See You Later, Calculator

See You Later, Calculator

his look

calculated my worth

the cost of my shoes

was the measure

of his interest

his respect would be gauged 

by the tailoring of my shirt

by the cut of my jeans

by what he could see

and what he saw

clearly wasn’t up to his standards

which were clearly

the only ones that mattered

 

not that he was superficial

by any stretch of the imagination

he could discuss Hegel

he knew the Chinese poets

but would discuss them

with those whose status

was equal to his

my shoes just weren’t up to it

 

even though they were new shoes

even though my sheets

were freshly washed

they just didn’t have 

the right thread count

to support my point of view

as far as he was concerned 

 

once again

being poor pays off

In summer, one of the men I see, wears flip-flops & will take transit wearing them to my place for play. The thought going nearly barefoot on Toronto’s public transit, even walking on the sidewalks, fills me with, I want to say loathing, but with trepidation.  For one thing I hate flip-flops on men, in particular, anywhere other than pool side. This digression serves a prelude to my writing of this piece.

I do judge people by their footwear. I’m not as calculating at the ‘his’ in the piece though. I’m willing to overlook footwear if the wearer is otherwise presentable. One gets used to staring at shoes in transit to avoid actually looking at people. But the wrong shoes can unbalance a nice look. I avoid snap judgments. For me nice means shoes in decent shape in accordance to the rest the attire. Construction worker with battered Kodiaks is fine – stilettos with sweats is trashy 🙂

But I have meet people like the protagonist of this piece. Some are clerks in men’s wear stores who gauge their service, or lack thereof, according to my wear. I’ve encountered participants at various workshops who do the same thing. The better tailored the shirt I wear the more respect I get. I know the power of the button.

I’ve also met men who gauge prospect sex partners by thread-count. One man I saw briefly took great pleasure in talking about the amazing penthouse condo one of his conquests lived it & the man’s satin sheets. No satin in my house, at least not for bedding. He did know the Chinese poets & was ‘impressed’ when I pulled out an anthology of them to check out his favourites. I was not impressed. 

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Chapter XLI:  Birk Reads From The Bible

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

Chapter XLI 

Birk Reads

From 

The Bible

“Can you see her?” Birk’s mother called from the front of the house.

“No sign Ma.” Birk called back from the corner of their street. “Miss McTavish is usually here by now.” He walked back to the house.

“I hope she hasn’t come down with what Sal has.” she went into the house. “You best stay here in case she arrives. We can’t let her in the house until Doctor Drummond has checked to make sure Sal hasn’t the flu.”

“Right Ma. Not as if I have anything better to do anyway. Should I change of m’good clothes?” 

“Not until after the doctor has been.” She went into the house and came out with a chair. “You can sit here. Don’t want you sitting on the stoop in those pants.”

“Thanks Ma.”

“They look as if they were bought special for you I did a good job of getting them to fit. They look better on you than they ever looked on the priest uncle of hers.”

Reverend Browne arrived with Dr. Drummond.

“Is it that serious?” Birk asked the Reverend. “I mean to bring you here.”

“Not that I know Birk. I ran into the doctor as I was heading over here anyway. Your mother wanted to to have word with you.”

“With me?”

“She’s worried about you and Miss McTavish.” Browne said.

“You haven’t heard?” Doctor Drummond said. “Miss McTavish has left Castleton. Yesterday it was. She’s convalescing at the O’Dowell’s in North Sydney.”  

“What!” Birk said.

“She had a … she suffered an injury.”

“She’s teachin’ us to read better.” Birk wasn’t sure what else to say.

Dr. Drummond went into the house.

“Birk, you didn’t fancy her.” Browne asked.

“She’s a fine lady. Pretty.”

“So you …”

“But I know my place. I know she has her’s too. It wasn’t as if I set out to rescue her from that fire.”

“I heard that was how you came in contact with her.”

“Yes, sir. Then Father Patrick had me to their house to thanks me. Gave me these clothes.”

“Decent of him.”

“I thought so too. So did ma. So when she, I mean Miss Lillian offer to teach us all some, Ma said we couldn’t rightly shut the door in her face.”

“Your mother is concerned. She’s afraid you might get … infatuated with Miss McTavish.”

Birk’s knee twitched. “I got nothing to offer a fine lady. Nothing.”

“Sadly, that doesn’t stop most men.” Reverend Browne shook his head. “They …”

A harsh, broken shriek came from the house. Birk and the Reverend rushed in. Dr. Drummond was helping his mother down the stairs.

“What is it?” Browne asked the doctor.

“There is nothing to be done.” He helped Birk’s mother sit at the kitchen table. “She might last a week.”

Two days later Birk stared down at the two coffins in the grave. One fresh pine and the other partially rotted and collapsed maple wood. The old one was the brother who died decades ago. The family plot wasn’t expected to be filled so soon so they were burying Sal beside her brother in the same grave.

“You want a hand with that?”

Startled Birk whirled around. “Clancy! Where’d you spring from.”

“Your Ma said you’d be here. Sad day.”

“It came on sudden. She was feeling sort of hot and in the afternoon and went to her bed. When Maddy went to get her for supper she was … gone already.”

“Poor Maddy. Never find as sweet a sister to replace her. They were such good playmates. So close. No other word for it but sad.”

“Sad times.” Birk picked up one of the shovels. “Heard BritCan is really sending troops rather than settle up proper by us. That Colonel Strickland isn’t such a bad sort after all. He tells us what BritCan doesn’t.”

“Cavalry to Calvary.” Clancy said.

“Huh? You not back no time at all and making fun of me already?”

“Sorry. Forgot how little that Bible stuff means to you. Calvary was where Christ was put on the cross.”

“And it was the horsemen who did it! Same as they are trying to do to us, you mean?”

“Yeh so they are.”

Birk was flooded with conflicting emotions. Happy as he was to see Clancy back again he didn’t want to always feel he wasn’t as good, as smart talking as him.

“Stop gawking at me and grab that shovel.”

Birk tossed a spade full of the heavy clay dirt into the grave.

“You’d think the soil up here would be more sandy, being so close to the sea.”

“Nope. BritCan picked this spot cause the soil wasn’t apt to have coal running through it.”

“Not for the view.” Clancy stopped for a moment to shade his eyes.

The cemetery was on a low hillock that give a partial view of the harbour.

“I suppose. The miners didn’t want a view of the pits. After years of working in’m no one wanted to spend eternity looking down on them.” Birk sighed deeply.

“What is it?”

“Sal didn’t get many years to work at anything. We buried her with that doll of hers that she was always dragging around. Sometimes I think it’s good to die young rather than go on living this way.”

“You’re turning to a thinker Birk Nelson. Life can sour one on life. That’s for sure.”

“So what is that brings you back?”

“My Ma didn’t need my help and there was nothing going on the railroad either. When there’s no coal or steel to sell and ship, then there’s no money to spend. When there’s no money to spend on goods that have to be shipped and sold. What hurts one thing eventually hurts everything. I heard Sydney Mines went bankrupt. The town ran out of money because there was none coming in, they had to close the schools with no money to pay the teachers.”

“You coming back to stay with us or what?”

“Nah. I’m tossing in at Franklin’s, for now. Even with those militia men there, I’ll get a room to myself. Least ways I won’t wake up with you kicking me in the shins.”

“Or you pulling the blankets off a me.”

“You been fishing much?”

“Took my …” Birk swallowed back the tears that suddenly came to him, “ …. took the little ones over a few times. Made them feel useful to catch some for us to eat. Didn’t tell’em they were nearly small enough to toss back in.”

“It was a fine spot to fish.” Clancy grinned.

“If you sun on the rocks.” Birk knew that Clancy was talking about the times they had spent near each other.

“We’ll have to do that again soon.”

“I’d welcome that.”

“That’s done it.” Birk levelled the dirt and packed it down. “When it rains we have come back to make sure it stays level.”

“You think you can make a leap at that?” Clancy nodded at the iron arch that spanned the entrance to the graveyard. It was about seven feet at either end.

“Don’t know. Been a while since I’ve wanted to clamber around for fun.”

“You mean it’s too tall for you?”

“You’ll eat those words.”

Birk brushed the dirt off his hands, adjusted his stance and ran the few yards to the gate and jumped the lower end. He grabbed a handhold on the top of the column. A simple flex and he spun up to straddle the gatepost. Without hesitation he stood on it.

“Nothing to it.” He said standing on one foot.

“Comes natural to you monkeys.” Clancy laughed.

Birk flipped over to his hands and walked across the arc, flipped back to his feet and walked back again then dropped lightly to the ground.

“I should do that more often.” He rubbed his hands on his coveralls. “Makes me feel I’m my old self for a minute. Someone without a care in the world. That was one of the things Sal always laughed to see. Me walking on m’hands.”

They headed back to Mudside.

“You ever heard anything from Geo?”

“Nary a word but takes time for mail. General delivery’s at Franklin’s since the pluck me was burned down.”

“I keep hearing how much better things are in other places.”

“Pa says it’s the same all over. Sure they may pay you more but underground is underground. When you get paid more you get charged more.” Birk said.

“You seen any of the McTavish lass.” Clancy asked.

“No much and yet more than I want. She did come to pay her respects when she heard about Sal.”

“Mrs. Franklin tells me she’s gone to North Sydney.”

“That’s what I heard too but we go another of our own here to occupy me. Good to see Clancy.” He reached out to shake Clancy hand.

“Same here Birk.” Clancy let Birk pull him closer. “I didn’t know how much I’d come to … miss Castleton.”

When Birk got home the house was silent. His mother was sitting alone at the kitchen table. On the chair beside her were some of Sal’s things. Tattered dresses and stockings.

“Not much to anyone now.” She flattened one of the dresses on the table. “Can’t even make a decent wash cloth out it yet we was right proud to let her wear it. A hand-me-down that the Rev gave us. I never thought I’d have to dress my children in hand-me-downs let alone bury them in them.”

“Ma, you did the best. That’s all we can do.” Birk ached to say something that would make her feel better. “Want me to read to you from the good book?”

“Yes! Something from the Psalms. The one about loving kindness. Which is that?” She got up and went the living-room.

Birk followed her and sat beside her as he flipped through the Bible to find the verses she wanted.

“Here it is number 103.” She handed him the book.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” He read slowly and didn’t find himself stumbling over words as much as he used to. As he read his wondered what had happened to the good things that were supposed to satisfy, to merciful graciousness that the verse talked about.

“Read that part about his children’s children,”

“This part? ‘But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.”

“Yes. A throne in heaven for my children. All my children. I’m sure that’s what he has for Sal and Charles.”

Although Birk didn’t fully understand what the verses were saying he was pretty sure it his mother didn’t know either. It was clear that God didn’t pity them at all but rather enjoyed letting the miners struggle without any sign of mercy.

“I sure hope so. I doubt if anyone will forget we are dust though. A handful of coal dust.”

“Coal dust to dust.” His mother laughed. “At times you are funnier than you know Birk.”

“I sure don’t aim to be ma. Mayhaps we don’t fear the Lord enough, as it says here. ‘For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.’ ”

“I don’t think it says we have to be scared, the way you would be of a ghost or that the mine’ll fall in on you. It means to be more in awe of Him. To be aware.”

“Maybe that’s it, Ma. Oft times when we’re in the pits I never think or worry about the mine fallin’ in on us. I do my work and gets though the day.”

“You check to make sure the braces are set proper?”

“Always.”

“That’s fear. That’s being aware. Those braces are your prayers. Once they are in place you don’t have to keep saying them you get on about your day in faith.”

“I see.” Birk didn’t see but accepted what she was saying. Maybe if he had prayed more this wouldn’t be happening? He rarely said prayers the way he saw his sisters do at the side of their bed every night. He knew some would say them before going into the mines but thought that foolishness.

The prayers his sisters said didn’t keep Sal alive. Her dying so sudden couldn’t have been God answering anyone’s prayer.

“You must be gladdened to have your old pal back.”

“You mean Clancy? Yeah, he come over to the graveyard to give me hand putting Sal to rest. He’s staying at Franklin’s.”

“He told me. He’s a good’un though. Your Pa and I were happy when you two started to along some. Better than you and Geo every did.”

“Maybe that’s cause Clancy wasn’t told to torment as much as he could to make a man out of me the way Geo was.”

“Where you hear that foolishness?” His mother got up.

“From Geo. Told me that before he left for Alberta. How’s it was your idea.”

“My idea was that he not to be soft with you. He took that in his own way.”

“I know that Ma. I’m not getting at you. Not even sure why I told you that.”

“I’m trying to do the best for you as I can.” She wiped a tear away. “By all my children.”

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

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If 

I bought a cassette of If I at the Radio Shack in the Zeller’s Mall (now the Sydney Shopping Centre) when I was living in Cape Breton. In fact that is where I bought my first stereo system. They had a rack of discontinued, discounted cassettes from which I bought music that never showed up at the local record shop. We’re talking early 70’s.

 

This British band has a great jazz sound – a British Blood, Sweat & Tears. I loved that cassette. Each track is sweet & still contemporary – it could be released this week & sound fresh. Dockland is brilliantly moody. The horn work is superb, as are the lyrics, the singing.

I kept my eye out for more by them for decades. Nothing else by them reached Cape Breton. None of my music buddies ever heard of them. They got reviewed by the US rock press: ie Rolling Stone. As far I know they never had a hit song. When I upgraded from cassette to CD this was one cassette I wanted to replace before the tension was shot but I could find nothing. It was as if they disappeared. Then in I found a 2008 CD compilation ‘What Did I Say About The Box Jack’ of tracks from heir first albums. I was happy to hear those songs I knew & some that I had never heard. The booklet was excellent too.

When I finally upgraded my internet to high speed I did a search & downloaded mp3 version of their first two lps & a live concert from 1972. If you are unfamiliar with If, that first lp is worth tracking down. Or if it’s still around the 2008 compilation.

Care

‘You’re nothing but trouble.’ Drak resisted the temptation to hit. He knew hitting would get some response but would also slow things down. And things were going badly enough as it was. ‘You hear me? Trouble.’

‘Yes,’ Steve stepped back. ‘Sorry. I’m …’

‘I know what you are trying to do.’ Drak lost control and the back of his hand smacked Steve across the cheek before he could stop himself. Struck Steve twice more and was stopped on the third blow by a hand that clenched his wrist. Hurt it.

‘Enough of this. There’s too much at stake for you two to be playing at enemy with each other.’

‘Sorry Sis Care’

‘Sorry Sis Care.’

The two men were ashamed.

‘But he …’

‘Drak,’ Sis Care stood firmly before them. ‘I don’t want explanations or excuses. I want action. Not infighting. You know that.’

‘Yes.’ Drak answered.

‘You both understand that?’

‘Yes,’ Steven muttered.

‘Drak, you understand that don’t you?’ Her face was inches from his interface.

‘Yes, Sis Care. It’s just that …’

‘I said, no explanations and no excuses. This one is the last one.’ She tapped the laser pistol at her side. ‘I don’t need much to make me use this. You both know that.’

‘Yes,’ they replied.

‘Okay. Now we have less than ten minutes before we rejoin Group R. Have you laid all the trip wires?’

‘Three to go but Steve here was …’

‘Drak, cut the crap. Three to go and they take five minutes each to set. We have ten. Get your asses in gear.’

The three of them laid the trrace2 wire filaments along the base of the copter pad and over the catwalk entries. Once all of these optic paths where broken the blast would be set off..

‘Hurry up,’ Sis found herself impatient with Steve. ‘What are you fumbling with there anyway?’

‘Sorry, I get …’ Steve reddened as the ply slipped from his hands.

‘Give it to me.’ She snatched it up. ‘I’ll finish this off.’

As she picked it up Steve stepped on her hand.

‘Not so fast, Sis.’

She had her laser in her hand before he could react. A blast ripped through his arm and sent him sprawling ten feet away from her.

‘What …’ Drak raced over.

‘I guess he wasn’t your fault after all. Okay we’re done here. Let’s go.’

‘What about?’ Drak nodded at Steve.

‘Leave him. He’s not one of ours.’

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every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

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Star Trek Subtext

TOpoet

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…

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Sneak Peek February 2019 

A quick look back before the peek – my TOpoet.ca following is up to 305 maybe I’ll get to 350 by the end of the year. Also the jump in WordPress hits has remained consistent when I stopped the auto link to Tumblr & replaced it with Google+. India now takes the lead in the number of hits, with US, Canada, Ireland, South Africa (!) rounding out the top five.

Twitter is up to 212 followers thanks to more self-publishing entrepreneurs following me :-). Tumblr up 217 – even with their community standards I’m still getting hetero porn sites trying to follow me. Some are moaning about the ‘death’ of Tumblr merely because it is no longer a convenient site for uploading erotic to explicit sex pics. I see are fewer of such pics but they are still there.

So far, no such issues with WordPress. The serialization of Coal Dusters continues with 76,600 words, 40 chapters, so far; with at least 51,000 words (not chapters) to go. I say at least because as I edit things expand. I’m into the second nanowrimo portion & as I work on it I see where I left space for bridging scenes. So I’ve been creating whole new text to connect things. I like what is happening. I’ve also made a PDF file of Book 1 – $1.99 for anyone who wants to have the the first half in one piece (paypal.me/TOpoet). At this place I might have it done by summer.

 

WordPress photos are now Mondays: suitcases – I want to travel more & one way of getting that energy out there is with suitcases, right? Wednesday is texture – fabric, brick, shingles, wood – the feel of life; Thursday will continue to be random pairs; Fridays is doors – even cast-off doors are openings to a future.

 

Otherwise February is a routine month – no spoke-word shows to anticipate, no plays on the horizon though we’ll be ordering some tickets soon. Looking forward to Little Shop of Horrors at Stratford & Mae West’s Sex at the Shaw Festival this summer. Good news for my visit to Cape Breton: not only dot hey have a well-organize {Pride week they also have a Starbucks!

Stay In Bed

it seemed like a good idea 

at the time everyone was gung-ho

until they realized

they would have to do something 

to make it happen

 

expecting me to do it all

was part of their plan

not mine

sure I thought it was a great idea

but I’m not a one man show

as much as I’d like to be

and as much I as I know

I would be better person

for being willing to do it all by by myself

I’m not going to even try

 

when that become clear

the energy began to wane

the idea didn’t seem so wonderful

getting active

making things happen

isn’t such fun after all

 

why can’t someone else 

do all the work for us

while we sit back

and enjoy the results 

the rewards should be ours 

for the thinking

thanks to your doing

thanks to someone being 

consistant and eager

to take each demanding task 

and fulfilling them 

to our specification

faced with having

to do it ourselves 

we grow diffident 

disinterested

disenchanted 

while looking for the right person

to blame 

to save face

 

picking up the rake the shovel 

is such a bore

makes us want to just stay in bed

for another half hour 

maybe this’ll blow over 

maybe the next fast flash of inspiration

will require even less than thinking

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every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

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The Book of Not

The Book of Not

Not to visit houses just before noon

Not to slam the door when you leave

Not to wear out your welcome

Not to reveal how you really feel

Not to a give a damn

Not to bear false witness

Not to let the truth stand in the way

Not to be the guilty party

Not to wear their heart on your sleeve

Not to eat fish only any day but Friday

Not to give your name as witness

Not to give a fuck you too 

Not to wear the same underwear two days in a row

Not to wear clothes when you slam the door behind you

Not to let on how you really feel leave

Not to came back apologetic

Not to fish for more than there is to catch

Not to ignore that there is always a catch

Not to damn the bare body

Not to be the last one to know

Not skip lunch

Not to be the one to leave this time

Not to be afraid of knowing 

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Chocolates

Chocolates

he wanted to buy me

chocolates

did I like black magic

did I prefer another kind

he want to buy me

a bottle wine

I told him

I don’t drink

I didn’t tell him

I didn’t want him to buy me

anything

it was too soon

 

we’d met once

this was the second time

and he wanted to buy me things

to take me for a weekend in the country

I told him no thanks

I let him pay for a hot chocolate

he wanted to see me again

wanted to take me to dinner

I said no thank you

because I didn’t want him

not even as a friend

he was too demanding

in this need to please

 

he wasn’t my type

too tall too thin too smooth

I met him the first time 

to step out of my comfort zone

he was sweet enough

we made out

it wasn’t unpleasant

until he flooded my inbox 

asking to see me again

asking if he could buy me

chocolates

so I saw him again

we made out

it wasn’t fun it was duty

there was no chemistry

other than his need to buy me

chocolates

and that wasn’t enough for me

 

Kor (not his real name) I met on line. He liked my profile and my pics. I knew he’d read my profile because he mentioned that he too wrote poetry, & also that he took photos. We exchanged more information. I sent him link to my Tumblr & he sent a file of his landscape photos. My photo aesthetic is not landscape but they were standard pretty pics.

We agree to meet at a subway station. Kor is on time after taking a Go train, bus & finally subway. He is taller than me, thinner than me, appears (to me) older than me. his English is learner ESL. As we walk over to a nearby coffee shop he is already asking what kind of chocolates do I like so he can bring me some the next time we meet. This is what I call a red flag – not that I don’t enjoy eagerness to please but not so soon. It came across as a needy, desperate & lonely. He’s telling me about his photo trips to the lake country & can’t wait for us to go on one to take sunset pictures. Another red flag – though if he had said he knows an abandoned hotel we can sneak into I might have ignored that red flag. Sunsets on the lake aren’t for me.

His English comprehension ebbs and flows with what he opts to understand or rather what suits his plan. At the coffee shop he does buy a hot chocolate. We sit at a table – he pulls out his phone to show me pictures, hundreds of lake pictures. He says these are really Canada. They could be pretty lakes in Poland or Scotland for all I could tell. His knees rub mine, his hand rubs my knee. He is really glad we are getting along so well. He wants to see some of my photos. I tell him next time we met. I’m hoping there is no next time if I don’t come across this first time.

After a barrage of texts there is a next time. I don’t have a smart phone so we go to my house. I show him my iPhoto albums: broken chairs, cast off shoes, books of books, toys. It is clear he doesn’t get my aesthetic. It is also clear it isn’t my aesthetic he wants to get his hands on.

You get the picture. I felt no sexual chemistry, nor did I feel any other chemistry either. His eagerness, regardless of the emotional needs that fuelled it put me off. I wasn’t sure how to say thanks but no thanks – in fact I did & his English comprehension vanished. So I ghosted him. This ends with an admission that at one time his eagerness might have been enough. I didn’t want to feel I was taking advantage of him as I didn’t doubt his sincerity. Though if Kor had been a foot shorter it might have been a different ending 🙂

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Chapter XL – Lillian Leaves Castleton

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 XL

Lillian Leaves Castleton

When Lillian returned to the manse she appreciated the cool silence of the house. It was as if she had gone deaf as she stood in the stillness of the kitchen. No shouting, no children rushing around her, no bullets being fired over her head.

She cleared the ashes out of the kitchen stove. This was one of the jobs she hated and one which she was already grateful to have Father Patrick do but he was no where to be seen when she got back to the house. After the incident at the wharf the union was meeting at the Hall so she knew he was there. 

Once the fire was going she put the kettle on. Even if they were having a cold dinner her Uncle always enjoyed a fresh cup of tea with his evening meal. As she was in the pantry she heard him coming in the back door.

“Is that you Father Patrick?” she called.

“Who did you think it was?” came his gruff reply. “One of those empty-headed miners you’ve been convortuing with behind my back?”

She stepped into the kitchen to confront him. “Behind your back? Yesterday you said how much you admired me for helping the striker’s children.”

“Children, yes.” He grabbed her roughly by the shoulders. “You weren’t seen walking down the street holding hands with children. Flaunting it. Mrs. McIssac was all too eager to say how good the women thought you are but I know she wanted to make it clear was they there talking about you. About you and those dirty mine rats. ” He shoved her hard against the wall.

“Mine rats? Mrs. McIssac? They were walking me home. Seeing that I was safe.” She struggled to get out of his grip.

“She was all too eager to tell me all about you and that Franklin strumpet. Visiting her at the brothel she runs.”

“Brothel?”

“Was she hoping to entice you into becoming one of her house maids? I see through your innocent act my child. I can see the evil conniving behind your eyes. I can see fear there. Fear that you have been caught once again trying to inveigle some unsuspecting man into the mire of your carnality.”

He loosened his grip to grab the wooden plunger she used to wash the clothes. She turned to get out of the kitchen but he hit her across the back before she got to the door. The blow sent her sprawling on to her hands and knees into the back pantry. Before she could get up he struck her repeated until she was on her stomach.

“I should have beat the evil out of you the last time my child but that interring O’Dowell harridan got in the way. This time there is no one to hold back the wrath of God.”

Each time she tried to raise herself up he pushed her back down with his foot.

“You want to cavort with those …. unwashed animals you might as well get used to living at their level.”

With a groan Lillian rolled on to her back. She could taste blood in her mouth. She wiped her lips with the back of her hand her eyes holding her uncle’s eyes.

“Do not look to me for mercy.” He said. “There is none for wonton females of your sort who are nothing more than the evil that leads men away from the will of God.”

She reached up to the edge of the counter to pull herself to her feet with taking her eyes away from his.

“I said do not look to me for mercy.” He reach up to her face to shield her eyes from his. 

She flinched back.

“I won’t mar your face. Not this time my child.”

Bracing herself against the wall she moved unsteadily from the pantry without taking her eyes from his.

“Take your eyes off me you … witch. I will not fall under you spell.” Pulled the rosary out his vest pocket and held it up between them. “Leave my house.”

“Gladly.”

She steadied herself firmly against the counter.

“I said to stop glaring at me.” He raised his arm and stepped toward her.

Pushing away from the counter she parried his arm with hers and shoved him with all her might with the other. Her sudden attack caused him to slip and fall back hitting his head against the lower cabinets. He slid down until he was sitting on the floor. Without hesitation, using what strength she had left she slapped him in the face with all her might.

“The Lord is my shield …” he began.

“Turn the other cheek Father.” She said as he slapped him again. 

Using the railing she pulled herself up the stairs to her room. Each step was agonizing. She was in tears by the time she got to the top and had brace herself firmly to keep from falling backwards.

In her room she longed to sit long enough to catch her breath but she was unsure of what her uncle would do next. She bent to reach for her carpet bag and momentarily lost consciousness.

Dazed she thrust her hair brushes from the top of the dresser along with some underclothes and her other house shift into the bag. The house was quiet as she walked down to the front door.

“Uncle Patrick?” she asked.

The noise of a creaking chair came from the living-room.

“I will return to collect the rest of my things tomorrow. I will not be alone.”

“Satan will always find those willing to his biding.” he said.

She walked unsure of where to go. Mrs. Franklin’s boarding house was the nearest thing to a hotel in Castleton Mines. She was sure Rose would understand her need for a room? All she needed was temporary lodgings. How would she pay? Thee were a few items of value in her trunks. Perhaps she could trade them. She stopped at the gate to catch her breath.

The front rooms of the house were well lit. She walked up the steps, glanced in the parlour window and saw Colonel Strickland standing with his back tot he window regaling the men in the room.

She knocked on the door. Mrs. Franklin opened it and caught Lillian as she collapsed.

The sun was streaming across the foot of the bed when she awoke with a start. She had been undressed and put into the bed. Her dress was laid across the back of a chair by the bed. Her back throbbed as she pushed herself up and swung her feet to the floor.

It took her a few minutes to understand where she was. Her last memory was of a group of men looking down at her once floor. Mrs. Franklin must have put her to bed. 

There was a timid knock at the door. “Miss McTavish?”

“Yes.” she answered. “Mrs. Franklin?”

“No ma’am.” the door opened wide enough for a head to appear. “T’is Aileen from the O’Dowell’s. Might I come in?”

“Yes. Please.” she pulled a shawl around her shoulders.

“Mrs. Franklin sent a boy over to tell us you were here.  Dr. Drummond said you weren’t to be disturbed. We’ve all been mighty worried about you.”

“Dr. Drummond?”

“Yes ma’am. Miss O’Dowell saw how … harmed you were. She knew who had done it. That uncle of yours. Some priest he’s turned out to be. So kind to all who sees him but when no one sees him he’s … sorry ma’am.”

“That’s quite alright Aileen.”

“She’s been to his house, if’n you don’t mind, and had all your things removed.”

“How long have I been asleep?”

“All day yesterday. Doctor says not to worry but you will be sore for a bit.”

Mrs. Franklin strode into the room. “Aileen you were to let us know if Miss McTavish had awakened, not tire her with conversation.”

“Sorry, Mrs. Franklin, but when i saw she was sitting up I forgot.” Aileen pulled at her fingers.

“That’s quite alright.” Lillian said. “I could do we a cup of tea though Aileen. If there’s some brewed that is.” She glanced to Mrs. Franklin.

“The kettle just boiled in Aileen. There’s a tea pot where you can see it. Let it steep a few minutes before you bring it up.”

“The tea things?” Aileen asked as she backed to the door.

“I’ll be down shortly to get them.”

“Yes mum.”

“And shut the door when you leave.” 

“Yes mum.”

“Some of these girls have to be told everything.” Mrs. Franklin moved Lillian’s dress and sat on the chair. “So how are you feeling Lillian?”

“I’m a bit dazed. have I really been asleep for two days?”

“Asleep … more like unconscious. Do remember arriving here?”

“Yes. Colonel Strickland was here?”

“Yes. He still is, along with a couple of his men. He was talking with Mr. O’Dowell when you arrived. It was Steven who forbad us to move you at all until Dr. Drummond had examined you.” 

“I see. I don’t want to be any more trouble to you.” She tested the floor with her feet as she stood up cautiously. Dizzy she sat on the bed.

“Dr. Drummond is here now. He wanted to speak with you once you were awake. Shall I let him come up?”

“Have you a mirror, Rose?”

“Of course.” Mrs. Franklin went to the dresser and brought Lillian a mirror and a hair brush.

“Oh! These are mine!”

“Yes I took a few things out of your bag.”

Lillian realized she was wearing one of her own nightdresses.

“You robe is here too.”

Lillian was relieved to see that her face showed no signs of her ordeal. Her hair however was quite tangled. She started to brush it out but the brush pulled at her scalp. Her back ached the harder she tried. She began to cry.

“It’s hopeless.” she said.

“There! There! Lillian.” Mrs. Franklin took another brush off the dresser and began to help. “It isn’t that bad.”

“I really don’t know what to do, Rose. I can’t go back to that man’s house. I can’t go back to Boston.”

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, Lillian.”

“Of course. Do I look presentable?”

“Under the circumstances you look fine.” She went to the door. “Dr. Drummond, Miss McTavish can receive you now.”

A few moments later the doctor came into the room. He was much younger than Lillian had expected.

“How is my patient today?” he asked putting his bag on the dresser and taking out a stethoscope.

“Sore.” Lillian said. She felt faint as he put his hands on her. She was accustomed to much old doctors. Men as old or older than her father. 

“Understandable. Umm … I don’t want to seem indelicate but I must examine your back.”

“Oh!” Lillian blushed.

“Of course Mrs. Franklin will remain in the room. Would you like Aileen to be here as well?”

“Yes. If you don’t mind?” Lillian said.

“No, not at all.” He went to the door. “I’ll send her in and once you are ready have her call me back in. You needn’t disrobe completely if it makes you uncomfortable.”

“Thank you.”

 

After the doctor had listened to her breathing and heart, he gently felt her back.

“Is this painful?” he asked.

“I don’t feel anything.” she said.

“Not even this?” he asked.

“No.”

“I see. Very well you can get dressed.” He turned his back to her as he looked through his bag.

“Is it serious.” Lillian asked.

“Nothing feels broken, if that’s what you mean. There is of course bruising but it is the lack of sensation that is worrisome.”

“It will return as the bruising subsides?” Lillian attempted once again to stand.

“Yes.” Dr. Drummond held his arm out for her to hold as she took a few tentative steps.

“I … I don’t want to be an invalid.”

“No, that is unlikely.”

With his help and with Mrs. Franklin near at hand she walked around the room.

“Can I tell her now ma’am?” Aileen asked.

“Tell me what?” Lillian asked.

“Miss O’Dowell says you are to come live us in North Sydney once you are well enough to come.”

“That’s very kind of her but …”

“I don’t want to sound inhospitable Lillian,” Mrs. Franklin said. “But this isn’t a … fitting place for a single. young lady to reside.”

“She is right, Miss McTavish.” Dr. Drummond said. “I would say you are fit to travel.”

“Thank you. Yes, tell Miss O’Dowell I’d be happy to accept her kind invitation.” Lillian was grateful but knew she had no viable alternative either.

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Mendelssohn

I have a 40 cd boxset of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Masterworks – I did replaced the one that had some of his organ works with a downloaded complete organ works. Even at 40 cds this is a sampling of his output. He died at 38! He either burned out like a lightbulb or exploded like a supernova.

I did have a some lps, then cd’s of his work before I  picked up this set. I knew the hits, as it were, but that was all. Like many composers he was reduced to a few concert warhorses & of course the Wedding March. The box set includes complete: symphonies, piano concertos, violin concertos, chamber music, choral works, lieder, some oratorios & more. 

I bought it at HMV for about $70. The sound quality is good, though the recoding levels change from cd to cd. some are louder than others. The musicianship is excellent including the likes of Kurt Masur, Dietrich Fischer-Dieshaku. So it was a solid investment in my classical collection.

Mendelssohn is a romantic composer in the Beethoven sense – rich, playful, emotive works for piano, orchestra that sweep me away, though he rarely becomes as over-the-top as, say, Liszt or Chopin. It is delightful music that doesn’t call attention to technique.

 

Much of it was new to me and his choral music lead to my greater enjoyment of that form. He also incorporates choir & solo voices into some of his symphonies. I added the organ music for the melodic work & also to have an organ version of the wedding march, which to me is rather funereal & spooky. ‘Here comes the deceased, all dressed in pine”

Death

‘Did you know Greg well?’ Jane asked the sullen man beside her.

‘Met him a few times in the neighbourhood. You know at the annual street sale. Sometimes I’d stop to chat while he was working on the front bed of his?’

‘Front bed?’

They had both stepped out of the funeral home chapel to smoke.

‘Garden. A little patch of tulips & crocus. He kept pretty much to himself. Did you know him?’

‘Same as you. I have the house cross the back laneway from his. We’d wave sometimes when he was mowing the back lawn but that was it.’

‘So you live in this neighbourhood, too?’

‘Yes. I have seen you at the corner store a few times.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, sad though isn’t it?’

‘It happens.’

‘Makes you wonder though, just how well you know people. Like he’s lived here nearly 15 years and I didn’t even know his name.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Yours is?’

‘Jane Brown. That’s my husband over there.’

‘Right. Good looking man.’

‘Thanks. And yours?’

‘My husband isn’t quite that real. Single life.’

‘I mean your name?’

‘Ah, right. David Peters. I’m at 46 Amber and you?’

‘52 Green.’

‘Amber is that one street away. We’re nearly neighbours too.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Small world, yet it seems too far at the same time. A few hundred yards. Sorry I never got to know Greg better. Not many other gays in this area, you know.’

‘Haven’t given it much thought.’

‘I suppose not.’

‘You knew Greg was … gay?’

‘Not that we ever talked about it but that rainbow flag, single white male living alone except for the occasional male visitor. It adds up.’

‘Rainbow flag?’

‘Yeah, in the back yard. I think he had one in the front too. That one would go up around gay pride.’

‘Oh, that’s what that was all about. The changing banners, I just thought there were decorations not signals.’

‘See, you’re learning more about him already.’

‘So you are … gay too?’

‘Yep. Not much point is pretending otherwise.’

‘Strange that you’d live so far from the heart of town … you know … where I understand most of that goes on.’

‘I like it out here. Quieter, feels safer even if it isn’t.’

‘Isn’t safer?’

‘Oh yeah. Didn’t you hear about the swarming at the school a block over. Pretty nasty stuff. Glad I’m not closer to the school than I am. But yeah, this is pretty much like the neighbourhood I grew up in. Nice houses with families.’

‘Doesn’t keep death away from the door though does it.’

‘Not many places do Jane. Not many places do.’

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every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

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First Taste

TOpoet

First Taste

I remember my first taste of come

how it felt in my mouth

trying to swallow

with dick taking up so much space already

not wanting to gag

not wanting to seem inexperienced

I knew it going to happen

yet when it did I was a surprised

the quantity   the taste   the consistency

the after taste

the feel of the cock

getting bigger  fuller  a little harder

the brief throb as sperm jarred out

jammed into my throat

he groaning

holding my head to keep me from pulling away

even though I had no intention of pulling away

wanting to this first time to be perfect

I remember that taste

but don’t remember him

can’t recall if the cock was cut or not

we were both drunk

that’s how it happened in those days

I had to be drunk to let my guard down

our excuse…

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