It's a cliche, I know, but I could not be without writing. I am not published (with the exception of one poem in New Zealand in 2014) and have not sold any books but I love it. I'm also terrible with grammar for someone that claims to be a writer. I perform poetry, I write ramblings, fiction, and all sorts of other types that may not yet have names! I'm currently writing a non-fiction book and attempting to finish a novel too.
On this page you'll see poetry, short stories, and extracts from longer pieces too. Any audio or video links will probably have been recorded on my phone, so don't judge. Enjoy!
Three Little Birds
He sat, in the middle of the row of hard plastic airport chairs; the ones joined to each other with just a small square covering of thin and worn cushion and fabric. Only, these ones were new. Almost brand new.
It was 08:06 on the Sunday morning. The sun had just started to show its full form above the mountains in front of him. It was early. It felt early. It was a small airport and not many people were using it at this time.
Behind him, and a short walk around the corner, a small queue would form and quickly disperse as passengers emptied the electrical goods, unfastened their belts, and, mostly reluctantly, took off their shoes to make their way through customs. At this time there were more staff than people flying. Six or seven green-uniformed staff stood around the detector, sat behind the scanning screen, or gently danced between conveyor belts to clear empty trays and to ensure the full ones were correctly full. Half of the staff were able to find the customer service within their role early that morning, and smile all the passengers through this part of their journeys. The other half seemed a little annoyed that the natural flow of their morning gossip and conversations were disrupted by strangers. Strangers, they assumed, who were not working, unlike them.
Behind the three or four rows of chairs in which he sat, was the departure door. A relaxed stream of people pass by in the background. A solo traveler with his leather bag for both his computer and few personal belongings, going on a short flight to check in on a second business of his. A group of youngsters, between nineteen and twenty-five years old, pass through laughing together in their excitement. They're clad in skinny jeans and Dr Marten boots that have walked their way back into fashion for the fourth or fifth time since the early 90s. Tattoos on their hands and beards on the faces of the men. Piercings and tattoos on the girls, suitably completing the look with denim jackets and sewn on patches - it is unknown how many were sewn on by themselves and how many were sewn on by the factory manufacturers. The whole group with packed back packs, well traveled. This is their first trip as two couples since they became friends at art college. Beautiful and cool cliches getting a connecting flight to somewhere just as cool and cliched. Two ladies, relaxed and smiling, pass through the departure door, deep in conversation about life. Both dragging small wheelie suitcases, small enough for the two day business trip they've just finished and now making their way home. A teary couple hold hands and struggle to hold back a confused mix of varying sadnesses as they ready to say goodbye. He'll leave as they part. At the same time, a kissing couple celebrate their recent engagement by flying home to tell her parents the good news. Slowly people pass behind him on their way to continue their lives via the staff at customs also continuing theirs as he sat there, on his own but not alone, contemplating his.
This area of the airport was recently renovated. The white walls were washed clear and clean, the seats were hard, fresh and unused. The whole place felt like a brand new waiting room at a doctors, a hospital, or limbo. The air was calm, and still. The walls were white, and still. The recently polished floor had only just been laid and the large windows were spotless. Even the sun was new, white, and still.
In front of him, the three huge windows interrupted the white walls. Floor to ceiling, they framed the outside scene like all good windows should. Even the outside scene was layered and white. This chilly November, Sunday morning, with bright sun and clear sky was as calm and peacefully eerie as inside. There were no clouds in the sky but the blue had a whitewash which just added to the calm. A mist from the ocean and near by river had risen and floated its way across the landscape as if mother nature herself had delicately blown smoke and then paused the setting in order to take a picture. It hovered above the runway and surrounding flat fields and sat below the darkened mountainous silhouettes in the background. The thick morning mist set in motion a stationary scene of horizontal lines, whiteness, and stillness.
Large tiled floor panels drew a line across the foreground, parallel to the bottom frame of the windows. A foot or two up, and the other side of the glass, a metal fence continued the theme and introduced the beautiful land beyond. The straight and direct flow of the runway held up the underneath of the mist and the line from the top merged together with the start of the distant beach and ocean's horizon. It was all in perfect symmetry. To the left the heavy mountains added shape and the beautiful round sun added just the right light.
Planted and deeply rooted in the middle of the glass canvas, was his reflection.
He looked at himself in the window. No one was around and he was placed with accidental precision in the very centre of the scene. The mist, the fence, the runway decorated his clothes with a thin veil of colour. The sun made his own light easier to see.
He stared into his own reflection. His leather boots, grounded. His blue trousers rolled and worn. His jumper holy and, maybe one day, cool. And his face. He stared into his own eyes and looked out into the world. The world that had witnessed all he'd done. The same world that would witness all he will do. He thought of the blue sky, the storms it had seen, the sun it had homed and the light it had beamed. And with that he sat.
He watched as an aeroplane came into land; full of people living lives,having adventures, feeling all kinds of emotions along the way and making new choices everyday. Watching the plane, he didn't notice the bird that had perched itself on the metal railing of the fence. It stared back toward him. Suddenly two other birds joined it. Either side. They faced the mist and also looked out on to the world. The bird in the middle, still facing him and not the outside world, seemed to bow its head in some kind of recognition of him. It then, too, turned around.
Three little birds completed the scene.
He smiled to his own reflection as he slowly got up, collected his large back pack from the ground and placed it on to his back. In that peaceful and synchronized moment, he knew that every little thing, was going to be alright.
By Richard Woodall 2017
Click on the picture to go to the poem
Waking Up is the first of a series of Savasana poetry I'm writing. The amazing Mar Torres has improvised the music behind each track. The text is about Waking Up from the everyday reality to understand that we have a choice in everything.
Full poem in text form can be seen below
Waking Up (words)
What can see through closed eyes? Not eyelids together, tight in the flight from the quest for forever closed, but actual closed eyes. The eyes that have the power to see, the power to believe, the power to truly be. to just be.
From childhood, we're encouraged to pull the hood over heads, the wool over our eyes, like sheep. But there's no surprise that we are all, in fact, asleep. When we count sheep, we may as well be counting ourselves in the mirror. We close our eyes through life, we miss the point of the inner, we miss the truth of life; the beauty, the pain, the green grass and the rain. We miss what it is to feel love and be loved all the same.
To wake up to is break up the relationship between your core, your truth, your love, your soul, and your ego. To understand that it is not you and you are not it. To notice noticing, to be the observer of you, not the doer of the things you think you naturally do.
When you first wake up each morning, you have no thoughts of when, or how, or who. You just are. Until your being awake for the moment is woken and broken by the intense bright light of your smart phone, slowly decreasing the smart of your own. Until your being briefly awake is woken by thoughts of something you think you should or shouldn't have said yesterday. Or something you think you may or may not say tomorrow. Bringing you more and more sorrow as you borrow advice from your wonderfully protective but extremely ineffective ego. And most of us, though, don't even realise. We don't realise that the voice we often listen to, that we can't even hear, is not us. Is not our truth but the defensive and strong, rather aloof, ego.
Choose to wake up to the truth. The truth that you have a choice. Choose choice. Choose to use your actual voice. The one you shut up inside which allows you to hide from the fear of engaging with reality. Instead of falsely accepting that the voices in your head are the thoughts that move you forward, being to understand that the voice inside your heart is the voice that moves you, toward goodness, toward peace, toward inner calm and love, toward your true happiness.
To choose to be above your head's thoughts, to choose to step outside your thoughts that are not you, to choose to step outside and view what's really true, to choose to step outside your comfort zone, to step outside and take a look in, to open your eyes and be prepared to begin again; from a place of vulnerability. Accepting that your strength in truth comes from that place of vulnerability. Your weaknesses are weaknesses if you don't feel strong enough to to acknowledge that they are in fact your strengths. A person who can accept their vulnerabilities is closer to their truth than someone who thinks they are strong by hiding them will ever be. When we hide our so-called weakness for the sake of pride, we're ignoring what's happening now, inside. We get lost in the trap of future fears and past concerns,and slowly and consistently begin to put out the light that burns bright, from our core.
Open your eyes and detach yourself from what your ego wants you to believe. It is not you. Wake up to the idea that your eyes have been closed. That you've been asleep.
Open your eyes, open your heart, open your mind and allow yourself to start again. Living your life from a place of truth and love. For yourself, and others. For all living things. For nature's glory. For the universe's story. For yourself and everything that means. Take a break and begin to wake. Pause and begin to understand the cause. The cause of suffering. The cause of happiness.
Wake up and be the observer of you. Understand the difference in voices and choose choice, in everything you think,and everything you do.
What would I say to you?
spoken word poem 2015
Click on the picture for the link to the video
I wrote this poem on the plane to New Zealand. Actually most of it was written waiting in Heathrow airport. I was going into the unknown. I knew that I would turn 30 in NZ and the images I'd created of what I thought my life would have been by then were far from the reality. I thought I would be married, or at least with someone I would marry and maybe have kids by then too. I decided to write this for the kid that I didn't (and don't) have and maybe a little bit for the kid I once was.
The full text can be found below soon
Out of the Shade
The cobbled stone under his bare feet felt old but they weren't.
The wall from the building beside him had divided the sun's light perfectly between his legs. His left was cold and in the shade. The stone too. His right side was warm and in the bright Spanish sun. The stones had also warmed up. He stared at the line of dark and light that split his body in two. Occasionally he would move one leg across the line to see how quickly it warmed or cooled, depending on the side. Imagine telling a mischievous child not to step over a particular line only to have him/her discretely (to a child's innocence/ignorance) and not so discretely (in reality) creep a small foot over and shoot it back again, showing off to friends and at the same time being really scared. Then imagine the complete opposite with regards to emotion and intent of the actions. His skinny legs, over the period of an hour or so, had danced enthusiastically three times across the light boarder and back again.
He'd been sitting down this side street, waiting for nothing, all morning, at the small, round, metal bistro table. It was more of a faux-bistro, if there is such a thing. One of those replica retro, based on a piece of skilled workmanship but produced by robots in a factory type of product. The chair too. Though, as far as numb arses go, he'd sat on worse chairs for less time before.
When he first sat here, this day, the whole thing was in shade. As the sun did its natural thing, more space began to come in to light. Many people had passed in that time, walking through the small streets toward the historical main square of the ancient seaside town; locals and tourists a like. Nobody had come into the cafe.
The only exception was the girl sitting on the table two tables away from where he sat. Even she had not actually been inside. She arrived twenty minutes after he did and she sat down without even a glance in his direction. As soon as she sat, she put one headphone in her left ear and left the right one out, plugged the jack end into the bottom of her phone, scrolled for a bit then seemed to press 'play' or 'select' or 'ok' on something to listen to. What ever the something was.
Of course, he had imagined what it might have been that she was listening to. He found some pleasure in making assumptions and guesses based purely on what she looked like, the clothes she wore, and the first impressions. If it were music, he thought, it wouldn't be chart music. Maybe more acousticy type or soft electro music. When she started to the remove books and note pads from her bag, he considered the idea that maybe she was listening to a lecture or a podcast or something similar. Naturally, he wondered then what she would be studying; philosophy? psychology? something cultural? He considered these options with an element of hope.
The sun hid behind a cloud and distracted him from his own thoughts and assumptions as the shade came over, bringing with it a chill to the summer air.
At some point, he over heard her order a flat white coffee and some tap water.
Probably listening to something I'd hate, he thought, I bet it's not something I'd like. He noticed himself almost judging a stranger for no apparent reason, as she innocently and harmlessly listened to her one ear phone as the other dangled down her chest like a charm hanging from a necklace.
The girl was wearing light black jeans that stopped short of her ankle a little way up her slender calf muscles. On her bare feet were some old looking sandals. She also wore either a burgundy skirt or a dress. He couldn't tell. A black hooded sweater covered what would be the top half if it were a dress. Her long black hair was tied in a neat ponytail that rested in the hood of the top. Her slim frame sat upright, legs crossed, as she typed onto her computer, visually referencing some of the books she had removed from her bag, and occasionally writing something on one of her two notepads she had on the table.
Now, he wasn't sure how long he'd sat there looking, probably not very smoothly, in her direction, pondering and wondering what she was listening to, what she was studying -if indeed she was studying.
The shade had covered them both for a while now. Again, the light and shade distracted him from his own thoughts. It was time to go.
As he began to put his own belongings back in his own bag ready to leave, he considered the reality that he had created where she would never be interested in a guy like him. Had someone asked, he would have no idea what a 'guy like him' was but he knew it wasn't her kind of guy.
Moments before, he'd asked for the bill. The tiny waitress brought it rolled inside a small clay flower pot, minus the flowers of course. Leaning forward to reach for his wallet in his back pocket, the cloud cleared allowing the sun to concentrate once more on warming them both and their surroundings. This time the heat was immediate. He sat back down to find the money to pay and noticed her start to remove her black jumper. White headphones, still connected to her phone, lay crumpled on the table. She pulled her top over her body and it got stuck on her head.
The white thin-strapped vest she was wearing underneath had lifted to reveal the cutest belly and belly button he'd ever seen. At the same time as he caught himself being over enthusiastic about a strangers navel, she had popped her head out of the jumper and caught him looking. She smiled. Putting the jumper down and releasing her hair from the ponytail, ready to re-fix it.
He got up, embarrassed at being seen looking and a little annoyed that he didn't have the nerve to talk to her; a long standing fear of rejection.
"Leaving already?" She asked.
Startled, he just about managed a reply.
"erm...maybe not?" he said nervously, "I didn't want to disturb you." He pointed to her study things on the table.
"I'm...I'm not sure. What are you listening to?" Changing the subject, quickly.
By Richard Woodall 2018