Poetry for the New Year

Hey friends,

It’s been great knowing that my writing has been getting out there and getting read in the last few months. Having people – even if it’s just people I know – get in contact and talk to me about how much my writing and poetry helps them with their own struggles is really heartening.

I will let my next three poems speak for themselves. I wrote the two haiku poems at the beach the other day, ignoring people and lost in my own thoughts, and I wrote the villanelle just a moment ago, to see the new year in.

I am really looking forward to writing more – especially more prose, and especially more for my novels – next year. It’s a habit I am really proud to be in. For the moment, I am just going to get these posted, and get back down to my darling wife, the dogs and the cat, who I am spending the night with for a quiet New Years celebration – then off to the beach again tomorrow!

Thanks for the support this year, happy reading, happy writing, and all the best going forward!

Richard 🙂

Villanelle – Next Year

Next year will be better:
I can see it, not so far away –
a yearning, sweet and bitter.

I hold the feeling close, yet her
sweet comfort will not come today.
“Next year will be better,”

I say to myself. However
there’s a new sensation at play:
a yearning, sweet and bitter.

This year’s struggle strangles like a fetter,
binds me to the ground like clay,
(but) next year will be better.

And when I hold her close, love letter
on my lips, I’ll softly say,
“a yearning sweet and bitter

is so much better together.”
And she’ll smile, as in our next day
next year will be better –
a yearning, sweet and bitter.

Haiku – Through the window

Verb: Defenestrate.
To throw away, out the window.
Our world, just burning.

Haiku – Smoke drifts

Cigarette smoke drifts,
and we complain as we sprawl
o’er the once pure land.

December 2019 – Furious Fiction Submission

Another month goes by, and another Furious Fiction entry appears on my blog.

Usually things calm down at work around November/December, but not this year. Reports, marking, writing assessments, a pay new Award to be voted on, whole-year assemblies, Christmas ridiculousness, my annual Year 10 Short Film Festival (and I mean mine because I organise it, curate it, and run it by myself every year), and a whole bunch of other things all got in the way of actually having proper time to write at the start of this month.

In fact, I got myself in a little bit of trouble with my wife this year, because I had the choice to either help with the Christmas tree, or write a story.

I gave up on this story about five times on Sunday, and has just set up the tree with my darling wife, having given up on actually submitting for December, when I was compelled by the writer in my to just get something on the page. So I did.

An hour and a half later, I had a story finished (although I just realised I had read the last prompt incorrectly, which is unbelievable). It’s not particularly good or particularly interesting, and it’s honestly a little saccharine for my taste, but I managed to write it and that, I feel, is what matters.

This is what we were asked to do:

  • Each story had to include the following words: JINGLE, CLICK, BUMP, SIZZLE (plurals or -ing variants are allowed).
  • Each story’s final sentence had to contain exactly THREE words.

I thought that final prompt said “first”, not “final”. Silly me.

I don’t think it would have changed anything though, and you all still have a story to read.

Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate even if it’s just having some time off.

I will aim to read the prompt properly next month, and maybe have a shot at the getting shortlisted!


Dear Eugene – A Christmas Tale

It was bumping.

The package was bumping.

Back and forth, never stopping, ever since I’d brought it in from the summer heat. I could almost hear the sizzle of the asphalt as I opened the door to collect the damn thing from the footpath and I wondered how the post-person walked the streets without their shoes sticking to the road and holding them there while the sun beat down and their skin started to blister and crack and their hair turned bleach-blonde and their tongue dried out and-

I took a breath.

And who in the name of all things holy could convince Australia Post to deliver on Christmas Eve when they couldn’t even deliver anything I had actually ordered on time when I needed it delivered?

Another breath.

Outside the familiar jingle of an ice-cream truck beckoned and lured me from my panic, if only momentarily.

I breathed deeply again, and turned to focus on the problem at hand. The package sat restlessly on the table, rocking back and forth.

I had to do something – I couldn’t just leave it sitting there.

I lunged at it, tearing its brown paper with a kind of manual dexterity that would have made any PE teacher smile approvingly, and propelling the package’s contents onto the ground next to me. I stood, frozen, not sure of what to do next.

Breathe, I thought, and complied.

Look down.

I complied again.

Laying on the floor was a little golden cat, its eyes swinging one way and its tail the other.

The cat reclined, bumping from side to side in its clear plastic box next to the torn packaging I had dumped on the floor and a little folded note.

A note. A note in a box with a golden cat inside, dumped on my doorstep on Christmas Eve could not be a good note because unexpected notes are always-


Reaching down to pick up the note, I noticed the paper was silky to the touch. It was folded twice, deliberately and precisely with all the sides lined up perfectly. I liked that. I knew where I stood with nicely folded paper.

The paper opened smoothly, and on it was written a message. I recognised the handwriting, and a feeling of relief washed over me like a cool shower after a hot Christmas lunch.

“Dear Eugene,” the note read – and I could hear the composer’s soft voice in my head despite her absence, “I hope you’re well. I am sorry I can’t be there for Christmas this year. I really don’t want you to be lonely.

“But I hope this will brighten your day just a little. It’s a cat, from Japan of all places! Sent express just for you!”

I reached down and took the cat out of the box clicking off the little switch on its back. The cat stopped and sat serenely on the table, smiling softly.

“Anyway, I’ve got to run. Merry Christmas Eugene – I’ll be thinking of you.


Poetry – measure by measure

Hey all,

I wrote half of this one in the shops, eating a discounted sandwich after I had dismantled my psyche with my psych for an hour, and before I did some Christmas shopping.

The other half I wrote just now.

I am not sure how I feel about free-verse poetry (or at least MY free-verse poetry), but I kind of like that this one’s a little more hopeful than most.


measure by measure

I’m being unpeeled.
Bit by bit those sealed thoughts
yield to the pressure. I can
feel the threshold moving
a new dawn, and assuming
I can withstand that excruciating
feeling – the journey elucidating,
the path illuminating,
lit up measure by measure –
the change will be revealed.

But fortifications so wide
cannot be defeated
easily. And the
normalisation of frantic
realisations are repeated
continuously. And with an assiduous, insidious
deliberalisation of an unhinged
mind, I’ll find the kind of
change might leave me blind

to the world. So new thoughts are
hurled into the furnace. Burned
and churned up into ashes and
I can only hope that the bits that
survive will stay alive
alive for long enough that
one day I’ll be healed. And then I
can wield a new perspective,
turn on my heel,
and finally – finally –
take the wheel.

Poetry – Attempting Petrarcan Sonnets

Hey everyone,

I have always been a little cautious to try writing sonnets – the stereotype is always that they are for romance.

In one of these poems, you will find a flavour of that romantic stereotype, but I found them taking a whole ‘nother direction, in the end. It’s sort of just where my mind goes.

I try not to dwell on my poetry, and just let it flow out. There are never any drafts because that’s not really the point of why I write it. I will just call these ones “I” and “II” because I expect I will be posting some more (and it gets me out of naming the damn things!).

Believe it or not, despite the stereotypes, I had fun with these.

I played with a couple of different Petrarcan Sonnet rhyme schemes, as outlined here: “I” is written as abbaabbacdedce, and “II” is abbaabbacdcdcd. I didn’t try to write in iambic pentameter though, that’s a step too far.

Anyway, enough commentary.

Enjoy the poems!



She holds my hand as we walk down the street,
a little looser as time carries on;
a little looser still when my felon
heart skips a beat. We settle on a seat
placed awkwardly on the path. Our eyes meet
for a moment – only once, for upon
the tree across the road sits a heron,
its tiny wings dancing as its soft, sweet
melody drifts towards us, buffeted
by busses, bouncing briskly to and fro,
the sound too slow to make any sense to
us. It glances at us, and as I throw
my gaze it dives and gets hit. Gutted, it’s
guttered, and we sit shocked – a silent two.



How can we just sit and wait for the world
to change? How can we hold them to account
when we don’t hold them for the count:
their bodies pressed into the floor, then hurled
out of the ring; out of sight. We’ve unfurled
a deadly scroll and there’ll be no amount
of begging that will save us; no amount
of pain that can equal that of our world.
So we sit and hope it will stay the same,
we’ll help if it’s easy, and wait and see
if we can find someone else we can blame.
We pretend we’re the best that we can be –
blameless and pure – but when those chances came
we scrunched the note and cast it to the sea.

Microlit – “Into the Clouds” and “To Ashes?”

Hey all,

So in late September I submitted two pieces of Microlit for the Joanne Burns Award over at Spineless Wonders. Unfortunately, like all of my writing so far, it was not accepted for publication. Even so, I am proud of it and I am going to post it here.

The theme was “Scars”, and each piece could only be 200 words in length. Being a lover of short fiction, how could I resist? One piece is called “Into the Clouds”, and was written in the aftermath of an anxiety attack and a depressive episode one after the other (always fun to get both extremes in one night!), and the other is called “To Ashes?” and is a bit of a reflection on my family and their relationship with me.

I only submitted two of a possible three pieces, and I was – shockingly – feeling pretty down when I wrote them, but I do hope you enjoy having a read!

As always, let me know what you think. Any feedback is appreciated.


Into the Clouds

He was curled up below me, crying, and I just watched, circling above, unable to help.

“I just want to be loved,” he said, desperate sobs choking him before he could get the words out properly.

“You know I love you,” said another voice. I couldn’t see who owned it.

The man sobbed again, but nodded softly, and the other voice continued, “but it’s just so much pressure, being the only one.”

I could see her once the man looked up – emerald-eyed and golden-haired. Her hand touched his knee softly, beckoning him out of his cage. I saw from his eyes again, and we whispered when we spoke this time, “but it’s not my fault everyone left.”

On saying that, we curled up together inside the cage we’d almost escaped, and I couldn’t see her anymore.

Who was this damaged man, and who could save him?

I floated away, into the sky, and while he sobbed, I escaped to the clouds. He can’t hurt me up here, and I can’t help him down there.

So he sits in his cage without me, and she tightly holds the space where I was, hoping I’ll come back soon.

To Ashes?

I don’t remember Dad’s Dad, but at his funeral I wasn’t allowed to go in and see his corpse – I had to sit outside with my sister and wait until my Mum and Dad had seen it. Apparently I was too young to see Death then. George was burned up and scattered on the Chatswood Rose Garden. That rose garden is a train station now, and his ashes are gone.

I’ll never forget Mum’s Dad. When I hugged Grandad for the last time all that was left of his organs were a lung and his heart. He told me it would be okay and that he loved me. He’d never said that before, but I always knew it. He’s with Gran now – for him that means heaven, but for me it just means the wall outside St Matthew’s in Windsor, next to her ashes and covered with a rusty plaque.

I too want to be burned, then sent into space in a little capsule that opens up in a hundred years outside the gravity well of Earth and our little solar system and spreads to the corners of the universe unnoticed until the end of time.

Poetry – The Chasèd Star

Hey all,

I had a pretty interesting, tough, and emotionally taxing session with my psychotherapist (I am still debating what to call her for short – my quack? My shrink? My therapist? My psycho?) and I have made some serious decisions about myself and my life with her help which feels pretty good. Even so, there are some tough times and tough conversations ahead of me, but maybe afterwards I will get a bit more control over my life? I really hope so; I really need it.

I think this poem sort of reflects that I can see a way out, but it is filled with a whole lot of pain that I’m not sure I want to experience. And despite the fact I can see the way out, the exit is a LONG way away and there are many steps on which I may either fall down or o’erleap.

That’s about the measure of what I am feeling right now, and a little bit of certainty and direction is a nice break from the fluctuations between debilitating depression and crazy anxiety I have been feeling. I don’t think you can really understand the feeling of nearing a sense of balance until you’ve been without it for years.

But there’s still a huge amount of work to do for myself, and it really starts with deciding to put myself before anyone else for as change, which is very scary.

On the menu today is a Rondine poem, which is (shockingly) a French poem with refrains, not unlike a Villanelle. The structure is: abbaabR abbaR. So what you have is a 12-line poem with refrains that are drawn from the first phrase of the poem itself. In the case of my poem, the refrain is slightly altered each time.

So basically a nice fun way to explore the inner turmoil that haunts my psyche. Kind of like a Sudoku, but with words and feelings.

Happy reading!


The Chasèd Star

“You’ve got to get better”, I said,
to no one in particular;
or maybe to myself. Spectacular
hypocrisy glistening deep in my eye,
I watch with futility as I try
to find the accurate vernacular.
“I’ve got to get better,”

is the refrain that I cry out
unendingly, but answers always are
harder to find; a chasèd star
that if – when – it’s caught, by-and-by,
there’s a chance I’ll get better.