“Feins” — the second last poem from the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology — was particularly difficult to publish, but it’s here.

“Feins”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Silently quiet, silently curious,
A depth you imagine as the crux of notorious.
Look past the creation, a gaze brings you more trouble,
As you feed your temperance, heeding a life within a bubble.

Sip from the glass, the lemon bitters your palate,
As far removed as the time of Sir Mallet.
Did you forget how to breathe, do you dream of others now?
Higher and lower, as we plunge, a reaping bow.

You see me there, I find you somewhat endearing,
A judgement based on a deafening bearing.
Are you still bloody, morose, a vastly wild hunt,
Forgiven for you vapidity, as you stay ever so blunt.

The journey still matters, feel the music in your core,
Decipher this true moment, as you quit keeping score.
Troubled chalice, time to let go of the reigns.
Hidden from my view, yet a memory still feins.

“Feins” is the only poem in the anthology that I struggled to put my finger on 100% and questioned whether I should publish it, due to its deeply personal nature. It contains many layers, and there is a lot going on, but ultimately, the first stanza drives home the point of the story, which is meant to represent an emancipation from a perceived life of living in a bubble. I explored a few titles for this one, and it went through only a few slight tweaks before publication. If you’re curious about the original, feel free to reach out to me in the contact section and I’ll give you a heads up about the changes.

Next week, thirteen weeks since starting to publish, the final poem from Autumn Haze will be released, and my first full body of work will be out there to enjoy as a unit. The last poem is a favourite of mine, titled “The Ledge”.

If you’d like to read the other poems (“Yanked”, “Hearts at Half Mast”, “Knife Party”, “I Dream in Black and White”, “Flourish”, “Turunen”, “Pink Scarf”, “Safely in My Heart”, “A Fever Poetry” & “Dorian”) in preparation, head on over here to find them in one place, and I’ll catch you back here next week.

– Conrad was here.

It seems that the universe would like me to stay in Brazil for a little while longer than planned.

I had very little to do with the airline going bust and my flight to South Africa being cancelled. I had even less to do with the fact that one way tickets are suddenly three times the price of the return ticket I bought initially, and that the refunds will take up to eight weeks to process.

I did, however, put it out there to the universe that all I needed for these six months of my “flow experiment” was a place to write, a place to type and a place to sleep. Hell, I even wrote these things in permanent marker on the front cover of my diary. Well, I have all three of these things over here, and it seems that it is something I have to explore a little further on my journey towards a career as a writer, and wanting to connect with people from all walks of life (one of the other things I wrote down back in December).

The latest episode of Wellness with the Schwellnus, titled “Where do you feel like you belong”, discusses my first few weeks in a foreign country, and touches on what I’ll be doing for the next few months, which in all likelihood is looking like a longer term stay in Brazil, up until the start of September.

I also talk a bit about the concept of belonging through community rather than country, as well as mentioning a few key points from my journals that will hopefully help both of us, as we embark on the third quarter of 2019. You can listen to the new episode on your platform of choice over here.

– Conrad was here.

“Dorian”— the next poem from ‘Autumn Haze’ — is a tribute to one of literature’s greatest poets and playwrights.

“Dorian”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Dorian’s picture is gray, so faded, I cannot even say —
— what it means to me anymore.
Find what I used to find alluring,
But the brush strokes of your mind demurring.

What lurks behind the picture, a notion ever Wilde,
Selfish and a need to be liked, just like a little child.
There is depth behind you, Dorian, and your heart is powerful,
Staying kind in all of this, but you know yourself doubtful.

Oscar my old friend, I can’t read you like I used to do,
My heart moved on, no romance red, but a gentle, clearer blue.
Floating somewhere between mind, body and the evergreen soul,
Getting through our thoughts, lurking in the reverence of a foal.

You wept for Dorian, he was what you never had — but something you always wanted,
Now people cannot forget, and revisit a lot, the words which you enchanted.
Ensnared and engulfed in a coffin of morbidity,
A paradox so truthful, your writing hides incivility.

Similarly to “Roaming”, this poem can also be considered a eulogy of sorts, and is a writing style I’m starting to get all the more excited about. “Dorian” is a tribute to Oscar Wilde, written after The Picture of Dorian Gray landed back on my desk (so to speak) from a friend who thought I may enjoy reading it. I read it in my early twenties but it has a different meaning to me now. This poem was inspired by the book, Wilde’s career and his writing style, which I find very unique.

If this is the first time you’re reading something from the anthology, why not have a gander over here for the rest of the poems in the series. We are getting awfully close to the end of this anthology, which will wrap up at the end of June. As always, thank you for supporting my writing by reading this poem and sharing in the journey with me.

– Conrad was here.

“A Fever Poetry” may well be the most introspective piece in the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology. Read it now.

“A Fever Poetry”
by Conrad Schwellnus

How are you seen, does it even really matter?
The ingredients gently mixed, into a tumbling sourdough batter.
To be successful you need to be loved, to make it out you should be liked,
A world alone that lingers, where your emotions have been spiked.

Shelf life aside, you’d do well to disregard your feelings,
Love was always what you craved, even in your primary dealings.
A time to make amends, a time to forgive and forget,
You are whole and loved, even without a sliver of regret.

How are you seen, why do you gaze into the mirror?
Never have you seen your flaws, evermore yet clearer.
Dare to coast in subtle mania, but you manage to channel it kindly,
Better to be free of it, than to shelter it benignly.

Carry all your confidence, at times false it may still be,
It’s time to give over, in vulnerability you may see —
The truth behind the glass, a fever poetry,
Did you disregard the power, in the shallow waters of the sea?

This poem poured out of me and at the time it felt like it struck quite a few chords. Initially written from the personal perspective, it was later changed to encompass a more general view of a struggle that so many people go through. I myself can take a lot from these lines, even though I will admit to not being in the most positive of headspaces when I wrote it. And yes, I considered calling it “Shallow Waters, but I didn’t want to pay Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper any subtle dust.

Next week, the third last poem from Autumn Haze will be shared, and I will be publishing it from the town of Alfenas in Brazil. If this is the first time you’re reading something from the anthology, feel free to read all of the poems in one place right over here. Looking forward to having you back next week as we bring autumn to a close and get ready for winter.

– Conrad was here.

A realisation around how we should be closing chapters, and generally try to navigate change in our lives.

My latest podcast episode might be titled like a Game of Thrones episode (it’s called “Winds of Change”), but I promise that it will contain far less theatrics and twists and turns, being dedicated solely to leaving you satisfied (sorry, GOT writers) with a few learnings around how we deal with change.

I felt a pull towards discussing change during this show, ahead of leaving my home in Cape Town and setting my sights on a longer trip to Brazil. Featuring some personal stories and a key learning around the way we deal with others (a total a-ha moment, if you ask me), the show packs a triple punch this week, also highlighting the importance of looking at how we close chapters, rather than why we do.

If you’d like to listen, there are various platforms you can choose from over here. Next episode drops in June and will be recorded in five different cities!

– Conrad was here.

“Safely in my Heart”, the next poem in the ‘Autumn Haze’ series, is all about the courage to be your true self.

“Safely in my Heart”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Keep shining little boy,
No matter your preference, nor the colors bringing you joy.
You can be who you want, even in a world ever cruel,
One day it will all be over, with your victory in the duel.

Sparkle in pink, you wear it oh so well,
Simple and dashing, your mother can surely tell.
Will she hide you from the public, no, she’s brought you out to here,
Though a pot plant cut you’ll continue to wear, with a grin from ear to ear.

Keep shining little boy, nobody can put out your light,
Abandon those who try; build protective walls, you might.
For self will and care is the greatest gift, you’ll see,
Safely in my heart, you can be who you want to be.

Note from the author: I wish you love and light as you navigate your days. Be strong, little boy. Thank you for crossing paths with me on this journey.

Next week Friday, the ninth poem from the Autumn Haze anthology — titled “A Fever Poetry” — will go live right here on the site. If you’d like to catch up to the other poems in the series, feel free to read the entire published catalogue so far over here. Planning is already underway for a second anthology, so watch this space.

– Conrad was here.

Inspired by a chance encounter, “Pink Scarf” is the next poem to be published as part of the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology.

“Pink Scarf”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Pink scarf, you smile at me,
A drawing of my soul, this is somewhat sure to be.
The reason that we’re here, in this moment we connect,
Hook, line and sinker, are we in the ship to wreck?

A shadow lurks in peace, alive beyond your years,
Your rings are barely fraught, but bring forth all your fears.
You wear them cleverly, yes, but wear them better in mind,
A lessening of the swelling, behind the mask you live behind.

Pink scarf, it seems the week has slowly strangled you,
Loosen the noose, lift your hand, it’s the only thing to do.
Spark the tip, forgive the sadness, you are gentle and you are kind,
Care for yourself, even if your chambers rule your mind.

“Pink Scarf” had two other names before publication. Firstly, it was called “Temporal Demise” (a little sombre, if you ask me), and then, I considered calling it “Chambers” (a little too obvious). Somehow, the others didn’t stick and I’m happy they didn’t, because the title represents the strongest part of my memory from the inspiration for this poem.

I wrote “Pink Scarf” after a chance encounter with a woman who was sitting at the other end of a coffee shop I was writing from, and yes, she was wearing a beautiful pink scarf. I recall she was also writing, and all we shared was a short moment including a smile, and in that moment she seemed like someone important to my journey. I immediately started writing this poem, which is now the only recollection of the event, and perhaps, the only time in history that our paths will ever cross.

Next week Friday, the eighth poem from Autumn Haze will be shared right here on the site. If you’d like to catch up to the other poems in the series, feel free to start from the bottom and to read them over here.

– Conrad was here.

Let’s talk about some things to try when you start to feel a little bit stuck.

We’ve all been there. You wake up one morning, and for whatever reason, you realise that you’ve become a little bit stuck in your life. Perhaps you’re stuck in terms of your career, stuck with family, stuck with friends, or perhaps just generally stuck with the current chapter of your journey.

I’ve gone through this many times, which got me thinking about what I do when this happens, to gently start to change the momentum a bit and try to slowly move into a more positive direction. I’ve been journalling for a long time, and working through my writing helped me to spot particular trends with regards to dips I’ve gone through in recent years, and I wanted to share those learnings with you today.

In the new episode of Wellness with the Schwellnus, I suggest a few things you can try when you start to feel this way. I discuss my journey with curiosity, creativity and developing competencies, and also share a few stories (including a disastrous attempt at trying to MC a public event early in my career, which turned out to be a great opportunity for growth). You can listen to the new episode of the podcast over here.

I’m happy to let you know that iTunes has now been added as one of our host platforms (on top of the existing three places where you can listen), and all episodes should be available there by the end of the week. We looked into getting the podcast onto Google Play as a priority, but unfortunately the platform does not accept South African podcasts at this stage.

I’d love to hear from you if something in the show resonates with you, so please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any thoughts around the topic. Happy listening!

– Conrad was here.

The latest poem from ‘Autumn Haze’ was inspired by a popular Finnish singer.

“Turunen”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Wanderlust, you are my embrace,
The lines of pain ring heavily on your face.
Did the others leave you bothered, recall your vanity yet,
The team without an ‘I’, a wave of pure regret.

You walk alone at the behest of yourself,
Dig a little deeper, there’s still magic on the shelf.
I had a dream and this is very much it,
Blink and it’s gone, nowhere else for us to sit.

Am I harsh in my assumptions, do I love a woman in power,
A semblance of the hold, a breast, a birth I will discover.
The shackles are undone, the door has been unlocked,
Best we keep our distance, and our sorrows left in shock.

Turunen, great beauty, a haunting nightingale,
Ever apologetic for the harshness, a reminder ever pale,
Of the seeking of approval, the tenderness in me,
A longing for a guide living beyond true apathy.

I wrote ‘Autumn Haze’ in a time that I was listening to heavy metal band Nightwish’s ‘Wishmaster‘ album rather religiously. In “Turunen”, I talk about the departure of their then lead singer, Tarja Turunen, who left the band after being served with a dismissal letter at the end of one of their tours nearly fifteen years ago. I was inspired to write this having also seen an interview she did with the press afterwards, and the poem also references my experiences with strong female influences in my life.

Half of the anthology has now been shared, and in six weeks it will be published in full. If you’d like to read the other poems in the series, have a look at the new page I’ve created, featuring all the poems together right over here.

– Conrad was here.

This is “Flourish”, the the next piece of the ‘Autumn Haze’ puzzle.

“Flourish”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Clear is kind, like the depths of your sorrow,
A heart of steel, you will surely need to borrow.
Perhaps you can lend it to feed your hungry soul?
A lifetime of lies, no longer taking their toll.

Bested by those who loved their own reflections,
Using their kin in resolution of their imperfections.
Seemingly damaged to a point of no return,
A reality to ponder, but your memories start to burn.

Widening of shallow, subsiding anger in your mind,
Honesty and truth will always pay you back in kind.
Creative you will be, creative you will flourish,
A journey to build on, a past to demolish.

This poem is one of the pieces that went through the most edits from the first draft, simply because it had a lot going on (there was an additional stanza in the original version that didn’t quite fit, and I may use elsewhere in the future). It’s fairly dark, and tells a story of sorrow, but ultimately redeems itself in the last stanza, providing a glimmer of hope in the process.

Next week, I’ll be publishing a very special poem, influenced by ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. The piece, which was written while I was listening to her sing, is simply titled “Turunen” and it will be live on the site by 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 10th of May.

We’re five poems into the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology already, with seven to go in the series. You can learn more about the anthology over here, but if you’re curious about the other poems in the series, have a look at this nifty page displaying all the poems in a batch right over here. Have a wonderful rest of your week.

– Conrad was here.