Then Things Changed

Then Things Changed 

yes

that was me

then

those were my words

then

I believed what I said

things change

I change

stop trying to pour me of today

into the image of me

then

 

people tell me I’ve lost weight

when I was never aware

that they were aware

of what I weighed

that what I look liked mattered

then

I didn’t know or care

yet now that I’ve changed

physically in their eyes

they still see me

as the same person

but not so fat

they never said I was fat

then

mind you

but that I’ve lost weight since

then

 

I don’t say what I once said

my world view has changed

become broader

& more refined at the same time

my body gets narrow

my vision get clearer

in ways people notice

people I hadn’t set out

to be noticed by

then

now knowing

they’ve been looking

that they are capable of comparing

the old me

then

with the new me

 

I still don’t give a shit

but

thanks for noticing

One of the things that ‘bugs’ me about the the way media spins our reality has been demonstrated in the recent press about sexual predators. The press will report on a event that took place, say 20 years ago with pictures of the victim as they were 20 years ago but of the perpetrator as they appear today – creating the impression that this, say, 60 year old molested this 20 year old – when in fact the perpetrator was 30 at the time.

I know that at 20 I said things that I admit where foolish, stupid, racist, sexist – spouting things I I would disagree with today. I’ve learned better & recognize that thinking can change. So when he press digs up some foolish thing a 20 year old did to smear them at 50 I think, of the ‘digger’ – where you a saint all your life? Give people credit for growing up & changing.

In this piece I use weight as an example of how we change, of how people remember us & perceive us based on that memory. It’s also about the back-handed compliment – too have never thought of oneself of being over-weight & then being told you look better after losing weight clearly mean that some once thought you were fat fat fat.

There’s also sense of how, in my case at any rate, one loses appearance/body consciousness – how others actual see us as opposed to what we see in the mirror – how it easy to think no one actually notices us at all or that they care how we look enough to compare today with the past.

This is the last of the 48 laws. Hurrah! I certainly enjoyed the challenge of using them as prompts. I did find them more manipulative than anything else – how to give the right image, how to use people for one’s benefit as opposed to how to be a better person. In the new year I’ll collect all of them &n my comments together for a possible eBook.

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Sleeping With Losers

Sleeping With Losers

no I do not want

to sleep with your sons

or your daughters

for that matter

at least I don’t want to sleep with them

as a result winning this battle

in fact

if we hadn’t engaged in this conflict

I might well have desired them

but that was not the object

I don’t want to burn your crops

destroy your cities

I only want to win

I want you to acknowledge my superiority

in battle

that’s it

my superiority in bed

is another matter

one that I don’t need to prove to anyone one

my tanks are the biggest

the best

what I am in bed

isn’t relevant

I won’t want your wives

your homes

won’t loot

your ancient treasures

I’m not going to change

your government

that’s up to you

because clearly

you were capable

of taking care of yourselves

you are conquered

not rescued

you have to save yourselves

so instead of offering me

sexual solace

in hopes that I’ll do

what you have to do for yourselves

get busy

but

if your sons

are so sexually attracted

by the power of my determination

I might be willing to give them a tumble

The Laws prompts forced me to look at things I don’t ordinary think about & to think about them in a different way. I’ve written more politically charged material than ever before & also some anti-war pieces. But to say war is bad or war greases the wheels of the economy with the blood of the disenfranchised seems simplistic.

One of the tools of cultural genocide is sexual morality – when the Spanish discovered South America they were indignant that natives lived unmarried & didn’t mate for life. So they proceeded to force Christianity on them while using the female population for their sexual pleasures. Mass insemination of conquered women still continues.

Even things like greed have causes – i.e. the need for wealth to bolster a sense of worth. The need to win to prove who has the biggest … tank. Power for the sake of power not for the sake of improving anyone’s lot but for proving one has power. Most political or religious war has some petty emotional underlying cause. It’s a matter of principle.

Another ‘thing’ about war is that it is portrayed as a cismale heterosexual field of combat. Trump’s attempt to force trans people out of the US services was, in part, his attempt to maintain that macho, tough US facade. Never mind the fact that the US medical system is so skewed the only way for many trans can afford to get the medical attention they need is to enlist. You don’t have to bake wedding cakes for queers etc.

The title is new. It was called ‘Your Sons’ but as I was re-reading it this now one came to me. Much groovier. It was fun to create this narrative voice – so reasonable a victor who presents this ambiguous, almost passive-aggressive, stance. All he wants is to win. And emasculate your nation by having sex with your sons.

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AutoCorrected Perfection

AutoCorrected Perfection

there’s always something

my eyes don’t catch everything

words lose there meaning

thanks to auto spell

I often don’t know what I’ve just said

or if what you’ve written

is what you’ve written

so I don’t feel so responsible

for those little typos

that change love to leave

that change emotionally comithtemnt

I mean commitment

to being committed for emotionally disfunction

there’s always something

that’s why I count on your eyes

to pick up what mine miss

trust me no matter how right it appears

it needs you to make more better right

I couldn’t do it without

those sharp insightful comments of yours

you find what slips between the lines

while I’m so busy

making sure those lines are straight

to your perfect heart

Has this every happened to you – you type quiet & come back to edit & see that it is quite or even quit – that somewhere between your thinking, your fingers, the page & the push to get it out something is replaced in transmission. Concern become concerto thanks to auto spell – that algorithm that takes over your thinking to fill in what it thinks you have started or if you’ve, as I often do, switch two letters as you type jumps to concussions I mean conclusions.

There have been times I’ve let either the typo or the auto spell word stay – ‘head in the coulds’ is much more poetic than ‘head in the clouds’. I let it stand because by the time I come to edit a piece months may have passed & I no longer remember what it was I set out say anyway. So I jump on the coulds easily & gratefully. Right now autocorrect wants to change coulds either to singular or to colds.

This piece also plays on the notion of Freudian slip of accidentally saying what you don’t mean to say. Those verbal slips when one says “sure I want to leave you” when intending to say ‘sure I love you’. Or our frequent habit of saying one thing when we mean another ‘I’m busy that day’ when you mean ‘I don’t want to be there.’

In editing it’s always wise to have another set of eyes read before final product is published. In going back over Lazarus Kiss the number typos that even auto spell missed is amazing to me. I never said I was a copy editor. I don’t write a lot of directly romantic poetry so I pushed this one into what I hope is an unexpectedly cornball direction. I enjoy taking cliches and bending them into new shapes, in this case the shape of a heart.

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Preach Baby Preach

Preach Baby Preach

you know

if more people practiced safe sex

we wouldn’t need

all these precautions

it’s the fault of all them damn

fuck happy sluts

spreading disease

making babies no one can afford

wrecking lives

not caring as they go around

merrily fucking

away without a care in the world

with out a worry

for the medical system

for hospitals

that can’t afford a glass of water

unless someone’s insurance covers it

and my taxes go up

every time some horny idiot decided

to fuck without protection

just to suit their momentary pleasure

if you can’t keep it up

because of some barrier

you don’t deserve to fuck

you hear what I’m saying

unless you’re in the right financial bracket

you shouldn’t be fucking at all

taking risks

bringing babies into a world

where you expected others to care for them

to support you

while you stay off work

to bring them up

so use the brain between your shoulders

not the one between your legs

make some sensible choices

that won’t cost me anything

get that baby carriage out of my way

stop blocking the sidewalks

the grocery aisles with it

if you’d used protection

I could go shopping without

having to shove you

and your screaming brats out of the way

my children are well behaved

This piece is both a rant & an analogy. It plays on the paradox of what is being ranted about & the true  nature of the ranter – how we use shame as means of controlling the behaviour of others while wanting our own to be uncontrolled. When I first wrote this I had read things about men controlling women’s health & reproductive services – part of which was the notion that if they can’t afford to have children why should the state  have to become responsible for their irresponsible actions.

Refusing to fund methods to avoid getting knocked up for ethical religious reasons while at the same time condemning them for not using those methods or by merely keeping their legs close – yet denouncing women for emasculating men by refusing men the right to control when those legs are to be opened or closed. Its all about control not ethics or deeply religious convictions.

As the song says ‘the rich get richer the poor get babies.’ I read a specfic novel in which only those who could afford children could have them. A device was implanted that kept men & women from getting aroused – thus controlling reproduction. It created more problems than it solved. The TV series Handmaiden’s Tale is another take the religious control of women.

There’s also a sense that our preacher does exactly what is being preached against. As my piece progresses the narrator becomes less reliable when its clear its the fact of baby carriages, of his convince that is the issue. It ends with a nod to the blindness of many parents, even pet owners, that their precious one is perfect while others are the problem. My dog would never bite you, less you deserved it.

 

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The Original of The Species

The Original of The Species

I did not

copy your runway walk

paint in your style

well

maybe I did take a little

you can’t blame me though

consider it flattery

I didn’t do it as well as you did

at least

I don’t think I did

no matter what others say

I didn’t try to do you

better than you do yourself

I never claimed to be the originator

just because I didn’t credit you

with being my inspiration

merely means

I knew everyone would see through me

would see you

not me

the fact that they didn’t

isn’t my fault

I’m not using your name

to get ahead

I’m not denying your influence

to suppress you

I’m denying it because

I have the power to do so

which was one of the best things

you taught me

how to use what power I have

to minimize the obvious influence

of others so my reflection of you

has now becomes the real deal

This starts with a moment from America’s Next Top Model in which one of the models accused another of stealing her runway walk. As the show is edited for drama, & the women encouraged to be nasty when the cameras are on them I didn’t take it all too seriously – though on the show this lead to verbal assault, name calling & lots of bleeping bleeps.

I played with the flow of power in this piece with my narrator admitting to the copying but without remorse. I think of All About Eve or even Ripley’s Game in which one character takes over the life of another to create a new one of their own. In those cases the taker-over denies what they are doing while continuing to do it. There is also an echo of the ‘he stole my music/play/writing & claimed it was his’ that shows up in films as well. Of course no one believes the poor artists who then seeks revenge.

 

But what is original? We all have influences, sometimes that influence is very clear. Sometimes in fact the clear that influence the greater the respect. Who doesn’t want to described as out Hemingway Hemingway? or taking Ginsberg to the next level. Can you really tell the difference between Lady Gaga and Madonna?

 

I love the way this piece ends with my narrator baldly admitting the theft & that they used the power gained to further suppress their influencer because they know their influencer would do the same if they could. Just because there isn’t anything new under the sun doesn’t mean I won’t take credit for it if I can 🙂

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Please Give

Please Give

you can make a difference

in the lives of these children

dogs

endangered species

bees

ice shelf

you can make a difference

the overfishing of the sea

the destruction of the rain forest

the testing of make up on animals

 

only you can help

we know you want to

if only to stop

seeing these high definition

close ups of tears on cheeks

skin taut over fragile bones

acres of swamps

replaced with sugar cane fields

birds slicked with oil

 

babies

look it’s babies

for fuck sake

innocent little kittens

going hungry

so skinny

even the starving human babies

won’t eat them

 

only you can help

these photographers need work

these administrators need

your funds to administrate

we don’t want you to rescue anyone

we have skilled professionals

who studied in universities

to learn how to teach these unfortunates

what they need to change

to become suitable candidates for rescue

that education doesn’t come for free

you won’t have to touch anything

other than key pad in a donation

 

only you can help

only you

At our house we get an endless supply of free note-pads, greeting cards, stickers, pens from various charities looking for our support. Much like the publishing industry the people who make the real money are the printers not the writers. So I am more than a little jaded, or is it cynical, by appeals for support.

The cost of creating these ad campaigns comes from our donations. I’ve seen a breakdown of where our donations to charities go & the smallest fraction goes to the actual starving children the rest, as the piece states, goes to administrative costs. Along as there is money to be made from poverty poverty will be with us. The costs of administering things like welfare is greater than the amount of money given via welfare. They spend more money making sure people deserve to get welfare than is given in welfare.

I’d rather give a street person a $10 Tim’s card than donate $10 to some charity for street people. At least I know her/she is getting my money. At least I’ve reached out & not sent a check to avoid seeing a street person. That is a bit part of charity – people donating to get the ‘suffering’ out of sight so they don’t have to look at it not because they really care about the ‘suffering.’

Speaking of charity you can always send me a bit of your hard-earned money via PayPal 🙂 It goes to a worthy cause. All you get in return is my gratitude no note pads, stickers or even exclusive content. Just look at my photographs: pathetic pleas for rescue aren’t they. If I could afford a better camera, faster uploads, I could included even more maudlin images if my ramblings aren’t pathos enough to loosen your purse strings 🙂 Give now – only you can make a difference.

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So Arrest Me

On this recent Disability After Dark (apple.co/2cph4fw) Andrew Gurza talks about the legalities of being disabled. The last of the ‘ugly laws’ didn’t get repealed until the 1970’s. Ugly laws deemed it illegal for persons who were “unsightly” or “unseemly” to appear in public. Being disabled was considered ugly. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugly_law for a more detailed article. Criminalizing harmless behaviour is a great way of diverting attention from things that do need to be dealt with. (Footballers kneeling will soon be criminalized.)

I was unaware of this ‘law’ until hearing about it on the podcast. It does, in some way, explain why families often ended up keeping their disabled hidden – I thought it was solely out of shame – which no doubt it was – but didn’t know that shame had been ‘legalized’ by such laws. At one time it would have been impossible for Stephen Hawkins to have a TV show.

Andrew also talks about the forced sterilization of the ‘handicapped’ – whom it was assumed didn’t have either the mental capacity to consent to sex or the moral ability to control their sexual urges. Letting ‘them’ reproduce was terrifying. It brought to mind the chemical castration of Alan Turing: state control of expressing sexuality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing. In fact the whole notion of hiding disability is similar to the hiding of one’s illegal sexuality in the closet – well even now that it is ‘legal’ many still choose to hide it.

I know that when I was in my teens & aware that I was gay part of my fear of being out was the fear of being criminalized. It was illegal for men to dance together in bars etc etc. In some US states & even countries conversion therapy is legal (& can be forced upon a teen without that teen’s consent).

Things have changed over the decades, if you live in the right place, at the right time, have enough money & entitlement it isn’t as stressful being queer. Good thing the ‘ugly laws’ never extended to hair styles or footwear because there are days when most people wouldn’t be allowed on the streets.

Consumption http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1gr

there was a rumour

that the fission plant

effected the heath of families

who lived near its run off

children who played in the water

became consumptive

 

the scientists at the plant

claimed that was because of poor nutrition

bad genetic make up in breeding

too much moose pie not enough fish cakes

those doctors had a list of reasons

why the fission plant was not responsible

even though there had not been one case

of consumption or ocular degeneration

till it had opened

 

the doctors said that was because

we didn’t have the diagnostic ability

to find these things out

till there was fission plant

to bring the economy here to life

 

besides what was the big deal

a few coughing children

or work for lots and lots of people

something to keep everyone happy

the plant was not the reason

the  moose were no longer breeding

there was nothing in their waste run off

that would interrupt

the gestation cycle of any species

besides how can you stop the moose

from drinking in the streams

that were now radiant roiling

with purple blue in the sunset

thanks to the discharge from the plant

 

such pretty colors

why didn’t we like the pretty colors

what did we have against purple and blue

were we selfish monochromatic bores

who only cared about our health

we had to get with the program

come into the present

stop living in the past

suck it up pay the price

of stepping into the glorious

purple and blue future

think of all the good they were doing

soon we might even have light at night

 

the villagers were unimpressed

by these impassioned denials

the village didn’t want to retreat into the past

yet didn’t know if the price

we had to pay

to stay in the present was worth it

 

the parents of the consumptives

sat by the glittering purple blue stream

and began to weep

hoping their tears could undo the damage

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

November 1-30

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My Revenge

My Revenge

mom always liked him best

dad was always picking on me

I could never get a fair shake

he was always some teacher’s pet

I wasn’t even the class clown

he had lots friends

I had none

even new kids I met

became his friends

too busy to play with me

I was too young

not smart enough

not cute enough

I never played the game

any game

as well as anyone else

I gave up trying

who needs it anyway

too much work

responsibility

I’ll leave all that to him

it won’t last

it can’t last

I’ll keep up my muttering

I know how to gnaw at that foundation

when he falls

and I know he’ll fall

the way will be clear for me

that’s my secret

not needing the friends

to make my way the way he has

they’ll see he’s using them

the teacher will see

my parents will realize

they should have loved me best

by then it’ll be too late

for them

so follow him while you can

his fall

will be my revenge

This take on Law 42 starts with that Smothers Bros line ‘Mom always liked you best’ – the basis for much of their comedy was this mild sibling rivalry. I do have a brother & sisters but the age gap prevented this sort of rivalry. So this is a fiction based on things I have observed in familial relationships, movies, books I’ve read.

It also reflects the true manipulative nature of many of the rules of power – how to subtly work things to your advantage. My narrator here is one of those guys who is sweet & supportive to the rival’s face but is merely biding their time while resenting all the good things happening to their rival. Discontent is sown behind the back with backhand compliments like – ‘he got away with it again.’

 

This is also the unreliable narrator – one isn’t sure how sincere he is – is the rival acting in a way trick people or is his actually a ‘nice’ person who the narrator resents as upped to a trickster who needs to be revealed. Envy takes many forms & expresses itself in many ways. This narrator is on his way of becoming one of those villains rationalizing his actions by claiming a superior insight to what others don’t see because they are being hoodwinked.

In crime fiction this narrator could end up as a serial killer offing everyone who reminds him of his rival to free the world of this type of person. Good villains often do what they do thinking it is a logical way to benefit all as opposed to issues they may have with envy or lack of power.

In my own life I wish I felt this strongly & negatively about anyone 🙂 If I envy someone it usually because of their shoes & not the actions I think they are getting away with.

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“art is life – not an imitation”

 

Breaking In Grief 

he wore

his dead son’s sneakers

bought a month before

the son’s step off into oblivion

new shoes a sign of hope

of a future planned for

not of a life too soon to be ended

 

they found the sneakers

still in their box

in the cupboard

worn once to try them on

designer expensive

too nice to toss or donate

so he’s wearing them now

it gives me the creeps

practicality in the face of catastrophe

 

I visited home

the summer after my father died

his death was sudden

it was the body that gave out

he didn’t go out of his way

to find that oblivion

I went through his clothes

to help my sister winnow out

throw out donate

to share some memories

I end up keeping a a couple of jackets

that actually fit me

with enough style to suit me

 

the shirt and pants

were easy to part with

most of the shoes too

my Dad was all business

when it came to shoes

his idea of comfort were

hard onyx red oxfords

there was box with a new pair

only worn to try them on

they sort of fit me

very stuff and inflexible

never being broken in

expensive

I take them

 

I wear them a few times

then drop them in a clothing box

they don’t fit

right size but wrong shape

maybe that’s why my Dad never

wore them either

the life my Dad hoped I would fit into

was also the right size

but the wrong shape

I was unwilling to do the work

that would break me in

so it would be a comfortable fit

 

I meet my friend one day

he’s sporting his son’s

wildly neon runners

it’s been a year after the death

he finally feels okay to to walk in grief

a grief he’ll never leave

but ready

to walk forward with it

This is a piece that wrote itself. A close friend of mine in recovery had recently had his son step off a balcony to his death. Helping his daughter-in-law in going through the son’s possession they found the running shoes. He did opt to keep them. These details are facts. The neon is my poetic liberty. It was the this reversal of the cliche that struck me – usually its the son filling his father’s shoes.

Which lead me to me filling my Dad’s shoes. Once again the facts are true – me helping my sister – this was back in 2002 (I think). I still havre those jackets & ear one of them frequently enough. The other is saved for special occasions. The only oxfords are real too though my father preferred more comfortable shoes for ordinary wear.

I did try them a couple of times before donating them. To fill tour father’s shoes also means to take on the life he lead, to fulfill those expectations of fitting into the normative culture – something I never did. I’m not even sure how hard I tried because it was clear I’d never do it – it would never fit.

My friend dealt with, is still dealing with, his tragedy. He spoke about his pain & struggle openly. I’ve performed this piece frequently & it has undergone a fair bit of tweaking to get the tenses right, the flow of information smooth. It is the last piece in my recent chapbook – though this edit is different yet again.

When I performed it at the chapbook launch earlier this year, I wore one of my Dad’s jackets. My friend came to hear me & he was wearing his son’s sneakers. Sometimes art is life – not an imitation.

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Cost of Free

Cost of Free

saying no

to what I don’t need

hasn’t gotten easier

not that I’m not tempted

by things I want

when the price is right

 

even if there is no point

in having them

it is harder to say no

 

there is no such thing as enough

of having too much

as much as the next fellow

I long to have too much

but I have no place to put it

I can’t afford the cost of free

it piles up and up

so when I get what I need

I don’t have room for it

 

I’ve been filled to the brim

with what I was taught to want

by this culture of more is better than enough

especially when the price is right

when the price is

you have always pay a little every day

not all at once

take your time

but keep on paying

because if you don’t need it now

you will eventually

down the road you’ll be glad

to be suffocating in the free for all

It is said there is no such thing as a free lunch – nothing comes without some sort of cost, even that is an emotional cost. I even feel a twinge of guilt in throwing out those ‘free’ chards & not pads that come from charities begging for money. I wonder how much of my charity $, if I sent them any, goes to the printers of these calendars as opposed to going the cause they are raising $ for?

Free often comes with the condition than you are now on their email list, or that you will enjoy the first taste enough to keep on buying more & more. We have to keep the wheels of commerce going, don’t you know, so that when the economy fails it is our fault for not spending enough. Add though that when the economy fails its the ones with the least already that suffer the most. Sears gives big bonuses to the execs who declared bankrupt while the worked get sent packing without barely a thank you & their pension funds vanished. There’ll be no government bail out for me.

Anyway I digress. This piece isn’t all that subtle in its look at those hidden strings & costs to the free. ‘Dinner is on me, but you better come across.’ ‘I’ll treat but you’ll have to listen to every detail about my latest trip to Glace Bay’ Everything comes with some expectation.

Also part of this commercial culture is disposability. The auto industry was built on the need to replace as opposed to sustain. A new car every year. How many pairs of shoes does one need anyway? I am as guilty of the need for more as the next guy. But I have made a pact with myself that when new comes in something old goes out.

One of the hidden costs of having a house is this need to fill it with stuff, to fill storage space with old stuff to make room for the new. I have magazines from the 60’s that I can’t discard. Guests are always stunned to see the quantity stuff here – dads books cds. It’s a good thing they never see what is out of sight. One feel sorry for the man with one pair of socks. I met a guy once who only had two plates, two knives, forks etc. Less to wash. I wish I could make my life that simple.

 

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

http://www.artbar.org

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