Poetry – Bound

Hey all,

This poem speaks for itself, but it is best read out loud by far.




I think I’m addicted to poetry:
The words flow through me torrentially
and I know that eventually
I’ll be mentally spent,
physically bent on creating –

I’ll be maintaining
these literal paintings,
I’ll use the remaining
breath in my fingers,
those delicate bringers
of new thoughts,

new ideas untaught
rhythms made fraught,
webs pulled taught,
naught but a small
sort of catharsis.

And then when the feeling passes,
like a million smashed vases
the class is over.

I try to slow her,
but my Muse is a clover:
her four leaves leave me sober
and I can’t believe I got to
know her.

So I bestow her with passion,
ration irrationally –
pure banality life’s fatality –
but a secret part of me
would like to see
where I will be in twenty years –

Have I faced
my fears?

Held back

Watched near misses
pass me by?

All I know is I can try,
pry floating thoughts
from frozen ports.

A wry smile’s on her lips
and the ships report bad news
of good views.

So I guess I’ll simply choose
my paths better,
and won’t just let a
precocious letter
confound me.

Then, I’ll be unwound
and let out a triumphant sound,
let the words resound
and in the end,


Poetry – My happy poem

Hey everyone,

I was clearing out my draft posts the other day, and found this poem half-finished from last year. I polished it up a little and made it much better, and here it is.



My happy poem

I want to write a happy poem.
A poem ’bout love or hope
or realised dreams.
Where is my happy poem?

I’ve been told to write straight from the heart,
make art that speaks to others’ souls,
from mine. But I can’t.
Where is my happy poem?

I think of those I love,
the shining stars,
heavens above – but nothing.
Where is my happy poem?

Maybe it will never come.
I’m fated to stay sad or numb
to shining lights – the meaning in
the little sights
held close by some.

But if one day insp’ration comes –
the light looks light, the days feel fun,
the morning dew does dance in early sun
and those around see me as one
of them,

then on that day, my words take flight,
and on that day all will be right,
and I will dance, cheer at the sight,
and finally that’s when I’ll write

My happy poem.

Poetry – Self-Portrait #1

Hey everyone,

I have been meaning to write some self-portraits as poems for a long time, and finally managed to smash one out. It’s pretty dark, but it was a nice cathartic release for me to write it.

Again, it’s in Iambic Pentameter (I can see why The Bard was so into it), and is in the Terza Rima form that one of my students got me on to (thanks, if you’re reading).

Brace yourself for some angst and self-pity – as if you aren’t expecting that from my writing anyway.




Self-Portrait #1

He stares at me back from the polished glass,
the light behind him sparkling like fireworks,
but as my view adjusts I see nought but a mask.

In darkened eyes though is a world of hurt:
of times abandoned – those who seemed to care
aware of burning pain that’s in the works;

of times beat down – hands thrown into the air,
the desperate surrender in his voice
simply a window into his despair;

of hard regrets – as if he had a choice
to be like this, suffer like that, and hold
back tears. Instead I watch the mask rejoice.

I can’t imagine what he’ll look like old,
in fact that is the point – the mask won’t change,
but stay the same, its sincere smile cold.

He looks away, and so do I, the page
on which we both reside is equally
a place to go and hide, as is the stage

that is our life. My thoughts are where he’ll be:
the hateful gaze remembered in mind’s eye
while in my mournful thoughts I’ll try to see

a proper way to help him when he cries –
in that reflection all I see is I.

Poetry – To ‘scape these thoughts

Hey all!

I chose this week’s poem in my weekly duel with my student. Given that it was my turn to pick the form, I chose the Villanelle. Partially because I love the form, but also because it will work well to convey meaning for her chosen topic, in my opinion.

The extra challenge for myself this week was to write the poem in Iambic Pentameter, which I was scared of doing. It turns out it is a very natural way to write, in the end.

I have been feeling pretty low this weekend, but writing a hopeful poem despite this feels like a success.

Happy reading 🙂



To ‘scape these thoughts

A thousand, thousand ways is what we’ve tried,
but failed to find a way to ‘scape these thoughts,
to let us settle in, enjoy the ride,

accept the permutations of real pride,
and stoke the flame that new love has now brought.
A thousand, thousand ways is what we’ve tried

and though it sometimes comes across as snide
I treasure what you’ve done and what it’s wrought
to let us settle in, enjoy the ride.

But even when together we have cried
and when our time has seemed all but a rort,
a thousand, thousand ways in what we’ve tried –

and when it works, into the night we glide,
the days behind us that we felt were fraught –
to let us settle in, enjoy the ride.

What if in time we let our feelings slide?
Remember joy that our true love has brought.
A thousand, thousand ways is what we’ve tried
to let us settle in, enjoy the ride.

Poetry – Home and Away

Hey all,

Just a quick update.

A few weeks ago, when my Year 8 class was studying a picture book called Home and Away, by John Marsden and Matt Ottley (found here if you’re interested in reading it), I asked them to write a poem. That poem had to be either inspired by the events or the feelings found in the book. When they had finished that, I asked them to choose their favorite line from their poem, and thirteen of them came to write their lines randomly on the board.

That’s where the fun starts.

Every year I have Year 8, I challenge myself to construct a “found poem” live, in front of the class, while they watch, from lines that were written in 10 to 15 different poems. It’s a challenge, but entirely doable, even with thirty sets of eyes watching as you do it. The kids sit there staring, first in disbelief, not sure their random lines could every make coherent sense, then as I reorder and punctuate them, they are dumbfounded as the poem emerges and – quite often – is very moving.

One of my first posts ever was about this activity (you can find that post from 2016 here), and I have done it every year I have had Year 8 since. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the poem from 2017 (silly past-Richard), and I didn’t have Year 8 in 2018, but you can read the most recent two below.

I am proud of myself for being able to construct (rather than “write”) these poems, but I am also proud of them for trusting me every year and pouring their heart and soul into a silly activity.

I am a very lucky teacher.

I love my job.

Happy reading 🙂


Home and Away (2019)

Originally a happy family in our home,
I could NEVER understand why it had to be this way.
A false sense of security:
The war destroyed us all…

Days go by – love changes, best friends become
told me that crying made me weak.

On the rocking dinghy, we washed ashore,
they died, their bodies resting in a river or red
From the garden, chaos and laughter now turned malicious,
Until it was all wisps of smoke.

They’re all gone now. I miss them.
We never know just one day,
Could make the difference between home and away.

Home and Away (2020)

First comes, first goes
It was his time, they say.
Will I be able to keep going?
Because you are an amazing memory
And we hope, for what else can we do.

Shriveling out in the scorching sun
It was cold
From a fight of endless pain.
Lifeless bodies strewn across the deck,
the lucky ones still had a beating heart.

But you don’t, and you aren’t,
and if you really listen you can hear silenced voices:
We are now the people who needed saving.

Poetry – Through the night

Hey friends,

Apologies for not posting recently – my muse has been very quiet, so quiet in fact that I couldn’t even write a Furious Fiction story last month. There have been some big changes to the treatment of my mental illnesses over the last couple of months, which may be the reason I have had some trouble getting my head into gear.

Fortunately for me, though, I made a commitment to a student at my school who is writing poetry for her English Extension 2 major work. I agreed that I would write some poetry if she does for her major work. The stakes are obviously quite a bit higher for her. Nonetheless, we’re setting each other a challenge on the weekends. Sadly, I failed the first week as we decided to write a Sestina each and I was never happy with mine. She said that meant she “won” the first week, so I guess I have to “win” this week. An English teacher cannot be beaten by their student two weeks running.

This weekend we were writing “Terza Rima” poems (she was astounded that I knew that meant “third rhyme” when she wrote down the name after butchering the Italian pronunciation) and this is my entry to our little challenge. It’s a little stream-of-consciousness, but I like it all the same. In my investigations into the form I also came across the Terzanelle form – a hybrid of the Terza Rima and Villanelle forms – and if you know anything about my poetry, I doubt I will be able to resist writing one soon.

Anyway, I hope to post more often again. I feel better when I do and I like feeling better.

Happy reading, and see you next time!


Through the night

Now I can see
it all laid out
in front of me:

small chances flout-
ed by small men
who don’t care; out-

siders “amen”
while they walk back
to sultry dens,

red lanterns stacked
high, veiled behind
shrouds of jet-black.

I’m not the kind
to save them – I’d
rather they find

their own way, glide
through the winter
night, rocking side-

to-side, glitter
settling softly
like snow, bitter

tastes that will lead
them back home through
the dark, safely.

I don’t know who
to be now-days –
no time to screw

up, do what pays
the bills and hope
those I love stay

despite the slope
down which I slide
and climb. I cope

where I reside –
that is to say
my thoughts inside

are there to stay
unless of course
I find a way

to send them forth,
and make things right,
and use the force

that haunts the night
to settle my
internal fight.

I grasp the sky
now, fingertips
brushing clouds, high

enough that ships
look down on us
and wave. She slips

away, no fuss
is made but she
holds back. “You must

come back,” I see
her say. She turns
away, “I’ll be

waiting.” They burn,
those words, but through
the light I yearn

for morning. You
can see us now,
sometimes. We two

who still allow,
through pain and strife,
true love somehow.

And when this life
becomes too hard
that’s when my wife

will grasp my shards
and hold my heart,
forever scarred,

and let me start,
or fall apart.

January 2020 – Furious Fiction Submission

Hey everyone,

I know I’ve been a little less active over the last few weeks – it’s a combination of focusing on my novel, being busy with “life stuff”, and changing my treatment regime for my anxiety and depression that has kept me away from the blog. It has been rather tumultuous, to say the least.

Anyway, another month, another unsuccessful Furious Fiction piece. I like it though, and I hope you do too.

The criteria was:

Each story had to include a COUNTDOWN of some kind.
Each story had to include a character who SHARES A SECRET.
Each story had to include the word SERENDIPITY.




As Zahraa’s spacecraft rounded the icy Jovian moon, a gargantuan crescent appeared. Strips of white, orange, brown, and red crept into view, looming over Europa. For a moment Jupiter was framed on one side by the almost translucent blue of the planet-sized moon around which Zahraa’s ship, the UNRV Maria Mitchell sped in a low-orbit; and framed on the other by the abysmal void.

The combination really made Jupiter’s colours pop, and in her month orbiting Europa Zahraa had come to resent the gas giant for that. She was here for one thing and there Jupiter was, dressed to impress, clinging to the moon like a handbag chosen to show off a dress. Only Jupiter had been clutching Europa at its side for four and a half billion years.

Zahraa pushed off from the wall and moved towards the cockpit with the grace of someone who had spent the majority of her adult life in null-G.

“Maria, please check probe status,” Zahraa said, her tone soft and personal as if talking to an old friend.

“My pleasure, Zahraa,” responded the ship.

Data spooled down her screen. Most of it was technical information and as long as it was showing green, she needn’t worry about the minutiae. What was important was the number at the end: a countdown; the moment her probe would break through the kilometre-thick extra-terrestrial ice and reveal to her the secrets below.

“Maria, let me know when the probe is half and hour from breaking through. I’m taking a nap.”

“No problem,” said the ship, “and would you like to know if there are any errors?”

“Please don’t jinx this,” responded Zahraa, who continued after a short pause, “but yes, please do.”

For three and a half hours Zahraa drifted in and out of sleep, she worried to herself that she would find nothing, and even if there was anything intelligent or civilised below the ice, it would take a moment of absolute serendipity for her to have found it on her first expedition.

But in space, one expedition is all you get.

* * *

Zahraa woke with a start, an alarm blaring and the screen in front of her flashing red.

“Status,” she said, curtly.

As the information spooled out in front of her yet again, her stomach tightened. Red, across the board.

Except, no – it wasn’t.

The probe wasn’t digging anymore, that was true – according to the ship’s countdown there was still another hour of digging remaining.

But the probe still had power, it had a camera, and most importantly, it was transmitting.

“Visual feed,” she said, and Maria responded wordlessly, switching away from the technical data.

It took a moment for the camera to focus, but when it did Zahraa could make out a world that was both alien and very familiar: an upside-down world of constructed structures; of life and movement; of symmetry, intelligence, and contrived beauty.

A secret civilisation, hidden for millennia from the humanity, and hers alone to share.

Prologue and excerpt – YA Novel (trilogy?)

Hey everyone,

I am back with another prologue and an excerpt for a novel. A different novel. My other one has been on the back-burner after hitting a couple of creative snags, and as a teacher I feel that I may be able to engage with the voices of young adults pretty easily – so I thought I would give it a try.

My aim here is mid- to late-high school readers, so please let me know if you think I am getting the tone right!

I won’t go into too much detail in relation to the plot, but you should get a pretty nice idea of some of the setting. The prologue is obviously there as a hook to get readers in, and the excerpt will be part of a chapter earlier on in the novel, but I am not sure where yet. As far as my understanding is concerned, there’s a good chance that neither will actually end up in the finished piece.

I will also be asking my darling wife to do some drawings at the start of each chapter, and it’s nice to have her involved so I hope she will do that for me – I will update you!

Please give me some feedback if you feel the temptation come over you – either through the website, via email, or on Twitter or Facebook. Also, if you’re a publisher and you’ve found your way to the bottom of the barrel where I am safely nestled and decide you’d like to give me money, please let me know.

Happy reading!




Sometime in May, 2223CE

The perfect darkness weighed down on Anastasia, not only because it was so total that most people could go their entire lives without experiencing something like it; or because surrounding her strapped-down and laid-out body was less than ten centimetres of space at any given point; but because she knew that the coffin-like capsule was finally decelerating. The air which had floated carefully by her since they had left Earth’s gravity well now pushed down against her, making it hard to suck any in.

But being short of breath was the least of Anastasia’s problems, because if they were decelerating that that meant that they were almost there.

And if they were almost there, then she knew she would have to fight.

And if she had to fight, she knew she might die.

And that terrified her.

Anastasia had woken to the feeling of thrust gravity[1], and she didn’t know how long the capsule had been decelerating before she’d woken up, so she couldn’t be certain when the lid would open, but she was going to be ready, no matter what.

So, she closed her eyes and thought of her mothers holding her just months before – admittedly, she could not remember how many months before, now. She thought of herself, curled up on the living room couch watching an old-style LED TV, Mamma stroking her hair casually, without thought, while Ma called out from the kitchen that the Котлети[2] (Kotleti) were almost ready. They were always so delicious.

Despite herself, Anastasia felt hungry. Her mouth watered, and her cheeks were wet. Making herself sad wouldn’t help with what was to come. Even so, she missed her mothers and they’d been taken away from her, and that made her mad.

Her chest tightened as the deceleration intensified, and she clenched her fists to her sides.

They’d taken her away, and she didn’t know why.

In the kaleidoscope created by the pure black, she saw them reaching out to her, faces contorted. She saw the men strike them to the ground, hitting them in the heads with the butts of their guns one at a time, while she had a black sack shoved over her head.

She could smell the Котлети burning, abandoned on the stove when they knocked down the door. In the capsule she could feel place she’d fractured her rib as she’d fallen to the ground in the struggle, one of the men kicking her until she stopped clawing at the wall.

Echoing in her mind she heard the gunshots. Two of them, in quick succession. She would never know for sure what they signalled, but she knew what they probably meant.

For a long time, remembering that day made her sad. And then it made her desperate. And then she refused to believe it – it was her imagination, a dream, she’d wake up.

Now she knew it was true, and it didn’t make her sad.

It made her angry.

And for that reason, in the last stint of this long trip since the coffin had been closed on her struggling, living corpse, she’d slipped out of the restraints, and done her best to move and make sure that her muscles didn’t atrophy completely.

Anastasia would fight back, and if that meant she died then that’s what it meant.

Those mobsters would regret taking her life away from her.

[1] A kind of false-gravity created by a change in velocity – sort of like the way you might feel like you’re being pushed into the seat while an aeroplane takes off, but much, much stronger. Thrust gravity can make it possible for people travelling long distances in space to feel like they can walk around, take showers, or cook food – the catch is that you have to be either steadily speeding up, or steadily slowing down. The gravity created by planets is different, and the feeling of gravity created when things start spinning around is different still.

[2] Kot-let-i – a crispy, juicy snack which can be made from beef, pork, or chicken. The meat is mixed with spices and egg, and then breaded. Котлети is often thought of as a comfort food, and is found in Russia and areas surrounding it.


Chapter # – The Holy City


June, 2223

It had been a long, heated, and sometimes vicious debate well before anyone from the Arab Interplanetary Exploration Coalition had even set foot on the Red Planet, and it was an issue that was still vigorously debated even now, decades – more than half a century – since the colony had been formally established, first as a research station and now, like the other two colonies that came before it, a permanent settlement.

Here’s the problem: on Mars, which is an average of two-hundred and twenty-five million kilometres away from Earth, how does anyone pray towards Mecca?

Now, the easy answer is, “It doesn’t matter, if you don’t know where the qiblah is, then you make your best guess and pray that way.” But nothing is ever easy. For instance, if one were to pray towards Mecca from Sydney, Australia, you would assume that you would face north-west – and you would on Earth, of course you would. However, if you think of Earth as a planet, then the qiblah is below you, and if we put ourselves on Mars, then the qiblah can be above you.

You can know where Mecca is. You can look towards it. But if prayers are sent around the surface of a planet, rather than through it, how does one pray up or down towards Mecca?

Not so easy now, is it?

To many all this seems trivial, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that religion can make the trivial seem catastrophic. No matter what, people have found ways to get angry at each other about religion, especially if they ostensibly believed the same things. Nothing would ever solve this problem, but when everyone was all squashed into a cramped habitat on a hostile, alien planet tensions tended to get high, and quickly. Luckily though, just as the former, now late leaders of the various sects of Islam had seen past their millennia of conflict to come together and build themselves an alliance and a space program to rival that of China, India, and the US, their current leaders expertly wove the strands of their cultures together, creating a society so tight-knit that they could withstand conflicts that would have torn them apart in the past.

All of this Laila thought about which she prayed, and she hoped that the fabric of her society would withstand the challenges of the time to come.

Unlike her friends, Laila wasn’t born on Mars. She wasn’t even born in the Middle East. No, she came from the sprawling megalopolis of Sydney, which now filled the natural basin that had stopped European explorers centuries prior, and more recently forced the city to build up instead of out.

Laila didn’t remember the disorganised network of trains and mega-highways. She didn’t remember the heat, or the constant summer that meant that fires were always threatening to bear down upon the ghetto-like suburbs that had emerged as climate change pushed people off the islands and coastlines on which they had resided for a significant chunk of human history. But she did remember the gravity, and the free air. The sun shining down on her skin.

The pale blue sky.

As she raised herself up and turned to the right she snuck a glance at the sky, directing her prayers upwards towards where Earth was meant to be and being met with the void-like stare of a cold and uncaring universe.

“Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah[1],” she said, her voice joining the crowd of people mirroring her.

She turned to the left, trying to focus on the task at hand and having trouble doing so in the knowledge that her prayer may not even be valid. After all, she thought, drawing breath for her next phrase, how do you pray upwards?

“Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,” she said again.

Over the next few minutes, people picked up their mats, returned those that were hurriedly rented from the automatic vendors that dotted the city, and moved off. Some moved quickly, and Laila knew that the prayer, for them, was just an obligation – a time a compulsory event that they had to adhere to. For others, the ones that moved off with more contemplation, she knew that their prayers had meaning, that they were asking for help for a loved one, a friend, or maybe just some inner peace which seemed so rare in this harsh environment.

Even though some of the people dwelled in place they all eventually moved off towards their business, and Laila was left all alone to make sense of a place on which God never intended us to be.

[1] Peace and the mercy of Allah be on you.

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.