Rolling Rrrs

I’ve paired Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) German with Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz (1742-1790) Czech  for couple of harp concertos that are lp to cd transfers of MHS recordings. Both are charming, relaxing & at the same time playful. Different eras but, for me, they flow into each other nicely. I love harp music – my favourite being Mozart’s Concerto for Harp & Flute. These are delights.

Rolling along the r’s is Italian Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) Fountains/Pines of Rome & other orchestral work. As the titles might indicate these are impressionistic pieces. Some imitate, others suggest things like wind in the pines, birds songs, water splashing. Sections show up on 100 most relaxing classical music compilations. Meditative & relaxing they make good background music.

I was drawn by the cover of the the cd for Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940) Night of the Mayas. Solid black with the title in white. Tilting it I saw that the black was embossed with a day of the dead figure & I had to have it. Revueltas is considered one of Mexico’s greatest composers – I had never heard of him before – its not as if the western cannon of  classical music is limited to caucasian composers.

I  eventually added to an mp3 collection – Troka (orchestral pieces); & his String Quartets. The music is compelling, not at all what I expected in its lack of sentimentality but it does, at times, have an eeriness I enjoy. Folk melodies are woven in but not forced or patriotic. The work is modern classical so at time a but sonorous. The string quartets are emotional but also without the romantic sentimentality, say of Tchaikovsky. 

If you want a break from the European domination of classical music Revueltas is a good place to start. 

Plumbers 

“I always wondered why those guys got off?”

“What guys?” My dad put his paper down.

“You know, Donaldson and Hanson who they arrested for beating Mr. Razov. It was all over the paper than suddenly nothing. Seemed like they got away with it.”

“I guess there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges. Something like that. Its’ all so long ago now anyway.’

‘“Yeah but it just disappeared, you know, nothing in the papers after they were picked up. You’d think there would have a statement about charges being dropped.”

“Probably wasn’t a hot new item anymore.” My mother put some dishes in a wash basin. “Going to have to take these down to the laundry room to wash. How much longer before the new sink is ready?”

The doorbell rang. 

“Should be them now.” My Dad got up and let the plumbers in.

I immediately recognized Jim Donaldson. 

“You remember … what was his name?” 

My mother asked me as the plumbers put their tool boxes down. 

“Victor Hanson.”

“Oh yeah.” Jim reached out to shake my hand. “Keeping well? Heard to get a good job in the big smoke.” He half laughed. “Down home for awhile.”

“Just a a couple of weeks. Sad about Mr. Razov.” I watched his face for some reaction.

“Razov? Oh, yeah. Here let me help you with that.”

Two of workers were bringing the dishwasher through the back door.

“Let’s go into the living room. Leave these guys to their work.” My Dad patted me shoulder. “I’m sure these guys don’t need an audience.”




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Distant Dances.02

Dances of Apocalypse 2

Hornpipe

one more morning

is all I need

to fill my sails

to sooth my lost feelings

with Neptune sensations 

ripped from the quaking mound

of the Virgin’s first child

Hornpipe because this is a short piece with sea references & Biblical allusions. Jesus filled the sail of the fishermen’s boat when needed to sooth their fears. Was I wondering what would rip me feeling from me? Melodrama mistaken for depth:-)

Cakewalk

Japanese pagoda

growing in Rome 

or was it Venice?

all jade fragile

amid marble columns

awaked by murky waters

steaming morning haze

when we roll off our pallets,

to silky cool

onto the the polished mosaic floor;

looking to the chiming clock,

listening to the pigeons fly.

open for daylight

onto freshly fallen snow

mingling white with the Pines,

or were they Spruce?

high in Smokey Ridge

deep in Twin Rock Valley

Cakewalk – not sure why this one ended up with this title. A piece about displacements, paradoxical dreamlike images that travel from Japan to Rome & end up in Twin Rock Valley – which is in Cape Breton. I had friends, draft-dodgers, who had bought a farm in the hippy get-back-to-the-land phase. The waking up to fresh snow is a real moment  Maybe the title refers to the fact that back-to-the-land was no Cakewalk for them.

Minuet

fame and fortune are not goals

merely drugs to opiate the system

to deaden the feelings of futility

of creating in the face of destruction

<>

let the pygmies of Paris eat me alive;

make them scourge the meat off my bones;

let the sniper with his random pulse

find me accidentally in his sights;

put the final, fleeting, flash blow

into someone else’s hands,

take the responsibility from me,

I handle these things so badly,

even when I remember what to do.

<>

the moment of truth (never now)

comes slow, to disturb the calm

to strengthen the desperate feeling

that destruction charges with energy.

Minuet – polite little dance – much like the dance of expectations, no wait, expectations are rarely polite. I grew up in the shadow of nuclear destruction, war in Vietnam, war protests & racial strife in the USA. Kennedy shot by a sniper. The randomness of violence was pretty far removed from me in Cape Breton but it was felt. Why create when we can annihilate the world in a moment?

Quadrille

impatience is the problem;

the waiting should be over

yet it persists in hiding,

making me lust in secret wanting;

words merely fall,

not for insight

but only to pass the time

before the curtain finally goes up.

Quadrille – this word makes me think of cotillions for some reason. The piece, as I see it now, is wanting to be an adult, ‘lust in secret’ is the itch to be out & making conversation to hide that fact. Like waiting for the plane to land – you want the flight to over.

The Last Waltz

bed-ridden, guilty-disappearer

alludes carpets backwards

into ember sparkling through cozy air,

crackling crystal cut perspectives

reflections held too closely eye-ward

making a pyramid of ink blotches

stretch out

turn in

till there is no border to be fought

only a multiplicity of images to sort.

<>

Nov. ‘73

The Last Waltz – the final piece in this sequence is both an invitation to look back before you go on then a warning that there’ll be even denser imagery to deal with in what follows. In looking at these I see a foreshadowing of of images to come with references to Africa, Japan, Egypt, Canadiana, water, music. When I first wrote these I was not conscious of these patterns. I also see various influences of pop lyrics, as opposed to ‘serious’ literary ones. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Dance.01

#Toronto #chapbook #Fiddlehead #CapeBreton #WordPress #DistantMusic #photography #UNB #archives #angst #NovaScotia #lgbtq #closeted #review #amwriting #spokenword #inspiration #poetry #Ontario

Dances of Apocalypse

Capypso Calypso

water running freely

I am your river bed,

set sail upon my body;

let me rain upon you

while a day dry spot remains.

<>

if there is mystery

hire a detective

perhaps he can follow

deep into the forests

twisting, turning, rising

up mountain, down valley

finding oceans between.

<>

I am blind alley lost

if that’s how you find me,

tossing off whatever lines

crawling baited with words;

let me pull you to land,

let my star-hook catch you

as your revelations

become Apocalypse

for this poor fisherman.

<>

Square Set

gorilla sunshine

Sunday promenade

my African lady

prayful ravager

graces without virtue

the hungry textures

of her orchid flesh

<>

freeze the scene 

mute clean forever

mood maiden’s gestation

crying zebra infant

born upon straw

as aphrodesiac

<>

crossword writer

heralds by cannon

newly confused issues

of fragments strewn

humble jumble

sequential sparkling

against the rhythm

beating in suspicion

that I am fear

<>

lackadasical stairs

leading expertly

to doorless walls;

how do I get in?

why do I want out

of walls with no doors?

stairs with no wells?

illnesses with no cures

<>

Fox Trot

the meaning 

of spirals

escapes me

just now,

eyes closed

doodling 

fireside circles

<>

burn the expression clean

turn the precious key

in my head or somewhere

found huddling between

taking myself back in

  or

giving myself all out

<>

walking tall

and straight

isn’t really

important

when

in the end

you’re lucky

to walk

at all

<>

Tarantellas

entertain only collapsible thoughts

before the unattainable is revealed

before you cannot see beyond frustration;

marginal mirrors, crafty devices,

reflect only the background so clearly;

you, the foreground, become so indistinct

that all I can see are your misted eyes

peering out from the vivid evergreens

showing me the path beyond the seasons:

destroy the constant bordering distance

so the final sun rises and sets on me

being everything without horizon.

<>

turkey-face readies for waltzes in the straw

while I search out her magnetic north poles,

spread-legged in the marble arch of change

baring my timid flesh to trumpet scorn

sugary jazz swayed up through the ceiling

into a vision of sexual vagrants

trotting, hastily candid, all night, naked

except for clothing their apple-bruised eyes.

<>

Hong Kong recognition for the humbler

peace by piece constructing a gilded loom

foaming with potentially sleepy songs

to the intently triangular sobs

of mystics clinging to the morning post;

I’m another one, I know all to well,

who can barely repeat, but fabricates

so much that this ash-peace in purity

falls short when autumn tress blaze brightly

without any hints of skin searing heat

rolling huge Douglas-pine-legged day-dreams

across an ultra-submarine-filled notion.

The books starts with a suite of short poems each named after a dance style. One reviewer remarked on the subtle way each reflects its title. But that reflection was coincidental & the titles came after the pieces had been written at various time & without attempt to make them relate to one another or to dance either. The title Calypso was suggested by the sea & water imagery in the piece. Square Set & Fox Trot were suggested by the short lines & clearly Tarantellas by the wordy lines. 

I’ve left the typos in this first piece & marked them but have removed, corrected them without indication where they showed up in the other poems. I was tempted to include them in brackets but that disrupted the flow too much. Maybe I’ll do an addendum for the typos only.

Calypso open the book with an invitation to set sail into this world of my imagery, warning about blind alleys that can be dead ends or escape routes to other mazes. Calypso lured men into her caves. The readers understandings can be so different from the writer’s intent that the writer’s intent is humbled. 

Square Set is full of alliteration, surreal imagery, with a slightly sexual undertow. The influence of Dylan Thomas is so clear to me with phrases like ‘gorilla sunshine’ ‘orchid flesh’ – warm moist images that jump into ‘freeze’ – a humble jumble of words & sensations that don’t really lead to a way to get in & ends up boxing itself shut.

Fox Trot is a dance where the couples moves in small circles, the lines in the piece are short & the in the end it wraps around itself 🙂 I sense that I was looking for a way to unlock the future, to open myself up & possibly open the closet I was trapped in. 

Tarantellas has lines that sprawl, with images about searching mirrors for clarity, looking for direction, a path – an echo of uncertain that runs through the the previous pieces. I find traces of poets I hadn’t even read i.e. Ginsburg in ‘sugary jazz swayed.’ I was a Bob Dylan fan & Ginsburg was a clear influence on him with thusly influenced me. There’s also a nod to Canadiana with Douglas pine & barn dance straw. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.
paypal.me/TOpoet 

Summer 2020

My TOpoet.ca following blog is at 360! The June WP map show my hits have come from countries around the world. Canada & US top the list with India & Bangladesh near the top. Monaco in the top 10 is a surprise. My Tumblr is at 280. Twitter is at 226 followers

You’ll be seeing some summer changes in the blog starting this week. Wednesday & Thursday will be looking at my Fiddlehead chapbook: Distant Music. In May I input the text & in June I started exploring those old pieces. Not that I remember what I was thinking at the time but I do recall information – what I was reading, where I was etc. 

To give me a break may stop the Saturday covid posts. Things haven’t change much on that front but I will slot covid updates on Mondays to alternate with the Artist’s Way posts. People have been enjoying my posts & pictures of things in my house so they’ll continue on Mondays as well. Coming to the end of the first section of Picture Perfect. It took three Nano’s in a row to do it so by section I mean the first November. In editing I found several places that needed more writing to account for later events. My nano word count included non-plot elements it is still mounting up to a decent count. 40,000 so farI’ve also loved creating the graphic for each week.

Fridays will continue the crawl through my music collection. It is large enough to take me into to the next decade. It has been good to look at what I have, what I like & what I’ll be letting go of. My need to be a music archive has left me 🙂 Boring is boring regardless of its historic importance. Purge is the word.

Speaking of purging – my covid cleaning frenzy though some of the major hoards have reduced them considerably. I still have the basement to contend with which will be nice with the summer heat already on us. The basement is cool & full of my partner’s old school files for starters. Plus a box or two of magazines I’ve had for too long. eBay here I come.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Near

Distant Music was/is a chapbook that resulted from summer workshops I took at University of New Brunswick in the mid 70’s. They were live-in residency, five-day intensives under the careful eyes of Fred Cogswell. Poet-in-residence was Alden Nowlan. M. Travis Lane, John Metcalf & Susan Musgrave were a couple of the workshop leaders I whose names I remember.I was encouraged to go by Malcolm Ross, then head of English Lit department at Dalhousie University. 

My memory of the actual classes is gone. As are the names of my fellow writers. I do remember getting drunk on Lonesome Charlie (if there’s a wine named for poets that has to be it). I do remember the Salvador Dali’s Santiago El Grande, at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

I’m not sure when I was asked to submit a manuscript for possible publication by Fiddlehead Press but I was amazed when it happened. I spent a couple of months selecting possible pieces, putting them in some sort of order. I’m not sure the sequence published was mine or Cogswell’s. I wanted long & short pieces to alternate. I was into long pieces with numbered sections – sometimes those sections also had titles. Titles were as important as the poem itself.

I did a photo shoot with my apartment mate at the time. I still have a raft of the shots from that shoot. I was keen on the one of me up a tree – poet up a tree – but when I saw it print I realized the lighting was not all that good. I designed the cover. Sadly, I no longer have my original drawing.

I rented an electric typewriter to make the final drafts of the pieces & sent them off. Some months later I was given the publication date, a few weeks before that date I got my first copies of the book. I had a big launch set in Sydney, & there was also one in Halifax. I was totally stunned & dismayed to find that the book was littered with typos, starting with the very first piece. I did a by-hand correction of the copies that I had on hand. I sent an angry letter to Fiddlehead & a got a reply shaming me for being so ungrateful. Fiddlehead added an errata sheet to the inside cover of the copies they had. It covered about half the typos.

Hopefully I caught most of them & didn’t add new ones when input the book to take a closer look at it for July & August starting Wednesday.

Distant Shadow

where is the mountain pass?

I need you

but the mountain

is in my way

if I cross

I can never return

for I am the mountain

while my need for you

is the mountain pass

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Rainbow Pride EastEnd Toronto

More rainbow flags from around east end Toronto.

tree proud
bases covered
patriotic queers
more tree pride
porch proud
growing into pride
let it wave
pride is essential

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

A Not Bored Covid Diary

Many people I follow or am in contact with have been  bored into stressing about having nothing to do in their social isolation. These are the sort who post lists of Ten Stop-Motion Films that have changed their lives. One recently blogged a list of ‘last times’ they did certain things like eat in a restaurant, call a barista a stupid fucking idiot – those things we all miss so much.

To rub salt in that wound I haven’t had time to be bored 🙂 Blogging, editing, yard work, house cleaning, purging & zooming around have kept me busy. Covid has saved me money – do I really want to line up for a cup of watery coffee? Are those bonus optimum points for bagels worth the effort of gloves & masks? 

I found some who took social isolation too far by not leaving their homes, apartments for weeks on end. I told one ‘friend’ I go for walks nearly every morning  & they were shocked. They didn’t see the difference between locked down & locked in. Though having a house with two floors & a reasonable sized front & back yard does give me more space for social isolation. I don’t have the experience of being cooped up in a bachelorette for days on end.

It has been inevitable, but sad, to see many businesses along the Danforth closing down with ‘for lease’ signs in their windows. Even with government assistance most didn’t have deep enough pockets to deal with a lockdown this long. Some that are reopening, or who have reopened, have limited hours/days they are open. 

The Danforth itself is about to under go a ‘transformation’ from Broadview to Dawes Road that is to see a reduction in car lanes, an increase in patio space & bike lanes. I hope the bike lanes are wide enough to keep cyclists off the sidewalks where we pedestrians are such a nuisance to them. There’ll also be prettification to encourage people out of their homes & spend spend spend. There’s nothing like the smell of spilt wine & vomit from the night before on a hot summer morning.

 

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rainbow flags all east end Toronto

Madonna


In my modest Madonna collection I have, as mp3: Like A Virgin, The Immaculate Collection, Music & as a stand-alone Confessions From The Dance Floor. So it is clear I’m not a fan – fans have everything, fanatics have everything plus the remixes, the outtakes, the concerts, the artfully torn t-shirt & the aluminum Sex.

Is she musically creative? Does it matter when you have such great collaborators, producers, costume designers, stylists & video directors? She admits she is a product, package & a boss lady. To me she was more a provocateur than a visionary. Like Mae West she used sexuality to establish her self, unlike Mae Madonna didn’t rely on a single persona to keep her career moving.

I love some of her songs, hate some of them – Vogue was one I hated & would leave a club (when I went to clubs) when it was played – I just knew we would get the 45 minute remix. Same with Papa Don’t Preach. Some I couldn’t resist: Lucky Star, Like A Prayer.

She sampled, borrowed, adopted, adapted freely from most pop genres with varying degrees of success. Her electronica didn’t work for but her retro disco, Dancefloor, cd was great. The Immaculate Collection of her hits is probably enough nostalgia for anyone; Material Girl is solid pop & in its way, is a landmark album of promotion power. I did have her ‘Sex’ but lacked

the sexy spunk of Mae West. 

 

Gambit 

I heard later than two guys were arrested for the beating. Jim Donaldson and Victor Hanson. Both almost twenty, so not guys we knew at all. My father called them trouble makers and wasn’t surprised they were the ones behind this. Seems they heard Mr. Razov had money hidden his house and broke in to get it and when he caught them they beat the crap out of him and left him for dead in his own house. Some kids have no respect for anything these days. My dad liked to ride that one whenever he had a chance to remind me to watch my step and show proper respect.

Midterm exams were coming up, so we all sort of forget about Mr Mr. Razov. He did recover from the beating but walked with a weird shy turn of the head whenever we guys saw him in the street. He never did come back to tutor the chess club. I don’t even know what happened to the guys who beat him up. 

Fifteen years later and I’m visiting my folks for a few weeks in the summer. University out of the way and I have a decent job in the movie biz. Lightning and that sort of thing. Pays well when it pays. I’d just broken off with Kevin. He was sweet but we both saw it wasn’t working out. So a few weeks out of all that was appealing to me.

Sitting at the table in the kitchen that had changed every time I saw it – new cupboards one year, new appliances another – it was not the repository of any childhood memories. My favorite cereal bowl wa along gone. This summer they were having the pluming redone to install a dish washer and so there’d be new counters et al. 

My Mom brought me a cup of tea. “I suppose you heard Mr. Mr. Razov finally passed away. Poor man. He was never the same after that time. You remember him?”

“When did he die?”

“Just last week. Service early next week. They’re waiting till his family could be here.”

I vaguely recalled that when he deflected he’d left behind some family. 

“Wife?” I asked.

“Nope. A son. It’s all in the newspapers out in the front porch.”

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Fuming

Fuming 

he was late 

again

the meeting had started

twenty minutes ago

he entered quietly

nodded apologetically

silently found a seat

after squeezing past

people already seated

took off his coat

put it on he back of his chair

sat & sighed apologetically

<>

then announced

how sorry he was to be late

to disrupt the meeting

to have all eyes on him

while we waited for him

to get settled

so the meeting could resume

<>

she fumed

he had

once again

sucked all the attention to him

he was an attention seeking sponge

always late

making a quiet entrance

acting as if he was sorry

when she knew

he was thriving on the attention

she deserved

but was unwilling 

to be as obvious as he was

in getting it



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unDigestable

Architectural un/Digest/able

The White House

architecturally speaking

holds no interest for me

big sprawling 

designed to impress 

not to live in

history was made there

apparently

but to me

it isn’t even a photo op

merely a symbol 

of promises unkept

of hopes betrayed

need ignored in favour of profit

not for progress

I’ve seen it from a distance

that’s close enough for me

I wrote this piece a few years ago, before the current US president turned their democracy into a media circus. I may have written it while in DC or shortly after coming from Capturing Fire that year. The city is a great mix of architectural styles with something surprising around the corner from something surprising. This would have been the week of Capturing Fire 2020 so it synchronistic this piece should come into the flow now. (Will I ever get to use my travel vouchers?)

So I have had visual contact with the building in question 🙂 I’ve watched a few TV documentaries on the history of the building, one about Secrets, another a look at Christmas Decorating. I’ve even checked out how one might tour the inside but applying to Canadian Embassy in DC is more trouble than I want to go to. I was hoping it would be like booking a guided tour of the Zoo. 

What I have learned that the interior of the house has undergone many extensive alterations that the outside is a shell, a facade, which seems mighty fitting symbol for politics anyway. I don’t say American politics but politics in general, as I don’t think the Canadian system is all that ‘transparent.’

Race riots have been happening for as long as I recall. Colonialist attitudes & actions have echoed throughout history. A few tweets around BLM that have really clarified things for me “Be grateful we want equality, not revenge.” “There are no caucasians in the Bible.” But race issues, like poverty, will be around as long as there is profit in it. The White House was built by colonizers.


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