Monday, September 28, 2015

Now would be good - 28/09/2015


never get enough bread
with my soup
or sleep

always feel
just a little too fat
to fit into my afternoon

want to reheat the thing
I just said

could get way more stuff done
if I wasn't already busy
doing stuff

have a very good idea
of what will make me happy
it's whatever is over there
just out of reach
in another colour
yeah like the one they have

I'm pretty satisfied
with my level of dissatisfaction
at the moment
for now

I guess.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Some Loose Change - 29/07/2015


busker over there is so bad
think he owes me a few dollars out of his hat

last night owes me three hours more sleep
smokers on the lawn here owe me cleaner air
cars owe me a whole lane to myself
plus a few less opened-door fractures on my ribs
X girlfriend owes me like a year and a half back
poetry in Melbourne owes me at least five more
social work another ten on top of that
and a hairline intact
Tony Abbott owes me a whole fucking country
owe my sanity to a bicycle
and myself a bit more self respect
no one is going to collect on those debts

as for that woman coming up to me crying
homeless over my Bento box, well...

‘spose I owed her at least a brief listen to her story
stuck together cluster of excuses that it was
it was also all true, that
you get no centrelink for up to six months
in some cases
and no support without a fixed address to check
doesn't mesh so well with being homeless
these are called poverty traps
amongst fucks to give I know this is all relative

besides buying the odd Big Issue
I don't give money to beggars
any more than I feel the need to feed these birds

but today just this once
reach into my pocket
drop a few gold coins
into her scaly hand

not because anybody is owed anything
just because I think
it's where that money should be
this afternoon

don't care what the fuck she spends it on
'long as it doesn't go to that busker over there




Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rouge Rider - 19/07/2015


I'm looking out the window at this shiny red woman's bike, locked to a hoop on Sydney road with a matching red helmet. I'm madly in love with this bike and it's imaginary owner.

Really I should go out there and wait next to it with a single red rose, and when she shows up I'll simply explain that I have have a red bike too, and that this makes us soul mates. This will all be very cute, she will not be quite convinced of course, but charmed.

Then I should stammer that my bike isn't actually red, but I've accessorized it that way. Of course she will be impressed with my use of the word 'accessorize' and she will not find any of this creepy. Because I'm not like a creep or nothing, yeah. She'll see through my awkwardness for sincere spirit and strength, and then look at me like a sunrise in the mountains. I will hand her the rose without the slightest shake in my hand.

She will pause a moment, swallow some decision with a shadow across her face, drop her handbag (not red because that would just be silly) into the bike's front basket before kissing me playfully. I kiss her back. Somehow the brims of our hats won't get in the way at all. Onlookers disappear, the traffic is gone, the rain falls silent. Re-materializing in my house we then have a night of passionate loving intense enough to strip religion off church walls.

She will have forgotten all about her bike, just as I forgot about my stuff at the Laundromat. Don't ask me what happened to the rose.

In the morning we will walk back here with dumb looks on our faces, back here to her shiny red bike and unlock it, together...

...or, I'll just sit here instead eating with my mouth open, not noticing that dollop of sauce dropped into my crotch as I was scoffing down these withered lukewarm french fries, with BBQ sauce. Tangy and salty.

An unimaginative choice.




Friday, July 3, 2015

Still Haven’t Ever Gone Fishing Yet - 03/07/2015


as a writer
I’m better with prose
than with poetry
though I’m a better poet
than I am a social worker
but a better social worker
than I was last time round

as employee, I’m an honest man
and as an honest man I’m better
... not saying anything else

better with telling the story
rather than listening
wonderful lover, lousy partner
better at making friends
than keeping them
better with burning bridges
than just saying no
better at talking my way in
than talking my way out

never really been good at much
except covering
or compensating for
what I’m not good at

started doing poetry
because I looked around
didn’t see hardly anyone
doing it right

stops writing poetry
every time I look around
and see
the same damn thing

worst thing I can say
about others’ writing
is the same as the best thing
I can say

 fuckers make me want to write

there is great admiration
and pride for the self-contained

it’s a discipline, a strength
that from the minute I discovered
self expression
I’ve never been able to develop

bombs go off inside our brains
all the time
sometimes it’s beautiful
most of the time
it just leaves bodies

the self contained types
bury them
instead I take photos
share a few around
asking if anyone can identify

      the victims

don’t want to die here
in my head
            don’t want to die, period

I will of course
but before I go
I’ll keep trying to do better
with the things I do

because I have to
or else
find more things
to be better at

than writing about it




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tom Morello's "Pacific Rim" theme on repeat, since you asked. And no it's not Helping - 01/07/2015


I don't feel like the whole World's against me

more that the whole World's got it's headphones in
and listens to crap music really loud
while standing close, far too close to me

some days
my own music insufficient to drown it out




Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Back-up - 30/06/2015


The PC repair man thanked me for not crying in front of him, because apparently he has that happen a lot.

See, calling it a first world problem wouldn't have helped, but telling me about a mother whose computer he worked on, had lost all her baby photos, yeah that did.

He wasn't able to recover much from her PC, but one of the few folders he retrieved turned out to have some naked photos of herself. That's embarrassing.

She cried, I didn't.  I wanted to though, only reason I didn't is that I generally can't in front of other people. It's like urination stage fright, or performance anxiety.

So, I've lost over six weeks work on sorting out photos for the book I'm putting together, what I've been working on since early May.

I'd been saving into an external hard drive that I accidentally pulled off the desk via the power cables at the back, while rearranging a plant and a lamp. It landed with an almighty whack and it now refuses to open. Dozens and dozens of hours work. All gone, because I wasn't watching my feet properly.

He was the arch -IT/tech looking guy. Obese, shabbily dressed, haircut like a schoolboy and laconicly unhurried in his work for the $160 per hour he was charging for his services. I can't imagine how he'd handle people crying in front of him. Then again what do I know.

No crying, but went and  hyperventilated a bit though, in the corner behind my bookshelves where he couldn't see. Behind my weights and back rollers and piles of DVDs and y'know, everything I own that doesn't make this a cliche single guy's pad. Fuck it.

Anyway I hope he didn't hear me, He was phoning in his job summary. Just reiterating loudly to his boss that we couldn't get anything of the drive.

I was pacing my place waiting for him to leave making fists, breathing deep through my nose, probably most people who be very uncomfortable being in the same room with me. If he noticed my body language at all he didn't care.

Figured I'd cry or smash something after he'd left, but I didn't. Went straight down to JB to buy a new 2TB hard drive to start over again, from scratch. Because that's doing something. Because it feels better to do things. Like actual functional, emotionally intelligent people do. So today I'll pretend to be one of those.

Still pretty numb though, at least I don't feel like crying or breaking anything now. Don't get me wrong, if I thought it would make me feel better, even temporarily, then I would. Ultimately it'd just be another mess I'd made that I have to clean up.

As soon as I finish this piece of writing I have to crack open that box and start over. Writing helps. The time I didn't cry because I didn't lose baby photos and no one random saw my tits and I hooray still live in the first world. (Although first-world is a term that refers to the cold war era -with the Soviet Block and allies being the second world, so technically I don't live in the first world anymore.)

Anyway, here I go again. I'll watch my feet better next time.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

a fire just waiting for fuel - 25/06/2015


legs feel like arse
your hands and elbows stiff from making fists
and you wouldn't have needed to burn off
that whole bowl of chips worth of fat
with a boxing class
if you hadn't eaten them
in the first place

you wouldn't feel like going away
if you hadn't have come back
wouldn't want to write it down
if you were happier
but writing it down
does make you happy

you wouldn't be so hard on yourself
unless being hard on yourself
was what makes you happy
you like people you can talk with
about the people you don't

you chase loneliness away
with the kind of company
that sends you screaming
back into your own

you like porn instead of
sex instead of porn instead
of hungry for a healthy appetite
and the hardest times you have
are in trying to do
those things un-challenging

like cycling somewhere better
than actually getting somewhere
and look where it gets you

you're looking for fuel
a stomach full of empty grumbles
being there
to tear it down
to build it back up
to get even better still
at tearing it all down again


then burn it off again


Sorry folks for things being so dead quiet round these parts in June. I've been busy sorting through travel photos and lots of stuff in preparation for a future book and other writing. Expect some more poems and pieces of writing here soon, promise.  Stay tuned!



Tuesday, June 9, 2015



I did not hear tonight's question

but my answer is no




Sunday, June 7, 2015

P.S. I Hate Cops - 07/06/2015


If I wasn't feeling lousy when I rode here, then by the time I got done with two police officers here debating the semantics of where the train station starts and ends, and where I stopped cycling to avoid a fine, did the trick.

Feel lousy, but dodged the fine. Think it's easier to talk a cop down now that I'm older than most of these constables you'll meet out on street patrol. I can 'speak with authority when questioning it' but my insides still churn while I'm doing it.

I'm numb, and this weekend has driven reasons to be happy in and out of me like an air exchange under my breath. Spent the afternoon with my family, sat for the last half hour before I left watching my father playing Monopoly with his two grandchildren.

He can laugh. I tell you he laughs, animated and bright in a way I never saw myself when I was the childrens' age. That jovial spirit, he was never this lively before my niece and nephew came along. Was that sense of play always there under his gruff and cynical surface? I'd like to think so.

Like when I play with a cat, rubbing noses and dangling string, and wanting that part of me out front all the time. It would be a great way to operate in the world, all the time.

Except for when dealing with cops trying to impose on you, then I need to be as intimidating and assertively confident as I possible. I can do that.

I love being out cycling through the dark under amber light on cold quiet streets on a night like tonight. But I don't like that I'm going home to an equally cold and deserted home.

I like making peace but also like standing up for myself. I wish I had a cat to pat right now, wished I'd joined in that instead Monopoly game instead of just watching to the side having a beer quietly. I sat there the way my Dad would've when he was, say, the age I am now. I'm still uneasy around young kids, like they'll see what an emotional fraud I am. The way cats do.

I wonder if, or where I can cross over into that more playful territory. Instead of standing of standing my ground at a train station, debating boundary lines here, out in the cold.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

"You're not wrong Walter, you're just an asshole." - 05/06/2015


my injury collection
is about as interesting
to everybody else
as everybody else'
tattoo collection
is to me

guess it's just a matter
of dressing for the cold
not to show off how much
skin I have in this game

the worst thing
that ever happened
to me
told me she'll also be
there, tonight

have to not be
a complete tool
to not be
a petty little man

in theory
I should be living
by that tenet
everyday anyway
of course

in practice
I have to stop digging
all these holes
in my moral high ground
no matter how big a plot
of land
it occupies

or at least use one
in which to bury
this hatchet
held so tight
in the digging

anyway not to worry
about digging in
or anything to bury down
that's not where we're at

because no one's throwing a party on my moral high ground




Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Which has lead you inexorably... here." - 01/06/2015


religion is fundamentally
any given civilization's attempt
to ask the question

                'So why should humans bother trying to be good?'

only problem with that
is that if God does exist
I'm pretty sure she thinks

              it's a stupid fucking question.


(finally a poem my Dad might like)



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sex Hair - 28/05/2015


"sex hair"

somehow he'd never heard that phrase
before she mentioned it
it caught him
saying it over and over
kid with a new toy
sex hair, sex hair haha
her sex hair yeah
I like your sex hair

he writes down everything he likes
he likes to use everything he likes
he likes to show people what he writes
himself into corners
just to work phrases in
to figure things out
and she didn't like
the things he wrote

he could respect that
poems aren't good places
to find yourself in

he sees the writing on the wall
but then again he sees writing
everywhere he looks

it's on the lamp
left on in the other room
all night

sees it in
two whisky glasses
abandoned on the floor
one not as empty

see it in the disturbed
contents of an open draw
rummaged through bedside
for material

sees it interrupted
sleep in the evocative
tangle in the eyes
in the sheets
of paper

worse still is when
he sees things to write
about what is not there
for others to read in too
a disservice to wordless
urges made worthless
sleep on it, absent-minded
while that writing on the wall

"some things you really shouldn't share"

he wasn't reading
those words back though
too preoccupied

         waxing lyrical about sex hair.




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day One - 27/05/2015


have to stop
instantly falling in love
with any woman out cycling
in the morning

        then again
        maybe I don't

microwaved food
sugar and beer
and porn
and casual sex

so desperate
to be better
setting a reminder
that tells me
'stop hating'
each morning
at 9am

what I can go without
is being this fucking good
at telling you all about
what I should be
going without

got enough shoulds here
to starve a whole village
of artists

I can do privation
like it's a vice
and vice versa

need another fix
of fixing
gimme another hit
of withdrawal

and all the while
only thing really wrong
with me is
I keep looking
so hard
to find

something that is wrong with me




Saturday, May 23, 2015

much of our muchness - 24/05/2015


there was a time
when we didn't incessantly post up
every thought and feeling online

we were not given to display
each and every wound
for random strangers and stalkers
for the creeps, freaks, frenemies
and the odd lurking relative
to read

of course we were better
much better
in our own private companies
back then

also we were happier
much happier
with who we were being
back then

naturally I was better
so much better
at lying

what I have now become.




Thursday, May 21, 2015

Growth Patterns -21/05/2015


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

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

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

took years of awkward
exchanges on aching knees
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
a blunt instrument
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
and wasn't going to live past thirty
had it so I couldn’t have sex
had it and that became
everything that I couldn’t get
women a thing 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

indulged my fat anger
when I couldn't
satisfy my starving affection

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

until one day
a cure came for me
out of nowhere
injected six months of
interferon into my life

for whatever doesn't kill you
makes you a prick
of a needle
in the belly
by twenty six
of the longest weeks suffered
it worked
it worked the poison out my blood

that was nine years ago
and I have been negative
ever since
so to speak

escaped that fate of a failed liver
I got to live without expiry dates
or a best before label, again

so where now
I was a prick
looking for a cure
hammer looking for a nail
growing into touch
learning how to feel it
how to express

it took me
a long time
an awful-long time in the getting
to grow into my own mouth
to open up this chest
to fill my shoes

I got through Interferon
got over the Hepatitis C
that I got from being a Haemophiliac
and in all of that
I got older
faster than I should

acting like such a tool
like such a prick
you haven’t felt
the needles the nails
the medicine the waste
the policy of no refunds
on years spent angry

can't change the past
but can unmask my scars

medication taken
health restored
liver forgiven
to heal this
ridiculous long list
of everything left unfixed

filling my own shoes
no small feat
if you want to keep growing

                    I want to keep growing

I am a man
given another chance
I survived long enough
to tell you this story
how it is
that I’m not dead yet
more life left to me
than I quite know what to do with

very much alive
and plan on staying that way
but beyond needles and nails
I still have no idea, really
how it is

                              I’m supposed to be living




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

If I don't make it back, you call in the air strike - 20/05/2015


make something
it will help when you're feeling low
is what you make of life

make some art for yourself
or art of yourself
go write a poem
sit and draw a picture
brush up on your painting
sculpt a sculpture
take a photo
take a whole bunch of photos
then take them somewhere
make some music
some joyful noise
out of joyless night
make a blog
or a paper plane
or make a blog about paper planes
or something
make anything, into something

make something useless
make a mess
make it up as you go
make it known
make yourself heard
make yourself shut up for just a second
make them all wait
make some room, for yourself
to make some mistakes

do some shit
get some kicks
build another thing
from that Lego kit

make yourself at home
make it out the front door
make yourself stay
make yourself go
make yourself cum
make out with your mind
making love to your art
the endorphins flow
make it so
make it count
make it quick
make such a big deal out of this
make a meal out of this
make changes to the recipe

make someone else happy
it'll make all the difference
make some new friends
make a point of it
that makes no sense at all
make things happen
or make things stop

make it through, until you can
because you can
do what you have to do
to make it

bring something into this world
from outside of your inner world
use those pencils and paints
the crayons and glue-sticks
grab your cameras and clack on a keyboard

make wild claims on your creativity
make it hungry and ferocious
make your creativity stay out
all night
and make sure
you make time for that

the act of creation
of being able to make things
imaginative and magnificent
is a gift we each have
we're all of us made that way

so make it count, for something.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Through a glass, half fully - 19/05/2015


positive and optimistic people
seem to bring out the worst
most cynical attitude in me

black hat wearing
the Grinch
the cynic
the sceptic
dark cloud inside every silver lining

like I'm the only one
who can see
the Emperor's wardrobe

occurred to me recently
that this may be because
I am fundamentally
a force for good

what I’m doing, actually
I’m trying to help the universe
maintain an intrinsic sense of balance
a cosmological harmony
and natural equilibrium
within itself

either that
or I'm just a bit of a cunt




Friday, May 15, 2015

to enter his house, justified - 17/05/2015


for all the same reasons
that cycling is dangerous
and driving is not

that we have peacekeeping forces
with guns and tanks

or that diet soft drink exists
along with
drive through bottle shops
and warnings to gamble responsibly

he is here
leaving his house
spinning against the way he drives
goes to a poetry reading tonight
to crowd out his own company
ignoring himself
in so many words
unwelcome and intrusive

for so long so much life, of his
has been in writing
scared he would be nothing without it
so he wanted to do without it

hoping passion and imagination
call him again
tell him why he’s here
or where he can go
to meet up with them

they have not

for the same reason
people still smoke cigarettes
outside hospital buildings

we contradict ourselves
we do this, very well
we are large and contain multitudes
of bad habits

works in progress that have not
progressed all that far
and we know why we’re here

someday we will figure out
better ways
around bad behaviours

not feeling that need
to tell the world about it
to be less impressive
to be more
less impressive

and he will be able

to enter his house, justified




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Donating my book sales to Nepal Region Earthquake Appeal, in May


It’s been very upsetting hearing the news about Nepal recently, the earthquake in late April is a huge scale tragedy hitting a country that, well, wasn't exactly flying-high in the first place, and now it’s been compounded by a second one. Thousands have died and many more are in desperate need. Below is a picture I took of some Nepalese kids, designed to tug at your heart strings.

When I was there in 2008, less than 3 percent of the country had access to running water, and there were daily blackouts of up to 6 hours to conserve power, to handle their crippling national debt.

Nepal is the country I’ve spent the longest amount of time in of all the places I’ve visited outside Australia.

It’s where I got my infamous safari hat from, an experience I wrote about in my first book, along with observations of the poverty and lack of infrastructure these wonderful people live with.

I’ve wanted to donate to the natural disaster relief, but haven’t has the means to do this until now, but I NEED YOUR HELP.

So, if you buy my above-mentioned book, (One For The Road) for the rest of the month I am donating that money to the Nepal region Earthquake Appeal.

You can purcahse the book with PayPal or credit card below:

If you don’t have a whole $15 to spare, already have the book, or want to cut out the middle-man and just donate straight to the Red Cross direct, here’s the updated link to their specific appeal:

The money raised will be used as following –

• provide first aid and ambulance services

• help families separated by the quake to find each other again

• provide safe drinking water and sanitation facilities

• offer emotional support to bereaved and traumatised people.

(or, or you can find a list of other charities here

The months I spent there were life-changing experience, eye opening I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the land. I owe Nepal, it’s that simple. Please help, and incidentally you’ll get a pretty good book in the process.

-Randall Stephens

Next Exit - 13/05/2015


    " I'll tell you the truth. All the good ones are gone "

my little sister pronounces
through the electric blue lines
rolling over the windscreen
from the tollway
as she drives me home

the good ones, she says
are all gone by now
paired off in their twenties
leaving the rest of us dregs
to just vainly, randomly bump
compatible injuries together
trying to add insufficienies up
for the remainder of our single lives
hoping it all cancels out
and we can call that love

                   a tollway beep from overhead

musical chair monogamy
we're playing with no seats left
want her to be wrong
but her words are divorced
of sentiment, plus a husband
and make more sense
than anything else
I've heard
the pulse in my ears
on them nights spent
pretending sleep in the bed
next to someone I'm not touching
to prove that I can behave
act like one of the good ones
restraint to beat the odds
play with tthe hands I'm dealt

                                                              it hurts
                                            a night like that
                                 all your problems
                       stuck to the ceiling
              and are also taking up
   too much of the mattress

    the love of my life
               is not the untouchable body
                            I'm lying next to

flat pensive, empty hands

my sister calls me a hipster
because I live in Brunswick
I call her a fucken bogan
because she lives out in the burbs
we're both of us wankers
for doing Bikram yoga

her ex husband changed his mind
decided he didn't want kids
wasting her fertile years
til finally she left him

the last girl I was with
asked me to fuck her with a cucumber
then she left me to finish off
while she went and had a shower

                   that finished us

another beep overhead
from the tollway
change lanes
watch the limit

little sis gives me a lift home
from the burbs back to Brunswick
it's a long drive
might as well be
worlds away
between the destinations
that separate the two of us

separate us
from all those good ones
who found somewhere settled to sit
when the music stopped
somewhere we're not going to find
out there tonight,
down this highway back,

                              to where it is that I live




Monday, May 11, 2015

Til I reach my highest ground - 12/05/2015


one day
there'll be nothing left of us
except spare USB cables
missed phone calls
half drunk cups of coffee cups
and television show recommendations
most of which you ignored
or didn't get around to

your story
shrinks in the telling
tense present, first person
it ends with you
no clear resolution

today I unpacked
haemophilia medicine
taken with me
for some set of emergencies
that never happened
on my grand adventure

don't know what the story is there

when not trying to figure out
what to do next
waste my time
looking at closed curtains
trying to figure out
what I have done
what's the story there

this poem
demands some resolution
I have no resolve to give it

you can makes stories
out of your life
but you can't make
your whole life
into a story

the end




Sunday, May 10, 2015

"One For The Road" my poetry book is back in print - NOW!


I'm tickled pink, pleased as punch, and happy as Larry to announce that my first published poetry collection 'One For The Road' is now back in print!

Launched in Melbourne last July, I toured the book across seven cities in Australia on my cycling trip, selling over 160 copies before running out of stock back in January.

One For The Road is a poetry collection representing work written over a 6 year period, focusing on travel and journey.

Featuring tales of hopeless crushes in strange places, communications breakdowns across language barriers, unrequited love and heartbreak in Paris, isolation at the airport, floods in Thailand, scams in Malaysia, wankers in Auckland, disillusionment in India, freaking out in the Sahara, and a stolen pith helmet in Nepal.

We go from exotic adventure to facing up the economic disparities in the world.

It's 22 individual stories on 60 pages, staple stitched with illustrations, all created and composed by the author.

Also there's elephants in it. It's pretty fucking good, seriously.

It's available now for $15.00, and you can grab one by ordering it from the sidebar (on the right hand side of your screen, if you're on a desktop computer) or from my bandcamp page:

You can use PayPal or credit card, or message me privately for an EFT-deal. I'll ship to anywhere in the world.

I'm pretty proud of this book, I know you'd enjoy reading it as much I'd enjoy having your money... uh, I mean, sharing it with you. Yeah.

Special thanks to the generous sponsorship of my friend Isabelle Rowan,
for helping to finance this fourth printing, and also thank you to everyone whose supported the book so far.



In reprinting 'One For The Road', I went back to the original manuscript for some minor formatting tweaks, in the...
Posted by Randall Stephens on Sunday, 10 May 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Recycle Bin Empty - 07/05/2015

(this isn't poetry, for the most part, but a rewrite of a post I put up on Facebook on April 6th. I read this version at an erotic fiction event last night.)

I had been watching pornography for years before even so much as holding hands with a girl.

I grew up believing that I was never going to (be able to) touch someone. Through my teens and into adulthood, when hormones stacked on top of loneliness, on nights when the desire for sex was unbearable and almost physically painful, pornography was a solace, a balm, a thing to help me cope.

In an isolated state where I all I could connect with was frustration and anger, in times of deluded misogyny, in my worse moments watching porn even felt to me like an act of defiance. Back then the combination of illicitness and difficulty in accessing porn, made it all the more thrilling. You had to be thin-walls quiet, and shared-space careful. It was exciting.

I imagined women touching me, I imagined me touching them. Being naked in front of someone. Imagining some girl wanting to be with me and her wanting to fuck me. That was the fantasy.

At twenty one I met a girl for the first time in my life that I connected with romantically. Finally I could express myself physically, and all that adolescent rage vanished overnight. No longer did I see women as enemies, nor as holders/withholders of something I wanted, it wasn’t about watching or imagining alone in front of a screen. A whole new world of sensations and adventures was opening up, I learned what my turn ons and turn offs were.

I learned about anticipation, the process of building up excitement, warming your partner up, how to touch, learning how I liked to be touched. The smell and feel of soft skin in one’s hands, against your skin. The thrill of undressing someone. Spontaneity was a turn on, lingerie was a turn on. Being wanted was a turn on. Suddenly against all that, the idea of porn looked completely pallid, unappealing, and it vanished from my life.

In the midst of my first long term relationship, I understood my prior use of pornography in context as a substitute to sex. However as two years became three then four, then five and on, sex went from a thing we do anytime we find shade, to daily, to weekly, to sometimes after an argument, to becoming the occasional thing that we, (settled monogamous adults in their twenties) do if we both go to bed at the same time (which was less and less often)... and pornography crept back as a secret supplement to my sex life.

Sneaking out of bed late at night, or closing the curtains when I had the house to myself. My little secret, my small slice of me-time, and this had all the same quietly-illicit thrill it had had in my teenage years.

A schism happened somewhere there, and I suddenly had two sex lives. One with a real person, a well trodden routine we’d visited literally a thousand times, and a second one. Contained entirely inside my head, and accessed through cleverly hidden folders on our hard drive. It was varied, it was everything I couldn’t ask my partner for, to wear, or say, or do, to me or with me. Here, if I could think of it, pretty soon I could find it online.

By the time I became single again, internet pornography was manifoldly-easier to access, and once more became the focus of my so-called sex life. But it wasn’t exactly a replacement for sex anymore, it had become something else, almost completely separate, an additive to my life. It was just something I would do when no one was around. I never saw these two sex lives as competitors however. Anymore than lunch competes with dinner, or your coat competes with your pants.

Pornography was easier though. Because there’s no judgement there, no rejection, no competition, no embarrassing erectile failures, no miscommunications or patience needed, nothing you need to ask for or negotiate. You just let your fingers do the walking, your hands do the stimulating, and your imagination does the exploring. No demands, no moods, no filters and no... no. And no subsequent partner ever superseded my interest in porn again.

However somewhere along the way, with increasingly complicated emotional baggage and a string of failed relationships dragging behind me , two sex lives with one going on hold for months at a time, and the other, easier and never stopping for anything other than not having a room to yourself at night, pornography has slowly taken primacy over physical expression with real lovers. Easier became better.

To the point that, regardless of how emotionally connected I felt to them, some sexual partners in recent years felt more like a distraction from physical gratification than, well, actual partners in it. Porn has become my partner.

My turn ons and turns off all gone digital, and if I’m honest with myself here, pornography was interfering with my physical responses, colouring my desires. Needing to use my hand to achieve satisfaction. Needing to think about those images during three dimensional encounters. Waiting for her to leave the house and boot up the computer. Sex had become the substitute for pornography, and I didn’t even realise it.

I felt compelled to use it at least once a day. Not even because I was that hot and bothered, or needed that wonderful gratification of an orgasm, so much as it was a habitual thing. Like brushing your teeth. But this isn’t just brushing your teeth. Above all though- it was getting worse, both in terms of consumption, and extremeness of content.

Cognitive dissonance is a magnificent thing, and I’d tell myself that this is just the way it is. That no relationship is perfect, or completely emotional or physically fulfilling all the time.

Told myself that this is just me and here I am and there is no normal, and that is that, and what the hell, and I still feel good and fucking hell...

Deep down I knew, I've been in trouble for a long time, and now being single again, recently reached a point where it’s impossible to keep denying this schism, and the negative effects .

In every measurable sense, this is addiction.

I’ve recently returned from a trip cycling across Australia. Last month a friend and I were talking about ideas for my next big adventure, and she challenged me to try looking inward, we stumbled into a conversation about brains/neural pathways/cognitive therapy etc, and I just blurted that ... I’m addicted to porn.

I've rarely discussed it with anyone. Obviously not something I've wanted to confront, because the situation seemed hopeless to me. It's amazing the power that something spoken, or written, can have though. Articulated outside your head, you’re forced to acknowledge it, in a way your private thoughts don’t demand.

I also had to acknowledge, I’m a pretty capable sort when I want to be, I don’t really know what a hopeless situation is, from the inside out.

I decided that I can do something about this; therefore I should do something about this. And I will do something about this. I came home and gathering up all my materials, the various backups, and I deleted every trace of it. I was terrified of what I did, but figured like skydiving or bungy jumping you only have to be brave for one moment and it’s done. All gone. And it won't be coming back. Recycle Bin Empty.

Ultimately there is damage done that can never fully be undone, there are obviously limits to your brains plasticity, and what's in my head is in my head. However... I want to do better, to be better, and I'm using this piece of writing to essentially shame myself into doing so.

I'm going to try and not expose myself to pornography anymore. I don't quite know what to do with myself now. So to speak.

Note that I'm choosing not to discuss any larger social issues with pornography here. I'm not condemning pornography or defending it. It served a function for me that didn’t hurt anyone, for a long time, and somewhere along the road it got out of control. I’m not putting my head on the chopping block for anything else, at least for now.

That head has over twenty years of exposure to aesthetic sexualisation to grapple with.

I have never known what sexuality is without pornography.
I know my own hands,
I know meticulously hidden folders and secrets,
and none of it sensual

Every day I have to keep making the choice not go back.
Sometimes I feel its absence more than others.

Because I know how this ends I if go back, every time
and I’m fucking tired of my sexuality
being tied to something that I’m ashamed of
that I can’t share with anyone else and isn’t real,
so I gotta not
the relief the balm the hands that feeds itself,
but I gotta not

- - -

It’s been about a month, today
I just have to remember what it is I want

sexuality is all about wanting
and for everything that pornography showed me
and all the more important things it left out
I want to fill those in, with someone

don't want to look at screens for relief
want to look at someone’s eyes
half rolled back into bliss
eyes inches away from mine
and get my pleasure there from sharing theirs

slow, sensual, rough, gentle, and strong
all the fun ways we can find to connect
through fabric, through tremblings
under tables, in shadows
in seconds before we get spotted

want you to stay over the night
and breathe out jagged rhythms with me
want to hold and to please
and plead with you, not to leave
the next morning
with a no-you-hang-up-first sincerity
not waiting for you to go
so I can sit in front of a keyboard
to empty myself out, alone

I say I want this back
may have never actually ever had it

it was years of porn before I held hands
with a real person

Recycle Bin Empty.
Turn me off.
Then turn me on, again.
Hard reset.

My turn-ons include-
opinionated discussions about movies,
and infectious smiles
big enough to reach your eyes.

My turn-offs include-
use of the phrase 'lol',
any talk of astrology
(beyond ridicule of the concept),
also new cars,

and this computer.




Sunday, May 3, 2015

Conveniently Located - 03/05/2015


The furniture in my head is slowly being rearranged.
Carefully and thoughtfully, tastefully and artfully.

Soon this room and it's decor will be an uncluttered,
bright and well-ventilated space,
giving you many versatile yet affordable options for modern living.

A headspace ideal for relaxing in style
or fine dining, entertaining guests,
whilst also being suitable for private functions.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Labels - 17/04/2015


there was a selfish rabble
holding up traffic in the city
this Friday night

they were out in the thousands
media won't report it right
but nobody could move or get anywhere
they call themselves




Thursday, April 30, 2015

and because analytical types just aren't sexy - 01/05/2015


because I came here on my own
and stayed that way

because it was late
and a very long way
from where I want to be

because I was curious
if you were curious
if nothing else

because there is never
a singular reason
for anything to happen
or not to happen

because of the wine

because why not
live looking for reasons
to say yes, not no

because I just drift through this life
when not holding on too tight
I wanted to be held
because I thought you needed it
because I thought I needed it

because expectation is bad
but anticipation is good

because warmth
because touch
and smell
and taste
and skin
and hands
eyes and smiles
because hungry

because it was getting even later
the hour was full
where the whole day before it
had been empty

because with nowhere else to go
when we talked closer and closer
for a few moments there

it didn't feel so bad




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just a moment - 29/04/2015


corner of a city block
I'm waiting for a friend to show
notice-myself looking
at each attractive woman I notice
just a little too long
hoping each of them didn't
and I'm trying to stop doing it

wondering why my legs hurt
from a boxing class
more than my arms
chewing over the film I saw
I'm not sure I liked it
I'm thinking
how much I would
urban air
without smokers around

mentally I'm high-fiving
every cyclist
braving the grid
mentally I'm running
every light cycle
and my predictable eyes
are kept on the road
nobody notices

still waiting for a friend
I'm writing myself
into this corner
at a crossroads
of my life
and fuck this traffic

happy to be here
having a moment
I'm making a solitude
that you can call a peace.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bottled Up - 28/04/2015


sits there looking at that bottle
and it's everything in the world
he wants right now

knows full well what happens
when that lid pops
won't be any better this time
probably a little worse
lots of things have been bad
for him
or he's been bad
for them

this is not the first night
he's sat here alone
won't be the last either
staring at that liquid
the light it catches

bottled up
fingers twisting
on the neck
sometimes does
sometimes does not

room with one light on
a little amber lamp
the only room
inhabited in the house
nothing happens here
without him throwing a switch

in all that blank space
in all that silence
keeps asking dark
how he got here

no coward
yet for all said
that he wants
to give up
or stop doing
or leave behind
so far
he hasn't been
brave enough to look at
what he's willing to take on
and start doing instead

looking at that bottle
he cannot see

what he wants, besides the not wanting




Sunday, April 26, 2015

Days are numbered - 27/04/2015


a panic I get
it comes on
while trying to do
the last five push ups

a voice telling me
it's all useless
I can't do it
tells me to stop
makes me feel small

ribbing me
about how much l shake
or my chest hurts
how wonky my elbows are

hard to beat, sometimes
I do, sometimes
I'll just not do the last five
or even ten less
to avoid it altogether

very particular type of panic
that makes it scary
to go down onto the rug
but makes it all the more
when you plant
a foot flat
stand back up

beat that voice
drowned it out
pushed it down

lately I haven't been
able to leave that feeling
that voice
behind on the rug

there are days happening
that feel like my whole life
is going to drop a knee
and come off ten short

not good enough
not strong enough
not enough-enough

fear and doubt
and all the weight of yourself
on shaky elbows
and slumped guts

almost there
adding up in tens
almost there
in breaths of two
almost there
shut the fuck you I'm
almost there

I am almost
counting down five
four three





Sunday, April 19, 2015

feet first - 20/04/2015


I want to shoot first
reschedule our thing
to never
call someone just to tell them
not to call me again
lecture people on how
they shouldn't lecture people
call all the optimists
start a conversation
just to kill it
open a door
just to slam it

sit here in the mess
preserve my indignity
as a crime scene
waiting for you to come look
waiting to be right
about something
about anything
accuse the room
with all the told-you-so
accumulated cred
of a post natural disaster

none of these things
I do
interior monlogue slips gears
out of necessity
out of the front door
and pushed into breaking
the cycle

another ride
there's nothing to be right about
out here I
sing just as badly
as I do loudly

flaunt traffic safety
dress dark
sweat through the rain
go really-really fast
really far
until there's no more go

I uh, probably just neeeded
a little air
I need that a lot
forgot what
I was so worked about
as I remember

how much I love cycling




Friday, April 17, 2015

For The Swim Back - 18/04/2015


run sucker run
before they figure out
that you don't have
any of this figured out

before they see the stains
all over your honesty
and the excuses threaded
through the seem

run sucker run
before want their money back
or they realise that the magic beans
won't grow
no giants
refund the cow
sour the milk
the apology wrench
in the food bowl

don't just stand here
soaking wet in the middle
of an interview stopped cold
run you fuck
and at least try
to get away with it

every time you've answered the question
of why you went out there alone
you're less and less certain
as to the answers

you're less
and less certain
you're less

and less




Thursday, April 16, 2015

Poetry Guy - 17/04/2015


Walking down Sydney road minding my own business when some dude hanging out a car window, amidst the crawling traffic yells out at me...


Says he saw me perform Wednesday night. Says he loved the stuff I did, especially that last one. I told him he just made my day. Because he did. We're both smiling big now.

I was on my way to the post office, to send out my second-last copy of my third printing of my first book.

I forget sometimes that I have something to offer people. Something of value. I love writing and performing. I dont like getting messages from people wanting favours from me they don't deserve. I don't like seeing what has currency at the moment and who we're not hearing more from. Most of all I don't like thinking back on all the years wasted energy I gave trying to help, and trying to hurt, the other poets.

But I love the work. I like the ferocious creativity I can still feel wanting to come out of me. I like being these words, for people, in front of people.

It's pretty good.

- Randall Stephens, poetry guy


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Post - 11/04/2015


I'm here
I'm also not
at the party
on facebook
on my timeline
on my fifth cider
at the eleventh hour
leaning against this post
that I just made online
for support

far too sober
far too early
too late
too scared
of not talking
to people
to be around the people

tell other people in writing
sitting on your front porch
punching touch screen dark
having conversations
that you cannot hear

here also not
asking why
it's better to be alone
than just feel alone
when you're not,
asking myself

can I go now?




Friday, April 10, 2015

Binge - 11/04/2015


I once ate a whole Friday night by myself

no plate or cutlery
just big greedy fistfulls
of however much I could stuff
down my throat before Saturday
or anyone else
came along to snatch it away
from me

hunger gross and desperate
oh so desperate
scoffed it down dry
never chewing properly
small wonder there was
little bits of paper napkin
stuck in my teeth after

fell in love
with the taste left behind
in my own mouth
though it might just've been
from licking knuckles

worse still is that an hour later
I already wanted another one
despite being sick
bloated and overstuffed

all I felt was empty.



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Volume - 06/04/2015


when nothing
makes sense to you
get on the pedals
ride fast and angry
into a cold night
something in your ears
drowning out loud
all the noise outside
and inside your head

swerve and bank
when you don't have to
run traffic lights
when you don't need to
sing along
at the top of your lungs
especially when
there's no words

to this music



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Burglary - 19/03/2015


if I'd known
you were going to come around
I would've at least made the bed

then set the house on fire



Monday, March 16, 2015

No is Easy, Yes is Hard - 17/03/2015


Last night a voice in the dark asked- "Does it get better?"

I was half dressed,
tiptoe-ing through the lounge,
back to my room after taking a piss.
My housemate had fallen asleep earlier on the couch.
Didn't mean to wake her.

We're all hurting in this house.
A cross section of breakups and collected loneliness,
things broken and stolen,
hangs over us here like an awning.

Does it get better? Yes.
Said it quietly,
not quite a whisper,
but low enough not to scare
the conviction of that answer

A word so very fragile at this hour.
It is correct.
I know that yes,
through my slow-healing blood
and gristled joints.

Not my first rodeo.
Not the last either, most likely.
Mountains climbed and deserts crossed
got nothing still on slammed doors
and choked phone calls.

You go on,
seems impassable,
but y'get on with it,
because that's what you do.

We are an emptied bladder
and makeshift bedding.
She's confused,
I'm just angry.

Couldn't see her face
and don't think she could
see mine either.
Thank goodness.

Yes, it does get better.




Monday, January 5, 2015

In The Flesh - 05/01/2015


tan lines across my mind
a patchwork surface
of different parts exposed
varying shades
graduate the surface
from pushing levels
of how publicly uncovered
our flesh can be

here and there a blemish
no tattoos to readily show off
without long stories that justify
a collection of scars
some of my skin

will never see the light of day


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Treeless Plain - 16/04/2015


kiss her
as if it's the last time you ever will kiss her
because it is

kiss her
as if it's the first time you kissed her
charged unforgettable
all urgency and yearning
all peaceful and tender
all hungry calmness
all leaping in to still
all of the things
that don't make sense
is how you two ended up

don't tell her how much
hiw badly you needed this
because need is bad word
that will come out... badly
wrongly, sorely
besides man...
she knows already
it's written in the feel
of your lips
on hers

treat this moment the same
as you did that post-coital rush to blurt out
stupid questions
and reassuring statements
that is to say, don't say any of it
this moment
trust that all that dumb of yours
will dissolve away

mouth none of the stupid
platitudes and promises
that crowd your throat
because they don't fit your face
without using a smirk

okay say one maybe like- I'll never forget you
because that's at least true
...yeah try not to smirk though
tears won't follow far behind

but don't be afraid to say
how crazy
unlikely it was
because she'll agree
and you'll both laugh last

say goodbye without the actual words 'goodbye'
use a smile, a big smile
one that reaches your eyes
like one of those ones
she kissed off your face
a few times before
because that's the last thing of you she'll see

ignore the desert winds howling all around you two
because what wind

kiss her one last last time
and again
and take it slow
and who cares who's watching
and then another last time
because you can

make it hard for yourself
because intimate moments in vast open spaces are easy

but goodbyes are hard

- - -

don't write poems in your head noe
while this is all happening
trust that they'll come later

if you still find yourself
days later
bursting into smiles
in the middle of nowhere
for no apparent reason
don't worry

somewhere else
someone else
is probably doing the same

and not for the last time




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Someone - 02/01/2015

from out of that social wilderness
tattered maps call a twenty-first century
I hope to emerge as someone
who is lovable

beyond that
I hope to be someone

who is helpful