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.”

The first piece of prose

Anyone who knows me knows that you can find me doing one of two things when I’m trying to relax and let my brain rest after a long day of teaching needy selective students:

  1. Cooking (or baking bread, which I count as cooking but some don’t), or
  2. Watching video game streams (or occasionally actually playing video games)

Often I am doing both at the same time.

I will be the first person to argue with you about the cultural impact of video games and the way that they bring to the fore ideas that may not have been so easily accessible to people otherwise, particularly considering the way our world works these days.

While I do love to play games, the nature of my job along with my increasing responsibilities have pushed me to watch streamers while I’m making curries of ever-increasing complexity, marking essays, or baking loaves of bread or American-style “biscuits” – what we on the other side of the world would call savoury scones I suppose.

It was while watching a streamer named “Vinny Vinesauce” – yes they have silly names – that I was exposed to the Lovecraftian approach to writing, and his Weird Fiction called to me in a way the other writing hadn’t for a long time. I had never read horror, nor had I ever written it, but after seeing a game that drew from his style it wasn’t long before a picked up some of his work, which I am still working through to this day.

He is problematic, let me just put that out there. He was an obvious and overt racist and recluse, and to put it nicely he never seemed to see much of a role for women in his work, however the way that he sets up his stories, the tension that is developed, and the overall sense of dread that you feel by the end make him valuable despite the problems that he poses to us in a more modern context.

After reading some of his work, I came across a short story competitions asking for scary stories, and thought I’d have a crack at emulating his style. I didn’t win, but it was a good experience nonetheless. The piece below is obviously derivative of the Lovecraft, and by no means does any of what he succeeded in doing with the craft that he exhibited, however it was my first piece of prose since high school (back towards the middle of last year), and I think it is at least interesting.




The Waking World

I swear to you all that what follows is the absolute truth and while some of my memories of the events have faded somewhat, the key details are clear in my mind – so clear that they have made me question the very fabric of my being.

It was not more than twenty-four hours ago that it happened again, and after many nights enduring these horrors I have resolved that there is no certainty that the words I speak to you all now, while they are the truth as I can tell it, are spoken in the world I was sure I knew before. This is because over many nights in the month past I have woken startled from my sleep by a Thing in my dreams that I have not yet the words to articulate fully. On many occasions in such recent times I have woken to find the woman with whom I spend my nights standing over me holding my shaking hands, and wiping an icy sweat from my brow. On the first of these portentous nights she articulated the events as she saw them in such a way that was well beyond my own recollection of what had occurred, but is surely accurate as you will see when I relayed to you, as she did me, the events of the night.

“You were frightening,” she said. Her face was glazed over at this point, as if she was not only seeing the event play over again in her mind, but that with some kind of deeper sight could see the Thing beyond my own eyes in her memory. The Thing that has forced me awake so often of late.

At the time, I had sat there dumbfounded in the soft bed, head in my hands and with an unexplained exhaustion settling deep into my body despite the fact I had been sleeping seemingly soundly until minutes before. I simply said to her, “I’m sorry.”

“I thought we were being attacked,” she said, that look of deep horror not having left her face, “You were screaming ‘Go away! Go away! It cannot be true!’ over and over.”

The same weak apology is all I could manage.

“It must have been minutes – maybe five or more – before you woke up, but throughout the whole thing your eyes were wide open. You looked scared – terrified – and you were frozen still. By the time it was over, you were covered in sweat,” she lifted up the handkerchief she had snatched from my bedside table, as if to prove her point.

I went downstairs for a tea that night, and sat on my living room couch, staring at the blank, abysmal television and hoping that something would make itself apparent that could explain the Thing I had seen in my dreams not long prior. But as is so often the case, my memory of those images and the event faded quickly and I joined my partner in bed yet again to resume what was left of my night’s short rest.

The last moment I remember clearly from that night one that found me upon falling asleep again – it is the first clear image that I can describe to you of the Thing that has visited me repeatedly over many weeks now. The image was a face, or close to it, as I will describe it to you now. Even so, I am simply approximating from the other creatures it most closely resembles although it is not the same as any human or animal face that I have seen in my time in this world, such as it is, so far.

While the skin of this human-animal-thing inspires significant revulsion – a black, gloopy substance that seemed as though it would be corrosive to the touch, dripping constantly– and the eyes seemed to pierce mine in such a way that I know that if I had looked at them for long enough I would have simply burned where I slept, it was the mouth – oh that gaping, horrible mouth – that instilled in me the majority of my horror, and continued to in the nights that followed.

While eyes burned and the skin dripped, that rotten, gaping maw seemed to exude such toxicity that a mere breath would strip my own flesh from my skull. In fact, in dreams to come – or whatever they may be – this exact event occurred, I think even on more than one occasion. In that gaping mouth, beyond the toxic air I could see the universe glowing. I seemed to be sucked into it, moving quickly and for eternity through those beauteous stars, seemingly forever. And beyond that there was nothing until I found the face again, mouth open, staring.

I remember only that that night, the Thing’s face was the last image burned into my mind, and to this day I am not sure how I escaped that terrifying loop. However, I know that when I woke, I woke with the soft glow of the sun peeking through my bedroom’s blinds and when I rolled to my side my partner was laying there, sleeping peacefully as if that Thing did not exist.

Now I am afraid that it is the only thing that does.


* * * * *


What I have just described to you was the first I remember seeing that horrible Thing, though it may not have been the first time my dream-self had been within its grasp. What I am certain of is that from that night onwards my dreams were clear to me in a way that they had never been before. The reality that my sleeping-self inhabited was one that, my dear friends, truly only dreams were made of.

Oh, the things I have done with complete lucidity in those beautiful, terrifying places are such that I could not describe, for I do not have nor do I desire the words even in what may be my last few hours in this world. If only I could describe to you in our world’s words the wonder of the mountains, towering high above me. Mountains that I could scale with whimsy and once I reached the top would perform such acts of violent depravity to the humanoid inhabitants, that more resembled the Thing of my nightmares than any person I have known, that would be cause for imprisonment or worse if they had been committed in the waking world.

On some nights I would see my father, whom I had lost many years prior, chasing me slowly through decrepit, wooden buildings and across barren plains until I would turn towards him, manifest a knife from seemingly nowhere and sink it time and time again into his gaping chest. Blood would spray from his wound as I laughed, and at the end I would sit smiling at his still and broken corpse.

On yet other nights I would be in my childhood home, overlooking the Blue Mountains from which I came. From these mountains would spew billowing black smoke and I would see the bush around me burn as the trees were engulfed by the shimmering lava, dissolving into the orange sea. All the while my child-self would lay curled in a ball, sobbing until the flames finally engulfed me. In these dreams my mind would create and almost perfect resemblance of the pain I would have felt, were it that it was actually occurring.

No matter the nature of my dream that night, it would always end in the same way – that horrible face, with its skin peeling like a viscous liquid, burning eyes, and an endless, abysmal maw into which I would descend for eternity until I was woken by my terrified partner.


* * * * *


I will finish my last drink now my friends, and I will tell you the final part of this terrible story with as little censorship as I can afford and in spite of the madness that I can feel bubbling below the surface of my flesh. Then I will walk into the street.

Last night, she left. After a month of the terrors, the cold sweats and the screaming, she disappeared. Unreachable by text or phone, or any other media at my disposal, I have been left on my own. You see, it has been thirty days now since that first horrible dream, and every night my dear lover has woken me, wiped by frozen sweat and held me while I sobbed until I drifted back into my second, dreamless sleep. But after thirty days it is clear to both her and I that these terrors go beyond our imagining of our world, as I am sure you can also deduct from the events as described to you tonight. After thirty days of looking into my empty eyes, and feeling my clammy skin, she surely learned of the change that was happening within me.

My friends, I delayed my slumber as long as I could last night – as I have done tonight as well – but despite my efforts to the contrary I drifted off to sleep at some three-hours after midnight. Rather than that lascivious mountain, murderous chase, or burning bushland of my previous dreams, or any number of other places that I might describe to you if I had more time or the will to indulge you in the depths of depravity that these horrifying places brought out in me, I found a series of tunnels, moist to the touch and smoother than any substance which has contacted my sensitive flesh in the past. These tunnels were labyrinthine, and no matter which way I turned, I would come back to the same thing – a deep cavern, at the bottom of which was the universe splayed out to the furthest edge of sight. And while the universe below, above was out world, spinning slowly and held suspended in the air by some unknown force.

I stumbled in these tunnels for hours, for I no longer had someone to break me from the sleep which had taken me, and to my significant surprise I began to feel overcome by a tiredness I thought impossible in the dream-world.

My friends, I should not have stopped and sat. I should not have rested. I should not have close my eyes. For in that momentary rest, I became more aware of the world in from of me than any that I have encountered before or since. Through closed lids I saw the shape of my lover, running in the darkness, and my father sprawled on the ground and caked with blood.

When I opening my eyes again, I was in a clean, white, open space – for I would not call it a room as there was no discernible ceiling of flooring that my mind could settle on and a crisp white glow seemed to emanate from every direction. I stepped forward, and walked towards what appeared to be a single darkened space on what must have been the horizon.

As I got closer the form took shape. It looked almost human, but it stood so still that I was sure it could not have been so. The more I closed the gap between myself and this figure, the more unsettled I became and as I tried to turn and run I found that the Thing was suddenly standing not meters away, and towering feet above me.

I stood speechless as it grasped my hand, engulfing me with the terrible sight and feeling that consumed the essence of my being yet again. The universe began to cascade around me yet again, faster and faster as I fell into that gaping maw once more.

I woke from sleep aeons later.

I do not remember how I came to be here tonight, but I know now that I must go. I will walk until I can walk no longer and when I fall asleep once more I – nor you – shall ever return.

It’s been a while…

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last posted any of my work.

If I’m honest, I’ve been dealing with life and its unexpected struggles, my career (which just seems to be consuming more and more of my time), and my own mental health, which I suppose is not that great at the best of times. But I’m planning on coming back to writing again now.

Having said that, I have decided to change things up a bit.

Recently, I’ve been writing more prose than poetry, and while I do love poetry, I think it is important for me to have a sounding-board for my prose as well. So over the next few weeks I will upload some of my writing from the last year. It’s stuff that I may have submitted to competitions and so on, but didn’t really get anywhere.

As is the case with everyone, all the time, I am still learning.

I haven’t done not much (and it’s not good) but I would rather not just let it sit on my hard drive, gathering digital dust. I have also been spending a good chunk of my time working on a novel, but I think I’ll get to that later on.

While I will be uploading some prose, I am going to come back to something I wrote in November last year – a sappy love poem for my now fiance`.

Just like in the past, if you don’t like it, don’t read it.



A mote of light


Do you remember
the first night
we looked to the skies,
and on our eyes a sparkle
bounced between us – entered
our mind,
and twinkled in a way that
only ancient light can?


Do you remember
the first night that light bounced out,
a silent shout to the
distant dark?


After time we forget
the nights that passed
the fights that last
but those lights that
passed though our hearts
and bounced back out are
soon to be the only remnants
of a distant past.


That light moved fast –
so fast that the smiling
man with a cheesy grin
only saw our photons
pass for a second.


By the time six minutes
passed a beautiful goddess
saw light shoot by; or
maybe a smooth blue orb
slid by on its own path, the light
joining an ancient highway
moving in all directions.


We look away, and to
each other, and talk
and laugh and cry,
while all the time that
light still moves towards
a distant darkness far


Once a day has passed,
and our love has grown,
that light has moved
beyond anything that we
have known.


That first light that came
from a distant star
and passed without a scar
and bounced out again
in the space between our
beating hearts has pushed
its way into the sky
and will forever be
our memory.


And six years on that
light still flies but instead
of past our local
ties it flies
though darkness, forever
from our eyes from
that moment we looked
at distant skies.


And once we’re gone
and memory has faded;
when no one knows our
voices, names, or faces –
that distant light from
you and I
will carry on
past distant lights and
unseen sights.


And while it’s just
one tiny thing –
a mote of light
from our first sight,
a look in to a distant night –
it will just remember