Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tear This Year a New One -31/12/2009


He has another year leering,
Horizon reaching for his eyes,
Groping at here with where he wants to be,
The differences there,
Standing back to back about to duel,
Whispering to each other,
What’s the big idea?

Soft enough that no one else hears.

Old acquaintance’ forgotten,
Find him down by the laconic,
Swimming through droughts,
And drowning in drinks,
Trying to float his boat,

Waiting for that ship to come sailing in.


Interesting to reflect:


Well, it's been a hell of a year.

I mean that both in the check-out-my-fifteen-thousand-photos, and in the Sage-Francis-song-title sense of the phrase. I've had my up and my downs, and still have my hope.

So this is Randall Stephens, last survivor of two thousand and nine, signing off.



Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009 -25/12/2009


Always running late,
To family events,
Each Christmas day.

My Mother's still a saint,
My Father a rock,
My two sisters,
One is now a mother,
The other almost as crazy as me,
My cute little nephew just turned two,
And my brother in law,
The loudmouth that helped me become,
Who and what I am.

But I remember what's missing,
When I sit playing with my cats,

That used to be our cats.




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leaving Lincoln Alive -22/12/2009

(The end of Wordplay)

You'll hear it on the podcast ~an awkward silence after the applause with a whine of hinges swinging on a door as someone escaped the room. It's at the end of Briohny Doyle performing 'I want to die in a Caravan', a great piece and the listening experience would be much improved by editing out this five or so seconds of crap.

However this was the final poem from the last featured performer, of Wordplay, and it's deliberately been left in there.

See, what happened is: I had this Ken Burns-type moment. Ken Burns is an american documentary film maker who made the outstanding series The Civil War. In an interview he talked about doing the final sound mixing on the film and stopping, just as they were about to apply the gunshot sound that kills Abraham Lincoln in the theatre. This surreal moment where they held that narrative in their hands and paused, and for those few moments he said it was as if they we're keeping Abraham Lincoln alive.

Sitting there on my PC in the dark at stupid-o'clock, eagerly approaching the end of a marathon editing session, I suddenly became stuck in that moment right before Wordplay ended, and sat there listening to this non-event of sound on loop for at least a few minutes. In the end, I decided to leave it in this unfinished state and as silly as this may sound, I felt like Ken Burns not letting Abe go, that with this squeaking door, Wordplay would somehow still be 'alive' too.

Okay, granted this is a grandiose and melodramatic comparison, but Wordplay has meant a lot to me (besides, as a dabbler in poetics myself, melodramatic comparison is my business, after all). I remember the first Wordplay night I went to in September 2007 and for the first time really experiencing poetry as an enriching, engaging and entertaining experience.

It opened a whole new and exciting world simultaneously setting the bar very high for standards of writers and performers while also getting me really, really excited about writing myself -which I hadn't really done prior to that.

Wordplay was the only regular gig in Melbourne I ever experienced that I would not, and did not, hesitate to invite non-poets along to, always feeling confident they would get something enriching and accessibly-entertaining.

It was a major factor in getting me interested in poetry, Geoff Lemon showed us how it should be done, and he did it for three years. Now it's gone, and we're here at the point where we only get to remember the phenomenon.

Look, I can't really write anything effective within a few paragraphs to give you a vicarious understanding of what these nights meant to me. I'm not that good of a writer ...yet.
Though fortunately for us both, I don't have to be, and I have something better to offer you instead ~ these afore mentioned podcasts.

Having started from the end, we're working through recordings that Geoff had made of the gigs, and we'll be putting them up to the Wordplay site as download-able mp3 regularly over the next several months.

So... help me keep my Lincoln alive friends.

For all my international peeps out there, as well as you slack-fuckers in Melbourne who never made it along, and for the rest of us who were there and now are going to miss this gig "like a front toof", you're invited to follow the below links and listen.

There's many more great performers/performances yet to come, I'll keep plugging away on the editing, while Geoff and I will keep you updated when we get a new batch up. So listen in and let the words take you away.

May that squeaking door never completely swing shut on us.


PS. The big man had a thing or two to say himself (it being his gig and all), check it out at:


Saturday, December 19, 2009

For a Hard Earned Thirst -20/12/2009 (edited 25/12)


Lost his job and the girlfriend dumped him,
They tell me at our table,
Friend-of-friend never met before tonight,
My intial wince becomes wow.

He's up buying beer at the bar,
A break from the pat-on-the-back parade,
I wanted to walk up and hug him,
Not in sympathy but revelry,
Because this reminds me...

Of times a little less listless,
Rubbing shoulder blades,
Against a backed-into corner,
My fear, fangs, and all my fuck you,
That power found,
Having no-choice but up,
And through, and out,
Tightly-packed baggage,
Ready for guilt trips on trails to life changes.

I want closer to that chaos,
When he comes back I wanna whisper...

My friend, now is your time!

Your cris-it-tunity keyhole into fissure-split lunar alignment time,
Your ubermanch overman overcoming coming at'chya live time,
Your chance at multiple choice lives less ordinary time,
Your beautiful revolutions per minute.

Stop smiling at their pale jokes about bad luck,
Drop the yoke you think think you're wearing,
Start glaring death in the face,
Shove him shoulder-ly saying,
I'm so ready for you,
Alive in the highest percentiles,
You'll never get me,
So come get me!

Our new recruit to the human potential,
Is returning to the table,
With an entire jug of beer,

With this jug we'll write off...
The bitch you're better of without,
The dead end job that was killing you softly.

Starting with this jug,
I'll impart my wisdom,
Celebrate, not commiserate,
The now,
Where your real living will be done,
Dangerous and stupid,
All-profoundly all-knowing,
Unknowingly learning and unlearning,
Stumble-rolling and searching,
Growing and finding,
Breaking the bindings,
Quenching our thirst.

Then I notice he only brought back one glass.




Friday, December 18, 2009

Insubstantial -18/12/2009

Never understand the substance,
But I wouldn't worry,
We have brochures on how it's done,
Whole wall of 'em,
On addiction,
And deliverance,
At your service.

The horse you ride in on,
Comes and goes,
Saddled with harm,
To the minimum I might do,
To make self destruction safe.

Short sections of small talk,
That disintegrate on eye contact,
Or the sounds of automatic doors.

Looking for punch-lines wide enough to pierce through,
Judgements made in judgement calls,
Standing in the in-between of where each of us wants to be,
We counterpart each other,
Juror, Junkie,
Either assessment or sussing-it-out depending on who you talk to.

...I don't talk to anyone.

Easy, really,
Just sip my coffee and strain out another AM hour from my sleeping life,
From my social conscience,
From this someone's gotta do it cavalier,
To handing over the gear,
Saying seeya next time,
Or 'ave a good night,
Or something else equally as stupid.

Never understand the substance,
But I wouldn't worry,
There's a whole other three AM out there to do that for you,
There's a pulse of the hammering small hand clock,
A big room glass booth electric hum fluorescent foam cup next room over and over and over,
Each collection coming with a standard set of questions,
To fill the stats that drift across this landscape of faces,

That will do that worrying for me.


Formatting on this text editor has been an absolute bitch tonight, those are my problems.

The original title for this was "More Substantial Than Thou" or "Sharp Wit" (see... subtlety becomes a little less allusive as time goes on), who knows one of these days I might be confident enough to stop putting things in brackets (but I'd have to be sure it was clear enough).

So, not the first time I gone back on my vow not to write about work. I think it's okay for me morally, as long as I have an angle on it. Ultimately, I'm not trying to bum you out or pull any shit, in as much as I'm writing to deal with any guilt I have, for whatever grace my work provides people, I still basically make a living out of human misery.

-I started typing something longer but decided its a future poem... point is... fuck it, you're damned the minute you touch this stuff. ha ha (ha) -

Oh and "landscape of faces" is a famous quote about director Sergio Leone and how he cast/shot spaghetti Westerns.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If You Like -17/12/2009


Let’s see…
I could pretend to be some shelter,
A big tree,
Or an open garage,
Can even hold my arms out,
Give you my coat for effect,
Walk stoic having mastered the whole,
Thing that you like,
If you like.

Of course you can’t trust me,
That is not what we are here for,
I’ll push my luck just as far,
As your cynicism will stretch,
Before fear snaps it back.

Hoping by then we’ll have a taste,
For one another,
New arrangements of furniture,
Under a semi-familiar ceiling,
A pillow drool patch,
...sorry about that.

But the nice guy finished last laps ago,
And here we are keeping company tonight,
Could break a lot of rules together,
Forget promises made in any direction,
That fan out from this spot,
At this time,
In this look,
On our faces,
Written on our faces,
Both of our faces,
All over our faces,
Closer our faces,
Holding our faces,
Touching our faces,
There on your face,
Here on your face,
There in your eyes,
Here in your eyes,
In your eyes,
Close your eyes,
Closed my eyes.

On your lips,
Here on your lips,
On your lips…

Our lips,

Like a late trail left-off idea,
Guard dogs without tongues,
Alarm clock without batteries,
Bikes without brakes,
Kisses, without qualifier.

Kisses without questions,
All curiosity, but no questions,

Nothing spoken, not anymore.




Monday, December 14, 2009

Dining On Ashes -14/12/2009

(Another status update gone awry, enjoy... )

"Dining on Ashes" ... been cooking for yourself?

...No, just surreptitiously making fun of all the bozos who (for reasons that escape me -completely) want to tell the world what they are eating right now, but since prodded I might as well just say: I DON'T FUCKING CARE WHAT YOU ARE COOKING FOR DINNER YOU FACILE ANT get a life! Get off the computer, or tell me something cool that happened today. grrr roar rawr spit hiss argh!

..And don't give me that"' ne-ne-ne -you're on the computer too..." shit -because no, I'm here working right now, or otherwise stuck at work or even if I wasn't... ah fuckit Lilliputians all!

So yeah, I'm fucking dining on fucking ashes and I need more fucking panadol and my hands still smell like chain lubricant and it won't come off and I also beat one of my rings back into shape today and I used two sets of pliers to do it I bent one of the little Sanskrit letters, or is it Nepalese, and who could tell me anyway but then I fixed it and I watched a few episodes of animated Star Trek and I really like it and who fucking cares anyway and if you really want to know I'm going home to cook pasta on my little camping stove and I'm going to listen to the Rolling Stones really really loud and sing along to them really really badly and I really need more panadol and I can't take aspirin cause it's fucks my haemoglobin coagulant factor VIII and XI levels right-up and its the type that looks like shells I forget what the name is I'm going to make a sauce out of tomatoes, olives a few mushrooms I have left and that last onion I have that feel behind the cupboard the other day, but it's till there and still good and I hope I have made my point and this should be read as if I'm shouting it at you like some deranged George C Scott from the Hustler crossed with Bill Hicks and not needing to take a breath and I hate this banal facile homogeneous little kingdom we've built because the most powerful tools of any human civilization ever used by the richest most well educated and and privileged members of our species sit in front of boxes telling each other about buying a new kettle or spinach leaves and balsamic or hangovers and that is not enough and don't tell me its okay you were meant for more than that and this is an inexcusable intellectual and physical and metaphysical sloth and don't tell me to calm down and chill out this is not a sitcom or a soapbox because I hope you've stopped laughing by now and that's why I live by myself don't tell you my real name don't cut my hair don't shower and love telling people that and watching their appalled reactions and I sit here smelly and belligerent as just about anyone who you would never ever want to meet always glaring imagining this evil look is being shot over at the judge and I'm permanently in contempt of this court and only smile when I get to tell you and I love so much to tell you that I am a free man and therefore... I DO NOT FUCKING CARE WHAT YOU EAT FOR DINNER, or had, or are going to, unless it was something cool like babies on spikes with a side of salad. And guess what while I've been ranting my podcasts have finished uploading and I am going back to my cave.

If you ever come to my front door I'll shoot you. I mean it.

...enjoy your food.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Tonsilwritis" -14/12/2009


This is feeling vaguely reminiscent of those times I was pointedly dared into...
1) Proving I couldn't (infact) run head-first into the student lockers in high school, or
2) Doing as many one-arm pushups as possible in the middle of that Monash Freeway overpass before the truck runs over me, or
3) Drinking the glass of beer even though I knew they'd poured an ash tray into it while I wasn't looking,

...once being foolish enough to confess on facebook that I am currently ailed, I was veritably taunted and challenged (dare I say tormented) into writing something, so as to capture that imagined fevour dream-demented-irasible-mercurial-irrational-tortured-anguished state of mind I must be in while sick.

Well, in the spirit of Anno Hideka's End of Evangelion and many other screenplay/novel favourites of mine, I decided to give the public everything they asked for but in the wrongest-way possible.

The title has been stolen from Geoff Lemon (hi Geoff!)


Writing = Vocation = Constant Work = Any excuse for a break = Tonsilittus = Headache + Swollen jugular + Sore throat = Cripplingly debilitating illness = Cancelling schedule + Couch + Stripy pyjamas + Watching shitty DVD extra features + Leisurely jerking off + Tackling pile of as-yet-unlistened to-CDs + Irregular eating X Junk food + Random napping / Fuck the phone off already + Ran out of clean dishes yesterday + What day is it - Ah shit I can't call in sick to work 'cause it's casual and I live on the skin of my teeth as it is X (fuckshit!) + Why would any of this be inspiring / Any interest to anyone else + I'm in a bad mood now + How dare you suggest my life isn't inspiring enough normally = My inference of such above anyway + Hitting weakspot + My computer makes an annoying noise that might indeed aggravate headache = At least that's my excuse X An eternal and now distended love of Ferris Buellers Day Off - The hairstyles - the Ferarri being destroyed / Alan Ruck X Charlie Sheen's cameo that everyone forgets is there 'til they watch it / ('cept me ahahaha!) + You've stopped reading ages back = Or are at best scanning = Skimming / Looking for additional laughs X Deconstructionalist + Stupid suggestion / I'll write how and when and why I fucking please X Thank you very much folks = you get the idea + ? (= question mark)

+ There, you fucking happy now? - Trace of irony.


I haven't actually checked the see if the equation completely cancels out or balances, I just hope you all feel as dirty as I do. That'll learn ya for making well-intentioned and innocent suggestions about my writing habits.

You just be glad I didn't attach a picture to this blog... oh boy.


Well, what the hell did you expect? Fear and Loathing in Tropic of on the Road in the Rye. Fuck you! I need rest ...and a cute nurse!

(throws snow globe or other highly symbolic thing at door just as you slam it shut on your way out!)



Monday, December 7, 2009

Like You –07/12/2009 (redux 10/12/09)


Had to hold my tongue,
Like it was a mop,
And the laundry was flooding.

I had to swallow,
Feel the grey shades completely eat,
The physical relief, when I got my own way.

I had to admit how silly this all was,
Having seen hate in the mirror,
Winking back.

Knocking me back.

I had to stop and think,
Had I ever been here before?

Felt that distance between us,
What each of us brought to the table,
Had to respect her for that.

Had to lie through my teeth,
Like there weren't enough life boats,
Suddenly I can't swim.

Had to whipe that stupid smirk,
Off my face,
Held back when told that mine were not the words,
Of a bad man.

Had to do what I had to do,
But that is not to say,

That I actually did,

Any of the above.




Saturday, December 5, 2009

There's no I in team, but you'll find a 'me' -5/12/2009


We did it! You made it, and it all came off, with sound effects, 2 hecklers thoroughly cut down to size, and my Mum got a front row seat. Hot damn.

Thank you Everyone who came along supporting the gig, the place was packed, couldn't have asked for a better audience. Our work is the sound of trees falling in the woods (seriously, you see all the paper I had stacked behind the benches?), without you nothing is shared, nothing grows and I'm just not interested. Sincerely, we appreciate you gifting your time, and we worked our hardest to honour that.

An XXXL size thanks to Elizabeth 'Lish' Skec for putting me up and giving me a shot at the title, her ongoing support and enthusiasm in the weeks leading up helped spur me on to get bigger and better.

To the 6 performers who donated their time, their ideas and their formidable stage presence: Libby, Meaghan, Smarty, Eleanor, Alex and especially my non-poet friend Loki, thank you for signing up to do something a little different and for being such a pleasure to work with, you were all on the ball, and made it fun.

I caught a comment from someone suggesting this was all done because I was scared I couldn't hold the stage on my own (bitch, please), this is not worth mentioning on its own, but it did add an element to a question that has burning in my brain since Alex and I first duet back in early 2008... why don't more people give it a try?

It's my sincere hope that this performance will inspire other people to also work in colloborative poetics, and I'll just throw it out there that I'm open to helping out anyone wanting to do this, if you have any ideas for something. Seriously.

As for me, I'm taking a little break, so y'all might not see me around for the rest of the year, gonna be using my time to help Geoff Lemon with podcasts for the Wordplay website (as he'll tell ya, I'm way-way overdue on delivering this), then I start laying down music for the next album "This Is A Heavy Product". Keep an eye on the blog here for plenty more new and varied material on the way freely available for your reading pleasure.

My next big feature will be in February for Sospeso, planning something specific and 180-degrees different than this last one. Stay tuned. It's been a great year for me, and if you're reading this you had something to do with that.

Thanks again, be safe, happy, vital and vocal.


-Randall Stephens
December 5th, 2009


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Window Person -30/11/09


Muffled music and overheard conversation,
Fuels the paranoia.

All the posters are true,
Easy targets,
Phone calls never come when you want them to.
(I Left the window open)

Nobody smiles like that,
I should know,
I really should.

She was a poor mans imitation of Lauren Bacall,
But, shit, last I checked my wallet...

A bug with tiny wings just ricocheted of my arm,
Landed on its back and thrashed around helplessly,
trying to get the right side up.

When I looked over again he was gone.
(I left a window open),
I'm assuming it was a he.

...He had wings you know.

Did I already mention that?

Still remember her face though,
Had I can't sleep written all over it,
All soft shadows and saturated colour-eyes,
Wish she would have held still,
A little longer,
Wish I could have said,
A little more.

It won't be anything for a few hours,
You won't believe it.
(Left the fuckin' window open)

Have you looked around lately?

It's not a leading question.


Anyway, you can relax,

I think the bug's gone now.


(oh and look, gonna bug me if I don't make it explicate, the formatting is delibrate)



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not Coming Back -25.11.2009


Not coming back,

Not coming back,

Real certain of that.

Forgive her for the fact,

She can’t forgive back,

Forgive yourself instead,

Go bury the hatchet,

Inside your own head.

Not coming back,

Not coming back,

And make sure of that.

Don’t know what you have to offer,

Besides monsters under the bed,

Offer this up instead,

Asking for Somebody out there,

To take it all as read,

Cut a swath through all this said,

Might help figure out,

What you do have to offer another,


Offer that,

Because he’s not coming back,

Not coming back,

I'll promise you that.

He's gone to pick up the slack,

Down a beating track,

And ain’t coming back,

Not coming back.

Gone in a race of facing facts,

What his old self lacked,

Found he's not coming back,

Not coming back,

Not coming back,

Never coming back.

Never coming back.


I kinda fancy turning this into a song, but... (shhh!) don't tell anyone. That could get us both in alotta trouble if anyone finds out.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Please -22/11/2009

It tried to be so much more than it really was.

Wanting others to shoudler rub and smile at it,
Welcome it amongst found or imagined peers.

This poem was a desperation,
Part plea, and attack,
Part instruction, some accusation,
Fighting everything beyond its fingertips,
Unable to be enough on it's own,
Redundantly over explaining itself,
Scared that you won't get it,
... because it's scared that you won't get it,
Because that was a better-scared than you already got it,
And weren't impressed.

This poem was a blank page rebuttle,
Shaking up under a pen tip,
A day stopping short from a fresh scar near a major artery,
Near one death and very, very far from a home, safety or friends
Lower lip trembled trying not to sob as it said,
Printed clear and sober in the middle of a blank page:

do better.




Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Faster -18/11/2009


Balmy night on streets that can be busy,
But have emptied for you,
Everything else left at the vanishing point,
Not a thought to hold,
Like early morning words,
At the tip of a pen.

The wind rides along with you,
Catching each message so quickly,
The safer the faster,
Your hearing chases them into an all clear,
Over the sound of ankles,
Passing kilograms of velocity,
Kilometres on memory,
Beholden at speed,
Tires eating,
White lines wobble,

Red for Green,
But everything runs and the lights can't stop us,
These are hours belonging only to your eyes,
Blurring past others darkened windows.
Are as far from sleep,
As a human-being,

Can be.


I hope you know who you are, and that these words find you well, I left them waiting here for you, my friend.



Monday, November 2, 2009

Randominities from Swan Hill and Mildura -29/10/2009


I explained that it was getting up on stage and saying things,
Not exactly acting, you know like performing?...
Yeah I get it,

She said before I could finish,
I was going to add there isn’t always necessarily a stage,

We got along fine that morning,
The waitress and I.


He’s gonna wait,
To punch that fucken cunt’s head in,
‘til after Thursday,
So he doesn’t have to spend all weekend in the nick,
His friends agree as the idea goes around the table,
Yeah wait until Monday,
One table away I keep my eyes down on the coffee,
But I am desperate to look up and see what they look like.

Capture their faces.

* * *

When kids are up on stage saying “We are the World/the Future”,
They are annoying,
When kids are up on there with something more depressed,
Self-destructive and hopeless things,
They are still annoying.

Really, really annoying.

* * *

Getting a tattoo written in a language you don’t understand,
I don’t understand,
For all you know,
You’re walking around with I’m a fuckwit,
Written on the side of your neck,
And even if you’re not...

You kind of are anyway.

* * *

Tough men here are all wearing short shorts,
Not enough women are.

Someone should do something.

* * *

I am sitting amongst backpackers,

I am definitely not one of these backpackers,

I am just here checking it out to make sure I don’t do all the same things they are doing which would make me a back-pack


Music is piped out onto the street,
Backpackers are here,
Bugs are everywhere,
My water is in my bag,
My bag is on the floor,
All the cute girls are with all the dorky guys,
All the chairs are out in the beer garden,
Taxis are across the road waiting,
No one in Mildura has ever seen a safari hat before,
Or so I gather.

And the Beer is right in front of me.

* * *

As she walked back across the vast distance to her friends table,
From my window-side perch,
I then realised she wanted the monosyllabic,
Mysterious stranger, personae.

Okay, ah, let’s see...
He’s drifted into Mildura on a trail of empty bottles and broken promises,
Explaining this slowly while staring off away from eye contact,
That maybe just maybe,
Some tender mercy moment with her, here,
Might heal.

Instead, all her questions are answered well,
Lyrical, sharp and practiced, and I made her laugh,
A lot,
But she didn’t want that.

People sitting quietly by themselves,
Like I was,
Are supposed to be shy,
Not gregarious, conversational masters,
Like I am,
Too smooth, too polished and rehearsed,
No one needs rescuing here ...except her,
She makes a strategic exit.

I am again left alone in a crowded room with my notebook,
Only now,

It’s not by choice.

* * *

Observational humour is essentially dry, but not always sober... haha.


* * *

Inspiration is an alarm clock,
That you have forgotten to turn off,
On your day off,
And it must be silenced, immediately!

* * *

You should go over there,
To the girl from Mildura who walked off on you before and explain,
Carrying your bag and new- found belligerence,
That yeah this used to be the shy guy you suspect she’s after and all that,
But no one found that interesting, except myself,
So you gave up and started to be actually interesting,
Albeit every bit as pretentious.

All you did instead was write (this) down,
Your own exegesis on why you will never win,

Then again...
There was a pause before you wrote Mildura before,
Where you had to remember where you are,
And she lives...there.

Guess that makes you even.

* * *

Your father is a thief,
He stole the suburbs and put them in your country town-eyes,
Possibly making his getaway with them on the back of a ute,
There are utes everywhere you know,

Utes in their eyes, straying across the room,
Attempts at stolen glances,
But my eyes can't hide the metropolis I'm from,

So no one's stealing anything,

Or is getting away with anything, either.

* * *

I want another drink,
I want a taxi,
I want a complete sentence,
I want Oliver Reed’s last words,
I want you to go look up what they were... yep.
I want money to spend so I can want my money back,
I want long flowing hair any colour big breasts smooth legs arching heels,
Lips that are just too good to smile with.

And I want them all on me,
All over me,
No you idiot ~ I mean I want them on someone else,
Whose on me,
No just one of each,
No I meant a woman,
I mean I want this person to be a woman...

I mean I want...

I want to start this over again,

I mean, ah bugger it,

Wonder if Oliver Reed ever made it to Mildura.




Sunday, October 25, 2009

Remember -23/07/2008

(draft -25/10/2009)

She smokes a lot,
Maybe too much,
She knows this,
-you don’t need to tell her,
Wouldn’t do either of you any good.

Not in a talkative mood,
Barely says two words to you,
Could dig yourself into trouble,
If you push this.

Lines on her face that aren’t enough sleep,
Showing hours in the day she slept through alone,
Not necessarily by herself,
Just… alone.

Sunburn that turned straight into freckles,
Whiles her skin remains pale,
Hair golden-brown,
Like tarnished jewellery,
Nice if she looked after it better,
Which she doesn’t of course,
There isn’t ever enough time.

Blowing cigarette smoke out her mouth,
Like it’s pushing away every lame excuse you could make,
Expels it with a slight whistle,
Not sure if that’s sounded to bother you,
…But it does.

The shirt she’s wearing doesn’t fit well,
Eyes out the window,
Turned away from you,
Locked on something in the blue sky.

Can’t remember what colour her eyes actually are,
And that’s sad.

Because you know somehow,
That it might help,

If you could remember.




Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Romulus by Christmas -09/08/2009


On the carpet.

Hold you down,
Stretch you out,
You’re all mine,
Body is mine,
Mind is mine.

Make you sweat,
Limbs quiver,
Lips tremble,
Limits approach.

Outside world drops away,
Ceiling and floor dissolve,
Replaced by a quickening pulse,
Muscle strains,
Your groans,
Gasps for air.

Sensations undescribe you,
As it goes on and on,
Forget your name,
Age and place,
Taking you to the centre,
Of yourself,

I am there,
Focusing only on...

This workout.




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Turbulence and Other Unfinished Business -21/10/2009


"So do you know how I feel, tonight..."

-Saul Williams, Wine

There’s never been Saul Williams out this far,
I must be the first person to play his CD,
In Narre Warren, down the Princes highway,
Cruising around in a borrowed car,
I’m almost certain,
This is the only time,
That 'wine' will be heard out here.

As my colleagues continue to thumb through,
Their well-thumbed-through thesaurus’,
For more riddles for the same few poets to moo along too,
I see my stage space sooner or later being replaced,
By pokie machines, and I don’t even know if I’ll mourn,
But I won’t… masticate.

I’ll just wine,
In a borrowed car performing petroleum injection in six valves,
Itself on a dwindling supply of borrowed time,
Fueled on old bones from older seas,
Under a sky too big to hold anything as small as this,
In its favour.

And it may not feel like it now,
But these are the good times,
The only ones we have to spare.

Putting my father on a plane again,
After the drop off,
Wondering how many more times I can,
Before one of these car seats will remain empty.

Don’t know when the last time I get to hug my mother,
Is going to happen,
Only that it will happen,
And will only happen once,
So I’ll have to hug her like it is that time,
Each time,
Simultaneously hoping it it's not.

And standing here now hoping it hasn’t happened already.

Because I still need… to need,
In spite the three hours just gone,
That will stretch out to the rest of tonight ahead,
Without me saying a word to another human being,
I still need tomorrow to emerge from plane turbulence,
For me,
For my father,
For my arms,
Around my and every other person’s mother too.

Last time my plane hit a patch of turbulence,
It was above Brisbane,
The woman sitting next to me,
Grabbed the moan in her throat too late,
And I heard it,
I laughed my arse off,
Feeling utterly alive,
Happy enough with what I have had here,
That I felt immediately ready to die,
Without wishing to.

It was only after I landed,
That I got scared,
And it’s only after these thoughts had become real words,
That I knew I was wrong,
It was only in recalling what I’d previously heard,
That I listened to it.

The sound of the human being next to me,
Who simply did-not-want,
Every single thing she had done,
This week,
This year,
To be the last one of those.

I hear Saul Williams wine,
And I think about... everything,
Everything I'm yet to put in the face of those other fuckin' poets,
Everything I have not loved enough,
Loathed enough,
Seen enough,
And I have not shit-eaten-fucked-thought-talked-fought-fled and bled,

I want what the womans turbulence-induced moan wanted,
And the firm grasp of my father's shaken hand,

I want more.

So if this somehow were to end up,
Being my last poem,
That I never intended it to be,
That I ate every dish,
Sung every song,
And faced every face,
Savouring and satisfied,
Without staying in a state of satisfaction.

Still saving space for desert after each meal,
Living expectantly,

With room for a little bit more.




Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Home Boy –20/10/2009

(originally written circa June/July 2008)

And when the dust finally unsettled,

When my unwritten epilogues,
Started staring competitions,
With my unstated intentions…
Rocking the liberty bell until it broke,
As I bottomed-out the bell curve with all my back paddling,
It was time.

And while time saved stitching in zip locker bags,
I wasted oceans just watching,
Sunset over seas of water-course-language,
And I swear…

I’ll never go back there again.

By the time my voice was found,
Unpacking these poor metaphors,
Once lost somewhere in the baggage,
It was already time to move on.

Back in Morocco,
I never made it to Casablanca,
Ran right out of time,
So we never really had Paris either,
But it sounded good,
Beautiful friendships,

Going ahead at these break neck speeds,
And like Rick said,
I stick my neck out for no one.

Seeing road signs,
That point to nowhere,
Or back to themselves,
In this tautological limp back ho-
-I mean, where I came from.

So I need reminding,
With some directions at hand,
That this is where I’m at,
I am home,






Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Parental Palatial Paradise -18/10/2009


A washing machine that won't ever steal my coins,
Chew up my clothes,
Or leave them covered in powder,
No socks lost,
And only the mistakes are mine.

A real and actual clothes line,
Placed where the wind may blow,
And the sun may shine,
Showers are overhead and hot,
Towels thick and soft,
No more frayed or blotchy than my fragile mind,
In its hangover morning mode.

A fridge and cupboard full of food,
More than even a mythical beast might eat,
Spoils of war, renounced to the armchair traveller,
A television set I once owned myself,
Large enough that the screen could swallow me whole,
A DVD collection that once belonged to me,
Donated back,
Now cataloguing alotta lost time from my twenties.

The also-adopted cat curling up on my lap,
With claw-pricks undulating in and out of thighs,
And covering me in coats of her own fur,
But forgiven because she's purring our old forgotten song.

Breakfast on a verandah,
In a backyard where the grass really is greener,
Looking out over the Dandenong Mountains,
My God... are those trees?

Trees… are everywhere.

A car so powerful it simultaneously inflates,
And of course,
Diminishes one’s testicles,
Eardums percuss to the pulse,
Of my music on eleven at eleven,
Acoustically open up the heavens!

Floorboards shiny and waxed enough,
That I run can glide and slide over them in socks,
But not in a Tom Cruise impersonation,
And not, if anyone else was around.

But they are not,
And this is not my house,
In which I am sitting,
Eternally childish here,
A strange igloo in the sub-urban Siberia,
Out there.

The masters are away,
The ambivalent poet plays home-body,
In this equivalent to paradise,
My parents’ own palace,
This is not my house,

But it did used to be my home.


Ok, I promise no more list poems for a while... a little while.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weathered Face -16/10/2009


Tonight this city is drowning itself,
In my plans,
Sinking cries wail out the door,
Of this island-cum-net café,
Mixing with the waft of stale cigarette air,
And tinned Bengali music singing to the traffic,
Calling on us to be more interesting,
Than I think capable,
On account of the weather.

I’m in need of a new plan,
Where sheets of rain are slicing up the evening,
Into tinier and tinier pieces still,
But I’m saturated with six hours of non -stop,
And sit here water logged,
Soaked cobwebs now mingle flirting,
With the increasing numbers of lose threads,
Around the brim of my hat,
Just as the holes on the shoulders of my T shirt,
Desire to grow closer to one another,
Chaffing of salt-crust on my hips and groin,
Competes for the attention,
With the sweat between my toes.

Best laid plans for sub-urban exploration,
Washing away in the rain,
Like the pin lost from my hat,
Bobbing up and down the gutter-gone-river,
As it is carried off underground.

I don’t want to move anymore,
My slice of tonight,
Is served up soggy with embarrassment,
Still sprinkled with the sand,
Dislodged from yesterday’s broken camera,
And a phone's fading-to-flat battery,
Waiting for a friend's call,
To take me back out that door,

Meantime my reflection painted on the PC screen,
Each masterstroke speaks of dampness,
And mushy moods.

And then the mobile shrieks for attention,
And I remember that this is a ‘tonight’ in another town,
And I’ll never get enough of these in my life,
And this is still the game I’ve chosen to play,
And even if the weather has altered,
The players’ positions on the board,
The game goes on,
Nothing and no-one can stop it.
Least of all me.

So the water damaged hat,
Is picked up,
The decision to stand up,
Is made,
And the cold sting of wet clothes down to the butt crack,
Is felt.

But I’m on my feet,
Walking out into weather,
-or not-
The dampener on my plans,
Is the defeat of my spirit,
Pitter patters static sounds on the brim of my hat,
A nagging nay-say stay-inside notion,
Rejoined by a chorus of my footfalls,
In puddles that sound a lot like,
Fuck… the… rain,
Left… right… left,

Because it is a game ~
Everyone here knows the rules by now,
Tonight, like any other,
Weather winner and loser,
No one is allowed to try staying dry.

You walk,

And keep facing the weather.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Except For "Architecture In Helsinki" -13/10/2009 (re-edited 16/10)


With your cats watching us.
With your glasses on,
With one of my boots still on,
With your shoes staying on,
With the doors,
Remaining unlocked.

When the next press of the snooze button,
Could not be more than mere seconds away,
When you are trying, so hard, to continue talk,
To your friend on the phone,
When you are already half-outside the car door,
When I really do have so much work to get done tonight,
When no other cars have pulled up next to us at the lights,
When we passed that big empty park,
Near my parents’ house.

With someone wondering where we got to,
With the belt buckle still getting in the way,
With my thumb sitting in your mouth,
With some stupid music on,
Anything except ‘Architecture in Helsinki’,
Because that would really kill…
Any adequate blood supply,
Where it might be needed.

Without any restraints on volume,
Without having ever made it past the lounge floor,
Without being sure your friend in the next room over,
Is really asleep yet,
Without walls any more solid or substantial than the thin excuses used,
For coming back here,
Far away from the many possibilities, for well-behaved cowardice.
Without me failing to notice how suddenly you were looking...
In another direction,
When I was looking ,
In your direction.
Without me letting you get away with that, one last time.

And with you,
Distractedly making that obligatorily-offered cup of tea,
Or coffee,
That I was ostensibly-invited in for,
But that neither of us really…


…really wanted.




Friday, October 9, 2009

Digest-ation 10/10/09


You are still there,
In another place that looks like the last,
Dizzy stagger busy,
Never enough of this I've-had-enough-of-this binge,
Vomitting up where your alones' left off.

Leaving you where every street walks back,
To every map the wrong way turned,
To every bus ticket and train station,
To every pillow talked through,
Striking back at dawn,
Like a Big Mac eaten ten minutes ago,
It didn't seem to even touch the sides,
And now...

You are already wanting another one.

This sky-scraping sky-line,
Reminds you of so many others,
Would take ten nights of conversations,
To outline them all,
You don't have that many left in you,
And not one single ear besides yours,
That is willing to listen,
Can hear a grumbling from my mid-section,
You are hungry,

Looking at all those lights left on,
Burning what energy this species has left,
Needless and afraid of the dark,
Stuck so high beyond reach,
And from this empty place you stomach,
Everything known,

Just comes down to an appetite, returning.




Monday, September 28, 2009

"I Know You" by Henry Rollins (with commentary) -29/09/2009



I know you.
You were too short.

You had bad skin.
You couldn’t talk to them very well.

Words didn’t seem to work, they lied when they came out of your mouth.
You tried so hard to understand them.
You wanted to be part of what was happening.
You saw them having fun, and it seemed like such a mystery, almost magic.
Made you think, that there was something wrong with you.
You’d look in the mirror trying to find it.
You thought that you were ugly, and that everyone was looking at you.
So you learned to be invisible, to look down, to avoid conversation.

The hours, days, weekends, ah the weekend-nights alone.
Where were you?
In the basement, in the attic, in your room, working some job, just to have something to do, just to have a place to put yourself.
Just to have a way to get away from them, a chance to get away from the ones that made you feel so strange and ill at ease inside yourself.

Did you ever get invited to one of their parties?
You sat and wondered if you would go or not, for hours you imagined the scenarios that might transpire.
If they would laugh at you, if you would know what to do.
If you would have the right things on, if they would notice that you came from a different planet.
Did you get all brave in your thoughts, like you were going to be able to go in there and deal with it, and have a great time.
Did you think that you might be… the life of the party?
That all these people were going to talk to you, and that you would find out that you were wrong, that you had a lot of friends, and you weren’t so strange after all.

Did you end up going?
Did they mess with you?
Did they single you out?
Did you find out that you were invited, because they thought you were so weird?

Yeah, I think I know you.
You spent a lot of time full of hate.
A hate that was pure as sunshine, a hate that saw for miles, a hate that kept you up at night, a hate that filled your every waking moment.
A hate that carried you for a long time.

Yes I think I know you.
You couldn’t figure out what they saw in the way they were living.

Home, was not home, your room was home.
A corner was home, a place they weren’t, that was home.

I know you, you’re sensitive, and you hide it, because you fear getting stepped on one more time.
It seems that when you show a part of yourself, that is the least bit vulnerable, someone takes advantage of you, one of them, steps on you.
They mistake kindliness for weakness, but you know the difference, you’ve been the brunt of their weakness for years, and strength is something you know a bit about, because you had to be strong to keep yourself alive.
You know yourself very well now, and you don’t trust people, you know them too well.

You try to find that special person, someone you can be with, someone you can touch, someone you can talk to, someone you won’t feel so strange around, and you have found that they don’t really exist,
You feel closer to people on movie screens.

I think I know you.
You spend a lot of time daydreaming and people have made comment to that effect, telling you that you’re ‘self involved’, and self centred, but they don’t know do they?
About the long night shifts alone.
About the years of keeping yourself company, all the nights you wrapped your arms around yourself, so you can imagine someone holding you.
The hours of indecision, self doubt. The intense depression, the blinding hate, the rage that made you stagger. The devastation of rejection.

Well, maybe they do know.
But if they do, they sure do a good job of hiding it.
It astounds you how they can be so smooth, how they seem to pass through life, as if life itself is some divine gift, and it infuriates you to watch yourself with your apparent skill in finding every way possible to screw it up.

For you, life is a long trip, terrifying and wonderful.
Birds sing to you at night, the rain and the sun, the changing seasons are true friends. Solitude is a hard-won ally, faithful and patient.


I think I know you.

-Henry Rollins, “Black Coffee Blues”


A couple of reasons why I’m putting this on my blog… I’ve performed a cover of this a couple of times at gigs now, its quite satisfying and edifying, when people afterwards tell me how much they liked it.

Incorporating covers of other people’s poetry into your own feature is potentially hazardous, putting your own material up alongside that of Ani DiFranco or Saul Williams can make your own stuff look incredibly lacking in comparison (and of course, it is… in comparison). A more serious problem is confusing the audience into thinking that it is your own writing.

I always reiterate –both on stage and in person, that I didn’t write it (wish I had), certainly don’t want to go around place-to-place giving people that impression. I mean shit… enough of my material and physical stage presence is a cheap Rollins-knock off as it is, but therein lays the answer.

People do respond to this piece, I’ve seen it resonate in the eyes of people as I perform it in a way that is both very uplifting and surprising. I know my experience is pretty clearly articulated in Rollins’ writing here. I first heard this when I was 17 and had never before been hit by such a thunderclap of empathetic/sympathetic understanding by a piece of media (now I’ve tallied up three experiences of this, the other two being ‘The End of Evangelion” and “The Matrix Reloaded”) where I truly felt my guts turned inside out by absorbing the material.

Since getting into performance poetry, I always had it in mind to present this to people, but purely for my own cathartic and evangelical (flag-waving) reasons, but imagined it would be dismissed, as so much of Henry Rollins work and the above two examples are, as self-indulgent adolescent/infantile garbage, but hey… welcome aboard the good-ship Randall.

That this piece speaks to an audience of poets is very gratifying, and humbling, to help Rollins reach a broader audience or throw a different light on him. The catharsis is still there to be sure, I still find it exasperating (and sad) that the slightest hint of testosterone in poetry/spoke-word will instantly make the majority of people switch off to you/your work. I really believe we have a long, long way to go in dealing with gender and sexuality in this society, and it’s not as one-sided as either Iron John or The Female Eunuch would have you believe.

So, if I scored a concordant win for Henry and I on stage, why not attempt to extend that onto the page (err screen, that is). Also, I do like to acknowledge the help I receive, pay my dues and respects, to what I see as the constituent foundations of my poetry.

So, in summation, I love this piece of writing, I love its beguiling simplicity and directness, the way I love the directness of Hemingway’s writing or the un-styled execution of Clint Eastwood’s directed films. I like stuff that speaks to you (me) and is less concerned (if at all) about showing up how technically fancy it can get.

It’s important to remind myself, in public notice, to keep aiming for that directness. Say something when you’re talking, and say it clearly.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it, that it makes you give Henry Rollins a second (or first) look.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Carrier -23/09/2009


“Brother, I am your moments...”

-Jon Sands, (I Am) Being Human Being

My end will come without an encore,
Life without the after-party,
No happily ever-on,
Second Samsara spin,
Or magical reset button,
All I believe to be at stake here,
Is what I am carrying from one moment,
To the next.

A moment in time,
Is all life has ever been,
Or ever will be.

Seen so many who need to believe,
In more than what they seem to be.
I have seen nothing else,
Nor am I looking,
My beliefs are based on the empirical,
The infinitely re-testable and watertight,
So they stretch about the length of my arms,
As far as my feet,
As high as the hat on my head.

But that body of beliefs, has left me right where I started,
If the only spirit I have is in a bottle,
How can I work to become more than what I am,
Without believing that-that more, is possible?

Find me then in my footprints,
Expressed here in thoughts and ideas,
In the photographs,
And times that we touched,
Anything I have to give,
I will allow that to be called my spirit,
For wont of a definition’s better fit.

So I will be here, right here,
And after death these words will become,
What I was,
These words are the spirit,
Of what I am.

Until then my life is an embrace of moments,
-This moment-
Carrying my experience of it over,
To the next one,
And that,
Is enough for anyone to carry,
Your only real possession,
Yet the most impossible of all things you ever try,
To hold on to.

A wealth beyond cataloguing,
My life will come to contain itself,
In spirit,
In any moment,
That I have chosen,
To write these things,

To you.




Fine Thanks -22/09/2009


Now invisible to the check-out-chick,
While struggling to get change back into my wallet,
Quickly slipping four fingers through green-bag handles,
To get out of the next guy’s way,
Who’s being served with the same,
That we’d exchanged mere seconds ago.

Didn’t feel dehumanized,
As much as glad,
That these rigidly polite formalities,
Stopped either of us really interacting.

Because I could tell,
Just by looking,
That her day had been as lousy,
If not more,
Than mine.

And truth is,
I really didn’t care,

To hear too much about that,





Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Professional / Heckler -22/09/2009


“At least I have a day job!”
Was the last thing said between us,
Not answering back,
My face simply presented a cocktail smirking disbelief,
A shot of eyes lacking any pity,
Mixed in with a big, self satisfied smile.

Yeah I got nothing’ else to say,
So you turned your back and sat down,
I mean, I could go on,
But the day job thing though…
That shut me up,
That, and you were already so annoyed at me,
I don’t know why you assumed I don’t have a day job,
Or why you assumed, assuming I didn’t have one,
That I’d be somehow bummed,
That you did.

And I realise now…
From that ‘day job’ comment,
You assumed I was a professional poet
In turn, you assume that a professional poet,
Would take heckling and being ignored in their stride,
They would not be so petty as to get revenge on a heckler,
By waiting for their turn on stage to start screaming out:

“You’re shit! You’re shit!
Get off! Get off!

...(I am not a professional poet, as it turned out)

Because… ironically,
Had you actually bothered listening to me,
Realising the sorry caliber,
Of mediocre ego-centric shit I put out there,
Well… you may have anticipated this.

But that’s another assumption,
And maybe I really didn’t deserve a full 30 seconds of attention,
Before you and your lame friends started giving me a hard time,
Anymore than you deserved the full force of screaming abuse,
You received,
The very instant I realized you were getting up on stage.

But there we were,
With you stepping down,
Looking utterly indignant,
At having your two minutes on stage completely ruined,
By me.

Fair chances and thick skins,
But how else could you have known,
That, for any question of day jobs,
Or whether or not my work was worth listening to,
Man, did I sure turn out to be a way-way-better heckler,
Than you.

So whatever that vaunted day job of yours is,
I’d say,
Stick to it.

Leave heckling... to the professionals.




Sunday, September 20, 2009

Outside -(redux) 27/10/2009

(originally written and blogged 19/09/2009)


At late hours,

It seems like art is everywhere,

Junkies pass you in slow motion,

Apparently waiting for their stories to be written,

Clubbers wail by like sirens on,

Everything bathes in the vibration,

Of pitch Doppler shifting doof doof doof...

Mercifully passing you by,

And you are completely, utterly, soberly here,

Trying to absorb.

Rain makes the streets smell fresh again

And every puddle that light hits,

Reflects a perfectly un-framed photograph,

Each mouthful of food hides a nostalgic anecdote,

Every muffled conversation overheard through a door,

Could becomes experimental music,

Every sentence heard is a line,

And every moment waits for your rapture to burst,

Even as the clock spews forth another,

And another.

Late at night this profound world floats out of reach,

~ Too late for your art to find it,

You won’t be able to transplant it to a blank page,

Or an ambitious tongue,

The person beside you stopped listening.

It will just become a mumble you make,

Ah never mind.

It was a moment,

Only able to be held in your own cold hands,

Never meant to be anything else.




Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Gives -17/09/2009


This is no place,
A non-location not intended for memory,
One in the thousand other painted-on windows,
The city back drop,
For someone’s stage time.

Where people have gone-home from,
Leaving for somewhere else to go,
Weekends and late afternoons.

No place to live,
Nothing is done here,
Nothing waiting here,
Nothing is at stake,
Nothing is given here,
And nothing is worth taking,
No wind blows,
Nothing will fall from the sky,
Not an unexpected noise,
An inside without a ceiling,
Possessions without any owners,
And for all the clutter,
Not one dirty dish or piece of paper stands out of place.

In this place paint is not drying,
And grass has never grown,
Nothing here in-comparism,
To anything else,
Not a spark of life nor a stench of decay,
That might note a potential turning to waste,
Or watch days possibly grow shorter,
As lists appearing longer,
Or losses slowly mount.

A photograph taken will become part of this collection
A decision could slowly dissolve,
Into another dusty document never to be read,
No one here would keep score anyway,
A figment of imagination that ceases to exist,
Once it leaves your mind.
Connected on all sides to nowhere,

This is no place to go,
Conversely one impossible to leave from,
Absorbing all that might have happened here,
As something else, you don't remember,

If you ever really did.


Got an upcoming gig in Canberra which is centred on 'ends on the earth' so I'm trying to develop/redevelop some stuff related to the idea of places ~ and you know I don't just mean "Istanbul by sunset looked liked... (fuckoff)" and I'm so sick of trundling out the Paris-poem (so far my best expositional place-as-emotion/emotion-as-place thing). I have 5 days. I am rock n roll.