Compassion

Week 9 of the Artist’s Way was about compassion – examining the inner blocks of resentment & past discouragements that block our creativity today – so this is compassion for ourselves. I can remember being discouraged in my time at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design by the technical ability of most of my fellow students. Those who did the most realistic drawing got the most praise. I was not one of those.

The more abstract, non-representational work was judged on concepts I didn’t appreciate either – use of negative space, colour balance etc. There was a pre-set standard of commercial potential underlying all the classes so that creativity was a product not a talent.

One of the Ways tasks was to read your morning pages. One of the things I uncovered in my covid cleaning frenzy was a binder of my hand-written morning pages when I first went through the book in 1997. I’ve done them daily since then. We only had the one desktop in the house then & I didn’t always have access to it. Many of those were done on the old eMac & sad to say all of that stuff is now lost to upgrades. We had those 5.25 inch diskettes back in the day.

Pen to paper doesn’t rely on the latest operating system to be accessed. There are lots of names with faces lost to the mists of time. I was using nicknames, abbreviations that are now meaningless to me. At the time was artistic director For Bushwack & also managing the Lab on Britain Street. So there was lots of frustrating creative energy  flowing around me. One show of mine got a particularly scathing review but someone who didn’t get the names of the characters correct 🙂 I posted it in the lobby without comment.

Week 9 talks about dealing with reviews 🙂 That review didn’t hold me back. Compassion is to be proud of them. The exercises & tasks focus on setting goals & what actions one can take now, over the next month, over the next year etc. Part of the process is past resentments/fears one might have in connection with the project: others have done it better, not emotionally damaged enough to have an authentic insight, etc. Compassion tells me that authenticity is overrated.

Corner Store

why does a group of teens 

still scare me

I walk past a corner store

where they hang around

shoving each other

smoking toking vaping

swearing on cell phones

fuck you timber bone

<>

what the hell is timber bone

I’m so far from street talk

to know if that is even street talk

I try not to walk too fast

try not to look too long

my eyes flick quickly 

from hooded shrouded faces 

pants so baggy 

they need to be held up by hand

girls with pale lips arched eyebrows

look at the boys with that mix 

of love  distance  and boredom

<>

what makes me anxious 

is it the mix of blacks asians

am I fearful of violence

that one of them might feel

the flick of my eyes 

and confront me 

“what you lookin’ at faggot”

why fir trimmed parkas

on mild spring days

what are they hiding under those hoodies

a generation gap never to be crossed

I know the closer they get 

the unsafer I feel

by the time I get home

I’ve forgotten that moment of anxiety

I really didn’t expect anything to occur 

<>

I wish that corner store wasn’t so close

wish I didn’t get that ripple of worry

wish I could lose the memory

of me at that age

never one to have guys 

to hang around with

wish I could forget being

the brunt of their dumb shoves

of their sneering exclusion

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

East End Rainbow Pride

Lots of personal rainbow flags scattered all over east end Toronto

on caged
branch office
between two ferns
rainbow privacy

almost real rainbow
maple leaves over the rainbow
anyway the wind blows
a la porch

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Covid 101: McMask Meals

Actually it’s probably 105 days of ‘lockdown’ which has loosened somewhat this past week even here in Toronto. I can tell by the amount of traffic on the streets both vehicular & pedestrian. The shift to more masking has seen an uptick, as is masks litter. Though I haven’t seen much ‘corporate’ branded masking. No McMask Meals yet. But I predict they’ll take the place of baseball caps & t-shirts as give-away promotional items. What would you prefer another notepad or a mask? 

No covid immunity breakthroughs, not that I expected one this soon. We’re learning how to keep it from killing people but that’s small consolation. One way to boost the immune system is to stop reading/listening to all the contradictory news. It is clear that travel for pleasure will be restricted to the wealthy, if it happens at all. No DC visits in my future 😦

The US has decided the economy is more important than health – well, that’s always been the case – profits trump everything. Maybe there’s more money to be made in ventilators or letting people die, than in keeping them safe. As they say follow the money – if there was no profit in poverty there’d be no poverty. Treatment is more profitable than cure. What are funeral costs like these days?

In my walks around the neighbourhood I see more dusty stuff at the curb. The result of social isolation covid cleaning frenzies. By stuff I mean old dressers, old upright pianos – big items clearly dragged up out of basements or down from attics. Many of which I’m sure are gone before garbage pick up. I know stuff I’ve ‘curbed’ has been gone within hours. Thanks to covid my house weighs at least 1000 pounds less. 

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

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

M. M. M.

Let’s step back to the 90’s with Britain’s M People. I have as stand-alone their elegant slumming & Bizarre Fruit & their Best of tucked away in an mp3 collection. I loved hearing & dancing to them in the disco. Their sound was soulful, propulsive, & romantic. I love Heather Small’s voice. When I hear some of these songs I get a sweet feeling of nostalgia but with no actual memory of person or place attached. Their cover of Itchycoo Park is a masterpiece of a masterpiece 🙂

Celso Machado is a Brazilian musician living in, of all places, British Columbia. I have his Varel as a stand-alone cd. Folky with touches of latin jazz this is a fine introduction to world music. Pleasant voice, great guitar sound. One track he shows off bird imitations on various instruments. Sexy music too.

For a time in the mid-90’s I vacationed in Montreal for a week or so in July thanks friends who moved her from there & went back to renew their accents. I developed a fondness for French pop, some of which was Québecois, some of which was out of France. My friends could tell the difference whereas I couldn’t, nor did it matter that much.

There was a separate PQ Much Music at the time, when Much actually played videos. I saw a track by Madam. I have their Eldorado, Weke & Ce Beau Pays.These are all fine pop/rock work. Great vocals, stinging guitar, some political commentary & in general fun. Part of the purpose was to improve my French, which never did happen, c’est la vie, but I enjoy have a nice slice of this music in my collection. 

Don’t Look At Me

Don’t Look At Me

I’m just sitting here

I didn’t say anything

I didn’t even look in your direction

my eyes were on my feet

on my coffee

on my smart phone

like everyone else

in transit

in a busy cafe

not looking at anyone

pulling our bodies tight

lest we brush another person

lest we be accused

of staring

of invading another privacy

of copping a visual feel

I don’t need restraints

to feel restrained

to feel the fear

of being too close

even when we are shoved

so close

in transit

on an escalator

so close

we break out into a sweat

fearful of enjoying the closeness

or that someone might be

enjoying being this close to us

get back

don’t look at me

I’m here

but not here



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

The Echo Echo Echo

The Echo

because I disagree

doesn’t mean you are wrong

<>

seeing things differently

doesn’t mean I know better

our ideological differences

ultimately don’t mean anything

minority majority

there’s always a power disparity 

our control over

each other

is still limited 

I may not be in charge

but neither are you

as we are caught in this dance

of conformity to

cultural imperatives

that define confine

us to gender roles

race roles

age roles

financial education class boundaries

that we struggle to tear down

or to reinforce

often without questioning why

they came to be in the first place

<>

there are noisy 

spokespersons on all sides

who shout down each other

as to who is right wrong

when the loudest wins

it’s only the echo

of what could have been

This piece starts with what I consider a truism which if more people understood there’d be no real purpose for twitter 🙂 There not agreeing is seen as treasonous, seditious & unpatriotic. I’d say un-American, but only the US president can make that decision. That’s disagreeing on a bigger playing field. History is seen through the eyes of the historian, not the eyes of the people who lived it. Colonizers see property rights as earned not stolen.

A variation on that truism is ‘just because I’m not arguing doesn’t mean I agree with you.’ What it does mean is that I’m not easily drawn into arguing because my experience has been the more insistent either side is the less productive the conversation is going to be. Not that I think we ‘should all be friends’    but we can respect one another’s individuality.

One of things recovery has pushed me to do is to examine more closely my own conformity to cultural imperatives, how lack of conformity to some of these imperatives has influenced me. One, that I’ve blogged about before is how masculinity is childhood is defined by fighting back with bullies. I was not a fighter so my internal self branded me a coward.

The news is often dominated by media whores who will tweet, say, do anything for attention. They don’t need information or even misinformation int heir reckless disregard for common sense. Contradict them & you are seditious, ignore them & you are seen as resentful & envious. The only dialogue they are interested in is the one in which you agree with them, not one that will lead to change.


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

Picture Perfect 24

Dan was surprised that Sanjay did go to Kevin McLeod’s engagement fundraiser. The lineup outside was being entertained by clowns juggling on unicycles. Mario Delucia, Kevin’s manager/partner, dressed as an aerialist in pale pink tights, with sequins sown in a scattered pattern that caught the light, was greeting people as they came in and handing each of them a cd of Kevin’s new single.

“Dan so glad you could make it.” He gave Dan a CD. “And this is the Sanjay Kumar. A real power couple. Crime and cream pies. There’s a TV show plot for you right there.”

He turned to the next guests coming in. 

As they made their way in and up the stairs they saw many people they knew who greeted them. Hugged, kissed, asked how they were doing, then busily went to the next people they half-knew as well.

Dan took a couple of glasses from a waiter. Handed one to Sanjay.

“Impressive.” Dan said.

“Yes, if you like glib.” Sanjay sipped his wine and wrinkled his nose. He looked for a place to put his plastic glass down.

“”You were supposed to call me back?” Cyrtys Baxter barrelled through a clump of people. 

“I’ve been busy. Sanjay this is Cyrtys Baxter. He called the other night.”

“Pleased to meet you. Look there’s Tracy from Zephyr. I’ll go see if they need a hand.” He kissed Dan quickly on the mouth and went.

“Very handsome.” Cyrtys watched Sanjay leave. “You like them a bit on the thick side I see.”

“You know Kevin McLeod?”

“Not at all. We’ve met a few times but this is the event of the season. Why thank you.” He accepted a balloon animal from a clown. “Looks like cock to me.” He laughed. “You pose for this?” He asked the clown.

The clown disappeared back into the crowd.

“You know Kevin?”

“I worked on a couple of his videos. Post production stuff mostly. Some green screen.”

“You’re a man of many talents. I was expecting you to return my calls though. Even during business hours.”

“Sorry, I was caught up in work. It was interesting to meet John Kilpatrick though. He’s an excellent host for the show. Didn’t sound like he was leaving the show.”

“Look, Daniel I didn’t mean to mislead you, honestly. But he was talking about wanting more money, about having another offer but that offer fell through and we’re stuck with him for another season. Contract you know.”

“So what did you want to talk to me about.” Dan accepted another drink from a waiter and some canapés.

“We want to do a more complete follow up to the east coast case. Possibly a mini-series looking only at that one case. I’ve seen the footage Stephanie shot with you and the camera loves you.”

“I know how to find my light.”

“Mr. James you have to learn how to take a compliment.”

“Mr. Baxter you do realize some of us can tell the difference between flattery and a compliment.”

His reply was cut off when a young girl jumped at them with a flash camera. She took three quick photos before taking the camera away from her face.

“Moxy Moxham. Girl reporter!” She did a quick curtsey. “And I do believe I just caught Mr. and Mr. James in polite conversation at this prestigious event.”

“Sorry to disappoint ya’kiddo,” Dan tried a 30’s news editor voice, “but no dice on the Mr. & Mr. angle.”

“Oh,” she was crest fallen.

While he did introductions he looked around the room. “Is your Dad here, too?”

“Over there somewhere. Oh look there’s Lady GaGa! I got to get pictures of this. She’s dressed like a normal person!” Ashely pushed her way into the crowd shouting. “Make way! Make way. Press.”

“What a handful.” Cyrtys shook his head. “Ever wish you had children?”


“Not at all. Sanjay is often enough.”

“I am serious though about …”

“Cyrtys I’m not here to discuss business, Really. I came as a friend of the grooms. Come to my office Monday and we can discuss whatever it is your are trying to pitch.”

“At two-fifty an hour?”

“That’s only if you have a camera on me.”

“Daniel James!” Jeremy Moxham appeared out of the crowd. “Ashley said you were here. I suppose this is your …”

“Let’s not go there. This is Cyrtys, with two y’s, Baxter, of Quintex – is it studios, films?”

“Films.” Jeremy answered. “Yes, I’m familiar with Mr. Baxter’s work.” Jeremy shook his hand. “Jeremy Moxham.”

“Of … TevTec?” Cyrtys asked

“Yes. If you don’t mind I’d like to have a word with Mr. James.”

“Certainly, sir.” Cyrtys walked away.

“What was that all about?” Dan asked.

“Just wanted to rescue you from his grip.”

“TevTec?”


“A subsidiary of mine that is involved with Quintex. It’s one of those tiny logos you see at the end of a TV show. That is if you watch the credits at all.”

“Sometimes. But never the fine print.”

“Your other half here?” Jeremy peered around the room. “Ah, yes, managing the dessert station. You’ve trained him well.”

“Your other half here?” Dan asked. He struggled to keep up the appearance that he and Sanjay were the model couple. 

“Jane? No. We’ve been separated for several years. If it weren’t for Ashley I probably would have forgotten her name by now.”

“Did someone mention my name? Smile.” Ashley popped up in front of them. “Moxy Moxham girl reporter catches the wealthy Jeremy Moxham with the debonaire Daniel James in an intimate moment at the 519.”

“Intimate!” Her dad laughed. “With this bunch of clowns?”

“Oh Dad!” she laughed.

There was a tuba and bass drum fanfare as two clowns pushed the crowd aside to allow Kevin and Stewart to enter. They followed the couple to a stage at the end of the room.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came tonight.” Kevin said. “We’ve raised over $500,000 for the 519.”

He was drowned out by the applause of the crowd.

“But even more important.” He continued as they quieted down. “I’m pleased to officially announce my marriage to Stewart O’Connor after this year’s Pride Parade.”

“Where?” Someone shouted from he crowd. “Queen’s park?”

The crowd response rattled the chandeliers.

“There’ll more people lined up for our wedding than any royal wedding.” Kevin reached for his guitar. “Here’s a little something I wrote for my … I wish I could say my two husbands but that isn’t legal yet. You want it, you knot it, you knot it, you got it.” He started to sing.

It was nearly one when Daniel and Sanjay got back to their house.

“Thank God that’s over.” Sanjay said as he turned on the kitchen light

“It wasn’t that bad, was it?” Dan open a bottle of water. “As always it was too much booze though and not enough water.”

“You didn’t waste much time.”

“How’s that?”

“I saw you flirting with that hot black guy.”

“That was Cyrtys Baxter from Unsolved Cold. It definitely wasn’t me flirting.”

“Maybe not you, but he had his eye on you all night. Then daggers after your other friend showed up. That his daughter?”

“Yes. Ashley Moxham. Daughter of …”

“Jeremy Moxham. Yes I do read the papers. He certainly doesn’t need his pictures touched up.”

“I thought you were overseeing the desserts. Or are you jealous?”

“I hadn’t … I don’t want you rebounding.” Sanjay took some cold chicken out of the refrigerator.

“I’m not looking, if that’s what you are getting at.  It hasn’t been a week yet. I was there. They were there. We were there. Perhaps you saw me kissing the grooms.”

“I kissed the grooms and their best man. Now he’s a looker.”

“Mario?” Dan took a chicken leg and began eating it. 

“Oh yeah.”

“I hate to tell you but he’s taken. It’s a triad. As Kevin explained, three person weddings aren’t legal yet but we’re working on it.”

“Triad?”

“Yep. As I understand it they live together, sleep together, though I don’t know if it’s one big bed.”

“I suppose the three will honeymoon together too.” Sanjay wiped his hands clean. “Maybe we should have a break-up party so neither of us have to work at keeping up appearances.”

“Appearances?”

“Of us as the happy couple.” Sanjay leaned against the kitchen counter.

“It doesn’t matter to me who knows or how they find out.”

“Very adult of you. How many people did you break the break-up news to tonight? Baxter? Moxham?”

“Sanj you know I was happy with you, with us, as we were.”

“So you say, but you don’t seem to care much that it may come to an end.”

“You made it all pretty clear already. The fact that I’m not broadcasting it means … May?”

“You know what it’ll take. I’ve made that very clear. You want it, you knot it, you knot it, you got it.” Sanjay sang the chorus from Kevin’s song.

“See you in the morning.”

Dan started to undress as he went up to his room. When did I start thinking of it as ‘my room’ instead of ‘our room.’ I guess I made that transition to sort-of-single easier that I expected to. Things were so ordinary a month ago and now every time I turn around there seems to be something else to deal with. At least there isn’t a new RCMP case to add to what’s going on.

He change into his bed shorts and pulled the covers around his shoulders. The bed was warmer with Sanjay in it though. I do miss that. I guess I’m human after all. What kinds of gifts would people bring to a break-up party? Or would we give away things that we had given to each other. Thanks for the memories. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International LicenseHey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees 

 sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Kitchen Kitch

Over the basement door & the door to the dining-room I these two pairs of plaster ‘ornaments’ that I bought in the early 2000’s at a street sale on my street. This was an annual event early in July – will it happen this year? I doubt it as interest in it has declined over the years to the point where only a few house drag stuff out. At one time it was almost a real flea-market with tables of brass, dvd’s, & the like.

I did have stuff, back in the day, & sold off lots of lps, useless nick-knacks, even books. With so much covid purging the past few months I’ve seen possible street sale stuff dragged to the curb to take away or trash so I doubt if there’ll much even if there is a street sale.

Any way I bought these, now of dubious political-correctness, orientalist hangings. Hand-painted, with a couple of chips, there when purchased. Very 50’s, early 60’s feel to them that I love. the perfect size for over a doorway. I resisted a set of grapes & also a set of daises. They lacked the true kitch these have.

By the basement door is this poster on a board. It was an unexpected bonus when I bought the newly-released, expanded, collectors’ edition of The Return of The King at Sam’s or maybe it was HMV. I had picked it pop for my partner who was is TGH at the time for heart issues. As it was unexpected I had to cart it there & then home on the subway.

By the window is my orange tree (now outside for the summer). It was started from a seed that had sprouted in the orange. I planted it & it actually grew. Full spectrum grow light over it. Beside it, against the wall, is ‘Sober-Up.’ Enamelled metal, 30’s style advertising – that maybe be for a real product. It was part of a friend’s estate – when he passed I got to chose a few items & this seemed like a clear choice.

Finally another yard-sale purchase – an egg chicken. Every kitchen needs a chicken. You life the top off & store eggs in the body. I’ve never used it to store anything mind you but I love it. Hand painted with a bit of a 30’s retro about it at the same time. I doubt if it is a period piece though. I also doubt if people keep eggs outside of the fridge either. 

Aphrodisiac

I know you’re sore

after that gal you’d been hitting on

walked out on you 

after three drinks

how the last two chicks you dated

dumped you via text message

one of them still won’t return your calls

how they turn into such selfish bitches

but just because I’m a clean old queer

doesn’t mean I have any interest 

in your macho macho meat

the fact that you’re straight 

just ain’t my aphrodisiac

<>

you may think I’m one of those 

predatory homos you are sure 

are always lurking around

hungry for any straight guy 

to fall into my eager mouth

well honey 

you are in a dream world

the fact that I checked out our jeans

was because 

I was wondering where you got them

<>

you know in this light 

you are sort of cute

and kind of sweetly drunk

but I’m not drunk enough

so why don’t you find your buds 

you aren’t getting anything here

‘cause if them nasty hos

you always seem to end up with

aren’t interested I’m certainly not

the fact that you’re straight 

just ain’t my aphrodisiac mac

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Roadblocks

Will there be roadblocks in & out of the Golden Horseshoe while it remains in phase one as the rest of Ontario moves on to phase two? How else can the rest of the province be protect from possible contagion? If I go to, say Cambridge, will I have to spend 14 days in quarantine before I can even get out of the car? At least I’m not worried about getting a hair cut 🙂

I have used Zoom this past week more than usual by attending the launch for Heather Babcock’s Dirty Sugar. The launch was smoothly run & well-attended. I’ll wait for the eBook before ordering it though. (https://www.inanna.ca/product/filthy-sugar/) Purging books the past month has reinforced my desire for empty shelves & to simplify 🙂

I have been attending recovery meetings via Zoom & enjoy them more now that I’ve learned how to ‘control’ Zoom. At first I loved seeing all those faces but I quickly became distracted by people’s actions while they were listening to others share. Not that they were deliberately distracting but their eating, grooming, stretching etc isn’t what I’m there for. So I minimize Zoom to audio.

I also only turn my camera on if I’m participating, the same with sound. No one needs to hear the TV, the kids, the dogs in the other room while someone is sharing. Maybe I have control issues but the sounds of people shuffling pages, cutting fingernails or humming to themselves is annoying. Some groups only allow mikes on when participating – which does cut down on that extraneous sound. Zoom Etiquette ebooks on their way 🙂

I’ve been posting a photo series of Ghosts. Places that have closed but some trace of them remains, usually the outline of a store name. Walking along the Danforth I’ve been many ghosts of the future. Restaurants with new ‘for lease’ signs in the window. At least one that had started to change to a fast-food chain back in February now changing to different fast-food chain. I guess takeout hasn’t created sufficient cash flow – though only doing take-out between 4 – 7 may not be that profitable. I’m have my camera eye on you ghosts of the future.

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

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet