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Bedtime story – the best time of day!
We hug and we laugh the day’s worries away.
It ends the way that it always does:
“I love you Daddy to the moon and the stars.”

From deep in my heart I repeat his words back,
Kiss his cheek, then leave the door open a crack.
It’s different tonight, as I leave I hear “Daddy?…”
I turn, he point up, then says “I want Barry!”

I freeze, what the? It’s two years tomorrow.
How can he know? Does he sense his Mum’s sorrow?
I take a deep breath and go back in his room:
“I know my man, we all really do.”

He repeats it louder as I turn on the light,
I see where he’s pointing – to a shelf up high.
So I pass him what he’s asked me for –
A Joker face on a funeral score.

This happens a lot it’s nothing that’s new,
Except what he then asks me to do.
Usually he just stares at his face,
Gives him a hug then it returns to it’s place.

For some reason this time he opens the page,
Asks quietly “Daddy, what does this say?”
So I tell him the truth as I always will:
“It’s a song for Barry so we remember him still.”

He pauses a moment, asks innocently:
“Daddy, will you read it to me?”
It’s almost two years since I heard it out loud,
And ever since then we’ve been under a cloud.

I had built a wall to protect my son,
As a Dad I thought “This has to be done.”
A wall to shield his heart from our pain –
And in that moment it crumbled away.

I read it to him, my defences gone,
He feels my emotion every verse of the song.
“I want him back!” he says several times,
I finish, we both have tears in our eyes.

He spells out the last word all on his own:
He’s learning to read – can’t believe how he’s grown!
“F.. A.. R.. E.. W.. E.. L.. L..,
Daddy, what does this spell?”

“To me it’s good journey, we’ll see you again
It says Farewell, means it isn’t the end.”
“Will I Dad? Will I see him again!?”
There’s hope in his eyes, the pain starts to fade.

My answer is this – is it truth or a lie?:
“We all will one day, when we’re stars in the sky.”
This seems to settle his questioning head,
I kiss his cheek, tuck him back up in bed.

I leave again and this time it’s quiet,
Now it’s his Mum’s turn to kiss him goodnight.
She finds him clutching the book to his chest,
He’s almost asleep, his mind is at rest.

She gently removes it, puts it back in it’s place,
She whispers “I love you” and kisses his face.
We talked about it for quite a while:
Memories, tears and even some smiles.

This wouldn’t have happened if not for our son,
He parted the cloud like a ray from the Sun.
He taught me a couple of lessons that night,
But nothing to do with what’s wrong or right:

He taught me that kids see more than we know,
They suck it all in but they don’t let it show.
But just like a sponge it pours out in the end,
You just need to know the right message to send.

He also taught me it’s ok to speak,
And not put up walls that no one can breach.
He taught me that it’s ok to smile,
And even to laugh a bit once in a while.

Lessons learned from a four year son,
I promise I’ll never forget even one.
I learned a lot from my son that night,
The biggest one though? That it’s ok to cry.



“Just the once,
A smoke can’t harm.”
Then twice. Thrice.
A needle in your arm.

From Riches to skag,
The blink of an eye.
Effortlessly wasted,
Dig your own hole. WHY??

White lies, brown truth:
The slippery slope of dope.
Descending slowly, painfully,
A road with no hope.

Soul sold to the bag,
A demon of foil;
Chasing a beetle
Six feet into soil.

The drugs do work,
Like acid rain falling;
Eroding your life –
A dark despair calling.

Retrospect – what a joke!
A word never needed,
Because in death
Warnings can’t be heeded.

Robbie Riches - FAIR HEROIN


In a drug crazed haze I committed my crime,
No malice intended – just earning a dime.
To buy more gear for my already abused body:
“Harming myself”, I thought, more than anybody.

In pain I came down from the cloud I had built,
Only now behind bars do I feel the guilt.
Trapped in the snare of the interview room
I learned of the truth I had not assumed:

The lives and home of a family – torn apart.
The reason? To give my ‘turkey’ another kick start.
Captivity now for three years and a quarter,
So little for the nightmares of parents and daughter.

Societies respite will be over too fast,
And I will be free – have another chance.
Will I earn my dime in a respectable way?
Or will my “Fair Heroin” whisk me away?

Robbie Riches - RECOVERY


Soul, sold to “the bag”
A demon of foil,
Chasing a beetle,
Six feet into soil.

Four years in prison
For the crimes of an addict,
Three times “cold turkey”,
No help for my “habit”.

The gate squeals “see you soon”,
I guess “it’s right”.
Then a plant comes along.
It saves my life.

I marry a green girl,
And she gives me a son.
“at last”, i think,
“my life has begun!”

But, i didn’t know
What this weed had done,
It’s only with hindsight
I add up the sums.

Fast forward five years,
“recreational smoking”,
A new life, no wife.
And still i’m just toking.

I meet a new woman,
I know “she’s the one”.
She gives my life meaning.
Another son!

Then along comes a demon
In the guise of big pharma,
I injure my back.
Maybe it’s karma?

What follows next
Is a story from hell:
New job as a builder –
First day i fell.

Disc herniation,
A son on the way.
A month early,
He’ll be here any day.

So, i take all their drugs,
They say “it’s okay”.
My son is born!
It’s a wonderful day.

Seven days later…
My whole world implodes.
The drugs they gave me
Make my stomach explode.

Emergency surgery.
I almost don’t make it.
A burst ulcer.
The pain, i can’t take it.

Fast forward again,
This time three years.
Again, i’m an addict.
This time not gear.

Tramadol, gabapentin
And diazepam:
Not for the pain.
But so i know who i am.

I’m taking this crap,
So i don’t feel ill.
Not for the pain.
To function still.

I look at my son.
Think, “this is not life”.
And look back
To the time with my wife.

Two and two together.
I come up with one.
I realise what
Needs to be done.

A plant, a weed,
Saved me back then.
Maybe, just maybe,
It could do it again.

It did, and it does,
Every single day!
No more big pharma,
I do it my way!

So fuck all you naysayers!
You critics and trolls.
To you, i say,
“for whom the bell tolls!”

Robbie Riches - FLOWERS


This is a story i’ll start near the end,
It’s about how a flower i grew saved my friend
(who’s also my soul mate, son’s mother – my teacher,
I’ve walked through hell to be able to reach her.)

It is near the end, we have one more target –
Prescribed since a teen, this will be the hardest:
An anti-depressant called fluoxetine,
“a miracle cure” to hide all she’s seen.

A string of abuse and cheating and beatings,
Class a’s, broken bones and days without eating.
Time after time and man after man –
“why me?!” she asks “is this just who i am?”.

Time takes its toll, her back starts to fail:
A hidden disease, a new ship to sail.
Seven herniations and d.d.d.
“take these pills, they’ll help, you’ll see!”.

The drugs did work, like acid rain falling,
Eroding her soul, a dark despair calling.
Pill after pill, then a fentanyl patch –
“it can’t be this simple, there must be a catch!”.

This is the catch if you look at the sum:
There is no “cure”, just comfortably numb.
That changes fast as her tolerance builds –
Their answer? “here, just take some more pills.”

What follows for years is a cycle of pain,
Addiction and sickness all over again.
I search for an answer as i watch my heart fade,
I find one – it’s crazy! – and not man-made.

I read all the stuff from the states on addiction,
And soon understand this isn’t just fiction.
I cannot believe that this awesome power,
Can be found in nature – inside a flower!

So i grew her a plant and i made her some cream,
And also included some cbd:
I couldn’t believe it was working so well,
She’s now in less pain and back from hell.

She’s finally getting to bond with our son,
Instead of just “daddy!”, it’s “i want my mum!”
So if you truly want to be empowered,
Do what i did and say it with flowers!

By robbie riches 23/5/2018



“Just another Junkie.”,
That’s what they’ll say.
But they didn’t see
His mum yesterday.

Or his brother and sister
Cousins and Dad,
Nephews and nieces
Or friends he once had.

Family and friends
United by grief:
We all remember
The boy underneath.

The blue eyed boy
With bright blonde hair,
And a smile that
Stretched from ear to ear.

When we were young
We didn’t have much,
But we did have each other
And that was enough.

Bows and arrows,
Stone fights and dens!
Those were the days,
Oh, to be there again.

Back garden wrestling,
Five a side in The Loke,
A couple of beers,
The occasional smoke.

No damn TV
Phones or Playstation,
All we ever had –
Our imaginations.

It got us in trouble,
No doubt about that!
But when the shit hit the fan
We ALL had OUR backs.

Those are the days
I’ll always remember –
The bonds that were forged
Which will last forever.

Not “Just a Junkie”!
No, never to me,
For I’ll always see
The boy underneath

R.I.P Cuz


Robbie Riches - THE EMPTY CHAIR

The Empty Chair…

And Christmas is here.
The first as a family
For a couple of years.

A time to laugh, to love
And to share –
Yet still their eyes
Are filled with tears.

Gifts are exchanged –
One happy son!
I look round the room,
He’s the only one.

Then I notice
The photos in frames,
And I realise –
It will never be the same.

Nan sets the table,
Dinner is near:
We all see it clearly –
“The Empty Chair”.

We all see it
Yet none of us speak,
We all just stare
At the vacant seat.

The ice is broken
By my four year old son,
His innocence bare –
As bright as the sun.

“Daddy” he asks
“Why is that there?
Why do we have
An empty chair?”

A question asked
With the sweetness of youth,
I take a deep breath
And tell him the truth:

“That seats for Baz
Even though he’s not here,
We set him a place
So it feels like he’s near.”

He accepts my words
(As he always does):
A question asked
And answered with love.

A question nobody
Wanted to ask:
Except for a child –
Straight from his heart.

It did break the ice,
It lifted the mood.
We all started laughing,
Enjoying good food.

“The Empty Chair”
Still set in it’s place,
But thanks to a child
Now easier to face.

And so it will be,
For year after year –
We shall have a table
With an empty chair.

A chair not reserved
For lost Dads or Mums –
These are kept only
For daughters and sons.

The chair will stay empty
As long as you let it –
If you set up a place
Then try to forget it.

But (and my son
taught me this),
If you talk about it
The emptiness lifts.

The chair remains vacant –
Nothing physical in it:
But talking about it
Fills it with spirit.

We remember his face,
His laugh and his wit:
BECAUSE of the chair
In which he no longer sits.


Robbie Riches - VALUES..


“No medical value!”,
Or so we are told.
But we are not blind,
It’s a lie we’ve been sold –

By brainwashed doctors
And corrupt politicians,
Who’ve all lined their pockets
Due to prohibition.

“No medical value”
For the last hundred years,
Their “war on drugs”
Has left us in fear –

Of doing what
We know is right,
We tend to our loved ones
Like thieves in the night.

“No medical value”?
The EC system??
It has been linked
To the human condition.

And 2-AG –
EVERY disease
A deficiency.

“No medical value”!
We see through your lies.
We’ve seen the results –
They can’t be denied.

Alzheimer’s, autism
Then, of course,

“No medical value”,
Try telly that to Billy
And thousands just like him
Who’d say “This is silly!”

“We’ve tried all your “cures”
With little success.
You’ve almost destroyed us,
Why won’t you confess?”.

Screams Billy’s mum.
Her will means the world
Now knows of her son.

It does have a value,
To them it’s not health –
It’s ALL about profit,
But just for their “self”.

“No medical value” –
Keep telling you lies,
We no longer hear them,
See through your disguise.

So rise up and join us,
Open you mind –
We, The Undersigned

By Robbie Riches 25/05/2018