturday, April 29, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Night Limping to the Pizza Place - 28/04/2017

my street this evening
quieter than a guilty man
who still hasn't been caught
for something

by way of confession
I like

these rainy nights



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Some Things in the Basement - 16/04/2017


been thinking about writing again
If I knew even roughly what about
I probably wouldn't feel the urge, to

not about what you people elected
not about salubrious privilege
nor all my licentious rage
or penning more hate mail
to my love life
don't want to broadcast-intimacy
that's been covered

it's love letters left unwritten
to whatever this is
waking me up nights
things left in the basement
when I was busy kicking out everybody

outfits that don't fit and never did
another person's shoes without a full lap
ever done in
footnotes to self reference
sweat stains left on attitudes unassuming
expired medication
a complete collection of mistakes
in their original packaging

unfinished model kits of ships I missed
star vehicles
scaled-down in swapped out boxes
abandoned mid assembly
thinking I needed more company

want to write hate mail
to these piles of blank paper left
amongst all the neatly metaphors
ink by the barrel in weaker moments
now congealed

kept enough strength however
to twist open these pots of paint
find some other colours besides
the ones others have already covered

fucking mess down-
there's lots of bad debt
I don't care
to collect on
discord conducted along mic cords
happily given away
conversations I cannot hear
between those who believe
the Earth speaks to them

it doesn't speak to me
goes without saying
there's a lot to be said
for keeping your mouth shut
when you don't have much
to add to all their negativity

nevertheless I've been thinking
about writing again
knowing that if I knew why I wanted to
I probably wouldn't need to

this isn't a promise
and though you may take it that way
not a threat either
never threatened anybody
just embarrassed them good'n'proper

a little embarrassed myself right now
which isn't a bad way to start

    that is ...if that is, what this is.


- Peace


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Island - 03/02/2017


there is an ocean of bad decisions
I swam across to get to her
swells tossed around by wave after wave
of oversharing

I'm a lousy swimmer too

   ...or have I mentioned that before?

I mean I already told you
fucking people everything else

she takes me by the mouth
and I don't have anything felt
to say, to anyone else

shallow, deep, you sea
I have ground now underneath these feet
and could not stand

to tell you
anymore than that

when it comes to love.


- Peace


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hospitality -26/08/2016


will not invite you into my grief
with all the formalities of a good host

haven't tidied up in here
in as long as it takes
to tell long, long stories
I know you'd feel compelled to help
me with all this mess
I'd refuse, you'd feel awkward
would want to sit down
I'd tell you to watch where y'step
eggs shells and frayed nerves
stain the carpet
don't entertain there, often
don't speak softly here

will not invite you into my grief
with all due formality,
but I know from the outside
it's a long way around it

come in already
don't get comfy though

and for fucks sake close the door behind you.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Survival Day And Some Stories That Are Not Mine To Tell - 27/01/2016

There are stories of Indigenous Australian people I've worked with, that are not mine to tell. But we'll get to that...

Growing up in the nineties in suburban Australia, I was very influenced by Hip Hop culture, and became very interested in the American history of racial struggle. From Chuck D to Muhammad Ali, to Malcolm X and so on. Because for a teenager- in comparison to Australia the USA has always been cool, with a great soundtrack, and it's always been very, very far away.

So, looking back on it now, even if I didn't want to inherit cultural shame from my forebears, I have plenty to be embarrassed about personally. Though Australia's history is every bit as rich, brutal, dreadful and absurd as American history, I never took much interest in it until I started thinking about see more of the country.

I don't think I'm alone. I think a lot of Australians don't know a lot about Australian history. I think that a lot of times when white Australians meet First Australians, it's under bad circumstances. Like the dudes in the caravan park in Ceduna SA last year, who kept me up all night having drunken fights outside my tent and tried to steal my stuff in the morning. Men and women surviving as best they can within a society that shuns them, ridicules their heritage, interferes with their families, steals their money, their land and property. A society that threatens and often their lives.

No, didn't much like those people I met that time in Ceduna. I was scared of them, wanted them and all their worldly problems and misery to piss off so I could just maybe get some sleep. That's where I was at.

-  -  -

Six months later I'm back home in Melbourne, doing outreach social work, trying to help people being released from prison to reintegrate back into society, and avoid re-offending. I'm driving around Thornbury, trying to find one of my clients, an Indigenous man who’s disappeared off our radar weeks ago. This isn't all that unusual, a lot of people slip through the cracks and disappear after incarceration.

In this case, there's no community corrections/parole officer keeping tabs on him, there was no stable/private housing arranged for him post-release, he has ongoing medical and mental health problems, he's trying to quit heroine and had trouble keeping appointments because his phone was constantly getting lost or stolen. We had organised a series of free driving lessons for him, he was more interested in where he was going to sleep each night. He doesn't tell me too much because he thinks I'll tell the cops everything he's up to. As I said before, his story is not mine to tell.

I go back to his last known address, purportedly where he'd stayed a few nights with a cousin. I'd been there before. Quiet street, dead car in the driveway, with a friendly cat that always came strutting out from under it, neat lawn, all curtains and blinds closed. Pretty sure someone watching me the whole time I'm there but no one answers the door.

This time though I can just make out through the thick security screen, that the front door is actually open. I call out his name and mine the way I usually do, but add that I'm just here to help, and ask is anyone else there.

A woman comes to the door, arms folded, she looks defensive, apprehensive and scared. Maybe the way I looked inside my tent that night, many months and a whole lifetime ago. She says he hadn't been here in months, she doesn't know where he went, where he is, how I can contact him, nothing. Basically she just wants me to fuck off. Because no matter what I say or how it's dressed up, I'm still part of the system, ultimately we do report to Corrections Victoria.

Want to tell you how horrible it felt, knowing what I know and standing on this lady's doorstep, painfully aware of what and who I was representing. White man trying to hunt down a blackfella, because it's my job. And I did, I do really want to help. I just didn't know how.

There's got to be more you can do than reshare Facebook posts and watch the First Australians doco (but that, incidentally, would be a good start if you haven't yet).

-  -  -

Seven years ago I was working in youth activity programs, one of which in the Koori Cultural Secondary school in Glenroy. It was a tough gig. A small and incredibly culturally diverse school, but also a dumping ground for troubled kids not fitting into to regular schools in the area.

I was there in February 2008, when the Australian Prime Minister made a formal apology in Federal Parliament to the stolen generations. I switched my schedule around so I could be at the school that day and watch the speech live in the library with the kids and the staff.

For forty-three minutes this collection of sixty-odd rowdy kids, who would usually never let you get a whole sentence out, whom I could never get to focus on any task for more than minutes at a time, sat in utter silence, listening to Kevin Rudd. We were all watching together in solidarity, for the first and only time in my life that I felt like the government over me actually represented the moral authority I believed in. Australia was actually doing something... right.

Some teachers started crying, then some more, then I did, all that pain, all that systematic structural brutality finally being fucking named. Even as I'm writing this now it's choking me up. Anyone who is cynical about what good formal or gestural acts like that apology make wasn't at that school that morning.

In the present, I don't know what's happened to the young man I was last trying to find in Thornbury.

I don't know that sharing and resharing rhetoric online really helps us. I don't know if I should be telling you about these things I've seen, the school, the people in Ceduna, the missing man. Truly these are not my stories to tell.

I don't know what we do with all that virulent racism, occidental fear and deflected responsibility, attitudes of exclusion and inflated pride that days like Australia day expose.

I only know that, back in 2008 we had one day, a single day that one could rightfully feel proud to be an Australian.

Maybe we can still build on that.

         - Randall Stephens / Steven Taylor,  January 26th, 2016


 - Peace


Monday, September 28, 2015

Now would be good - 28/09/2015


never get enough bread
with my soup
or sleep

always feel
just a little too fat
to fit into my afternoon

want to reheat the thing
I just said

could get way more stuff done
if I wasn't already busy
doing stuff

have a very good idea
of what will make me happy
it's whatever is over there
just out of reach
in another colour
yeah like the one they have

I'm pretty satisfied
with my level of dissatisfaction
at the moment
for now

I guess.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Some Loose Change - 29/07/2015


busker over there is so bad
think he owes me a few dollars out of his hat

last night owes me three hours more sleep
smokers on the lawn here owe me cleaner air
cars owe me a whole lane to myself
plus a few less opened-door fractures on my ribs
X girlfriend owes me like a year and a half back
poetry in Melbourne owes me at least five more
social work another ten on top of that
and a hairline intact
Tony Abbott owes me a whole fucking country
owe my sanity to a bicycle
and myself a bit more self respect
no one is going to collect on those debts

as for that woman coming up to me crying
homeless over my Bento box, well...

‘spose I owed her at least a brief listen to her story
stuck together cluster of excuses that it was
it was also all true, that
you get no centrelink for up to six months
in some cases
and no support without a fixed address to check
doesn't mesh so well with being homeless
these are called poverty traps
amongst fucks to give I know this is all relative

besides buying the odd Big Issue
I don't give money to beggars
any more than I feel the need to feed these birds

but today just this once
reach into my pocket
drop a few gold coins
into her scaly hand

not because anybody is owed anything
just because I think
it's where that money should be
this afternoon

don't care what the fuck she spends it on
'long as it doesn't go to that busker over there




Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rouge Rider - 19/07/2015


I'm looking out the window at this shiny red woman's bike, locked to a hoop on Sydney road with a matching red helmet. I'm madly in love with this bike and it's imaginary owner.

Really I should go out there and wait next to it with a single red rose, and when she shows up I'll simply explain that I have have a red bike too, and that this makes us soul mates. This will all be very cute, she will not be quite convinced of course, but charmed.

Then I should stammer that my bike isn't actually red, but I've accessorized it that way. Of course she will be impressed with my use of the word 'accessorize' and she will not find any of this creepy. Because I'm not like a creep or nothing, yeah. She'll see through my awkwardness for sincere spirit and strength, and then look at me like a sunrise in the mountains. I will hand her the rose without the slightest shake in my hand.

She will pause a moment, swallow some decision with a shadow across her face, drop her handbag (not red because that would just be silly) into the bike's front basket before kissing me playfully. I kiss her back. Somehow the brims of our hats won't get in the way at all. Onlookers disappear, the traffic is gone, the rain falls silent. Re-materializing in my house we then have a night of passionate loving intense enough to strip religion off church walls.

She will have forgotten all about her bike, just as I forgot about my stuff at the Laundromat. Don't ask me what happened to the rose.

In the morning we will walk back here with dumb looks on our faces, back here to her shiny red bike and unlock it, together...

...or, I'll just sit here instead eating with my mouth open, not noticing that dollop of sauce dropped into my crotch as I was scoffing down these withered lukewarm french fries, with BBQ sauce. Tangy and salty.

An unimaginative choice.