Ghost of a Chance

Has this ever happened to you? It’s a bitterly cold, but dry, night & you’re just relaxing after supper & checking your email when the phone rings. Oh yes, rings, my landline. How quaint, a landline. I answer & it is a fwb ghost from the past. He was in the neighbourhood & could we meet for a chat. I think a moment & say sure – in five minutes at the Greenwood Station.

I get dressed, walk over & he’s pacing, masked. in front on the station. I recognize him by the pace & the hefty backpack that was his trademark style when we first met some, I’d say, nearly twenty years ago. We do a loop south down one block & up the next & back to the station.

We first the ‘catch up’ – he’s in the same profession but now in the private sector – from Crown Prosecutor to criminal lawyer for hire. He called on a whim, a polite term for ‘horny’ & had been meaning to call me for some time now & felt this was the right time. He apologized for our last conversation, which I didn’t recall at all, (but which I did blog about) & also for the way things ended many years ago, which was essentially him disappearing.

https://topoet.ca/2015/05/08/the-ghost/

He wants to renew our sexual acquaintance. I am flattered but not that interested. There other men whom I have been unable to see thanks covid who I would much rather renew acquaintances with 🙂 Being the polite Canadian & feeling a little sorry for him I say I’ll think about it. He wants to drop by now that he’s in the neighbourhood. I firmly decline & we part company.

An hour or so later he calls again to apologize for coming on so strong earlier. I am flattered but indifferent. Beside, to me, this is a red flag of neediness. I say no problem & agree that he can me later in the week, knowing that if he sticks to his usual form I’ll hear from him in 2025 at the earliest.

Boo Hoo Hoo

the fact is I don’t care

I know this comes as a surprise 

to make matters worse 

I never did care

I listened out of politeness

struck the right pose of concern

a sweet smile of encouragement

my look of worried affection

that you found so comforting

allowed you to feel cared for

that someone loves you

but to be honest

I never gave a shit

about your tedious victories

good job reviews weight loss 

or whatever cheered you up that day

I also never gave a shit about

your weary tribulations either

that diagnoses 

that lost wallet

replacing all your credit cards and ids

oh boo hoo hoo

stop acting so shocked

life happens to poor little you

stop dragging your tired trite daily events

in front of me

the thought of me hearing about them

puts me to sleep

the sleep of the righteous

<>

I fake human compassion

only too well 

when I want to slap you

up the side of the life

take that drivel somewhere else 

the sex isn’t worth it

can’t remember if it ever was

so please shut the fuck up 

I don’t care

no one does

oh boo hoo hoo

<>

that’s not what you expected to hear

it’s not my worry 

that your cellphone headset never worked right

that your mother is dying

that you love those new shoes

that you had some deep insight 

to your inner tender core

you feel on top of the world

getting ahead of the curve

whatever

so whoop-de-do

who gives a flying fuck

certainly not me

so wake up and smell me gone

oh boo hoo hoo

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2020 Umbrella Blues

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 363 to 445! That’s over 80 new followers without me going out of my way beyond blogging regularly. The WordPress map show my hits have come from some 85 countries around the world. India still tops the list is interest but that Italy & Japan are in the top 10 is a surprise. Kenya still in the top 20 – but Malawi! Still no hits from North Korea 😦

The 2020 post that got the most hits was https://topoet.ca/2020/06/10/catholic-girls/ but a post from 2014 made a surprise showing too https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/. The post with the most all-time hits is also from 2014: https://topoet.ca/2014/06/06/there-was-the-word/. My Tumblr is at 295. It would be much higher but I frequently block follows for buxom babes, porn slam (shooting up crystal meth) sites. Twitter 229 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along nicely with 48 sections, just over 73,000 words posted so far with about 116,000 words to be edited & then posted. Editing it is fun &though I recollect most of the plot I am getting to expand somethings & fill in others. I need a cheat sheet of names at all times though.

In this has been the year of the pandemic, I never expected to be living in a scifi movie. The threat is real but the stress comes from not knowing when or if it might strike me. I take all the precautions, masks, hand washing & social distancing – which have all proved to be enough so far. Zoom has become one of my best friends 🙂

Getting to AA meetings is simple & no having to deal with winter wear has been an additional plus. Members there frequently mention how they miss all the face-to-face contact but you know I’m indifferent to it. I have never been one for social gathering , of any sort, of more than four or five people. Another bonus is this lack of social contact has resulted in no colds or flu, so far, this winter. I’ve quickly embraced face masks & have amassed a nice collection with fun patterns. a few solid colours, that allow me to feel less medical when I put one on. One way of making masks work is to make them fashion. But I’m not enjoying the realization that going to the store for a loaf of bread is actually playing Russian roulette without knowing who is holding the gun.

My 2020 plans for Capturing Fire in Washington never materialized & I doubt if I’ll be visiting the US, or anywhere else, even in Canada, until 2022. With the travel industry decimated even in country travel will be a challenge. No boats, trains, buses or airplanes to the Maritimes  might bring back the car 🙂 It isn’t clear what will happen with the Stratford Festive, they have planned a season but social distancing requirements may scuttle it even if the vaccine roll out goes well. Maybe one will need a proof of vaccine to get in to see a show? Maybe a return to classical Greek theatre style where all the performers wore masks?

Umbrella Blues

that rain is wet

comes as no surprise

it’s just that sometimes

I’m bored of the rain

tired of its endless fall

the sound of the drop

the feel of it on my skin 

by rain

I mean life

<>

not that life is wet

but it’s just that sometimes

I’m weary of it all

even more so these covid days

<>

so far

I’ve dodged that bullet 

as the numbers of infected

go up & up 

I’m not yet in that number

I say a prayer of gratitude

but I’m tired of dodging that bullet

to go the the store

to walk down the street

<>

peeved by walking into on coming traffic

to create social distance

between me and others

on sidewalks narrowed by patios

I’m weary of the worry

of the avoidance

of the feel survivor’s guilt

<>

have you seen my umbrella

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Stratford photos taken a day trip earlier in 2020.

Moby Grape

Their 2nd release was the double lp Wow, Grape Jam – which were eventually also released as separate albums. Its gimmick was a track (featuring Arthur Godfrey) recorded to play at a 78 rpm – I rarely heard it then as I was too lazy to change the speed. The other gimmick was the Jam album of live jams with the likes of Mike Bloomfield, to prove their musicianship.

 I can remember getting that first lp from the Columbia Record Club as there was no retail store in Sydney that carried much non-top 40 music. The same for Wow. I really like the art work & the titling for 2nd lp Grape Jam etc. Very clever & trippy. I enjoy that jam music now more than I did then. I replaced those early lps & the two subsequent ones with mp3 downloads. I had never heard Truly Fine Citizen or 20 Granite Creek until I downloaded them. Booth were critically well-regarded but not hit parade material 🙂

The band was plagued by internal conflict & major management issues & that was reflected in the music they produced. They never developed a cohesive sound – having 5 lead singers may have influenced that. The music is rock with some psychedelic touches. Their sound was never distinctive but each lp has great tracks & some unexpectedly pretty moments. Even a few classics: Omaha, Murder In My Heart. 

Truly Fine Citizen, 20 Granite Creek are more cohesive if undistinguished. They move from a rock sound to a more country-rock sound. I have downloaded the re-issues of the first lps which come with lots of bonus tracks. The group apparently is still together with some of the original members. If you are unfamiliar that first lp is an ideal one to start with & it is a classic of the late 60s California sound.

The Wings Of St. Martinia

Last night Hank Grebly did me the great honour & pleasure of taking me to the Maple Valley Rialto Cinema – it is a shame that this fine building is now only opened on weekends for our film going pleasures. 

I can remember a time when it would be busy seven days a week, offering us the finest in Hollywood films and fresh roasted peaches or tasty caramel bark corn.

Every time I enter the Rialto I am taken back to a distant era – the mirror balls in the ceiling reflect the many spot lights around the floor. The zig-zag carpeting & lame seat coverings make me long for simpler times.

The film Hank took me to was “The Wings Of St. Martinia.” Many of you are familiar with the local tales of St. Martinia & the font at St. Sufferer’s. Those are her blood spattered wings holding the baptismal tub in the centre of the nave. Not her actual wings, but representations. Not many angels would have had five sets of wings.

Like the Rialto this film is also a relic of another time. Recently discovered in the vaults at College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers, we were first treated to a lecture by Rudgar Quartz, the Professor of Cinema Studies there, who gave the history of both the film, St, Martinia and the Rialto itself. A very educational evening, leavened by the delightful film itself.

The story is a simple one of suffering and repentance through suffering. Martinia, born out of wed-lock to the daughter of silver smith and troupe of travelling carnival workers, had to face the disgrace of her family and neighbours all through her life.

She saved her fellow orphans from the rain of comets in 1879 by waking each and every child, and leading them to safety. Sadly she wasn’t able to get back to rescue any of her teachers. She comforted the children, as they heard the screams of the staff, who had been trapped in locked rooms in the upper quarters of the orphanage.

In leading the children through the swamps to safety she also rescued Button, a Labrador retriever and her recent litter of puppies. This is why the suckling Labrador retriever has become the representation for St. Martinia. When they say, she of the many teats, they are referring to Button and not to St Martinia.

A fact that I was not aware of either.

The movie follows her travails in the garment trade, being abducted by pirates and finally her mission to Mongolia where she single handedly brought the word of good to those unhappy and dirty mountain people. Her attempts to show them the joys of body wash brought tears of joy to my eyes.

If you have a chance to, get in to see this delightful movie. Tell them Dolly sent you, and you may get an extra dollop of moose mustard on your red hots. 

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I’m So Cute

I’m So Cute

you’ve used up my trust

yes 

I know you don’t mean any harm

no 

it doesn’t hurt

but I asked you to stop

because it is meaningless

yet distracting

<>

it is like the tip of the ice-burg

that small act

is meant to be affectionate

but I can’t stand it

I don’t enjoy it

it represents your lack of respect

after I’ve asked you not to

<>

if it means 

to you

that I don’t have a sense of humour

such is life

it’s not a control issue

on my part

it is the same as

serving food I’m allergic to

then getting pissed off

when I refuse to eat it

or insisting on playing

music you know I can stand

just to be playful

to be annoying

because I’m so cute

when I’m annoyed

<>

enjoy that memory

One of the bunch I used to hang out with on the east coast was a table tapper. It was a habit he wasn’t conscious of & as we talked he would play rhythms to whatever music might be on. He didn’t find it distracting but I did & told him a few times. He tried to control it but after a few drinks tappy tap tap tap. It was harmless enough but eroded my willingness to spend time with the gang when he was around. This piece isn’t about him, directly, nor is it about my need to control, really 🙂

It’s more about the power shifts in relationships – how much is one party willing to put up with or sacrifice in a spirit of cooperation. For some people the meaning of love is putting up with anything & everything, you know, the codependency dance romanticized by movies.

There’s also a micro-aggression subtext here – if what is said or done isn’t all that bad or direct then get over it. In fact being told to ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s just a joke’ is micro-aggression. To question their ‘control issues’ gets turned around into you having ‘control issues.’ 

This goes beyond someone tapping a table, which is usually not done to irritate but a nervous habit, but to something like someone who – thinking sticking their tongue in your ear is fun & should be sexually arousing when you find it intolerable. When you say things like ‘stop it’ they try to turn into a game & it becomes you being a wet blanket for not playing along – they just want to be playful. When you tell them where to stick their tongue they aren’t playing anymore. 🙂


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Picture Perfect 48

Picture Perfect 48

Back in his motel room Dan logged on for a video call with Peter

“How is it going sir.” Peter asked.

“Good. Great. Now I nave a cohost though.” Dan typed Glaucia Vidro into search. Peter was able to see the results too. 

“A psychic!” Peter said. “At least she doesn’t have a 1-800 number for instant tarot readings. What did she tell you about the case?”

“Nothing much but we’ve only just started. She seems … grounded enough though. Didn’t take any bs from Baxter.”

He told Peter about the war room and the list of suspects.

“Alien abduction? You have to be kidding. I … miss you, sir.”

“Good.” Dan found it hard to be so curt with someone else’s emotions. Sanjay was expressive at any opportunity. Love wasn’t about asking permission. Peter was the opposite. Asking him to housesit had been a no brainer. 

“How are things there?”

“Nothing I can’t deal with sir. Mr. Kumar has come to the house twice to pick up his mail. I denied him entry as you instructed. I didn’t have to use the court order either. Just mentioned the name of your lawyer.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be. I don’t think he was prepared for me to be so … truculent, as he called me. He did threaten to kill me if we ever got married though.”

“No worry on that count Peter. It’s proving hard enough to rid myself of a man I wasn’t married to. Makes me grateful that I never tied that knot.”

“I understand. There is nothing to report from the Depot either. I stopped in at lunch and again before I came to ther house. Sandy says things are running smoothly but not as smooth a they would if you were there. “

“Sounds like Sandy.”

“Are you still planning to come back at the end of next week?”

“Yes. We’ll be moving the centre of operations, as Baxter calls it, to Stellerton after the first ten days. It’s more central to the other incidents. I’m sticking to my role as air personality as much as possible. If I’m not around there’ll no chance for them to get me to lug anything.”

“Heard anything more from Corporal Tyler?” Peter said. He pulled off his tee shirt. “Is it getting hot in here? Or is it just your eyes?”

“Nothing further from them. Warszawa has talked to the regional Staff Sergeant. I know enough about the politic of divisions that they’ll be more circumspect in future. He said they aren’t divulging anything about the tip that brought them to my door though. He’s not sure if there was a tip. They would have gone from cabin to cabin until they found the Daniel James they were looking for.”

“What!” Peter slid off his belt. “Why would something like that?”

“Probably pissed about the original Cold show that found connections they hadn’t realized where there. The studio didn’t alert them to it either.”

“So they found out the same way you did. When the show first aired?”

“Nope. When it was rerun a week later. Qunitex was forced turn over everything they had on the cases. Which wasn’t much as it turned out.”

Peter slowly unzipped his fly.

“Not yet.”

“Yes sir.” he pulled his fly back up. 

“It’s nearly time for me to check in with my sister.”

“She hasn’t been to the Depot since you left.”

“Perhaps not in the flesh. Put your tee shirt back on.”

“Yes, sir.” 

“I’ll call later if I get a chance.”

“Yes, sir.”

The screen went blank. Dan tapped the icon for his sister. He had made sure he would have electronic access to all transactions at both shops. Severing the contractual connections between the two branches wasn’t going to be as simple or as inexpensive as expected. 

Looking over the figures he found himself nodding off. 

…….

Dan stood to the left and just behind Glaucia as she rang the door bell to the trailer. It took him a moment to realize that the foghorn sound was coming from inside. He could hear a radio or TV being turned down. The lace curtain in the door widow was pulled aside and a face peered out at them. The face smiled and the door opened sightly.

“You’ll have to step back for the door to open.” 

He and Glaucia stepped down two steps to let the door open. 

“Sorry about that.” The woman said. “Who ever designed this model didn’t think it through. Come in.” She held the door open for them. “Sometimes the wind will catch it and whack it against the trailer. That’s why there’s so many dents there. If I had known, about the wind, I mean, I never would have settled in here.”

Followed by Francie and Mike they squeezed past her and into the trailer.

At the front end there was a living room area with a couch, an armchair and a TV. The TV was on the weather channel but muted. 

“I get all the news I need from the weather channel.” The woman sang. “Paul Simon – before your time I guess.”

“Yes.” Dan said sitting in the armchair. The couch was just large enough for two people. He didn’t want to be that close to Glaucia.

Clearly Stephanie hadn’t checked Mrs. McKay’s trailer for filming. 

“Mrs. McKay, we’re from …” Glaucia began to explain.

“It’s Miss and I know, from the cameras, you’re from that TV show. I was told you were coming. My that’s a lovely shawl you have there Glaucia. I can call you Glaucia can’t I. I’ve read some of your articles in the Mystic Gazette. Is it from Richter’s. They make such lovely things there.”

“Yes, it is.” Glaucia answered.

“You must be Daniel James? You don’t look much like your father though. Then again, second-borns usually don’t. The first often do though. He’s passed away I gather.”

‘Yes but …” Dan began.

“Here, I’ve made us all some tea.” She stepped past Mike to the kitchen area of the trailer. “I baked scones. I do prefer the savoury ones, so I hope you don’t mind. It make them feel less like desserts. These are spinach and rosemary.” She put a tray on the coffee table.

Dan bit into one of the scones. It was still warm.

“You knew my Dad?”

“Not too well but he did come to McDonald Secondary for many years taking those student portraits. I only remember because the company that he sold out to sent such an idiot the next year. That man was a drunk. You know, he would show up smelling of alcohol at that time in the morning. He’d snap at the kids to behave when all they were doing was being kids. He only lasted that one year. So many of the schools complained. I don’t remember his name though. Your dad was so professional. Knew how to treat the children. I guess that came from being a father. It took us ages to get the pictures from the new company, too. They must that been sending them away to Scotland to be developed. Your Dad did his own work, most of the time, though maybe he sent stuff off too because there would have been thousands of him to look after so he wouldn’t have time, right.”

“Right.” 

“You certainly like lighthouses.” Glaucia admired the lighthouse sun-catchers in the window.

“Oh, yes, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to live in one.”

There were various lighthouses around the trailer. Paintings, throw cushions embroidered with them, door handles on the kitchen cabinets, woven into the rug, even the table lamp in the corner.

“I know, it’s such a Maritime cliche but so am I, really. The spinster school teacher who never went further than a hundred miles from where she was born. It’s not that I didn’t want to travel mind you but once I graduated with my license I thought this is where I needed to be. I had parents to look after anyway. Plus I really did like the children. I couldn’t imagine moving away to leave these families behind. I mean, I did get to know the families. Often taught the mother, the father then the children, then the children’s children. Goodness me I knew some of them better than their own relatives.”

“How do remember them all?” Glaucia nibbled at her scone.

“Oh Glaucia I don’t. I only remember these because of what happened to them. It was terrible. When school started again that year the other children were so … scared … I tried to get them to talk about it but, well, we didn’t have any way to offer them emotional support. Things have changed, haven’t they, with all those school shootings in the States. Why one of the girls in my class started crying one day. Turns out her family was moving to Arizona and she was afraid she’d get shot in school. Imagine.” She got up, brushing crumbs off her lap onto the floor. “Don’t worry making a mess. Cleaning up will give something to do later.” 

She went toward the back of the trailer. “I’ll get my file for you.”

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

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MISSING: 2020

I miss the smell of the restaurant – of food cooking, of someone serving the meal & taking away my dirty dishes, of being able to ask for suggestions. Taking your chicken souvlaki out of a paper bag and finding out it is pork isn’t the same as seeing it on the plate & sending it back right away. I miss plating – the art of someone else arranging food on your plate.

I missing being able to give your order at a coffee shop without having to shout through your mask & over-enunciate words like ‘sweet & low’ & having to repeat yourself as they still don’t hear clearly over the music. I miss paying for things with cash. What do people without plastic do?

I miss wearing shirts to public events, because there are no public events to wear them to. I have a wardrobe based on public appearances, even if the appearance is meeting someone for lunch or doing a feature in front an eager audience of poetry fans. The face mask has replaced the shirt, the t-shirt for now.

Shopping has changed here in Ontario. Not that I spent a lot of time in stores but I miss the sense of destination, of discovery as I browsed the aisles looking. When I do shop I am focused on what I want but there are times when going through the tables of remaindered books at Book City, or even Indigo, results is amazing discoveries. 

Not that I mind online shopping for most things & I sure do love packages showing up at my door but I miss the hunt. No more impulse shopping. No more checking every aisle in the grocery store for specials, now it’s all about following the right arrows to maintain social distance. 

I missing not knowing what day of the week it is because I’m no longer doing what I used to do every Wednesday that took me out of the house. My cell phone now tells me what day of the week it is. I think this is Monday.

Old Feet New Shoes

it’s never a fresh start

there is no clean page

no expanse of innocent white

to start in on

there is always a past 

something to remember to avoid 

lessons learned

something to escape from

to forget

to write over scribble out 

<>

new shoes always go on old feet

we stand on what we are familiar with 

bring the same skill set 

to each fresh opportunity

to do the same thing in a different place

yet how different is the place 

a chair is always a chair

lights are always lights

<>

different shades fabrics 

but new jeans are still jeans

same hair changed style

anxious for the new

as if the old 

was worthless inferior

<>

why should things last at all

the longer cars last 

the fewer cars get sold

the fewer cars get sold

the economy grinds to a halt

people are out of work

it’s all your fault

you fucking pedestrians

we’ll make narrower sidewalks 

to discourage all that walking

<>

nothing new in this same old rant 

about the same pointless crap

words won’t fuel the economy

who reads 

who listens 

who cares

nobody wants a fresh start

just new shoes

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Williamson Ravine Dec 21 2020

Winter Solstice was a perfect day for a visit to the Williamson Ravine, while we still have access to it & while it remain intact. It will soon become a major construction zone & probably be closed for any public use until that construction is over. No, they aren’t putting in condos but Metrolinx is adding another line to the tracks than run though the north end of the Ravine. For more info:

https://www.lakeshoreeasttrains.com/smalls-creek-and-merrill-bridge-park

south side
fairy shelter
fallen
more of the fallen
fitted to cross Smalls Creek
self mulching
not a gift but one of the trees to be sacrificed
trees marked for execution

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Christmas Trees

These well-hung trees are all east end Toronto. Some are in public parks so have city money behind them. Some are homes on side streets. Some are one colour, most are multi-coloured. Personally I prefer colour. All are amazing.

Joyeux Noël ! Feliz navidad ! ! مرری کریستمس ! 圣诞快乐 ! メリークリスマス!

Alexander Park at corner of Danforth & Logan
radioactive?
loop-de-loop
East Lynn Park – Danforth near Woodbine
blue & white – colours of Greek flag
East York Civic Centre on Coxwell
Withrow Park
Alexander Park at corner of Danforth & Logan


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