Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seat of My Pants – (HeadCase song #1) -30/12/2010


After being car-doored off my bike and into emergency the other day, Kim Lajoie and I have decided to mark the occasion by giving you a sneak preview of the musical project we’ve been working on for the last few months (which we’re tentatively calling HeadCase). One of our first completed songs is about cycling.
Click the link below to hear it:


switch blade
double back
switch back-back road
back burning turns styles
downhill thrill seek free for all
free style
a cross country off-roading rough customer

outer space
inner piecing it together
hold on hold on

shift the weight
take the fall
all you got

and pedal

damn you to hell
but just keep pedalling

keep on
keep pedalling

out of my way

sweat stained
bike lanes
car doors
breaks squeal
two wheels versus four
in urban wars
chain grease
bared teeth

swears blue sees red
red lights straight through
no stopping
no helmet fine
no bell prizes
but can’t


you no fuel
no rules
sweat venting road raging

out of my way
out of my way
get the fuck out of my way

damn you to hell

and I keep on pedalling.


This song is dedicated to every suburban aussie meat head piss-up collar-popping moron with a bad hair cut who hangs out of his car door yelling at us ‘oi why don’t you get a car mate'. This is for every taxi who doesn’t indicate or check their mirrors, for every idiot pedestrian on Swanston street who just walks out onto the road without looking.
For every commuter who can’t think their way out of the eight lane parking lot you turn the Eastern freeway into each morning, keeping yourself in debt while polluting the planet and sitting on your fat arse. Nice work.

This song is dedicated to the cyclists amongst us in this city who don’t take shit, who keep on pedalling. Who bunk this corrupt system by running red lights and refusing to acknowledge a system that doesn’t recognise, respect or protect their rights as vehicles on the road.

Motorist, I’m tired of asking you to look out for me (as above). So I don’t need your respect anymore, just your fear.


HeadCase is a project combining elements of poetry with a middle eastern and metal music flavour. It will decidedly more aggressive and dark than my poetry typically is.

Thank you Kim for letting put up this sneak peak, it’s nice to let people know what we’ve been building in there for the last 6 months.
For info on Kim's other musical projects, check out:

Stand by for more news on
HeadCase (or whatever we end up calling it) in mid 2011.



Sunday, December 26, 2010

The After Life -03/12/2010

(co-written with Steve Smart)



about three hours sleep...

after their microphones were taken off them... front of the crowd

after painting nails for a dollar
vainly attempting to draw attention to their CDs

and books –

...step right up and take a look!

make us an offer...

...we can’t refuse!

after saying
'why didn’t we make T shirts
or stickers

or badges?'

...we DO need stinking badges!

after counting the amount of beret-wearers in the audience...

...and running out of fingers

after making the mistake
of using up the entire bar tab


going on stage

after the money ran out,

the goodwill abused...

...and the faith shattered

after turning the word ‘fuckhead’

into a verb
an adjective...

...and a life philosophy

after small town disbelief that Cold Chisel wrote poems

after talking philosophy with some very drunk teenagers at the Hungry Jacks drive through in...

...uh, whatever town that was

missing the last ferry
sleeping on the jetty

waiting for the first train
sleeping on the platform

after getting lost on the way back to Lismore

driving the uninsured rental car all night watching that windscreen crack get bigger and bigger

and bigger

after spending all year on and off the road...

..."living off dead air and empty applause"

after having been

to see the best

and worst,

performance poets in Australia

after Randall lost the map
after Steve thought he had the map
after Randall apparently last had the map

(...which was before Steve had the map)

after the fact
when no one would believe them...

...even if they were telling the truth,

and after visiting Wagga Wagga...

coming home south screaming bloodless curses

after the spotlight drops...

...walk away long enough to breathe

home air

...into these road worn tyres


in the aftermath... realise

how caught up in this...'ve become

(only being yourself on a stage)

two friends...

...with nothing else to do

but keep writing

waiting for it all to start again...

(and again)

it never ends,

the starting again.


Steve Smart and I performed this a duet, the closing poem for Smarty and Randall Are Taking You For A Ride earlier this month.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pathetic Male Fantasy #11,196


I want to see her polite smile drop
like groceries
through the bottom of a wet paper bag

her self portrait stretched so tight
the canvas tension
covers the room
covers her mouth
when she happens to laugh
never uses words like: retard

she's postured like a lamp post
as polite as an offered coat
a held open door
her hair neat
back straight
legs crossed

and I don't believe
even one little bit of it

because I saw
where I wasn't supposed to
a flow of brushstrokes
swirling in the slightest of smirks
eyes darting fire like mice
to another corner
the edges of this canvas
where the staples strain
for satiation against the frame

She has an appetite for more colours
a whole other spectrum denied
under the layers of paint she's applied
I want to scrape them back
get out my trowel
and move it under her vowels
to hear less perfection
in her deliberate inflection

remove some of those
excess layers
peel back past dried pigments
get at those parts cracked

help her
another picture
sketchy and textured
blotches and blurs
excess' dripping down her canvas face
uncomposed and untastefully framed

an image not an image
of her at all
she comes off the wall
where you can hear her groan
burp with a reverb
swear like a fucken sailor
sense her getting shitty
smell her stale and gritty
feel the fuzz of bodyhair
salty, sweaty and where
you can hear her use the word


like she knows how to use it

beneath her painted state
beyond the beautiful
pallid and composed
she's all baroque
and I know
she knows

how to use that word.


This had an alternative title: Portrayal. It had that title over the other right until the point I was actually typing this bit now, when I just finally bit the bullet and swapped them. The 'male fanstasy' title is of course more honest, and better packages the product, although probably won't win me any friends on either side of the gender line. What can I say? You got me.

I should grow up, but we all know I won't.

Incidentally, the number 11,196 is today the number of days I've been alive. Groovy




Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Presence -25/12/2010 (+a gift for you!)


(Christmas 2009)

it's like the fourth one of these
she hasn't been


but this year
since all other couples present
were arguing away incessant
my fifth wheel routine
didn't feel so bad
scratch that
it didn't feel so bad
because it's just not that bad
for this old hand
because the affection I need
is still there in family

if most days
the man in the mirror looks and can't place my face
forgets his real name
can't think without a drink in his hand
can't speak without a stage on which to stand
well I can
on this day
still and always
find my way back to belonging
where there is love
and home

and you know
religious festivites don't mean much
to an aethistic nhilistic cataclysmic
mysojyinstic simplistic
limp dick prick
like me
except for the time
I get to spend with my family

this year sees a new head at the table
seven months old
hair thinner than my fathers
voice louder than mine
eyes sharper than any
though all you have to do
to make her smile
is smile back

hope she never grows out of that

and I hope I never do either.


So the affore mentioned gift? Well it's a little last minute, but I have a few for you:

It's the though that counts. Hope you like them.

Merry Christmas



How You Play The Game (re-edit) -24/12/2010


she seems interested

coming up to you at the bar
with an invitation
to play pool

doesn't care
when you tell her
you’re not great
at pool

she says
that’s fine
she’s happy
just to play

and so are you
and the game begins
and you like this game
and she likes this game

you have potted
three balls in a row

a fluke

more surprised than she
you try to explain
you’ve never done that
you aren't trying
to play

you were
just playing
like she said

your apologetic success
leaves her

after that game
she says
come find her again
maybe a bit later
back at the bar
she is going
to first play another round
with a friend

you are waiting
back at the bar

you have been waiting there
for a while
all the while
you will never
play a round of pool
so well

ever again




Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mr $ v Little Girl With A Big Pen (interview) -23/12/2010


Samantha Van Zweden, one of the up and coming stars of the poetry slam scene, recently included an interview with me in her blog: Little Girl With A Big Pen.

We talked about writing, performance poetry, the state of the scene in Melbourne, the upcoming NZ tour, and the 9 second poets' grace.

Might be a bit more Randall than you can handle, (or stomach) but hey if you're reading this anyway...

A Very Energetic, Well Expressed, Quotable Guy Gets Interviewed. Here.

(What? Hey don't look at me like that, I didn't name the link).


Sam van Zweden is a writer, journalist, ranter, songstress, reader, student, critic.
She has boxes full of notebooks full of her chronologies. Desperate attempts to keep things in place, to catch time and put it away. That is not what this blog is.
“Little Girl With A Big Pen” is a way to share stories and poems, but also the things that inspire and excite. It’s that impulse to capture things again, only less indulgent.
Melbourne’s literature scene is alive and kicking, and this blog follows Sam’s stumbling around that labyrinthine dream.

Thanks again for your interest Sam!



Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Smirk You Left There -19/12/2010


When you,

have looked
into the eyes of a man
whose been sent
to get clean needles
for his girlfriend's junk habit


I will talk to you

about love




Speaking Terms -19/12/2010


its all bull
and it's all china shops

it's tugging hard
on your own hair
to pull yourself
out of the swamp

it's a lack of better judgement
and jokes that can't be taken

it's always
them same old mistakes
and all-ways you take
lead back into rage

the hell you say
all a bit much
and it's more than enough
to make hands mash
against walls
right where you left them

it's a river cried
after the bed went dry
to drown out reasons
in a flood of feeling

it's like
pressure cooking
boiling over
the gas you left on
and now the gloves are off

come off it
just drop it
can't stop it

it's easier said than...

done blown off your toes
waving weapons around wildly
now limping around
but don't you
fucken tell me to calm down
who asked you anyway

too late
fucks sake
out my face
with that

that keeps happening

so fast
flew past
keep missing
the turn offs
and it just...

can't be helped

swinging from the fences
constantly on the offensive

your own worst enemy
saying can't we just be friends

it's all adding up

it's like alotta time
keeping your own company
when you fellas
haven't been getting on

for quite a while.




Status -19/12/2010

we pedal dance over puddles
rolling red through
as the breeze
carrying us home together

the quiet-

the exercise-

the movement-
the best thing
that ever happened
to me

two wheels,

framed by night


For the life of me I just couldn't think of a good title for this. So it bears the stamp of its origins (a facebook update). Going to start preserving a few status updates now and then.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grave Yard Shift (redux) -03/12/2010


I quit my day job.

The decision was made
with all the clichés
against good advice
and better judgment
throwing a career away
going to be a rock star poet
and it’s a long way to the top,
if you want earn even a tenth
of what you’d get on the dole.

I quit my day job
but kinda cheated,
‘cause I got a night job instead.

Sleeping while workaday jerks
work their days away
instead staying wide awake
plotting my next bold move
writing my next masterpiece
and biding my time,
by stealing office supplies.

Henry Rollins
would be proud of me

Even if Dad isn’t.

This is the grave yard shift
and each hour
now hangs heavy over head
while the whole world
wailed on just beyond
the office window.

The sun’s coming up on St Kilda
Shedding light on its screams and cries.

So with a quiet smile
with foggy eyes in half light
with a craft knife
with the last album cover
now cut out
leaving the faintest of scars
as lines carved
across this work desk’s
dead of night.

I had a moment.

type of moment
when life looks
like a zoom-pulled
close-up shot
tight in-focus
and well framed
picture yourself
perfectly composed
and right where
you want to be.

I'm making CDs of poetry
each one like a promise
on the last hour
of the last shift
before the next trip,
the new tour begins.

I quit my day job

Made poetry my main job
giving it that position
knowing it was the correct decision
that as long
as there is art to make
it's a given
this was the right choice
grave yard shifted

In a life worth living.


This was the opener for our show 'Smarty & Randall Are Taking You For A Ride'

nd yeah, like it or not, I 'm sitting at work right now typing this up.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Language Difficulties (formerly "Engrish") -15.12.2010


She says because she comes from Italy,

she doesn’t speak English very well

I say because I come from Australia

I don’t speak English very well either

she doesn’t understand.

when making a suggestion

she says she wants to propose to me

I say – ‘hang on we just met’,

and ask her if Italians are always this forward

she doesn’t understand.

I say it’s a lovely night isn’t it

she says – yes it is actually a good night

I say -well I hope we are not saying good night so soon

if we have to say goodnight at all

she doesn’t understand.

yet she says she likes my eyes are green

and I don’t understand


what those words may mean

and I know words

having entered my fourth decade

trying to master English

I have used words

talked my way in and out of jobs




started strangers talking

my words have started friends crying

have talked other people out of dying

my words are all I have

but tonight

I’m a man with a hundred cans

and no can opener

she is where

I am hello very sorry excuse me nice to meeting you

needing to find out how to get please the bus is stopping

excuse me how much is the toilet

and how you can tell me that way to the one beer thank you

clever wording

and innuendo aren’t working


useless as my over-stacked metaphors

piled high with double meanings

self-effacing, self-sabotaging, clever remarks

stacked so high they topple over


the metaphor falls flatter than...


but she is charming and adventurous and Italian

we walk around

my feet

her mouth

each step struggling

with self expression

shoulders rubbing much closer

than our comprehensions can

so few words we share

we wrestle over the use of each one


and baffle each other


real late

when I say

rather than


let me simply


that this

was not

the way

I wanted

to tire out

our tongues

if you know what I mean.




Tonight -15/12/2010



desperation like a blanket
covers sign blank gaze back
a bank balancing act the part
gone bad acting normally
what's wrong size fits all stop fucking
around now and would you just
'cause it's enough
normally what the fuck
and you just don't get it


desperation itching skin so thin
doesn't sit well
how can you stand it
can't escape it is your own skin
wrinkled suffocating the muted grimaces
facing desolation magnificent
desperation deep as cracked
walls shifting against their will
before being bricked over
stated case you're passed by it's by the by
and why
not oh no not another other night of that

so tight up tight
fight the locked jaw like you're
really really really trying not to confess

but you are trying to confess

you will confess
to anything
anything at all

will confess to it
you're desperate
confess everything












don't want to go back there





Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Passed Bedtime -9/12/2010


a night
that could have used
slowly daytime strangled

sheets that could use changing
smell of a shared bed's discomfort
sweated through and tangled
stray hair found on the pillow

piled beside
spare cushions
some borrowed
none necessary
except for decorative aesthetic

room suffering excesses
of cleanliness
a neatness
that could use more interruption
more clutter
less floorspace,
a privacy too complete.

this room could use more sleep
now there's too much noise
outside the door
that didn't close properly

as she left.




Monday, December 6, 2010

Benny Russell -4/12/2010


You are the same as I am

you had a dream once
and still do

after a show
if only a single person
comes up and tells me
they liked what they heard
then I still dream

I still live
own myself
my life

what you call self-obsessed
I call self-possessed
so I come to you
from the other side of that line
to tell you
not to tell me
dreams don’t matter
don’t tell me you can’t do it
don’t tell me that you’re passed it
because you never mastered it

so you picked up a brush once
and found out in five minutes flat
you couldn’t paint a Picasso
straight off the bat
now you say to me you can’t draw

well, FUCK YOU

because that sentiment insults the rest of us
who have dreamed we are impossible things
guess what
waking dreams don’t come easy

so I come to you
from the other side of that line
to tell you it is possible
pursuing is living that dream
and if that’s as close as you ever get
you’ve gotten a lot further
in making the attempt
than just sitting there waiting for death

I have dreamt myself as an impossible thing
an unpractical man
never been published never won a slam
here I still stand

still itching to be sticking it to the man

dream yourself awake
write yourself sane
fuck yourself silly
read yourself full
run yourself empty

have yourself fun
doing it

fight for what you want
take what you need
work at it until it bleeds
until the struggle heads

until you are down on your knees

still chasing that dream

make your life more than a mediocre effort
because the only other thing
life will offer after all this
is a one way trip

ending in a permanent grave yard shift.


The penultimate piece from "Smarty and Randall Are Taking You For A Ride"



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fear -5/12/2010


Can't take my eyes off her.

perched in the corner
all shiny
long legs and a lot of eyes
oh she has allota eyes.

the shape of her body

plays on primal fears of mine
I know her kind
she devours the male
after mating

go near her
she'd move so fast
with those long legs
you'd end up
just another little bug

caught in her web.


I have a few female friends. Some are convinced I'm not a misogynist. I never make their lives any easier.



They Were Just Taking You For a Ride -5/12/2010


Thanks to everyone who came along and made yesterday a success.

The place was packed the vibe positive, the show itself for Steve and I was the culmination of many (many many) tag-team and duo reading for a whole spectrum of crowds, with many expectations. It was great to be able to finish up strong, and on home turf.

Especially thanks to my friends Alex Scott for his camera/work and Oren Gerassi for sorting out the sound, and Baz Daly for his assistance there too.

In preparing and shaping the material, 80-85% of which was new for yesterday, I want to acknowledge the advice, support and generosity of spirit of Sam Zifchak, Amy Bodossian, Meaghan Bell, Laura Smith, Alex Scott, as well as my dear housemates Matt Juers and Chris Cheeken.

And of course, Mister Steven Smart ~ the man I can't kill.

You guys... while spending more money on yesterday than I made back, with friends like you I'm a very rich man indeed.

Excepting a quick trip to Wollongong and Sydney next week, that's it for Mr $ on stage for a while, at least in this country. Though I will now blog here most of the material I've was holding for this gig. Watch this space.

Have a good summer y'all, get lots of sunshine and smiles and hugs and look forward to next year as much as I am.

Dream awake. Make your life extraordinary.

-Randall $tephens,
December 5th 2010




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Night Shift -1/12/2010


Forty push ups at sunrise

forty more done four minutes later

four nights in a row now

forecast for a nice day

for whatever that’s worth.

Forgot when you last restocked your station

fourth customer in the last forty five minutes

fortunately a nod’s enough to greet them this late-early in the day

forlorn faces looking at mine for a loophole

for the love of god there are some fuckups foraging around out there

for the grace of god I do not go... there.

Four more small tabs ripped off milk from the fridge

four cups of coffee gone cold half drunk

foremost on your mind, is stay alert

four times you thought the boss was gonna bust you asleep

force of will now all that’s keeping you awake

but when will it be 9am already

for fucks fucken sake.