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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

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.

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.