One Day in Cape Breton (2012)

The hardest part of any trip for me is packing – what to bring – even two days away is a bit of a chore – but 7 is worse. Thanks to the Kindle I don’t have to take heavy, space consuming books with me but the communications revolution means I have to pack cables for keeping things charged: Kindle, iPod, cellphone, & laptop – there isn’t a single cable that’ll do the job, each has to have its own. Not to omit the digital camera upload cable. Forget one cable & you’re screwed.

shelf life

Flight out to Cape Breton was heck – delayed two hours by thunderstorm – means I got to Sydney around 1:30 – but my sister Eileen was waiting for me – thanks to wireless we were able to Facebook chat while I was in Toronto – spent my first night in the ‘gift shop’ I call home – my Dad was a collector of ‘stuff’ and much of it still remains.

I got about five hours sleep in my old bedroom – using my Dad’s old office desk – glad to see that everything digital had recharged, except me, overnight. It was actually chilly on the deck in the morning. I did feel up to some ‘research’ – so Eileen & I took in the Glace Bay Miner’s Museum – I didn’t go down in the mine this time – once was enough – but I took more photos & got some of the info I wanted & picked up a few locally published books. Sadly the miner’s houses weren’t open to the public yet – still waiting for government funds. Lunch at the restaurant there.

big wheel – no longer turning

Next some driving around to see the steel plant reclamation work, dropped into the Whitney Pier Museum – a small sort of local spot where everything on display has been donated – old high school year books – an extensive look at the life of the rather large black community in Sydney – fascinating.

only in the Pier dear

Then back to my sister’s place – she’s living in the family home – much changed but still the same – most recent addition was the great deck.


here’s one of the Brown Betty pieces that deals a bit with my growing up on the east coast: (wordpress did weird things to the line breaks that I can’t figure out how to fix)

Man With A Past

I am from a cup of King Cole black tea

steeping in a brown betty pot

flat fried scones
burned pancakes on Sunday mornings

born in Manitoba
moved to Cape Breton before I was ten
the Cape is an island of cousins aunts uncles I had none
only good parents who couldn’t protect me

from a context they wanted to fit

I am from the rusted rain
seeded by steel plant exhaust
black pearl gritted snow
that fell in layers of grey white grey white

my mother a Welsh war bride
a family of eleven brothers and sisters

lots of cousins aunts uncles in-laws oceans

too far away
to coax me into this island world

told that not fitting in was my fault
why didn’t I try harder be more like other kids

so I hid but that’s not the point
because we all hide

I am from an east coast pollution pulsation

still call home
where paying the rent and feeding the kids

was worth the cold damp steel poison price

while the blast furnace
spewed the air
to pepper the food we ate
at night no one saw it
flood our dreams
I am from Swedes who changed
the last name of their first born to Armstrong

a name I could never live up to
never defend in school yard brawls
would come home
with a bloodied nose bruises
that disappointed my dad
who didn’t understand
why I couldn’t stand up for myself

stranded on the molehill of growing up queer
no role models to offer hope
in a culture of judgement and fear

so I hid but that’s not the point because we all hide

I am diverted from the history I have

by a history that is denied to me when researchers into
the lives of gay men and women

in WWII fighting forces
are asked why sully the memory

of our brave men and women

I am from an unrecorded past

where there was no name
till what I am became labelled

by incomprehensible fear

the point is – I survived what past I had
by creating a self out of the fear and shame hidden in my past
but today no longer hiding from it

2 thoughts on “One Day in Cape Breton (2012)

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