Some days I dream about solitude About becoming some sort of hermit Residing in a cave of my own making Meditating for hours each day Living off the bare essentials Exploring my inner world.
Some days I dream about going away To a place where sanity is banished And all the logic and reason of the world Is permanently banned.
Some days I dream about holding on To my character and soul And not letting this world rearrange me Just to see how I turn out: A madman or a poet.
Many men dream of taking chances And perhaps there is no greater risk Than following your own inner voice When it tells you to leave the farm Of regulated normality.
A part of me yearns to leap Into the untamed wilderness But reality stares at me menacingly Snapping its teeth and licking its lips Daring me to venture out beyond the fences.
Thoughts of starvation hound me again So I guess I’ll just keep on doing what I can Finding my way on this safe farm Earning money, paying bills Sitting on sofas and staring into space The days disappearing As these daft daydreamer delusions Drift on through my mind.
Too often you go through life on autopilot Not even realising that you aren’t awake And alert to the beauty around you.
Then one day something shakes you It isn’t some great epiphany of light Rather it’s usually something simple Be it the sight of a bird resting on a branch A crescent moon resting over a city skyline Rain droplets running down the window glass Or a small child running with a natural joy That you had long forgotten about.
Maybe it’s a certain song Or a combination of sound and sight Birds tweeting as the sun rises over the hills Setting off a morning chorus in your own soul.
At every moment of life, we are ready to awaken again And see that we are wandering in some work of art And every moment is full of mystery and magic And that things aren’t so bad after all.
As the earth twirls in space As the oxygen fills your lungs As the stars shimmer in the night sky And your heart beats in harmony With the whole of the universe.
Still never had a proper job Now in my thirties I think about how I’ve made it to here Whilst travelling the world and hardly working And only earning peanuts when I did.
I’ve taken part in paid medical trials Which has undoubtedly been the main way I’ve managed to avoid the rat race.
I’ve also lived frugally. I only ever owned a few clothes at a time I never drove or even learned to drive I was careful and stubborn with my money Apart from on nights-out When that all went out the window.
I’ve used student loans Both for my Bachelors And another one for my Masters Which I quit after three weeks To go travelling in Central America.
Actually, when I think about I haven’t worked more than six months in a year In the last seven years now. Quite the achievement, If I dare say so myself.
My friend Bryan says I’m a walking insult To the hard-working people Who constantly toil in their careers Chasing promotions and paychecks Success and social status.
I’ve not cheated the system or anything I simply made some choices not to play the game You just don’t need to own your own property Or drive a nice car Or have a full wardrobe Or eat out at fancy restaurants Or buy your coffee from Starbucks.
Saving for my next backpacking adventure Taught me to be brutal with my spending Buying only what I needed to survive And through this frugal and minimalistic lifestyle I actually discovered that you didn’t need much To be happy, at all.
Yes, it’s a cliche, but a true one. Just sit and meditate. Breathe in and out. Keep active. Eat reasonably well. Practise your passion.
Slowly you realise that it’s all a big con Happiness is available to you whenever you allow it Just let the solitude and silence teach you And gently remove the veil of illusion That is pulled over everyone’s eyes.
Yes, it’s hard to go out and get a ‘proper job’ And join the rat race after you learn these things But once you’re happy being a loser by society’s standards You simply don’t care about anyone’s opinion.
You just sit back, write your poetry, Stare at the birds flapping their wings As they nestle in the trees. Like you, they know that there’s nothing to chase Only something to be cherished.
Life is not a problem to be solved But a reality to be experienced.
Some great philosopher said that And you know, As I take another sip of this wine, I do have to say that I wholeheartedly agree.
My books don’t sell much But that’s okay It still makes me feel good Just to spit out some sentences That come from some strange space inside Where sunlight can’t survive.
It’s a world run by money And what is a man to do when His passion doesn’t translate to a job role.
“Do what you’re passionate about, And you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Oh yes, we’ve all heard it before The ignorant sentence that means nothing To poets and people who can’t fit into The positions of conventionality.
I consider my other options outside of creative writing: There are things like copywriting and journalism Where you write about stuff you’re not interested in As you slowly lose your passion and energy For writing your own stuff.
It’s a slightly annoying situation, I must say.
I was only given this one talent I’m an introverted daydreamer With no practical or pragmatic skills I’m living with some form of undiagnosed condition: Possibly ADD, autism, or dyspraxia Or all of them together.
It’s not the best set of cards to have, admittedly.
“But you’re intelligent,” they say, Totally unaware that being intelligent And being compatible with a certain system of society Are two completely different things.
Oh well, for there to be insiders, There need to be outsiders. It’s a universal law; one which I keep in check As I wander this wilderness With my unread words.
No point at this stage in trying to fit in And do something different No point at this stage in trying to be normal And fail once again.
Time for me to accept who I am.
Let me sink into my groove of eccentricity Let me drink the beers and scribble on stained pages Watching the world go by from the window of a bar On a Monday afternoon.
This is my space; As the successful men of the world stare at me And continue in their sane lives Going to and from their workplaces Their wives and their children.
I face down to the page once more The pen knows it’s time to paint words And let all the stuff that stirs inside of me Show its strange face to the world.
It knows it’s time to let the world know That there’s one more madman Who believes he has some art within him Another daft, deluded daydreamer Who thinks that following his own voice And doing his own thing Can somehow bring anything Other than madness, loneliness And, most probably, An early death.
My second short novel, How To Kill Time While Waiting To Die follows an alcoholic writer meandering through life with little to no direction. It is dark, existential, and sprinkled with humour to add some light to the otherwise bleak story. A short synopsis and sample chapter feature below, and the book is now available to purchase on Amazon in Kindle and paperback now through this link. It is available for free to download on Kindle up until March 31st.
‘Bryan has just turned 30 and is trying to survive in a world to which he feels he doesn’t belong. He still has no career, no path, no purpose, no partner, and no particular interest in anything apart from drinking and writing stories he expects no one to read. Things get worse as the Covid-19 lockdown sees him moving back in with his parents, quickly causing him to plot his escape in no specific direction other than ‘heading south’. Drifting from place to place, job to job, beer to beer, woman to woman, and failure to failure – all the while seeing no meaning to what he or anyone else around him is doing – Bryan’s life spirals increasingly out of control in this existential and dark-humoured novel.’
“No doubt my writings would never be read by anyone – my manuscript gathering dust in some dark, forgotten corner – but it at least gave me something to do while stuck here on this earth. This was it, essentially, the bargain of human existence. Every man or woman had to find something, no matter how trivial, to give their life some fundamental meaning. Kids, careers, travelling, gardening, music, art, football, vinyl collections…. hell, even something as stupid as taking pictures of trains. The important thing was finding something to do to help pass the days and weeks and years. At the end of the day, we were all killing time while waiting to die.”
One line description: ‘An existential black comedy centred around the misadventures of an alcoholic writer.’
The next day, after a terrible night’s sleep in a field of noisy sheep, I rode into the town of Newquay. It was a place I had been to before on family holidays as a child. Despite how much I had changed in the intermediate years, the place was more or less how I remembered it: a touristic surf town with a rough underbelly; the sort of place where misfits ended up living alongside working-class people on cheap and tacky getaways to the coast. I cycled into the centre along the main street, looking at all the bars and souvenir shops and hotels. I went past families on their summer getaways, as well as the stag and hen parties drinking in the mid-afternoon. Soon the ocean was in view and I carried my bike down a steep series of steps that led to the beach. I walked over to the shoreline and there I was: finally at the bottom of the country, almost as far as I could be from home now that I was trapped on this island due to international travel being banned. I looked out at the Atlantic Ocean, at the waves crashing before me, at the surfers doing their thing. I watched the seagulls circling in the sky above and distant boats sailing along the horizon. For some reason, in that moment, I felt as alone as a man could be. Even though I was in a busy tourist town, I felt that I may as well have been marooned on some distant island. I had nowhere else to go and no one in the world knew where I was – not my parents, not my sister, not Louise, not Ginevra, not Jake or Jorge. It was a surreal circumstance and I let my feet sink into the sand as I felt myself dissociate from my surroundings. I was some sort of ghost, feeling the wind against my skin while wishing that I would disintegrate into dust and be swept away into the ocean, never to be seen or thought of again. My morbid daydreaming was brought to a sudden halt by some excited children running around me. They started asking why I had a tent and a load of bags on my bike. I told them I was on a great adventure to someplace far away. Their questions continued so I decided to retreat from the beach which was unnervingly busy with new members of the human race.
Hearing the kids talk about my bike, I had to stare back at it and realise that I was actually staring at the total contents of my life. Truly, I had nothing in the world at that moment but that bike and the bags attached to the back of it. I also had nowhere else to really go besides backwards. Well, that wasn’t an option so I figured I’d just stay put for the time being. I thought about pitching my tent on the beach until I spotted a ‘No Camping’ sign that warned of the strong tides that occurred in this part of the country. I was drowning in enough ways already, so I figured I’d go get some dinner before working out where I was gonna shelter myself for the night.
I bought some fish and chips from a nearby chippy and ate them on a bench atop a cliff. After that, I walked aimlessly around the streets, pushing my bike along, looking like a hobo beside everyone else on their summer holidays. I was in desperate need of a shave and little kids stared at me while holding their parents’ hands and eating ice cream. On top of my dishevelled appearance, I also stunk given the fact I hadn’t showered in two days while constantly cycling up and down hills. What I needed was to treat myself to a nice Bed and Breakfast – some sort of luxurious abode in which I could take shelter and try to clean the dirt off my skin and soul. I quickly realised this wasn’t going to be possible; ‘No Vacancies’ signs lay in windows as it seemed everywhere was fully booked on account of foreign travel being banned. One place did actually have a ‘Vacancies’ sign out the front, but the woman at reception looked me over and told me it was full anyway. There was a vivid look of dismissal in her eyes – one that deemed me unsuitable to take abode among the clean and civilised people of the world. I didn’t blame her as I walked off sniffing my armpits and looking at the oil stains on my legs. After all the years of lingering on the edge of destitution, it appeared that I had finally tipped over the edge; I was now one of the homeless people on the streets that people went out of their way to avoid. Accepting my impoverished fate, I began eyeing up alleyways and hidden spots to pitch my tent, searching for some dark corner like a rat being driven underground into the sewers.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself when I remembered that I actually had some savings to my name. The whopping £3500 in my bank account gave me a boost of morale as I continued wandering around town with my bike. The search continued until I finally went by a hostel on some rough-looking backstreet. Like the one in Exeter, it was another rundown old building with a look of depression and defeat. The windows were dirty, overfilled rubbish bins lay outside the front, and rotting surfboards were attached to the front wall. I stood there in front of the building which looked like how I felt. It appeared luxury was not to be an option, but I at least had a place to try that probably had space for someone of my calibre.
I went in and spoke to the manager, a 50-year-old, skinny guy who was erratically going around and vacuuming the hallway. “One moment!” he kept saying as flung the vacuum around in a violent motion. When he was finally done, I asked him if he had any room. He didn’t answer me but instead started talking about how he used to be an alcoholic. “Alcohol is the devil’s blood. I’ve been clean for three years now and I don’t like people drinking in this hostel, so if you’re looking to party here then you want to look somewhere else, do you understand me?” I told him that was fine and I just wanted a bed for at least a couple of days. He then checked me in and took me to my room, which was naturally as terrible as I anticipated. It was a four-bed dormitory that probably should have been accommodating more than two people. Clothes littered the floor and there was a young guy with a sullen look sitting with his back against the wall. He had the saddest eyes I’d ever seen – sadder than sad – with a degree of hopelessness that I hadn’t even seen in my own eyes when looking into the mirror. He got chatting with me, mumbling in a deflated tone about how he had just moved to town and was looking for work here but couldn’t find any. He told me how he didn’t like it here anyway and just wanted to leave the country whenever it was next possible. The poor bastard was barely nineteen but already looked like he had had way too much of this life already. I wondered where he’d be in a few years’ time when the true horror of reality had made itself known to him.
Well, at that moment the last thing I needed was another person as wretched and miserable as myself, so I went to shower and finally get myself looking like someone who wouldn’t scare away children. I then headed to the supermarket to get some beers before going back to the spot where I had eaten my dinner. The sun was now setting and I stared at the red clouds while contemplating my situation. This was it: my summer holiday, drinking beers alone, listening to music and laughing at the ever-worsening plight of my life. I determined I was the only person in that vicinity who had zero clue about what the next day or week would bring me. There was simply nothing else to busy myself with at this point: no job, no writing, no cycling, no friends or girlfriend. Hell, I didn’t even have any privacy to masturbate. Naturally, I knew that I was going to fall into the pit of another bender, after barely having sobered up from the last one. I considered that this was to be my lifelong routine from now on – drifting from reckless bender to reckless bender, with brief periods of sobering up in between. It at least gave me some sort of structure and routine, I guess.
Soon I was tipsy and started to think back to the past family holidays. I looked down at a specific spot on the beach and recalled a memory of building sandcastles there with my sister. The smiling photo of that occasion was still hanging up somewhere in my parents’ house – a visual representation of the happiness I had once felt as a child. It was true that there was a time when some joy for life was there, but inevitably it had been blown away. I looked at the children playing down on the beach and knew that the majority of them awaited the same fate. All our memories eventually end up being sad as we grow old, the world no longer holding the same light that it once did as our sandcastles of joy are destroyed by the winds of change. They slowly disintegrate under the weight of all the disillusion and dissatisfaction, the unfulfilled dreams, the squashed desires, the broken promises, the failed romances, the silent struggles, the hopeless situations, the empty days and empty nights that leave you struggling to put your shoes on in the morning. If such a downfall had occurred in twenty years, I wondered where the hell I’d be after another twenty had drifted by. Surely there was only so much desolation a man could experience before his total demise and destruction. Would I even make it to thirty-one? Thirty-five? Forty? At that point just going forward to anything was hard enough. I was a man frozen in time, not knowing what to even think anymore. My brain stalled and stuttered. I could feel the internal sparks flying. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I could feel a panic attack coming on. For a brief moment, I considered ringing my sister and talking through the problems that plagued my mind. Maybe I could try and get hold of the therapist I had spoken to that time? Hell, maybe my parents were even missing me and just wanted to talk without arguing about every single thing we mentioned? In the end, I knew their lack of understanding would only make me feel more alone than what the solitude and silence was offering me. It would be the same old story of people only exacerbating your problems, whether intentional or not, and compounding your misery that inevitably became more and more a part of who you were as the years went by.
Ahhh, but what is a man to do when even the most basic things in life seem pointless? I asked myself. Even things like getting out of bed and getting dressed and showering and eating required some sort of faith in the future. I was now getting to the point where I didn’t even see enough sense to do anything at all. And yet, this is the core necessity of existence: one must see something of some value out there to keep on keeping on; even if they are fooling themselves, the deception is necessary to put one foot in front of the other and carry-on trudging through the swamp of time. The people working terrible jobs did it for their families; the people serving time in prison did it for their freedom; the people fighting in wars did it for the freedom of others – all of these people had something that made their suffering shakeable. But at that moment, however, I couldn’t even bring myself to move or stand up, let alone keep on trudging through the months and years. Where would I go? What would I do? What was the point of it all? The pressure of this meaningless existence was building and I felt as though I was about to implode, to finally break down and scream out loud so this world finally knew of the incurable insanity that ravaged my manic mind.
In the end, I managed to calm myself down the same old way. I simply poured more beer down my throat to drown all the feelings inside that were trying to get out. After that, I got up and went to find a bar to go and make a fool of myself.
In my arms, I hold you And feel the fire of all the stars Burning in my heart And igniting my soul
This universe has created great things: Exploding nebulas, oceanic planets The rings of Saturn Glittering galaxies
And it also created you.
It created something as perfect And precious As you.
The way you feel in my arms Your body beating and breathing Is like the whole thing doing its magic An entire universe that came into being For the existence of you.
It could never have been any other way It was always meant to happen And as your eyes look up into mine As your cheeks glow as you smile I become a believer Of something I can only feel But not explain.
You wake up and don’t feel the need to tidy your bed Your room is unclean like the mess in your head And you’re standing in showers and staring at walls Feet stuck to the ground as you stutter and stall And you’re searching your soul for something not there A quiet sadness inside as you stand and you stare Something isn’t right but you can’t quite say When you’re living your life in this peculiar way.
And you walk down the street and stare at the faces Searching for others who aren’t quite at the races You look into their eyes as you stand in the rain Wondering if anyone else is feeling your pain You’re in a city of people but feel all alone With feelings of emptiness filling your bones But no one can see and you’re looking just fine Drifting through life and wasting your time.
And you enter your work and sit at your desk Reporting for duty just like the rest You shift in your seat and stare at a screen A feeling inside like you just want to scream You start dreaming of living life in a different way You start searching again for the words you can say But your mind is numb and your soul is sedated As you slowly become all that you hated.
And on the way home you do all your chores You workout at the gym and stop in the stores You search the shelves of that supermarket aisle Getting the same things you have for a while Then head on home to stare at another screen Sitting on that sofa still wanting to scream You reach for the bottle to forget about tomorrow Filling the hole and drowning your sorrow.
One day you decide something has to change You can’t keep feeling this sick and this strange Life is to be lived and it’s time to begin To claim back the beauty and spirit within You try to think of what can be done Of what it was that once made life fun But you can’t find the magic that once lingered inside And you’ve forgotten what it was that made you alive.
Then you’re back to the feeling of being sedated Back to the feeling of becoming all that you hated Where life is grey and you’ve lost all purpose Going through the motions of this lousy old circus So you retreat to your bed to stare at the ceiling Trying to make sense of all that you’re feeling That terrible feeling inside that cuts like a knife The sadness of the unlived, meaningless life.