Rhys Exposed

Stories and stuff from the mind of Michael Rhys


I carry a small, black notebook into which I write personal poems. Each is written within a few minutes and with little conscious thought. I write them in coffee shops, on trains or in my head when out walking. In brief moments that offer a pause in the day.

They are part of the coping process for functioning with a brain not designed for much of the modern world. They are like little holes in my head, that, if you look closely enough, offer brief glimpses into my mind.

It’s not pleasant, but, whose mind is?

Though, I am not nearly as dark as these poems might suggest.

At, least, I don't think so

I'm Wrong



I’m wrong

I know

I have to be

I can only be

And yet

What is wrong when right is equally elusive?

Another told fantasy that differs only in the details

In the words


Words that might as well be random for all the truth they hold

But it is not the words we listen for is it?

No, Not the shaped sounds

But the soul that speaks them

Words are the translation

Chinese whispers

Corruptions of the perfect

Oily, stained and damp

Bitter on the tongue

Sweet to the devil

That sings them

Rigid and course

Like frozen honey, hot and sharp

Words are all we have left

When regret and fear have run their course

And emptied us of warmth

Empty words

That wrap us like course spikes, needle thin

That push deep in the blood and flesh 

Where light and soft heat once held us

In darkness




Cold and Wet


Cold and wet

In the rain

Water running into my eye

Dripping off my nose

Creeping through the fibers of my clothes

To lie snug against my skin

Drawing heat

Life escaping

Along tiny rivers that run

Down my arms and legs into the earth

Then out to sea

I am small

A stand of flesh 

A hillock

A rooftop

A sapling

Another invisible among the constant shifting array of things

All things here

Of this cycle

Water to air

Solid to liquid

Bound to unbound

Thought to empty air

Burning through the words

Wearing them out, faster and faster

Until they break

And disappear


Quick Minds and Slow Decisions


Quick minds and slow decisions

Wakeful moments in the stretch of sleep

Opinions formed from naked air

Words built from desire

Fuelled by alcohol and TV

A maze of all history

A millions spots in time

Decisions long forgotten

Time long exhausted

And in all this lateral confusion

This order of magnitude beyond chaos

It all seems right.

Because we cannot step aside

And let the liquid colours slough from the bones of our life

Drink it up dear friends for I have no answers

And neither, I believe, do you

I raise a glass and drink to you all

The survivors

The progeny of single cells in an unlikely ocean

On an unlikely rock

In an unlikely system

Yet born with the confidence of numbers


I Picked a Random Piece of Riverbank



I picked a random piece of riverbank

To sit on

The green wash resolved itself

Into a micro focus of color

Flowers were purple and yellow

Yellow and green

Blue and white

But not for me

This random passing life form.

The grebe fishes in the water


The fish play, or so it seems to my eyes

Butterflies and black flies

Ducks fly past with whistling wings

The fish play again

To get my attention?

Such a human wish

It smells, all of it

It smells real

Somehow ancient

The birds talk with a language so complex

We can never translate

The sun warms with a heat we can never achieve

The fish asks again

I look on with conceit

To Me


To me

For me

It's simple

Love is not complicated

It's as easy as gravity

But then

I speak

And dress love in words

But my words are rags

Ripped and soiled


Hold me

Touch me

But don’t speak

The Sand Remains

The sand remains

Little stars on the cover of my black book

Little whispers

Not calls to return

But calls to carry on

The sand is embedded in my memory

Course pathways into an honest soul

Each grain can support life

For life is of the universe

Black and gold above the fluid glass sky

Everywhere alive, below as above

The scales are irrelevant

Human constructions to help our blindness

To compensate for that which is out of sight

Out of reach of everything but cold numbers

All we know is the binding skin

All else are stories

To live within this story, to live only within the skin

Is beautiful

It is not ignorance that scares us

It is the arrival

The acceptance

That the outer journey is an infinite road

Only the inner journey

Has destination

I Will Not Try Hard



I will not try hard

To make my poetry sing to you

It is mute

Your eyes alone will speak

From inside

The casting of form from words

Meaning from black shapes

The songs are yours

In your possession only

I throw them out in hurried form

Picked from tar black stickiness

To harden

And become crystal

In the safe, warm growths of your mind

I cannot sing these words

In notes that please

But instead, like invisible air from torn carriers

They pass quietly into the open world

To disperse, overwhelmed by the words already written

The words yet in waiting

Still Cracks Drawn in Pencil



Still cracks drawn in pencil

Standing on hope of anything

Being able to escape

The clinging gravity of the moment

This half asleep lie

This deception of the unconscious

The veil

Lifted by the teasing fingers of my depression

To show me the dark sticky inside

Of us all

I am blunted, worn to the wood

Scratching out pleas for help

On paper unread

I Can No Longer Measure

I can no longer measure

This tired world in frames that satisfy

I can no longer read the course of long history

In the brief lights that play across our screens

I am not tired

I am lost

The books lay scattered

Torn from the shelves by ghosts let loose

By a moments inattention

The burnt-in paths of mind wear thin

As the machine reveals itself

I could now….I could


All history returned to air

Forgotten in moments


The story then commands the flesh to believe

But the flesh is endless

It bridges all

It is all

It cannot escape

The word fails


Beauty Lies in Ugly Corners


Beauty lies in ugly corners

In empty spaces

Empty even of the light

Foregone, and left behind

Yet a small victory in the fight for life

For air

For breath

And the fluid motion

That keeps all warm

A forgotten witness to the stories

clothed in words picked from dirty floors

Sanitized in the frigid air of structured discourse

Hung, one by one

Ordered by nothing

Self arranging in the minds of those

Who choose to see

Their selective blindness

Holding down the pressure

The pressure to escape

To break and cut through the holding strings

To let fall and shatter

Against the floor

Built to the sky, rooted, hard against the wind

But cut small and unbound

The wind will take it

Take us

Somewhere, sometime

To fit within

To fit within

The corrupted moulds of modern living

We must contort and break

And sacrifice all but the words

The truths and good espoused by those who taught us

Those whose own corrupted forms

And ill fitting existence

They hid thinly behind feeble remaining language

Walls built from fragile logic that should crack and disperse

Upon any argument truly born

from those shallow drafted words

Am I so corrupted?

Is it invisible to me?

An evolved survival

A story of dark against light

The brittle light

A window of weak strength

I am no longer sure

I am aware of my ignorance

It fills weakly

And life is too short for us to ever know

This tragic tale.

In closing, what would I say

In closing, what would I say

In passing, what legacy would remain as an echo

Drowned by the sounds of other lives that remain

Too focused to see the sadness of that soft reverberation

That shadow that talks gently of regret, fondly of dreams

I have no desire to stay

No desire to leave anything for others to reflect upon

I have no wish to distract others from their lonely course

I only wish to return to the stars

As from the stars, the earth, the universe I came

They talk to me of god.

I talk to them of grains of sand

I hold the universe within my vision, made small upon the earth as a beach, a desert, a handful of suns that fall through the fingers, all lit by our single, sharp white grain that burns beyond any time that we can comprehend.

So I make my stories

And you make yours

And together, in this briefest of moments

We will find common ground

In the sunlight

If I Lost My Eyes


If I lost my eyes

Would I still relate to the greater world?

Would I shrink all down to that which is immediate?

Would the larger concerns of politics, wars, religion 

Remove themselves from me?

For me to live, breath and slip through the years

As like a single cell, reacting only with that which touches

Such transformations

Small steps from the born ideal

Are growths upon experience

Stations that lay waiting

To challenge our soft minds made hard

To chisel the outer shell of aged growth

And reveal again the pliant soul of our potential

You tell me ‘We grow old and fail in so many ways’

I tell you we merely run the journey without direction

We define ourselves, slaves to an inherited concept of time that binds us with chains of knowledge supposed absolute

On our deathbeds, do the chains fall free

On our beds of love can the chains be broken

Bind me in your chains my love

Let me see through your blind eyes

I Don't Cry in Sadness, but in Awe


I don't cry in sadness, but in awe

Of all that I have discovered

That such a fragmentary life

Can yield treasures of understanding

That happiness is a way station

On a longer journey

That sweet dreams give light to closed eyes

abounded by soft lies

To ease us on our way

I lay, holding you

A physical touch that is more than possession

It is me, close as I can be to the limits of the physical world

Here, at that border, lies the pathway into the soul

And thence outwards into the universe

Loose yourself from the hard world

And slip and form into the dark shapes

That are born within

I Could End This Journey Now, Perhaps


I could end this journey now, perhaps

I could lay down and let whatever passes my vision

Clouds, stars, curious bystanders....

I could let them be the final things I see

Because it really doesn't matter at the journey's end

With equal blandness, the final, brief and completely unimportant departure

Will be a moment like any other

How beautiful is that?

Quite beautiful I think

To have one's whole life pass like a still pond into that defining moment

That one true piece of knowledge

To let fall an entire existence

Every bland moment

Every sweet second

To know in that brief interlude before darkness

That all is equal when averaged out

For that, we can be content

For that, we can slip unafraid

And die along with all the gods


As always


We take Solace in the Words and Lives of Others

We take solace in the words and lives of others

And they in ours

No matter what questions of truth may hang over these worlds we have created

For it is all metaphor, surely

Imagined realities that mirror, or contrast

Must inform our own self created existences

We are grand manipulators of what grows from tiny grains of fact

But our industry is plowed back into the soil as a new season falls

We grow, not to feed ourselves or others

But to merely pass on the moments that clock our existence

Our memories of what has grown before

Become the defining heart of our existence

Our seasons are not the wiped, stripped fields of momentary growth

But are indelible marks on the landscape

Slow growths that channel the fertile waters that are the food, the blind nurse

Of all that grows

Season beyond season

This Long Life


This long life

This rancid journey

Would, perhaps, keep the light of early passion

If, when the collapse begins, we merely become new

History erased

And the reins passed over

A selfish transition

Or an acceptance of the sleight that is demanded

of our hypocritical game?

These lights of a different colour

Can guide us through the blackness of near blind choice

Through doorways opened by another death

A death not of decay, but of creation

A truer re-birth than any offered

In defiance of the physical world

Such we do in small, staggered steps

Unmindful of the screaming fear that hard pushes from deeper spaces

But that lands like weak gravity upon the surface of the skin

Open the skin and tunnel deep

The torrent that then flows

Makes light of your being

And you will be free

There Are Some Things


There are some things

That cannot be held by the words we choose

Some things are beyond the experience of ink and all alphabet

Invisible to the histories constrained by hard lines

But if I lose all form and rhythm 

If I break the bonds between words

Then perhaps I can reach close

Close to the unrealised among the light of discourse

Perhaps it is simply in the touch

In the kiss

In the exhale that the message lies

A release.

But the air, the skin, the mind; the physical is our only path

A sticky medium that grips and holds and distorts

So that whatever small vibrations pass are simply soft arrivals

Too quiet in the noise of life

Perhaps your journey will, in part, illuminate mine for you

And that in those moments of dim recognition

You may forgive me

Light Shadows on Memory

Light shadows on memory

Causing me to doubt

Was I ever that young child?

Am I some random act of nature

Or is it that I am simply nature itself

Shorn of all measures of scale

Of necessity?

To take comfort in that requires a stepping back

An objective removal

From the pulse core of our uniqueness

A de-humanising

Or perhaps

A re-humanising

For such tenets of a reductionist world view

Are themselves myth

What else is there?

Our objectivity exists within a subjective wiring

Whatever plasticity we claim

Is still constrained by the very physical universe

we are trying to escape.

Such is the illusion

Such is the reality

The soft borders of language

And the the hard borders of physics

Will There be a Last Breath


Will there be a last breath?

A final human farewell

To set adrift the soft light of existence

A trace

An expanding wave

Through the universe

That ocean of life

The rising and falling

Weaving and crossing

Binding all

Not in darkness

But in the faintest of glows

A gentle candle in the mind of man


But the eye can see

See within the mind

Within the glow of the eternal soul

It is

It is

Close Me Up


Close me up

Close me up tight

Like a ball of compressed flesh

While my heart keeps me warm

Warm blood

Flowing through the tightly held skin

Flowing warmth

Until the chemistry of the real world deprives me of the energy that ties me to the same world as you 

And the slowing vibrations

The seeking of rest from within

Will draw me away

Until I pass over the physical barrier

And give myself to the universe

But no

I shall unwind

And feel again the chilling air around me

Because I can choose

Now I can choose

Unwind and be whoever you want

For you are blood and bone and nothing else





The woken state

Is the inner state

Is the choice

I Am Grateful


I am grateful

For nothing

For the boring routine

The dull moments of simple passing time

For the existence

The breathing

The chemistry

The electric transfer of particles

The movement of elements

The marking of time

The creation of time

Through the body, by the physical soul

I am grateful

While the concept remains

While I grasp it with equal belief to all others

While the story of the future

Rings like truth

A harmony of ideas

A self declared moment of coherence

Matter made meaningful

And so

I am grateful

To be this part in an existence beyond true description


I am grateful

Why Am I Afraid to Write


Why am I afraid to write

Afraid to set down the ghastly thoughts

That should, perhaps, remain hidden

Suppressed by false sunshine

By trees too green

A mask to the deeper roots that tunnel the black earth

The dusty, powdered soil that sticks to the lips

That clogs the mouth

That suffocates the breathing centre soul

Why am I afraid to release

And live in simple moments

Untethered to the oceans that carry us all on rafts of shallow history

Why am I afraid to be alone

Adrift and isolated, bound deep within the skin 

That offers the close, warm yet bordered love

Why am I afraid to set down

The crudely worded bible of a lonely god

The blue, merging, drifting light

Caught between the thin transparent sheets of the imagination

Why am I afraid to stop

To write no more

To reach the border

And turn away

Perhaps I was Innocent



Perhaps I was innocent

Without effort

Until I had long grown up

Long adopted the form and manners

Of an adult

But not the deep fear

The cynicism

The loss and pain

That came later

Much later

And I was not equipped

To be there

Among the grownups

Their weary selves

Smiling, empty, for the children

Lest they catch on

That all is not well with the world

I am bound, tied, flesh linked

To the ignorance of my past self

The me, now, cannot let go

The emptied body I had grown into

For fear that the truth will overwhelm me

And keep me dark

I Am ill Equipped

I am ill equipped

To deal with the storms on the periphery

My life is ill advised

A blind, stumbling 

Across and through the flimsy barriers of convention

Yes, I have brought this upon myself

But not through choice

Not through weighed decisions

Who are you?

I have asked that question of myself so often

That all side sight

All pockets of still wind

In that peripheral storm

Have been all noise


In patterns

In ordered paths

In ordered words in books on ordered shelves

Lie the order that appeals

Take me

You’ll be complete

Happy, content, normal

The cotton black clouds of the peripheral storm

Hide the truth that we all fear

In our instinctive selves

Empty air

It is a Tenuous Strand

It is a tenuous strand

That holds me to the Earth

Tied to the heavy ground

By the lightest of words

The darkest of light

The thoughts, all mass inconcrete

Drive me up 

Up into the literal nothing

Where matter appears

In short dances

Before it’s impossibility is realized

I am there, often

Broken out, somehow

Broken free

Tethered only by the words

In good time I will break free

From the words

From the light

And my own self impossibility will collect me

Leaving traces unreal


A background sound

As quiet as the spinning of atoms

These Words Number in Their Thousands


These words number in their thousands

Yet all that projects from this black ink is what?

It seems random

Molecules drifting in some ocean

Perhaps, like life, the words will reach such a number

that they become invisible in the mass

I cannot say they fail

That would be a presumption I cannot make

I cannot say they live

In the detail 

Or, in the solid

Bound like atoms

Perhaps they are like music

Forming rhythm and pitch

Songs unknown

Perhaps they just keep me mildly amused while I live.

Should I drop them?

Change them out, for what?

The physical experience of reality?

The touch, the sounds, the tastes?

Can we…can I lose words so completely

That life becomes animal

That life becomes its true level

Within and essential

For when there are no words

One cannot find a place

One simply is

All is all is


I Was Sick This Morning



I was sick this morning

Knocked down by a failing inner ear

A few hours closer to the experience of death

A dry run if you like

In that narrowing of human will

It is dark, and somehow safe

All passion, desire, need and want dropped

like too heavy baggage on the delicate road

to final closing

Now, I am alive again

Pulled back

Slightly hurt

But functional again in the world

Our world

The human social world

So, this afternoon I went again to the beach

There, I found the remains of an animal

unidentifiable from its stark bones and taught black skin

The putrid smell is the same, though

The same as all life in decay

The black road is shared by us all

The baggage piled, tossed aside at the edge of the path

as we gently descend into he animals we are

Not Enough


Not enough

Not enough air

Or space

Or energy

Or peace

Not enough to keep me alive it feels

But I am


Waking every morning

To push through the sunlight

To get through the day

To when I can sleep again

To when I can lie

And evaporate

Into the dark


For a brief few hours

Before the sunlight drags me again

Confused and weak and scared before the day

Before the reality

But I get up

And let the reality take me

Day after day after day

Until it stops

Stops dead

In the End


In the end

I expect it to all be beautiful

All worth the effort

Worth the price 

The pain

The dark, dense cotton cloud of depression

The disappointment that the promises of the inanimate actors

Were all gas and dust

That love had only a fleeting hold of reality

Before it lost its grip and fell deep and out of sight

That knowing tempered minutes and seconds ran the day

As predictions channeling grooves in the direction of life

That the constant game of matching expectations with invented reality was always found wanting

That peace came in brief moments

Mere days across a life time

That the empty blandness is full of noise

That the eyes are crowded with visual shallowness

All is defined by the myth of destination

All look forward to invented futures


In the end

It will be beautiful

In the end

I need not care

Is There an End to This?

Is there an end to this?

A day of sunshine

That can make me invisible

So I cast no shadow.

A day of warmth that can spread deep

And keep all my inner self safe.

Or is that an ideal I have been taught unknowing?

An infiltration of the impossible

A shadow that pierces the skin

And darkens the blood that then courses through the inner city of my body

Cutting out the light

The air

The very humanity

I could throw myself at the feet of a million words

And yet not one could open the small slit in my outer self needed to release the thick dark blood.

But I try

I stab with the words

Line by line

Letter by letter

I could ask endless questions



I could ask endless questions

That dig through the crumbling surface

Of our constrained lives

But why bother?

Why expose the topsy turvy of our nature

Why dig tunnels in the oppressive earth

Of our inner flesh

We are blind there

And easily lost

Easily led astray by other’s calls to light

The shallows is the safer place

It’s fiery burning of short fuses

Fireworks to entertain

To keep us breathing through long, unremembered days

But there are cracks

Opened by careless words and actions

Opened by others

To catch us, trap us, bind us

In the confusion of unrecognized light

So I close my eyes

And, for a moment, feel safe

My Little Words

My little words

Are no match to you [when you are angry

And righteous

In your flame

So blue and precise

Fueled by the fear

That the air is too cold

Too raw

For your soul to survive

So you burn hot

Hotter than the air can stand

My little words

In retreat

To preserve

And breath what little oxygen remains

To sing, low voice and clam

To purge the gaseous shadows

Of spent fuel, spent anger

To whistle sunshine

Brief through dark clouds

That gather

To damp your flame

And soak my little words to ruin.