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