Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chopping Boards and Sharp Objects - 28/09/2014


goodbyes are hard
especially after cutting up
all those onions
which was also hard

love is hard
traveling alone is hard
love it
have years of it under my belt
but never had to leave
someone behind before
to do it, is hard

train carriages
with people standing
close enough to see
your swollen itchy red eyes,
is hard

stupid fucking onions




Performing with Buddy Wakefield in Sydney, next Tuesday (September 2nd 2014)


So I'm heading off for Sydney today to commence touring the new book around the country, and do a wee-bit of cycling to.

First gig is next week, and I'm just a tad excited to be performing with one of my idols, and an international, individual slam champion of the universe, Buddy Wakefield.  The lineup is Buddy and myself as features, with an open mike and slam section bracketing us. 

(Facebook event page HERE)

This is a dream come true for me and I can't think of a better place of it to happen than Sydney. If you're in town, come down to: Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper Street, Glebe. You won't be disappointed. Probably.

I'll also be back and forth between Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle and Wollongong throughout September October doing stuff before heading over to Adelaide, Perth and Fremantle in October. Keep your eyes on my Facebook page, or the Twitter feed on the right hand side of this blog ->>





Monday, August 25, 2014

Inhibition - 25/08/2014


had a little blood in my urine

then a lot of headaches in my paperwork
woke up sweating out of my painted-in corner
some semen seeping into the wet ways I speak
some shit eating into my grin
deep cuts fresh in my diet
plus hairline fractures in my plans
then infections in my appetite
and they found these whopping bruises
coming up all over my ego

as it is, today
the doctors in the Haemotology department
tell me that, luckily
I haven't developed any inhibitors in my blood
since that operation





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good guys and bad guys - 13/08/2014


I would have much rather been remembered not as the difficult genius but as a good guy."

I was haunted by Orson Welles' last interview for a long time. When I was in hospital overnight in 2012, I had no visitors and few well wishers. I made it like that. It didn't feel good.

I remember thinking about Orson Welles, while lying there alone. I was a lot more isolated from family and friends and people back then.

Now I want to say thanks to everyone. Those who called, those who came to visit, and still those who gave me the space I asked for, because yeah there's only so much interaction I can handle.
I think if I died today, now, I would be remembered as a good guy. One of the good guys. That's important to me.

Of course, it would be nice to have the greatest film ever made under my belt as well, but instead I have "Breasts!"... I can live with that.

I mean die with it, whatever.

Yeah, I feel like whatever stubbornly mercurial artistically-justified self-consciously angry path I was on a few years ago, has been altered. I'm not the idiot things I write. Hell, even they aren't the idiotic things they write (themselves) anymore.

I don't need to be remembered, there is no legacy here. For now, I am a good guy, and I am very much alive.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Growth Pattern - 12/08/2014


a hammer
looking for something to nail
didn't know what to do
what to say to you

it took me a long time
to grow into my own mouth
to open up this chest
to fill my shoes

empty when I first found them
skin so thin it couldn't conceal
the heart on my sleeve
chip on my shoulder
the bruises all over my ego

took years of aching knees
and awkward exchanges
to figure out where I stood
waiting for a place in this world
to find me

saw red
while watching this space
burnt bridges
just to keep this spot warm

when I grew up
I wanted to be
the best thing
that ever happened to you

      and then that never happened
              ...and the story gets confused
                      ‘round the time they told me
                                     I couldn’t ever touch you

transfused blood virus
before we’d ever figured out
what exactly touch was for

life on hold
a hammer
looking for something to nail
missing the mark
missing the right questions to ask
there was a hole to fill in my mouth
and I couldn’t grow up fast enough
to catch it

I caught Hepatitis C

had it by the tail
-end of my fourteenth year
had it so couldn’t get sex
had it and you became
what I couldn’t get
you became only
what I could get mad at

couldn’t reach out to you
you couldn’t touch this
infectious adolescence
I hated you for that

and I threw out so much
over-muscled rage trying to shake
it was raw
it was big and loud
hard down there
it had no handles
no sides to hold on to
to get over

said fuck the world
really just wanted
to make out with it

indulged my anger
when I couldn't
satisfy my love
until one day
a cure came for me

that was nine years ago
it worked the poison out my blood
and I have been negative ever since to speak

I grew into touch
learned how to feel it
how to say it
to express it

still prick my tongue sometimes
but it’s different
know my name now
know who I am
know it took me
a long time in the getting

an awful-long time
to grow into my own mouth
to open up this chest
to fill my shoes

think I got older
faster than I should...
there are still days
I’m just a hammer
looking for another nail
but it’s not a hang up

not out of anger
not out of bounds
I’m just a tool sometimes
one that doesn’t need fixing

I am one
that can fix things


Wrote this is a few weeks back and planning to premiere it at a gig this weekend past. Which I didn't end up doing.  Have spent the last week in hospital instead. No I haven't been writing about that.

I was originally going to be leaving on my cycling trip today. That's not happening now. The trip will still happen though. Stay tuned.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stuck on the runway - 30/07/2014


My Dad is down
because his boss
(who was a friend)
died recently

He missed the funeral
because of a flight delay

I know this now
because my mother
and my sister told me

when I went around last night
he was (even) more quiet
and withdrawn than usual
barely said hello
or moved from the couch

I tell the whole world
what I masturbate to
or if the coffee is any good

My Dad on the other hand
simply -cannot- tell his own family
when he's feeling sad

There is a generation gap here
you could drive a whole world through
but not get one word squeezed out

between these two men.





Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spells arse with an R - 27/07/2014


poets like to imagine poets
as being way more thoughtful
or adventurous
than poets actually are

aren't even actually
all that poetic





Saturday, July 26, 2014

Minus sixteen days - 27/07/2014


I have paid more attention to the handful of critics encountered,

than the scores of supporters and friends I've made.

Given more currency to hate and petty wounded-ness, than love and intelligence. I regret this.

I wasted a lot of time these past two and a half years, since my last big trip.

I am leaving Melbourne in sixteen days.

I will be taking with me only things that I need.

I don't need bitterness, anymore.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Minus nineteen days - 23/07/2014


a cigarette
she tried to not let me see

I caught her
with friends
through this window

mad at her
she looked happy
nineteen days until I leave

I worry about her without me

she might be better


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cover Story - 22/07/2014


just ordered the next print run of my book
just bought an expensive tent to live in
just ordered another coffee
just lost the page of my cyclists' touring guide
talking about diet, foods and supplies

just got afraid of everything
just wasted another five minutes
staring at Scarlett Johansson's legs
on the magazine cover

just over there on the rack
her vacant face stares blankly back

just what are you going to eat-out there in the desert,
young man?




Friday, July 18, 2014

Bad Day, Carbon Dated - 18/07/2014

I am going home after this

where your repealed carbon-copy
Herald Scum front pages
and homophobic talk back callers
will not be

I am going home
where your irresponsible voters
downed passengers liners
and Palestinian massacres
have no domain

I am going home
to make today ended
find a place divided out
from human

where your drive through
bottle shops
your leashless dogs
and discarded McDonalds wrappers

cannot find me




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steve Smart's launch speech for "One For The Road' - 14/07/2014


For Monday night's launch there was simply no question of whom I would ask to do the actual 'launching' speech for me (a book isn't actually "launched" unless someone important says something important about it), the only human who could have possibly done this was Steve Smart.

(Photo by Andrzej Sobieszczuk)

The following is a transcript of his launch speech: 

The history of self-publishing is a rich, albeit chequered one, from cave paintings to Sufi mystics to Queensland action novelist Matthew Reilly.

In 1967 Valerie Solanis self-published her 'Scum Manifesto' in hopes to change the world and its patriarchal ways, or at least get Andy Warhol to pay her some lip service. Andy's lips were apparently busy with more important matters like sucking his own cock. The work reached wider readership when she tried to kill him and has since been reprinted and excerpted many times.

(I'm told the SCUM Manifesto may have been a misunderstood joke - many of Randall's jokes are also misunderstood.)

Through the second half of the 20th century and early part of the 21st Lawrence Ferlinghetti published many of his contemporaries (beats and otherwise) through his City Lights imprint, but also found time to publish his own work to great acclaim. He is widely considered to be one of the finest of the Beat poets. So far as has been recorded Lawrence never tried to kill anyone.

And in the 1700s William Blake eked out a living contributing illustrations, etchings and engravings to other people's literary works, meanwhiles he was often to be found illustrating his own self-published books of poetry, known as 'illuminated books' (a lineage 'One For The Road' continues). Yes, even the author of 'Innocence and Experience' published his own shit! A controversial figure, considered mad during his lifetime, Blake's poetry is now considered to be among the greatest in written history. We're fairly sure William Blake often wanted to kill publishers.

Hmm... So, next time somebody says self-publishing is vanity publishing you may feel free to quote the works of William Blake. And Randall Stephens. Who has probably never tired to kill anyone either, not even me and we were on tour for aaaages.

Randall Stephens is better known as a 'performance poet' or 'slam poet' (which he rightly denies). This diabolical back-handed compliment is supposed to indicate someone whose work does not sit kindly on the page and can only be considered in a more theatrical construct. As you will discover when you buy the book, Randall's work has evolved very strongly on the page. However it is true that his poetic output up to this point has largely been channelled through live performances and audio recordings. He is also a prodigious blogger and often road tests his work on social media. (Yes, that bloody Twitter account.) He has been published in print in Little Raven's online and print anthologies and in Australian Poetry’s online journal Sotto. His first chapbook was supposed to be a split book with local bon vivant Steve Smart entitled 'Fuck These Guys' but due to the pressures of work, travel and an evolving aesthetic FTG was temporarily shelved pending a contextual overhaul. Yep. Well, and there were the death threats... 

And so we come at long last to 'One For The Road', Randall's first collection of poetry. The one before the next one, which he is already working for that will come before the one after that which may or may not be 'Fuck These Guys'. 'One For The Road' is reflective of a more reflective side of Randall's poetic ouvre (Bam!) while still highlighting a number of the poems that make his live show so dynamic. But no dinosaurs or insults about 'your' boyfriend.

From the opening poem 'We'll Always Have Paris', well known to many of you, 'One For The Road' is a series of journeys and of love poems, so often both at once. There is hope and frustration, often both at once, and there is a will to continue, to find meaning. Of course there is anger at times (see Auckland, unless you're from Auckland, in which case you may want to skip to the closing verses of 'Auckland' which will make you want to punch Randall much less; people from Auckland being sometimes a bit touchy about... Auckland) but the anger is tempered with the understanding that things are not always so clear cut and even where it seems unlikely still there are moments that make things less shit.

Following Auckland there is 'In Sydney', which is a balanced view of a city that is often painted in too few shades. Randall captures Sydney in a way that perhaps only a fond outsider can, with many different snapshots making a satisfying whole. From there to Borneo, where the pith helmet makes its first appearance. Thailand, India, Nepal... I'm not going to list all the places 'One For The Road' travels through, or the people that populate them except to say that each one is given its own space, its own focus as part of the whole continuing journey. Taurangan Armpit battle-rams through countries, continents, all the places Randall has been foreign (including Brisbane and Canberra) taking few prisoners and indicating that the planet is not necessarily 'Lonely' so much as dank, sweaty, half-crazed and very loud, but fun at the same time. There are conversations real and imagined, there are moments just staring at one horizon. And there are jokes, oh lord there are some stinkers!!

And yes, there is more of the pith helmet.

This is at its heart not a book of travel poems, because books of travel poems suck, it's a book of personal experiences, of moments that you expand into.

The book ends with a book-end poem, a rejoinder to 'We'll always have Paris', returning home with the sadness that can entail. It's a fitting close to a book of such breadth and a fine poem.

But wait, it ain't over, there's more to come... check out the preview of the next book!

Randall would like to thank Alex Scott for the cover, back and title page photos and Grace Brosnan and Steve Smart for editing assistance.

It's launched, now buy it, or he really will kill the puppy!

For more information on Steve Smart, check out his website




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'til all are one - 16/07/2014


If I could somehow go back in time
talk to myself as a child
tell him that in thirty years
I would still be watching
the continuing adventures of Optimus Prime... wow

he would be amazed
in fact he would instantly lose all respect for me
and tell me to fucking grow up

then I would smack him in the ear
and run off with his toys while he's crying
and hope that no one saw me

...smartarse little shit




Monday, July 14, 2014

Paid in Fool -some post-launch thoughts on my poetry's poverty


I know this shouldn't matter, and might be in bad taste to start discussing it, but here goes-  

Thanks to the generous support of people at the launch of my book last night, (between the raffle and the people buying the book), I've made back enough to completely cover the costs of this first print run.

Obviously I am not in this poetry-thing to make money (because no one else at my level/tier behaves as badly as I often do, if they're trying to make a living from it).

Instead, writing for me inhabits spaces somewhere between an itch, an exhaust valve, an outright passion and self therapy.

None of my projects have ever been financially solvent, and the ones that were in danger of getting that way, I ended up giving all the earnings for to charity  -which already includes the next book.) I do it for the love... (which means I do it for attention, basically).

So yeah, didn't expect this, and it does make a difference to me. Contrary to others lofty Utopian ideals of how the world should be, money does make a big-fat difference in people's lives, and as nice as encouraging words are, they don't inspire one to readily take the sort of risks that self-publishing entails. I was pretty bummed about how much $$$ I sank into the album last year for what came of it.

This time around I feel I've learned something, and yes I know I and we all -deserve- to get paid for our art, but getting paid and making money aren't always the same. 

There is a biting-point on those gears, between taking a risk/gamble with large amounts of your hard earned cash, versus investing in something that will bear fruit.

I've earned some income one way or another from poetry since late 2009, but usually it has been far outweighed by costs, time off work, or only come out in the wash after claiming tax exemptions. This is the first time I have clear and away made a profit. (or am at least in a position too, now that any more sales will be in the black.)

Money can be a touchy subject with some, there's a lot of pride to overcome on the artists' side. and a lot of assumptions among the ley that us performers/writers/artist should just be doing it 'for the love'. But as repellant as it might seem to some sensibilities out there, the truth is. Pats on the back and critical acclaim are great, but there's no substitute for getting paid as a form of validation.

So in summation: I just want to say huge a BIG, massive, tidal-gravity-affecting THANK YOU from the man in the pith helmet to everyone who has bought the book and/or came to Passionate Tongues last night. Hopefully you don't end up feeling like you've thrown money away either...


I'd like to do a big proper thank you about the gig, but that will need a day or two to collect my thoughts and let the dust settle. 

Meanwhile, sharp eyed readers might have noticed this morning that I've (finally) added a bio page to the blog page, complete with links and embedded video. If you have a minute, have a look HERE

And also a big ol' BUY NOW button for those of you who would like a copy of this book. Go on, find out what all the fuss is about. 



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not wanting to move on.


standing here huddled for shelter
just waiting for this storm to pass

it's been thirty four years