I put the book in the backpack even though I know I’m not going to read it. I’m just going to end up scrolling on my phone again, stuffing my brain full of useless crap. I’m becoming everything I ever hated. I don’t see the sunshine on the water because my mind is elsewhere. I don’t feel the cosmos flowing through my veins because I’ve numbed myself with alcohol and hangovers. I know the path to peace and happiness; I’ve followed it before. Yet I choose to walk away from the light and become a troubled being like the others. Maybe I’m choosing to do this for a reason. Maybe the pain I’m causing myself will turn to blazing light in a heavenly future. I don’t know to be honest. I don’t know why I do the things I do. I don’t know why I put the book in the backpack even though I know I’m not going to read it. I don’t know why I have those extra drinks at the end of a night out. I don’t know why I’m opening up my phone again, looking at things I don’t even care about. Oh, how the birds sing around me to remind me of what it is to be alive. Oh, how the light tempts me to throw the phone into the river, to detach from this matrix and plug into reality. I pull the book from the backpack. The pages flicker through my hand. I begin reading. I begin again.
~ Untitled ~
~ Untitled ~
I’m not going to force it
And pretend I’m feeling something I’m not
I’m just gonna talk about what I see, before me:
It’s a late-spring evening outside my window
The blossom on the trees has come and gone
And now what is left are bright green leaves
Waiting for the sunlight of the summer months.
They wait as they sway back and forth in the wind
And I, too, feel the breath of the world in my lungs
As my elbows rest on the hard wood of my table
While writing down these words one by one.
What is coming tomorrow?
I really don’t know
I have no plans, no job,
Nothing much going on at all.
I’m currently living on government benefit
Going on long walks along the river
Searching supermarkets for reduced food
And browsing the internet for hours a day
I do have a job to go back to next month
But for now it’s just the job of existing
Breathing the air, eating the food
Falling asleep for eight hours every night
It’s a job I’m at least competent at
And look, I even find other ways to exist:
Such as writing poems
As I stare out of windows
Watching my life breeze by
With no particular meaning.
~ Daft Daydreamer Delusions ~
~ Daft Daydreamer Delusions ~
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.
~ Taking it Easy ~
~ Taking it Easy ~
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.
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.
Cheers to that.
~ Right Where I Belong ~
~ Right Where I Belong ~
Smelling the grass and the flowers
Lying in this field of contentment
There is no rush to be anywhere
I’m happy to just lie down
And let this life wash over me.
Other things I could be doing
Productive things, they like to say
Well, it all comes back to this anyway
The purpose of being will always be here
As everyone runs toward some illusionary goal.
To be miserable in a mansion
To be depressed with diamonds
To be sick with success
And lonely in the crowd
It’s clear to me that where life is
Is nowhere else but nature
And this joy is found
At the root source
Of everything worth doing.
I grew from the dirt of this earth
Like a flower of circumstance
And it is when I am surrounded
By all of this beauty
That I finally feel in touch
With my true essence
Let my dreams burst
And my thoughts bloom
And my happiness blossom
And please, do not think of me as lost
Like the lone eagle in the sky,
I am right where I belong.
~ No Sale ~
~ No Sale ~
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.
New Book: ‘How To Kill Time While Waiting To Die’
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.
~ Inner Song ~
~ Inner Song ~
Something in my spirit sings
Though the days get dark
And the path gets twisted
Something inside of me
Sings ever so softly.
On those manic days
When the world seems to stand against you
And faces of hatred glare at you
And the demons encircle you
There is this something
That I have always felt
It’s kinda like a defiant laugh
A secret strength from somewhere
Sourced from some unspeakable knowledge
That is the result of all my years
Of overcoming struggles
Which did not break me.
Something in my spirit sings
As thunder rumbles around me.
Something in my spirit sings
As the lightning strikes the roof.
Something in my spirit sings
As the rain comes flooding in.
Asteroids crashing down
Tsunamis pounding my shores
None shall stop my song.
Even in death,
Hear my melody play on.
The sound of a universal spirit
That can never
~ Everything Is Going To Be Alright ~
~ Everything Is Going To Be Alright ~
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
And it also created you.
It created something as perfect
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.
Everything is going to be alright.
~ Lost in Action ~
~ Lost In Action ~
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.