Relief from battle

There you go, strutting ‘round the block with pep, chest proud, chin up with a spring in your step,

Seen the way you interact with others, both at work and at play,

Power and combativeness appears to be the name of your game,

A conqueror and intimidator just like Alexander, swaggering like Charlemagne,

Ruthless as The Prince, the Macchiavellian kind, certainly you ain’t the retreating type,

When it comes to unions the other better submit to ya,

Pushing back’s no option, there can only be one leader,

It’s a weakling that can’t handle ya, wilting against the heat,

They were never worthy if they’re quick to admit defeat.

At least that’s how you present yourself, not sure if it’s real or a mask,

Flying solo, mostly, you just can’t find that perfect match.

‘The world must be crazy, because surely it ain’t me’,

‘They just can’t handle this smouldering alpha energy,’

Easy there, Tiger, seems you judge ‘em too soon,

Might fancy yourself the Don, but let’s weigh up pros and cons,

It helps to be assertive, a closed mouth don’t get fed, can feel that energy coursing ‘round through ya, it’d fill would-be antagonists with dread,

They that take the lead have the final say, they that take the initiative win the day,

Fortune favors the bold, gotta grab opportunities on both horns,

But in some aspects a liability, gotta know when to take that mask off,

Too much heat and not enough cool, something’s bound to pop off,

They that seek relationships of any kind ain’t looking for no fight,

Different day a new battle, don’t need additional from friends and lovers, just want relief from the war after working hours,

Who’s checking to go home to further battles after waging some throughout the day?

Better to live alone than be with one looking to engage,

Makes sense to adopt such traits when negotiating, competing or at the workplace,

But if this is you twenty-four-seven you better keep an eye on your family and friends,

Guaranteed more than a few are low-key hating, maybe cooking your just desserts,

Ain’t no bragging matter, not even Julius would’ve flexed ‘bout that stabbing,

Better loosen up fast if you want relationships to last, might consider yourself top class but in truth they see you an insecure ass.

Flip the script to gain some perspective, what if the roles were reversed?

Might meet your mirror image sooner or later, perhaps at some place after work,

Imagine living life unable to switch off, eggshells that you’re walking on, waiting for the next fight, could come from the one you call your ride or die,

Doesn’t sound appealing, does it? Not many would be up for it,

They ain’t weak or scared for swerving ya, wanting a life of peace ain’t cowardice,

Chill the temperature down a notch, the heat is intense,

Why treat loved ones like your rivals? Shit just don’t make any sense,

Need to let off steam then why not against real fighters?

A boxing gym’s a good starting point, go on and trade hands, maybe engage in conversation with those of opposing opinions,

That should sate your appetite for confrontations, your craving for debates,

Before you head on home and hang the mask up, tomorrow’s a new day.

Ms. Monroe’s Quote

You’ve all seen that quote from one, Marilyn Monroe,

A mantra for many, for reasons both right and wrong,

Sooner or later identities are crafted, life’s work influenced by one’s past experiences,

The road travelled reflected in a series of acquisitions,

Ain’t no one’s perfect, every one of us got flaws and weaknesses to compliment strengths and advantages, a wider gap for some than it is for others,

To put one’s self out there is daunting, the fear of rejection is ever-present,

Though it comes with the territory one wouldn’t seek the experience willingly,

May you find those that vibe with you, ride or die with you,

Bring out your full potential, but you must return the favour,

Others aren’t faring any better due to defects in their character,

In ways that turn off the population, in ways anti-social,

Conceit, a short fuse or not-so-pleasant views, can suck the energy out the room, the types best left avoided ‘lest they kill the mood,

Some of ‘em are aware and try to grow from it accordingly,

While others remain in denial, their egos be leaving ‘em blinded.

Which brings us back to Ms Monroe and what she was saying,

Endorsed by most when it comes to courting and choosing;

“If you can’t handle me at my worst then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best”,

Often a justification when screening potential partners, even when choosing friends,

On the surface it makes sense, why deny your true self just to please the rest?

Faking it ain’t making it in this regard, they never deserved you if they ain’t checking for who you truly are,

But the sentiment has its limits, not immune from being distorted,

Peep at ‘em, twisting the meaning to justify their actions,

But there’s no honour in manipulation, no glory in disloyalty,

No one likes an egotist, let alone a raging narcissist,

Abusers are cowards in disguise, projecting pain and feelings of inferiority to their so-called one and only, whom they’re supposed to love tenderly,

Shallowness ain’t a virtue, neither is rudeness and being a prick,

Plenty of fish but no one’s looking to snag a bitch or a dick,

How dare you expect ‘em to bend to your messed-up ways,

How dare you treat ‘em badly then expect ‘em to stay,

If your love is true then you’d make an effort to change, if not they’ll bounce and you’ll have no one to blame,

Takes two to tango to make it work, a one-sided union ain’t it,

Complement and respect one another, even in friendships,

Be willing to call out one another for bad behaviour, we all mess up from time to time,

Accountability is key, don’t ever let that shit slide.

By all means let the real ones embrace you, imperfections and all,

But it won’t mean shit if only you’re permitted to have flaws,

Don’t play dumb with ‘em, you won’t get away with it,

No one decent and self-respecting would tolerate being treated like shit,

You reap only what you sow, whether it’s for what you’re hustling or the energy you draw,

Continue to be a source of toxicity, boomerang effect will leave you in a tizzy,

Make a change or forever be left wondering why you’re repelling ‘em,

Never too late but only if you really want it, being deplorable’s no option, how soon will you grow from it?

If Tomorrow Never Comes: The ‘R’ Card

Can’t forget about that day from the year 2013,

Just another work day, rostered on the afternoon shift,

Hopped into the car, time to get the show rolling,

Unaware of the forced absence that was looming,

Ronan Keating on the radio as I approached a roundabout,

A frequent setting for many an accident, never would’ve guessed that I’d ever be joining ‘em,

Ran through it once the coast was clear, then out came another vehicle from left-field,

‘Why’s this fool speeding? I’m already in this roundabout crossing,’

Better brace yourself, Kiddo, this stretch of road ‘bout to claim another victim,

Tried to pass through quickly while the other guy slammed the brakes belatedly,

Struck my left side without much force, thankfully, but left a dent that was rather unsightly,

His front lights trashed and bumper hanging off the grill, gonna cost him plenty just to get ‘em fixed, 

Could see him gesticulating from his windscreen, safe to say shit’s about to get real,

Feral eyes on point while ranting incoherently, if he wants smoke I’m ready to unleash my inner Bruce Lee,

Gently pulled over to the side of the road, got out and waited for him,

He pulled up behind me then climbed out his vehicle, ears steaming as he stomped towards my direction,

A few cross words exchanged, accusations galore,

Didn’t come to blows though the temptation to swing was rather strong,

Cooled down after a while, left him to dial triple-zero,

Then chilled next to our respective banged-up rides, awaiting the po-po.

They arrived fifteen minutes later, both coppers Caucasian,

I don’t mention that for provocation but I do have my reasons,

Anyway, we got to talking, they wanted our version of events, they asked the other dude first, the reason I can’t fathom,

Off he goes ranting ‘bout how he beat me into that concrete circle on the street, practically spitting before dragging proceedings into places ignorant and cringy,

“See the way guys like him are driving?” he’s raging, “they drive differently from us,”

Playing THAT card huh, Buddy? Took all my strength not to cuss,

Thought he had the complexion for the connection but any privileges he thinks he’s entitled to ‘bout to be shattered,

But the reaction from the coppers truly was something quite disturbing,

Shared similarities to the culprit, yes I mean their skin tone, they seemed to look at one another, I don’t like where this is going,

Had to collect myself, can’t show no emotions, the odds stacked against me now, time to tip the scales in my favour,

Calmly told my side of the story, how I’d been at the crossing first,

How our old, angry and bearded friend flew from out of nowhere, it was pure human error so not gonna judge him by his colour,

Having heard both sides, coppers ordered us to our respective quarters, to call our insurance companies and let ‘em sort through the rubble,

Bad news for the other driver, took the low road and he ain’t even covered,

Way to play yourself, Mister, total costs are gonna give you ulcers,

Dialled my insurance folks, informed them of what happened,

Hoping I’d get off easy, that they’d proclaim me not guilty,

Sure enough they said that they’d handle it, sadly gotta get that car towed then repaired,

Gonna be without wheels for a while, going out and about gonna be real interesting.

Two Blokes With Carrying Poles

Just a typical morning in an apartment block at UP’s Diliman campus,

Where Mom and Pops graduated, their alma mater, not far from the bustling city of Manila,

Lived in a building at the end of a long driveway, beyond our front door a small, paved walkway,

Overlooked by a tall, forbidding gate, behind it a dirt road where street kids liked to play,

Every day without fail, even during weekends come sun, wind and rain,

The peddlers are on time, always, going about their trade without fail,

During the mornings it’s the puto vendor, an old-timer in his 60s or 70s,

Skin brown and leathery, voice rendered gravelly, likely, from years of smoking ciggies,

A wide sombrero atop that dome, two baskets’ worth of confections hanging off his carrying pole,

Slung across his shoulders, he’s out there looking like a walking scarecrow,

Traipsing up and down the walkway, lined with small gardens and flowers in buckets,

Some on hanging baskets, adding color to the greyness,

“Puto! I have puto! Who wants puto!” he’s calling just as the block is waking,

Not many seem eager, it’s still nine-thirty in the morning,

Some kids and their parents come out to greet him, clearly early risers,

Might have already had their breakfast so might as well get ‘em some desserts,

No alarm clock needed while he’s grinding, that early morning call as loud as a rooster crowing,

The gruff exterior hid a gentle nature, naturally kids and their parents take a liking to him,

Then off he goes, hanging ‘round that walkway, in case other families are waking,

Admiring front gardens in the process, put away the side-eye he’s just chilling.

Behind that aforementioned gate, a dirt road spreads behind the complex,

Barrels and old construction equipment lie abandoned beneath the building, a gated stone home staring directly across it,

A shanty town lines the end of the road, chaos reigns as street kids and stray animals are mingling,

Rough play the order of the day, this well-off city boy willingly joined the fray,

Differences in social standings inconsequential, just out there running, tackling and enjoying it,

Once mid-day arrives it happens, that near-mythical being appears from out of nowhere,

Two tins of his precious cargo dangled from a carrying pole slung across his shoulders,

That would be taho, that sweet, sweet Filipino dessert,

Tofu, arnibal and sago pearls, comfort food for the general population,

‘Taho!!! Taho!!!’ he’s calling from atop his lungs and heart, the voice nowhere as hoarse as his puto-selling counterpart, they’re running several decades apart,

Playtime is halted, suddenly, kids rush towards him, excitedly,

Can only look on in amazement, he’s like a real-life version of the pied piper,

Felt like the odd one out, couldn’t have any said the parents,

Street snacks ain’t safe for eating, there’s no telling what could be in it,

So back to the apartment I go, lunchtime’s right ‘round the corner, rough play with the lads will just have to resume a little later.

Been more than 30 years, time sure does fly quickly,

Never knew their names yet they still exist vividly within my memory,

Still think about ‘em up to now, after all this time,

Certainly one of ‘em’s already crossed over to the other side,

Similar thoughts ‘bout those kids with whom I used to play,

Had they found a way out or stayed stuck in place?

For the record, Dear Reader, that apartment complex is still standing,

Nestled among trees within Mom and Pops’ alma mater,

Through a child’s eyes the ‘hood seemed so much larger,

Such thoughts come easily when one’s universe is confined to one area,

In a grown man’s shoes it seems shrunken, like homes had downsized and roads narrowed,

At times got me feeling like Gulliver returning to his old suburb,

Just a piece of my childhood that I’m sharing with y’all, a window into a time long gone,

Took two different vendors to pry it open, the ones loudly selling what they’re bearing on their carrying poles.

Wisdom From The Damaged

You’ve probably seen ‘em all before, the ones trapped in their own prisons,

Judged, hazed, sneered at and taunted, disqualified from counselling the masses,

By and large dubbed hypocrites, of calling the proverbial kettle, accused of throwing stones, you know all the idioms,

One can’t warn against the deed when they’re deep in it themselves, the height of hypocrisy they’re calling it, not to mention fakeness,

But it goes deeper below the surface, damn near close to the abyss,

Let’s hear from ‘em both, just might give you a new perspective.

Looking in a mirror can scarcely believe it’s the dude that came up in circumstances conducive to life away from activities no-good,

They called me the ‘Golden Child’, the apple of Mom and Pops’ eye,

Expected to carry on a legacy that would elevate their name beyond the sky,

That all changed on one fateful day, a simple encounter sealed my fate,

Crossed paths with him in college, from there became brothers from different mothers,

Became family with his crew but was on a collision course with trouble,

A good time can’t be had unless chemically-enhanced, that’s the way that they be rollin’,

Resistance was futile, the world felled by the might of one big hit,

Crossed over in the worst way, plummeted deep into the pit,

Ex-communicated by fam, friends were lost, opportunities dried, the habit came at a cost,

Initially felt abandoned but I guess it’s well-deserved, many times I’d cried wolf, further chances would’ve been absurd,

Fast-forward to the present, been evicted more times than I can count,

Grog, pills and crystal’s all that’s keeping me afloat, at least until I’m drowned,

They assume I came up Struggle Street, the reality is stranger than fiction,

A privileged kid-turned-junkie, threw it away over one bad decision,

“Don’t do what I did,” I’m telling ‘em on the daily, “take one glance if you don’t believe me,”

“Sallow features and self-hatred are where you’re headed, trust me it ain’t worth it,”

They laugh and judge and truthfully I get it, but if words can carry weight then mine must surely be gargantuan,

Nothing like experience to add credence to the warnings, for that alone they ought to take me serious,

I ain’t preaching to be uppity, to project a false sense of righteousness,

Coming from a place of atonement and regret, have to believe that there’s hope for me yet,

But it’s been many years and counting, a change of course seems unlikely.

All judgements welcomed, would rather honesty than false platitudes and pity.

They call me a slacker and a bum but trust that this puppy got dreams,

But there’s fault within the wiring though ambition’s bursting through the seams,

They ask me if I’m fine and I tell ‘em life’s good, not because it’s truth but rather so they don’t intrude,

Various demons in the way and I’m ill-equipped to fight ‘em, try as I might the war’s just never-ending,

They say to just do it, believe me I take that shit to heart,

But in the face of crucial steps all ambition gets blown apart,

Too proud to call for reinforcements, at times fear and pride merge into a toxic mix that tastes so sick but somehow I keep coming for another serve,

Some say I can do it, others say forget it, guess which of the sentiments register? Guess which goes in one ear and out the other?

So for now I’m telling ‘em to get what’s theirs, haters and doubters be damned,

Sure they raise eyebrows but if they knew they’d get moving fast,

Also to seek help when needed, they needn’t have to suffer,

To let ‘em in, the ones they trust, there’s much more strength in numbers

“Why don’t you do the same, you chump?” they’re likely saying, “who the fuck made you the boss?”

“You ain’t even doing shit, you ain’t following your own gospel, so how you sitting there crowing from atop your horse?”

“It’s ‘cuz I know how that shit feels,” I’d say to ‘em, “you really don’t want none of this,”

“I’ll get it done, just need a sec, just need to silence the noise inside my head”,

Life becomes rosy once those goals and dreams are accomplished,

Defy what’s stopping you, pay no mind to all the rubbish.

So there you have it, two different voices, their wisdom viewed with cynicism,

It’s understandable, how dare they don’t practice what it is they’re preaching,

But stop and think about it, they have a head start over many a so-called expert,

Living it counts, doesn’t it? Who better to warn the masses than ones who’d borne the brunt of it?

Why write ‘em off when instead you can sit and listen?

Might learn you something, be smarter for it, maybe get you to make changes you never knew you needed.

Not The First, Not The Last

The setting was idyllic, young love’s a beautiful thing,

Crossed paths at uni, since then inseparable, day by day googly-eyed at one another,

If the love is real then consider yourselves lucky, passed the game of love already,

While others are breaking up and making up, distinguishing the real from the fake, riding on that rollercoaster of emotions ubiquitous within the game,

Y’all can sit back and smirk at ‘em, but the tectonic plates were awakening,

Slowly began to shift, the resulting shake left one of you blindsided,

It was a bolt from the blue, struck you while you were gearing up for mid-terms,

A Dear John letter that pulled no punches, sent via text message for good measure,

It sure was unexpected, but has a right time ever existed?

One month of bliss had come to this, all that time and commitment wasted,

Hit him back for an explanation, clinging onto faint hopes of reconciliation,

For half an hour y’all went at it, you even wished him all the best, ‘til he’d had enough and bailed, left you glassy-eyed on read.

Keep your chin up, Girl, it ain’t the end of the world,

Happy endings ain’t guaranteed, might have to go through different suitors ‘til it’s achieved,

One and done’s an exception for the most part, could take time to find they that deserve the keys to your heart,

The dude quit on you, and by cowardly means, too, so don’t even get hung up over that fool,

Take all the time needed to get over him, shed all the tears required,

But do make an effort to move on, like the proverbial phoenix you must rise from the fire,

How can you find the so-called one otherwise? Can’t attract the new unless you de-clutter,

A brighter future lies ahead, you need only to turn the page and start a new chapter,

Now you’ve loved and lost, others would say you’re a better person for it,

A learning experience or the start of the fall, on which path will you be treading?

Stateless On Campus

Born overseas but moved to the Land of Oz at six,

Confused and bewildered but over time found my feet,

Language barrier was a problem, cultural clashes were inevitable,

The resourcefulness of children underrated, to go with the flow seems second-nature,

Fast-forward ten years, ya boy well and truly made himself at home,

Sadly at the expense of the identity forged in the South East Asian nation he came from,

Learned some valuable lessons along the way, the good and the bad,

That folks are generally welcoming but others preferred you’d stayed in your own land,

‘I come from The Land Down Under’ but not all were offering vegemite sandwiches,

Even fellow transplanted compatriots weren’t above hazing and pettiness,

Such was the case in high school, a setting that was equal parts jail and something kinda tribal,

Your place within the hierarchy seemingly beyond control, affecting how you’ll win and influence people.

Can’t forget those days, a mixture of highs and lows,

Idyllic beyond school gates, it was a stable life at home,

Befriended mostly denizens born and bred, fairer-skinned and speaking with perfect Aussie accents,

Some on the strine side if not borderline bogan but such is life in Sydney’s wild wild west,

Wasn’t well-received by aforementioned fellow transplanted folks,

Up in arms over why I ain’t riding with my own,

The dude did try but was met with the stink-eye,

Tenuous grasp of the mother tongue had y’all branding him ‘acting white’,

While others griped I was too traditional, too similar to those from the motherland,

Better to move on now than tear my hair out to the last strand,

Am a hip hop head now but back then was a punk, alternative and heavy metal fan,

Perfect genres to voice out anger but deemed counter-cultural said the kababayans,

Can only bang against bricks for so long before that skull be cracking,

Friends and allies don’t come easy but thankfully found some that were willing,

But just ‘cuz you’re accepted don’t mean that you belong,

To others born and bred this outsider was a disturbance to them all,  

Wearing that bullshit on their sleeves, you know exactly what I mean,

‘Cat and dog eater’, ‘skin tone same as poop’, ‘Flip’ and ‘Gook’, jokes ‘bout small appendages, too,

Should’ve cracked the fuckers with minds stuck in an era before ‘73,

Would’ve meant suspension if not expulsion, at the time I’d sooner hang than self-destruct for their amusement,

Can’t lie, though, a generous serving of punches would’ve been well-deserved,

Smack ‘em til their faces broken, maybe a few limbs and ribs, too, for good measure,

Dunked on by both sides over identity politics, how the fuck did it come to this?

Seems the universe saw it fit to assign me the role of the picked-on-kid,

Stateless on campus, marooned on Point Nemo,

Ain’t nobody worth trusting so the struggle was mine alone,

Friends came and went, had to fend for myself sooner or later,

Such was the case by high school graduation, frowning in that picture for a reason.

But fuck it, it’s in the past where it belongs, no point crying ‘bout it now,

Gotta move on to level up, it’s been done and dusted about,

Might as well forgive and let go, but for the target it’s hard to forget,

Great insults last a long time, should there be a reunion these eyes will serve to remind them.

Another form of hustling

For the longest time, the hustle life’s been lionised,

The tireless worker with eyes on the prize, iron will and iron mind,

Good things come to they who work their asses off, the magnitude of achievements only as good as given efforts,

No rest for the weary and sleep is for the dead, slackers can only live in prayer if they wish to get ahead,

No respect for the ones sitting on their hands waiting for the grim reaper,

Out on the pitch and barely scoring, wouldn’t even cut it for second or third-stringers,

Can’t conquer new worlds if you don’t venture out to sea,

But easy to judge, too, from afar without knowing the full story,

Are you familiar with ‘em? Or just judging the cover sitting on the shelf?

Why not pick it up and leaf through a few chapters? Might learn you a little something.

Illnesses of the mind on the rise, been many years now and counting,

Possible aftertaste from society’s definition of true hustling,

On the subject of dreams the masses are wont to dismiss others’ as bulldust,

Is it any wonder why too many are closed books and apprehensive to the concept of trust?

Depression and anxiety spreading like the plague, insecurities and jealousy more than tripled,

Felt by all at some point or another but for many more such symptoms are everlasting,

Chase and conquer’s where it’s at, be it work, play and even relationships,

Staying in’s for losers and the cowards, days are made for seizing,

Dare to stumble and you’re written off and starting again’s a folly, rest and self-care exercises in sloth and vanity, that’s what they be saying on the daily,

Not all plans go accordingly, won’t always reach success in one go,

Multiple attempts might be necessary, just need to go with the flow,   

But where there’s passion there’s a way, just gotta find the right one,

But if possibilities yield nada then a fresh start never hurt anyone,

The ones that y’all judging could be such persons, taking new directions after the previous turned out to be failures,

Sitting, planning and plotting, that’s another type of hustling, perceived lack of actions could mask a mind working twenty-four-seven,

Then there are those taking a load off to catch their breath, gather their bearings and their senses before taking the next step,

Others in deep meditation, floundering against the haze in order to gain clarity,

Can’t do that on the move, clearly, bet y’all would sneer and call ‘em lazy,

Then there are those at war within themselves, the assailant unseen and persistent,

Faith in their abilities non-existent, the lingering scars are insurmountable obstacles,

Or maybe they’re on the straight and narrow but choosing to operate within the shadows,

Why does it only count when they’re crowing from rooftops? The silent achievers, too, more than earned their props.

Good on you for thinking that you’re killing it, but who are you to label ‘em?

Who permitted you to sneer at all others? Some might be thriving without your knowledge,

That work ethic sky high, enough to put yours to shame,

There’s always someone better, Friend, regardless of age, gender, background or race,

Hustling harder than you ever could dream about, eating up most of their twenty-fours,

Seeds sowed before the fruit’s grown, the resulting harvest maybe even greater than yours,

So what if they cultivate from their hiding place? Away from shiny tall buildings that you call a working place?

Better check yourself, fast, before what comes to light makes you look a total ass,

Think before you judge, there’s more than meets the eye,

That so-called fool that’s wasting their life could very well be serious hustlers in disguise.

Mirror Match

To anyone that was a fan of fighting games in their youth,

Passing many hours mashing buttons, innocent fun though the content’s uncouth,

Mirror matches were an eventual occurrence, when characters faced off against themselves,

Worth thinking ‘bout the scenario in real life, namely battles in the mind,

Close to a real-life mirror match as can possibly be,

Something sinister ‘bout an assailant felt within the self only,

External rivals come and go, temporary problems at best,

Different story when you’re gaslit from within, ain’t no way to run from yourself.

Too many fucks given or not enough, maybe oscillating between them both,

Insidious and vindictive, impeding the achievement of goals and personal growth,

Carried on for so long with nary a belief in one’s self,

Head clogged and hazy by the clouds of doubt and loathing, it’s a special type of hell,

Uncertain when the seed was planted but damn it the tree’s sprouting,

Different gardeners did their part, should’ve kept them out from the start,

Sleepwalking but never dreaming, had little faith they could be achieved,

Probably fuck it up irreversibly, all roads pointed to that direction constantly,

Any semblance of happiness and joy short-lived, pain seemed everlasting,

Maybe that’s just how the script was written, but fuck it why won’t they change the channel?

The praises from the masses for good deeds falling on deaf ears,

Goals achieved written off as mere flukes, been like this for years and years,

Maybe since childhood for your boy if you can believe, ain’t paused to reflect upon it, might’ve started when an inevitable death became common knowledge,

Warning signs of sorts reserved for the masses, ‘Stay out’ and ‘Keep away,’ best they keep their distance,

Give ‘em a challenge or proposition, watch how quick they go a different direction,

Predetermined assumptions of the outcome being the main reason,

Ain’t fishing for no pity party, this is just straight facts,

Nothing hurts more than accusations of the former, do yourself and them a favour and try to understand them,

Maybe some can relate, maybe others can’t, if you’re among the latter better consider yourself blessed,

But where one area’s lacking another’s been strengthened,

Might not hold themselves to a high standard but guaranteed that iron will’s been tempered,

Still plugging along and trying, could have caved in from the beginning,

Defied the darker forces tricking ‘em into the ultimate submission,

Takes lots of courage and even self-belief to get up from a beating,

Some days worse than others but damn it, they’re still standing,

Maybe they’ll find their calling, even if better late than never,

One foot forward all the way, the odds don’t even matter,

Such voices may be hard to silence, some days the noise is deafening,

Battle through it anyway, be defiant and not a victim.

One Call Away: False Dawn

One year post-upper secondary education,

From behind school gates, out into the real world, been quite the transition,

Barely any feeling-out process, overwhelmed being the new default setting, pressure mounting from both internal and external sources, fucking up’s not an option and too old now for excuses,

Grades achieved are useless, those academic accolades meaningless,

The real world don’t give a fuck, Amigo, it’s deadly serious business,

To find my place in the world, it’s easier said than done,

What to study and where to work, a gap year sounds fun, a paradox of choice that don’t come easy to some,

‘Rents been both a blessing and a curse, their brand of motivation not-so-low-key pressuring with expectations,

Nevertheless the love and support remains, gotta give credit where it’s due,

Helped me land my first gig and tertiary education too,

TAFE the first step to that coveted uni degree, just a detour of sorts, couldn’t get to the kingdom via the HSC,

Accepted into a government gig in early July, didn’t take up too much time,

Four hours a day with solid pay, finally made it to paradise,

Last two years were forgettable, the previous one in particular, this must be my reward, the spoils must surely go to the victor,

Toughed out that rough start, here’s the happy ending, finally hit the open road, Mom and Dad, look at me I made it!

But what goes up must come down, turned out to be a temporary high,

Job turned out to be a temp, three months later I was waving good-bye,

Felt like several steps backwards, in a game of snakes and ladders got bit by the largest serpent,

Plummeted back to the start, like the last three months had never happened,

Nevertheless added that experience to the CV, but searching for new lodgings won’t be easy,

Will I find a role as straightforward and convenient? And with handsome rewards, too, for good measure?

That’ll allow the education of yours truly to run smoothly? They say one grows through adversity but surely I’d earned the right to be choosy?

Ain’t never been a big spender, got plenty of money in the bank,

Enough to tide me over while the near future looks dank,

Then there’s the rumblings behind the scenes, not gonna air out dirty laundry,

But a civil war appeared imminent, thankfully there was safety between siblings,

Stuck together for now though uneasily but at least we remained intact,

Concerns growing louder over how much longer it’ll last,

Christmas came and went in a hurry as did the party at NYE,

So there you have it, a year divided into three, an awkward start and inglorious finish, sandwiched a trip to the mountain peak,

Hoping for better days in the next one, the train rolls on,

Little did we know then, a derailment was on course…