Monday, April 14, 2014

Touch, Talk, Retort - 15/04/2014


sometimes you bump into a person
who believes they should have
made an impression on you
it seems to be your fault
that they didn't

what impression
I've made on them
I do not know
let alone understand

once I got so excited about
having my long-neglected bike fixed
that I wrote about it
like she was a woman
I mean it was

since then I'm someone writing
someone people want to talk to
whenever I write something
I imagine it hitting a chord
stirring a laugh or a thought
transplanting an experience

even my many statements
expressing misanthropy
or rejecting people outright
are ultimately messages
I hope resonate with some
of those same people

I've been held responsible
for the negative interpretations
others made out of my work
things never intended in my words
and then had to wonder
why they watched me in the first place
where the same energy dissipated
when, in so many words
I put something positive out there

out there
I have no idea what they want
from me
and the barest sense of
what I want from them
a talk
a touch
a retort

out there
a landscape of faces
to swallow up all the unpredictable
consequences that occur
when I meet someone
when I say something

this is a message I wrote
I wrote it for me, and you

My name is Randall Stephens
it's is a name I gave myself
I've been labelled things
by others, my whole life
figured I could have a go
at labelling myself

your name is (yours)
I may or may not
remember it
depends on the distance
between us
(there may be a distance
between us)
I like to say things
into this distance
words may or may not cross
the distance between us
I don't mean you any harm
I think

I don't understand
all the consequences
and don't always accept them
I may not understand
all the words we use
but I'm getting closer
I'm going that distance

it's worth trying to
at least
this is the impression,

people have made on me.





Sunday, April 13, 2014

While You Can -14/4/2014


there are fifty push ups
straight back, nose to the floor
hiding somewhere palms down
plush in the soft of that rug

there is ten whole years
of new ways to think
lost somewhere amongst
that unread book pile

there are miles stretching out
untold in the quietly lubricated
movements of this bike
it's silence speaks to me

to look at you'd never see

thousands of kilograms held
up lifted in weights sessions
waiting sore in my shoulders
after slump-hard breath,
eight whole kilograms extra
waiting bodily to disappear
from under shakes and sweat
in my daggy track pants

a decade of concrete story
still not as yet discovered
in the constant clack
on this pounded keyboard

a score of lovers
to be untangled
from this tongue
inside my mouth

there are future friends
stuck to that unfolded map
a home resting-right
just behind my eyes
infected anger in my joints
with the pains of things
made impossible by age

failure loneliness
discovery apathy
choose life, abuse life
lose life, whose life?

looking for things yet to happen
things you can't actually see
except in a game the future plays
of tracing your disappearing act
from this world
in a tattoo invisibility-inked
on the exposed skin
of your fleshy imagination

unsure about until they're done
finding these things
eventual /perpetual
impetuous towards fate
that is, kid

'long as you're not dying today.

Friday, April 11, 2014

y/n? -9.04.2014


I click on 'YES'
when the machine
asks me
if I want to-

shutdown the system

it is this way
that I finish

with today




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

self serving with many glaring omissions -10/04/2014


repeating offender
with straight sarcasm
a fair weather enemy
smart for a moron
quick to misunderstand

coherent mess
a failed un-attempt
by a champion loser
and confessed liar

humble ego maniac
unenlightened self-interest
in a conflict of disinterest

arts patroniser
filthy cleaner
and incompetent task-master

nice for an arsehole
sweating in the rain
with sad laughter
but so much younger

than he used to be





The Game Hasn't Changed -9/04/2014


walked lazy crooked
'til the music stopped
now we're scrambling
unfriendly desperate
for each others seat
and this game is only fun

when you're winning.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Your Writing -9/04/2014


"Bad artists always admire each others work." -Oscar Wilde

it's a conceit to believe
you're writing just for yourself

it's a monumental cop out
to simply write
what you think
others want to hear

it's a fallacy to think
your writing
is simply too clever
for people to understand

it's a delusion to hope
your writing
ever finds it's audience

it's a mistake to want
your writing somehow
to become important

and it is a gift
of immeasurable value
if someone takes the time
to read
or listen
to you

if anyone of these above
is true, for you
they probably all are true

even what contradicts
all that can be said
with certainy
is that you are writing

that is the only
irrefutably good thing
you can do, you are writing, aren't you?




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Join the Dots -7/4/2014

no telling where the dirty mattress
left on my driveway had came from
but the way I join the dots... yeah
fucking hate my neighbours

even if it wasn't actually them
and even if it hadn't been pissed on
wanted to piss on it myself
stick it over their fucking door

luckily for both me and them
I have my Dad's ute
to get it away from here
before I can stew on it
figure on my way to pick him up
I'd dump it in wastelands
behind the airport
to hell with paying
City Councils get enough money
out of me as it is
or some other equivocal shit
I don't know

killed a lot of time behind the airport
to avoid paying for parking
it's vast and quiet and dark
and an ex-girlfriend
and I used to fuck near this one fence line
and it was hot and when I got there
I saw a sign saying
'area monitored, no dumping'.

I remember stockinged thighs
steamed windows
rocking suspension
stupid Bloody zips
and the scaly sounds
of barb wire fence shaking,
but not that sign

we never got caught

but the sign doesn't say no fucking
and factory lights over the hill
make me get nervous

the lid of my fathers car
sits pensively up
a crocodiles waiting jaws
or an open fly's zipper,
and I feel exposed

drive further down the road
running late now
throw the filthy fucking mattress
over some filthy fucking paddock fence
it wasn't hard
I didn't feel guilty
not really

Dad talks to me about his trip
to Papau New Guinea
(he installs IT stuff for bankers)
and all the big business over there
mining and cocoa and forestry
how all the locals are dangerous
how he had to stay in a compound
when not working
how one of his co-workers
got a machete to the head by the locals
and had to fly home

I taunt him it that it sounds like Avatar
he doesn't take my meaning
about bad-guys and maybe
these people and places should be left alone
he says the missionaries
did the real damage over there
and we talk about Aztec books
being burnt by good Christians,
and the new exhibition
as I turn onto the freeway ramp
we're now talking safer territory

he's not mad that I'm late
because I told him about
the illegal dumping, he approves
because he hates city councils too

he tells me about barb wire
being a way of life over there
as it probably is in Africa too
(dad's never been to Africa, far as I know)
then he rants about Manus island
not being so bad,
better than the jungle
and I wiggle in this seat
saying nothing
he knows
the work I did with refugee
but not why

I know
the work he does means
Dad pays more in tax each
than I earn
each year
and he joins dots... differently than I

he's in a good mood
glad to be home
out of danger
rubbish we talk
dark and oh so empty out here

wonder if someone
did piss on that mattress
if someone ever saw us fucking
if there are tapes of it
wonder if I'd watch them
given a chance
or if I got busted
dumping out here
or why I ever bother
arguing politics in the abstract

nothing means anything
or holds points together
like a closed mouth

it's dark and late
the only point I have to make
is a home address
the only dots I have to join
are freeway light
these are running
along all the barb wire fences
blurring inky-blue-dark
out the window

alongside us.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dicks - 30/3/2014 (World Naked Bike Ride, Melbourne)


sixth time I've derobed
to do Melbourne's
World Naked Bike Ride
why why why

it's as close to tribal as I
get stripped down
painted up
get a sun-kissed
voice booming sacrament
fist-pumping in photograph

public oh so public
a city so glad to see us
skin sticks to me
whole city blocks
of broad smiles
and cheers

thousands upon thousands
of Asian tourists
clamoring for pictures
swarm around us
confusion translated
through their camera lenses
as "Welcome to Melbourne"

we were a sight to see
all jiggling
swinging moving parts
slogans on skin
rolls of fat and laughter

be lying if I said I wasn't
looking at some girl's arses
also be lying now if I said
I wasn't liking
being looked at
especially by
some of the same

especially all the while
as those odd few
angry men
in angry cars
rolling down angry
double-chin windows
to yell
poofter faggot bastard
at us

laughing all ways down Lygon
we wonder why the sight
of a few small penises
creates such a BIG problem
for them

how and what and why
the space these things
threaten to take up
inside the minds of these
threatened men

the time we men spend
making our penises
everybody else' problem

we're used to seeing women
com-modified bodily
tits and arse are used
to sell us things
like a lifestyle, to us
and back to themselves

it take balls to...
...make testicles a proverb
for courage
but then the big men
screech hysteria
when the see some

my balls you cannot buy
this ride you cannot pay for
and no one is selling it yet
my body
our bodies

guess no one looked
in their bathroom mirror
or had a shower today

when it was over
I didn't want to put
my clothes back on
none of us did
I guess my penis
is still a problem

I'd be the first to say
it really shouldn't be
I mean it's not actually

all that big of a big deal


I resisted the idea of including some of the many great photographs taken on Sunday in this blog, but I know you won'y be satisfied until you get at least one so, fine:

Hi Mum. Anyway, for a more pictorially-integrated account of the WNBR, check out 'Skinned' my poem on last year's ride HERE



Monday, March 31, 2014

Lights Left On -31/03/2014


laundromat on cold nights
grumbling machinery reeks
stale damp of the shit jobs
and a grubby mental illness

an office un-neatly after
work, less silent than
those quiet desperations
that fueled it's productivity
just twenty minutes back

or old factories mapped
in a broken glass history
with pigeon shit topography

empty shiny car parks
echo-wet with clacking heels
of someone else'
hedonistic nightlife

 an off-to-work-this-morning
woman's room
you lie alone in the warm
smell of her sheets
before letting yourself out
without the offered shower
and latch behind you

these places
you're not supposed
to linger in
are not those lonely ones

from what you've left behind
see you some in trace-shape
imagining I... remember
liking people, like them
like liking that last light left on

imaginary lives fill my head
rush hour slow motions
a spectrum of living both subtle
and grossly different than mine

their laughters
their dreams
their fears
and own ideas

convenient fictions
of people
who do not need
back from me

in my mind
such places
are made
into temples
sacred spaces
in my mind

it feels welcome here




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sky’s The Limit -26/03/2014


every so often
a light will flash
breaking yellow over grey
hot air balloons
hovering the skyline
each bursting a flame
to keep themselves
up there

every so often
our conversation will spark
into a one word answer
when I ask him
how my sisters are
then will sink back down
under the dashboard

this is our thing
you have to get Dad mad
about something
to get him talking
about anything

don't feel like doing that
this early in the morning
as I drive him to the airport
colour me overcast

oup! - there's another one flash

must be one hell of a view
from up there
...yeah I've been in a hot air balloon
one of a myriad of chitchat things
I’d say to virtually anyone else
I was one-on-one in a car with

think it don’t say it
no longer trying to spark up
a conversation
for the grunts I’ll get back

sometimes I forget this happened
the hot air ballooning, I mean
I was in Cappadocia, Turkey
on my way to Nemrut Dağı

there was a time in my life
I could only talk to others
about all the impressive things I've done
cycling through Spain
on a Catholic pilgrimage
or seeing the sunrise behind
then right over mount Everest
and trekking to Annapurna base camp
by myself

or how I beat hepatitis C
and liver cirrhosis
six months pegulated-
-ribavirin and interferon
and how I survive
with severe haemophilia

how me and my mates
have escaped police chases
gotten away with all sort of stories
we tasted the back of the wind
and I would like
to tell my dad
what it was like

my father does not know
what these things are like
and for all the voice I have now
there just isn't enough muscle in my words
to get it across the other side
of that driver’s seat

another flash

I no longer need
to try impressing people
is the hallmark
of having done some impressive things
tell that to yourself

like I tell myself
I know this isn't his fault
the envy and distrust
that characterises us

want to blame generations
and wars
and elections
and politics
and talk back radio
and role models
and you just figure...

once you've gotten up
in front of hundreds of people
at a time
making them laugh in your own words
once you've been to other countries
giving workshops on making poetry
to street kids via interpreter
once these things, you just figure
you could carry a fucking conversation

or be cool
(not talking)

I once did a course of meditation
where I was forbade
to speak to anyone for ten days
it wasn't that hard
you might not believe
pushed my sexual boundaries out
with another man in Madrid
I rather enjoyed it
but yeah
that was a bit harder

we don't have to go there
only to say there's a few places
you haven't
know some things you do not
talking points

for us to have something to say
I know there are others
that you know about
~an abseil
down a hundred-ten metre funnel
or the rope-free-climb
up the rock walls at Olympus
the time I scrambled up a cliff face
above a Borneo jungle
or jumped out a plane
above the Southern Alps

talking points for the shortage
of fairly difficult things I've done
but every one of them helped
redefine how far I can push myself
each one done
became a precedent
for something else
I might have once thought impossible

yet this unlifted limitation
unable to talk-Turkey
with my Dad
bears down on me now
with a bit tongue
so hard

so we
drive this silent fixation
through the minuscule burst
of light
above us

right now
sitting across
from him
it's the only thing

I feel capable of