Anniversary. A poem.

An anniversary
Three years of torment
Ashes from which I arise
A new man
A better man
Beholden to the past
But reaching for the future

From this crucible
I am forged anew
To rebuild
To refine
To create
Never to revisit past sins
But to find a better life

With you

.

Not long ago, I said I wouldn’t be posting any poetry for a while to give myself space to create poems for the poetry subject I’ve just started at uni.

Well, I couldn’t help myself. Looks like there’s room for both, after all: poetry blogging and poetry coursing (yes, I like to make up words. So sue me).

Steve 🙂

Rebirth.

Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of the worst day of my life. Those of you who are regulars will know that I celebrated (rather insanely) by walking 24 kms.

But before I did that I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and had an epiphany. Despite the fact that three years ago I lost EVERYTHING that was dear to me, that I’ve been near crippled with depression and anxiety ever since, that I tried to kill myself, that I’m still undergoing therapy to recover from PST–I am a better man now than I ever was before. 

I have accepted my failings. I took responsibility for my actions. While I can never forgive myself, God in his infinite grace, has. I find myself humbled, but stronger emotionally, physically, spiritually. Although I will never recover from depression (I’ve had it all my life), I’ve learned to manage it better. I learned who my true friends are and I value them more than anything. And I have vowed never to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I realised that I had to go through hell to find heaven (that might be a bit of a pithy analogy, but you know what I mean). Like the Phoenix, I needed to burn to rise from the ashes (I’m full of cliches today). Whilst I will always acknowledge my past, it no longer defines me. I am a new man, and I face the future with belief, hope and surety. 

That doesn’t mean you won’t hear me agonising about life. But it does mean I have a new found respect for it (life, that is). And with that comes a new found self-respect. Take that, low self-esteem.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Marathon Walk!

Today I walked 24 kilometres. Why?

I dropped off my father’s car at a smash repair place, and rather than catch a combination of trains and buses home, I decided I’d walk. Five hours and just under 24 kms later, blisters and sore legs, but not too worse for wear otherwise. Hungry, though!

Had to tell someone, as I’m a wee bit proud of the achievement. Yeah, it was dumb, but I’m not renowned for my smart decision making.

Happy walking!

Steve 🙂

Poetry Drought!

I started a new uni subject today, on writing poetry. Because I have to write a lot of poems for this subject it’s gonna mean a bit of a drought for my blog (normally I post a poem a day).

So I’m going to publish a few of my older poems to keep readers going until I have some time to post some new original poems (I can’t post poems from my current uni subject until it’s over, otherwise the plagiarism checker will pick up my own poems on this website lol).

So, without further ado, here’s an oldie but a goodie:

https://stevestillstanding.com/2017/02/23/today-a-poem/

Steve 🙂

The Laidback DM #7 – Another Free Map!

I like to draw maps for D&D adventures. Often I have more maps then I know what to do with. So, I’m giving one away free on my blog each week.

This week’s map is a Kobold and Demon lair. Whoa, you say? The game’s weakest creatures with some of the game’s toughest? If you’ve read the section on Kobolds in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, you’ll know that they are artful little trap-setting beasts. And the entrance to this lair is full of traps designed to bottleneck the PCs and make their life hell. I haven’t filled in the details so you can let your imagination soar.

As to the Demons? It just so happens this cave system used to be used by demon worshippers, and the Kobold’s Shaman unwittingly opened a gate to the Abyss. The demons are kept in check because the Kobold Chieftain has a soul-capturing gem which can imprison up to ten of them, so they have an uneasy alliance. The kobolds can call on the demons when things get a little hairy, making this lair no walkover for PCs assuming they’ll have an easy go of it.

Aside from the quicksand, arrow slits, tripwires, locking pit trap with poison spikes and six foot high brick walls with arrow slits, the kobold lair also has its own fungus farm (on the south wall), water source (in the northern cave), demonic gate (the southern cave), stolen supplies and a secret treasure room.

Kobolds and Demons Map 15x10 - stevestillstanding

Above: Actual map is 15cm x 10 cm. Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

Legend of Zelda -Amazing Sculpting!

I looooooooooooooove Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series, having been a fan since Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. The almost mute Link is the ever youthful and inimitable hero of the long standing fantasy console gaming series.

My son recently showed me this incredible sculpting video on YouTube, by Sculpture_Geek. If you’re a fan of Legend of Zelda, you’ll nerdgasm as much as I did.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ALbt17LLH54

Is that great or what?!

Steve 🙂

Sands. A poem.

I rise before the first blush of dawn
Dappled sunlight like reedy fingers
Touching the grey surrounds
Blooming refulgent petals
Apprehension in alpha and omega
What fearsome beasts should rise
On wings of measured determination
Cunningly disguised and lividly forthright
Trapped in sundered cogitation
An hourglass of intimation curtailed
Until sands cease to flow
And all begins anew

Justice. A poem.

Justice in your palm
How I bowed to thee
You grabbed my life, threw it away
Washed your hands of me

Today I’m serving time
Day and night in misery
Until the shining light of truth
Will one day set me free

The Maze. A poem.

I lost myself in her smile
A subtle maze in which
I was held prisoner
For nights and days
Never to escape
But even if I did
I could not resist
Her enigmatic charms
And the need to be
Recaptured by her bliss

Risen. A poem.

The stone moved
The bonds broken
The body gone
All their fears unspoken

They trembled
The light shined
Son of Man arisen
Sin forever broken

The Laidback DM #6 – Free Map!

Despite being a bit laidback when it comes to D&D Dungeon Mastering, I do like to draw time-consuming maps. Since I don’t always use the maps I draw, I thought I’d offer them for free here on my blog.

The following map is a base for a bunch of pirates who have an alliance with a Blue Dragon. The pirates are part of a death cult that regularly raids coastal villages for sacrifices before returning to their island. Naturally they provide the Blue Dragon with a sampling of treasure. They have a high observation post for spotting incoming ships. The tide plays an interesting part in this map—as it rises the caves on the left of the map are swamped with water. The Blue Dragon’s lair is above the tide level of course, and it can conveniently use its lightning breath to electrify the water if anyone approaches during high tide…

Pirate Cove and Dragon Lair Map

Above: Actual map is 15cm x 10 cm. Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

Finish Me. A poem.

Take that knife, that blade so sharp
Plunge it deep and end it all
No, you’d rather tinker, play awhile
Remove strips of flesh, one at a time
Rather hear begging, screams, plaintive cries
Rather grin at my pain, lick the blood that drains
You have me where you want me, victimised, restrained
You have stretched this out, to feast on my pain
So finish me, just take my life
And bring an end to all this strife

War for the Planet of the Apes. A movie review.

Let’s get this out of the way right now. War for the Planet of the Apes is one of the best movies this year. You should do yourself a favour and see it. Matt Reeves has directed an incredible movie (which bodes well for his proposed Batman trilogy).

Andy Serkis as the driven and emotive Caesar, leader of the apes, and Woody Harrelson as the fundamentalist Colonel, commander of the human soldiers, are ideally cast and give nuanced performances throughout. Most of the apes speak in sign language, with a few exceptions. Bad Ape is a great new character, providing some light relief to the seriousness. The CGI apes are amazing, with only a few quirky jitters in some of the action scenes. 

WftPotA has themes that should resonate with any audience: retribution, family, redemption. There is more focus on drama than action, allowing for greater lead character development. The overarching story is a Moses allegory–freeing the slaves and leading them to the promised land.

I’m not going to spoil any more of this for you. It’s probably my first ‘must see’ call this year. This is the best of the current crop of Planet of the Apes movies, and certainly the deepest.

Rating: A+

Oil and Quicksand. A poem.

My dreams are oil and quicksand
Darkest thoughts, you understand
A heady brew, an unlikely mix
Brought to life, a concrete fix


Dragging me down where dead men float
Tarred and feathered in the undertow
Set me alight in fire and flame
All the better consumed by pain


Oil and quicksand in my head
Hope sunk deep, my feet in lead
Throw me a rope that I’ll ignore
Through neglect, self-pity, forevermore


Let me be forsaken and forgot
Let my head go under, into the bog
Disappear in peat without a trace
Oil and quicksand, my resting place

Comic Book Love Affair

I’ve been a huge fan of comics and graphic novels since I was a boy. My on-and-off again love affair with them over the years has depended on my available budget. Recently I got my son interested in the hobby, which gave me a great reason to reinvest myself. Here’s a few of the titles I’ve been reading recently:

ShadeShade the Changing Girl – an avian alien inhabiting the body of a teenaged bully. This book is a psychedelic trip.

CaveCave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye – wild and weird underground civilisations and parenthood shenanigans.

Superman comicSuperman – married to Lois with a 12-year old son, Clark Kent is older, wiser, cooler and this book is currently one of the best comics available. And Lois Lane rocks!

SupersonsSuper Sons – Jonathon Kent (Superman’s son) is Superboy, and Damien Wayne (Batman’s son) is Robin. They team up. Shame they can’t stand each other. Awesome stuff.

Teen TitansTeen Titans – Robin is a little know-it-all pain, leading a band of teen heroes (Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Aqualad). They’re making a live action TV series, so this is a good jumping on point before the show starts.

AquamanAquaman – think he’s the lame guy who speaks to fish? Think again. While you were sleeping he became a bad-ass.

BatmanBatman – always has the most amazing writers and artists and great stories. But what did you expect? He’s Batman. Oh, and he recently proposed to Catwoman…

So there you have it. My current faves. I’ll talk about some of my all-time favourites, soon.

Have a sterling and four colour-filled day.

Steve 🙂

 

Yes, I love DC Comics. I used to be a Marvel fan, but DC’s consistent quality and top stories just blew me away. You can find out more about DC Comics at http://www.dccomics.com

On the Shelf. A haiku trilogy.

Lost

Another friend lost
Empty space upon the shelf
Whispered remembrance

Alone

Walking in my sleep
Dreaming alone as always
Isolationist

Reflections

Friendship, charity?
Mature reflections adrift
Empty shelf beckons


Friendships can be hard to find and to keep, especially as one grows older. If you’re an introvert it can make it even harder. It’s not easy to find someone you connect with and let it grow to a point where you can say you are ‘real’ friends, rather than acquaintances.

I recently lost a good friend. Lots of reasons why: circumstances, distance, family commitments, time. I’m not really sure why people ‘disconnect’. In a world where communication over distance is so much easier than before, you wouldn’t think it would be an issue.

But that’s how the cookie crumbles. I have less friends in my life now than I ever had, but the ones I have left remain true. And sometimes that’s all you can hope for.

Steve

Plundered. A poem.

Plundered heart
Pillaged and torn
Barbarous thoughts
Have had their way
Their longships
Have left my shores
And I am left
Humiliated
Ashamed
Awaiting their return

Ignorance Is This. A poem.

I ignore her when she’s near
Easier to build walls of insecurity
Defences built on shyness and rejection fears
So I talk to other women
Because I do not care for them
I pretend she isn’t there
Why am I so unfair (to myself, to her)
I wonder if she ever wonders why?
Guess not, I’m just some other guy
Who she connected with briefly
Forgotten in the landscape of friends, work, uni
Here I am: isolated, cold, stalled
Wondering why I can’t talk to her at all
Yet I hope and pray
That she might love me one day
Why do I bother to even try
Why do I bother to ask why

Ignorance isn’t bliss
Ignorance is this

Three Years Later…

So, here I am, three years after the most harrowing time of my life and everything is pretty much still the same. 

I’m not any closer to finding a real purpose. I still have no love in my life. I’m still socially isolated. I still have no idea what I’m doing (my prayers sound like they’re on constant replay). I still have nothing to look forward to. I still suffer from anxiety and depression (although I can walk around now without fear of the walls closing in, so that’s something), I still have no work opportunities, I’m still pretending to be a writer and I’m still just as much of an idiot as I was before (not sure why I expected that to change).

(Black Dog grins, as much as a metaphorical animal can. “Some more self pity and self loathing?” he says. “Goodo.” He settles in for a long session, head resting comfortably on his paws.)

All this might be fine if I were a teenager, just out of school, but I’m 48 and effectively back in school. So what to do to get out of this ditch I’ve dug myself into?

Maybe I need a new hobby. (“I thought self pity was your hobby,” says Black Dog. “You do it all the time and you’re so good at it.”) No, I have trouble finding time for my existing hobbies (and self pity is not one of them, although yes, I am good at it).

I wonder if I go on a hunger strike, whether that will make a difference? No, I snack too often. And I can’t stand not eating.

Maybe I could just give up and stay in bed, all day, every day. No, too many things to do, including a uni assignment due this Friday. Doh!

Damn this no suicide pact/vow/commitment thingy! Well, I was hopeless at it last time, so I’d probably screw it up again. Besides, the big guy upstairs might not be too happy about me trying again.

(Black Dog scratches his ear. “Never thought I’d say this, but I’m bored already.” He rolls over and goes to sleep, little cartoon sheep jumping in accompaniment to his snoring.)

Maybe sleep is the go. I’ll sleep on it and If I’m lucky, maybe I won’t wake up. Here’s hoping.

Pictures. A poem.

Pictures posted
A lifetime in pixels
Stolen by Facebook
Tumblr and Instagram
Social media vacuums
Consuming memories
That once were yours
Copywritten and stored
Locked away forever
By corporate greed
With no return

The Real News. A short tale.

Here’s a post I did for a recent uni course. The course is over so I can post it now. The idea was to take a news story and extrapolate what it was about.  

IMG_0818

A man attacked a woman in a Victorian Shopping Centre. Although the news story was light on details, it was inferred in the report that the two may have known each other.

I am not a fan of these types of news stories, especially when there is no further information, meaning any further claims (i.e. via Twitter and Fb feeds, also mentioned in the article) are generally hearsay and conjecture. Having said that, this is a creative writing course, so I am going to make some wild and potentially bizarrely inaccurate conclusions.

I think the man (whom we shall refer to as Escobarn, to protect his identity) was a spurned lover, and he used an axe as he was a firefighter who trained with axes regularly at the axe throwing range. He was a neighbour of the woman (forevermore known as Juliannis), and they had known each other for years, secretly harbouring a passionate desire for one another and a shared love of axe wielding. Juliannis was saved by Escobarn when her backyard BBQ mysteriously caught fire while she was cooking one evening.

Little did Juiliannis know that Escobarn had rigged the BBQ to catch alight, thus setting his torrid plan in motion. After a very brief (3-minute) affair, Escobarn stole the six-foot marijuana plant Juliannis was growing in a patch of her backyard, hidden in a small grove of trees. Despite his short comings (yeah, that’s a pun), or perhaps because of them, Juliannis, suspected her short-term lover of the robbery. She was desperate to recover the tree as she had a huge gambling debt with Father Macc at the local Church Bingo.

Juliannis called on Father Macc for assistance. Father Macc utilised some of his geriatric bingo toughs to beat up Escobarn and return the plant. Unfortunately, the toughs all died of old age before they could complete the job. Escobarn, upset about the dead people on his lawn, took his trusty axe to Juliannis’ place of work. The rest is news history.

There are a number of crimes perpetrated here, some real, some wildly fictitious: Attempted Murder, Cultivating an illegal drug, Illegal BBQ tampering (carries a 20 year sentence in Australia. We’re very attached to our barbies), Illegal Gambling (depends on the type of bingo – this particular one was  body parts trading and money laundering), Geriatric Gang Violence, Public Littering (dead bodies on a lawn are an offence if not cleaned up).

There are many crimes committed in the big city. This is just one of them. Or ten.

Regards

Steve 😉

Starving Man. A poem.

I am a starving man
Hungry for love and life
Intentionally bulimic
My stomach groans
Reminder of my hunger strike
Surrounded by the feast
Confounded by the choice
Arms too weak to take
Eyes too dim to see
Lips parched and belly swollen
The starving man stumbles on
Hungry for love

Underground. A poem.

Bury my heart
Deep underground
Bury my soul
Where it can't be found
Bury my head
Full of anxiety
Bury me whole
So absolutely
And here in the dirt
I will reside
Here in the dirt
With worms at my side
To eat up my heart
And to eat up my soul
To consume me alive
And so achieve your goal

Amongst the Ashes. A poem.

Some days
I want to open my wrists
And let them breath in reverse
Take the irony of my existence
Paint it in the colour
Of loneliness
Emptiness
Hopelessness
And watch it flow
Slowly
Surely
Sluggishly
Down the porcelain sink
That holds all my pointless dreams
And wash them away
Maybe then
I'll find sweet relief
Amongst the ashes

Choose life. Every time. Don't give in to suicide. Life is too precious to waste.

Steve

Bomb. A poem.

I sabotage myself
Every time you're in the room
An unexploded bomb
In my mouth
Just waiting
To detonate
And kill any chance
Of being with you

The Light in Your Eyes. A poem.

I saw the light in your eyes
Burn bright then fade away
It was your last and final call
Before approaching Heaven's Gate

I smelt your very last breath
Felt your body as it slacked
It was holding you in my arms
That I finally faced the facts

You were heavier in weight
And I was heavier in heart
But I carried your limp, cold body
Once together, now apart

Under a new and tiny sapling
I buried you deep anon
And in a rain of falling tears
I wrote for you a song

I remember you on Winter days
On winds your soul has flown
Reminded when I see your tree
From which new life has grown

Just in case you didn't know, all my poetry is intensely personal, it's all part of me and based on my life.

Thank you to everyone who has liked and commented positively. It is much appreciated.

Steve 🙂

Torch. A poem.

Always in my thoughts
But where is she now?
Laughing with friends
Sharing a joke and a smile
And I am the furthest
I've ever been from her side
That a torch should burn so bright
But too far to be seen is a tragedy
My isolation is self-imposed
As it will always be

The Sale. Part 12.

My hands were in the air and so was the rock-solid Maglite flashlight. Silas was watching the Mexican standoff in the store room where crazy woman Junifer had confronted Aisha.

I threw the torch as hard as I could. It was a crappy throw. The flashlight hit Silas in the side, surprising him more than hurting him. He fired his revolver. The bullet struck me high in the right shoulder, piercing the flesh, ricocheting off the bone and exiting at the side. I yelped and fell back against the laboratory wall.

Aisha and Junifer were both looking into the lab, now. I folded around the door frame into the store room and collapsed next to Aisha’s leg, clutching my shoulder, swearing. There was a fair bit of blood and whole lot of pain. I squeezed my eyes tight and clutched at my shoulder in agony.

“Junifer,” cried Silas. “Kill him.”

At this point I realised he meant me, stopped wincing and got to my feet. Junifer charged me, knife raised and pinned me to the store room wall. I held her back as she screamed like a wild woman, spittle spraying in my face.

Aisha, obviously smarter than me, pulled the lab door shut, grabbed her dropped flashlight and firmly struck Junifer over the back of the head. Unlike in the movies, a good crack on the head with a solid object rarely knocks people out. It does, however, really hurt.

Junifer, distracted now, turned to face Aisha and menaced her with the knife while holding her bloody skull. I grabbed the door handle as Silas made it to the other side. Despite his bulk, he wasn’t as strong as me and couldn’t get it open with me holding the handle this side. Not for want of trying. As we pulled back and forth it almost resembled a child’s game. Aside from the blood, language and strain on our faces, that is.

Aisha was struggling with Junifer on the floor. The knife lay spinning beside them. The girls were scratching, biting and generally doing all the things that make women’s fights so nasty.

“Hit her,” screamed Aisha.

“Would you like to hold this while I do that?” I cried, as the door pumped open and shut in my tug of war with Silas. I really didn’t want to hit Junifer, no matter how crazy she was. My mother had taught me never to lay a hand on a woman. But this was life or death. As they rolled closer to me, I kicked Junifer hard in the skull. She rolled off Aisha onto the floor, writhing slowly, clutching her bleeding head, sobbing quietly. For a moment I was sympathetic. But only for a moment. We still had a gun-toting torturer on the other side of the lab door to deal with.

Aisha was a mess, scratched and bruised. We were both sweat-soaked, dishevelled, drawn and bloody. She grabbed the knife and held the store room door open. “Come on,” she said.

I pulled hard on the lab door until it clicked. Then I let go of the handle and bolted after Aisha as she leapt through the store room doorway. We were in a narrow corridor with rough, rock hewn walls, illuminated by feeble electric bulbs every ten feet or so.

We ran.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

The Mind of a Poet. A poem.

The mind of a poet
Constructing verse
Rhythm and rhyme
Meter and time
In all-consuming madness

Sonnets, couplets
Haiku, freestyle
Diamanté, Cinquain
Pantoum, villanelle
Concrete, tanka
So many choices and more
To bring life to blank pages

How sensitive you become
To your own critiques
And how you labour long
At your own expense
To hide your jewels
Bury them in the roots
Of the tree you've grown

Does anyone care?
No matter, you toil on
Because someone out there
Will identify, dig deep
Find your buried pearls
And will smile
Because of
The mind of a poet

Three Loves. A Haiku Trilogy.

Film Lover
Movie watching love
My shared escapism
Better with a friend

Tabletop Gamer
Playing RPGs
Becoming a new person
Only for a night

Guitar Player
Guitar strings strummed
Emote in rhythm and rhyme
Musicality

Manchester by the Sea. A movie review.

Thar be spoilers ahead…

Manchester by the Sea is a depressing movie. Even with the great dialogue and character performances, it leaves you wondering what just happened. In truth, not much did. Kenneth Lonergan’s script, from his play, won the 2017 Oscar for best original screenplay; he directed as well. But a story is supposed to show the protagonist (in this case Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler) learning something and moving forward in some kind of constructive way. This is not the case in Manchester by the Sea.

Casey Affleck’s restrained performance won him the best actor Oscar and it was well deserved. He plays a loner with repressed anger and grief issues. He’s a man who has never recovered from the loss of his children in a house fire he was responsible for. When his brother dies he returns to his home town and finds out he’s been made the guardian of his 16-year-old nephew. What ensues is 131 minutes of Affleck not coming to terms with his grief. Everyone is excellent in this film, from Kyle Chandler, who plays Lee’s brother in flashback, to Michelle Williams as Lee’s wife, who has moved on and had a new baby with another man, to Lucas Hedges as Patrick, the nephew, caught up in his own pain and self-absorbed lifestyle.

But by the end of the movie Lee admits that he can’t face living in Manchester anymore. The hurt is too great. There is no endearing moment or uplifting ending: Lee gives up and moves to Boston to work in another janitor job. This leaves the audience (well, me at least), feeling a bit miffed that Lee doesn’t have a proper character arc. Yes, I know real life doesn’t work out. But we go to see movies to be entertained. If I wanted to see a character not going anywhere I’d take a look at my own sad life. I want to see the protagonist make some sort of worthwhile change, no matter how minor. This movie doesn’t do that.

Manchester by the Sea has wonderful writing and performances. It does tend to drag a bit in places (as you would expect from a low key drama), and there is no real resolution to Lee’s issues. So if you’re looking for escapism, steer clear of this movie. But if you like to get a bit teary and enjoy great acting, Manchester by the Sea is for you.

Rating: C+       

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