Paper Ghosts

Thanks to the pandemic I’ve been purging my past. Papers, first drafts, photographs & memories. A basement full of lumber, bricks, paint, nut & bolts saved, salvaged, kept for another day now gone, with out regret. Stage set pieces from Bushwack Theatre finally seeing the light of day in the back of a junk removal truck 🙂 

I have seeing my history in the paper I used for writing on. Scrap paper recycled from Famous Players old daily multi-coloured sales report forms – pads of which became redundant as they were updated. Colour coded for filing & mailing purposes. Flyers for movies, for theatrical productions. Lined or blank loose leaf, pages torn out of scribblers, note book of various sizes & even shapes. Notes, poems, fiction typed on various typewriters, hand written in various inks & pens, dot-matrix print outs that had never been separated. https://topoet.ca/2021/03/16/past-of-the-future/

The ‘See Europe’ was one of several road show productions that travelled around the maritimes with special presentations – this was Travel, another was Alpine Skiing – the most popular was the in person show by Raveen – a hypnotist, magician – I wish I had some of those flyers. The travel shows weren’t big draws mind you but they were rentals – in this case Tony Smith was in charge of his ticket sales. We got the rental fee plus sold lots of popcorn 🙂

The various papers help date when some of these pieces were written as many of them were undated. The Famous pages are before I moved to Toronto in 1978. Days Of Heaven is from my first year here. The Famous Players form bring back memories beyond what I had written on the blank sides. One of my jobs there was to type details onto them. There was carbon paper between the pages that were 4 form thick so one had to hit hard to make sure the bottom one was legible. A mistake meant whiteout on all copies before re-entering. A total pain. Life before computers & data entry. 

This piece was typed on the blank side of a ‘Days Of Heaven’ flyer

My Left Hand

he gives me a call

a peace offering

an invitation

an offer

to nail my left hand

to the floor

but he has no camera

<>

he calls

on days

when his memory

is fading

the echo of the moon

in an old well

he speak

French threats

innuendos

of vague violence

I cannot resist

<>

I cannot confront

direct violence

I have a fear of pain

pain as in death

facts to face

I am afraid

I’ll enjoy the nail

relish each thud of the hammer

<>

I remember

the bite of his teeth

even when I cannot

recall the feel

of his lips

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You First

You First

I was hiding

my feelings from him

not hiding exactly

but not declaring them

not putting them into words

what was communicated in my touch

was that enough

did he

could he

read between the kisses

between my legs

was there enough

emotionally import

in my smile

my eagerness

to convey 

what I was afraid 

to put into words

as I waited

for him to put into words

what I felt in his touch

Have you ever heard this in movies – ‘You never say you love me.’ or ‘Say it like you mean it?’ Have you thought who needs this needy person? There is a theory of power dynamics in a relationships that the power is with the person who loves the least. The difference could be .001% but it is there. 

Early in ‘romantic’ relationships there are these points where both parties are tentative about expressing their emotions. ‘I like you’ is so much less vulnerable than ‘I love you.’ I’ve known people who back out of relationships if the other party jumps the affection gun. Going for ‘love’ comes across as a red flag not an invitation to deepen things.

We get consistent mixed message about what ‘true’ love is vs. codependency. There is also this, to me, illogical linking of sexual fidelity with love. If you love  strawberry ice cream, to even look at another flavour is a betrayal of trust. But that’s a subject for another post.

This state of tentative love is called, I think, limerence, were so much hinge son the feel of falling, the feel of being fallen for – a feel where there is constant edge of ‘when will be together again’ permeates dreams, where texting a smile can change a mood. But if you text that smile & wait for it to be trend then get pissed if it isn’t returned fast enough – that isn’t love it’s control.

I don’t hide my affections but I also don’t go over board with them either. I do text a smile (or other body parts) then get on with my day. The pleasure is as much in the opportunity to send affection as it is to get it. 


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The Thrill is Gone

The Thrill is Gone

he was bored

& looking for sex

as if sex was a solution

so far

nothing had lived up

to his expectations

his profile listed

his interests

it was like the index

to a gay sex manual

<>

at nineteen

he wanted to try them all

while he was still young enough

to enjoy them all

before he was bored

by them all

<>

what I hadn’t tried

of his endless index

had never appealed to me 

at any age

many I had tried a few times

had no interest in exploring them again

even though

he wanted an older guide

who was opened-minded

<>

we chatted a awhile

because he liked my dick pic

when it became clear

I had boundaries

my disinterest in

repeating what bored me

made him bitter

judgemental

the less defensive I became

the more defensive he became

but at least

he was no longer bored

crushing boredom

This is based on real life events & in some ways is why I bother with any online gay cruising sites – I find things like this amusing & sometime a little puzzling. These sites are also a way of passing the time when I have ten minutes with little to do. Like this guy here I was bored, but not really looking for sex just a reminder that sex was possible 🙂

I saw his shopping list of sexual delights & thought, well there’s a few things I enjoy here but the rest isn’t on my menu plan. I wasn’t even curious enough to look at his pics but he contacted me via the site’s chat line. More info was exchanged & the more that was exchanged the less interested I was. I even asked him if he had actually read my profile – if he had he would have known what he was asking about me.

One of the ‘code’ words I watch for in profiles is ‘open-minded’ – which boils down to kink: diapers, chastity cages, that sort of thing. If one isn’t interested you become close-minded. Similar to saying ‘no’ to a drink, to say ‘no’ to kink can make some guys defensive – as if that ‘no’ is a judgment on their choices. 

Over the years I’ve learned that many men on line are looking for attention not contact. His laundry list was extensive enough that there was something for everyone there. It struck me as indecisive, which seemed natural at his age, too. My other caveat pops up here, the one that says: men lie on line. There is no way for me to verify his age, his profile pics, or his shopping list. The twenty or so minutes we chatted was enough role playing for me.

clutching at straws

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Attention Span

The smaller the font the faster your eyes will tire & the faster you’ll fall asleep, even if you don’t want to fall asleep. This is one of my Kindle lessons after dozing off & reading the same passage three times before I realized I was dozing off & reading the same passage again (did you just nod off reading this 🙂 )

I’ve found that over the years my attention span for certain things has changed. An hour of TV, at one time, is more than enough passive participation for me – I can manage that hour a few times scattered through the day. Sit down for longer than that to watch something & I’m up after first half-hour for a snack 🙂 Seeing theatric productions can be torture – trapped in the dark & I can’t even check my cell phone! Yikes.

Even household tasks are broken down into ‘bites.’ I could have cleared out my basement in three days of work – a few hours in the morning, another couple after a lunch break. But I opted to do it over a month or so, of a little over an hour sessions, a couple of mornings a week. Make that 90 minutes to include getting the vacuum out, etc. I did it piecemeal & got it done. I can’t imagine going to a day job, wether in an office or working at home, for six or seven hours at a stretch. 

When working on editing, or writing new material I find a focused hour, twice a day is all I can manage for the physical part, the mind never takes a break. Movies get watched in 50 minute bites. The only time I see a film from start to finish is with my Saturday movie guy – recently we’ve been watching the Tudors – two episodes at a time. 

The one thing I do for the longest stretch of uninterrupted time is sleep 🙂

Kentic (March 2008)

the faster I move

the less I weigh

the faster I talk

the more I get to say

squeezing out not taking in

the less I take in

the less there is to carry

the less I carry 

the faster I can move

<>

stay in motion

moving targets

get shot at more

but they get hit less

I avoid straight lines

darting back & forth

spinning out into controlled curves

tumbling when necessary

moving too fast

for moisture to stay 

for sweat to bead

drier than dry

<>

l becomes like a wake 

when I am not awake

I don’t move in my sleep

I am like death

so still 

not even my breath can be seen

sleep is for the weak

and I am weak

it is my frailty 

the need to keep moving is 

fuelled by the sleep of righteousness

<>

only the pure of art

can move as fast as I do

can slip the sling of gratification

to be like a sun beam 

faster than the speed of 

found you this time

no one finds me

no one holds me

<>

I’m not slippery 

just too fast to be caught

too nimble to be confined

free of all encumbrances 

except the envy of those 

who want to be free

who feel that to trap this flash

is the only way they can bottle 

their own timid energy 

their own fragile pleasures

the resolution of not catching me

isn’t enough to satisfy them

that’s all they’ll ever get

<>

words of understanding 

aren’t enough to slow me down

I don’t need to be understood to be free

I don’t need permission to disappear

before your very eyes

into a mist of mystery

who was that unasked man

I don’t need an invitation

don’t have to wait for opportunity

don’t make them for myself 

don’t stay long enough

<>

the flame flicker wind 

darting around me

singes then gone

out like a light

out the window

out out out

washed clean 

not a trace of me

not even in memory 

<>

the secret of my success

to be so fast I am not memorized

not recalled

not even a vague discomfort

beyond the spark of envy

for the moment of realization

the faster I move

the less you care 

let’s keep it that way


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Toys Without Land

Piles of castoff toys I’ve seen on my walks my east end neighbourhood over the past couple of years. I guess when children grow up it is simpler to dispose of them (the toys I mean)

bye bye dinosaur
disarmed


blue guitar in the rain
painted rocks thrown away
found under a stink cabbage leaf
bumpy yellow world
The Prince Who Was Turned Into A Seahorse
Holy Batmen! Batman
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Down The Blame Drain

Down The Blame Drain

what I lead you to believe

isn’t necessarily true

you let yourself be lead on

now don’t get defensive

but it was your willingness 

to fill in the blanks 

with your own expectations

that resulted in this

misunderstanding

<>

I could have pointed that

but you were so sure of yourself

contradicting you

seemed pointless

you can’t blame me

for you making it so easy

to lead you on

<>

once I started

you made no pause for me to stop

you took the wrong hint

dashed on with it

before I could stop you

and when I did

you were dumbfounded

you thought I was joking

now you know I wasn’t

<>

so blame me

even if it wasn’t my fault

This is a variation on one of my frequent notions – how we use language to evade responsibility. ‘What did she expect, I’m a man.’ ‘There were unexpected casualties.’ ‘He was black – young – in drag – so I shot him.’ The sad thing about these evasions is how acceptable they are to many people. 

I once read about a drunk driver, whose out-of-control car killed people on the sidewalk at around 11 p.m. – he said ‘they shouldn’t have been walking that late at night’ – he got off with a fine because the dead weren’t wearing bright enough clothes & had to bare some of the responsibility. All too often it seems that confessing replaces facing consequences, or facing consequences is seen as unfair & that a lack of forgiveness is spiteful. 

This poem is about shifting responsibility in such a way one isn’t sure who is responsible. There is an undercurrent of a much used romcom trope of a mistaken identity that is allowed to go on until one of parties feels betrayed. ‘you only loved me because you thought I was rich’ – a mistake that could have cleared up with a simple statement like – I’m not who you think I am – but no it is allowed to go on & on. Or poor twin killing the rich one to assume that identity. 

There is also a sense that the costume we wear is often mistaken for who we are, for what class we belong in. Dressing the part of say, a doctor, when one isn’t a doctor. Wear a white lab coat in any hospital & people will assume you are staff. Walk around a store with a clipboard & you can get away with merchandise. Look like you know what you are doing & people will assume you know what you are doing & that you have the right to do it 🙂


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Zero Interest Rate

Zero Interest Rate

why I lost interest

wasn’t relevant to letting go

neither of us was that invested

or at least I wasn’t

he was a good technical fuck

made it clear how much he enjoyed

the time we spent together

but as much as he filled me up

he never fulfilled me

he was chatty enough

but conversations went his way

he listened to his voice

his point of view

would ask the same questions

give his answer

talk over mine

so I lost interest

<>

I blocked him on dating sites

rather than go into why 

I lost interest

why I found his paranoia

around identity theft 

made me distrustful of him

he knew too much for the innocent

because he was black

his racism couldn’t be confronted

he’d merely repeat his view

to call him out

meant that I was the racist

<>

it was a few years

since we’d had contact

then one day there he was

on my door step

having changed his online identity 

he’d made contact with me

never let on who he was

did a few things differently

gave me his email

which he’d never done before

though I still didn’t know his real name

the date was set

and there he was

with a slightly smug smile

<>

I wasn’t flattered

but was amused

he was still a good technical fuck

friendly enough

not a listener

talked over my replies

to questions he’d asked

<>

when he left

I blocked him again

somethings don’t change

and he was one of them

“I Can’t Quit Him” – actually ‘Her’ in the Blood, Sweat & Tears song, comes to mind when I think about this poem. If this basic ‘boyfriends past’ seems familiar, it is but is also a different occasion & a different guy too! Now if you are think – he’s bragging, or worse yet, he’s a slut. Get over it! If you are thinking – I hope I have as active a sex life when I’m his age – congratulations. Though those first two thoughts have some truth too.

Often guys who won’t take no for answer think they are demonstrating their persistence, their ardour for you. I see it either as, in one case, sex addiction – no thanks or even sadder desperation – no thanks. It’s not as if I have that active a sex life than I can ‘afford’ to turn down opportunity – but as I’ve said before – just because you’re interested doesn’t mean I have to be.

This is based on a true story! It did happen about two years ago. I have heard from him since mind you. He showed up once day, out of the blue, unmasked & expected me to be eager & grateful. I was neither, even when he did mask & he didn’t get past the porch. He was just in the neighbourhood wanted to drop by.

I didn’t say drop dead – not in the midst of a pandemic – but I was clear this was unacceptable. He was dismayed & claimed other guys have been less inflexible about lockdown restrictions. I told him I’m not like other guys & sent him on his way. I didn’t apologize or even say ‘try me when the pandemic is over’ – though that would have been a good delay, as covid19 will never be over. But better no hope than false hope.


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Future of the Past

The endless lockdown is making people long for things to get back to normal, to the way things used to be. Their sense of the future, of hope for themselves & their careers is cloudy. Before the pandemic their futures were relatively clear – career opportunities were promising but now that new office is whichever corner of your apartment are you going to work from home in.

One friend misses his coworkers presence – not that he misses them as people but he enjoyed being part of a team with whom he had casual physical interaction. Working at home you are your own annoying coworker – there is no one to shrug to after a phone exchange with a client. He can’t remember when he last wore a shirt & tie. His job is secure but he doesn’t feel he has a real future if it is going to be spent in his apartment all day & night. His solution is to look for a new apartment to be trapped in.

I’ve been inputting things out of my writing archive – some pieces going back to high-school, some from the mid-70’s before I moved to Toronto, before I ‘came out.’ As I reread these pieces I try to sense my frame of mind at that time, try to sense what I thought my future would be & how this writing figured into that future. With my fiction I dreamed of being a gay Stephen King at times. 

Stranded in the east coast I really didn’t have a vision of the future until I escaped in the late 70’s. But at least I sensed there would be a future that would be an extension of the comfortable present of the times. Now my friends are facing a future that isn’t as comforting, comfortable or secure. Anxiety has replaced hope. No matter how fashionable masks become the reason for them remains.

Incontrovertible

it’s all open to interpretation

no fact is provable

the side you aren’t on 

views that suits the truth you feel 

is the most suitable to your purposes

<>

no image tells all there is to tell

it’s all in the lighting

viewed often enough 

everything  changes

was that a head bounce off the ground 

or an attempt to get up

was that a punch back 

or a hand up to block a punch

was he asking for it

was that a look of distain

depends on the camera angle

the time of day

the race of the looker

<>

what other news feeds do we have

who decides what the news is

which aspect of the truth to report

can we deny what we broadcast yesterday

why not

who remembers yesterday’s news

the past is fiction 

there is no truth too incontrovertible

that it can’t be recast 

to something more dire

more trivial

which truth will get the most viewers

which is truly entertaining

which is merely information

does it matter if it factual

one study says yes

the other says no

<>

the methodology of studies

cast the questions

so there is no one answer 

to what is being asking

but one answer is all you are allowed

yes no

<>

do your believe your eyes

your ears 

what you read in the paper

is it real until it’s been on TV

until someone has been interviewed

do we wait till the the 11 o’clock news

to know what is going on

is it safe to go outside

<>

we are an endangered species

drowning in a sludge of facts and data

that tell us nothing

but fill us with fear or indifference

it may not matter 

what side of the bed you get up on

you haven’t actually sept

that was all in your mind

maybe because there is only your word

you slept

that night cam footage could be faked 

do you remember sleeping

you didn’t use the can

that wasn’t your piss 

splashing in the bowl

all in your imagination

you have no grasp on reality

<>

when nothing is real

nothing can be proved

the past is revisionism 

the futures can’t be photographed

so it doesn’t exist 

then again 

neither do you

you aren’t real 

just a demographic

irrelevant and unbroadcast

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Out With The Bathwater

Out With The Bathwater

he wanted to drink

my bathwater

or so he said

I never did take him up on it

if he had said that

after a few dates

I might have found it

appealing  

almost flattering

but to start with that

was a bit much

it was the sort of

coming on too strong

I called ‘a red flag’

similar to sending a phone number

in the first message

or as the first message

not even a call me

or I liked your profile

I’m not going to call that number

<>

he wanted to drink

my bathwater

when I asked him why

he said that it was pretty obvious

the water

was something that had touched

every inch of my body

the way he wished he could

I was amused

intrigued

all his pics were blurry

or close ups of his nipples

no face pic

<>

I asked for a face photo

never heard back from him

The on-line hook-up world is full of every fetish you can imagine. Obviously I know more about the ‘gay’ male faction but am sure this array of kink is found to the same degree in the hetero scene. Most sites are full of vanilla guys with a dash of leather, s&m, b&d & there some sites are devoted to specific types of play or types of men: bears, older, black – so you can narrow focus.

Profile info usually includes what sort of play the person is interested in & I, unlike many, read that section of a profile (after I check out their hight 🙂 ) Even profile nicknames tell me enough: PoppersRus – is not for me. If approached I make it clear that, based on their interests, we aren’t a good match. Some guys get a bit huffy mind you as if my not being interested in x is judging them. Whatever. If you want to, say, dress as a baby including a diaper, that’s fine by me but I’m not interested – my lack of interest is not a sign of disapproval.

This piece is based on a couple of actual non-encounters. I am perhaps more cautious than some, mind you, but some first contacts don’t even get responded too. Bathwater Jim did a reply though because his (I assume it was a man) approach was novel enough to warrant that much. The reply turned into one of those corny dating book pick-up lines. ‘if I told you you had beautiful body would you hold it against me?’

The anonymity of the internet allows people to approach strangers in ways they probably wouldn’t in person. It’s easy to brave when both parties are faceless, voiceless. I enjoy profile pics but know that with the right angle, lighting & photoshop anyone can be larger than life. 

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