Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'll sit here until I know.

Used to be
I was never afraid
of all the twists
and turns
instead what I did was
I used The Devil
in me
the one who yearns
for movement
- homesick for
fire? -
to smokescreen
all doubt
and blinded
I'd run from one
maniacal adventure
to the next.

So do I do that
knowing what The Devil
in me
is capable of
knowing that
there are no
once he is free?

Or does he die
and with him


Things ain't all that, but it's a smoke day, a burger day, so that's all. What I'm trying to do is, I'm trying to ask the same question of everyone I trust, or don't, and find out their opinion of my mad impulsive plan.

I mean, if you'd spent ten years in the same suburb, wouldn't you go mad?

But to sell your life in pursuit of The Unknown - well, doesn't that just happen in books?

Who would be mad enough to do that in real life?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I've had a dream since I was sixteen years old. It's a romantic dream where I walk across Europe with just a guitar and I stop at every town and I play the local Inn and they feed me and I sleep in a stable. And the next day I rise with the sun and keep on. And it's a never ending road, and there's fresh bread and butterflies and flowers in fields and old wooden doors and it's the movement that rewards me, the never ending horizon which inspires me. 

When I quit the band the dream died too. Fifteen years ago. I gave it up and chased the bucks and worked packing newspapers onto palletes which led to laying out newspapers which led to designing music magazines which led to my own magazine which led to a career in fucking advertising of all things. And I found myself surrounded by musicians but instead of inspiring me it only served to fuel my low self esteem. The thought that I could no longer do what they did. That I had nothing to offer. Jesus. That one night, years ago, at The Tote, when we did it one last time. And I had years of pent up stage aggression to vent, and the four of us drank shots before we played and the animal came out, fingers up, fuck you, scream and shout, twist it out. Oh man, that rush. Until the drive home, when I was told how I'd been a mess on stage, an embarrassment. And those words shut me down again. So the dream went back into hiding as I reached once more for a beer to silence the screaming voices within. 

Last year I picked up my guitar again and I was encouraged and I sat in my backyard and noodled and my heart was happy and my head was silent. I can't tell you what that means. To have a quiet head. That's the thing that kills me. Not the bipolar lows, not the feeling of inadequacy, not the helplessness of a country boy's heart trapped in a materialistic world - it's the never ending voices. The cacaphonic chorus of thought which never relents, that's the shit that drove me to the edge. Not knowing which voice was your own voice and which was the sound of terror, trouble, mischief, anger, jealousy, sadness. But with those six strings singing, oh baby, everything hushed. It all just faded. So I haven't stopped, and now I'm ready. 

In the past five days I've experienced first hand the power of a few kind words. I'm still somebody's hero, against all the odds, and you know, don't you, that you're now my hero too. My words are a channel to something greater. A helping hand to people who need it. I'm a good person, I'm a talent, I'm somebody. Im actually somebody. And I won't lie, ego or esteem or just broken, I fucking needed it. I needed it so bad and I got it, and if I could I'd tell you all the same things about yourselves so that you got it too. Fuck, there's even a magazine up here with a double page spread on me. Now that's just fucking hilarious. I'll show it to you sometime. 

And now it's back to the kitchen. Back to the bottom rung. And I don't know what's going to happen when I get there, if The Fear will return, or if This Fire will fight on in spite of all the trials which are still to come. I don't know. But I wanted to talk straight with you. I wanted to converse as people, a straight up post that doesn't hide behind cryptic prose with vertical and rhythmic limitations. Hello. It's me. Mathew James Barker. I almost left it all behind, but a little nylon string guitar and two True Friends saved my fucking life. 

So this is no longer Hell for me. This is

this is

this is The Way Out.

And it's all for you, me and everyone we know.

Monday, March 16, 2009


You can flee from Hell but you can't escape your demons. The best you can hope for is a haven, somewhere safe where you can lay low and gather the strength to turn and fight them. I consider myself lucky like that. Hidden in an anonymous town, with a guitar and a computer and a packet of smokes and a couple of folk who have no room at all and no time to spare, but even that's mine if I want it. Shit, this kid must've done something right in all these previous lives to warrant a love like that. And when Lady Luck returns as she always does, there's two names on top of the list of Who To Thank. And that's the True Love, kids, that they don't even want the thanks. 

So let's get real, I was homeless, broken and suicidal. That's the nuts of it. Sleeping in a park because I couldn't bring myself to ask anymore of anyone, because I'd been told I was a nobody, a drain, I was ruining a life, I was killing a dream. And Hell, you hear that over and Doubt starts to kill what little fire you had left, after years of hating yourself anyway for reasons too countless to mention. So what was I going to do? Ask the same faces for the same help? Nobody had answers, everybody's in a battle, we give what we can give and shrug in the face of helplessness. And that's the shit, when you've got no one to turn to but yourself, yet all that's left of yourself is a crying little boy under a tree begging the dead for some sort of respite, and all the dead can give you is another melody to another sad song. So I sat under that tree and I cried and I sang and for a moment there I was somebody - and the crowd went wild, as a stray dog licked my hand and begged for the half a bread roll I was eating. You see in Hell, every time you think there's a bottom, the bottom gives way and you're in free fall again. 

But who knows? 
Maybe this time I'm falling on my feet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Last Stop in Hell.

Where to start
in the park
where shivering
it all came
crashing down
a night under the stars
at the end of a rope
not screaming
or crying
or shaking a fist
just looking up
at the night
and asking it
and knowing you
won't get an answer
and that's the worst part
not knowing if the answer
will be on the other side
of this final curtain
but wait
here is where
the phone rings
"hello you
what you doin'?"
and you look at yourself
and start to cry
One Last Time
you cry when they say
"fuck crying
 let's get you flying"
and then
you start to laugh
at it
all of it
the money
the pain
the girls
the family
the drugs
the rape
the murder
the weakness
the soft centre
the I need a hug please
the Help Me Please, Somebody
you laugh at it all
the games
the shame
the fictional weight
of this fictional world
which is all it is
a fictional pain you've invented
as a lazy writer
who attracts craziness
in order to fuel creativity
when indeed
all it ever did was block
the real you
from shining through.

That's all it ever does.

So you leave it
you trust your future
you think of all the
that and totally
the other
that's you've tortured yourself
with in Hell
how she
and he
and they
and you
and where
was God
wasn't he
oh how
alone I must be
oh how 

you know

you finally fuck it all off
three days after
you had given up
you finally fuck it all off
and sit on a cliff
by the water
surrounded by tombstones
you finally bury the past
and it's hard
you never thought it would be
anything but
oh yes, it's hard, gonna get harder
this next bit
but without the weight
you know
that you can make it


Friday, March 13, 2009


Move on to comedy.

The absurd is
much closer
to true life
than any melodrama
could ever be.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Self Pity lay bleeding in the dust behind me as I ran, faster and faster, losing control, letting myself go, leaping, screaming, wildly abandoning all effort, I'm driftwood now, fuckers, I'm in the current of life, I'm a nobody, I'm Hope, I'm Buddha, I'm free, I'm free, I've torn the wings off my heart and remembered how to fly without them, I've fled the sad prison and lonely medusa, the frigid weight of self reflection, the eternal moments stretched thin as you watch lives ruined, hearts destroyed, souls left for dead, I've turned left down a strange road, I'm carrying my life in a back pack and a guitar case, I'm a stranger in a foreign land, an innocent maiden with a rusted iron soul, I'm a starving drifter, I'm all potential, I'm what's happening tomorrow when today is just another yesterday, a memory left faded in the dusk, I'm in a cave, I'm on a couch, I'm under a tree, I'm a fucking murderer, a clean skin vagrant in a white shirt and skinny black tie, I'm wide eyed, tight belt, delicate hands and a rabid fucking mouth and I'm the fucking romantic dream you all fucking had when you read those books and I'm on the run and on the road and this time the fantasy will swallow me and this time I'll have the words to immortalise poverty and paint this strange town red with charm and black with mourning and green with envy and blue, blue, there's so much blue, if you let it, if you let it, if you let it get to you, but we don't, do we, NO MAN NO, or we'll stop for good, stand on an overpass, dying for a dream with a note pinned to your chest and wonder which car, which death, which discovery, which ending you'll find if you let go of the rails, one finger, two finger, scratched finger, dirty finger, hooked thumbs and terrible terror, don't do it, don't do it, don't do it.

And you don't. 

You turn and shoot Self Pity in the face and spit on the grave and piss on the memory and then you turn and your jaw is the anger but the anger is the drive and the drive will take you back to passion's embrace, where you will find another future, another life, and another you.

And so on, this time, as all others, you open the door, and you start to walk. 

And in the walking, there is Hope. 

Always hope.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I remember
standing in the dark
when the street lights
began to glow

and you were holding
for a broken doll
who came charging
down the road

we sat down
crossed legged in the park
where the iron man
held his charge

and the full moon
was a silver god
but the man inside
was still at large

and you said,
how many lives to go?

In the morning
lying in the light
of our friendship's
fading glow

I pointed
to a golden bird
who shimmered
above us on the bough

of a dying tree
whose red leaves, soaring down
were streamers at our
final dance

and your cold blue eyes
were taken by surprise
when Death
gave us
that one more chance

and we said,
how many lives to go?

we burned all our sorrow
and cherished the day
and the same goes


Solace in strange places, huh. Sitting in a back yard with a bride and groom made of the bones of a dead animal. Drinking XXXX of all things and, sure, why not, it's only fucking Pot, right, I could do with the out door, and let me hold it open for you, 'cause I reckon you need it too. So that's what we did, two blokes just sittin' and swapping stories of the bush and of the past until after midnight when it's time for me to go and I walk out into the night with a bag and a guitar and there's four streets but nowhere to go and it's too cold for the park and I need just one more night of peace, I need it 'cause there's nowhere to go and I'm so fucking tired, so fucking tired, so damn tired.


In the morning you rise with the sun and ghost out into the morning - just another piece of fog. That's all you are.
A fog which looked so beautiful in the moonlight.
A fog which will fade as soon as the sun rises to light the day.
A damp memory.


And out in the day you run.
With your arms open wide so you might catch any dream you can.


Run run run run run.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm (stranded).

We never made a pact
you and I
before you died
we could have said
we'd let each other know
from the other side
that it's all okay
and if it wasn't
that we'd make it so.

I'd never heard from you
not a vision
nor a dream
no cold chills
or "knowing" feelings
nothing at all
until the other night
while the colours fed me
as I slept
and the phone in my dream
glowing with
876 unread messages
and so I read one
and it said

Please tell me what that meant.

I've needed you so many times
and it's getting late
and now
while I'm holding my t-shirt
above my head
so that the wind may
pick me up and blow
me away
now, is the time
I need to hear your voice.

But I don't.

Instead I huddle beneath a tree
as a man runs for cover
with his dog trailing
and plastic and tin tumbleweeds
spin and flutter across the dry grass
kissing my guitar case with wet ice cream
as I hold my new home close
trying to light a half smoked cigarette
with an empty lighter
and hoping the afterlife
will bring some renewed lust
for what may yet be.


tell me what it meant.

I'm running out of


Hot summer days, long ago
when a gang of us
would run laughing out the back
of the farm house, and through the cars
well met like cattle on the gravel drive
a drift of reproach on the air behind us
shot dead by the banging of the screen door.
I was always last, fumbling for air
and even then the fearful voice that wished control
of itself and to warn the others not to, as if it could
or would, dug inside me
the beginnings of a thirty year exploration
cut, bleed, examine, close up
forget that future now
just run, little boy, run
jump the mines the soldier's left behind
and I'll hold you as you hold me and he holds the fence
and someone gets it, the shocking joke
haha, your turn, no way, you wuss
let's keep on running, let's follow the golden trail
let's ride this smell, this heat, this realness
upward until far above
we survey our own fast and fragile memories
and laugh at how tiny the day seems
when we look at it
before night.