Moody Blues Rose

By the Moody Blues I have Days of Future Passed reissue, Days of Future Past (stand alone). As mp3 Magnificent Moodies, In Search for the Lost Chord, On The Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserved Favour; as Seventh Sojourn (stand alone). Plus soloish lps: Justin Hayward & John Lodge: Blue Jays; Ray Thomas: From Mighty Oaks.

Yes I was a fan 🙂 but I sort of outgrew them & lost interest after Seventh Sojourn. I did hear the later output but it sounded tired & forced, also enough is enough. There are moments, tracks on all the Moody lps that I love, that bring back memories of l.s.d trips & lying on the floor of my bed room staring up the the glowing stars on my ceiling. Glowing as they were made of ‘glow globs’ a sort of plasticine the absorbed light then glowed in the dark.

I also have memory of driving with my Dad when ‘Nights in White Satin’ came not he radio & I turned it up & he said it sounded like the howling of wet cats. That lp was a powerful influence on me though. The spoken passages became a poetic ideal. The orchestra swept me away. I later found out that the London Festival Orchestra and the group never performed together in studio on the recording. The vocals were sublime. I have two versions, though I can’t tell them apart mind you – but there is a speed timing difference between the studio recorded version & the one that got put on wax.

I couldn’t wait for each new release & felt they were profound as opposed to pretentious studio drug induced  mumbo jumble. One reviewer called one of them psychobabble bubble gum. I disagreed then but, you know, he was sort or right except it was very tasty bubble gum that never lost it favour.

The covers were as trippy as the contents. I loved the cover for Every Good Boy, today I find the Children’s hilarious. Each lps has tracks I love. For My Lady, My Diary, Solitary Man. The Timothy Leary stuff on the Lost Chord is sweet but inane. Seventh Sojourn is my favourite.

I added Magnificent several years ago along with the side projects by various members. The side projects are fine, great covers but not real departures from the basic Moody mellotron sound.

To round out the mp3 collection I added The Savage Rose – a Danish psychedelic rock group, formed in 1967by the Koppel brothers with Annisette vocalist. I found the lp of In The Plain in a remainder rack at Zellars, a year or so later I found Your Daily Gift there as well. The first is dense & closer to what become Goth with Annisette amazing vocals taking some tracks to a different level. A hint jazz, progrock & gloom. Gift is the opposite – bright, cheerful with the delightful Postcard song. Both have meandering instrumentals – check them out of YouTube before you hunt down lps. Wild Child is later lp & less experimental than their earlier work more bluesy. I downloaded it from iTunes just to have something else by them. Enjoyable & a nice break from the Moody Blues too 🙂

No Fanfare

3

Putting his glass on the floor Steve sat beside me. I admired the shift of his thigh muscles as they swung one leg over the bench, straddling it like a horse. I could feel myself blush, embarrassed by this meeting of eyes, excited by the approach of his mouth, then its touch on mine, tongues testing, then meeting. His eyes closed, his left arm caressed my neck, my arm, his body leaning into mine.

I wanted to respond but wasn’t sure which instinct, which urge to follow. I shuddered, confused, enjoying his kiss. I could actually enjoy being kissed by another man. Enjoy it as I did in my fantasy. I had expected, in reality, to be disappointed, to be repulsed, but I wasn’t. Pushing him away I got up clumsily & went to the window. I could feel myself shaking, my knees unsteady, my balls tingling.

“What is it?” He asked. His tone knowing & nearly sympathetic. “Too much of a shock?” He said sarcastically.

“I can’t say. The conflict of what I imagined, with what I expected, with what I actually felt, with what I …” To avoid his eyes I forced myself to stare at the plants on the dusty window sill. “I’m shaken by how ready I was to respond to you. I expected more of a reluctance, on my part. Shit, it’s more than … Damn.” I banged the top of the piano with my fist to fill the quiet with the shudder of its strings. “Yesterday I was a slightly screwed up but normal guy. I was coping with this things, somehow. Today I’m …”

“A fag?” Steve broke in abruptly. “A fairy?” His voice a mixture of derision & amusement. “A fucking gear box fruit? Or are afraid of which one of us will take it up the ass?”

“Christ, maybe.” I shouted, stung by the unexpected harshness of the confrontation.

“Don’t panic, Dave.” He caught me with his eyes, his voice gentled. “Nothing is easy. Besides how different is what you are now from what you’ve always been? A man by any other name is still human.” Picking up his drink he slid on the piano bench, inviting me to sit beside him again. “What can I say? I’m no rapist.”

“Sorry.” I sat heavily in the armchair by the door & pulled on one of my still wet snow boots. “I think it would be better if I left. It was foolish of me …” I glanced up wondering if leaving would be more foolish than staying. If I left now it would be harder the next time to let my emotions direct me even this far. It would hurt more, in the long run, to keep suppressing myself just because I was afraid I couldn’t cope with it. I wanted him, but admitting it didn’t make it any easier to take him. Even knowing he could be taken, knowing he wanted me, didn’t make it easy.

“How about one for the road?” Steve asked, tiredly rubbing his upper lip. “It could be colder than you expect, out there.”

“Are you just after my ass?”

“Are you just after MY ass?” He snarled back.”What the fuck do you think?” He got up & stood in front of me. “If I’d known you were looking for a couple of hours of therapy I would have thought twice. Sure, I’m after your ass … but …”

“Look,” I interrupted, my glaring eyes confronted by the bulge in his corduroys. “I honestly,” I stood rather than remain at that level. “Don’t mean,” he was closer to me than I’d expected, I could feel his warmth, “to mislead you.” I could smell his cologne, see the moisture from his drink on his lips. “This is unfair,” I put a hand on his shoulder, squeezed, “but as you said ‘Nothing is easy’.” My hand slid down his arm till it touched his. “To me this isn’t nothing, so it isn’t easy.” I felt a sting of tears but blinked them back, hoping he wouldn’t realize how vulnerable I was.

“I’m tired of being used.” He shoved my arm away, went to the shelf of albums under the stereo & pulled one out.

“Used! You invited me up!”

“I keep hoping the next one will be different. Will be easier. When they’re easier there’s nothing left in the morning. When they aren’t easy, there’s my heart to worry about. I know this isn’t easy. I fucking well know. I live with frustrations the way everyone does. Being gay doesn’t make them different, they’re still frustrations. Like, how many chicks do you have to go through before you get fed-up with looking for the right one? How many almost-came-to-care-for’s does it take to really hurt you, to make you feel hopeless & desperate enough to try anything that comes along? I don’t care about your confusions.” He was shouting, gesturing at me with the album cover. “Just leave me the fuck alone for Christ sake. Find some other soft-hearted, cock-hungry gay guy to start your voyage of self-discovery.”

Don’t miss next week’s thrillingly clumsy conclusion of No Fanfare

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Ready For My Close-Up

Ready For My Close-Up

I let death happen

by proxy

if I didn’t eat the meat

wear the shoes

would their treatment

become more humane

<>

do I take a stand

no more meat

nothing with a face

search out alternatives

plants may have faces

that I don’t recognize

so that makes it fine

<>

the air that I breathe

is teaming with life

the water I drink

is alive with microorganisms 

that may have faces

my vision isn’t that good

<>

atomic microscopes

focus so finite 

I can’t recognize anything

maybe that squiggle shimmer

darting around other shimmers

is afraid of being seen

shamed by our look

not ready for their close-up

<>

they aren’t animals

are they

is my decision that they don’t count

relevant to anything

other than another brick

in a sense of superiority

the smug comfort

of valuing all life

<>

whereas people like me 

who still eat meat

will always be ethically

self-indulgent creeps

who should be shamed

denied our close-up

then shot

On one level what this piece is about is pretty clear. I have no animosity with vegans, their choices or even their motivations. Years ago a friend of mine once complained about how hard it was to source ‘vegan’ shoes on the internet. He wanted footwear that contained no leather or petroleum byproducts. He finally found hand-woven sandals made from reeds.

But he clearly had a computer or smart phone to a access the web to make his search. I was tempted to ask him if he’d ever tried to source electronics that were ethically produced. What petroleum by-products are in our smartphones? I haven’t seen wooden ones yet 🙂 Is anything we use ethical?

I occasionally go into ‘natural’ food stores for spices. I see signs that proclaim organically grown, ethically sourced etc then look at the prices. Clearly only the well-to-do can afford to save the planet with dietary change. Yes, I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to the motivations behind much of this pr. Coffee shops brag about their sustainable coffee growers but if that coffee isn’t selling with that label they’ll find another one for our hand-crafted beverages.

The piece also touches on the smarminess that some planet savers use in announcing their love for ‘natural’ while you are indulging in your unnatural lifestyle of range-free chicken. It is similar to non-smokers distain for smokers, or married homo’s who are examples of good queers. Give me a break & while you’re at it I’ll have hamburger with fries.

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Picture Perfect 57

Picture Perfect 57

Dan stood at the door of the Wickham Arms. It brought back no memories. After studying the pictures his Dad has taken around the Arms and in particular the one of him and Timmy on the front steps, he had expected the actual location to have some resonance. Maybe the storm washed it away.

“Mr. James?” An elderly woman came to the door.

“Yes.” He put down his suitcase to open the door.

“We were expecting you much sooner.” She smiled. “A spot of rain usually doesn’t slow our guests down.”

“When the sea rushes up to meet you it is wise to a pause to let it recede.” Dan answered.

“Or sink where you stand your ground.” she replied. “Come in.  I’m Jane Poitier. Some of your crew has arrived. Least those who are staying here. Some of them have opted for the modern comforts of the Comfort Motor Inn.”

“I’m sure they’ll be happier there.” He signed the register. “Larry Clarke speaks highly of your hospitality.”

“A charming young man.” She handed him a skeleton key with a large oval fob. “You hang that here when you leave”

“Another key! Same as the Proud Tartan. It’s always been some sort of card.”

“Like them I believe strongly in tradition. How is Mrs. Clarke?”

“Larry’s married? He didn’t mention her when he drove me here in fact.”

“No, his mother. His folks own the Tartan. I guess he didn’t mention that either.”

“The short cut he used took up all our attention. Not much time for talking.”

“Short cut?” She asked.

“Some skidoo trail through them there hills. Moose something, he called it. Then a logging road.”

“The young fool.” she said. “Reckless. Too many reckless people these days. He’s lucky he did’t get the two of you killed. More than one has gone down the ravines along there.”

“He knew what he was doing as you can see, I’m here. A little rough for wear. Things have changed a here at the Arms. The reception used to be right by the door, there.” He pointed to a spot that was now occupied by a sideboard covered with plants.

“We took over the Arms about fifteen years ago. It had fallen on hard times and was closed for a few years before we reopened it.”

“You don’t know what became of the Greens.”

“No.  You’ll have number 36. On the third floor. It’s a bit of a walk up. No elevator but we do have…”

“The dumb waiter?”

“Why yes.”

“I can remember going up and down in it as kid when my folks stayed here.”

“We’ll have none of behaviour now young man.”

Dan couldn’t tell if she was joking.

“Yes ma’am.” He tossed his suitcase into the dumbwaiter and sent it up to the third floor. The stairs up to the second floor were as wide as he remembered. Carpeted now. The bannisters had been replaced so there little chance of the initials he and Tim had carved would still be there.

The turn to the second floor wasn’t as sharp or sudden. His mother always had a problem negotiating that turn. The squeaks were gone but the stairs to the third floor were still as narrow. The stairway window was now clear glass. The previous yellow stained glass never illuminated much. A large white globe was suspend on the ceiling.

The third floor had been two apartments on either side of the hall. Now they were redivided into three separate rooms each. At least he supposed they were separate. His was at the end of the hall. 

He got his luggage out of the dumbwaiter and rolled it down to his room. The Arms was familiar and totally different at the same time. The same doorframes but new doors, new colours. The window at the end of the hall looked out over a back garden. Yes, the garden was still there but the empty lots beside it was now one of those red brick bunkers.

His room was bigger than he expected. Queen bed, one bedside table, comfy chair, tiny desk triangled in a corner. It looked large enough for a laptop but little else. Tiny bathroom with a shower stall. Rosebud soap by the sink, which was also triangled into a corner. Not enough room to swing a wet towel.

The closet was a fair size and he took his clothes out, shook the wrinkles from his jeans and shirts as best he could and hung them. He turned the shower on. Hot water without waiting and good pressure. He turned it off and undressed, tossing his socks, undies & tee-shirt into the shower. Laundromats where not on the itinerary.

He looked in his toiletries bag for body wash & shave cream. After the past couple of days of being on & off the road he longed for a hot soak. He needed a shave too. He adjusted the mirror on the back of the door. No bruises on his butt from the mountain ride. His hands needed something though. They were rough and scraped from pushing those logs to move the tree. There were scratches on his forearms from grappling with them.

There was a loud knock at his door. He opened it without thinking to grab for a towel. It was Larry.


“You dropped this in the truck.” he handed Dan his cellphone. “It started to beep or I would have been back at the Tartan before I noticed it.”

“I was … just going to take a shower.” Dan took his cellphone. He moved back so Larry could enter the room

“So I see.” Larry said. “How is the butt? Black and blue?”

“No.” Dan wrapped a towel around his waist.

“It’s still not too late to rectify that.” 

“Larry!” Dan felt his face redden. “Wasn’t the three hundred bucks enough?”

“You are saying you aren’t even curious. Are you sure you are gay?”

“Oh I’m sure. But if that was going to happen between us it would have by now.”

“I am not your type?”

“That’s not it but …”

“You are total top?”

“No but …”

“I am too country boy for you. Is that it.”


“Fuck Larry! You sound like one of those straight guys who is positive every queer he meets is after his dick. Sure that every queer is fucking every queer he can get his hands on.”

“Is the part where you slap my face and push me out the room.”

“It sure ain’t the part where you kiss me to show me the error of my ways with your manly brutishness.” Dan tried to make a joke of the situation.

“Why not?”

“I’m not sure what’s going on here. Between us. I’ve never been that sort of person.”

“I see.” Larry took the one step from the bed to the door. “You aren’t angry with me?”

“No!” His cell buzzed that a text had arrived. “It’s work calling.” He glanced at it and it was from Stephanie. It was an “?” 

He showed it to Larry. “You see – the show must go on. But not until I take a shower.” He watched Larry go down the hall, locked the door and turned the shower on full.

In the lobby he was surprised to see Stephanie chatting with Larry.

“Seems likes you’ve had your own adventures while we were having ours.” Stephanie said.

“Yes. He’s heading back to Port Elgin now.”

“Ah … yes. I won’t have to take the Moose Trail. Roads are better.”

“Thanks again for getting me here, in one piece.”

“My pleasure.” Larry shook his hand. “Can we keep in touch?”

“Sure. Send a receipt to Baxter’s Bits for the three hundred dollars.”

Larry went out quickly.

“What was all that bout?” Stephanie asked.

“He didn’t risk his life to get me here for free. I gave him three hundred, cash.”

“I get that part but there seemed to be more to the story than that.”

Dan ignored her question. “Did the war room arrive intact?”

“Oh yeah. Baxter is waiting for us. He sent me to  pick you up.”

“Any word on Glaucia?”

“Serious. Even if she survives there’s little chance she’ll ever fully recover. Head trauma.”

He went out the to the far end front porch and Stephanie followed him. “How’s Baxter? I thought he was injured too?”

“Bad enough but not enough to hold him back. He is heartsick about Roberto.”

They went to Stephanie’s rental. Larry was wiping mud splashes off the doors of his jeep.

“Thanks again Larry.” Dan said as he got into her car.

“Anytime.” He got inot his jeep & drove away.

“You sure know how to pick’em.” Stephanie said.

“I don’t pick’m, he showed up when I needed him. If I picked them they wouldn’t turn out to be … stalkers.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Recap February 2021

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 463! The WordPress map shows my hits in February have come from 91 countries around the world. Mainly USA & Canada with South Africa in 3rd spot! Bangladesh & Malawi remain in the top 10. The most viewed (non-photo essay) was The Thieving Slut, https://topoet.ca/2021/02/15/the-thieving-slut/, with F**k Gratitude, https://topoet.ca/2021/02/11/fk-gratitude/ close behind. Both are personal faves.

My Tumblr following is at 304. Twitter 229 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along with 56 sections, about 84,500 words, posted so far, with 101,000 words approx to be edited, then posted. This month I was at the point where I got sidetracked in the rough draft so I did major cut of about 5000 words. The cut removed a scene I didn’t need but a character I did need so re-invented him keep the flow. A fun challenge.

I watched some interesting movies including O Ébrio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Ébrio_(film)). Out of Brazil,1946, starring popular singer Vicente Celestino – who co-wrote it with Gilda de Abreu, who was also his wife. Imagine an Elvis film set in 1946 – fame & faithless women & songs & redemption. Eye-catching costumes for the women. A fascinating look at the culture of the time. The music & lyrics are idealized romantic, religious & dripping with sincerity. Performances are good to adequate, with some sweet silent-movie nods.

Another, an even wilder musical, is the Polish film The Lure (2015) directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska. One critic calls it “the best goth musical about man-eating mermaids ever made.” I wouldn’t call 80’s EuroDisco Goth but … the music is sublime, the visuals at times are stunning & performances good. Plotting uneven but well worth watching. I saw both of these as part of TCM series of women directors.

A couple of books I’m currently reading. Paper: Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Bérubé about gay men and women in the U.S. military between 1941 and 1945. This quote ‘ … being a homosexual, I had that constant compelling need to prove how virile I was.’ still remains one of the male gender identity struggles. The book is stunning – easy to read, easy to understand & at time heartbreaking & frustrating.  Read it asap.

Kindle: Fairs’ Point: A Novel of Astreiant by Melissa Scott book 4 in the series. I read the first in this series a few years ago. It was part of a StoryBundle of 10 lgbtq fantasy/horror novels & I loved it. I’ve read the pervious in the series. Amazing world building, sweet male lovers & understated sex scenes. Set in a magic Mediaeval land. Only one more in the series after this one though 😦

in clearing out an archive of old writing in a file cabinet I found this piece from the early 80’s. It is about HIV fears but some of the lines about ‘a virus more virulent than love’ echo the current covid19 pandemic where a stranger’s breath could be deadly. Replace roses with masks & it’s ready for today

war/mist

1

i’m pressing the mirror

to my face

not looking for contact

not seeking any content

needing any slight

sign of mist

to reassure me

i’m still alive

i’m still breathing

<>

hey! it’s alright everybody

i’m still breathing

there’s nothing breeding in me

hey! you guys

don’t you hear me

I’m still breathing

2

something in the blood of lovers

has brought this war

to my attention

to my very front door

to my one & only bedroom

sullen pillow whispers

imploring an unwilling caution

for this angry end to innocence 

<>

‘so, we don’t meet again’

a thought

in the corner of my eye

catching you

wandering through the throng

of sights unseen

untouched

a man missed again by me

a stranger in your mist

<>

a kiss is no longer a kiss

it’s an affront to our political awareness

it’s flirting with a virus

more virulent than love

a disease befuddled by language

leaving us

untouching

unflinching

imploding

& afraid

<>

so i’ll send you roses

yellow green black

olive drab camoflage

for our war of wait & see

our war of hide

then die

<>

a lift of the hand

a nod of the head

a thin smile of acknowledgement

i practice the arts

of indifferent recognition

so i can cast them upon

unobtainable flights of obsession

‘is this the wave of the future?

or just an unobservable mannerism

by this stranger in your mist

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Rocky Road Toronto

During the Spring days of the pandemic lockdown these painted pebbles began showing up on front lawns & gardens. Clearly parents with kids stuck at home were finding fun ways to keep them busy.

cute mask
bee happy
strawberry patch
dots nice
donuts with sprinkles?
red e
hello snoopy
lady bug coven
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Monster Monster

Every couple of years I get an urge for contemporary music in different genres. Sometimes, once I have enough I don’t need more 🙂 Imagine enough can be enough. So this mp3 collection that starts with ‘i monster’ is one of those contemporary forays.

I don’t recall where I heard about i monster (British) but I do have their  Neveroddoreven, A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars. This is electronica pop – a more dance version of Underworld. Dense, crisp engineering & quite enjoyable. The pretentious titles are a part of the fun & nod to their sense of humour. In this collection are two by MRF: Elevator Music, Mob Music. Mike Flanagan’s sax grounds these lps full of emotionally appealing adult music. He friended me on FB as a result of one my past music posts that tagged #gaymusic. Worth searching out.

Mark Ronson is radio fodder. I have Uptown Special, & Version – fun, perky, appealing sort of a modern Stevie Wonder that could be music by any of the Jonas brothers. Enjoyable all the same. Black Rivers  is an off shoot of Doves one of my favorite bands. This is multilayered adult rock. Emotionally resonant & sonically satisfying & a nice extension of Doves. If you like Dove you’ll love this – if you don’t know Doves – shame on you 🙂

Hands up – who remembers the B52s? Their Kate Pierson released an lp. few years ago: Guitars & Microphones which captures some of that bouncy retro energy. Her voice is still fine & this is a welcome refresher of those fun days.

Flight Facilities is an Australian electronic duo whose 2014 Down To Earth is a pleasant variation on the electrodance pop. 

Finally on this mp3 collection is another retro memory – of the Bronski Beat. Their lead singer Jimmy Somerville, has released several solo lp.  Homage is a fine homage to old school disco. A voice that hasn’t lost its power & songs that delight as you dance.

Now to a pair of stand-alone cds by Monster Magnet: Powertrip, God Says No – from the turn of the century. These are both over 20 years old! The music is metal muscular masculine. Updated Deep Purple. I love the thick sinuous sound with great slick psychedelic guitar & production values. Their look is so defiantly biker masculine it borders on parody. Looking at the art work on these cds now the kitch imagery almost overpowers the music. But the music is worth listening to regardless. 

This story goes back, way back, to the 1970s when I was living in Cape Breton. I have done minimal editing for things like spellings, punctuation & name consistency. As you may gather I was not out at the time but clearly wrestling with the process. Part 1 was last week.

No Fanfare

2

It had been an easy meeting, almost casual, except we both knew & understood from the initial eye-contact just what was intended. I’d been in the park for about twenty minutes, moodily watching the snow, wonder how I’d waste another night when I spotted him, on the other side of the iced-over fountain, watching me. His navy blue overcoat a sudden solid in the falling snow.

I sauntered towards him, frantically searching for that perfect opening line. None of my fantasy meetings had been in the park, none of them out of doors. They were always in dim, close rooms, over a little wine & a subtle offer. This was real, two strangers on a cold day, overcast, a backdrop of grey buildings, a soundtrack of traffic. It all felt so bare, I would have walked past him, but the green of his eyes held mine, daring me to take another step. I stopped awkwardly, watching my breath cloud the air between us.

“Looking a lot like Christmas.” His first words after the eye contact. “You look like an Everest.” He teased, brushing the snow off my left shoulder.

“Hardly. Being motionless for ten minutes usually gives me that effect.” I shook the other shoulder clear, my heart skipping beats, knowing I that I had been hoping he would see me but once seen, I didn’t have any was of following through except to shrug the snow off my shoulders. “I shouldn’t be as difficult to climb.” I teased back, trusting the metaphor to be verbal confirmation enough of the eye-implied intent.

“Care for a drink?” He asked cautiously, pushing a black curl back under his red stocking cap.

“Where?” I blurted, fleetingly seeing a horror of crowded bars & men in drag.

“My place isn’t far from here. How would that be?”

Kicking the side of fountain with the toe of my boot I tried to avoid further eye contact but couldn’t resist responding to the dare in his green eyes.

“Super,” I accepted. “Lead on Hilary.”

My difficulty with words got worse. I didn’t know which was proper or which was asking for trouble. I wasn’t ready, yet, to follow my instincts. Out of the park & into his apartment we managed to get through names, his was Steve; jobs, he taught piano & played, on & off, in a jazz quartet. Being heavily into the Romantics – Chopin & Debussy – my lack of jazz knowledge didn’t help me much & not knowing much more than his immediate clothing & certain tastes, I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t seem musically narrow minded or sound embarrassingly blunt. No common ground except that we both wanted this drink.

“If the bunch at the bank could see me now.” I shook my head, laughing inwardly at the image I projected to them.

“Now?” Steve baited. “You mean they’ve never see you drink?”

“No. Not that. I mean this situation.”

“With me, you mean?”

“Yeah. With another man, & me being so unsure. I’m usually a very self-confident person. I make decisions, pinch bottoms at the right time. Tease. Flirt with those fussy tellers. Some of them probably envied my girlfriend, Jean. I’m a catch. Yet, here I am.”  I quickly finished my drink.

“Defensive as hell & ready for anther drink?”

“Sure. Why not?” Handing him my glass I sat uneasily the bulky armchair beside the piano. “So how do we begin?” I asked as he left the room. “Do we have another drink & then lunge blindly at one another.” I spoke too fast, hoping to hide my doubts by hurrying the situation. I wanted to stumble over a thousand prying questions but needed the trust that I hoped intimacy would bring,

Impulsively I got up & sat at the piano again. I tried the same prelude, slower this time, trying to get my hands to function as a unit rather than as two random obstacles. It was no use. I settled for my memory if the melody line.

“Never taken lessons?” Steve asked, sliding beside me.

“Some as a kid. I learned the basics, forgot most of them. What you hear is all I recall.” I took my Scotch, more as an excuse to stop playing than to drink.

“What was this talk about blindness?”

“Nothing.” I laughed self-consciously. “Something about do we have this drink & lunge blindly at each other.” I shrugged, apologizing for what insensitivity or desperation such a remark might show.

next week part 3 – things get even more awkward 

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The Toothbrush Isn’t Talking

The Toothbrush Isn’t Talking

all I am hiding

are my emotions

really

no I don’t have anything

in my hands

up my sleeve 

I didn’t put anything

where you couldn’t find it

everything is out in the open

<>

what good would it do

to hide your underwear

so you can’t get dressed

to hide your shoes so you can’t leave

hide the towels so

you have to 

dry off between the sheets

with me

me

who has nothing to hide

except my feelings

or rather my lack of them

<>

though you claim

my claim of lack of feelings

is actually hiding something

because my door is so open to you

I have made place

for you my life

you even have 

your own toothbrush here

it is out in the open too

<>

see nothing is hidden

really

except how I feel

which I can’t reveal

until you open up

to tell me what you have hidden

in your heart

The need for ‘transparency’ is getting to the point where if you don’t reveal you once looked at a naked person you could be taken to task for sexual harassment. I have a friend who refuses to appear & speak on any internet video feed lest what they say changes context as contexts change. What was harmless one decade becomes damning in the next. 

This piece isn’t directly about that 🙂 but looks at how & what we reveal of ourselves in our personal relationships. When does one reveal one’s sexual history, health issues? A buddy of mine started dating a guy & after a few dates realized they had potential he revealed a health issue & the other guy went ballistic. My buddy was devastated a she wasn’t hiding anything but waiting till there was some trust & a reason to reveal.

There are enough songs, books, movies about things that never get said. We, as humans, hope that our actions will convey our emotions, not merely our words. To say I love you & treat someone like shit as opposed to treating someone with kindness without saying saying I love you.

The underwear verse contains actual experiences of mine, slightly exaggerated. I didn’t really hide things just made them harder to find to delay departure. I’m more inclined to lack of expectation than I am to lack of feelings though. That is one of those things that goes unsaid. Things last as long as they do & I don’t build that much on expectations. But when I give one of my bed buddies undies as a birthday or Christmas gift I always say – I can’t wait to see them on you. So I guess that’s an expectation after all 🙂

I convey affection easily with words, but anything deeper not so readily – why is easier to say ‘I love those undies on you’ than it is to say ‘I love you’ ?

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Picture Perfect 56

Picture Perfect 56

“You need anything before we head out?”

“I got Hazel to pack us a lunch in case we need it. Plus she filled my travel mug.” He shook his Lyfend mug. He figured trail bouncing would be good test for it.

“I’m thinking the old Moose Trail won’t be too bad. Runs along the high ridge. Mostly rock too so shouldn’t be too mucky.”

Larry backed his SUV up then drove up a low hill near the entrance of the plot his tailer was on & directly into the woods. “I found this trail with the snowmobile the first winter I had one. One of my jobs is make sure this trail clear but not … too easy. The winter people like a bit of a challenge.”

The jeep rocked back forth as it negotiated the trail. Branches slapped at the roof, windows & the sides. Larry stopped at the brink of a steep downward grade. He grinned at Dan, released the clutch sending them bouncing down the side of the hill. Dan found himself grabbing the dash to brace himself.

“This is what I call driving.” Larry said happily.

“Now, I’m sure you aren’t queer.” Dan shook his head.

“What?” Larry laughed. “I could say the same thing about you.” 

“Me?”

“Yeah. Most gay guys spot my big feet within minutes. In my case it is true what they say. Why do you think I made sure you saw them before you changed into those boots?”

“Jesus! I just thought you were being … nice.”

“No, playing hard to notice. Gay’s not something to broadcast in these parts.”

“You’re kidding me. You’re gay?”

“More like bi.” Larry shrugged keeping a tight grip on the steering wheel as they bumped over the uneven trail. “You might have good gaydar but lousy bidar.”

“I only use gaydar when I think it’ll serve a ….” the left side of the jeep did a sharp dip then righted itself. “A purpose. You get much opportunity out here.”

“Summer mainly. I suggested, half-joking, to the management at the Tartan they should advertise for LGBT honeymooners. I was shocked they were willing to put up a rainbow flag. They don’t grasp that there is a generation that grew up watching queers on TV. It means nothing to them.”

He stopped the SUV. A tree had fallen across the trail. “We’re going to have to move that. It’s a two man job. Think you can manage.”

“Is that a dare?”

They got out of the truck. 

Larry walked around the tree peering into the trunk on either side. “I’m seeing where we would best put it.”

“Put it!” Dan tentatively lifted the part of the fallen trunk nearest him. “We’ll need a … I don’t know what to move this. It must weigh a ton.”

“Not a bad estimate.” Larry laughed. “We will have a little help.”

He went to the back of the truck and pulled out two steel spars about five feet in length. He gave Dan a pair of work gloves.

“You’ll need these. Let us … try over there first. You see where that other tree has been broken under this one.”

“Right.” Dan pulled on the gloves.

Larry showed him how to ram the spar under the tree as he did the same.

“Press down gently.”

They bounced the fallen tree trunk a few times.

“That’s good news. It is not lodged in that deeply. Now we go to here.” He jabbed under the tree. “No. the soil is too loose. We need bedrock.” He moved a few more feet along. “This boulder should suit us.”

They both pushed their spars under the trunk.

“Lift a moment, now push as hard as you can.”

The trunk felt immobile to Dan. “It’s like trying to move a sofa with a tooth pick.” He said.

“Yes. One of those situations that lube won’t solve. Stop for a moment. Once more. All your weight.”

For a split second Dan’s feet left the ground. He lost grip on his spar as the trunk moved a fraction then slewed off and away from them. While it did Larry pushed him to the ground. Freed from he weight of the tree his spar bounced into the air where he had been.

“What the …” Dan sat on the wet ground staring at the tree trunk. “I can’t believe we just moved that fucker.” His hands were stinging from the pressure he had been applying. “I have never done anything like that in my entire life.”

“I guess you don’t get to handle such big lumber in Toronto.” Larry lit a cigarette. “You handled that quite well for such a little guy.”

“Luckily your feet didn’t get in the way.” Dan started to stand but he was washed by a wave of dizziness. Spots danced before his eyes.

“Easy there.” Larry reached down to help him up. “All that exertion caught your body off guard.”

Dan let himself be led to the truck.

Larry went to the back and brought out a six-pack of beer & a plastic bag with some bananas in it.

“Time for a breather.” He offered Dan a beer.

“No thanks, I’ll stick to caffeine until we’re back on solid ground” He got the mug from the front seat. In the bouncing around the camera had been turned on. He resisted checking what footage it may have captured. “There’s a comfort station here after all.” 

They tossed their banana skins into the brush.

“Ready to push on?” Larry asked.

“Yes.”

The the next couple of miles were as rough but Dan was accustomed to the sway and lurch of the truck.

“There here is the old logger road.” Larry steered the ATV down a steep but short incline to a wider dirt road marked with tire ruts. “This will take us directly to the highway. How you doing there? Haven’t had much to say since we did right by that tree.”

“Thinking about what makes a man a man. A male a male.”

“Ah. There is more than one way to be who we are, right. I’m sure not your typical gay. Least ways not the type you usually meet in Toronto.”

“That’s for sure.”

“You are not quite what I expected. All I see are men who want to marry men, or who want to have sex with any man who is available. Available! They think it’s a challenge, their right to … corrupt the staff.”

“Corrupt!”

“You didn’t find it easy to see me as gay. They see me as the bulky, heterosexual, staff. A challenge to get in the sack. You’re not like that.”

“Let’s face it, we’ve been too occupied for me to think about anything else but why I am here & how to get to where I’m supposed to be.”

“In the movies the hero always has a hard-on for the random women in his moment of crisis. Sometimes it is all they seem to think about. The bomb is about to go off – let’s make out. Here we are.”

The road ended at the highway. 

“Great.” Dan was hoping the forest drive would last longer. After being surrounded by the trees the highway on either side of them was empty. 

“You know where we are headed?” Larry asked.

Dan turned and pulled his shoulder bag from her back seat to the front. He got out the Cold Case itinerary. “We’ve been booked into the Wickham Arms.” 

“It’s a decent b’n’b. Older than the Tartan though. I’ve stayed there myself.”

“Me too. But I’m sure it’s changed since the eighties.”

Dan wondered if Baxter had picked the Wickham in particular because he knew this was where Dan had stayed at the time of the disappearances. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Misanthrope – Me?

“A misanthrope is a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society. Misanthropy is the general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species, human behaviour or human nature.”

Over the past pandemic months I have been taking in zoom recovery meetings. Invariably some members share effusively how much they miss the face-to-face contact with other members, how much they appreciate seeing the familiar faces on their screen & they can’t wait for ‘real’ meetings to start up again. 

I don’t miss any of that. As for familiar faces I minimize my zoom feed most of the time to audio only, to reduced the distraction of all those faces as they eat, drink, pick their noses, nervously flip their hair around, or, all to often, rub their faces in their pet’s fur. What’s wrong with me that I don’t feel this same emotional longing for folks?

So I looked up the meaning of misanthrope. but I neither dislike or avoid human society. I do enjoy my own company & don’t feel this emotional longing for group contact. But I don’t live alone, nor have I seen the lockdown as an excuse for not spending limited, face-to-face social distant time with friends in recovery. To be perfect freak, & shallow, what I miss about recovery meetings is the opportunity to wear a great shirt/tee-shirt to brighten the day for people.

What I don’t miss are colds & people thinking I am ‘weird’ because I refuse to join hands in closing a meeting.

Boundary 

if I could change the boundary

of what you want 

to what I have

then we might be on an equal footing

<>

your ideals are set too high

for anyone to approach 

if you could see

beyond the narrow margin of victory

you demand

perhaps it would be possible

for you to vote me into power

<>

not that I want power over you

for long

forever would be fine

but if it doesn’t work

you can reassign the boundaries

to keep me out for good

but as it is 

you keep in only what you want

to provide a tentative sense of security

<>

safety isn’t in walls or numbers

but to fearlessly let yourself be exposed

perhaps the natives 

will not attack

maybe we will be the attackers

you only have energy to lose

and nothing to gain

<>

what is holding you back

from letting us swarm all over

the body politic

all over the sacred hidden territory

free yourself of these encumbrances

this sense of inviolate sacredness

that doesn’t allow for growth 

only stern sameness

<>

surely you welcome change

or is it that you only welcome

change you can control

yet those boundaries

seem to change with each decision

letting this

disallowing that

<>

if the unwashed creep to close

push them away

draw that line in the sand

they roll around in

they won’t cross it

except with a finger or two

off with their hands

into their cups

down with their wants

up with your arms

shoot to thrill

missing isn’t half as bad

as a bullseye

even stray bullets can find a target

why bother aiming at all

the ballot awaits 

your trigger finger


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