I Get Now… Woodsy

I get now,

more than ever,
how nobody saw it coming.
How could they?
I’m hiding now, behind a dozen or so tangled pieces of
“no, that’s not what it’s like”…
“no, that’s not what happens”…
“no, that’s not how it feels”…
“no, that’s not what this is about”…
and it feels right now like most of you can’t get to grips with just one.
Don’t tell me you want me to explain.  Because most of you barely want me to get halfway through the world’s longest, scariest sentence before you ride in with your gleaming sword and kill it stone dead –
without even stopping to see what it was.
If I was able to explain the gazillion things you can’t hear right now, I wouldn’t need the help I can’t ask you for.
But right now, I can barely breathe.
That’s why I can’t come to you.  Because sometimes, the thought of killing it all feels way less scary than hearing the screams of all those things we’re torturing by letting me carry on.
You don’t get that – because you think you know.
That’s why nobody saw it coming.
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Treasures – Woodsy

There’s a beach I know, on the secret side of an island, from which you can watch a tide that seems to roll in from the far reaches of forever, endlessly layering new lines of ripple across the sand –

except, of course, that you can see the mainland, so it ain’t quite forever.

But it sure gets a good run along the coastal plain as it tumbles up to you, rolling and shapeshifting, sculpting fluid, glass-textured patterns at its head as it ploughs towards you.

One of a billion places you can stand round the coast and soak the tide into your heart.

Later on, as night settles over the island, the quiet shores are marooned in their own brand of stillness –

a kind of bottomless, rhythmic silence, broken only by the eerie wailing of unseen things across the water, or perhaps the breezy whisper of owl wings.

There’s a bay I know…

a stretch of coast…

a tidal estuary… 

Such places are sculpted for the tide, and they become somehow otherworldly without its touch.  They become waiting places, weeping an intricate network of rivulets into the distant darkness, where they slowly trail off in search of the seas that created them, like tapestry tears across the mud and sand.

Perhaps we are all waiting places…

vast lonely things that crave the majestic nourishment of tides.

Perhaps the real magic happens in in our restlessly voyage-hungry imaginations, drawing the tides in from their ocean home…

and perhaps it is our presence, deeper and richer than any moon, that sends them galloping across the coastal plains to see the treasures we weave on our shores.

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the lanyards – one man’s view of mental health services put into poetry, music and prose.

Posted in mental health professionals, philosophy, poetry, poetry of the disenfranchised, politics, solution Focused Practice, That awful language of "mental health professionals", trauma | Leave a comment

A career in Solution Focused Therapy – Emily

Emily is a colleague of mine who has begun to develop her solution Focused skills. she recently saw the “lanyards” video and was inspired to write her own thoughts. I am delighted to share them on my blog.

A career in Solution Focus Therapy

Is best suited to our Emily

It truly aligns with her intentions and energy

Giving space for people to, just be

No labels, boxes or judgements

You are free

Free from a place or an idea

Where someone else wants you to be

The art of listening, truly understood

Enabling a person to know they are enough

So many strengths and resources, all within

Easily missed when the light is dim

Pull back the curtain

Remember how far you’ve come

You’re not done

Just a little stuck

Don’t give up

What’s your best hope


How have you managed to cope

Move a little forward, small steps

It’s okay to do a loop

To find the path that best suits

Every feeling and emotion is valid

Lets talk about a preferred future

That you imagine

Pull back the curtain a little more

What difference did that make

For now insight is a door

A door of possibilities

Let the light guide you

Your story has a place

Despite the pain and fear

You are still very much here

The vision of a preferred future

Starts to become clear

Everyone has the capacity

Skills and knowledge

You don’t need to have certificates

Or have been to college

All that is needed lies within

The starting point, we need not begin

Treating a person as a person is the answer

SF is a person centred enhancer

Regardless of who we play in the SF role

We all possess the same symbiotic goal

That’s why I love SF

No Hierarchy, systems or lists

Just the opportunity to find some inner bliss

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Stand – Woodsy

If I was a thing that could face the sea…

That tower block,

dark and soulless in the coastal sky –

squeezing the things they once called hearts.

The fruit of my being the spirit I am…

The fruit of my doing these things that I do…

If I could stand against that shore –

no less a presence…

no less a call…

no less a thing.

If I could be somebody, just this one time…

lay all the truth of this heart on the line…

All this potential 

that you call betrayal…

All this that still seems to shine,

somewhere in shadows

where people don’t judge…

where broken means wilderness,

tugging your sleeve…

out in a cold place…

out in your warmth…

out in a place that these blocks don’t believe.

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After the Lanyards – Woodsy


Wondering how the job centre will react as more folks see The Lanyards…

and hear what I have to say about Universal Credit.

Wondering whether it will matter that I have personally thanked people in the local job centre who have been kind –

because I value that human kindness even if I still think the system is dehumanizing.

Wondering how various aspects of my life stack up against the myriad of ways in which different people will judge me…

who I am…

the way I act…

the decisions I make.

Making those kind of judgements about each other is nothing new…

and it’s hugely encouraged in social media, 

in “hiss and boo at the scumbag” entertainment shows…

in headline-framed judgements about scroungers and shirkers…

in the disparity between the small truth people see in each other and the massive truths we hide between each other’s eyes.

I frankly don’t give a rat’s ass anymore what people think they know… or can judge… about me.

(and neither do the rodent or its pet donkey)

I am told that those who know me tend to believe I am a good man.

I sometimes feel, for various reasons, crazy and spurious though they may often be, that nobody does.

But that doesn’t matter.

Who Woodsy is…

What kind of human being Woodsy is…

These things don’t matter.

Maybe to me 

(though that’s between me and the spirit that drives me)…

But none of that matters when I go into a building and become something less than whatever a human being is.

Because however you view humanity…

however you calibrate what makes a human being a “deserving case”…

the building that somehow switches that off when we walk through the door…

it kills all of us.

At one point in The Lanyards, I mention the system that would have me move from the poetic stuff, now that I have got my confidence back, and become a “shelf stacker”.

I can stack shelves.  I can wash dishes. I can clear stuff away. I can clean filthy stuff. 

I am not lazy.

I am not pretending to be above doing menial things.

I care how I am defined because I keep coming back to the simple realisation that the things we are told to just “get over” are actually the only things that really matter.


In any building.

What led to feeling lost and churned and weepy is not a game of “please give me a nice easy life and make me who I want to be or I’ll stamp my foot”…

I just know that this…








Something is switching off the humanity…

deconstructing it

into something that, to use a phrase that Steve and I used a lot when developing The Lanyards, “can be processed”.

This is not the person across the street.

This is not a situation that dissolves when we put our fingers in our ears and singing:

“La… La… La…”

When the building down the road can switch off someone’s humanity,

we all die.

Right now,

we are all dying.

Our world is dying.

Our society is dying.

Our systems are dying.

We need a better way.

We need the imagination of humanity.

We need the heartbeat of humanity.

We need more than the abyss that stares back at us when we switch people’s humanity off…

and we all die.

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Places – Woodsy

So much talk about staying strong… being strong…

But I seem to be increasingly meeting people who have survived the most devastating personal implosions by living, sometimes for quite some time, in a way that would not look anything like positivity – or strength – to most people.

It would look crazy, or messed-up, or ridiculous or dirty.  It would look wrong.

But it got them through to a place on the other side, and they are still here.

So who’s the strong one?

And all those things…

all those things, those experiences, those nightmares that people say they do not regret, would not change a moment of –

not because they want them back,

but simply because of what they found at the far end of a story that might always seem batshit crazy to everyone else they will ever meet.

I want those people in the world, being something other than how the rest of the world wants to see them.

I want me to keep expressing myself in a way that has no value to you…

and I want all the stuff that can’t find me down any other road.

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Bridge of shit – by Woodsy

It’s like

wanting the streetlight outside my window to speak.

It’s like hiding myself,

here in the dark,

and hoping the orange glow will warm me out of rent arrears


scary conversations


having to walk through a world I don’t fit.

The orange is orange.

The grapefruit is grapefruit.

The dark is the dark.

But as for the silence…

As for the things I desperately need to speak about,

to say somehow,

so that this mean-hearted silence might listen…

might grow enough to wear its orange

and speak the words hidden there…

It really is, you know –

it’s just like the streetlight outside my window.

It’s just like the sea

that’s nothing but sea.

Nothing but water tricks,

acrobat surf.

Nothing that touches the essence of me.

And yet…

This tumbling that catches the essence of me –

that fills me

and thrills me…

echoes me wide through the textures of night.

I’ve known it to do that,

time after time.

I’ve felt the tide save me.

I’ve heard the tide speak.

I’ve shadowed its heartbeat,

close to my own.

So, if a thing that’s “not” can still be that…

what’s with you?

Thing of the silence that waits in my heart…

what’s with you?

Were you in mum, too?  Were you there when she stood in that dismal place, that place the special things couldn’t, wouldn’t reach…

and shone anyway?

When she smiled like a heart spinning out of space, like an asteroid crashing, and shattered all my skies…

were you there, too?

I miss her so much right now, because she was the one person who could always explain me.

It’s a bridge I still think of, sometimes, when looking at how things are now.

The silence…

The disconnection…

The empty ache of a road unmade…

So what now?

Perhaps the only meaningful way I can build my bridge into your presence…

whoever, whatever, wherever you are…

is by building it out of broken, nasty, jagged, twisted, scarred, peeling things –

shit, basically…

which means, I guess, that I’ll have to see it, know it and feel it as the shit it truly is.

Only then I can stitch the poetry through it,

and perhaps weave it together into something that stars and mountains and oceans can recognise as a brother… a sister… a kindred shining, shitty little thing.

But if I can build it into something your heart can recognise, half lost and fragile as that heart seems behind this mist of silence…

maybe then it might please you,

this bridge of mine…

this bridge of shit…

woven from all the stuff you didn’t want me to miss.

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