Eyes Front


Eyes Front

this is what

is in front of me

this is all

I am to focus on

<>

all I need

is in front of me

all else is distraction

delay

avoidance

of what

is in front of me

<>

the noise of crisis

the hum of activity

the sirens

laughter

kisses

all is distraction

avoidance

delay

entertainment

<>

I am not ignoring you

I am ignoring everything

except what

is in front of me

<>

what

is in front of me

is not a mirror

I am not unaware of 

the noise of crisis

the hum of activity

the sirens

laughter

kisses

<>

I watch my steps

but don’t stop taking them

as I move to

as I move with

what

is in front of me

My mother was a multitasker – she would be smoking a cigarette, doing laundry, watching TV, having a cup of tea & knitting – all at the same time. Everything got done. I found it hard to listen to the radio & do my homework at the same time – lol.

When I was doing the NaNoWriMo challenges I was so focused on the work that I was often making note on my walking, working on scene when I was at spoken-word event, or at recovery meetings. I eliminated most social events to keep focused on what I was writing or about to write. I keep that focus up until I has passed at least 60,000 words & then I relaxed a little – some years I manage 90,000 words this way – eager to beat my pervious year’s count but also eager to let my focus soften & enjoy ‘real’ life.

I don’t multitask anymore to the degree my mother did – it took me a little while to get over the feeling that I was being lazy when I wasn’t always doing things, lots of things, to accomplish goals, to justify my life I had to be constantly striving, & when possible, point out how hard I was working at multiple things. I was caught up in a culture of getting ahead, of making more money to buy more things to keep the economy growing. More more more was the only definition of self that was acceptable to many people.  Enjoying more more more less & less was fine as pleasure is shallow, suffering more more is ennobling & respectable.

Today I can be very focused on one thing at a time & enjoy that thing. One thing I did a few years ago was to stop going for walks listening to my iPod. I was now out for a walk & enjoying the walk, hearing there world around me, not lost in some sonic haze & resenting the street noises drowning out my haze. I never did learn to knit.

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Spiritual Shreds

Spiritual Shreds

sometimes we can’t wait

<>

the rush of kisses

clasping grinding

the restraint of denim

too much

as our erections strain

against each other 

through that pointless fabric

it almost sheds itself

is the rush

from tongue to tongue

to tongues on cocks

under foreskins

under balls

over buttholes

<>

we have to consume

as much of each other as possible

as fast as possible

edging irrelevant

coming mandatory

demanded again

sucking fucking

without relaxation

we aren’t here for foreplay

we are here to consummate

consume

climax

<>

Should I have posted this with a warning? “Contains adult language, nudity & explicit male-on-male sex?”  Or was it safe to assume my followers here won’t be surprised or offended by erotica? There was a time when I was less explicit, less in your pants, about sex acts but that self-censorship was shame based. So I stopped. When I was doing spoken-word shows I can remember the shocked reactions to the line in one of my poems ‘new boyfriend only fifteen’ with a pause before ‘years younger than me.’ (Boyfriend – https://topoet.ca/2015/04/01/boyfriend/)

I remember another time, after I done a feature set, in which only one piece was sexual, another poet, who read some pieces about being a new father, came up after to say ‘why do you gay guys only write about sex?’ I replied ‘why do you straight guys only write about parent?’ He gave a little laugh & walked away shaking his head – clearly parenthood is more emotionally resonant & authentic & suitable for serious writers. 

But, as usual, I digress, or do I? I don’t think there’s anything to explain in this piece. It is based on actual events in my life. As such it is a celebration of the surrender to lust without hesitation or apology in the face of a culture in which pleasure is shallow & suffering is deep. There’s no attempt to make it into a spiritual experience either in order to elevate it from the sheer physicality.

The explicit is also a reaction to the current of heteronormativity that has infiltrated lgbtq so that sex is repressed in the world homosexual so as to make it more ‘acceptable.’ This sort of erasure still goes on to somehow not offend the mainstream. Even in the recent Colorado shooting – at first it was deemed more correct to call one of the defenders a ‘drag queen’ rather than state it was trans person. Drag queen has become more ‘acceptable’ thanks to RuPaul. In the USA ‘trans’ is used as political dynamite to distract voters from actual issues.


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Innocent, As Charged

Innocent, As Charged

who gets what

has become a matter

of value

of potential

you may be worth protecting

but not worth saving

<>

you may innocent

but that’s no guarantee

you won’t be prosecuted

your alibi may be solid

but once it is questioned

it becomes a proof of your guilt

<>

you may be guilty

but directing blame

can get you off the hook

you can cast suspicion

on the innocent

for even thinking you are guilty

while you wash blood off your hands

<>

if your value is greater

you deserve the protection

while the innocent are worthless

blameless

disposable

sacrificed

The first verse of this piece was written about five years ago when I was working my way through the Rules as prompts. But this dichotomy of who deserves protection hasn’t changed since then. The limits of that protection are consistently tested by the likes of Trump (money, not law, protects him from the law), even in Ontario there is a tug-of-war going on over education priorities & control. 

Someone said something to the effect that the exploited have no rights, only mercy – that laws are made to allow the merciful to find more devious ways of control & when the exploited realize this, as they often do, they are legislated into being grateful for any justice that might accidentally occur. It seems that those billionaires forget that without the working poor their financial empires would crumble. If there was no profit in keeping the poor poor, poverty would end. Or be made illegal – lock’em up & funnel that welfare money into the penal system.

I am grateful for what entitlement I may have as an older white cismale. I don’t have to worry about being arrested for bringing in a package delivered to my front steps while I was out. But know as I get older, with my limited financial resources me options will get smaller but I don’t lose sleep over that, nor am I obsessed with justice – one of the many things one can become so focused on futility takes over. 

These are thoughts that drift through as I talk about these old poems. One of the keys to meditation is to let thoughts drift without trying to impose order on them- denying those thoughts doesn’t allow them to drift. Focusing only on those thoughts stops blocks the ability to see beauty. Besides I’m not that complicated.

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A Million Reasons

pull up a chair

A day at a time I’m looking forward to the Stratford Festival’s 2023 season which will run from mid-April through October. It features four Shakespeare plays: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II and Love’s Labour’s Lost; two musicals, Rent and Monty Python’s Spamalot; along with Les Belles-Soeurs, A Wrinkle in Time, Frankenstein Revived, Wedding Band, Grand Magic, Casey and Diana and Women of the Fur Trade. Click Casts for info about the productions.

We’ll probably being booking tickets to see King Lear, Spamalot, Les Belles-Soeurs (with an amazing cast including Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Diana Leblanc plus a million trading stamps), & Frankenstein Revived (a new dramatic movement piece). Probably either of the comedies. Richard is being modernized into the 70’s & frankly after the ill-conceived modernization of Hamlet last season I’m not interested.  Grand Magic has some appeal – it’s hard to resist Italian comedies about resort magicians.

I have vague memories of seeing Les Belles-Soeurs what back in the late 70’s but I can’t see if was here in Toronto or while I was living in Cape Breton. I recall Jane Eastman as one of the sisters. Sisters! Right – an echo of King Lear – a play about sisters, betrayal & revenge – pretty much the plot of Soeurs. I guess it’s all relative.

(photos from scenic route to Stratford)

Won’t be booking tickets until the new year once the festive gifting damage has taken its toll. There’s also the matter of physical condition. As one gets older driving for more than two hours can be draining – now that the return trip now clocks in at 4 hours I have to consider – is it worth it or should we wait for the dvd release of these productions? 

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Bowl of the Heart

Bowl of the Heart

if he had asked for

a bowl of soup

or sandwich  

I would have known what to do

<>

but he told me 

his heart was empty

hollow

he put my hand over his heart

the beat had no echo

wasn’t I the one

to fill that empty heart

<>

I told him

only you can fill that heart

he was crying

I pushed him away

this wasn’t coldness

but the realization

I couldn’t let kindness

mislead him

into thinking there was

hope for more

<>

the soup bowl I could fill

the bowl of a heart

was too sacred

As the song says ‘a kiss is just a kiss’ yet many of us, myself at one time, saw it the opening notes of a lifetime of love. Casual gestures become loaded symbols, beacons of hope & are no longer gestures. In the mists of my on-line past I was contacted by a guy who started with ‘How are you today?’ I replied with ‘Fine’, out of politeness. His next post was ‘what are you into?’. To which I used the site’s standard reply ‘we’re not a good match’ to which he promptly replied calling me ‘another one of those time wasters.’ 

Such is life but it was another reminder of how easily people mislead themselves & then blame others. Just because I don’t argue with you doesn’t mean I agree with you. Just because I’m not rude to you doesn’t mean I’m interested. This is one of those gender free equations – though I have found men are more likely to mislead themselves – many hetero men consider women who don’t respond or who are indifferent to them, to be bitches (or worse).

But I digress, a little :-

There is this theory that everyone is damaged & those that claim not be are in denial. (though there are those whose sense of entitlement take it for granted that it up to you to cater to their damage i.e. Trump). One of results of my recovery journey has been getting to some of roots of my damage & finding that it comes from cultural attitudes, rather than from specific people or incidents.

Like the man with the empty heart here, I was taught other people were responsible for filling that emptiness. This ‘filling’ is basis for every romantic comedy, or melodrama, in which the love the right person was all that was needed, or it was the loss of that love that leads to emotional disaster, violent revenge etc. 

Thanks for reading, write comments below, while I make myself a sandwich.


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Satisfaction

Satisfaction

movies about a future

with few survivors 

that stumble across an abandoned store

with canned food on the shelves

not much else

I think

how desperate they feel

how sad

when I go into a supermarket

today

if what want isn’t there

there is still lots there

there is enough

for satisfaction

<>

at one time

thank you

was enough

now thank you

doesn’t go far enough

there has to be praise

adulation

I had to be grateful

that I was even allowed

to say thank you

for satisfaction

<>

I didn’t look

when the food was served

I kept my eyes unfocused

as I ate

I didn’t ask what was on the plate

I didn’t look to cut

I trusted

each morsel was what

I was supposed to have

I didn’t question

I ate 

taste was suppressed

pleasure was not the point

the point was to eat

whatever was served

to eat silently

then

get the fuck out

so the next person could

seek satisfaction 

I don’t think I’ve seen movie about the future in which the planet hadn’t been depleted. People were eating artificial food some some sort – pellets, jelly, or some brown gruel. Food was dispensed by a machine & like Willie Wonka all was flavour enhanced. People in the future didn’t need roughage. They didn’t have to cook either so, if there was a kitchen, it might provide some sort of coffee – that if it was a future with potable water.

Another vision of life after some sort of climactic event is one of scavenging through the debris of supermarkets, or protecting crops from roving bands of unwashed, cut-throat assholes. In both scenarios no one complains about what they get to eat. There’s no discussion of depth of flavour or lack of seasoning.

When I shop for food, clothing, candy etc. I am confronted with a huge range of options – so many I sometimes find it ‘hard’ to make a decision or am confounded that I can’t find, say, something isn’t gluten free, sugar-free or perfect if one is lactose intolerant – halloween candy with nuts will soon be illegal (just kidding) but to have my diet limited by the restrictions of others seems unfair. I once asked at a bakery if they had anything with gluten & the clerk stared daggers at me. I know where I won’t be shopping soon. Unless after the apocalypse there are only gluten-free options because all the wheat has been destroyed.

A noted American personality believes that people should express their gratitude for being in his presence that he should never have to pay for anything. Restaurants, lawyers, even nations that expect him to pony up the cash are treated as ingrates who don’t have enough class or smarts to adore his very existence. The fact that the world doesn’t turn around him is a conspiracy. No thanks.


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Election Fever

pull up a chair

Election fever runs high in Toronto – ha. I’m one of those who votes as soon as the advance polls open. I look at the lists of candidates I can mark an X for & only recognize those currently already holding an office. I look over a list of candidates running in other districts & am gratified at the diversity of names but none of them are familiar to me (not that they would be, right).

As far as I know I’ve received no flyers from any of the mayoral candidates. There have been no advertised ‘meet the candidates’ events – no glad handing at major Danforth intersections – no house-to-house campaigners (to whom I can complain to about the lack of lighting around the on-going Greenwood Station ‘upgrades’).

Oops we did get a visit by representatives of one, to put up lawn signs. They didn’t ask if there any local issues of concern to me. The one ward representative flyer that was shoved in our mailbox, sometime after 10 pm, was for someone whose top priorities were housing, business recovery, safety – when I flipped it over, there was a rant about the TTC infringing on a copyright! A conspiracy of false evidence & more. 

I’m sure glad I couldn’t vote for them. I say couldn’t, because, I’m in Ward 29 – Toronto/Danforth; this candidate in running in Ward 14 – Parkdale/High Park. Though, on second thought, they probably would have made our city politics a little more interesting lol.

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Targeted

Targeted

most days

my compassion

is outflanked by

my gratitude

for not being the target

this time

<>

I live in the world

where many are caught up

in target practice

it often seems the actual target 

is irrelevant

as long as they have a target

something to direct 

their control 

their need to prove their superiority

so their fear of inadequacy

can be drowned out

by the noise of their gun fire

their shouting

about unrealistic native land claims

about gender definitions 

loudly trumpeting scriptural

justifications

for their own fears

genocide seen as natural

ethnic cleansing

to maintain property rights

<>

I’m grateful

not to be the target

this time

dodging bullets is tiring 

when you don’t know

who is firing or why

Does this sound familiar: a politico not getting enough votes starts a movement to have bathroom users prove their biological gender in order to protect women & children, or, a corporate vip with no medical background insists that covid masking is a conspiracy & not medically effective & is hurting their bottomline. Then there’s – people are lazy because they won’t work for minimum wages.

The book ‘You Are Not the Target’ by Laura Archera Huxley from decades ago is partially based on taking things overly personally, that they sometimes come from issues in the other person’s life – you know the sort of thinking that you are being shouted at in deflected anger. I get that, but, that doesn’t deflect the loudness of the shouting or the weapon the shouter is waving at you.

This piece reflects my gratitude for being white cismale in a culture where running while black can lead to a police chase, where being a female entitles any male to express sexual interest, where – well, you get the picture. But I also know how I appear isn’t protection against a rage-a-holic running me down in their car along with anyone else on a sidewalk, or being shot in a mall as part of someone’s need for the highest body count, ever.

I’m not paranoid! I figure my fears are realistic – I still mask up if I’m going to in transit, if I’m spending time in a room with more than two other people, shopping, though a few times going into Tim’s I have forgotten to slip on my mask before going in. Is there a government, big business conspiracy to stop reporting the covid #s? I don’t know, nor do I really care. If I’m a target for covid I’d rather be harder to hit.

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Hurt People Hurt People

Hurt People Hurt People

I know hurt people

hurt people

but the fact that I know

isn’t forgiveness

or permission for you

to act out with me

<>

I’m not going around on tiptoes

so you are not triggered

I’m not the one 

who did the initial damage

I’m not the one

who is going too put up

with you continuing it

<>

I’m not going to forgive

forget or get over it

I’m not going to apologize

for not being able to heal you

for defending myself

for saying no more

<>

just because I’m not 

hitting back

not seeking revenge

isn’t permission

approval

or encouragement 

it just a statement of the fact

that you can change

<>

yeah I know hurt people

hurt people

but I’m not volunteering anymore

& if that hurts you

I can get over it

even if you can’t

We live in a culture where when an apology doesn’t result in being let off the hook the victim gets blamed for not being forgiving. Apologies are often for getting caught not for what they got caught doing. It also seems consequences are only for those who can afford to avoid them. At one time drunk drivers in accidents were given a slap on the wrist & their insurance went up. Ouch. Doing time for hit-&-run – ‘your honour it would ruin his future prospects.’ Seeking reparations is seen as revenge.

Anyway, that’s the big picture. But this undercurrent of having to put up with various toxic behaviours runs through personal relationships as well. I had a friend who grew up in a family that shouted & swore constantly & when he behaved that way with me I asked him to tone it down. He couldn’t & said that if I cared for him I would accept him as he was. No thanks. (He eventually underwent serious therapy we remained friends.)

This pieces in some ways about co-dependancy – We’ve all seen those movies in which the love the right person is all that it takes to turn someone around from self-destruction to self-healing or ones where the loss of the love of the right person leads to total loss of there will to live. Being the ‘right person’ becomes a role model for so many of us we look for damaged people not for intact ones. What do we want – someone to love to someone rescue?

Not to rescue is seen as lack of empathy. If the love of the right person isn’t enough then it’s the fault of the right person. We’re all damaged by cultural norms that need to be questioned but the healing for those hurts doesn’t come from expecting the love of someone else to heal us & then hurting them because it doesn’t.

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Alas

Alas

my head was bare

my mind was not blank

my scalp was bald

shaved

so no weight to add

to the endless pressure

of self

<>

a pressure that couldn’t escape

no hat could smother it

sunburn was a distraction

concussion brought new pressure

not relief 

<>

eyes closed

eyes opened

didn’t make a difference

self-expression

released nothing 

its capacity was endless

each image added to the pressure

<>

there was no relief

self was trapped in bone

removing the skin

the contents

only removed identity

even the hollow skull grins

<>

alas

no one knew me well

There is an odd relationship between hats & respect – no hats in some churches, in some the head must be covers, in some women have to be totally hidden – all at the dictates of spiritual respect. Then there is ‘the higher the hair the closer to heaven’ philosophy from the bouffant days. 

In some faiths the removal of hair is a sign of leaving a former life behind – monks, nuns, Buddhist acolytes are shaved bald, cutting off a Chinaman’s queue is an act of humiliation, native Americans scalping those they best in battle. 

Yes, hair is more than something to wash a man out of. In high-school told by a Phys-Ed to get my hair cut – it was creeping around my ears – like a man. So hair also defines gender, even politics – Afros were seen as radical signifiers, long-hair hippy, sexy shag-ster, greaser mullet.

Maybe hair is the door to the soul & not the eyes 🙂 Invariably it becomes an extension of the ego. Even not having it – when I started shaving my head decades ago, people’s reactions to be changed. I became physically more intimidating! Whatever. 

Ultimately this piece is about the impossibility of transcending the self because no matter what one does internally the external will never let the self free as long as people judge books by their cover or lack of a cover.


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