Night Terrors

Night Terrors

When Nox and I go panting

beneath, we
have asked the same black questions;

Who Sleeps Now, In The Hydra House?
Who Wears The Ugliest Chains Of Art At All?
Who Rattles The Bells Of Tinnitus?
Who Else Has Broken Their Teeth In Passionate Delusions?

Arrrrrrrhhh, you?
Is it you,
hanging in your silken slip?
You, my barbiturate?

Arrrrrrrrrrhhh, who can follow
that great shearing of love
in a look out the window,
and a panting on the pillowcase?

That I have screamed for angels! and asked:

Why Are The Mad Treated With Small-Town Philosophies?
Why Does The Shower Persist In Its Bitterness?
Why Must My Laugh Be One Of Such Cruelty?
Why Does My Heart Keep Breaking, All On Its Own?

And in your passing,
as it were – the passing of angels –
gave life to both the lily and the nettle;
life to the Caique and the worm impartial!

And Nox’s visions,
pale, dark you’s all,
trembling beyond finesse!

Those fragments creaked
and groaned

What fantasies, what mad passions do I dare reclaim?
And of what insanity? of what, sheer madness?
of what mad obsessions? of what consequence memory
breaking teeth
in the sleeping man’s throat?

I’m going quite mad now, I think. It is a controllable, manageable madness. I am drinking less and smoking less and thinking barely at all. I am able to work all day without thinking about my liberties and freedoms. I am able to satisfy myself, if only temporary, with driving a little too fast and drinking too much coffee. I am able to sleep quickly most nights, and wake up wholly exhausted.

I think I am becoming too distant now. I think I’m losing something, but I’m not sure what. I’d show my work, such as it is, to people I know but I don’t want to. I don’t want my depression to be taken seriously; I want to remain fodder for endless jokes. I don’t want my hatreds to be revealed, but will content myself to rant and make bitter smiles blossom into joyous ones. I don’t want me to be seen everyday. It’s important, I think, to keep hiding who I am in some small, dark place where only I can see me, and talk to me, and let me out occassionally to masturbate my ego.

I’m glad I’ve never shown my work to the people around me. I’m afraid it’s all shit anyway. I don’t want to watch people I know pretend to care about every idle thought; every mad desire. I want to stay quiet, and secretive, and let my figure be a lonely one in the bars and pubs, in the cafes I frequent and slip whiskey into my coffee. I’m glad, I think, and ashamed, that my depression has turned into nothing more than a tag I can use, to drag foreign eyes to read the exhausted notes I play.

I’m sorry for being so unhappy all the time. I’m sorry that the noises I make are so ugly.

Swearing in Italian

Swearing in Italian

I spend my days wrestling with angels,
gripping and grappling;
I am regularly surprised by the amount of Mumford & Sons
played in the coliseums of Heaven;
what wars are empty wrestling rings;
nothing is so loud as the echoes
from empty stone seats flirting
with the skeletons of lions
and cannibals about the crucifix – licking their lips.

I spend my nights framing invisible scars,
with expensive ink from Rialto
and granting the same privilege
to mad doodles;
and only saliva or turpentine can bleach
the skin back to sweat only
the crushed bodies of purple leaves
can make the wiry hairs regrow;
like rat’s fur unrolling on the floor
of a shaded glass idol merchants’
swearing in Italian
with an honest smile.

This was something I wrote almost two years ago, while drunk in Venice. I’d spent most of the day walking around the city, admiring the streets and the canals. I stood on the same bridge that Byron did, surrounded by tourists with cameras and selfie sticks. It kind of ruined the mysticism of the whole thing, and what romanticism there was left there became nearly impossible to hear amongst the footsteps and chattering in a dozen languages.

Anyway, my latest novella, The Burden, is up on Smashwords, if you fancy something vaguely miserable and fairly existential to read. It deals with some issues I have around depression and identity and what the cost of any kind of mental treatment actually is on the individual. 

If you’re not in the mood for something quite so mentally-taxing, as it were, then check  out some of the other stuff I’ve written over the years like the short poems For Hannah;A Red Dress or Bluebird. And, as always, everything you see on the left is completely free.

On The Depressive; A Short Personal Essay

On The Depressive; A Short Personal Essay

I would like, if I may, to introduce to you a man. He is a depressive (hereafter to be used not as a term of judgement on a person’s personality, but of their entrenched depression), and he would tell you that himself. Neither he, nor I, would treat that term as a marker of pride or of shame, or because we want to elicit a particular sympathy from anyone listening. “I,” he would say, “am a depressive”. It may have something to do with his permanent physical ailment (depression is an extremely common occurrence amongst anyone who happens to suffer from a debilitating health disorder, such as diabetes), or it may simply be who the man in question is. In the past, he has been prescribed anti-depressants, but he has refused to take them.

If he was depressed, he reasoned, then it must be for a reason – it must be because there is something in my life making me depressed and, instead of hiding behind the shield of medication, I must work to resolve that issue. This, you will agree, shares a great deal of his perception of depression. He believed that depression was a rational thing; something that could be worked at, fought on its own terms and eventually defeated. Like it was a wall to break through; like it was a prison cell to sunder.

It has become apparent, to me, that depression is not actually the result of any extraneous circumstance, as our subject believed. Depression is not contextual. Instead, I have come to understand depression as a result of personal interpretation. A true depressive (which, once again, is not a grandiose term looking to place one form of misery above another in some hierarchy of contentment) is impossible to cure without showing them the executioner’s needle. To a true depressive, their depression is impossible to relieve. It is as much a part of them as their memories, as what fleeting passions they manage to cling to.

A study of the depressive tends to reveal the same vague sensations which are practically impossible to truly transcribe. Perhaps the most effective, and certainly one of those I would agree with, is that depression is, ultimately, a feeling of hollowness. It is not an emptiness, per se, but hollowness in the sense that the exterior of the depressive is so thin, so ‘porcelainate’, that in and of itself it becomes a major component of the depressive’s hollowness. Personal experience lays this hollowness at the back of the throat, or feeling like it’s just below my oesophagus. It might seem odd to try and physically place a feeling which is largely emotional and certainly mental, but it seems to be the most honest description I can conjure. A hollowness at the back of the throat.

In addition to this hollowness, there are many other symptoms of the depressive. The lack of excitement and hope in favour of a general, all-consuming sense of anxiety – a form of anxiety, in fact, which often results in a borderline obsession with the event, situation or context of the anxiety. This is a permanent anxiety which flickers from source to source like some form of physical parasite. This anxiety is also reflected in terms of nostalgia – but not a positive one. Depressives often find themselves caught in a permanent cycle of shame; something as little as an awkward reply in a single conversation can sit and fester on the brain for months, which can often lead to a form of insomnia.

True, also, is the fact that depression can severely impact motivation. The instinctive, gut-reaction of the depressive to practically everything is ‘fuck off’. Largely, this comes from an understanding that nothing genuinely matters, and a perception that even those things which arguably do matter are irrelevant. This can manifest itself in laziness which not only has its own range of severe side effects, including weight change, lack of exercise, lack of sunlight, low energy, low inspiration to look after oneself and, perhaps most commonly, a disturbance of one’s sleep pattern which can then contribute to the already existent insomnia, thereby making it practically impossible to sleep until early the following morning, if at all.

The most common misrepresentation of depression, or rather the fight against one’s own depression, is that many people tend to picture it as something to be overcome. In my experience, that is blatantly untrue; instead of being something to defeat, it is something that one learns to exist with. Or it kills one. I have heard the great metaphors, of depression as a dragon desperately requiring some heroic passion for its defeat, or for the silver bullets of drugs to bury the werewolf of depression once and for all.

In truth, depression is an endless ocean. An ocean which sometimes sits calmly and is sometimes rocked by the most nauseating of storms. Sometimes the water will open into gigantic whirlpools and swallow the depressive, causing them to kick and fight and scream against their own consciousness. Sometimes, the water is a muddy blue and sometimes it is pure black, reflecting every glance the depressive throws its way. Sometimes it recedes enough for the depressive to reach a small island, and shore up their boat before the water crashes down on forgotten sand again – even the most well-built and protected of boats will be torn to shreds after so long in such foreign, volatile and blackened seas.

Yeah, so this has been inactive for a long time. Motivation is hard to come by. Hopefully, I’ll have more time over the next few weeks and months to really get back into the habit of using this platform; I’ve got plenty of stuff written and saved up for posting, it’s just a matter of making sure it’s actually worth throwing into the meagre public eye.

If you’re interested in reading any of the stuff I wrote before I took my half-year hiatus, then you can check out some ‘poetry‘ here!

Ramblings On… Actual Sunlight

‘Take a walk on the thin line between hope and despair in Actual Sunlight: A short interactive story about love, depression and the corporation.’ Created using RPG Maker, Will O’Neil’s Actual Sunlight is the gaming world’s answer to Literary Fiction.

‘I guess it was the first time that I realised that you could just get dealt a shitty hand. That there could be something wrong with you, and that no matter what, you would never be able to do anything about it.

Will O’Neil – Actual Sunlight

I had intended, when I first began to play Actual Sunlight, to join in that crowd who will proclaim, on internet forums unread save for the same few pairs of eyes over and over again until they all end up staring at each other around one of their number’s grave, that this is not a game. I had intended to call it a treatise on something beautiful, on the terrible reality of humanity. The very first text I saw was ‘Why Kill Yourself Today, When You Can Masturbate Tomorrow’ and I knew then exactly what this programme was.

I had barely played for ten minutes when I came to the realisation, as I did with The Stanley Parable and Gone Home; that at no point was I really playing a game. And then the writer, Will O’Neil, left a message in one of the faceless characters on the street:

‘This game is not a game: It’s a portrait.’


‘I’ve created it to document something that I think is human and beautiful and real, and if you appreciate that, great – that’s what art is.’

I came to dread, very quickly, whenever the screen went black and that white text spit across the screen in jarring episodes, each one brought on by my own application of pressure to the Enter key. I dreaded it, with the obscure fascination one applies to honesty. I dreaded it like one doesn’t want to know what happens on the next page of 1984, the threat of discovery a consistent trend throughout the narrative. I dreaded it as though the very text I was reading was seditious, that it spoke out against a system we all knew to exist, and yet had refused to realise.

It has captured the loneliness of the modern man, the ageing, overweight business man that seems to form the core of civilisation. It takes the pretentiousness of writers dealing with topics that they cannot begin to wrap their minds around, though they might believe they do. It provides arguments against itself, often says how lucky Evan Winter is to have this life, providing examples of immigrants and crippled old men working for minimum wage, whilst he has shelter, food, warmth and entertainment. In a way, it says that this is the beauty of humanity, if not one of our major attributes; that we can be jealous of those who have less, that we can consider any life to be better than the one within which we live, that we, alone of all evolution, have the ability to hate ourselves with such fervent apathy, with such dull passion.


The project is littered with paragraphs and phrases that could easily be attributed to some great literary mind of the past, Albert Camus, George Orwell or Alain Robbe-Grillet, if any of them were thrust into the modern era and experienced a lifetime in a few condensed moments. It is obvious that this is the product of a mastermind, though I cannot offer the pretence of understanding the creator, simply from this project.

This is the game I wish Always Sometimes Monsters had been. Occasionally, of course, if one could get past the cast of irritating characters, capitalist obsession with money and irrelevant activities you endure along the way, ASM had glimpses of this game. It focused, less on making the player uncomfortable, with knowledge of their own worthlessness, but instead on the fact that ‘none of this is your fault’, that the character was that way because of extenuating circumstances, because he helped his friends and dealt with bastards. Evan Winter is, instead, who he is because that is who he is. He is, as the project describes in its final moments, an Impossible Man.

The only way I could accurately relate to you the skill involved in the creation of this program, the style of language used in every black-screened celebration of life, if not its misery, would be to make some poor attempt to recreate the entire experience myself, using Will O’Neil writing. If you only ever read one modern book, one example of literary fiction originating in what we understand as the modern world, then abandon the pages of Anne Rice and J.K. Rowling, ignore the drivel of E.L. James and John Green and, instead, turn to the innate honesty of Actual Sunlight.