Puccini to Mumbai

Spread over 3 mps cd compilations I have Giacomo Puccini’s operas: Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Turandot; plus his Messa di Gloria. Rounding out the cds is Gounod’s Faust & his Messe Solemnelle de St Cecile. As well as Geoffrey Burgon’s Brideshead Revisited soundtrack. Oh yes, not to forget hours of Indian classical music for the sake of variety 🙂


I saved opera for my old age because I am not, nor have I become, a major opera fan, at least not of Puccini. My favourite would be Bizet’s Carmen, & I do have a fondness for Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. I have Puccini out of a sense of duty. I enjoy them when they come up in my listening rotation but I don’t find myself longing to hear them, as do with other pieces. The same holds true for Gounod’s Faust. I seem to prefer the angst of Slavic opera to the emotional turmoil of Italian.

The Masses are a different story. I love them both, the musical striving for spiritual tonalities appeals to something in me. Both are edifying, soothing & satisfying in ways opera isn’t. The Brideshead soundtrack is also soothing & doesn’t need the visuals to make it work, as it were. I loved the series & the music is a nice break from the opera.

A good friend of mine brought his childhood collection Indian classic music back to Toronto after a visit to Mumbai where he had it burned onto several cds. I don’t know what technology was used but those cds were about 12 hours each!! His desktop couldn’t read them but mine could. So I downloaded them, burned fresh copies for him at 7 hr per cd & also made copies of some of it for myself. The music various combinations of sitar, tabala & other instruments & some chanting is sometimes hypnotic, sometimes tedious & sometimes stirring. Trust me an hour at a time is more than enough – just like opera 🙂

Brave New World 

I opened the door. My new condo. Empty. Clean. Smell of paint and sunshine, lollipops and roses. Crisp. Fresh. My furniture would be arriving in the afternoon. This time I opted for professionals. No more renting vans and dragging stuff up and down, in and out. I did my own packing, called movers and soon stuff would begin to arrive. Some old. Some new.

I put my coat in the hall closet. There were hangers there already. I had dropped in the night before with a few essentials. Hangers, toilet paper towels that sort of thing, even some juice in the fridge but no cups to drink it out of.

New living-room furniture would arrive the next day.

I went to the window to enjoy the view. A clear day. A sliver of endless blue sky between the two high-rises on either side of me. 

A knock at the door. My first visitor. I opened it and a woman stood there. About my age, I guessed.

“Hello.” I reached my hand out. 

“Could you please keep the noise down in here. My husband isn’t well, you know. He needs complete quiet.”

“But …”

“If you keep up this racket I’ll report you to the board. They don’t like noisy people here. No one does.”

“But …”

She walked away.

“I haven’t even moved in yet.” I said to her back. “I haven’t had time to make noise.”

I shut the door. In the kitchen I took a drink of my juice right from the carton. I needed a drink.

There was a knock at the door. She was back and had the building super with her.

“This is him.” she frowned at me. “Making that damed racket. Kept us up all night with it.”

“I wasn’t here all night.” I explained to the super. “I was here around seven to drop somethings off for moving in today.”

“Listen, asshole,” The super tapped me on the chest. “Don’t fuck around with us here. We won’t put up with it. You understand?”

The woman gave me a ‘I told you so’ look. 

As I closed the door I thought ‘Ah, brave new world.’



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

March 13 –

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


Richard III – Stratford Festival


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


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

Full Up

Full Up

he tells me

I’m full of it

does than mean

full of hot air

full of bullshit

full of blessings

full to the brim

or spilling over

dripping down the sides

with a puddle of it

all around me

a puddle that keeps getting bigger


is there no room

for anything else

am I so full of it

I can’t change




am I’m so full of it

that I feel nothing else


I feel empty 

not full up


even as full as I supposedly am 


this being full of it


is an attempt to shame me

I get that

but I’m so full of it

I feel no shame

there’s no room 

for your judgements 

to find footing

I’m not adding your shame

to the it

I already carry

at least I carry it well

no thanks to you

who aren’t full of anything

all I hear is the hollow echo

of your emptiness

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 


Text Me

he’s behind bars

so the streets are safer

yet I still say

text me when you get home

these streets will never be safe


all those years 

when I never worried

about more than someone getting wet

waiting too long for a bus


all those years

when this was happening

men lured into a van

expecting a lift home

not a fight for their life


I’m feeling retroactive fear


for dangers I never knew existed 

for men coming and going

from my house

from my arms

making their way home

at night


some who have in fact

disappeared from my life

moved on

I presumed

but now I’m not sure


I know he’s behind bars

but the streets

will never feel safe again

so text me when you get home

I’ll text you when I get home

I find it unsettling to revisit the Terra Cotta poems. Some were written during the manhunt. This one after the arrest. I live a relatively protected life – not quite a cocoon but one at a distance from the downtown core where my immediate physical risks are minimal. I feel much safer walking the my east end streets at night that I do walking along, say, Jarvis at night.

Many of the killers victims were met on-line – which is where I do meet men – geography only plays a role when travel is involved. So it is not unlikely that I could have met this man. It isn’t even impossible that we did have some on-line contact but I’m clearly was not the ‘type’ he was looking for. Being a non-drugger, sober, white queer offers some protection 🙂

I knew men who knew some of the victims. One who was sure there was something going on before the police acknowledged there was something going on. I’ve been told that the killer went to some recovery meetings in his hunt for vulnerable men. I mention these things as context for all the Terra Cotta pieces. I felt I had tom write something about this, about the way the media responded to the man hunt.

It impacted the community is many ways. This piece reflects one of those ways. Our concern for friends & lovers whom we cannot protect. The text request was a way to offer connection to friends – not necessarily just fwb. I always make the request when one of guys who drive to my place head home. Even when men are ‘out of the closet’ they may not be out about who they are seeing. If they have an accident I may never know unless family alerts every # on a cell phone that so & so etc.


The fact that this guy is behind bars hasn’t changed the culture in which what he was doing was so easy to ignore. The indifference to crime/assault against the LGBTQIA community hasn’t changed as a result. It may have started a ‘conversation’ but let’s face it talk is not a change.

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Picture Perfect 8

His father had died before Daniel had come out to his family. He’d kept the gay part of his life a secret from them. He’d hid it when he joined the RCMP but it was there that he knew he’d have to be honest with himself. The family didn’t know until he showed up at the funeral with Trevor, his lover at the time.

His Dad’s will split the business three-ways with Dan getting sixty per cent, his sister thirty-five and, as long as she lived, his mother held the remaining five per cent. Daniel held the controlling interest so that the business would retain the family name. There was an in trust bequest for Daniel’s first born. 

At the time Linda was sure his Dad would never have split the business in such a way if he’d known Daniel was gay. After all she was married and already children why should he get the bigger share.

“Jesus, Daniel when will you trust that I know what I’m doing! I am older than you. I was running the business with Daddy when you were running around playing detective at Quantico. Or maybe you were playing with detectives.” She got out of the car and slammed the door shouting at him. “Who do you think was running things while you are off fucking up in Alberta with the RCMP.”

Daniel got out of the car.

“Sorry.” She touched his shoulder. “I didn’t mean to go off on you like that but you always fucking block me at every move even when you do give in. But this is important.”

“It was Dad’s idea I go to Quantico. Done is done. Sis. ”

She glared at him. She hated to be called ‘sis.’ 

They walked thorough the mall entrance to the store. Linda had convinced him that being here with these high-end, exclusive shops was the best thing for James Family Photographers. Thanks to Daniel they had exclusive North American distribution for Lifend, one of the top manufacturer of cameras and lenses in the world. The camera bodies were hand-crafted and one of a kind. Of course neither of them realized that shoppers at FairVista were more interested in brand names they could wear without needing to know more than how to do up a zipper.

She stopped at a window display that took up half of one of the store’ two front windows. All black except for a lighted box that held one of the hand-crafted Lifend’s. A simple card beside it said ‘The Vista – $250,000.00.”

“Time to give Cartier’s a run for their money.” Linda grinned. “We can’t have people think we only sell inexpensive digital key chain cameras.”

“I gave you the best part of the business. You know that. Mom knows that. So what more is there?”

They went into the store and up to Linda’s office on the second story loft that overlooked the main floor. 

“It’s called due diligence Daniel. I’m looking out for our investment while you are frittering your time with stuff like this.” She shoved the newspaper article that mentioned his involvement in busting the porn ring. “This is good work, but associating a family business with child porn is not a good PR move.”

“Linda, it doesn’t directly mention the business.”

“You always try to wriggle out of things.” She smirked. “The folks always gave into you. More than they did to me. The golden boy, right. Name one time when you didn’t ultimately get your way. While you were gone I was holding things together. Remember that.”

“Right. Dad wasn’t working himself to death. Mom wasn’t behind the counter every day, either. It was all you.”

“At least I wasn’t the one bitching about losing all my friends when we moved here. So sad.”She pretend to rub her eyes crying. “Boo fucking hoo.”

“Friends like Timmy Dunlop.” He took the porch photos out and put them on the desk in front of her. “Do you remember him. Stellerton.”

She stared at the pictures then back at him.

“Maybe these will help?” He added a couple of the colour pictures of him and Timmy leap-frogging in the back yard. “The Wickham Arms. Summer of 84.”

She pushed the pictures back toward him. “What of it.”

“The summer we moved to Toronto. What really happened?”

“N … nothing.” she paled a little.

“You know Timmy was one of the children who were abducted that summer. Along with …” he named off the other children.

“Yes, I remember that. Dad was so scared. He didn’t feel either of us were safe.”

“I understand that but to take off just like that. I didn’t know about Timmy until this past week.”

“There’s nothing to tell. What did you expect. A quiet chat about your buddy disappearing. Try telling that to a spoiled brat. That’s the past. Let go of it Daniel. You were a child. I was not that much older than you. I know little more than you do. It was Peggy that was pushing him, you know. Since Christmas, we had planned to move that summer. It was decided already that this was to be Dad’s last year on the road.

“He loved that circuit. It paid pretty well and he felt like it was … a sort of adventure for us all. Mom didn’t. They fought.”

“It didn’t have anything to do with …”

“Joey Martel! Yeah. Mom thought he was too old for me. I guess she was fucking right. What was I, sixteen he was twenty-six. I thought he was such a looker. I found out a few years later he’d been playing around with a couple of other girls. Girls younger than me. He was another sick creep.”

“You are right about him being a looker.” He took another of the old pictures out. It was one she had taken of Joey. He was aiming a gun at a carnival shooting range.

“You took this after we left. I thought you were staying with Aunt Tansy.”

She glanced at the photo, then at him. “Look, I have nothing more to tell you. The past is the fucking past. I’m more concerned about the future. Our future. Even if you aren’t.” She pushed all the photos closer to him and walked away from her desk. “Come here. Look down there.”

He walked over to the railing. There was at least a dozen customers in the store. Some browsing. Others being shown cameras or video equipment by her staff.

“Business is good. This is a Wednesday afternoon. Demographically Wednesday not a hot time for sales of any sort. Yet we draw them in.”

“And you think Cuppa’s will drawn even more in?”
“There isn’t a food court here. Just a couple of overpriced spots that make Zephyrs look like a soup kitchen. So why not an overpriced coffee shop.”

“I’ll think about it.” He took out his cell to check the time. He saw that he had several text messages from the other store. “I have to be going. I do have to show some due diligence to the mother ship.”

“I’ll get Hamid to drive you. To make up for me abducting you?”


“New staff. I think you’ll like him.”

“I am taking you to your home or office?” Hamid asked as he started the car.

“Office. You know where that is.”

“Oh, yes, Mr. James you are … I mean your office is on Queen Street.”

Linda was right in her estimation that he’d like Hamid. He was a Sanjay clone. A little shorter though but with the same solid body type and at 11 a.m. already needed to shave again.

“You’ve been in Canada long?”

“Oh yes sir. Three years and counting. I will be a citizen soon. I have degrees in electronics, computer analysis and cosmetology.”

Hamid had as diverse an educational background as Sanjay.

“Mrs. T is telling me you have a friend from Mumbai.”

“Yes. Sanjay’s family is from there. He was born here and educated there.”

“It is said that every person on the planet has relatives in Mumbai.” Hamid laughed.

“I suppose.”

“You have children as well?”

“No. The two shops are children enough for me. Besides I’m not the marrying type. Sanjay on the other hand is.”


“I’m gay. Didn’t Linda tell you that when she told you about my Mumbai friend. He’s my lover. We’ve been together for several years.”

“I see. I see.” Hamid smiled widely. “But so many same-sex couple are adopting children, are they not?”

“Not this couple.” He resisted haranguing Hamid with his tirade about heteronormative assimilation by gays. “You can pull over here.”

Hamid pulled over.

“Thanks, Hamid. You made good time.”

“Thank you, sir. I trained in Mumbai. You must ask your Sanjay about driving there. Then I did my tour of duty in Toronto driving taxi for a year before I got the job at your most wonderful store.”

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Way To Go Week One

Finished the introductions to both the book & the workbook. They echo each other. I find a few things to contradict but for the most part I choose not to argue & push on. I dislike the ‘informercial’ brag – so-so did this & now has two best-sellers, has a movie, an exhibition – the implication being that if you don’t get these results you are doing something wrong.

I appreciated the reinforcing of my thought that we mistake negative thinking for being realistic & positive thinking as delusional. This came up in the discussion round the use of affirmations – to think ‘I am never going to get anywhere’ is clearly factual, whereas ‘I am a productive writer’ is an egotistical brag not a fact.

Starting doing the week one tasks, as suggested, in long hand!! So I am following at least one of the suggestions, as I do my morning pages on my desktop. I do most of my writing via keyboard. The ‘Way’ theory is longhand slows the brain down to sort things out carefully – my theory is the faster I write the less my editor steps in & the more I am open to the flow.

My artist date last week was part of my morning walk – a stop at, I kid you not, Glory Hole Donuts – Gerrard E/Coxwell. These are not your average donuts. Not exactly out of my comfort zone either so future might take me more out of my routines. In winter I’m less inclined to go places where I’m trapped in my winter wear but I have been eye a few sort of trade shows that could be diverting. The ultimate artist date will be DC this June 🙂

The poems I’m currently posting on Mondays are thing I wrote in 2008 & am finally going back to take a look at – raw dough some of which needs carefully unravelling to translate from my typo or spell-check typo to English. This is sort of an an artist date with my past self.

F-Bombs Away

is there an emoticon to say 

what one doesn’t want to put into words

some cute little animated gif

that’ll take the sting out of the unspeakable

out of the unprintable

to remove any real pain

but says it all anyway


the vulgarity that curdles the bold

the sacrilege that shakes one’s belief system

reduced to a shruggy face

so that no one is offended

except those offended

by the sweet correctness of our times

where we dare not overstep

boundaries of taste

drop the f-bomb too much

or the deadly c-word


this fear of having people realize 

that we are as crass and boorish

as we are afraid we are

better to keep that self out of the public eye

off the printed page

unless that unguarded text moment

gets retweeted

shows up on You Tube


there has to be a way

of being offensive

without being offensive

without swearing 

making idle hand gestures

caught on cell phone videos


we are always on our toes

being as daring as we dare

pushing enough to let people know 

we can push

and that they should be grateful

we aren’t going as far as we’d like

that we could make them really uncomfortable

but aren’t out of politeness

yes politeness 

not out of fear of reprisal or judgement

without shooting them or ourselves 

in our pretty little heads

we want respect not dismay

for saying just the right unkind insult



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

March 13 –

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


Richard III – Stratford Festival


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


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

Festive Lights

most of which have since been taken down 🙂


be-lighted trees

East York Civic Centre

close up East York Civic Centre

rainbow snake

a bit restrained

well strung tree

chez moi



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

Star Trek Subtext (Feb 20.12)

Got out to Plasticine Poetry Sunday night. I haven’t been to a reading event for nearly two months. Not since I hosted Plasticine in December. I guess that’s part of the aging process – my unwillingness to bundle up warm and then drag myself out on cold wet nights to spots where there is barely room to sit at a table, let alone have a place to pile winter clothes. Paupers offers a bit of space for that in their booths so one doesn’t have to sit the entire night wearing the parka that you don’t want to throw on the floor.memole15

No mic cord for the first set of open stagers & feature. But the room was good for hearing without microphone – though first feature Lynn McClory did have to move to centre of the room. Her set was, for me, a bit dry. I’ve never been a fan of poetry about language – her works captures emotional distancing with abstractions, language play and broken phrases.  As much as I like phrases such as ‘deftly indifferent to the photographs’ I’m not sure how one is deftly indifferent. I did enjoy the irony of her closing piece about the Silent Majority.

During the break I connected with Adam Abbas – he did a great pean to Cathy Petch when he hit the open stage later. Also enjoyed running into and then sharing my booth with one of the Toronto Erotica guys. Thanks also to the organizers for cake to celebrate the recent launch of Cathy Petch’s book “Late Night Knife Fights” – which is already into it’s second printing.PC070014.JPG

Jim Nason started the second set – he read from his recent book “Narcissus Unfolding.” The pieces had a strong sense of place – the ocean, a back alley – that felt grounded and were emotionally inviting to me. Images like ‘the terrible flame of your father’s hand’ made sure I bought a copy of his book.

Final feature was Beatriz Hausner. When I featured with her at Plasticine a few years ago she read several surreal pieces about sewing the perfect man & that book  – “Sew Him Up” – is now in print, so I bought it. The pieces she read from it were infused with a warm Latino sensuality the reminded me of my favorites Lorca and Arenas. She read some pieces from ‘Raccoon’ that were rich with magic realism balanced with powerful emotional response to the life and death of Amy Winehouse – a book I can’t wait to get.

I managed to get into the first round of open stagers – read a couple of comfortable older pieces. As usual the open stagers run the gamut of pure Canadiana nature poetry to closing with a Serge Gainsbourgh song.


Here’s one of the pieces I read:

Star Trek Subtext

an all day Star Trek marathon

the original series on Blue Ray

weird space plants

funky 60’s retro-futurist sets

Kirk Spock Bones Sulu

(Sulu who knew you were

the real queen of outer space)

we had nachos   salsa

bags of sea salt-n-pepper chips

Hawaiian pizza   fried chicken

diet coke   real dr pepper

a 90 inch plasma TV

Trek in all its never to fade glory

as each episode started

we did a soprano unearthly dance

every time Scotty said

‘I’m giving it everything we got captain’

we’d eat chips as fast as we could

when Uhura said

‘we are experiencing interference’

we saw who could burp the loudest

every time Kirk took off or tore his shirt

we removed an article of clothing

(Strip Trek)

every time the fate of a culture

was decided by a kiss from Kirk

we made moony eyes at each other

until someone said ‘phasers on stun’

each time human emotions

were a puzzle

we asked deep personal questions like

‘who has the bigger dick

Chekov or that guy

with his face painted black and white?’

when any alien said

‘what is this thing you earth people call kissing’

we gave each other alien tongue baths

every time Spock said ‘illogical’

we did the Vulcan grind meld

by the time the marathon was over

it didn’t matter

that neither of us really liked Star Trek

we’ll never forget this Star Date One


When I got home there was Sulu – George Takei – on Celebrity Apprentice – though I don’t think I’d want of these contestants to make me a sandwich.


What the L

Jens Lekman is a Swedish singer who sings in English. I picked up couple of his cds back in 2008: Oh You’re So Silent Jens, Night Falls Over Kortedala. Have some Swedish roots I wanted to reconnect with that part of my heritage. I’d read a few reviews of him & was quite happy with his music. He is low-fi nearly folk like Postal Service. Sweet, slightly ironic songs about love & life. 

Peter LeMarc is a Swedish singer who sings in Swedish. I picked this cd, Bok med blanka sidor, up in 1997 at the Vinyl Museum in its reduced pile. Bruce Springsteen, Chris Rae come to mind when I listen to him. Gravel voice & rugged guitar playing & I have to idea what he is singing about 🙂 He’s still alive & recording.

Lifehouse’s No Name Face features their hit ‘Hanging By A Moment’ which I did like. The lp is good pop rock on the heteronormative type.  Also on the on the heteronormative  side is Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian icon. It was only right I should have a few tracks by him. As stand alone I have Gord’s Gold; tucked away in an mp3 collection is his first lp with songs like Ribbon Of Darkness. I hate to admit it but I was never a big fan though I do enjoy what I have.

The last ‘l’ in this post is cd Load Of Wood: 3 Dollars at the Door. The third (hence 3 Dollars) in a series of compilations of Cape Breton performers. The music runs from tradition to experimental to spoken word. A friend of mine is on one of the tracks. I bought it on a visit to Sydney Aug 1999. I went to the third floor apartment of one of the performers to buy it, almost like a dope deal in the old days. I haven’t been able to track down the earlier two though. What the L.


You can’t make it stick coppers. I was never at Hollywood and Vine at anytime. yeah, right, so don’t be giving me no hard time but if you do I can take it. I ain’t got no dna anyway so as you can tell. People say I’m bloodless as a stone and that is the truth. God’s own truth so you aren’t going to tie that rap on me I ain’t even been there and done nothing. You hear I ain’t done nothing and since when is doing nothing a crime, see. So get off my back. Cut me a break while you got time. 

No, I’m not threatening you Sgt. O’Malley, just letting you know you’re barking up the wrong hydrant. I keep my nose out of other people’s problems. Gave that up long ago. Do I look like some sort of super hero or trouble maker to you. If I do you better take closer look. 

Okay that’s close enough. 

I’m not the one. You guys know that, don’t you. So why are you giving an honest man such a hard time. I wasn’t near there. Sure I got an alibi. I was shacked up with some sharp looking piece of grade a tube stake. We was sinking our teeth into each other’s loin chops and enjoying the taste of man flesh. If you get my drift. Now, that is something you can pin me but that’s not against the law. Is it Sgt. O’Malley. 

Sure I got his name right here and more than his number on my cell phone. All time stamped and dated so you see that couldn’t of been me. Yeah the pics are a bit under lit but if you want I’ll drop my pants if you want to compare. So you can’t stick nothing me except maybe having a good time with your Dad, Sgt. O’Malley.



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

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


Richard III – Stratford Festival


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


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

The Right Price


Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

The Right Price

Nothing was the right size. He stood in the centre of the hotel room. The windows were too high to look out of and were too large for the room. Standing on tip-toe he could get a brief glimpse of the high-rise across the street.

It strained his neck to keep looking outside. His suitcase took up half the bed. The bed would clearly be too small for him to stretch out on. The desk was more like ledge. There wasn’t enough room under it for his legs. Not enough room for the top for his laptop to open properly. The chair back came half-way up his spine and offered no support when he leaned back.

The wall-to-wall carpet wasn’t quite wall-to-wall. One one side there was a bare angle of concrete floor that hadn’t been covered. The sink in the bathroom was so low he had to stoop to get his hands under the taps to splash tepid water on his face. There was no cold or hot just lukewarm. The shower stall door didn’t close properly so water splashed out on the floor when he took a shower.

Nothing was the right size except for the price.

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Not to mention it

The Not To List

Not to sew a robe for anyone

Not to ask for an excuse

Not to wear a hat for a funeral

Not to tell the time for a year

Not to clean a room for a photographer

Not to ask for another chance

Not to fix a sandwich for a questioner

Not to erase a mistake for a reporter

Not to fix a noose for a saxophone

Not to give a shit for logic

Not to hope a day goes by for a minute

Not to worry a teabag for example

Not to make space in a crowd

Not to mention it again

Not to question the powers that be

Not to complain about a bad photograph

Not to be culpable

Not to make that bed again

Not to ask them why why why

The 227 Rules For Monks cover every aspect of their life – from how much fabric can be used to make a robe, to how to walk into a room. Many are variations, refinements of the one before it. So I guess half their time is spent memorizing these rules the rest in enforcing them 🙂 

We live in a world hemmed in by rules almost as restrictive & unevenly enforced. If one is in the right social class they can get away things that others can’t i.e. rape, spousal abuse, homophobia (that list is even longer the the 227 Rules.)

Watching ‘The Crown’ I realized the rules of etiquette for interacting with the Royals was equally as ‘refined’ right down to what honorific is appropriate for different occasions & from different people – Presidents as opposed to other Royals. ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Your Royal Highness’ aren’t equal & one never says Mrs. Mountbatten or Queenie.

Oh, yes, then there’s the rule where, when dining with the Queen, one must stop eating when she stops & go on the next course but cannot start eating it until she does. One monarch was such a fast eater, often dishes where barely smelled before the new one was served.

So this is a list poem that consists of things ‘not to do.’ Some off which almost make sense, some of which come from my experience with others. I have a good friend who is a real photographer (unlike me who is a point & snap). He wants things as they are as opposed to magazine tidy. Same when he does portraits – ‘Don’t smile.’ 

Some of these rules have a ‘subtext.’ ‘Not to make that bed again’ is about getting out of bad relationships. Unlike some of my list poems this one doesn’t develop a narrative line as it progresses, it lacks inner logic (who give a shit?) The first rule is a direct reference the the 227 Rules. My usual rule is photos & blog content aren’t directly linked 🙂

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