Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Drinks at E55 - 3/12/2014


We have drinks at E55 on Elizabeth street for our first date, I might look back at that as portentous one day. Well everything about a first date becomes significant if the first date itself becomes a 'first' date, retroactively. I didn't put much thought into the location, maybe this is a bad sign. Truth is it's a thoughtless choice, just easy. E55 is in the city, central, unpretentious, music is low volume, it's always open, not particularly popular, crowded hipsters nor bogans, easy to get a couch, and easy to bail on if any of the above proves wrong. But still, I'm not putting much thought in. The date is Thursday, June 20th 2013.

I don't remember meeting you, but we have before tonight, guess about a month earlier. And yeah you know I have forgotten and you are too shy or embarrassed or insulted or awkward or whatever to tell me. It was after a poetry gig, a big one, where I'd performed. One Night Stanza with Anis Mojgani. Like hundreds of people there, all mainly to see him. When we met in the lobby after the show, you said (apparently, because I don't remember this...) that I was so funny that you nearly pissed your pants. Exclamation mark. And apparently you meant that literally. And (again, apparently) I said oh that's nice and thanks for listening and more or less just walked off.

Later I will explain to you that I never remember talking to people after performing at poetry gigs. I'm in a blur. I don't pay attention to people or what they say to me. Especially I don't pay attention to girls who talk to me after I perform and especially-especially I don't pay attention to -pretty- girls who talk to me after I perform. Pretty girls who talk to you at a poetry gig are only interested in one thing- talking. And I've learned that fucking lesson over and over. And yeah, no wonder I forgot I mean look, you are a pretty girl.

You're not drunk now, on the couch facing mine at E55, but that took a lot of convincing from me. This afternoon you finished work early, were nervous about meeting up finally and you wanted to get really smashed before having to deal with this live situation. You kept kept insisting over messages that you wanted to be drunk before hand. We've been exchanging messages constantly for weeks now, after getting acquainted online through that poetry event's Facebook page, of course I was going to ask you out eventually. Neither of us have used the word date.

The last few hours I'm nervous too, figuring you'll cancel with a lame excuse, and this whole I-need-to-get-drunk thing I was reading seems to be heading there. I've been almost begging, imploring you not to, and I am pretty sure I did this by being positive and reassuring you it's cool, and I didn't just say hey yeah I really don't want to meet someone blind drunk on a date. A capriciously first date, after all. Already my role as the patient reassuring older figure is being defined. So I'm relieved and excited you're now actually, totally,and as I far as I can tell,  soberly here. A couches length away.

I have groomed myself right down to plucking the goatee hairs from my lower lip. I'm wearing the black box wars T shirt, the size too small one that makes my neck, shoulders and arms look magnificent. But this is a mistake because I know I can't show off these things without being categorized as a macho douchebag. Things like being cut have to be noticed, or discovered by a girl like, not signposted by me. You're a woman, you'll be looking at me, sizing me up anyway. The t shirt was too much and I immediately regret the choice the minute I left the house. Oh and the house, incidentally, is immaculate. I have vacuumed, artfully rearranged, folded, aired-out, wiped down and topped up everything in the place. Y'know just in case.

Yeah, wrong t shirt, I was thinking, and I resolve to keep my jacket on, so I don't look like a metrosexual thug to you. I hope it doesn't get hot in there.

I remember a couple of pints. I'm sure you can out drink me, so I have to go slow in these, but not so slow as you get to sober, freak out and leave, which I think you might have wanted to. I explain all this, desperate deconstructing everything in order to cheat through it, not get caught in it.

I say I'm happy to get drunk now, as something we can do together, not some sober spectacle I would've had to witness. I explain then- well if you had turned up drunk... and I just getting here completely sober, well, the date would've been over.

Yeah I'm serious. A pause there. You look at me eskew. But then we keep drinking. And drinking.

You're bubbly and your smile is something I want to lick and your hair is fantastic and we talk over the presents we've just exchanged. I brought you a copy of Scarface on DVD and you gave me Clockwork Orange, the book. And I hate being given books because I'll never get to reading it in time before you feel put off or insulted, and this title doesn't interest me much, but of course I feign enthusiasm and thumb through it's yellow greasy third hand pages. It's a pretty cool book. Guess I'll have to read it now.

Scarface though, that's what did it. I start doing my Tony Montana impression (which is terrible, mostly just a grimace) and you lose your shit. Doubled over laughing and I look down your top and I keep doing the voice and shrugging and somewhere amongst it all my jacket has come offand the hours have piled on. Long stretches of full-bladder but neither of us wanting to break the momentum of our conversation by getting up to take a leak on those filthy restrooms.

But we must have because yeah I remember coming back from one all boozy-brazen saying so hey when are we gonna kiss already and you don't flinch just shrug like it was an actual question that needed answering because at this point I want you and you want me. We've established that guy in all your Facebook photos isn't a boyfriend, and we've established that no, I didn't like all that earnest slam poetry from that night we met either, and yes I shouldn't have taken off my jacket but I felt good and this shirt hugs my skin and makes me feel sexy and I want you to touch me and then I have your lips against mine and that thought, that same thought everytime, that rushes through my head when I kiss someone for the first time.

It's relief. Oh sure there's excitement, but relief comes first. In those breaths we're now obliged to share. -phew- aaaaaaaaah you. Yes. You. Like. Me. Too. Eyes close themselves. Music doppler shifts away. Fingers reach for cheeks, for hair. The smell of warm skin enters nostrils

It was easy. It's always easy when it's right. And it felt right. Because I laugh when I make you laugh, and I know you're intimidated by me, and you know I'm infatuated by your immaturity. And I'm too old for you at nine years, 33 to your 24. But maybe not and that's just how it is. I get better with age because I'm a guy. And my last girlfriend was 40 when I was 32 and man she was too to handle and don't think about that now, because I want to get you back to my place and maybe that's because I know we're not actually couple material but we're a great great grand one night stand not waiting to happen. And if only I wasn't working tomorrow. Not that that should stop us. And it won't.

Nothing stops us. We keep going. And it is good. Except I will end going to work the next morning. Which is a shame because I am better in the morning. Or so I think. But I will come away from tonight wanting more. You will be less sure, as you tell me later.

We will have an awkward follow up day-time date on Saturday, where we even talk about our old one night stand stories. You'll tell me you've only ever had a few before and you will obviously be lying. I will sit on the grass with you, behind Abbotsford convent, and I'll th ink to myself you aren't quite as pretty with your hair tied back, and I'll be disappointed that I can't make you laugh as much as Thursday, but we will keep going. Because why not. It will be good.

Good will become really good. This will became what we are in the weeks and then months that follow this first date, we will steadily became us.

Us will be you and me and that's really good and when something is really good you don't stop. When someone becomes a part of you and your life and you love having them around I guess it means you love them. I will love you. I will think about it a long time before I say it, think about what 'Us' is.

In the next year that follows, Us won't prove in explosive roaring torrents of passion, but it won't be headfuck mind games, jealousy or screaming matches, either. Us will not be lack-of-space or itime. Us will suit me. Us will be- I can't wait to tell you this thing and show you this thing. Us will be you going somewhere insane when we make love and I won't understand everything about you and your traumatic past and you won't understand everything about me and my worldly life experiences but we will continue meeting in the middle and you will stuck around and I will stick around. Us will change us, you and I. You will stop seeing a counsellor weekly and taking anti depressants. I will, in parallel break away from the toxicity of a lot of the poetry community. And I will be unable to imagine being without you around now. And that's, yeah that is, has to be: I love you.


- - -


As I write this tonight, it was two months ago since you texted saying we had to talk but not right now because you're drunk.

Didn't for a minute think back to our first date and the juggling act I'd done that night trying to talk you down from getting drunk before we met as an act of self-sabotage. But nevertheless like that night I knew you were wanting to be drunk for a reason. The us had run out. October 3rd, 2014.

It had been sixteen months ago, this night you texted me to 'talk', and I didn't give a shit if you were drunk or not because you can't just text something like that. So-fuck-you-I-called-you.

The talk was brief, I was in Newcastle, already having been away from Melbourne, from you, one month and a bit. Our relationship was open because I'm traveling and you're traveling soon and we're awesome and you've hooked up with someone and I've hooked up with someone and yes I am sure that I'm okay with that because I'm not possessive, and I know you're not always what I fantasize about but you're always what I want to come home to, and I've gotten way too comfortable with that idea and you haven't and somewhere between this phone call and the last you fell in love. Big big love. Love new and improved, potent and passionate and dangerous as you're leaving Melbourne yourself and it swept you away just as it wiped me off the face of your world, in one fell swoop.

Two months ago tonight, that call. Last time I heard your voice. Over three months since I saw your face, longer since we were last intimate. And the bumpy-ride it's taken my bike ride on. Like so much extra weight to carry, and with a much poorer sense of direction on the road ahead.

I've never written about you directly, so you turn up everywhere in every fucking thing I write, because you're nowhere I could get at you.

So here you are, this is where I'll put you. Right here in this context. Not because you especially deserve that, but the journal you've been overshadowing does.

You and I are both crowded to capacity in our own feelings, you with self absorption, I with hurt. Both having absolutely no room left for one another in our lives, paradoxically making those last sixteen months feel hugely empty.

You were so much a part of me and you erased me out of your life so quickly and completely that the emptiness is just too much to bridge with the light hearted friendship you want to put in it's place. I'm about to go tackle some real emptiness, geographic, and I can't take you with me, so I put you here in the journal, I'll put you back to a Thursday night eighteen months ago in a tight black T shirt, too small for me.

It was a fun night. There were lots more that followed. Even though it would've prevented all this pain I've been through subsequent, y'know... I'm still glad you didn't self sabotage the date by turning up at E55 that night, blind drunk.

I mean, that really would've sucked.

- - -

So I'm sorry to have neglected this blog for so long, but lord knows I've certainly been writing. However it's all confined to Facebook, or what filters through the Twitter feed there on thr right-hand column.

I'm really enjoying the longer form of writing, and speaking more directly to my thoughts without the stylistic symbolistic poetry stuff. It's taken me years to build up the confidence to do this. I guess in that way its like the cycling, with more confidence and experience comes bigger and more ambitious goals snd destinations.

Anyway, if you'd like to see what's going on directly Facebook page, go to-

And please donate what you can to the cause-

Friday, November 21, 2014

Like Other People - 21/11/2014


is this lonely?

...or is it just me





Saturday, October 25, 2014

Howling at The Moon - 25/10/2014


your brokenness unattractive
your attempts at attractiveness broken

built you for quick damage
and slow healing
fragile enough that living
is itself a danger constantly

somehow that made you strong
stronger than most by far

it is that which attracts you
what you are attracted to being

you are not broken
you've seen the real broken types
and that ain't you

nothing so far has truly broken you
nothing can
so give yourself
a break

no one else can




Friday, October 24, 2014

all of the cyclists, all of the time - 25/10/2014


You can ride bike with your gloves on all of your hands some of the time.

You can lick your fingers after eating all of a drippy kebab some of the time,

but you can't lick any of your fingers any of the time you are wearing bike gloves.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Crash Landing - 24/10/2014


and in the morning
oscillate between wanting to quote
Ani Franco and Travis Bickle
between wanting to run through walls
in a muscle hurricane
and wanting rest quiet
like the old mountains do

wanted to wake up next to you
and not apologise for it
we didn't do anything
which means me not doing anything wrong
was going to come away regretful
either way

sorry, I'm a mess
trailed in all this mud
from other states I've been in
still raw to the touch and smell
hands are dirty with top soil
from holding my ground

there's a trick to this
you overshare
but never actually give an inch
you can hide yourself
in plain sight

not you nor them
will know
the growth
from the damage

will go to the grave
with nothing left to say
It'll be awkward like ...uh yeah

before then,
like in six days actually
will leave here
start my riding back home
in both cases
I will take my sweet time

getting there





If I Were You - 25/10/2014


not to sound ungrateful
but sometimes
your well-meant advice
comes across
as a note left
with a wrench dropped
in my otherwise empty food bowl

"go ahead, fix yourself some dinner"




Shot down - 23/10/2014


On the porch. After a careful dissection of all the issues in play, and several shots of tequila, we have clearly identified and discussed maturely, the fact that she will not be sleeping with me. I have in turn acknowledged I should probably leave now, but for some reason all this makes an interesting conversation in the unpacking. So I'm still here. All too drunk in my honesty. She has gone inside to get us more beer. While she's gone I piss on her front garden. She comes out with more shots instead.

There's no moon tonight.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday October Twenty First


Probably starts in the head, but there's a hollow ache in my chest, it goes down to my stomach sometimes. It's there now. It doesn't know where else to go. It doesn't know any of the reasons.

It doesn't understand how the love could be snatched away so quickly, and so completely. Makes it feel like there was none there all along.

It doesn't know why I am on this trip. You can't explain inspiration and aspirations and personal challenge, to a hollow lonely ache that only wants to go away. You can't talk about profound life experience to it. It's had plenty of those and it knows none of it keeps people from leaving you, or gives you people to talk to. It's waiting for their knives to come out.

It knows there's no whore/madonna/princess in shiny amoŕe coming to save you. It knows you will have months ahead of you of no one to hold, nights of touchless pain.

It's a belly that wants to do bad things. It knows exile, and anger, for fuel, it wants to push every one away before they have the chance to take more things from it. It feels like something not felt since I was a teenager. I guess that makes it juvenile.

When I cycle it doesn't feel so bad, for a few moments. I don't want to stay like this, once I'm back in the tent I'll start to get better, I think. Meanwhile, it seems important to document it now. Something tells me I will need to be able to look back and reflect/remember this. It will be important. I don't know why. Probably just so I don't return here. Writing, right now gives me something to do.

If nothing else.




Monday, October 13, 2014

the moving on - 14/10/2014


after I went
she left me
for someone else
then she went away

lost her
somewhere back
down a road that closed
behind me
this isn't the way
it was supposed to go

somewhere in the folds
of this over-fondled old map
have to find some place
where I can accept

it's marked poorly
unsealed road and
and there's some long ways to go
getting there

really don't know where
the end of this journey lies
the only fixed point
I had for it

is now broken




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Break up poem #12,553


my life is adequately expressed as:

the coffee I order for takeaway
then drink it as have-here

within my contradiction
I'm just trying to hold on
to the warmth
though in the process

I end up creating garbage




October 13th, 2014. I have been alive for 12,553 days. And it's not even 5pm yet.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Tattoo - 10/10/2014


It's inked right here on my arm-
"Everything that has a beginning has an end."

No words, but a picture/symbol representation from that movie no one likes. (The Matrix: Revolutions). Here at the end, I should remember what's written on my skin, know this thing bodily.

Should anyone ever ask, that's what this tattoo means. It's here so I can remind myself of endings, impermanence, finite mortality and infinite applicability. I will say all this when asked, I will sound wise.

I'll be lying to them.

Right now I am one of two people scrambling desperate to rewrite their own personal histories to make all the jagged pieces fit, outside of a relationship.

Previous decisions made are now continually repositioned around the room, for decorative taste and illuminations sake, but mostly for convenience. Why I was wronged, stopped, shut down, held back, put upon, turned off, suffocated, by the the partner drawn second-draft.

I liked playing the villian, til I got type cast.

Now every failure I've had as a boyfriend, a man, a lover is a self prescribed hand-drawn blemish on my surface that I want to call something else. Tidy up the truth and make it mean more than it did.

It's why I write-it-out here, in my head I can lie, get lost in the elephant grass growing there, refight every battle so it looks like I won. What a loser.

Writing is the only thing keeping me honest right now.

I got this tattoo in Singapore in July 2011, with a friend, he and I about to go our separate ways. He got the same design, in the middle of his chest. Simpler times except they weren't. And we were good mates when we didn't annoy each other. At least that's how I like to remember it.

It's a joke. On the basis of the irreconcilable fact that I like those movies so very much even though they're terrible. Funny when we were drunk. For some reason. The truth is, this tattoo doesn't mean shit. Shoulder that.

Everything that has a beginning has...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Unfinished Foundation - 8/10/2014


hard part will come after the blast
when the smoke clears
the air no longer choking on clouds
of cement dust and debris
the clearer picture will cut into you
deeper than the initial damage

ground has shifted hard
cracks opened up underneath
angry lines like a kid trying to cross-out in crayon
start to see where you went wrong
what weaknesses you built upon
apparent structure merely painted on

you were trying to live inside an intellectual property
but never laid your foundations properly

you can see now
it was never going to take much
to bring the whole place down
all it took was one spark, a bang
and everything collapsed

all the experts have their take
already talking blame
before we've seen how many bodies come out

can't deconstruct til we clear the rubble
demolish down what's left in the layers
hard part will come after the blast
when the smoke clears

start again from scratch
no choice but to rebuild
build it back up to last
make it stronger
make it better
after all,
this might be a massive mess now

but that's always been where you've lived.





Thursday, October 2, 2014

Grows in the telling - 3/10/2014


Sometimes I keep the story simple. It goes: Melbourne. Then being a Haemophiliac. Having a bicycle. And bad knees. And taking pilates classes. With a holiday. Sitting on the bike seat.

Other times it's an extended cut. Nine years of welfare work. Performing poetry. Some place to hide. An empty desert flat.  Head full of holes. Fundraising. Thin skin. Slippery grip on a will to live. Awareness.

There are other angles on the same journey, Hepatitis C. Interferon. Sore thighs. Hollow eyes. Lonely hands. Strange spaces. Urban exploration. Restricted areas. Dark. Discovering the muscles.

There are small parts made large. Inhibitors anti-bodies, relationships open, solipsism, my weight, how much I still carry, temperature ranges, a disassembling cycle. The parts exposed.

Your story is what you leave you out, how you collect and display the details, what questions the tale asks, what answers it seeks.

The best stories don't answer all your questions, or tell you what to think. Sometimes the writing tells too much, and the pacing drags.

Your story is always the short version. Life is written that way. Don't lose your authors voice in the details.

Above all, you gotta keep it interesting.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Muslims in Australia - 29/09/2014

Muslims in Australia. (Nobody asked me for this, but here's a story from Uncle Randall...)

I first got to know some Muslim people when I worked at the Telstra call centre in Burwood, back in 1999.

I was nineteen years old. Very angry and withdrawn teenager, dyed hair, baggy punk/work clothes,carrying around and art folio covered in offensive slogans and  band names, telemarketing for a corporate giant. Go ahead, tell me you don't like how I look, or what's written on my bag. Hated it there.

Other than one friend, the only people I really talked to there were some of the Muslims. There were dozens of Muslims working there, don't know why. Telstra was hiring lots and lots of people, from what I gathered, word had got around at a few mosques, a lot of people had applied. Many of these men and women all seemed to know each other.

Of course, at first I never made any remarks, asked any questions. The hallmark of political correctness would seem to be to simply not notice someone's appearance, clothing, skin colour, disability, gender.

What I knew of Islam came from the Spike Lee film on Malcolm X, dramatising his discovery of orthodox Islam, from his originally distorted/ bigoted representation of it.

From hip hop I knew about five percenters, (thanks to groups like Public Enemy and Brand Nubian). So there was something tangentially cool, to me, about muslims. A vague connection to the rap culture I still admired.

Months into working with some of these folks I eventually started asking some of the women in my team those questions, the ones you want to but can't because you'll look stupid, or racist, or sexist.

Why do you wear that... y'know, that uh stuff? Doesn't it bother you? Isn't it weird to be surrounded by other women who don't. Do people give you a hard time?

Without exception, each person I asked was happy to talk about it. This wasn't some cult or club or secret gang, these things represented their beliefs, how they saw and understood the world, their families and community.

This dialogue continued into year 2000. My teammates/friends Waleed and Susan (an engaged couple) understood my lack of understanding, I stopped being embarrassed. I would greet people at work 'asama mulakim/malakim salam'. Got such a kick out of that.

I swapped my friend Anthea a copy of her family's Qu'ran for my paperback copy of The Big Questions (Philip Adams in conversation with cosmologist Paul Davies).

The book she gave me was beautiful, hardbound leather, embossed wih gold trimming, annotated pages, Arabic and English side by side, the works. Not the sorta thing I could slug in my backpack and read on the train.

I took so long reading it, Anthea said I could keep it. She was so happy I was taking interest to read it. I, frankly, took a lot of pride in doing so. I couldn't wait to add it to my bookshelf, and vainly show off that I'd read it. I never finished reading it. (Eventually getting the more-portable penguin paperback version, and read that copy whole). I still have it though.
I read other books too. The Hadith. The book of Taweed. Another whose name I can't recall (lots of apostrophes).
I watched Terry Jones' 4 part series on the Crusades, and Waleed lent me his tape of the 3 part Empires series shown on SBS. I learned about Moors and Caliphs and Mongols and King Baybars (badass).

In early 2001, I found out a high school friend I was still in touch with, Rabbi, was becoming Muslim. He gave me lots of material from IISNA, an organization dedicated to putting out lectures and argumentative pamphlets to convert people.

As a disaffected youth with some pretty heavy medical problems, I thought about Islam as something that actually might be for me, maybe. The people at work were so much more intellectually switched on and less-judgemental than the Caucasian Aussies. Their reassured certainty about the hows and whys of the universe appealed to me.

I even started learning some Arabic (both spoken and written), so I could one day read the Qu'ran in the original language it was created/written down.

It was Rabbi who put me off, ultimately. He had a convert's zealousness, always trying to get me to come down to his mosque. He also talked about how western philosophers were all wrong and rejecting a whole bunch of other stuff I still thought was awesome. My friends at work didn't pull that shit.

Then one of Rabbi's other friends started calling me, telling me at length down the phone how much happier he is now. Since he converted. Too. How excited he was that I had been talking to Rabbi about Islam. It creeped me out. Cult people have a way of doing that.

I started to see, for me, some holes in the story, some stuff that didn't fit me right. Also, as my medical situation improved, I less and less needed that overarching cosmological determinism. I remain an atheist to this day.

But nothing changed. My friends were still my friends and I still had a young person's voracious curiosity for knowledge. Historical, scientific, philosophical, and you can't avoid religion if you're serious about any of those three fields.

September 11th 2001.

Everything changed. Nothing changed for me. Every idiot never saw how bad the USA had it coming. Overnight everyone is renting 'The Siege' (Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington), no one is touching Rambo III.

The news starts saying all types of shit. I was already living out of home (from parents) so no broadcast TV, but when I would see the news, I knew it was... wrong.

I remembered asking Susan at work if she was getting any flack of people in the street for being a Muslim, she looked down and said this "nothing physical". She didn't want to say anything else.

It was like she had shrunk into her headscarf. But it wasn't the hajib that her free humanity was suffocating under, it was what Australia was putting onto her hajib.

Coincidentally, I ended up leaving that job not too long after 9/11. Telstra pulled back it's casual telemarketing stuff, so we could all watch dust clouds over New York for weeks.

But I never forgot the people I worked with (and to my delight, years later I saw Waleed pop up as a presenter/journalist for SBS).

In those years since Telstra I've travelled in 5 countries with Islamic populations since then. I've met many Muslim poets. Some individuals I met were easy not to like, most were hard to dislike.

No-thing ever put on a television can take away my years of experience working/talking to/travelling/performing with Muslim people.

It's not "them" I recoil from, firebrand racist Aussie, it's you. You're the one who tries to run my bicycle off the road, bug my phone, copy my hard drive, dismantle my employment prospects. Lie to my face. Make my life harder. You are not my friend, or my protection.

None of thr Muslim ever looked twice at my bleached hair, or told me off for my offensive art folio.

I'm appalled by what I see going on in this country at the moment.

I'm not threatened by something I don't agree with, or don't share in. Today I'm no fan of any religion, but I understand that people are not solely their beliefs or the books they hold dear.

Islam isn't going away. From the many Muslims I met, the stories they've shared, I know these communities are resilient enough to survive your bullying, your violence and intolerance.

I'm not going to say I have 'faith', I just know people. It was on that term, as people, that I first got to know Muslims.

Peace be unto you, salam.

-Randall Stephens, September 2014.


Reposted from my Facebook page. Please feel free to share around, if you think it will help.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

At Your Disposal - 18/09/2014


is the rubbish I'm left with
each day after living

are the nearest bin I can find

what happens
with all that trash

is someone else' fucking problem




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Elephant Grass, Day #19 - 17/09/2014


Sorry I've been neglecting this blog , while out and just using my phone I just tend to punch into Facebook. There's a group page I've setup relating to this adventure -

Anyway, here's where I'm at this morning:

Finding it harder to interact with people. I get a few seconds into a conversation and something inside me clinches up and I can't do it. I talk to my girlfriend on the phone and suddenly hit a wall where I can't talk anymore.

My friend Pete, whose done lots of long cycles, warned me this would happen. You go back to being an animal, you look for food and places to rest and piss where you want, and think out loud and then suddenly it's smiling faces who want to know all about you and your bike, like striking some massive uphill you had no run-up for.

Between my eyes, right where I breath in, there's this space, all the landscapes, sky and ocean sit there. Everything I look at it is a photograph. Everyone I try and speak to has the volume way down. It's too much for linguistics. Words are like acts of vandalism against it, in here.

When I pedal you can't stop me, you can't reach me, I think my thoughts the way you might approach a big meal. I saviour every bit. Lick the plate. Lick the cutlery. Lick your fingers. And you don't share a single morsel, it's all for you.

I remember vipassana meditation, three years ago, how freeing it was not interacting with others. The life in my head is equatorial, tropical~ no seasonal energy drop off, just more and more, growing like elephant grass.

I get mad and it keeps going, I love life and it keeps going. No fuel, no battery, just calories.

The music breaks me. I listen to my mp3 player, other times I just sing the same stuff to myself. Ani Difranco, Ennio Morricone, Daft Punk, GangStaar, Hilltop Hoods, Icehouse, Philip Glass, Incubus (early albums), DJ Shadow, The Disturbed, Steve Jablonsky, Hermitude, Black Sabbath all compete in the shuffle.

And poetry... it's gone. I mean there's nothing left in the tank, and there's no tank, and there's no space here where there used to be a tank anyway.

I'm writing (obviously, hello), so it's not writers block, but the idea of poetry is nauseating to me.

After Slamalamalynchmob happened in late February I started writing again, having already quit and still getting hawked, I began writing reactively. But without that proximity I just don't care.

I look back on it like these very mental, very young-young people were trying to kick me out of their wretched garbage heap, and I objected to being told I can't be here. Silly, shoulda just shrugged it off, but y'know... I still think those fascist little shits needed someone with a spine to challenge their ego mania, so no regrets, but fuck, keep the heap. There are better places to squat, kids.

I'm still looking forward to the gigs coming up, still love the work and that crystalised aesthetic emotion you get from inhabiting your words on stage.

I'm still excited about putting together more chapbooks, and collect narrative strains out of my existing work, I still stand by my style, and am proud of those poems. But whatever is next is different. Everything that has a beginning has an end (that's why there's no Matrix part 5).

Writing at this point is a journal for me, articulate and collect, edit and catalogue later.

I make it public to not get lost amidst that elephant grass in my brain. Maybe you read this and some of this will mean something to you, help you get through. Sage Francis, Ani Difranco, Henry Rollins, Ronald D Moore, and so many others, they all helped me.

Right now, I'm sitting at a table with my back to the bike. I've manifested a thought into reality, cycling out there in Australia. People helped, are still helping, but I made this happen. Life is short, cut the shit and get some kicks.

-Randall Stephens, September 2014


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Adventures in Fecundity - 10/09/2014


when I went to the big Apple
I hooked up with a girl from Chile
and had a wondrous time

When I went to The Big Pineapple
I got swooped by a magpie
for over 500 metres
and it was closed when I got there

the moral of the story is
girls from South America are hot
especially when in other places

and that I shouldn't be a vegetarian.

The End.




Thursday, August 28, 2014

My first word was 'Car'. Scrotum - 7/09/2014


I rode up a lot of hills today
on my bicycle
glaring sun and heavy bags
whilst doing thus I decided something

my auto biography,
posthumous published
will be called-

y'know what... fuckit, it would take too long to explain

and will be just a picture of some guy trying to bite off his own ear

I am going to go have a shower now
then die in my tent now

you're welcome.




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


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

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

(Facebook event page HERE)

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

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





Monday, August 25, 2014

Inhibition - 25/08/2014


had a little blood in my urine

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

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





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good guys and bad guys - 13/08/2014


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

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

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

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

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

I mean die with it, whatever.

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

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Growth Pattern - 12/08/2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I caught Hepatitis C

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am one
that can fix things


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

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



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stuck on the runway - 30/07/2014


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

He missed the funeral
because of a flight delay

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

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

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

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

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

between these two men.





Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spells arse with an R - 27/07/2014


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

aren't even actually
all that poetic





Saturday, July 26, 2014

Minus sixteen days - 27/07/2014


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

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

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

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

I am leaving Melbourne in sixteen days.

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

I don't need bitterness, anymore.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Minus nineteen days - 23/07/2014


a cigarette
she tried to not let me see

I caught her
with friends
through this window

mad at her
she looked happy
nineteen days until I leave

I worry about her without me

she might be better


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cover Story - 22/07/2014


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

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

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

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




Friday, July 18, 2014

Bad Day, Carbon Dated - 18/07/2014

I am going home after this

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

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

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

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

cannot find me




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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


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

(Photo by Andrzej Sobieszczuk)

The following is a transcript of his launch speech: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yes, there is more of the pith helmet.

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Steve Smart, check out his website




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'til all are one - 16/07/2014


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

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

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

...smartarse little shit




Monday, July 14, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not wanting to move on.


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

it's been thirty four years




Thursday, July 10, 2014

"One For The Road" by Randall Stephens. Book launch on Monday (July 14th 2014)

. other news, I just finished making a 56 page book of my poetry~ "One For The Road"

21 poems themed around the experience of travelling both home and abroad, collecting a bandwidth of stuff from my salad days being a Randy backpacker (yeah pun intended) through to more recent contemplations of being an affluent Australian in a global context, with lots of humour, anger, romance, adventure and spelling mistakes in between.

I'm going to launch this thing like a rocket. That has another rocket in it. And a launch party inside of that and... ah you get the idea. Well actually I'm not launching it, this mug is-

(if you don't know who this is click on the link, actually if you don't know who that is you wouldn't be reading this.)

Passionate Tongues Poetry
@ The Brunswick Hotel

Monday July 14th - 8pm
140 Sydney Road

Raffle and open mic
(free entry)

I just got them back from the printers. Very exciting.

Facebook event page here :

Hope to see you there!


Before you ask, I haven't figured out how to get it available online for purchase yet. Stay tuned for that.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Convinctions - 10/07/2014


I have something to prove

my case is flimsy

most of the evidence
rendered inadmissible
by the judge

prior convictions
won't help me any

and man
are these witnesses hostile or what...




Thursday, July 3, 2014

History-onics - 4/7/2014


I'm chewing through a lot of books and documentaries before I set off on the epic cycling trip across the continent.

I think the reason I never found this history very interesting is because once it's purged of all the genocide, corruption brutality and criminal behaviour (as it was taught to us in school), it was a pretty dull read.Our history is fascinating, but it's shameful and ugly, for being that.

The more I learn about Australian history, the more disconnected I feel from this country. The exact opposite of what I wanted.

Racism is real.

Sexism is real.

White male privilege is real.

I am not, will not, be held guilty. But that doesn't mean I am not have responsibile. Unlike guilt, responsibility is certainly something you can inherit. And I have.

There is a long line of hate, of stupid brutality running from the rum rebellion to turn back the blokes that must end, with me.


. "History is a lie agreed upon"



Next Tuesday - Bar Stanza with Joel McKerrow, Alicia Sometimes and Meaghan Bell -(Tuesday July 8th 2014)


BAR STANZA is (in it's own words) "a night of top notch wordsmithing from the best poets, performers and tale-tellers Melbourne has to offer. Hosted by Anthony WP O'Sullivan in the spectacular venue, The Owl and the Pussycat."

So yeah, Bar Stanza is simply speaking, Melbourne poetry at it's best. No slam, no open mike, just four features in two halves, and a fantastic MC (same format yours truly used at Sweetalkers), and this coming Tuesday, I get a turn at bat.

Owl & The Pussycat, 34 Swan st Richmond

(directly across from Richmond Train Station)


Tuesday July 8th, 7:30 pm

How Much:
$5.00...... FIVE DOLLARS!!

Along with MC Anth, we also have Meaghan Bell, Alicia Sometimes and Joel McKerrow.

More about them (and me) on the Facebook event page HERE

Facebook group:

I hope to see you seeing me there!