Tales of Brave Trending

Oscar Wilde said something the effect that it doesn’t matter what people say about you, as long as they are talking about. Bad press is better that no press act all. It is better to be trending for being an asshole that not to be trending at all. The recent US President was a master of trending & seemed to get ‘fatter’ on the negativity than on praise.

A couple of rock legends have breathed life into their trending by being vocal anti-vaxxers. Releasing new music to articulate their stance. Eric Clapton, Van Morrison – as a duo & separately have chosen to stand up for the common people with their recent releases. 

I’ve listened to the songs, read the various comments & am more amused than impressed. Positive posters praise them for their anti-establishment stances & their decisions not to play where masks are mandatory etc. I want to say ‘Honey, these men are millionaires not anti-establishment spokespersons. They represent their own bottom line not your rights as an individual.’ Check out the ticket prices to their concerts.

As I said, I’ve listened to their brave anti-lockdown songs & you know, if they weren’t publicized as anti-safety-protocol songs it would easy to assume Eric is mildly peeved that his latte wasn’t milky enough. The music itself is low-energy, the singing is indifferent & the lyrics are cliche. 

Those who are critical of Eric & Van’s anti-establishment stance have derided them for being uninformed. There have been pics posted of their cds being tossed in the garbage. I want to say ‘Honey, these men are millionaires you can’t un-buy their music.’ 

I see all this more as p.r. than anything else. A way of seeming culturally relevant in ways their music isn’t, unless nostalgia is a radical construct. Their search for self-expression was rarely anti-establishment. A man who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads turns out to be an anti-vaxxer. Gasp!

Civic Duty (2008)

I’m believin’ what Stephen has to say

Harper harping on what ordinary folks

think of the arts 

sad to say he’s right

ordinary guys are more interested 

getting in cheap dope

getting their hands on the latest xbox

than they are in 

Canadian Short Story anthologies

they want hockey scores 

blow jobs on demand

they don’t want no Canadian identity TV 

they want CSI not Little Mosque on the Prairie

they want Steven King 

not David Adams Richards 

<>

in fact Mr Harper 

you would do us all a favour 

if you out right banned 

anything that called itself Canadian 

who needs McLean’s 

when we can have People

who wants to see Canadians 

give us Linsey Lohan in a yellow thong

not Sarah McLaughlin in gossamer scarves

<>

the ordinary folks don’t give a crap about much 

they would really love it if 

you could see to it t

hat they never have to work

because they don’t like getting up

dragging their weary bones 

to some soul sucking job

so if you really want to get elected 

let us live in luxury 

without having to do anything

we don’t want no education 

studying is a total bore

and a waste of taxpayers money 

creating art elitists 

university degrees 

they only use to make them act superior 

to us ordinary Joes and Janes

whose backs they are climbing on 

to get to the opera

while we have to sit around Tim Horton’s

waiting for our Old Fashioned glazed 

to be digested

we want tv’s everywhere

free cable

free data plans

get rid of the cbc

give us all sports channels

free porn for my android

<>

it has to be free

if you want to get elected 

free beer for teens

that’s the ticket

give the ordinary folks 

what they truly desire 

a life free of want

free of any responsibility

the arts are the pretty tip

of that ugly iceberg

<>

I’m so believin’ 

what Stephen has to say 

glad someone had the balls 

to finally say those arts phonies 

are just cry babies 

who suck the vital masculinity 

from our country

we gotta get this country

back on track

take back Canada

redirect the wasted energy 

we put in to the arts

we finally have leader

who can lead out of the cave 

& into the deep dark forest

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Pandemic Poetry Project

I have two pieces in the Pandemic Poetry Project ed. David Bateman published by Buddies In Bad Times. I’m is good company as the anthology includes work by Patricia Wilson, Kathleen Whelan, Robert Standish, Neta Rose,Charlie Petch, Stedmond Pardy, Dianne Moore, Ashok Mathur, Merle Matheson, David Marshall, Marcy Rogers, Sri M., Peter Lynch, Amy Lester, Steve Keil, Brock Hessel, Sky Gilbert, SK Dyment, Judith Chandler, Philip Cairns, Ashley Bomberry, Marusya Bociurkiw, bill bissett, Paul Bellini, & David Bateman. A superb sampling of lgbtqia writers.

Buddies glitter washroom floor

I was asked by David to submit a couple of pieces last year. I sifted through some recent writing & sent in the two that appear. At the time I was unaware that it was a ‘Pandemic’ project or I might have sent pieces with a lockdown subtext. It is a handsome little book the size of a cd case with 150 pages of insightful, silly, spiritual, sexy, political writing.

It can be bought for $19.95 , in person, at Buddies In Bad Times on Alexander St. Glad Day Bookshop also has it on the shelf or you can order it, but there will be shipping costs.

Buddiehttps://gladdaybookshop.com/item/kUIAuTpWhPwIbxRv1yQZuA

ISBN: 978-1-7775101-2-1

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Pandemic Piano Purge

Over the past year or so of the lockdown I’ve done my own purging & have observed the purges of others & was struck my frequency of various keyboards: electric organs, peddle organs, & pianos. I guess there is no place to donate them to that will come & pick them up – so they get curbed for the city to deal with.

lawn organ-ment
just a little scratch

these next four are all of the same piano that was dismembered & left to fend for its wounded self on the Danforth

not sure if these are less or more depressing – cute pics but still a keyboard being curbed

Elton John piano starter for your kids

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Face To Face F2F

In Toronto some recovery groups in churches have reopened for f2f meetings, all adhering, as much as possible to safety protocols. Many of the other usual places i.e. community centres, hospitals – have been slower at reopening for user groups of any sort. There are rumours that community centres will be reopening in October, at the earliest. This depends on the return to school over the next couple of weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to more restrictions.

I haven’t taken advantage of these reopened recovery meetings. I’m happy with the zoom community that allows for easy attendance – no transit to deal with for one thing. Social distancing is easy to maintain & one can mute a member easily 🙂 No more leaving the room to silence them.

I went to my first f2f meeting meeting haven been asked to speak there – a twenty minute talk about my recovery experience. It was within walking distance & I timed my departure to arrive just as the meeting started. There was sign in  for contact tracing & hand sanitizer at the door. Chairs were placed for social distancing. Some members were masked a couple were not. I kept mine on. The first participant berated the unmasked for defying protocols & they didn’t bat an eyelash. The others, when they participated removed their masks to speak then put them back on. This made sense to me so when I did my little talk I did the same. 

After a very brief look at my drinking history I focused on a line in the Big Book ‘we will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.’ There is a difference between intuitive knowing & automatic reflex. One thing I’ve discovered is that if I am baffled I should do nothing rather than respond because I’m afraid to admit I’m unsure – to be unsure is admit I’m stupid, incapable etc.

I wasn’t sure what to do about the unmasked but knew my primary purpose there was to share my experiences not lecture on masks. Social distance was kept & I was thanked by some for talking about living the steps today & note dragging them through a drunk-a-log.

At my zoom meetings many are longing for the social context of face-to-face, I am not one of those. I certainly enjoy that context but am content not having to deal with indoor social distancing & dealing with people only via eye contact. 

from October 2015

Conformity

<>

It’s a SOCA convention

a man in a rust-red tweed sport coat

riches out his hand

‘are you here for the convention’

it’s my hotel but not my problem

<>

though I am awake & out before 9 a.m.

not hungover or looking to score

the schooners around me are boats

not beer glasses

in some brassy sports bar

<>

I know about recovery

rooms of people sitting in circles

rounds of support

restless feet in black shoes

where they end by

holding hands

they want to show me mercy

but I don’t want to hold their hands

joining in that circle

won’t bring me into their lives

<>

one is the loneliest number 

who has one rusty nail

sees one snow flake

though no two flakes are identical

<>

I am recovering like them

but I don’t enter their circle

won’t make snow angels with them

I felt the itch that induced SOCA

but never scratched it that way

<>

he reaches out his hand

I say ‘not here for the conference’

and sail out into the morning

not ready for conformity

<>

(SOCA – Southern Ontario Cocaine Anonymous)

(Conformity

http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1pR )

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Helm’s Deep Basement

The archeological pandemic basement deep cleaning unearthed several items of interests. The oldest of which is this still working Royal typewriter – carbon-paper dating puts it to mid-1950’s. This was one of the typewriters that I used while living in Sydney, Cape Breton. Some of the keys always jammed. When my father’s company closed its office & had one it’s more modern Remingtons to use. Though when working on the final draft for my Distant Music book I rented a space-age electric.

This was the era of white out – making corrections was a pain, ribbons had to replaced with some regularity but nothing matches the satisfying ding at the end off a line & the quick, by hand, rotation down one line. Enjambments were a dream to create & one would have a rewarding pile of paper to show for their work.

When I moved to Toronto I didn’t bring a typewriter with me. Too much weight for one thing & I figured I could get a decent 2nd hand one here. But before I could do that my brother was driving to Alberta (for some reason) & my dad said he’d send my typewriter along. I was expecting the sleek Remington but, as you can see, I got the Royal. I did use it for many years but was sure happy when we got our first eMac with its dot-matrix printer. No more whiteout – no more retyping a whole page to fix a single typo. No more carbon paper.

This Pearl of a washboard was the one my mother used when I was a baby to wash my diapers down by the stream 🙂 Just kidding. This is from my partner’s former career in jug bands – really – when he was a teacher he & a some fellow teachers formed the group to play at various student functions. He played washboard & also upright washtub bass.

Another couple of mummies unearthed are these action figures. Both that surfaced as Xmas gifts to be quickly relegated to a safe spot for their value to increase by keeping them in original packaging. Aragon I bought at a FanExpo from a pile of similar figures reduced to clear by Silver Snail (I think) so I’m sure it’s worth more than the $1.99 I paid for it several years ago. 

from 1976 – original typed on the Royal

Carol

saw your picture 

in the paper

just the other day

an emerald

in black & white

<>

hair holding tight

the model of perfection

keeping a happy thought

with all your might

<>

I turned the page thinking

I’d rather see that dress

on the floor

beside my bed 

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Motivation Sludge

My next-door neighbour retired shortly before the pandemic shut down the country & restricted travel out of it. Now that it is opening up he feels unmotivated to do anything. Without his work he isn’t finding a sense of purpose – even with a dog, a wife, a garden – he finds it hard to even get up in the morning to do anything. Without stress he apparently feels shapeless & directionless.

I empathized but didn’t have any advice for him – I doubt if what motivates me would appeal to him & even I something feel like I’m going through the motions as opposed to do things that that fulfill me – I do know that even those motions will ripple out in positive ways. But it did make me think about my sense of purpose.

I have another friend, between contract, lost track of what day it was 🙂 Without the routine of a job to deal with time slipped away, even working from home didn’t help & more than once he found himself checking the actual date & day of the week before entering that info on his daily reports. To be honest some times I do consult my cell phone to confirm the date of the day of the week 🙂 

I’m no longer a goal driven person – I do have objectives like finishing that chapter edit, write that poem etc – those are enough for me. Getting published was a prime motivator for me at one time – you know hitting it Big like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling – but getting to know some ‘major’ minor writers I found out the emotional & creative cost for even their level of accomplishment was something I didn’t want to pay.

The things that motivate me are pretty simple, with blogging being near the top of the list. Creating new posts, taking pictures keep me focused; zoom increased the quantity of recovery meetings I could attend – I enjoy f2f meeting but, you know, zoom means I’m there in less than a minute – as opposed to taking an hour or more to get there & another to get home 🙂 Yes, lazy is me 🙂

What motivates me to write? I’ve been asked that more than a few times. My response is usually something like ‘What motivates you to breathe?’

Enough Is Foolishness

let me make one thing 

perfectly clear

I don’t know 

what I’m looking for

never did

when I find what I think 

might be what I’m looking for 

it turns out to be

something I never really wanted 

in the first place 

something that TV said 

was the right thing to have

<>

& so I did what I had to to get it

when I had it

my sense of satisfaction

didn’t match that of the people 

in the commercial

didn’t come with bright lights

or cheery music

only a distracted clerk

handing it to me

with half a smile

looking for the next unhappy customer

<>

I’ve never really known

what it is I truly want

there isn’t enough statistical evidence

no algorithm 

to tell me what it might be

new shoes

the right cellphone

a room full of slightly tipsy friends 

watching TV in some cozy bar

<>

I grind myself at work

to keep up the payments

on all the things

that fill the time space continuum 

with sparky energy

things that make me wonder

what better things 

am I going to find tomorrow

content that clogs up

the arteries of the planet

stuff to be tossed aside

when brighter sparks are offered

when tastier juicier 

mineral enhanced sludge is 

funnelled into my gaping

yawning mouth

seeking the more more more

to burst my gut 

to glut my need for enough

<>

enough

a word I dare not use in pubic

to say I’ve had enough 

a surrender to the hopelessness

of every having what I want

I have to want something

if I don’t have need 

I might as well vanish

jump into the clogged up arteries

to be absorbed by the sludge

<>

I don’t know

what I’m looking for

but I do know

I want to be free of want

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Euonymus

euonymus over an invasion of lilies of the valley

The big garden job this past month was clearing the weeds & grass that had invaded one of the garden beds. By weeds I mean things like violet, lily of the valley, ferns, crab grass & euonymus. Some of which are considered, by many, weeds but they are sure & steady infiltrators that can push out other plants.  They all spread with underground root systems which are virtually impossible to dig up completely. 

The euonymus was the last to go. It had climbed the fence &  had gone from ground cover, to vine, to insidious eyesore. I remember it was a freebie decades ago, a shoot that took quickly. The green & yellow leaves are pretty & the area of the garden I put it in was in need of colour. I let grow unimpeded for decades.

Late this spring I cut back the lily of the valley & violets & the various root systems of both were so intertwined I thought it was time to let go of the euonymus. It was impossible to plant in the area without dealing with the roots. Like the pandemic house purge, in which I let go of stuff: books, scrap paper, lumber, screws, clothes – that were all perfectly good but no longer served a purpose. So it was to do a garden purge too. 

The house purge resulted in empty spaces that I probably won’t fill. The garden purge doesn’t quite do the same thing as nature will constantly sprout things in empty spaces. The euonymus will be back – the will to live is unstoppable. It, & the violets, ferns & lilies of the valley will pop up were I least expect them to appear. In future I may be less tolerant.

In purging my writing archives I found many old poems, short stories whose roots are still resurfacing in my writing today. Those old hurts, old attitudes, old frustrations have grown, taken on new shapes. In the process of inputting some of those pieces I saw where I had changed for the ‘better’, where I had moved on, where I had let idolized teenage romantic fantasies continue unimpeded for decades.

euonymus bites the dust

My Back Yard

<>

I dig in my back yard

not a farmer tilling soil

to replenish the food supply

or even a fancy gardener

putting the exact right plant

into the perfect alkaline soil 

for maximum growth

<>

I dig

shove in whatever 

selective only as to color

I know a bit about shade plants

verses those that require full sun

but sometimes even then

I don’t care

let the plant do what it can

I’ve given it all the help I can

found a spot 

keep weeds at bay for a few weeks

<>

I dig

maybe a foot deep

you want that in metric

forget it

I’m not that deep

never deeper than a foot

sometimes

I come across 

roots of trees

sometimes bits of shale

rocks sand

once pieces of blue willow china

<>

I dig I plant

I water when necessary

but count on the sky

to provide rain

for his plant children

I stop to marvel at how deep they dig

at construction sites

centuries of strata revealed 

there is no bottom

glad 

when it gets covered over

tar the shameful flesh of the dirt

concrete the private parts

to keep them safe 

from further plundering lunging 

greedy construction

<>

I dig I plant

I enjoy washing the dirt off my hands

clean my finger nails

I feel connected

I even feel connected 

through concrete 

on the 20th floor

it doesn’t matter

the force of this earth

reaches to me

I feel safe surrounded in touch

yet when I am in a forest

any forest

I feel alien unwelcome 

hunted haunted

wondering 

if I dig here

what can I plant 

I dig I plant

eventually

I purge

July 2008

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