A Nod To The Numb

A Nod To The Numb

in the club

the music was so loud

it nodded your head for you

it was like walking into

a room of parrots

each head bobbing

<>

men moved

from perch to perch

eyes dart for eyes to lock on to

conversation was nearly impossible

to shout

made what was said

sound either angry

or desperate

<>

with every nod of the head

it was hard to tell

what the response was 

meant to signal

yeah let’s go

or get lost

<>

I left the cage

unsatisfied

by any of these

nodding acquaintances

Yes this is based on real experience. One that I repeated more times than I care to recall. I know many gay men went though, & still go through, this conundrum though the venue has pretty much changed from the club to the internet. I know of men who get trapped in the endless scroll & hunt through apps in search for the elusive.

Businesses built on hope will fail if they fulfill that hope. As long as customers hope to get lucky they stick around & drink. The sooner they get lucky the sooner they leave. I can remember going out to my favourite – no not favourite but – well I’m not sure what to call the gay dance club I frequented the most often – getting dressed, picking the right jeans, t-shirt. Juggling the right time to arrive & leaving sweaty from dance & reeking of smoke in the morning. On line one does have some control over the music & how loud it is.

At least on line there is no last call rush to connect 🙂 Usually no icky slippery bathroom floors either. Pictures on line often represent the profile one clicks on, but just as often they are photoshop fantasy or ten years old or etc. Even in person one may not being getting what one sees. Bar lighting is designed to hide not accentuate. There is also the distortion of booze goggles. lol.

Starting next Wednesday & for the next several weeks I’ll be giving the Monks a rest. I’ll be doing a series of Summer Reflections in which I ponder some of the shallower mysteries of life.


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All Due Respect

All Due Respect

when listening

one must not move the head

particularly 

to show agreement or disagreement

to do is 

infringing on the speaker’s right

to be heard without judgement

to acknowledge in any way

is condescending

either seeking or offering

approval from the speaker

<>

they need no approval

they do not speak

for your approval

merely to be heard

it is important

to keep one’s head as still as possible

so as not to distract

the speaker 

or the other listeners

<>

do not violate

invalidate

their emotional space

by any expression at all

give them the dignity 

of privacy

<>

if you understand this

stop breathing

In many recovery meetings ‘crosstalk’ is discouraged to give people the opportunity to share without interruption of direct commentary or advice. For the most part it is a good practice as some people clam up if interrupted before they finish a sentence. In workshop setting this rule is often stated too. It makes, I hope, listeners listen rather than thinking of responses to what they are hearing.

I’ve ended a couple of friendships because the person was so eager to jump in that I didn’t get to finish what I was saying. I don’t repeat back what I’ve just heard either to prove to the other person I have been hanging on their every word. I remember once being asked ‘Are you listening to me?’ To which I replied ‘No more than you are listening to yourself.’

But it is impossible to get our faces to shut up. Investigators are trained to read our unconscious facial expressions. They are almost as good as gay men who can tell at a glance if you are interested in them or can convey their interest, or lack of it, with a simple lift of an eyebrow. Non-verbal communication becomes second nature & takes a real effort to control. Poker face anyone?

I also remember an Asian martial art action film star being interviewed & the interviewer saying how much they loved the actor’s voice. The actor laughed saying ‘That’s not my voice! You love the voice actor who dubbed me.” 

When I tune into zoom meetings I adjust the feed so my camera is off & I’m getting audio only so that I’m not distracted by faces, pets, background activity. The others don’t get to invade my personal space. I only need to hear what is said, something I often wish I could do in ‘real’ life. 


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Small

Small

I am small in public

I try to take up as little space as possible

my stiff arms are held

as close to my body 

as my muscles can make them

I do not brush up against anyone

I don’t look them in the eye

I sit were I am out of the way

I make room for others

others whose right to the air I breath

is greater than mine

I am infringing

on the need of more valuable people

to take up all the space

they deserve

I shun attention

<>

I am large in private

I dance around the room

I sprawl on chairs

spread my legs wide

take up as much space as I can

I breath

I laugh out loud

I don’t watch where I’m going

my shoulders brush the wall

I can make contact with anything

in private I am free

in public I am caged

The endless rules for Buddhist monks cover in detail nearly every aspect of their lives & many merely refine the previous one. But we humans have our own set of unwritten rules of behaviour that are more cultural conditioning than anything else. 

All of these rule poems were written pre-covid & some of them seem prescient about social distancing, masking in public – cages to control behaviour, that even as restrictions are lifted, some people are happy to maintain. I, for one, often felt that restaurant tables were mashed in too tight – so tight I sometime knocked over drinks on one table while squeezing into the next one. In some situations one can’t make themselves small enough. Don’t stand next to me, or if you, don’t breathe.

It’s also about the ‘mask’ we often wear. Being nice to people who we can’t stand, demeaning bosses, manipulative romantic partners, attention & energy vampire who count on us maintaining some mask polite behaviour that becomes approval of their actions. To speak up becomes being ‘a wet-blanket’ ‘not sense of humour’ ‘don’t be so judgemental’ or ‘like or lump it.’

Social conventions are cages to protect us from each other, I suppose, & like clothing, they hide our private thoughts from the world.


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Craven Cosmos

I check out the fence on Craven Road every month or so to see what new art or installations have been attached to it. I’ve been doing this for decades now. The best stretch is in between Dundas E & Gerrard E, but there is some south of Gerrard E as well. These cosmic paintings are recent & are at the Gerrard E end of Craven.

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Recap May 2022

They wouldn’t let me try it on 😦

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That Canada tops the list is unusual. That Poland (Witaj Polsko) & Ecuador (Hola lectores en ecuador) are in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello to my fans in Morocco (مرحباً أيها القراء في المغرب)!

Picture Perfect -119 sections, about 169,000 words posted so far with  20,000 approx to be edited then posted. These last sections took a fair amount editing, fresh writing & even some minor side plot development as I inch closer to the final big scenes now that the remains of the abducted children have been found. 

Watched an amazing documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company & becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking. A must see that is streaming on TVO.

Watched Midsommar, bound to be come a season favourite. The depth of research was gratifying & the ritual aspects of the story were spot on & thought totally imaginary felt authentic. When I watch it again I will skip to when they arrive in Sweden as the first act is dreary & quickly drained my sympathy for any of the characters. By the time they got to the commune I was happy with all of them dying. 

The extras on our edition of the DVD were banal though I was surprised that only one, of all the leads was American, as I assumed they all were until I heard their actual accents: Irish, Scottish, & that weird accent that is sort of Manx-African-Aussie. Sadly the soundtrack lp contains none of the Swedish chanting – so I didn’t buy it.

Read an excellent set of short stories: 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by Bracken MacLeod. Eerie, scary, inventive well-written tales that are Twilight Zone extreme with explicit gore & violence. Highly recommended for any horror fans.

May has been a month full of of activity, of breaking routines & getting dirty. Dirty digging in the dirt to get my garden ready for the summer. Some hostas were split & halves replanted else where in the garden. All the perennials returned, some worse for winter wear mind you. Loads of annuals planted – asters, alyssum, begonia, marigolds, snap dragons, impatiens, daisies, pansies, petunias, coleus, plus seeds are sprouting for four kinds of morning glory. It will a colourful garden for sure. 

a side & b side 🙂 bluer than they appear here

Getting back to my roots by adding some Stonehenge Preseli bluestone to my rock/crystal collection. Part of Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones made of bluestone that is only found is & was quarried from Preseli, Wales. I did an esty search & ordered some. 

Coming up in June is a day trip to Stratford to see Hamlet – after the excellent Richard III we saw in May I’m looking forward to this season’s take on Hamlet.

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Anti-Social Workshop

Anti-Social Workshop

around the workshop table

the seats were so crowded

it was impossible to sit

without physical contact 

with the person on either side

not to sit at the table

would be seen as

anti-social 

not wanting to be part of the group

one would fail to be

a full participant

outsiders weren’t wanted

at this table of outsiders

outsiders

who stiffened

when their person space was

infringed upon

forced into unwanted close company 

with one another

more time was spent

apologizing for being squeezed

than was spent on the workshop

all that was produced 

was frustration

at the lack of respect

for personal boundaries

& a disregard one another’s opinions

As you might guess this piece was written well before the pandemic. It was also the writing workshop that made me decide never to go to a workshop held in a bar, restaurant or even someone’s home. This one was in a private room with a curved booth banquette around a large round table. A table that could sit ten people – as long as they didn’t have coats, shoulder-bags/knapsacks, iPads, writing pads, or elbows. There were twelve of us including the facilitator.

Oh yes – we all expected to order drinks of some sort to allow free use of the space. Fortunately the beverages could be floated in the air over the table so there no risk of spilling them on our hand-outs, iPads or writing pads. 

There was jostling for positions at the table as late-comers arrived. Thus a six hour workshop was reduced to five – no make that four with time lost to the delivery of libations & the need of the facilitator to repeat things said while various people missed what was said due to turning of cellphones that rang while things were being said.

It was also at this workshop that one participant said to another, who had said the piece lacked clarity – ‘you aren’t the target audience.’ Sigh. At the first ‘let’s stretch our legs’ I went to a nearby coffee shop & opted not to return. I’m guess I’m an overly sensitive faux-poet not willing to suffer for art.


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Deeply Rooted Farmers Market

Recently I dropped into the Deeply Rooted Farmers Market which is open every Sunday to September 25 at Dieppe Park, Cosburn just east of Greenwood. Dedicated to Black & Indigenous companies. It was an overcast damp morning but the market was eager for patrons.

I  checked out several of the booths & even picked up a few things & chatted with the ‘farmers.’ I bought a variety of ginger treats – the Caribbean Kumar was the best of the lot. I also had to have some of the Wild Lapsang Souchong. There was also some fine Indigenous handicrafts – leather work & jewelry. Check it out.

when you go, you have to try the kumar
more yummy snacks
I loved these African print fans – perfect for keeping cool on TTC
dazzling African beads
a great selection of teas
green, black & white teas
African spice mixes
spiced sugars
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Walk Like A Gearbox

Walk Like A Gearbox 

guys in high school 

knew things about me

that I didn’t know

or rather didn’t fully understand

<>

I was a small blond boy

with very fine hair

that I let grow long

like pop stars of the time

<>

that got me teased

or was that bullied

with name calling

fruit  fairy   gearbox

<>

in the days before

faggot or queer were used

I knew those names meant

I wasn’t manly enough

not that I was fem

but I was not masculine like them

<>

I never knew

what tipped them off

until a guy I knew

suggest I should fix my walk

<>

I had no awareness

of how I walked

or of how 

men were supposed to walk

<>

I had little real body awareness

beyond my awareness 

of the bodies of the boys

changing in the locker room

<>

this guy

gave me some lessons

in how to walk like a man

lessons I didn’t understand

<>

it wasn’t as if I was deliberately

walking any one way

it was something I couldn’t

consciously change

<>

the right walk wasn’t going to cure me 

any more than dating girls

having sex with them

cured me of being a fairy

I once directed a play in which one of the actors for one scene was supposed to walk like a runway model – to sashay. He found it almost impossible to change his usual gait; any attempt to change it, he said, made him feel too self-conscious on stage. Turns out one of the ‘classes’ trans people now take is in how to change their walk to more suit the gender they’re changing to. Whoa – what hasn’t been genderized!

his piece is a true story. In high-school one of straight guys did what happens here. The name-calling started in junior high & followed me until I moved to Toronto. I can’t recall a teacher ever stepping in to stop it. At the time I thought I was being picked on because back un the day name calling wasn’t considered bullying but part of what one needed to become a real boy. I know know it was  verbal abuse.

I didn’t really understand the sexual connotations of those names & I’m sure the kids didn’t either. I was a nonconformist & such was my lot in life. By the time I hit high school I knew my sexuality was behind the name calling – not that I was sexually active with anyone except myself but my eyes told me what I wanted.

I tried the usually things to disprove their taunts – I had a couple of girls I would go to sock-hops with, I was active in some sports & even won a few trophies but that didn’t change the way I walked. Ultimately it was the hair that established me a fairy – too long & being a natural blond very fem. But like my sexuality, my hair was the way I was born & there was no cure for that either.


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Ankles Crossing The Line 

Ankles Crossing The Line

boys don’t cross ankles

when they sit

only girls cross their ankles

boys can put a foot

on the opposite knee

that is how men sit

you are a man aren’t you

you better start to act like one

how is your belt buckled

only girl have the buckle on the left side

or is it the right side

shirts for boys have buttons on the right side

shirts for girls on the left

or is it the other way

for buckles and buttons

<>

someone always looks

enforces gender appropriate

mannerisms

a code that if broken

meant derision

only girls sit to pee

only girls cross their ankles

when seated 

only girls

can part their hair in the middle

or on the left side

or was it right

I don’t remember now

but in high-school that was vital

<>

I never got any of that straight

because I wasn’t straight

I wonder if there’s a history of gender that explains how things became categorized as being gender specific. I mean things like colours (pink vs blue), actions (standing when a woman enters the room), professions: well okay I do get that one, as many depend on brute strength, but male nurses are suspect, objects (jewelry), scents (Old Spice vs Chanel No. 5). Men wore aftershave, women wore  perfume. I sometimes wear Chanel No. 5.

There are gendered versions of watches, running shoes, shirts, cosmetics etc. Man-sized meals. Real Men don’t eat quiche. Shirley Temple for the ladies, Virgin Caesar for the gents. All of which starts young – toy kitchens aimed at girls, toy tools for boys. Imprinting that never gets questioned. I don’t recall ever asking my mother why all my clothes were blues, blacks & browns – by the time I got to high school I broke free & went for multi-colour & was frequently picked on because of it. 

The desire to look ‘fashionable’ was not masculine. The male uniform was bulky jeans, scruffy shoes, blocky dark plaid shirts & shapeless jacket. If one was on a team a team jacket was permissible. If you weren’t on a team you didn’t count anyway. Boys didn’t dance well at sock hops. Masculinity was always established by violence – or rebel stuff like smoking.

Girls who smoked were sluts, boys who moved were toughs – but that’s another poem. I was a rebel who never smoked 🙂 I was a rebel who wore white shoes, who let his hair grow into a Beatles cut. I once was asked are you a boy or a girl so I guess my even my walk wasn’t masculine enough. Conformity was masculine, nonconformity was suspect.

I’d like to think things have changed but a man wearing a gown to the Oscars created a sensation. The increased notice of trans has made many uncomfortable with the changing clarity we once had thanks to defined, unalterable notions of gender.

My pronouns: it, that. 


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Well-Worn Path May 2022

There are two paths through the Ravine the most used is along the east side of the creek. It has been well looked after by the public that uses it. Over the years different lumber, sometime tinder bricks, have shown up to made the soggy area easier to hike. This walk is from the north entrance south to Gerrard E.

view from the top of the Gainsborough Rd entrance
well worn path seen from Gainsborough stairs
lumber for footing
slippery when wet
good balance practice
straight & narrow
short bridge over troubled waters
that sinking feeling
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