you didn’t hear it

from my lips

that’s not what I said

even if I said it

you didn’t hear it

no one heard it

or read it

that didn’t come from my fingers


I never thought

anything remotely like that

I was misquoted

that isn’t my voice

on the video

it’s out of context

you’re taking

the words out of mouth

& making something

different out of them

to suit your own ends

Thanks to deep ghost AI manipulation politicians can now say that what we’ve heard them say is not them & they can hence say & do anything, right? Those old clips of them can be denied outright. This wasn’t the case when I first wrote this from one of the Rules as prompt. The losing politician was refusing to accept the vote & encouraging his followers to let the world know they weren’t going to let his right to rule be stolen.

Everyone, including his followers, misunderstood his call to demonstrate – he meant peacefully not as a drunken riotous mob. This ex-president is still ranting about the stolen election & please donate to his retirement, I mean, his campaign fund in return for a pardon, I mean, a baseball cap. When returned his first act will be an honest investigation of the stolen election.

Nearly all news media is entertainment. It’s pre-digested, scripted (even when ‘live’)’ given soundtrack music & sometimes staged for the viewers reactions, as a result I take it as fiction-flavoured fact. Will the current leader get a new season, will his show be renewed, recast or dropped by the network – it all depends on the sponsors.

The piece is a list poem as it moves from one over-used excuse to another. Denial has taken the place of apology, victim blaming works better than accepting responsibility – if you hadn’t been walking down the street I wouldn’t have hit you with my car. If you quote me on that I’ll blame it on deep ghost spell-check.

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Bitter Dregs of Defeat

Bitter Dregs of Defeat

there’ll always be

something left behind

there is no such thing

as a clean sweep

so why bother to being with


take what you need

without worry

there are others

to look after the debris

the fallout

the bitter dregs of defeat


don’t get me wrong

winning with a clean sweep

is good

but don’t mock the losers

even the bad losers

who think they should have won

though their score was lower

the problem was in the referees 

in the score keepers the judges 

not in them


they aren’t going to

clean up after themselves 

there are others

to look after the debris



to have their go at the mess

to reshape victory 

into defeat

to shape defeat

into martyrdom

a meal fit for all

On a team competition show, in which the team members change each week, the clear winner’s team lost a challenge & his team members voted him off the game – strategy over-rode ability. He was not pleased & he became a rare sore loser & didn’t hold back his anger. Reality show editing limited our experience of his ‘dismay’ so I’m sure his language wasn’t polite on his exit. 

I say ‘rare’ because usually eliminated contestants claim to be grateful for the opportunity, for learning so much – occasionally one with cry while trying to keep a brave face. As noted I’m also aware of how editing works & so we are only see what the producers want us to see. I for one would like see less gratitude & more spite.

In the circus of American politics we have been getting the full panoply of sore losers over the past couple of years. Losers who blame everything except their own behaviour for not being elected. But those are ‘public’ events – human behaviour changes when there are camera.

Losing at Monopoly in the privacy of ones home is a different sense of losing, right. I’ve never been a good game player because I don’t like defeat, really! I doubt if there is anyone who does, mind you. I feel a sense of disappointing in my sense of self if my plants don’t do well. I know I am powerless over the weather, over animals, bug, that feast on them overnight, But part of me feels I’ve let the plants down. I’m just grateful there’s no with an android phones filming me when ever I’m replanting what the skunks have dug up grubbing for grubs.

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Clean Enough

Clean Enough

holding water

in hands

that have enough trouble 

holding on



hands washed more & more

with the harsh soap of fear

what did I touch last

who did I touch last

who did they touch last

when did they

last wash their hands


can we make a quick stop

at the sanitizer station

you cannot hold

the water

with those hands  

until they have been


by the state

that holds us all hostage

to their needs

and our fears

of not being clean enough

to meet

the approval of cameras


cameras set up over every sink

every sanitizing stations

these hands 

cannot hold enough sanitizer

to make the risk of touching

worth while

Perhaps you can tell this was written during the thick of the pandemic here in Toronto. Hand sanitizers stations had shown up in the subway, at the entrance to stores, bottles of it were on restaurant tables, in washrooms, people carried sanitizer in their cars, purses, knapsacks. Elbows touching took the place of handshakes. Hugging was forbidden. Everyone was a threat. ‘Don’t breathe in my direction.’

I didn’t resist the various restrictions on masking, social distancing. I didn’t my rights as an individual were being compromised by these in anyway. Sides were drawn though & you know, the truth is, I didn’t contract covid. I know many did, many died. I still mask when shopping, when travelling on transit & going to live theatre.

In this piece I push the paranoia a little further than it went, at least here in Canada. Cameras were not setup to make sure we were using those sanitizers, I don’t think anyone was arrested or even fined for being unmasked or for standing too close together. I know in other nations this was happening. There was lots of lots of griping, protests, but such is life. The government can’t make everyone happy.

The economy dipped, air quality improved, life went on, for the survivors. Interesting discoveries were made – remote working works well; investing in pharmaceutical companies is more secure than investing in gold. We may even be ready for the next deadly virus wave, & there will be one. 

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Hearing Things

Hearing Things

I stopped hearing things –


to be precise 

I was not aware of the things

I was hearing


I heard them so often

they no longer registered 

like the rumble of the subway

the sound fades 

I only notice when it stops 

not that it is silent

but something is missing


some sounds

I always hear

like the ticking of a watch

a clock

when I got my first electronic alarm

that only sounded when it rang

I had my first night of real sleep


I eventually stopped hearing

emotional chatter

the noise of angry squirrels 

reminds me of moments in the past


that could alarm me with shame




not that I’ve forgotten them

not that I’m unaware

the subway still runs

and sometimes I take a ride

but I no longer wonder

if that rumble

is my fault

When I was living with my family in Sydney (Cape Breton) I moved my bedroom to the rumpus room in the basement where was cooler in the summer & warmer in the winter. It was like living in a comfy cave with one window at group level. Being in the basement the room was near the furnace. The hum of it heating the house would put me to sleep many nights. I missed that hum when I moved out on my own.

When I arrived in Toronto decades ago I was unprepared for the constant traffic flow, unprepared for the almost constant sound of ambulance & fire engine sirens. On top of which was the rumble of streetcars & the subway. When we moved into our house in the east end of the city it nearly on top of the subway tunnel &, as we later discovered, also above the underground turnoff that took the trains to the east end transit yard.

China rattled on shelves, panes in windows rattled, water in glasses would vibrate. I gradually ‘silenced’ most of those rattles with cloth or shims. After a year I stopped noticing the rumble of the underground but guests to our house nearly always notice it as the trains pass by nearly very five to ten minutes all day. The sound doesn’t stop but I stop hearing it. I don’t notice the sirens as much anymore too.

I did have issues with ticking alarm clocks – the first clock radio I had was a Godsend but those early ones had flip down numbers that I could hear too 😦 I’d have to put them far enough away that I didn’t hear the numbers change but close enough to hear when the radio came on. Thanks to the march of science that’s no longer an issue. My cell phone makes only the noises I want.

The piece also alludes to the emotional noise of people – usually people in distress – that I’ve learned to acknowledge without getting overly caught up in it, unless I’ve contributed to it somehow & even then I don’t take blame for reactions that are more theirs than anything else. 

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Table Talk

Table Talk


he doesn’t talk at the table

except to answer a question

as briefly as possible

once he asked for a condiment

he eats


I am a chatterer

I like to talk about

the news

the weather

my garden

his week at work


nothing interferes with the

the work of eating

he eats with focus

while for me food

is part of the occasion

not the only thing


the lesson I need to learn

is to do one thing at a time

distractions are a part of the process for me

writing in silence 

is a discipline I’m developing

so the focus is on the words

not the rhythm of the keys

not what’s for supper 


I’ve nearly always watched TV while having supper – this goes back to childhood with either a TV in the kitchen or those folding metal TV tables in the living room. In my house now the TV is on a wheeled table that can be turned around to face the dining-room table. Conversation isn’t needed with the TV to watch. Eating in restaurants is a different setting & calls for different behaviour, one in which chatter was mandatory. In fact I’ve opted not to eat in places that have too many TV for patrons.

When I have guests for dinner the TV is usually tuned to one of the cable music channels for background music which allows for chit-chat without being distracting. Usually my visitors are fairly chatty while we eat but there is one guy who is silent. Even luring him to talk about recent events is a challenge. In fact most of the time he isn’t much of a conversationalist. Nearly everything I’ve learned about him has been in response to my questions.

I know, to a degree, this is a cultural silence – it is how he grew up. Like all the men I enjoy he is sweet tempered, sober, passionate when the time is right & always has a hearty appetite for whatever we’re having for dinner & for our intimate time after supper. He speaks volumes with his hands.

By the end this becomes another piece about focus. Growing doing my homework with the radio, then stereo. I rarely work in silence. I like silence but sometimes the search for the right music takes over, time gets frittered with the endless need for new. How many versions of MacArthur’s Park are there? What I’m writing can wait until I’ve found them all. 

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I was not drooling

I wanted to but

do have enough restraint not to

at least not in public 


I was not sticking my tongue

where it shouldn’t be

only where it was invited to be

I need encouragement

before I let it dart


before I let it it follow

a trail of drool

along your backbone

to between your butt cheeks



never satisfies

the way your shudders do

your moan

as I teasingly invade

that territory


you never see that tongue

you only feel it

What! Another poem about sex! Is that all you think about? Shouldn’t there at least be a trigger warning – innocent children might read this & have their entire sense of a moral sexual self ruined. Children who can’t tell the difference between the reality of Iron Man & the fantasy of RuPaul.

Writing about sex while keeping it erotic presents its own set of challenges. Clinical detachment vs sensuously ambiguity. No this piece isn’t ambiguous by any means but at the same time isn’t fetishistically detailed either. No smells. No tastes. (Until now that is because saying that probably brings those tastes, smells to mind.)

The piece, if you read it to the end, becomes perhaps more experiential than you may want, or leaves you wanting more vivid details, or makes you wish you had never read it at all. It might make you judge me – like judging someone by what they wear around the house as opposed to what they wear in the street. ‘Oh – so that’s what he’s really like.’

Did part of you immediately think this was a true story – that it was confessional, deeply personal poetry. Poets don’t write fiction. Write about you know, there is no room for imagination- in fact room for imagination is getting smaller – white male writers can only write from a white male pov or risk being labeled as racist misogynists. 

Did I teasingly invade your thinking?

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I am a spiller

a little clumsy

I don’t fill glasses to the rim

I pour cream into my coffee

with my mug in the sink

I wipe the bottoms of cups



before I put them down

just to be sure


I try not to carry

a glass of water

from one room to the next

I place dishes

in the sink

so running water

doesn’t reflect up

I keep a towel handy

for drying splashes 

around the bathroom sink

after I wash my face


I miss you

There is lots of truth to this piece – I can’t wash my face & hands without splashing the counter, sometimes the floor, around the bathroom sink. I’ve tried to be careful but … well … it’s no use. I’d need some sort of splash guard around the sink, but a mop up towel is less cumbersome. The same holds true for washing dishes – splish splash time to wash the floor as well as thew dishes.

I’ve yet to find a Brita filter carafe that doesn’t drip. I’ve stopped ordering tea in restaurants because no one has engineered a teapot that doesn’t dribble, so that puddle on the table isn’t my fault, really. Don’t get me started on trying to fill my coffee maker or a travel mug.

More than once I’ve accidentally knocked over a glass of water, dropped a slippery bottle of ketchup, dribbled coffee all over myself from a takeout cup with a loose lid – warning contents may be wet – Oops there goes the cream filling in my donut all over my jacket. Some foods are not meant to be eaten walking down the street, at least not eaten by me. 

Clumsy is another way of saying being so preoccupied you aren’t careful with what you are doing. So, what I like most about this piece, is that last line, which I hope rewrites everything you’ve just read. How steady are your hands?

an older piece about clumsy me:

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On Tap

On Tap

he was a table tapper

you know

finger tips drumming

a little beat on the table

fingernails on plate

darting along the edge

drumming along

with conversation 

filling the silent spots

as if the clatter of cutlery

wasn’t enough

as if the chatter from tables

around us wasn’t enough

as if the restaurant music

wasn’t enough

as if our conversation

wasn’t enough

Often we unconsciously develop habits that we aren’t even aware of – nervous actions that become so automatic it’s nearly impossible to stop them. One of the challenging part of quitting smoking is to figure out what to do with your hands. Spoken-word writers frequently gesture with their hands as they perform, sometime to emphasize what there saying & when told to not do it, find it impossible not to do. You’d have to tie their hands down & even then their shoulders, their body language gets in the act.

Fidgeting  fidgeting is another those hard-to-contain habits. constantly shaking one foot or the other, pulling at the ends of one’s hair, rocking back-and-forth while sitting in a chair. Some made worse when nervous. In high school there was a pen-clicker in one of my classes. One day a teacher grabbed the pen from his hand & threw it in the wastepaper basket. Thank God for Bic.

I read of a pencil chewer who contracted some sort of poisoning from the paint, or was it the preservative, in the wood of a pencil being chomped on – there was a of lawsuit which was lost because pencils weren’t sold to be eaten. I wonder if they had start printing that on them, like warnings on coffee cups ‘contents may be hot’ – ‘not for consumption.’ The things some people put in their mouths lol.

This piece is about all these ‘tics’ & also about a real person who was one of those ‘drummers’ – they would tap along with whatever music might be on in a restaurant. Once even with a spoon on the table. I once asked why they did this & they looked at me as if I said ‘stop breathing.’ Now, if they were actually in time with the music, it might not have so irritating but it was like mindless, tuneless humming. They stopped for a few minutes, then started up again & caught themselves. 

“I didn’t even know I was doing that!”

I was cracking my knuckles to Beethoven’s Fifth and didn’t hear them.

What sort of ‘tics’ do you have or what sort bother you?

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this is my eating food face

if you don’t like it

look the other way

yes I’ve always eaten like this

put food in my mouth

chew it


I have no control

if my lips look funny

I am not trying to

imitate a camel or a jellyfish

as you so sweetly put it



this is how I eat in private too

not that I eat in front of  mirror

not that I watch myself 

no I don’t want to see

your cell phone video

of me eating like an angry monkey


I’m not going to eat

another thing

until you put that phone down

if you don’t put that phone down

this’ll be our last meal

Candid Camera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candid_Camera) was a precursor to Funniest Video & TikTok – people on camera doing usually comic things, sometimes aware of the camera & often not. Now thanks to cellphones anyone & everyone can be a filmmaker, can be a photo journalist, can hide a camera so that it makes private acts public.

I’ve seen new reports about assaults that resulted from someone recording on their cell an event, seen footage of police warning people to stop recording as they arrested someone. Privacy has become a tightrope. When I take photos I avoid having people I don’t know in them, even then I have obscured the faces of people before I blog them. In fact a couple of my favorite workshop photos are of the hands of people around the lunch table. When I take photos that have cars or houses in them I obscure licence plates & house numbers. 

The piece is also about boundaries & how often those who feel what they are doing is harmless & lighthearted or truthful, should be allowed to cross any boundary: Don’t be a spoil sport – I was only kidding – You take yourself too seriously. It’s only tickling. It’s all fun. But you are fat. If you don’t like xxxx it’s your fault not mine for refusing to respect your boundary. Get over yourself.

It becomes victim blaming as opposed to taking responsibility for one’s actions. ‘You’ll ruin his life if you press sexual assault charges.’ ‘You shouldn’t have been walking home alone in dark.’ ‘Just because they couldn’t take a joke doesn’t make it hate speech.’ Language spins are endless. 


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Hard To Swallow

Hard To Swallow

it was hard to swallow

each fact


was indigestible untruth

at least

that’s what we were told


the facts remained unchanged

but everyone

put them into a different context

to make them believable



the whole picture

remained hidden


by the noise

the flurry

of information 

that didn’t add to knowledge


facts deemed

to be more important

than seeing the whole picture

the jigsaw of numbers



negotiating good for humans

with good for profits

people being

more disposable than dollars

there is more gain

in forcing the undigestible

on the unsuspecting

than providing

them any alternative 

This was written during the first covid19 lockdown amidst the constant conflict between which set of facts was most ethically important – keeping the economy growing, our personal freedoms: no one is going to make me wear a bloody mask, understandable statistics, differing medical opinions. Now, years later, these issues are still in the air but with the need to keep the economy moving being the winner. We still have ‘sides’ calling each other deniers. 

The numbers have been skewed by renaming – much the same way that the civilians killed in war become ‘collateral damage’ – covid deaths became ‘respiratory failure.’ ‘Vulnerable’ apparently means those already having underlying health issues will catch whatever is going around. The vulnerable become responsible for protecting themselves from those who are invulnerable enough not to wear a bloody mask.

To minimize the discomfort that the statics were causing it was decided not to report them – it created a paranoia that wasn’t good for business. Except of course for the pharmaceutical industry – who, according to one conspiracy, were behind the outbreak. How many drugstores were saved by booster shots? 

Add to which we gravitate research that supports our personal biases. Masks are most effective if they are worn properly is evidence enough for some to say ‘masks don’t work’ rather than watch a YouTube video on how wear them. That video is ‘fake news’ while the one supporting their contentions is accurate. 

Statistics don’t lie. But like history itself, truth is in the mind of the teller, not in the facts. I’ve read that statically 80% of statistics are made up on the spot.

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