July 2021 Recap

Stratford flower box

Over the past month by TOpoet.ca following blog shrank to 450! I went through my follower list & removed people who were no longer active on WordPress. Active followers show up in a colour, non-active followers show up in black. The WP map does show my hits have come from 32  countries around the world. Nigeria, Bahrain in the top ten! India & Bangladesh holding steady & hola Spain 🙂 Ireland! Lithuania?

Most popular posts were: My Five Year (Dead Friends) (https://topoet.ca/2021/07/04/dead-friends/), Summer Murderer (https://topoet.ca/2021/07/13/summer-murderer/). Both of which are my personal favourites.

Shakespeare Pie Shop mmm

My Tumblr is at 331 followers. Twitter is at 224 followers.

Picture Perfect: 78 sections, about 116000 words posted so far with  approx 73,000 to be edited then posted. 

TLN (https://www.tln.ca) does an occasional Italian film festival of mostly recent films – films that don’t show up anywhere else on TV. Comedies for the most part but always with a sharp social bite & sometimes a dash of romance. One I really enjoyed was The Man Who Bought The Moon – set in Sardinia, one gets a glimpse of the political & social regard of the island by the rest of Italy. Our hero first has to be taught how to pass for a Sardinian. Hilarious at points & finally the moon itself appears to save the day. Charming & well worth searching out.

That touch of magic realism owes everything to Fellini. I watched, for the first time, his Roma – there is some bravura film making in this virtually plotless movie. There are reference to his past films & even a hint of Amacord which he already planning.. Impressions of his past mixed with look at his present film making. Fascinating.

from the gift shop

God’s Own Country – I was given this dvd for Xmas a few years ago & finally got around to seeing it. A refreshing gay love story in which coming out is not a part of it. Set on a sheep farm it is far removed from the usual druggy, bar scene fodder. Our hero becomes involved with Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, is hired as extra help. Played by Josh O’Connor & Alec Secăreanu, respectively, they make photogenic couple. Similar to Brokeback Mountain one is not surprised when good looking men find each other attractive. Josh played Prince Charles in The Crown so I thought of this as the The Prince & The Underwear Model. 

Read the excellent Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! by Steve Rebello. A behind the scenes look at the making of Valley Of The Dolls – one of my favourite movies. He also goes into the writing of the book & JS’s career. Full of juicy feuds, casting wars & the sad misuse of Judy Garland; this is a great read that reveals as much about how actresses were treated as it does about the business of making movies. Highly recommended.

silk tie on sale at Gift Shop – yes marked down to $1.00 !!

Took a day trip to Stratford. We didn’t see anything – getting tickets online was problematic thanks to the pandemic seating restrictions. The weather was perfect, traffic as usual, lunched at Features, picked up a few things at the Gift Shop, hit the main box-office to reserve spots on a waiting list for Three Tall Women at the end of September – including the time it took to drive there it took as long as it would have on line 🙂 A call from the box-office the next day confirmed we had tickets – no more waiting list waiting for us.

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Five Sweet Mysterians Street

Here’s the next post about a set of mp3 compilations that I put together of old music that was, for the most part, new to me. Many are garage band one-hit wonders, others are psychedelic bands whose lps that never made it to the east coast. Some are ‘oddities’ I came across. Obscure for the most part but all fun fun fun. You can find wiki info of most of them.

Street: Street (1968) – includes: What a Strange Town. This is very Jefferson Airplane. Soaring female lead singer, Anya Cohen, a touch of blues, distorted guitars, harmonies & trippy lyrics. When Airplane many labels wanted their own – this band comes close but there is only one Airplane.

Count Five: (San Jose) Psychotic Reaction – includes -My Generation. The song “Psychotic Reaction” is an acknowledged cornerstone of garage rock. I remember loving that single so much at the time with its mind boggling instrumental break. Then nothing – none of their follow ups made the charts & the lp didn’t make to my local record store. Fun energetic music that I love. 

Popol Vuh: Affenstude, released in 1970. This German band is regarded as one of the earliest space music works, featuring the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer together with ethnic percussion. Music ahead of its time for sure. Less robotic than Kraftwerk the band produced several great lps. Space music that on later lps becomes almost spiritual. If you like synthesizer check them out.

Sweetwater: Sweetwater 1968 Los Angeles – includes My Crystal Spider. A jazz-fusion band that was supposed to open Woodstock but they got caught in traffic. With lead signer Nanci Nevins, this was another band that was a Jefferson Airplane rival. The expected trippy lyrics about peace, love & social unrest. A fine lp that won’t disappoint if you track it down.

? & The Mysterians: out of Bay City, 96 Tears (1966) (In The Midnight Hour), Action (1967) – the Latino band’s music consisted of electric organ-driven garage rock and an enigmatic image inspired by the 1957 Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians. The lps are energetic & fun & I love them

Clear Blue Sky: Out Of The Blue (1970) British blues prog-rock in the Deep Purple/Uriah Heep mode with a great Roger Dean cover art. If you like obscurity this fills the bill.

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PreAdolescent Burlesque

PreAdolescent Burlesque

<>

we weren’t caught

in the dusty garage

pulling our pants down

to show to tell to see

where all the fuss was about
<>

it started out so easy

somebody’s little brother

scampering naked

down a summer street


looking for a hose

a sprinkler

finding instead laughter

<>

what fun we all had

his small white behind

slipping at the end of angry long arms

back into the darkness

of the afternoon house

<>

we six all saw him

us bubbling under thirteens

scanning the fun

red-faced & giggling

eyeing each other

to see if the sparkle was shared

<>

then someone had the idea

maybe it was me

sometimes I pretend it was

but I’m sure it wasn’t

I was the second to say ‘yeh’

I was the one who knew

where there was a secret space

<>

we called it hide-and-see

with all of us hiding

in one little corner

with all of us seeking

one see-it-all glance

one of the girls said

let’s do it again

we all agreed

<>

it was to be after supper

while the folks smoked

put little brothers to bed

only four showed up

there was barely room for us

thanks to the now parked car

one budding young woman


with three earnest little men

silent in shame

willing to look

but afraid to touch

June 19/76

Capturing the innocence of early sexual awareness was a challenge. Making it too explicit would turn it into child porn. I know many whose early sexual experiences were abuse. Mine weren’t as sweet as this, being fraught with my queer awareness without having words for that awareness. 

I did do some of ‘the pants down in the garage’ play but not as depicted here. The naked behind down the street was not unusual either. In summer we played jumping around the garden sprinkler & squirting each other with the hose. Often some clothing would be discarded to the ‘shock’ of parents. 

I like the way it conveys sexuality without being either coy or frank but in a matter-of-fact way. I also feel my poet’s fear here, keeping it heterosex focused because in 76 I was certainly more interested in men but hadn’t found a way to write about it that felt safe. This poem is mildly daring but totally safe too. 

In my pants down show & tell play I was more interested in what the boys had to show. I don’t know if I felt shame but more the fear of being caught. It was fun being naughty but the fear lead to guilt. It wasn’t until decades later that I found out this sort of adolescent ‘sex’ play was normal. I’m grateful for not being caught which would have turned this into some sort of parental outrage trauma as opposed to a sweet recollection of an event that didn’t damage my sexual journey of discovery with lectures & shame for being a child.

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Welcome To The F Files

https://topoet.ca/2021/06/26/welcome-to-the-f-files/

Hollyhocks

I love hollyhocks & am always happy to see them in bloom. During World Wars I & II families were to replace flower gardens with Victory Gardens of vegetables. Hollyhock was the only flower allowed. They were vigorous self-seeders, hardy &, most importantly, attracted pollinators. The range of colours is astonishing – I’ve seen them nearly pitch black, deep purple & even a parchment brown. These shots are all of the hollyhock garden at the Danforth end of the East Lynn Park in Toronto.

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13 Elevators to Fifty Foot War

The next five pop music posts will cover a set of mp3 compilations that I put together of old music that was, for the most part, new to me. Many are garage band, one-hit wonders, others are psychedelic bands whose lps that never made it to the east coast. Several are ‘oddities’ I came across. Obscure for the most part but all fun fun fun. You can find wiki info of most of them.

13th Floor Elevators (Austin, Texas): Psychedelic Sounds of (mostly live) (1966) includes You Really Got Me; Easter Everywhere (1967) – includes  Postures (Leave Your Body Behind). This band claims the first use of the word “psychedelic” in reference to the music so I had to have them, right? Goofy love songs, anti-war rants with heavy reverb, wha-wha, distorted vocals & slithery guitar work. Perfection.

Fireballet: Bald Mountain (1975) – we can thank Emerson, Lake & Palmer for the flourishing of 70’s Symphonic Prog. This British band, produced by Ian McDonald (King Crimson), is a mild version of ELP, The bass sound is a bit ‘thin’ but they work hard, churning out pretentious fun including their 20 minute take on Night of Bald Mountain. 

Archie Bell & The Drells (Huston Texas): Tighten Up (1968) includes Midnight Hour, Knock on Wood. This is the retro odd-one-out. Sweet, soulful, funky & refreshing. Like so many groups of the time, regardless of genre, they did covers of the new standards i.e. Midnight Hour. 

Another legendary band is Fifty Foot Hose (San Francisco): Cauldron (1968) plus Rare tracks. They are remarkable for featuring a variety of homemade synths. This is truly trippy music with speaker-dancing engineering, echo, mystic lyrics, fine singing & spacey instrumental passages. It reminded me of how I thought how music should sound when you’re stoned.

Finally on this compilation is Eric Burdon declares “War” (Long Beach) (1970) includes Tobacco Road, Spill The Wine. Eric Burdon re-invented himself several times, always with fascinating sonic results. This time with War for a couple of great albums full of experimental, almost prog-rock work but always with a blues, r’n’b underpinning. This lp gave him, Spill The Wine, one of his few top ten songs after he disbanded the Animals. Smooth, funky fun. The follow up, Black Man’s Burdon – which I have in another compilation is less funky but still great.

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Chrysanthemum Summer

Chrysanthemum 

<>

1

<>

the sword

as sunrise

highlights

the water

flash cuts of red

<>

2

<>

a silver bird

a black curve

at vision’s edge

cautiously circles

hedges preflight bets

against a perfect landing

<>

a black curve

of the slowly formed oval

figures into connections

liniar sensibility

practices the new motion

the cutting motion

of ends realized

<>

3

<>

I’ve caged

with sun & steel

the silver birds 

I hope

to dissect their eyes

to find what they see

beyond my sight

<>

I know they see more

they feed from other hands

I will not rest

till I’ve emptied

their hollow bones

of soaring fluids

I must know more

than the aching birth of flight

I must feel more

than the caress of turbulence 

I must have their sight

<>

4

<>

a feathered rhapsody

in a shimmer celebration 

of a perfect landing 

on an endless spiral

of consecrated breath

breath held

as long as possible

the released 

to form a lined cloud

<>

5

<>

I’ve released

the silver birds

they soar & shimmer

beyond all edges

black round flickers

their eyes intact 

they see black curves

they fly spirals

the black curves are death

a vision I leave to them 

till my own bones

are so hollow

all that remains

is the silver

<>

6

<>

from behind the cloud

a silver bird

wings on straw bones

a floating airfoil song

a crescendo of invention

in a shuddered moment

a moment of escape

a curve of celebration 

for this perfect landing

<>

7

<>

the vision

as heartbeat

reflects

the edge

fresh curves of black

<>

June13/77

This poem reflects my adoration of Yukio Mishima. His life, writing & death were inspirations to me. Over the years I have read nearly everything of his translated into English, as well as biographies & critical studies of his work. Through the piece are mentions of his works – Sun & Steel is his book about samurai culture & ritual. He saw suicide as an artist expression. He was also queer.

The opening & closing are like Japanese water colours with a few simple brushstrokes creating a vivid image in blank space. The in-between verses are like chrysanthemum – multi-petaled with repeated words, images, analogies that reflect, then vary as they move like a kaleidoscope to form then reform new pictures.

Words were carefully picked for sonics & meaning & poetic vibrancy. ‘feathered rhapsody’  ‘crescendo of invention’ are Dylan Thomas candy. I had some brightly coloured Java Temple finches at one time so I’m sure they were inspiration for all the bird imagery. I must have seen a documentary on bird feathers & bones & that relates to their ability to fly but it is possible I made that stuff up too.

T

hey learn to fly by being pushed out of the nest – it’s either spread your wings or die trying, discover their perfect landing or become part of the black curves. Poems have to pushed out the nest to fly into the lives people that the poet often never meets. We writers never know where our words will land once we set them free.  The vision one has of oneself as a poet, as person, also has to leave a nest, though unlike birds we have more options to try as we learn to negotiate life & often never find that perfect landing.

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Welcome To The F Files

https://topoet.ca/2021/06/26/welcome-to-the-f-files/

Loyalist Memories 3

A follower asked what did we do a Loyalist for five days – as if there so little to writing one only needed a day or less to get the fundamentals. The structure was the same each year – morning lecture about an aspect of plotting, world building – & discussion of those aspects. Newbies were most curious about getting published & how sell a million copies of their book.

The more experienced where most interested in polishing their writing & the workshop critiques in the afternoon were where the real learning happened. It was after the first session of this that if someone as going to drop out they would drop. Some signed without fully realizing the amount of time reading & commenting on one another’s work would take. I know the first year I expected to have time to write new chapters for my current project – ha! I barely had time to blog – lol.

I was one of the few in the class that actually stayed on campus – the others lived in the area, had friends who live din the area, or preferred the full comforts of a nearby motel. I roughed in one of residence units. I brought breakfasts, snacks, & suppers for the stay. Without a car eating off campus wasn’t going to happen & what fast food there was closed at 4. I wasn’t rushing to hit Tim’s before they closed just to get a bagel.

Over the years I attended I brought chapters from my various nanowrimo novels Lazarus Kiss, Coal Dusters & Picture Perfect. Feed back was productive & when I got to doing edits of those novels I incorporated many of the suggestions. Asking for feedback on sections that appeared at say, the 100 page mark, in a novel did present the challenge of context – some fellow work-shoppers realized what wasn’t explained was probably already explained – other floundered not being able to make that leap. I did include a very brief recap one year.

The biggest thing I learned was that, to me, the writing is more important that publishing – one attender was dismayed they had to sacrifice their dream project after good a start because they couldn’t find a market for it – clearly the dream was the market not the project. Others discovered that once published they spent so much time on promo that they had no time write anything new. 

I hope the follower who asked what we did isn’t disappointed to find out there were no blood offerings to the moon.

The Reparation Room

<>

he acted as if I owed him something

for the way he was treated as a child

by someone I didn’t know

in a city I’ve never been in

because I was old white guy

I was the one to blame

I was the one who had to dig down

to make it up to him 

money wasn’t going to cut it

he wanted to see me hurt

as much as he had been hurt

there was no way to defuse this anger

to step back from the situation

no way was I capable of making him feel whole

<>

was the trade off

the memory of his pain

in return for the memory 

of the pain he might inflict upon me

how many times 

would he have to seek this opportunity

how many times would he have to strike out

before he realized causing pain

never removes the pain one feels

making me hurt as much as he hurts

won’t change his hurt

might numb him to it for a moment

then he’ll have to live with what he’s done

what he feels compelled to keep on doing

making me hurt as much as he hurts

won’t change his hurt

might numb him to it for a moment

then he’ll have to live with what he’s done

what he feels compelled to keep on doing

hitting out spitting out taking it out 

till it would finally consume him

<>

I don’t know how to lead him out of this cage

can’t tell him he’s a slave 

to a problem I didn’t cause

I refuse to be held responsible for it 

yet cannot deny his right 

to seek some sort of reparation

for his past

I’m not the one to apologize

not the one to pull out my wallet to pay him off

I have to witness his struggle

acknowledge it

know that I can’t undo

what has been done

try not to add to it in any way

but it seems no matter what I do

I add to it

just being present brings it all back to him

not being present 

seems to him like I’m hiding out of guilt

<>

neither of us can leave the room

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Kensington Market July 2021

Took a stroll through Kensington Market this past week. The last I was there was early last March to do a feature at the Secret Handshake Gallery. Then the pandemic shutdown took over. I was dismayed at the number fo closures but many of these merchants were already being squeezed out before covid. It’s becoming a hive of pot dispensaries.

On Augusta at Wales
more of above – more work by this artist across the street
sidewalk Kensington near St. Andrew
head of above – sidewalk Kensington near St. Andrew
sidewalk Kensington near St. Andrew
fallen angels? sidewalk Kensington near St. Andrew
Nassau/Spadina ready for redevelopment
Spadina/Nassau – cursed be those who redevelop
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Still – Sor

Fernando Sor (1778 -1839) – thanks to Andre Segovia grew to enjoy Sor, though it was some time before I ‘knew’ him by name. I have pieces by him scattered through recordings by Boyd, Bream etc. Also 2 stand alones of his complete Guitar Music. Crisp, emotional & adventurous he is worth adding to any classical collection.

I read about William Grant Still (1895 – 1978) known as “Dean of AfroAmerican Composers” a few years ago during Black Heritage month. I am always eager to expand my musical appreciation beyond the accepted European tradition. When I think of modern American classical of composers not many names come to mind – Copeland, Gershwin. Is Scott Joplin classical? 

Wiki says that Still composed almost 200 works, including nine operas,five symphonies,four ballets,plus art songs, chamber music, and works for solo instruments.He composed more than thirty choral works.Many of his works are believed to be lost. Modern classical is such a rarefied niche I’m not surprised if you’ve never heard of him.

On an mp3 collection I have his Chamber Music performed by Videmus Ensemble: Suite for Violin & Piano, Songs of Separation; Piano Music: Visions, Traceries, A Deserted Plantation; Africa, Symphony No 1 Afro-America Symphony. More or less a sampling of his various forms. The music is modern conservative as opposed to modern experimental – melodic, lyrical & sometimes Romantic. Enjoyable – sort of an American Vaughn-Williams.

To round out the Sills cd I hadded: Jewish Tone Poems by Avshalomov; Silver; Meyerowitz – impassioned at points. Music for Two Guitars: Los Indios Tabajaras, Santos/Caceres – lovely cafe classical music. Stamitz/Reinnecke: Works for Flute: more lovely cafe classics. Finally The Wild West: The Essential Western Themes – this is wow collection where you can hear the influences of Copeland, Beethoven, Gershwin on film soundtracks that result is some of the iconically USA symphonic music.

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