Resistance

Finished Week Three of The Artist’s Way. Julia sure loves lists. Looking into the past to clear the vision for the future didn’t turn up anything new from my pre-Toronto east coast growing up. The only real memory of negativity was the reaction of Malcom Ross – then head of the English Department at Dalhousie University – to my first attempt at a novel – it was about a character coming out & he felt the subject matter wasn’t suitable.

Looking back I’m not sure if it was because of his personal moral stance or because the writing itself wasn’t as strong as my poetry at the time. he had been very supportive of me as a poet. I still have that novel somewhere in my paper archives so I may dig it out to see how it stands up as juvenilia 🙂

My worse critic is often self-talk & not what others have said or written about my work directly. When I was involved in a crit group I felt supported up to a point but rarely got as much feedback as the others – was it because my work was fine or because they didn’t think it was worth bothering with? At least with the Loyalist workshops I got lots of excellent input. Plus some of the fiends I made at Loyalist are still people I’m in contact with – but the poetry work-shoppers have drifted away; I only hear from them when they send out bulk invites to shows.

Thanks to covid19 closings artist dates have become photo excursions. The pictures here are from my walk Thursday (Mar 25). I took TTC to Wellesley Station & walked home from there. Part of the walk crosses the Rosedale Valley Overpass then the Prince Edward Viaduct. The pictures are all from the south side – some looking as down as I could lean over the rail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Don River so clear 🙂

Resistance

if his resistance 

has been any smaller

it would have taken 

an ant to measure it

but as it was 

it was big enough 

to change me 

on a molecular level 

each time he was near

my atomic structure 

began to revolve around him

 

heads would turn to see  

where that unseen vibe 

was coming from

eyes would linger on his lips

his smile

his teeth

each hair on his head

would mesmerize 

drawing power

from the love light 

in their eyes

charging him up

for more powerful emanations

 

and that was me

sitting by his side

who noticed me

did it matter

as long as he noticed me

as long as he was in me

as long as I was the one

who held the key to the shield

that protected him

 

they all wanted 

the part of him that was only mine

the shadow of his power 

protects me

while keeping me 

from the full expression of my own

the difference between us 

was less than than 

the thickness of a spark 

jumping from lip to lip

the nano-storm flash

of realization from eye to eye 

 

we were merged

separate unified individual

connected

shaping the universe

for all to follow

living in that gap between 

want and want even more

giving and losing

taking and reflecting

the bridge

between life and death

we were on the breeze 

on the disappearing species list 

 

nothing was safe

cataclysmic explanations 

elemental tables were upset

we didn’t sit with them

they resented the

absolute the power we held

when our hands 

were merely reaching

for one another

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

April
? – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – date to be announce thanks to COVID19

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

No vs. Low 

How many days? Where does the count start? With patient zero? Or when they realized there was a patient zero? When community centres closed March 13? Yeah, I’ll pick March 13 when the city realized this was a real danger & started to act in proactive way. If it weren’t for time & date on my computer I’d lose track of what actual day it. My routines were hinged around certain weekly meetings that fell on Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday.

 

 

Shopping panic was dismaying but not surprising. The disappearance of thing off shelves, & apparently not replaced yet, is more amusing than anything. Gradually Toronto has closed down. What no shoe stores! What only plastic no cash? This does bug me as it is clear banks aren’t going to waive any additional fees they collect as we are forced to use credit or debit cards. Fuckers.

I take my daily morning walks, each day a different direction & with minor variations in routes as well. a couple fo them let me see what is happening along the Danforth from Greenwood to Broadview, of Greenwood To Main. Take-out only signs went up fairly quickly, some of them became pick-up only – you have to order in advance. All Danforth Starbucks closed, most Tim Horton’s closed. Some of them depended on school traffic which is nonexistent.

 

Personal health worries haven’t taken over my thinking but they can’t be ignored. My partner is in 80’s, with pacemaker – so if he contracts it odds aren’t in his favour. He’s sure they’ll be directing resources to people with longer life expectancy (as they did in Italy). But our exposure risks are very low. But ‘no’ risk is better than ‘low’ risk.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet 

Fortress of Louisbourg Redux

Another set of photos from my Cape Breton Trip in August 2019.  

my summer look

the bloody shepherd in the Military Chapel

dog of the bloody shepherd

wound of the bloody shepherd

toy soldiers

social distancing

live chickens – not animatronics

cannon balls

Does anyone know the story behind the wounded shepherd?

https://wp.me/s1RtxU-diop



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 

LMFAO Lorde

Occasionally I get this urge to add more contemporary pop music to my collection & these next two mp3 cd collections spring from that urge. The first includes LMFAO: Party Rock, Sorry For Party Rocking; Martin Solveig: Smash; Big Star: #1 Record; Austra: Feel It Break; Hedley: 4 songs; Katy Perry: Teenage Dream.

As you can see this is a heap of various dance, electronica with a touch of old pop. I loved ‘I Am Not a Whore’ for its sex empowerment, joyful music & great video. I was seeing a guy at the time this was a big radio hit & all he had in his apartment was a radio so I heard this song a lot. The lps are like parties, happy, dance music with empowering, if a bit druggy heterosexist, lyrics. The other song I heard a lot then was Teenage Dream & the Katy Perry lp is fun girl pop. Excellent production work sells the songs more than her vocals. This guy (who I still see) was a Teenage Dream who made me feel like a total whore 🙂 p.s. he was not a teenager.

Martin Solveig: Smash; Austra: Feel It Break: a couple of great, if forgettable electronic, dance mix lps that are great for sex or writing. Friendly, sometimes emotional. Hedley: 4 songs ep – sunny pop fodder. The throw back is Big Star: #1 Record. Legendary lp by an almost mythic band. Countryish rock with sweet harmony & heart broken lyrics.

The other cd of ‘modern’ features Lorde: Hunger Games songs, Pure Heroine, Melodrama. Lorde was raved about everywhere as the second coming of Kate Bush. She’s not, to me, but she does have a sweet, shoe-gazer-pop sensibility. Sensitive lyrics, romantic & ethereal. Her voice is more a blur in its sultriness. Unlike Christina Aguilera’s Back To Basics which is good fun, even if I can’t recall a track on it. Time for a replay, I guess.

In this collection is also Gina X: Nice Mover; Clean Bandit: New Eyes; Nick Jonas: Nick Jonas. All of which are fine, easy, dance pop. Jonas is unexceptional but he is easy on the eyes. Rounding this out are some completions of actual dance music. All old school disco. Disco Files: Compilation; Peppermint Jam Records Presents: Compilation; Whirlpool: Disco. Full of soaring gospel female goals, strings, sudden sax & the requisite bpm.

Oh Ma Ha

You call this living – my mother looked around my room – you really think this is any sort of a life

yeah – I answer – is it all that different from your so called life –

she raised her eyebows – looked for an ashtray for her cigarette –

no one smokes here ma 

her concerned look now becomes one of victim as if it was my fault I never started smoking & didn’t have an ashtray for her 

and my rug doesn’t need any more help – hinting that she better not drop her ashes on my floor

I see – her nose turned up a fraction as she spun on her heel and went to the bathroom

and don’t drop that butt in the can – they swell up & clog the plumbing – there are  like miniature tampons that way – enough of them and the pipes blow up

water runs in the sink – she comes out smiling with her wet butt – sorry about that –

yeah well I’m not – 

I mean about the way you living – about judging it – your letters made is seem so … so much more than it actually is

my letters made it clear it wasn’t like what I left – it is my own place – I’ve fixed it up a little but what with work – classes & travel between them there hasn’t been much time for me to do anything more around here than vacuum and get some decent furniture – found this in a dumpster last week – I sat in the lazy boy recliner that I had tossed a bed spread over to cover the stained arm 

you always said I was lazy but – I squeezed the arms of the chair and pushed myself back in it – the foot rest popping up to keep me comfortable – I love this life of luxury


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Measure Up

Measure Up

I concede 

I’m not that competitive

whether you are the better

isn’t that important to me

I want to be judged

on my merits alone

not on how much 

better or worse I may be

compared with anyone

better is relative

 

who is the winner

the one who comes in first 

or the one who finishes the race

on their own terms

 

I grew up

in a school system

where I learned 

I would never measure up

because I wasn’t smart enough

to memorize the times table

smart enough

to regurgitate passages of text books

when I wrote exams

even when I was right

I was given no credit

because my spelling was so wrong

 

coming out

I learned I would never measure

I was never young enough

buff enough

hung enough

to be desirable enough

in the eyes of those

who I wanted to measure up to

without realizing

I was trying to measure up



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Virility

The Best

‘you will be my third today’

he was proud of his virility

‘I save the best for last’

I wasn’t interested in being his best

‘you have a nice ass’

 

not that I thought he was

anything more than a fun fuck

but to hear of his conquests

wasn’t arousing me

 

we’d met on line

he was a 30 something

whose nickname was blktop4u

blk meaning black

it started with him messaging me

I had glanced at his profile 

even though there was no pic

it laid out the facts honestly

the first time we hooked up

I didn’t expect him to show

but he did

he was as he claimed to be

though his profile 

didn’t say he needed to fuck

three times a day

 

that fact didn’t come out for a year

we’d meet every month or so

I’d hear about his background 

but he was so fearful of identity theft 

we could only make contact

via the dating site

no cell phone

no email

 

sometimes longish text chats

on the site

then he’d show up

as arranged 

until one day he didn’t 

he contacted me two days later

to explain

he’d had a better offer

in a deluxe condo

 

so my interest changed

next time we chatted

he was so keen to play

I declined

I declined another two times

then said sure come on over

but if you’re a no show

it’s a no go ever again

 

I began to discount 

everything he told me

there was no truth

in the shifting life of a man

who wouldn’t even tell me his name

things were okay until he told me

‘you will be my third today

I save the best for last’

 

I declined to be part of his body count

said no

he asked why

I replied

you can’t always get what you want

then blocked him

because he wasn’t the best

A poet friend of mine recently started a little discussion about pieces we’ve written but that we have chosen not to share for various reasons – such as – didn’t want to tigger listeners/readers, too emotionally revealing, too blunt & judgemental. For me this is one that I am tempted to hide away – or put in an envelope ‘to be opened twenty years after my death.’ Hidden because of the the racial content & also because of what it reveals about my sex life.

 

 

It’s also a piece about a backhanded compliment. When ‘he’ said I was the best I’m sure he didn’t realize what he was saying wasn’t heard as a compliment. For the most part this is a factual real life adventure. I’ve omitted a few details that didn’t add enough to the story. The dialogue is verbatim.

 

 

Because of his secrecy I was never interested in letting our interaction become more than physical. As time passed I became more ‘illusive’ as well. It takes more than sex to keep me interested. But he never asked for more than sex, either. never needed transit money etc. 

 

Then he made the mistake of telling me about his sex life. Now, I didn’t think he was a one man man nor did I expect him to be. I’m a realist. I didn’t trust all of what he told me most of the time but when he casually mentioned ‘my third today’ I believed him. I didn’t challenge him, what was the point after all we were merely FB with no strings. My reply is also verbatim. 

 

I have heard from him since – I guess that’s one of the rewards of being ‘the best.’ No thanks.


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Picture Perfect 12

The next day Dan was grateful for a routine morning at James Family Photographers. The the unusual activity the past couple of days had tempted him to take a day off to collect his thoughts about Timmy, Cyrtys and his sister’s Cuppa threat. He dropped into the Classic for a bagel and coffee to take up to his office. 

“Quiet morning for you too?” He asked Jill as he waited for his bagel to toast.

“Yeah. The Institute doesn’t take a morning break Thursday. I wonder how those students feel when they get off the street car to to see their Toronto campus for the first time.” Jill said. 

“I know. When I think of a campus I imagine something like U of T not a two floors in a ten story office complex.” Dan nodded. “Sorry about the Cuppa people.”

“These things happen. But I’ve always said your sister is a piece of work. The whole atmosphere here has changed since you opened up the other location.”

“In a good way?”

“Oh, yes. Very good. I don’t envy Cuppa. She used to come in here and no matter how busy we were she’d just push in front of the line up. She’d claim she was picking up an order she’d texted us.”

“She does know how to get her way. Most of the time. Not this time though.”

Coffee and bagel in hand he stepped into the shop. “Ushio, I’ll be up in the archives for awhile. If you need me.”

He went thought store to the back stairway. It always brought back memories of when they had lived her. He always expected to see his first bike locked to the landing on the second floor along with garbage he frequently forgot to take out. On really humid days he could still smell the steamed cabbage his mother was so fond of. Today he could smell coffee and baked goods coming from the basement ovens of the Classic.

Once he had finished his bagel he went into the archives storage and pulled out the two bins for 1984. All he had taken when he retrieved the Timmy photos were from the month they had moved. Maybe there was something in the other files that would shed some light on what was going on in the months before.

Linda had said the move was talked about at Christmas so he also took the bins for the previous year. Each year had been split into two bins – regardless of how little there was in one half.

His father had kept meticulous records of his travels – hotels, motels, school he’d worked for, endless receipts for restaurants, gas, even for clothes bought for them when they were kids.

Much of that had been discarded before his Dad had died. Receipts were for tax purposes. But his Dad’s daily appointment books were there, in those he recorded, expenses, mileage and sometimes incidents.

His Dad opted to only keep family or other personal photographs. Most of the commercial stuff, that wasn’t in the business’s portfolio, was discarded. Dan sometimes wished they had kept some of those early wedding photos though to compare them with what was being done now.

He shook the contents out of the envelop in the Dec 83 folder. Like most of them there were glassine envelopes of negatives, lots of developed photos in back and white, in colour, even a super eight. Did they have a projector? There was always the Stedman Transferer. When had they used that last? There had been a brisk business for awhile in transferring old home movies to VHS. Did they even have a VHS player on the premises?

He used his cell to call the store. “Ushio can we transfer Super 8 to digital? …. I see …. come up the third I have a little project for you.”

It was possible but it wasn’t a one-step operation as he had hoped. 

He flipped through his father’s record books but saw nothing that jumped out to him. Entires were in both his father’s and mother’s handwriting. She had been the main receptionist when the store first opened. 

Weddings. parties. Business banquets. One of his Dad’s specialities was a super wide lens that could take a picture of an entire ballroom of tables. The camera was huge and took two men to move and set up. Maybe it was time to haul that out of storage and set up in the store to contraat it with todays tiny digitals cameras.

There was soft knock at the door. Dan realized he hadn’t unlocked the storage door.

“Sorry Ushio. Got so involved I forget.”

“You have top secrets today?” 

“Nothing like that.” he gave Ushio the super 8 reel.

Ushio unspooled the first few feet and held it up to the light.

“Very clear. Being in the dark was good for it. I can have this ready in a couple of hours. Anything else.” He reached for the other pictures.

“No, not yet. I may get some of these scanned later though. I’m sure Linda will be thrilled to see her acne pictures.”

Ushio stood awkwardly at the door.

“Is there anything else?”

“I was wondering   ….”

“Yes. You want a raise?”
“Oh no nothing like that. The school across the way …”

“Yes?”

“They ask if I might teach sometimes.”

“Teach?”

“Yes! Equipment repair. That sort of thing.”

“You want to leave here to work for them?”

“Oh, no. It would be part time. Two nights a week.”

“You don’t need my permission to dot hat.”

“They have no facility there. It would be here. In the shop downstairs.”

“Oh! Let me think about it.” Was the building zoned for that sort of use he wondered. It had to be as they did camera workshops often.

Once Ushio left he want back the assortment of items from the bin. Why had his Dad held on to these paper napkins? Some party that only he could remember. Dan opened one of them up and there was a red lipstick kiss in the middle of it. Hmm. 

The Shoreline Diner was printed in one corner in letters sticking in the sand. They had eaten there a few times for special occasions. He recalled standing at the huge plate glass windows that overlooked the Atlantic. One night there had be an amazing storm and he saw a boat’s lights bobbing up and down.

He had emptied the bin of all the various folders, envelopes and photos. As far as he could tell there wasn’t anything unexpected in the appointment books. Nothing that explained the decision to move.

He put the contents back in order. As he lifted it to move to the next box an envelop flapped from the bottom. The gum of the flap had adhered it there and gravity had pulled it free.

On the front of it ‘04/79 – 07/83’ was scribbled. He couldn’t tell whose handwriting it was though. He pushed the sides in to open it enough to see what was in it. More photographs and negatives. He cautiously tipped it so the contents slid out into the pool of light on the desk.

He couldn’t believe this eyes. The top picture was a black and white shot of a woman in bra and panties buttoning her seamed nylons into a garter belt. Her back was to the camera so her buttocks were the focus. Her face was turned but not enough for him to see who she was. He recognized the chair she had her left foot on as one from his Dad’s studio.

He turned the photo over to see the next one. It was the same woman, in the same clothes, back still to the camera, head partly turned, standing wide legged, her hands on her ass as if about to spread the cheeks.

On the back of the the photo he had turned over was a hand drawn circle with an x through it. He’d seen that symbol before. He took one of the record books out of the bin and flipped though it till he came to day with that mark on it. Was that the day the pictures were taken?

Gingerly he went to the next picture. The same woman, the same chair, the same back to the camera only this time there was man on his knees, leaned over the chair. No face visible. Boxer shorts, shoes and socks on. The woman was wielding a cat-of-nine-tails aimed at the man’s ass. In the next several pictures the whip went from hitting the man’s ass to being brought back and down to his ass.

Dan squirmed uneasily in his chair. He got up and went to the window rubbing his eyes to relive the strain of peering at the photos. This wasn’t the fun family Christmas memories he expected to find.

Had his Dad rented out the studio space for these? He couldn’t have taken them himself. Could he?

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Vow Of Noise

One of things that is discussed in The Artist’s Way week 3 is shaming  – things like ‘you think you’re so great’ or ‘get a real job because your ….. (fill in the blank) will never make enough money & is only a hobby’ or ‘boys don’t do that sort of thing’ ‘good writers know how to spell & punctuate.’

 

My parents often encouraged me to be more like other kids – the subtext being that I wasn’t good enough – oddly when I said wanted to do something or have something the others kids had I was told ‘think for you self.’ My parents wondered why I preferred to spend so much time alone & then worried about the artsy people I began to hang out with – musician hippies & clearly drug users.

 

Thanks to the current covid19, social distancing, work at home, I’m reading lots of griping about being alone & how boring it is. I’ve had years of social distancing so this all come natural to me. When, as a poet, one doesn’t drink, smoke, use any number of social drugs people have been happy to be socially distant from me. Go figure. 

One of the tasks is a ‘bad habits’ list which syncs perfectly with an excellent book I just finished reading – Deep Work by Cal Newport. Frittering away time on-line is one of my most non-productive habits but it is a hard addiction to step away from – made harder by the constantly changing covid climate. The need to know can take over the need to be productive.

Vow of Noise

I took a vow of noise

a promise to the future 

from my silenced past

to say what I have to say 

not to stop for anyone

not listen to anyone else 

because once I’ve said it all

it’s all been said

no one else will ever have to 

find the right words

I’ll have saved them the trouble

I’ll have made all the necessary apologies 

all the required promises

solved the intellectual  conundrum

of what to do with emotional blind alleys

 

here is the solution 

gushing out of me

at the speed of sound

stop talking and listen to me

you have to hear me

I‘ve been given 

the sole rights to speak

the rest of the world 

can be plunged into silence

think of all the work that’ll save you

when only I have the right to talk

 

if you don’t speak your mind

your mind will be silent enough

to realize

that no one has anything to say 

so you might as well let an idiot

like myself 

do all the talking for you

make an ass of myself

so you can rest quietly in your homes

relaxed and untroubled  

by even the need to formulate a sentence

the blessing will be sweet serenity

who can ask for more

not you

because you aren’t allowed to talk

 

I have taken on that burden 

for all mankind

I’ll be the only one

who has to answer to the Maker

when the time comes

it’ll be so much simpler

one solitary voice 

to speak for all

no clamour and clutter 

no shouting arguing yelling

conflict will disappear

and you’ll have me to thank

surrender your right 

to conversation to me

the one who has taken 

a sacred vow of noise

has taken endless repetition

off your backs

and put it on the tip of my tongue

nothing will be repressed

I’ll get it all off your chest

and into the the universe

I’ll leave no hatred unuttered

no blessing unfulfilled

no sacredness undefiled

praises insults slurs slaps

adulation love 

I’ll take over all that

a single direct voice will be more effective

undistracted by points of view 

 

are you getting this down

are the cameras on me

beamed into smart phones

movies will be silent once again

a new calm will settle on the earth

as silence takes over

as I tire of the sound of my own voice

while you go about your daily lives 

content in the knowledge 

that I am speaking up for you

soon you won’t even have to listen

you won’t need to hear

that sonic shift

will get our planet on the right track

all that noise pollution 

dampening down

you won’t need jobs

because they are are only there 

to get you enough cash to communicate

but when you have no need to speak

there won’t be anything left 

to communicate

slip into serenity

till even I have nothing left to say

 

I can stand on any hilltop

to the be greeted by the calm

all around me

no sound waves to move the clouds

bliss will arrive softly

a rain drop on my lips

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

April
? – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – date to be announce thanks to COVID19

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Paul Estrel Lane

The Paul Estrel Lane portion of this laneway runs from Woodbine Ave. to Woodmount Ave. The whole lane runs as far as Woodington Ave. I walk it once a month to notice changes. The Estrel has the most amount of garage art, though graffiti is on nearly every garage & store back along the lane.

step this way

laneway to heaven?

art installation

fence fatigue

the wave

let there be tendrils

the audience

riding the dragon !!

https://wp.me/s1RtxU-diop

https://capfireslam.org

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees &  eat at Capturing Fire this June in Washington DC – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Mortality

 

I’ve seen so many frenzied crowds battling for food & pillaged stores in movies that the covid crisis felt a little unreal. I didn’t expect to see the end of the world – not that I think it’s going to come to a dry coughing end now – but there are endless doomsayers moaning & pointing the finger of blame.

The dystopian future has unexpectedly become a reality. All those irrational actions & reactions in films weren’t just dramatic licence, they were reflecting real human responses – people pulling guns at Costco over toilet paper. Toilet paper! Lining up for the latest game release rather than consider social distancing. Will there be a new iPhone?

I had a lunch plan with a buddy who may cancel because he doesn’t want to take public transit – if we get together it will be take out (as many restaurants, coffee chains, aren’t doing dine in) so we can keep that 6 foot distance between us. It got too complex so we cancelled.

Worry about the transit system running smoothly now becomes will I take transit at all. I’m one of the ‘lucky’ one without a job to deal with. The few things I took transit for have been closed until April 5. Many of the recovery meetings I go to are in community centres or churches – now closed until further notice. So I’m already engaged deeply in social isolation.

I’ve done a few things as a result of the crisis. I’ve bumped up my Vitamin C & spread it out over the day as the body can only aboard so much at a time. I’ve added zinc to my pill intake as it boosts the immune system. I downloaded a set of “Solfeggio Frequencies: Activate Qi Flow and Healing Energy.” I can leave this playing in the background when I’m doing chores around the house. 

What are you doing to prepare for the dry cough end of the world?

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet