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