What am I worth?

TOpoet

According to amazon.uk my 1977 chap book Distant Music is worth £59.95 !! plus shipping – Even some US sellers. Who knew? I was just checking google/yahoo search engines to see what my name might pull up – mainly to see how high in those lists my blog would appear –

Planning to do a down east set at the Art Bar next month it seemed fitting that I’d get a reminder of the chap book that was published while I was still stranded there. I had attended the University of New Brunswick summer writing workshops a couple of years in a row. I got to workshop with Alden Nowlan, M. Travis Lane, even John Metcalf.  Fred Cogswell enjoyed my work and had Fiddlehead publish the chap book.

stairs to where

I slaved over the manuscript. Those were the days of retyping an entire page if there was one typo – very…

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DC Dreaming 2018

Sadly not going to Capturing Fire 2019 😦

TOpoet

Three weeks today to June 8 when Capturing Fire ignites its 8th slam happy weekend with the launch of the landmark anthology Stoked Words. The anthology captures work by the many brilliant poets who have slammed, participated or wore fabulous shirts. Yes, I’m in the anthology. What pieces? You’ll have to wait to find out. Being a US publication it might end up in the Library of Congress!

The launch, workshops & slam are all taking place at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre on D St. NW. Getting there will take me through parts of Washington I have have never seen so there’ll be lots of new photo ops, new exotic Starbucks to discover (as if Starbucks is exotic). Schedule of workshops posted here: https://capfireslam.org/2018-schedule/.

I’m staying at the same hotel, which is steps away from DuPont Circle metro. Google maps tells me its a 45 min walk to…

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Me? Caped Crusader

On Wednesday May 15 we went to see Henry Viii at the Stratford Festival. This year I added a 10:30 a.m. tour of the Costume Warehouse. We managed to arrive almost on time. There was about a dozen of us in the group, most of whom were frequent show attenders. The guides were volunteers. The warehouse was stuffed the rafters with decades of costumes, some going back to the first shows in the early 1950’s.

We were given a bit of background of some recent items from last year’s productions of Coriolanus, The Tempest & The Rocky Horror Show. Then the tour started. The pieces we were to see had been lined up already in various areas so we didn’t really get to wander much. 

Hats, shoes, jewellery, wigs each have their own department at the Festival. We learned how costumes are cleaned – some get sprayed with vodka which deals with body odour. It would have been fun to get a peek at the actual costume fabrication shops. The guides were certainly knowledgeable & clearly enjoyed showing off some of these pieces. We could take all the pictures we wanted but couldn’t touch things.

 

At the end of the tour we were given the opportunity to try on costumes that weren’t to be kept in the collection. The ladies on the tour became little girls in their excitement to try on gowns, hats. I needed the help of a dresser to don the golden caped mantle in which I did feel rather kingly. The tour changes every year so I’ll definitely do it again next year.

he’d slept on that bed for years. same mattress. new sheets when needed. always freshly washed. changed once a week. that was the night he slept the best- the night of the fresh sheets. he loved the bed. the welcome it offered at all times. unquestioning. a few new mattresses over the years. given longer life my spinning them in spring. flipping them in the fall. 

the bed was the refuge and support. the cradle of dreams. he laughed to himself the cradle of dreams. he was turning into a bed poet. he’d move it every now and then from a corner to more central in the  room under the window or opposite from the window. all meaning a move of maybe 3 feet in anyone direction at any time. not enough space in the bedroom for much of a dance with the frame.

sometime’s he’d share the bed with others. for a night but not often. it was sturdy enough for sexual romps, play with with willing bodies. but he felt that sleeping in it was something for him and him alone. he didn’t want to share this comfortable retreat with anyone for long. he never learned how to sleep with others. didn’t want to. that would certainly be the deciding factor in any long term relationship, live in or other wise. the bed was his domain to be shared briefly but not over night.

sleep was a bargain between him and the bed. kiss would undo that bargain. unequivocal.

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every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

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 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Last Will and Testament

TOpoet

samples

Last Will and Testament

Being of sound mind & body

well, considering the pain killers

antibiotics vitamins

various medications injected

ingested inhaled by myself

over the years

the sound of body I have

is the rattle of my lungs

the flap of my mouth

as I spew at those around me

and if they were asked

they certainly wouldn’t

testify to my clarity of mind

so perhaps we can skip

that part of the testament

to the smug snug drug manufactures

who feel the astronomical cost

of the medications is justified

by the cost of research

I ask how many of those researchers profited

or did the vast profits

go to share holders

to smarmy executives or

publicists

who made sure the world knew

of the wonder drug

to my various doctors I leave

this signed & numbered series

ultrasounds of my rumbling body

x-rays of my chest

mri’s of…

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Bottle Apostle

TOpoet

lament

Apostle Bottle

my pain can be explained away

in bars only so many times
it blurs into an endless smear
oily floors broke-back chairs

stools half an inch off centre
bartenders wipe wet circles

with easy disdain

the pain loses focus but not intensity
it gets transmuted
the complexities of lives with people
whose pain canʼt be contained
by the clink jostle of bottles
clustered in fridge clutter
tubs of something ends of cheeses
or by boasts of what lies ahead
from compulsive liars
their story constantly changes
they canʼt keep their words in check
about new bloody nosed adventures

from pillar to pub
from postgame to predestination

my pain can’t be explained away in bars

because it keeps coming back to roost
as I try to get up to the next spot

where things will be different

new bartenders new glasses
new windows of opportunity
bringing home the bacon
or…

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Sneak Peek – May 2019

April recap:

April unexpectedly proved to a rather retrospective month for me. In looking for the print-out of the Armstrong family tree I came across a pile of poems written way back in the late 60’s, early 70’s. I though – Easter = resurrection. I culled some out and did a very light edit as I input them. By light I mean dispensing with punctuation, start of line capitals, made spelling & typo corrections.

My fan base continues expanded slowly but surely. WordPress is up to 316, Twitter sits at 217, & Tumblr is at 224. Coal Dusters continues to grow as I get nearer the end with 96,500 words posted so far, about 37,000 words to go. The clash between the striking miners & the militia has been great fun to expand. I’ll be doing more research when I visit Cape Breton in August that’ll make the final draft even better.

The other April highlight was finally getting new glasses. It’s been several years since I’ve had my eyes checked it was about time. My vision has improved with age ( much like my sex life). This time there was no resistance to visible bifocals – I tried the non-visible but the bi-area was too small for me. I like a larger bi, for some reason. Opted for real colour for the arms – something I’ve never done before. They are a strong yellow. 

Not much coming up in May though 😦 Going to Stratford Festival to see Henry VIII – a play I’ve never seen before. I’ve also booked a tour of the Festival costume department that morning. After the costume sale last year I wanted to see more of the warehouse. Tours have to be booked in advance & are limited to 30 people. Lots of photos should result 🙂

One thing I’m not looking forward to this month is missing Capturing Fire on May31/June1. Though if lotto max coughs up before then I’ll book an emergency get away 🙂

Aim 

it doesn’t matter where I aim

I come back to earth

my arc cannot lift me 

far enough way 

to escape the greedy clutch of gravity

my aim is set beyond

the horizon

beyond belief

around the silent corners

that wait for all

no not even wait

waiting involves expectation 

of something arriving

they have no expectations

the earth is mere witness

no not even that involved

the earth doesn’t see

doesn’t feel

it remains constantly present 

regardless of what goes on around 

above

beneath its surface

no emotional investment 

in anything

anyone 

 

how sweet to be a rock

a stone 

a boulder

being what one is regardless 

of what goes on around you

even the pulverizing machine

creates no fear

no perception

safe in stoney silence

blind self-contained

even when in a pile of other stones

absorbing the same heat

or frozen 

in the same icy rain

not struggling next to one another 

for warmth 

no complaining of being too close 

 

the arc of the tossed rock

as it sings though the air

can’t throw it high enough 

hard enough 

fast enough

for it to escape the law of gravity

it falls to the earth

as we all fall to the earth

our bones may break

our expectations 

higher than a stone can be aimed

when they return unfulfilled

we aren’t crushed

but continue to practice

how to survive rough landings


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

writing blocks broken at Loyalist

Cutthroat Circus 1970

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Cutthroat Circus 1970

Tickets

bleeding

needing

someone to laugh

in this empty garden

somebody to shut the windows to the night

somebody to open the box of toys

hidden so long

 

topaz shatterproof whispering thief

finding his way into the locked room

tiptoes then dynamites the hanging

fearing to find escape outside of

becoming another fugitive figure

flung fatally into one of the frames

 

mixed relaxations

reactions

interactions

of sitting & rocking

the childminder asleep

like a tighter thought leaping

across the room at my throat

 

Ringmaster’s Intro Speech

 

realized confinement

time & tomorrow waiting

with a box full of everyone

wishes for their giving to

secret plans & dangling

free frozen in the act

of trying to be a lover

or another testy fake

 

beneath satin sliding silk

sticking sucking slender

silent

waiting then leaping

at your throat

knife sharp

cutting

steel swift

shining sinking into

flinching flesh

bursting bleeding

bravely saving sighs for songs

as duty demands this sudden

stealthy

dubious death

 

The Show

 

cautiously

carefully

itemized perfections

petrified pain

aware merry-go-round

 

circus

charmer looking for Mesmer

trying for the bigtop jackpot

scarcely leaning jagged seat-edged

watching amazed as

the trapeze swings

empty

as

the trapeze swings

full

oriental curving through

a thousand falling feet

to the thudding ground

netted protected below

unaware

timid almost

blushing

shy for once

pleased & proud

confused aloud

almost sure these

hands reached for

across the crowd

might prove to be gone

plunging again

but knowing full well

it’s merely a trick of the band

 

the trombone

tension getting device

as the drums beat faster

& the trapeze bar mirrored silver

fogs with perspiration 

slipping hands

feeling thousand hands hounding

grabbing you out of mid-flight

& dragging you

gracefully arching

to the aching 

safety of home

 

gaunt & tall

removed & aloof

the savage tamer

of the tigers in the room

the charming knife thrower

electric pulsating neon

through pink spotlight

cage bar shadow rippled face

loses no time

in hurling rockets of steel

flashing through sawdust air

to trembling spangled buxom target

coyly smiling as she walk

from the spinning hazard into

your eager spread-legged dream

of night & thrill

in the trailers

in the tents

in the bandwagon

in the centre ring

the major attraction of all time

together

you might & majestic

while she

so calm & serene

& able to walk way

alive after having been burst upon

by your crimson dagger

 

simple acts of contrition

rings one & two

no bells are heard

but the leper’s bell

as the choir bursts forth

with discord after harmony 

 

chime

chime

chime

the centre attraction 

is cutting himself to shreds

the knife thrower stands small in the wings

the centre attraction

is taming himself with whip & chair

s c r e a m i n g

dan

g

l

i

n

g in the air

swings by his teeth

twisting & turning in erotic agony

as the bareback lady rides her

mount so heavily over

the sweating

distressed

finish line

 

clowns in fire engine

save the crying child

the crowd roars wild

 

the choir finds a fatal note

rapture

applause

laughter

spotlights flash aimlessly

uncontrolled

over

the

tent top

sky

as beyond

fireworks

filled

as the final fugitive elephant

is prodded back into chains

is lured back into his corner of the circus

 

fleeting & everlasting

steaming rows of

honking seals

screaming rows of terrified children

as the tigers leap

thrashing

at the cage bars

trying for freedom

foreheads bleeding & dripping

clowns playing

in frenzy to hide the

deep inside mastery of the circus

 

circus tickets

laughing futile 

flight through time

again the choir

singing some

faithless mass

the organist trashing his peddles

the guest soprano

leading through

new augmented chords

all united as all

lions leaping through flaming hoops

horses dancing the arias

cadenza

pianist handless

rhythms 

pumping faster

the fire engines futile whine

 

while in the centre ring

I lead them all in

one final chorus of

laughter

At the time wrote this I felt it was a magnum opus. This is one piece were the enjambments were a carnival in & of themselves. ‘dan g l i n g’ stretched across the page, as well as down the page, with each turn of the typewriter roller dropping the letters down one line after the other.

‘topaz shatterproof whispering thief’ wtf? It clearly shows the influence of surrealism and Dylan Thomas. It creates, to me, an image that almost makes sense while being mystifying meaningless. ‘fugitive figure/flung fatally into one of the frames’ what the ‘f’ is going on 🙂 I do love ‘bigtop jackpot’ for the sonics.

The trapeze symbolized my sense of trying swing through life while keeping from being unbalanced by my expectations & sexuality ‘alive after having been burst upon/by your crimson dagger.’ The pumelling images almost reflect some of the melodramatic turmoil I was struggling with trying to get a sense of my own future.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

My Renaissance Teapot

TOpoet

I was walking along the Danforth on a sunny Saturday in 2015 and as I passed the Renaissance Cafe I noticed that the doors were wide open with Randy in the midst of a sell-off of the old cafe’s stuff – cutlery, china, menus – even the tables & chairs.

renpot01

Renaissance Teapot: 400 ml

The Ren was where I made my way into the spoken scene in Toronto thanks to the Cafe’s dedication to local musicians and writers. Even the staff were performers. I remember hitting the Cryptic Chatter stage way back in 2000 & how badly I had to pee the minute I stood behind the mic. By the end of the year I did my first feature there.

renpot02

Renaissance Teapot/ my morning tea mug 750 ml

I have so many vivid memories of people I met, heard and even still know today. Valentino Assenza, Kevin Fortnum, Jeff Cottrill…

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Lament for Anna Nicole

TOpoet

lament

once again WP imposes line breaks that I’ve been unable to format out the piece 😦

Lament for Anna Nicole

in the beginning was the word

and the word was blond

a blond who came striding
out of the sweet morning light
assured radiant reaching out
past the flock of photographers
to bring tender mercies to the world
a blond who hid fears frustration
in the twinkling wink of an eye
ready and ripe
to be a distraction for the world

here is the blond
the unattainable firm force of nature
on every tv magazine cover front page
all pondering the ways and wiles
of the soft hearted blond
who will be next
who was the last tail twist
in the trail of broken hearts

we follow our noses nailed to her scent
this glowing example
of what the ordinary can rise to
billionaires reality shows
who cares about cancer

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Deserved

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Deserved

this is not 

what I started

not what I expected

I didn’t ask for it

I don’t know how to stop it

no one does

yet I get blamed

from so many sides

 

sides that push me to be

responsible

for being born male

for being born white

for being gay queer nonconforming

if I don’t use

whatever entitlement I have

to advance the agendas

of those who fault me

I remain an enemy

 

it doesn’t matter

who burns me at the stake

they all have their legitimate reasons

who am I to complain

I’m getting what I deserved

not what I asked for

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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