Creature From the Porn Lagoon

wayback in 2012 🙂

TOpoet

Had a good night at Plasticine Poetry Sunday. Sizable house, sold some chap books, signed a couple of them, got cash in hand (which I always declare), had my set recorded by Myke Mazzei for a future cd. Cathy Petch always the perfect host (except when she isn’t there & I end up as the imperfect host).

Heather Wood had the first feature spot. She read a story that will be in ‘The Anthology of Modern Fables’ – a fun piece about a cell-phone with telepathic abilities (I wish I had one with pre-call warning). She then did a stroll through ‘Roll With It’ – following one specific plot thread to it resolution in an Olympic figure skating routine. A well structured set.

my big fat gypsy tee

I was up next with my raunch attack. Pacing is key for me to keep flow of a set natural and to…

View original post 495 more words

Jazz Hams

I didn’t realize how much Chico Hamilton I had in my mp3 collection. Scattered over various complications I have The Dealer; El Chico; Man From Two Worlds; The Further Adventures of El Chico; Easy Livin’; A Different Journey; and as stand-alone the Quintet Complete.

Chico was a much sought master percussionist who recorded thousands of tracks with too many jazz greats to list. Mostly notably (to me) Gabor Szabo. He also led various groups of his own. He could be understated or dominating depending on what he was called to do. Latin, swing, modern, experimental – he did it all. His group recordings are solid bop work, his many recordings with Szabo are worth seeking out.

Close to him on the shelf is the BlueNote compilation: Heros of The Hammond. Tracks selected from their immense back catalogue of work by Jimmy McGriff, ‘Bother’ Jack McDuff & others, this is an excellent introduction to jazz organ. Some in the Jimmy Smith mode, others Booker T. I love this organ sound that lead to the fun farfisa sound of garage rock & the progressive rock of ELP.

Next is an lp to cd transfer of Lionel Hampton’s Steppin’ Out. He played a very swinging jazz vibraphone and his recordings are endless as band leader & sideman. Equally at home in big and or small combos his playing is lively & tasteful. Steppin’ Out is no exception & makes a good start if you are unfamiliar with this subgenera or if you’ve only heard Gary Burton’s more modern/experimental work.

Fool

The boots had been the the back of the closet. I hadn’t cleaned here is some time, at least that’s what the layer of dust accused me of not doing. I recognized the boots instantly.

Calf-high cowboy boots. Tan leather with some deep red scroll fan-like inserts. Heels well worn, one toe scuffed. Dave had worn these daily for months. How could he have left these when he moved out? How could I have missed them till now?

I brushed the dust off them. My cleaning stopped dead in its tracks. I took them into the kitchen to clean them better. The leather was stiff and dry but a little dubbin could bring it back to life. 

Dave. Dave. Dave. Where are you now? I never really understood what went wrong. At the moment I saw the sense but now, looking back, it made no sense at all.

Impulsively I pulled the boots on. His feet were a size smaller than mine, but these were always big on him. Maybe that’s why he left them behind. The calf of the boot was tight, the ankle tighter, but I forced my toes past instep and they were on. Tight. My baby toes pained.

Dave’s boots! He never would have let me wear them when he was around. I took a few unsteady steps. The heels made me inches taller and the smooth soles slid on the floor. I could walk in them, but not far, unless I wanted to have my big toe and little toe surgically removed.

I went to the study and found the photo album of our trip through the desert and the dude ranch we stayed at for a couple of weeks. The first summer. God, Dave you were a gorgeous man. Ah, there are those boots, too. You were so proud of them. City boy gets his first cowboy boots.

There we are at the waterfall outside of Pikesville. Sex there was wild. Afraid some tourist family would pull up. Mom, Pop, Sis and Junior would catch these buck naked bare-ass guys in a frenzy under the crashing water. No one caught us though.

That summer was so sweet.

I tottered back the the kitchen.

‘Boots, you are heading the way of all trash.’

I sat on a kitchen chair and began to pull. It was as if the boot was glued to my foot. I first tried one then the other. Permanently attached to my feet. I yanked and struggled but neither would budge more than a scant nano-inch and ripped at the skin on the back of my ankle. I’d need to have my heel removed to get them off. Scissors? Cut them off? 

What a fool I was to let you go, Dave. What a fool. 

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Cape Breton Pride

Just over fifty years ago, on May 14, 1969, bill C-150 amend the Criminal Code to decriminalized homosexuality in Canada. Before then same-sex sexual activities between consenting adults were considered crimes punishable by imprisonment. Re-read that.  Not only did I grow up in the 60’s with ‘imprisonment’ looming over me but also a culture in which ordinary citizen could take the law into their own hands & assault queers & get away with it. 

When I attended the Living Library during Pride Week (!) in Cape Breton I was happy to hear about high-school clubs to support lgbtq+ student. Things have certainly changed since 1969 – even then such an idea would never have happened. 

Driving in from the airport with my sister I saw rainbow flags everywhere, though much the sight of them here in Toronto, the show of support is probably more commercial than anything. A rainbow decal in your store window can’t hurt business. The event has grown considerably over the decades. I recall a pride parade down Charlotte St in the early 2000’s during one of my sporadic visits home. It was over in less than half-an-hour. Local TV personality Bette MacDonald was the parade Marshal waving from her convertible. Some baton twirling, a few cars with handmade Pride posters. It ended, I think, in what is now Luisa Gardens, at the end (or is that the start?) of Amelia Street.

This year the week started with a flag raising on August in front of the City Hall followed by a week of events. The parade was the next afternoon ending at the Open Hearth Park. I caught the tail-end of it at the Park. It was too blisteringly sunny for me to stand around watching. Much like Toronto’s Pride there were tables of handcraft rainbow merchandise & a stage with a DJ & a gaggle of drag performers eager to entertain.

The thought of a drag queen in Cape Breton at one time was tantamount to a severe beating. So this was a sign of real growth in the community that goes beyond lip-service compliance with human rights issues. The one event I had an opportunity to take in was the Living Library https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3G7. 

It was comforting to know that any same-sex sexual activities between consenting adults I might have had was no longer a crime but merely me being a slut 🙂

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Past Catches Up

The Past Catches Up

1

 I am from the rusted rain
seeded by steel plant smoke
black pearl grit that fell 

in layers of grey white grey white 

 

when the coke oven exhaust
would blast into the summer air
its thick rank billows
we kids would watch the wind
if it blew in our direction
clothes would be brought in off the line 

or else rewashed and hung another day 

the fine particle dust
would settle on car roofs
still hot enough to fuse with the paint 

white would gradually turn black
then red as grit rusted 

 

no teacher at recess said 

you kids better get inside 

stop breathing it in
we kids never felt
those particles settle 

in our hair 

on tongues 

into our lungs
it was a slightly annoying consequence 

of the industry
that put food on the table

 

food our mothers cooked
while the blast furnace
spewed the air
to pepper the food we ate
at night we’d breathe it into our dreams 

2 

all these years later
I wake from that east coast dream 

coughing
I wonder if this is the price
I still pay for growing up
where paying the rent 

and feeding the kids 

was worth the cold damp steel poison price 

where the spew of commerce
was considered a viable trade off 

for life expectancy

 

a time when they may not 

have known better 

surely there are no buried studies
that showed the ravages
of this blast furnace debris
on the lungs of those who breathed it in 

ate it in the food
drank it in our water 

 

when I cough for no reason
in dry air damp air fresh air
short of breath 

from drowning in iron smoke 

I taste that pollution pulsation
I still call home


This is the last piece in the chapbook and it echos the ‘I am’ from first piece. The incidents are real – bringing the wash is or rewashing it or timing the hanging to avoid the blast furnace dusts. My father didn’t realize how corrosive this dust was until we were washing the car one day and the fused particles were impossible to clean off the roof of the car. The grit used because of its iron content.

Not mentioned here is that in the areas immediate to the still plant families were forced to move because the soil had become poisoned with arsenic & other steel plant effluvia. This poisoning was know & denied by the powers that be. Those homes were abandoned with some compensation. The incidence of cancers, lung infections & birth deformities that radiate out from that area became too significant to ignore.

There was no real concern for decades about how the chemicals from this industry affected people’s health. By the time the steel plant closed areas of it were considered the most polluted in North America. Perfect place for your kids to play, now that the land has been capped in the tar ponds reclamation project.

Although my home wasn’t that close, my school was, my job was, so I did experience some of the damage which results in my slightly dry cough. There is no compensation for that, nor was the compensation to those people who had to move enough to make up for the family members lost to the poison of making a living.

previous Brown Betty posts:

Man With A Past 1 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3B3

When I Was A Young Boy  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3By

Home (not of the brave) https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Cg

Nailed https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3D9

Unmasked https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3EE

The Colliery https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3HG


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

Chapter LX – Lillian Makes Accusations

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LX

Lillian

Makes

Accusations

“Those men … naked …” she gabbed at the air in front of her,

“You are alright my dear.” Clara said.

“Where?” Lillian looked around. She was in the O’Dowell’s sitting room.

“The officers brought you here. They didn’t want to to be at the station when they brought those creatures in.” Clara explained. 

Lillian sank back on the couch. “They have been arrested?”

“Oh yes.” Her uncle said. “They were at the Nelson residence. They’ll regret what they’ve done to you.”

“Yes. Yes.” she said. “Father Patrick! When did you …”

“Dr. Drummond is here to examine you.” A policeman stepped into her field of vision.

“Examine me!” 

“To see the extent of …” the policeman hesitated and drop his voice. “… your violation.”

“My violation!” Lillian pushed herself upright and swung her feet to the floor. “It’s my sense of decency that has been assailed not my person.” She stood. “Where are they?”

“In the jail.” The policeman said. “But you claimed they had interfered with you.”

“No, not me, but they have affronted the laws of God. Take me to them. Let them deny that to my face.” She gently pushed Clara aside and went to the front door.

As they walked back to the police station Lillian barely listened as her uncle spoke to her.

“You’re leaving your parish?” she asked him.

“Yes. I had been summoned to Montreal by the Bishop. He had been … informed of the confusions around your death.”

“Confusions which you were complicit in.” Clara said.

“Yes, well, be what that may. We, he and I, decided it would in the best interests of all if I went to Africa.”

Lillian stopped and laughed aloud. “Africa! You are going to be an African Missionary!”

“It will be blessing for me to carry the word of God where it takes me.” He replied.

“I’ll pray for the souls of those savages.” Lillian said as they went into the police station.

They followed the officers to the cells where Birk and Clancy were being held.

Lillian was startled when Birk jumped to the bars of his cell. “Tell them Miss that we didn’t interfere with you in anyway. Tell them!”

Lillian stepped back. Clearly the constables had misinterpreted her distress. 

“I regret if you have been mislead.” She turned to the officers. “They did my person no harm but what I saw will be forever burned into my memory.”

“But you said they were naked.” One of the officers said.

“We were swimming.” Clancy said. 

“They were doing more than that. Weren’t you.” She glared at Birk. His face reddened.

“You see.” She gloated. “He knows what they were doing.”

“What?” the officer looked from Lillian to Birk. “You were not interfered with Miss McTavish?”

“We …” Birk showed his scarred hands through the bars.

“We were pissing on his hands.” Clancy said. “To help them toughen up after what happened in the mines.”

“Birk Nelson is the lad that climbed up, ma’am.” another of the officers said. “If it weren’t for him many more might have perished.”

Lillian’s ire rose to hear the young man defended. “A good deed does not wash a soul clean. It may allow for mercy but he, they, must not be given permission by any brave deed to act the way base animals do. They were pleasuring one another.” She shouted. “Behaving the way abominations do.”

“They were …” Clara said.

“Buggery?” Her uncle gasped and blushed. “Forgive me for saying such a thing in your presence Miss O’Dowell.”

“What is he talking about.” Birk looked blankly at Clancy.

“This has gone far enough. You can go the chief constable and make a full statement to clear up this misunderstanding.” The office in charge said. “We’ll leave these boys to contemplate the consequences of their heedless actions.”

Lillian was taken to the chief constable’s office. She was given a hard, armless chair to sit on.

“Sorry, Miss McTavish, but this chair is usually reserved for prisoners. We don’t want them too comfortable for questioning. Now tell me exactly what happened. What was it you think you saw.”

“I was walking along on the trails that lead to Blue Lake. I wanted solicitude to collect my thoughts. Since the death of my husband I have been making plans for my future.” Lillian paused. “I came over a small rise and could see the lake. I saw those animals cavorting. Naked. Touching one another’s privates. Beastial animals.” She shuddered. 

“What exactly did you see ma’am? How close were you when you first saw them?” The chief Constable asked.

“I’ve told you what exactly I saw. Are you doubting my word?” Lillian stood. “Their lack of decency is appalling. To think I tried to elevate his mind while they were …”

“Yes, ma’am. But you’ve heard what they have said.”

“They are abominations.” Her uncle shouted. “You have no right to defend what they were doing. You’ve heard what my niece has said. What more do you want from her.”

“Father Patrick,” The chief constable said. “I am doing my duty as an policeman. I have no evidence of what this lady claims to have seen.”

“What more evidence do you need.” Father Patrick said. “They have admitted to being naked in public.”

“That is hardly a crime.” the Constable replied. “They were in a rather deserted area. It was perhaps inconsiderate of them to have removed their under drawers to swim.”

“They weren’t merely swimming.” Lillian said. “I saw with my own eyes. I know what I saw. Something must be done.”

“Yes.” Her uncle said.

“What are you going to do?” she demanded.

“It had already  been arraigned that they’ll appear in Sydney tomorrow afternoon before the magistrate for interfering with Miss McTavish. I’ll inform the court that the charges had been changed to something less dire.”

“Less dire! To interfere with a lady is unconscionable but not unexpected of undisciplined young men but what they were doing is unnatural.” 

“They should be horsewhipped for behaving as they did in front of a lady.” Clara said.

“If this was in fact an indecent assault in anyway they will be dealt with severely once sentenced.” the Constable said. “But that is not in our hands.”

The next morning Lillian set out directly after breakfast to go to Sydney in hopes of having an opportunity to speak with the magistrate before he sat in session with Birk and Clancy. She had met Magistrate Doucet a few times while with Steven.

She asked after him at the courthouse and was told he usually lunch at the Island Hotel on court days. She found him there.

“Magistrate Doucet,” she stood by his table. “Might I have a word with you?”

“Of course Miss McTavish. Please sit down.” he indicated empty chair on the other side of his table. “If it’s about the two lads I can assure they will be sternly taken to task for this behaviour.”

“I had no doubts about your judgement. You must be aware of what it says in the scriptures about such matter.” She had spent part of the night, with her uncle, going over the sections of the the Bible that spoke of such things. From her purse she took notes she had made of the the appropriate passages. “This is what it says in the good book.” She placed her notes on the table.

“Thank you.” The magistrate nodded without looking at them. “I will take all this account once I have heard what these lads have to say. You must be aware, Miss McTavish they haven’t had the advantages you have had in growing up. The education and opportunities for experiencing the world. They aren’t as … sophisticated as the men you know in Boston.”

“That’s no excuse. Morality has nothing to do with education.”

“It is all learned, Miss McTavish. What I am saying is that it is unfair to judge these men by the standards that you might use judge those with whom you grew up.” He held his hand up to keep her from speaking out. “However if they have broken a law they will faces the consequences. Ignorance of the law is not permitted.”

“Thank you Mr. Doucet.” Lillian stood to go. “I will be in court to testify to what I saw.”

“I will be seeing them in chambers Miss McTavish. If what you allege is true I will not allow such matters to be heard of in public. There is no need to affront any more people than necessary with such unpleasantness. I may seek to question you, say, at … ” he took out his pocket watch and consulted it. “At 3 pm.”

“Yes, I see.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be seen publicly as someone aware of such distasteful knowledge.”

“I understand.” Lillian was disappointed when she left. She was longing to have these men shamed in front of as many people as possible.

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

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees 

 sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Sydney Academy 3

When I was in Sydney recently my sister asked what did I do to ‘hang out’? At the Academy I was fairly active in some of the ‘clubs.’ One was the Junior Red Cross that devoted its energy to raising money – I guess the money went to the Red Cross. One year we sold ballpoint pens with, I think, Sydney Academy & the school logo printed on them. I remember this because I the group bought them from a company my father’s business used for similar office stuff.

If the order was large enough the company threw in an extra bonus: a coffee percolator one year, a wrist watch the next. We also sold raffle tickets for those bonus items. One year there was regional Jr. Red Cross conference held at Riverview (I think). There was a dinner& dance. 

I also joined the Chess Club, even though I wasn’t all that good at it. I barely remember anyone in it. The same for a short-lived ‘Record Club’ where we brought our favourite lps & played a couple of tracks & talked about why we liked them. My selection ‘The King & I’ wasn’t deemed serious enough. The teacher behind the group wanted to hear serious music not pop, show tunes or jazz. The club didn’t last.

My biggest involvement was badminton. We had the gym every Saturday & played round-robin. Singles, mens doubles, girls doubles & mixed doubles. I was a fairly accomplished player & did win a few trophies. There was also competition with other schools.

The best part of this became music! We were allowed to play records, usually 45s, while the play was going on. I quickly gravitated to this & became a sort of dj as mt pop music interest increased. Popular stuff was the Lovin’ Spoonful, The Beatles, Dave Clarke 5. I recall playing The Gates of Eden, which was the flip side of Like A Rolling Stone & being asked to play less serious stuff. When the Monkee’s I’m Not Your Stepping Stone was first played everyone went nuts for it & we had to play it over & over again.

I was pretty serious about badminton though. A bunch of us also played at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, (now home of HAT) which had a couple of courts in its semi-basement auditorium. The space was also used by the Rotary Club for rehearsals & set building. It was great as we got to practice without the rest of the school around us. I was quite taken by one of the other guys who played. He was hairy & sometimes sported a beard until someone at the school would tell him it was time to shave.

The one non-school organization I became involved with was DeMolay, but that’s another post 🙂

The Whitney Pier Museum

 

is dedicated to the industry of the area

steel workers miners

displays about the various ethic groups

that created the community

Jewish Black Ukrainian

old high-school year books

pictures of teams hockey basketballs

rows of mothers knitting for the war

soldiers returning 

those lost

churches that have come gone

business that survived then faded

as economies rose and dipped

the first black owned store in the city

 

families in fields picnics outings

Christmas parties in church auditoriums

faces turned to cameras

leaden in front of raging blast furnaces

or smeared with cold dust at a mine entrance

men in groups workers comrades

sometimes everyone named

who’s your father 

takes on a tree of discovery

 

I sift through these

wonder about the real lives of these men

wonder where is my queer history

I’m assume each of them

had a wife and kids somewhere

they sweated and worked for that classic dream

a house a garden 

 

no way to find out if any of them

sought out something in each other

no mention that 

this is Jack and John 

who lived happily together 

in this house on Lingan Road

everyone knew but no one cared

 

I’m happy to know the lives

of famed homos of the past

Radcliff Hall Alan Ginsburg

the list gets longer 

as we allow history to reveal

what some historians once thought 

too sordid to bring to light

the sex lives of heteros are fine fodder mind you

 

I look at these photos and wonder

what truths are hidden 

unrecognized

no display of the same-sex inclined

it is as if only the famed were queers in history

no ordinary folks

in these little local museums 

of the closeted

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

October

Stratford Festival – The Crucible

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Jones and King

I loved Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings old-school soul sound from the first moments of the first track on Naturally. I read a rave review of her somewhere & for once wasn’t disappointed. The same is true of 100 Days & I Learned The Hard Way. Great songs, great band, fine Dap Kings horn section & Sharon’s voice – it all seems so effortless – like stepping into a time machine into a 1968 r’n’b review. If you’ve never her you are missing something.

Not next on the shelf but close enough is Carol King’s Tapestry plus an mp3 collection that includes her Music; Rhymes & Reasons; Fantasy. Tapestry was one of those unavoidable albums – everyone I knew in Sydney had a copy of it, except for me. Not that I didn’t like it but I found some of it too limpid – I was a Led Zeppelin fan 🙂 Too peaceful, as is nearly all her music.

In the mp3 collection I also have Françoise Hardy’s Le Premier Bonheur du Jour – I had an lp copy of this I bought in Montreal sometime in the 90’s. It is her 2nd release & is full of sweet girl pop. She was the French version of Marianne Faithful – gentle rock/folk innocence.  

Also Lotte Lenya Sings Berlin Theatre Songs – mainly Brecht (gasp!). I had a cassette transfer of this given to me by a friend & I replaced that with mp3 download. I love her voice, her phrasing & the songs, all in German, are classics. Never a big US star, like Detrich, Lenya is a treasure.

More French, this time PQ with Monique Leyrac: Les Grands Succes, Chant Leclerc. An international music icon who could rival Celine Dion, Monique ever courted the US market & as a result never achieved the same celebrity status as Celine. I love her versions of Pendant Que & Mon Pays both included in Grands. An amazing voice 

Beatrice Lillie: The Very Best of – Canada’s own darling 🙂 great comic timing, excellent songs that straddle English musical hall & Broadway. Very funny.

Free Your Mind

‘Peaches … readers … congratulations … filling … piecrust … rodents … ski … slope … car … carpet … time … clocks … grass … lawn.’ Jeff shouted each word as loudly as he could. ‘Green … tickle … piano … anger … cage … French … carpet.’

‘You already said carpet.’ Paul muttered.

‘Thanks … regrets … simplicity … theatre … teachers … dy-no-mite … carbonated … selections … execution.’ He stopped for a breath.

‘Are we getting close to the end of this?’ Paul yawned.

‘Conclusion … finality … death … roadwork … cantaloupe … comic … trigger … shovel … lawn.’

‘You’ve already said lawn.’

‘Repetition … suspicion … furtive … creep … birthday … cardigan.’ Jeff glanced at his watch. Another minute to go. ‘Devious … bible … wedding … swimming  … sand … teeth … filling … candy … spoon.’ He stopped.

‘Is that it?’ Paul began to stand up. 

‘Yep. For now. You should try it.’

‘It sounds pointless to me.’

‘Frees the mind. If anyone needed to free their mind, it’s you.’

‘Thank you. But I’ll stay stuck, rather than sound like a street person off his meds.’

‘Go on try. Say the first thing that comes to mind. Let the words spring up without trying to make sense of them.’

‘No I’d rather stick to cohesive links.’

‘As if that produces anything. You need to learn how to free your mind.’ Jeff grabbed Paul in a head lock and rubbed his head with his knuckles. ‘Come on let it out … let it out.’

‘Get the fuck away from me.’ Paul shoved Jeff aside. ‘Idiot  … asshole … fuck head … prick face. How’s that?’

‘Not random enough. Too much thinking and purpose behind each of them. You need to liberate the editor and let the subconscious well up and flow out. It really clears out the mind and sets you up for what you really want to say.’

‘Look, I know what I really want to say, and that is, that you are an idiot.’

‘That’s merely what you think you want to say to hide what you subconscious is thinking.’

‘I see, so this ‘shout it out’ process also makes you psychic?’

‘Doesn’t take esp to see how uptight you are. Come on just let it loose. The words will set you free. Try it.’

‘Boxer uh midget uh delicate uh…’

‘Louder and don’t select. The right word is the one that appears. Go on you can do it.’

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

October

Stratford Festival – The Crucible

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Cape Breton Reflections

My visit to Cape Breton had me living in many worlds – my memories, my sister’s memories, the present day & the fictional worlds of Emile Zola’s amazing Au Bonheur des Dames, & Aliette de Bodard’s Servant of the Underworld, set in the fifteenth-century Aztec Empire (which I was reading alternate chapters from on my Kindle.) Both of which I’d highly recommend.

The weather was perfect – hot, sunny & not overly humid. The Travelodge was the right distance from the downtown – I could walk where I wanted in 40-50 minutes – which is my usual daily walking routine so I certainly got my steps in. I deliberately didn’t use my iPod so that I was present for the walks. Only listened to my airmac iTunes when I was writing & even then I enjoyed working in ‘silence’ most of the time.

I did a couple of my school walks but retracing those steps wasn’t the point of this trip. The same with meeting up with a few old friends – it was more about today than reflecting on the times we spent together. Though the past did provide a few highlights in my sister’s house, which is the one we grew up in. The old dictionary was sweet to leaf through, the silver set was similarly sweet to see & handle. The chest it was in was enough at first then we opened it up! The Singer 🙂

Visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg is always fun, taking pictures was even more fun. Seeing the wind turbine farm at Lingan was a totally new memory. Finding a bunch of original Whitman YA novels on my last full day was a treat too. I can’t wait to read them 🙂

The flight back to Toronto was trouble free, as it should be right? There was a team of young athletes from the Ontario Track & Field association heading back on the flight – wearing red, white jackets. I had opted to wear the red hoodie I’d bought so I did get some interesting reactions as they wondered why they hadn’t seen this guy at their events.

I didn’t get to do everything I set out to do, which is a good things – I’ll have stuff to do on my next visit.

The Colliery

The Colliery

while white sun simmers 

ocean’s edge 

we enter the colliery 

follow the guide 

metal basket jostles us down 

down 

smell coal seeping ocean 

light becomes dark then black 

 

thin beams from helmet lamps
graze without illuminating 

faces arms
fire fly flash of teeth tongue
the guide’s words roll out over echoless drips
a silence that stifles our breathing
the chilled walls absorb everything
wooden struts hold the earth from us
coal buffering the echo of our shuffle
as we crouch lower to fit

tiny lamp light glances off rock surfaces
jagged caroms of cold flashes
was that a face an arm
embedded between strata of earth
a zig-zag white trace
slipping in the endless squeeze 

from above below 

the passage narrowing even more
as we scrabble along hunched crabs
feel the ground 

hope for traction 

ache to stand but can’t
air thicker presses on all sides
can these wooden splints 

keep us safe 

 

a pressure in the lungs
the scatter of the fear 

is this the way I want to go
squished in a tremble of tectonic plates
hugged by the earth’s crust

 

we turn a corner catch our breath
the guide filling in gaps
stunned that so many men
spent their lives down here
ate slept shivered exited eventually
to return day after day
did they dare seek comfort 

in one another’s arms 

 

we shiver from black to dark to light
brought to the surface 

to life 

to summer 

where heavy clouds have formed
lightning races the horizon
rumble of thick thunder
blanket of rain falls
to wash us clean of the abyss
we never have to return to

 

This piece goes back to my visit to Cape Breton in 2012. One day we went to the Miner’s Museum in Glace Bay. I took that opportunity to visit a coal mine that was part of the facility. They gave us rubberized ponchos to wear and we waited in the change room for a while. from he high ceiling there were actual miner’s work clothes hanging as they would have when the mine was operational.

 

We wore modern helmets with small lamps on them & that was the main illumination for our tour. The beam was quite forced so, as the piece, says they only illuminated what you looked at. I half expected mine to fall on a face in a dark corner, or on a hand that was reaching out for me.

It was stressful to see the wooden stavings, that held up the ceiling & the walls knowing that that was all that held up the tons of earth over our heads. One clearly got the feeling what it was like down there & it made the sense of camaraderie the miners felt for each other very real.

The tour didn’t include us actually digging for coal though. We did get to sit the lunch area. We did get to steel the air, feel the floor, touch the walls, get dripped on by the sea. It was here that the idea for Coal Dusters was fully formed. Looking at the pictures of the men, some in early teens, who worked down here I wondered about their lives. We know all about their families but there was never a hint that their camaraderie might have been more than just that. 

 

When I have performed this piece people have told me it gave them chills, made them feel that suffocating claustrophobia. For me it was profound & haunting experience I was happy to share.

 

previous Brown Betty posts:

Man With A Past 1 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3B3

When I Was A Young Boy  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3By

Home (not of the brave) https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Cg

Nailed https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3D9

Unmasked https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3EE


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

Chapter LVIX – Birk In Shackles

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LVII

Birk

In

Shackles

Birk and Clancy came back to the Nelson’s with their fish. 

“What is it?” his mother asked. “I can tell by the look on yer faces that something happened.”

“That Miss Lillian caught me and Clancy horsing around. We was bare naked.” He blushed as he told her.

“Why did you do that with her there?” Maddy asked.

“We didn’t know she was there.” Clancy said.

“That stretch of Blue Lake empty most of the time. Even more so this time of the year.” Birk said. “It was warm enough and we wanted to cool down.”

“We had been in for a swim when she came up over the path and spotted us.” Clancy said.

“Started in screaming at us. Calling us Godless and then ran off as if she had seen something awful.”

“Guess a naked, hairy, thing such as yourself might scare a young Catholic gal.” Birk’s mother started to laugh. “She’s been through enough as it is without seeing you two.”

“She wasn’t scared.” Clancy said. “She was in a true rage about how about it wasn’t right for men to be together the way we was. Playing around as if we were kids in the sun.”

“We got dressed as quick as we could but she was gone before we could …”

“Could what?” his mother asked. 

“I don’t know.” Clancy said. “Explain.”

“She didn’t want to hear anything from us once she’d made her mind up. So, we come back here with the fish.” Birk put the fish into a wash basin.

“That’ll teach you.” His mother hit him with her wooden spoon. “You aren’t children anymore. Stop behaving that way.”

“Yes Ma.” Birk flinched.

“And you Clancy Sinclair. I figured you being a bit older would have enough sense. Neither of you are children anymore. You are men. Keep that in mind. It’s not as if the lake is the miner’s wash up room. Now is it?”

“Yes ma’am.” Clancy said.

 

Birk and Clancy were in the back orchard gathering dead wood when Maddy came out to them.

“There’s policemen at the house come looking for you two.”

“What!” Birk said wiping sweat of his brow.

“Ma says to come directly.”

“We’re coming.” He pulled on his shirt.

“What you think it is?” He asked Clancy.

“Fishing out of season? Maybe this is what that priest’s niece said she’d get us in trouble.”

Birk shook his head. “You think she’d do something that mean? I figured she’d go to her uncle, the way she went on about the scriptures.”

“Perhaps’n he got the the police after us then. I wouldn’t put that past him.”

When they got to the house there were three constables waiting for them.

“Birk Nelson? Clancy Sinclair?” The tallest of them asked sharply.

“Yes.” They each answered.

The other two constables stepped forward and grabbed them roughly by the arms.

“You will come with us. Peaceably.”

“What is this about?” Birk’s mother said.

“These bastards know well enough what they’ve done. Ma’am. I can’t want to speak of it in front of children.”

“Maddy you go up to your room.” She stood at the bottom of the stairs till Maddy was in her room. “Now shut your door.”

Birk and Clancy glanced at each other but kept still.

“We done nothing wrong, officers.” Clancy said. ‘Cept get caught by the female with our drawers off to take a swim.”

“That’s not how she tells it.” The tall officer spoke directly into Birk’s face. “Putting your disgusting hands on the good Catholic girl. You got your nerve.”

“We didn’t touch her.” Birk tried to pull away.

“You’ll regret what you did.” One policeman pushed Birk’s face to the wall and shackled his arms behind him.

Birk struggled to get free.

“Keep that up boy. Resisting will only take use more force to keep you in line.”

The officers did the same to Clancy.

They pushed Birk and Clancy along the street. There was another pair of constables waiting at the corner.

“They give you any trouble?” One them asked.

“Not enough. Sarg.” The one with Birk said.

“They fess up?”

“What do you think?”

“You two take the tall one to the ferry. While we have a word with this one.”

The two officers pushed Clancy onto the boat.

“Now. So its Blackie’s son is it?” Sarg said pushing his face close to Birk’s. “Your Da’s a mighty superior man.”

“How’s that?” Birk asked.

“Engineer, that’s how. Working when the other’s isn’t. He was too busy to teach you the difference between right and wrong though. I know what you did to that Boston gal. Filthy Christers like you aren’t above the law. Now you are going to find that out.”

“We didn’t do nothing to her.” Birk had barely finished when the Sarg punched him hard in the face.

“You saying that girl is a liar. Her with her uncle a priest.” He punched Birk again sending him staggering.

“She’s …”  Birk’s mouth was full of blood.

“She’s got us now to defend her honour now. So don’t think you can play innocent.”

Sarg shoved Birk toward the boat, kicking him in the hip. “Keep moving.”

Birk struggled to get his hands out of the handcuffs. 

“Keep still boyo.” Sarg whacked Birk across the ear with the palm of his hand. “Resisting arrest and tryin’ to escape is all we need. Keep that up and there’ll be no need for a trial.”

“The sight of him is making me sick.” Sarg said to the other two officers. “Take him over there out of my sight.”

The officers shoved Birk past Clancy to the other side of the ferry. In passing Birk saw that Clancy’s nose was busted and bleeding over the front of his torn shirt. He sat on a bench and glared out over the water.

The constables escorted Birk and Clancy to the police station in New Waterford and put them each in their own cell in the holding rooms and left them.

“What you think she’s gone and told them?” Clancy asked quietly.

“I don’t know. She didn’t come near enough for us to even talk to her. Maybe she saw more than we know.”

“Saw more? What more, us sporting in the water. She was too far away to see much o’that anyway.”

“She called us things I don’ understand half of what she said about us being unwholesome. Being forna – something?”

“She’s more educated than sensible, if you ask me Birk. I don’t know what she was trying to say except she didn’t much approve that we were having a good time while she was being unhappy about her husband dying like he did in the mines.”

“The constable said that we interfered with her. That means we … put our hands on her.” Birk reddened.

“That was what she meant. That we had forced our attentions on her, on her body.”

“What! She never even came that close to us. Why would she say that?”
“To get us here. She promised to make us as unhappy as she is.”

The door opened and Lillian came in followed by two of the policemen, Father Patrick and Clara O’Dowell.

Birk grabbed the bars of his cell. “Tell them Miss, that we didn’t interfere with you in anyway. Tell them!”

“Interfered?” Lillian asked.

“That’s right ma’am.” The constable that had bloodied Birk’s nose said. “These are the boys you said attempted to have their way with you when you was at the lake.”

“I see you’ve already taken into your hands to punish them.” Clara said. 

“No ma’am.” Another of the officers grinned. “They was tossed around by the waters as we brought them over.”

“I regret you have been mislead constables. I said nothing of that sort of anyone. They did my person no harm but what I saw will be forever burned into my memory.”

“But you said they were naked.” The constable said.

Birk backed away from the bars.

“You see.” She gloated. “He knows what they were doing.”

Clancy explained, again, about the pissing on his hands. Birk showed them his damaged palms and fingers. He kept his eyes on Lillian’s face hoping her looks would make more sense to him than her words. The words were angry with that undercurrent he’d heard in his sister’s voices when they found something that they didn’t approve of, like the time they came across a dead dog out back of their house.

His eyes went from face to face as they talked more to each other than to him and Clancy. They were trying to find out exactly what it was that got Lillian so distressed.

“Buggery?” Father Patrick glared at him then Clara. “Forgive me for saying such a thing in your presence, Miss O’Dowell.”

Birk didn’t know what the priest was talking about. He felt even more lost as Father Patrick became red-faced as he began to quote scripture. 

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

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip this summer to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet