Poetry – Apparitions

Fatherhood, eh?

What a journey.

It should be clear to anyone playing along at home that I haven’t really had the time or the energy to write much poetry of late, but that’s not the only thing that’s been stopping me from writing anything for this blog. Well, at all really.

When I first started publishing my poetry I did so anonymously, and it had very little reach (I mean compared to now I guess, and even so it doesn’t really have a huge amount of cut-through which I am okay with honestly). I then started sharing on a Twitter account – follow me at @abitofpoetry if you want to support me there as well – and then to my personal Twitter and finally on Facebook to my friends and family. For most of my mental health journey (i.e. the main reason I really started to like poetry in particular as it is a wonderful tool to express the emotions I have been processing) I have really been dealing with internal stuff: my negative thoughts about myself`, working through my depressive episodes and anxiety attacks, worries about the future, understanding fatherhood when my dad hasn’t been around for most of my life, learning to have compassion for myself, accepting my diagnosis of ADHD, dealing with the trauma associated with being bullied, harassed, assaulted and so on throughout school… honestly I could go on for a long time.

Since my son was born however, things have changed a little (read: to an unfathomable extent); my priorities have shifted from dealing with my thoughts, feelings, and emotions for me, to dealing with them for my son and my wife. Both my wife and I have been exploring what it means to be a family, what it means to have family, what relationships are and which ones are worth actively maintaining, and how to make sure that we are put our relationship as a coordinated system before anything else. We have both had to deal with our own significant emotional struggles during this time and while it is not my place to talk about my wife’s experiences, I am not ashamed to admit that I went through a number of months of pretty deep-seated post-natal depression, and if not for my wife’s unwavering support and my already-established access to mental health professionals (shout-out to Melissa Ferrari in particular) I don’t know how I would have navigated it. My friends – from those I have had since before I had even entered my teen-years to those amazing peers, colleagues, and mentors I have surrounded myself with that journey through the education system – were and continue to be a huge support too, and along with the aforementioned these friends have helped me not only to establish myself as a better and more confident father than I had ever hoped I could be, not only supported me at my lowest moments, but have encouraged me to have compassion and patience with myself, and learn to back myself, rather than simply roll over and blame myself for all of the problems that occur in my proximity.

So what’s missing?

Well, without going into specifics so publicly, my newfound ability to define what is my fault, what is outside of my control but my responsibility nonetheless, what is not my responsibility, and what is the responsibility of others has caused some fractures in my close family. Some fractures are clear, and out in the air and some are unspoken. There are people around me who love me for who I am – who I apologetically am – and there are some who still want me to come crawling back to them, apologising for their own missteps, misunderstanding, apathy, and in many cases prejudice against me for my mental illness, including the traumatic experience of being diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder at the ripe old age of 28. Those who know me, not those who think they know me because they have known me for a long time and think I am the same kid I was ten or fifteen years ago, have accepted and embraced the person I am becoming. Unfortunately there are some people around me who expect this round peg (a more appropriate shape for my peg-type than square, I feel) to fit in a square hole because I used to damage myself just to fit into their conception of what and who I should be.

These poems are about them.

I write my poetry by hand first, and I will continue to sit here typing them while burning the proverbial candle and watching my son sleeping on the baby monitor. He is beautiful, even in the black-and-white of the night-vision that is being live-streamed to my phone. I would do anything for him.

One member of my family recently called me a narcissist and acted like they were doing me a favour by telling me. They indelibly accused me or apathy, paranoia, and self-absorption, enacting a one-person intervention-style attack on me that ended with the following words (note: I am paraphrasing here because it hurts too much to go back to that email to get the exact quote and because I don’t want to publish my wife’s or son’s name):

“You need to change. You owe it to your wife and your son.”

This person barely knows my wife, and has actively worked to clearly delineate the divide between my wife’s family and my own throughout the almost 10 years I have been with her. Sometimes this person has done so with a clear disdain for my wife’s culture. This person has never met my son.

This person, clearly, barely knows me.

I haven’t been able to respond to them personally, and I won’t – it hurts too much right now.

This is not a response to their actions.

These poems are not just about them.

These poems are surely going to upset people.

These poems are not for anyone but myself and those people who have tried so hard for so long, and upon reaching the top of one of the endless mountains we mentally ill must climb have had the people they trust most make it clear that they prefer you at the bottom.

They’ll kick you back down sometimes, but if you’ve climbed it without them before, you sure as hell can climb it without them again.

I have changed. I will continue to change. I am a better me than I ever have been.

You tell me to change for my wife and child? I beat you to the finish line before you even realised the race was on.

You don’t want me to change for them, you want me to change for you.

Enjoy the poem.


P.s. I honestly don’t know if these are any good – I am too emotionally attached to them. I feel like there is some good stuff here, but it is not consistent. Let me know what you think!



Is “I just don’t understand”
the best that you
can do? You roll
your eyes and turn
towards the other too
because the more you see the
refuse of my mind;
the more I hold my ground,
refuse (un)kindly sympathies and
living elegies to he
who died
the moment that I broke free from
your silken bind; the more
you see you cannot find
the person that you thought
that you had made,
the harder that you try
to punish me for
choices that
you made.

Remember that: they’re
choices that you made.

And I’ll recall
their choices too;
I’ll recall
your choices too.

I will remember this:
that they
are you.

And it is more than time
for me to see this through.


The other day, or thereabouts,
when shadows dusted earthy ground
the mirror-lake you led me to
began to sing a tune.

A tune of love, or quite alike,
did echo forth from out of sight:
you brought to me a siren’s song
to hold my gaze anew.

You see: that lake you gave to me?
It was the thing that set me free
from mind-forged daggers of your make –
it let me see my fate.

Beyond the cracks, beyond the glass,
beyond the freezing, painful past,
beyond the lies, beyond the proof,
is final, purest truth.

If this was love just as you say
you’d draw me closer day on day,
but as you think you rightly make
a martyr’s sacrifice

I’ll hold you to that Faustian pledge –
you tried to pull me to that edge
but with my strength I knew I could
resist the serpent’s wrath.

So when you throw me to the ground
and like a toy gods toss me ’round
remember this: perched on his throne
Narcissus dies alone.


If words are mirrors that we
hold up the the soul
then yours are broken:

those sharpened shards of
polished glass slide from
your shaking fingertips and
cross the aching space
between your now-clenched fist
and stone-cold

those pointed words of
loving-hate slide from
your shaking fingertips and
cross the aching space
between your now-clenched fist
and my long-pained

Entropic words have
silenced me, you’ll find, but in
their chaos they will
leave you blind
and lead me to the refuge
or my new-discovered mind
whose thoughts to which
in final ecstasy
I sit resigned.


The banquet hall is empty. He stands alone, entranced. Somewhere off-stage the actor for his wife – the Queen – falls to her knees. She’ll never rise again.

The theatre is silent, and he breathes shakily – alone and abandoned. His thanes have left. His wife as well.

He wasn’t ready. Not yet.

“It will have blood, they say.”

He walks slowly towards the audience and draws his sword. Someone in the front row whispers to the person beside them, “Gosh, that looks very realistic.”

He speaks again before wading into the crowd, sword-arm raised above his head.

“Blood will have blood.”

Poetry – The endless fight

Hey everyone,

I have found it mighty hard to write anything since my son was born, but I have had a little respite today after a pretty bad time this morning, and of course my muse returned the moment she heard me cry.

I have written my panic attacks down before as both poetry and prose (and, if I am technical about it, prose poetry), but I do feel that this might be the best representation I have managed to craft of what I go through when I am struck down by my mind, almost without warning.

Beyond that, I want to let it speak for itself.


The endless fight


The cortisol impales me first –
a spike through the chest
that throws me from side to side
until I come to rest
against the wall, fists clenched,
nowhere to hide except behind
my broken mind;

or else I crumble to the
floor and seek an icy blessing there.

But that’s not where
it ends –
no, not against the wall
or floor,
so waiting for the next
spikes to arrive
I suck in air, or try
to give my heart
the breath it needs in vain.

Between my sobs I cannot
find enough.

The room’s a vacuum,
still and silent, inside of which
I float alone, lungs pressed
against their cage of bone
and in a dream adrenal glands
pump now-thick blood with hormones
evolution taught my body just
might bring me


I fight against myself:
I cannot fly – escape my mind –
and deep within my soul I
know I cannot freeze lest I
let these beasts tear me apart
thought-by-thought and leave
me in a place that none can find.

But this head is full of rot
and as I battle for
the parts I want to save
I cut deeper than I should,
and in my desperation I excise
the chunks that keep me sane –

but they’ll regrow, I hope, for as
I stand upon the brink of
the abyss the world returns,
and while its brightness burns;
and though I cannot speak,
the air breaks through
and fills me up once more.

In amongst the bleary haze of
shame, disgust, and now-spent rage
I watch my mortal angel meet
my once-averted gaze.

“You’ll be okay,” she says,
and my heart remembers more
than pain.

Finally no longer lame I stand
and see that little else has changed.
I meet her worried gaze again.

“We’ll be okay,”
her tone’s the same,
and as my broken heart and
weakened brain attempts to
drain the poison that I
made in desperate agony
I see what we can be
once more.

I see what she
can see in me
once more.


The battle never ends
and never will.

These waking dreams are demons
I can’t kill,
and yet I still believe
that we’ll survive
despite the shadows
recessed in the darkness
of my mind.

After all, I’m not the kind
to give up on this
too-short life:

I’ll wait,
I’ll fight,
I’ll keep them in
my sight,
and when the time
is right
I’ll shut them in
the cage I’ve built
of light
that shadows can’t escape.


At night
I hear them scream and
shake the bars I’ve
made from tears and
try to pick the lock
I’ve forged of love
that’s hanging on the
steely gate I scavenged from
the remnants of their hate, so

I won’t pretend
I will not cry;
I won’t pretend
I will not try
to set them free –
after all, they are
a part
of me,
and in their burning eyes
I still can see
the person
I have chosen
not to be.

Poetry – Lost in time

It’s been a bit – as it often is – between posts.

This year has been tough for everyone, but with the birth of my baby (an amazing thing) it has been exceptionally hard to keep up with my writing. On top of that, I have been recently diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been struggling with it for a long time, but never knew. Now that it all makes sense, I feel extremely conflicted. On the one hand, it explains why a whole bunch of things have been so difficult for me for so long, and it’s nice not to blame myself for not being able to focus, or complete things, or regulate my emotions.

On the other hand, however, it’s been remarkably difficult to accept all the things I could have done if I had been diagnosed before the age of 28. Maybe I would have tried harder at school and university? Maybe I would have found it easier to make friends? Maybe I wouldn’t have learnt to hate myself so much.

In essence there’s a whole lot I need to do and much more growing to be done, but on the whole things are going okay and my son is beautiful. We’re not quite ready to put photos up of him right now, but maybe in the future.

I wrote this poem as my meds were wearing off. It is, therefore, very specifically an “ADHD” poem. I hoped to capture how I feel about the way my mind works and has worked for so long, but I feel like I will always fall short if I describe my brain with words. All I can do, however, is try.


Lost in time


I write poems in the shower,
grasp hold of them,
and lose them forever – they sink
down the drain,
washed away
by distraction and discontent –
moods sway like trees in the breeze:
a hurricane I can’t withstand.

I write poems in the car,
watch them as they drift away,
holding them in my gaze
until they pass.

I write poems as we speak
and as the fragments of our mundane
lives meet together in the
space between our minds
they’re lost forever.


I thought I could hold onto you this time…

but I guess you’re gone.


Imagine all the things you
could have done
if you’d just




I throw myself at the mercy of time whose treachery goes unnoticed as I lay, eyes closed, thinking of the things that weigh me down – those transient thoughts that haunt ephemeral dreams and chase me through the labyrinth of my mind.

Where is the beast? I’m yet to see it – after all, there are no mirrors in this place.


“What are you thinking about?” I ask her, years before I knew her.

“Nothing,” she replies, a blissful smile touching her lips.

“You can’t think of nothing,” I said, but she’d already turned away.

I never forgot that day.


As I drive along
that familiar gravel road, I look
up at the others high above,
the concrete-and-steel-smooth highway
taunting me.

“I prefer it down here,” I say to no one,
grimacing as I hit a hole.

The car grinds to a halt
and I wait as the dust

It takes all of time, which
passes before I know.

As I reach behind my seat
I glimpse the others
flying past
years ahead of where
I’ll ever be.

“I prefer it down here,” I say again,
bracing myself for what I am
about to see:

Fragments of thoughts
shine as I open my
old and tattered case,
sobbing at the beautiful
tragedy of it all, but as
the glimmering remnants of
my mind sift like silken
sand through my fingers
I touch upon
the one remaining piece
(against all odds, still whole).

Smiling, I dust it off,
considering it: an in-tact thought –
a rare find (at least it is in a mind
like mine).

I sigh a familiar sigh.

It’s safer just to leave
it all behind.

As I set off on my
road again the sun
begins to kiss the stony ground
and before long, despite its
beauteous glow, the
thought is

Poetry – The End (A Villanelle for Year 12, 2020)

Hey everyone,

If you know me, you know that I love being a teacher because I love working with kids and learning with them. It is a tiring and heartbreaking and frustrating and beautiful job, which I wouldn’t change for the world.

My students this year have gone through so much. They have worked so hard, in spite of being locked down and shut away, in spite of their parents losing their jobs, and in spite of the constant, overriding fear that COVID-19 has brought to them. More than ever, I am proud of this cohort of kids for making it through the year, and still managing to have smiles on their faces whenever they walk into my classroom.

I couldn’t be luckier to teach these kids.

So I wrote a poem for them in the place of a message that I would normally send to have put in their Yearbook.

It’s a message of hope and courage in uncertain times, written in my favourite form of all – the Villanelle (it’s also in iambic tetrameter for those keeping score).

This isn’t just for one kid, one class, one grade, one school, one state, or one country. It’s for all those kids who are leaving school this year into a world that’s on its head. You’ve done your best. You’re wonderful. You’ll do great things.


The End

A Villanelle for Year 12, 2020

But now, at last, it’s time to send
into that great unknown, to you,
the message that it’s not the end

of all your learning, all your friends,
and any chances that are new.
But now, at last, it’s time to send

you on your way. They’re twists and bends,
the trials that you’ll make it through –
the message that it’s not the end,

and with some time, some hearts will mend,
but you’ll be you; and you’ll be true.
But now, at last, it’s time to send

a great fanfare into the skies, lend
your souls some courage as you flew
the message that it’s not the end

so far away rules cannot bend.
For then you’ll see the truest view:
that now, at last, it’s time to send
the message that it’s not the end.

Poetry – In the morning


Not a huge amount to say about this one, apart from the fact it struck me during work and I just had to write the damn thing down before I lost it, like I have done with so many poems in the past.

I find my poetry comes in spells at times – which is a nice little metaphor because despite myself I cannot help but be enchanted by them.

Very self-indulgent, I know.

Anyway, I guess I was just reflecting on having a child who will be born into privilege. I don’t know how I am going to navigate it – I can imagine that society at times makes it really difficult to engender empathy in kids.

I guess that one of my greatest fears is that my child may not share my love for humanity and all it’s wonderful manifestations and idiosyncrasies. I’m sure that over the coming years, my poetry will reflect how this is going.

And yes, kiddo, your Dad wrote this one for you before you were even born.



In the morning


I’ll never know what it’s like
to walk down the street
and fear the echo of
unseen footsteps
that haunt my

And neither will you.

I’ll never know
the foot on my back;
the baton’s crack
on my skull as I
fall to the ground

And neither will you.

I’ll never know those
hunger pangs,
venomous fangs that
weaken me
’til my head hangs

And neither will you.

I’ll never know the
sideways stares,
those unclimbable stairs,
the unspoken fears
of those unaware of their

And, I hope, neither will you.

And while
I know the searing pain
of a mind untamed
held caged
beyond the stark white page
the rage against myself
age upon age upon
age of acting on this
mortal stage –

I hope I can protect you from that, too.


You and I, we’ll never know.
Not really.
But if we see the world
clearly, even through your bleary
eyes in the morning of your

If we let you be you,
if your love is true,
and you see the pain that can ensue
from tortured difference,

then maybe we can look
them in the eye,

and maybe we can
reach out for that blue,
blue sky,
and walk with them, together,
hand in hand.

Poetry – Into the wind

Hey everyone,

I felt like it was time to have a crack at a poem, so I just let this one flow out of me and let my mind decide where it would take me.

I feel as though there’s some uncharacteristic optimism in this one and I think there’s a possibility that the imminent birth of my child is pushing me towards some more coherent and focused positive thoughts that have been missing from my world for a while. At the moment I am just taking each day as it is, and seeing where I end up by the time I go to bed, which seems to be working okay for now.

Let’s see where it will take me.

Enjoy the poem.


Into the wind

and what will happen
if I just
throw it all into the wind?

let my thoughts unwind,
that unkind kind,
that plagues my mind

that just won’t help me find
myself again.

and what will happen
if I just
let it go?

those who know, know
can put me back
together again:

I’ve fallen off
that wall before

I know that pain

know its name

know that every single
gain I make against it
will in time become a new
sublime reminder of the
scars I will obtain.

I’m the mad king
of my own fortune

I importune my

to have a fortitude
I’ll never know,
grow beyond the realm
I softly hold
between my hands.

but what will happen
if I just
throw it all to space

and let it race
beyond our sun
our stars
to the void

I suppose I’ll never know

at least until I
sow new seeds

new thoughts

until the things I knew
become the things I
used to know;

the things I used to grow.

and then I’ll throw it all
into the wind

and wait

Poetry – The Tears You’ll Shed

Welcome back.

Here’s a poem written to my child, who is yet to be born. A little stream-of-consciousness but still in my normal confessional style.

I have been struggling for a long time with how I am going to approach my mental illness and trauma when parenting my child. I wrote this after a therapy session yesterday, and I think it goes some way to dealing with the issue.

Get therapy if you need it (and more of you do than will admit it, even to yourselves). It can help.




The Tears You’ll Shed

It took six months
and a million years
for you to grow in
my heart.

Longer still before you came to be.

You haven’t yet begun to breathe,
but still…

Grown inside your mother’s womb
you kick and roll and squirm as if
to leap into the world.

Shall I tell you?

That I’ve been hurled
from end-to-end of life?

That, for all its strife,
walking on the knife’s-edge
of sanity I’ve been held together
only by my wife?

That at the edge of the abyss
I turned around once more?

Shall I tell you of
the love?

The pain?

The tears you’ll shed?

The friendships that you lose
and gain?

The nights alone in bed
with nothing but a poisoned mind
and all eternity of time?


These pains are mine
and mine alone
to bear.

Bare-foot, you’ll walk into the world:
we’ll hold you tight;
guide you to the light;
keep you from the endless night
that haunts me.

A perfect match of two
imperfect souls,
we’ll be forever yours.

And in our hearts
you’ll be
forever ours.

Poetry – In a nutshell (bound)


The world’s been pretty crazy and I think my muse came down with something. No idea if they’re back, but I wrote a little poem anyway.

It’s not great, but I managed to squeeze something of value out of my mind for the first time in a long time.

It’ll have to do for now.



In a nutshell (bound)

My mind is in entropy,
and no amount of empathy
can hold it together;
centre me.

Once-whole thoughts collide
like atoms, gaining speed like
heat, drifting apart ’til they’re solid
no longer; each half-life
of my unstable mind
spilling energy into the

until I’m spent.

“It will all fall apart,”
they say,
I nod and smile
as if I understand.

But I can’t stand (it)

Subatomic thoughts,
charge like electrons
hoping to find their
equal pair,

bound in a
boundless space,

to balance the world

But we’re too far

and it’s cold and I’m alone
out here

and all that’s left




Poetry – Fears laid bare

Hey everyone,

It’s been a bit. Being a teacher, things have been nuts the last few weeks and I’ve been hanging on for dear life. I had a bit of a Commie moment (as I have a tendency to do) and got attacked by this poem in a moment of disdain and distrust for bankers and neo-liberal economic policy.

I literally wrote half this poem out all over my hand while at a traffic light on my way to school. When my muse strikes, they strike with gusto.

I hope y’all are safe and well, and that you’re staying inside until this all blows over.

Good luck out there!



Fears laid bare

Every day they face bulls and bears,
scared women and men, fears laid bare
beneath soft, silken suits. Under
it all they have no clothes.

Contemporary emperors
sell hopes on thin whims; just small things
to them. Phones ring, bringing bad news.
There’s tension in the air.

An explosion echoes through the
cathedral. The worshippers scream,
lean into their phones, and they weep.
“Save me,” is what they say

but not in so many words.
Instead like birds they screech,
“sell, sell, sell! The market’s gone
to hell!” And the numbers descend

until they’re saved by the bell.
Trading stops.
There’s silence in the hall
but for soft sobs that decorate the

glowing cavern while the
heroes of the laissez faire
take each others’ hands and wait
for the beast once again.