See You Again Never

I took this set of photos a couple of summers ago when this hoarding art sprung over the course of a couple of weeks. I loved the message, the style, the use of found objects & how it reprised what was already on the hoarding. 

It’s on the south side of Danforth,  east of Bastedo Ave. The remains of it are still there. Bits & pieces hav been torn off but it hasn’t been obliterated by the city even for Destination Danforth. My only disappointment is it didn’t inspire more of the same on other hoardings.

Oh yes – the hoarding protects an empty pit waiting decades now for redevelopment. At one time there was a hardware store there. The store caught fire & was totally incinerated. Going through the remains the fire inspectors found human remains & evidence that the fire had been set by the deceased.


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Between The Lines

Between The Lines

so this is how it ends

no bang

no whimper

but with a snort

two lines of blow

careful spread 

on your cellphone screen

<>

that you did 

this sort of thing

didn’t bother me particularly

as long as you did it

without me as an audience

as long as you did it

outside of my residence

<>

when you aren’t here

it’s not a part of my life

not a part of our play

our play is best confined

to the two of us

<>

substances

are like a third party

one that quickly becomes the focus

it takes over

demands to be 

the only thing that counts

me being in the room

was a distraction

<>

you being in the room

was now a disappointment

and when you left

I was relieved to see you go

not wishing you could stay longer

those two lines

closed a door

that will never open to you again

This is a real life experience. I met this man on a site were younger men who prefer older men ‘meet.’ Most gay sites do have a range of ages but on many, older is horrifying, unseemly &, to be frank, discouraged. But agism is another post. I’m not an aggressive looker but if you want to win the lottery you at least have to buy a ticket 😉 Trust me online dating is a lottery.

He contacts me. Sends me a few sexy pics. Young, straight neither of which do that much for me but he was short, hairy, dark & eager. Number, texts get exchanged & eventually he shows up at my door &, gasp, is almost exactly as he presented himself to be. By almost I mean he looked younger than he claimed but he did show me his ID. By young I mean early 20’s, though emotionally he was just an over sexed 16 year old.

I saw him irregularly for a few years. My experience with guys in recovery kept me from taking him too seriously but I saw no reason to be parental with him either. He loved texting me on the sly when he was at clubs with his girlfriend. My lack of trust was justified. My availability decreased & we weren’t so attached I felt the need to tell him why.

He lost job. He got another one. He moved in with a girlfriend. He lost a girlfriend. He moved back in with his parents. He’s text at 6 in the morning wanting to see me asap – as if that could happen. I was more amused than anything else. This last time was after being ‘busy’ when he texted three or four times with a months between each text, I relented.

The occasion, two years ago now, went pretty much as the piece describes it. I may have heard from him since, I’m not sure, as I deleted his # from my phone, which I do often when I haven’t heard someone for a while or don’t care to hear from them. You know, some people will text expecting you to know who they without tell you who it is that is texting. This year I did get a few festive hellos from these unrecognized number strangers.

So guys keep this in mind – If I’m not the main attraction I’m not interested 🙂

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My Editing Riot

So I’m editing this old short story, from the mid 80’s, so I can air it here on the blog & I get distracted by this show of force in the US capital. Do I want to see what they do or do I want to correctly punctuate a sentence? As they climb over barricades & breaking windows I’m breaking down paragraphs. Are they protestors or terrorists. A rampage of white entitlement that eventually fizzles out. No one even shit on the podium. Death by stress & no change in the results, the forgone conclusions.

In my story there is a change in names, a clarification of motivations but the same result. The story results as comedic as the clumsy crowd of echos lurching up & down the Capital building stairs, bumping into each other as they attempt to get the perfect backgrounds for selfies of their righteous bravery. Everyone seems disappointed at the lack of blood on the floor, that there isn’t any burning buildings for truly dramatic context to tweet.

Already that narrative is being rewritten so that every side is at fault as they insist they are upholding the fine principles of democracy, capitalism & freedom of selfie speech. My characters don’t have that much freedom, even as I change their size & shape they tell me what they should do in the situation I created for them. I allow them to be frail, vacillating & only threats to themselves. As much as they are under my control I end up surrendering them to spellcheck & word count – or should I say word re-count. Even when the story is finished it is not certifiable 🙂 but part 1 was posted here with my music blog on Thursday. https://topoet.ca/2021/01/06/jonesing-for-joplin/

Satisfied

in movies about a future

with few survivors 

that stumble across an abandoned store

with canned food on the shelves

not much

watching we think

how desperate they feel

how sad

so when i go into a supermarket

today

i think

even if what want isn’t there

there is still lots there

there is enough

<>

at one time

thank you

wasn’t enough

there had to be praise

adulation

thank you

didn’t go far enough

i had to be grateful

that i was even allowed

to say thank you

<>

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 surpressed

pleasure was not the point

the point was to eat

whatever was served

not to judge

or comment

to eat silently

then

get the fuck out

so the next person could

be satisfied 

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Nine

Nine

O when I was nine

I was still a child

there was no instant communication

news travelled slow

on the radio TV newspapers

that provided an innocence

I knew about war

because my Dad had fought in one

he was a man

my mother was a woman

I was a boy child

who only knew what the culture 

of the time

expected of my gender 

<>

O when I was nine

I did know I wasn’t like other boys

I played backlot baseball

I played with dolls

I  wasn’t the boy my dad expected

I didn’t like to fight

like other boys

I never understood 

why physical violence was required

to be accepted

<>

O when I was nine

I learned to swim

looking at the differences

between boys and girls

anatomy I didn’t understand

the boys where more interesting

I knew shame

when we were caught

I had fear

but no closet

sex was dirty regardless

of the gender of the object

<>

O when I was nine

I don’t that I was making waves

as I waded from nine to nineteen

by the time I left nineteen

I knew

these were dangerous waters

at nine there was only

the fear of getting caught

not the fear

of my culture drowning me

like an unwanted litter of kittens

I heard on a TV documentary about children that our sense of self was basically formed by the time we are ten years old. By then we have absorbed the ‘teachings’ of TV behaviours that inform our subconscious. So, back in the day, I was aware of what the culture of the time expected of my gender. I was also aware that it wasn’t the right fit but I hadn’t developed the language for that beyond feeling it was the wrong fit. Today thanks to instant communication children have a greater knowledge of gender variations. I doubt that at the age of five I would have understood what a faggot was, children today do know what it means. 

Where was I when I was nine? We had just settled in Sydney, Cape Breton after moving across Canada for a couple years. My mother & I had spent some time with her family in Wales during this time as well. I remember ‘living’ in Moncton, Stellerton or was it Truro for short periods of time & going to schools there, briefly. Finally in Sydney, were we lived in three different neighbourhoods before my dad bought a house in Ashby.

One result was that I spent those formative years as a displaced person – someone who was different. My Dad prodded me into things that could show me how to ‘fit in’: cub scouts, YMCA. I did the best I could but felt like an outsider &, as I recall, was fine with that. I did get these weird mixed messages ‘why can’t you be like other kids’ then when I wanted some fad item ‘why can’t you think for yourself.’

I survived partially by hiding in booze & partially by writing & painting as I gradually found language for what I was. Though then that language was loaded – an abomination unto the Lord – sort of stuff. Today I know the tragic flaw wasn’t my sexuality but the way culture regarded not only lgbtq but sexuality itself.


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Ghost of a Chance

Has this ever happened to you? It’s a bitterly cold, but dry, night & you’re just relaxing after supper & checking your email when the phone rings. Oh yes, rings, my landline. How quaint, a landline. I answer & it is a fwb ghost from the past. He was in the neighbourhood & could we meet for a chat. I think a moment & say sure – in five minutes at the Greenwood Station.

I get dressed, walk over & he’s pacing, masked. in front on the station. I recognize him by the pace & the hefty backpack that was his trademark style when we first met some, I’d say, nearly twenty years ago. We do a loop south down one block & up the next & back to the station.

We first the ‘catch up’ – he’s in the same profession but now in the private sector – from Crown Prosecutor to criminal lawyer for hire. He called on a whim, a polite term for ‘horny’ & had been meaning to call me for some time now & felt this was the right time. He apologized for our last conversation, which I didn’t recall at all, (but which I did blog about) & also for the way things ended many years ago, which was essentially him disappearing.

https://topoet.ca/2015/05/08/the-ghost/

He wants to renew our sexual acquaintance. I am flattered but not that interested. There other men whom I have been unable to see thanks covid who I would much rather renew acquaintances with 🙂 Being the polite Canadian & feeling a little sorry for him I say I’ll think about it. He wants to drop by now that he’s in the neighbourhood. I firmly decline & we part company.

An hour or so later he calls again to apologize for coming on so strong earlier. I am flattered but indifferent. Beside, to me, this is a red flag of neediness. I say no problem & agree that he can me later in the week, knowing that if he sticks to his usual form I’ll hear from him in 2025 at the earliest.

Boo Hoo Hoo

the fact is I don’t care

I know this comes as a surprise 

to make matters worse 

I never did care

I listened out of politeness

struck the right pose of concern

a sweet smile of encouragement

my look of worried affection

that you found so comforting

allowed you to feel cared for

that someone loves you

but to be honest

I never gave a shit

about your tedious victories

good job reviews weight loss 

or whatever cheered you up that day

I also never gave a shit about

your weary tribulations either

that diagnoses 

that lost wallet

replacing all your credit cards and ids

oh boo hoo hoo

stop acting so shocked

life happens to poor little you

stop dragging your tired trite daily events

in front of me

the thought of me hearing about them

puts me to sleep

the sleep of the righteous

<>

I fake human compassion

only too well 

when I want to slap you

up the side of the life

take that drivel somewhere else 

the sex isn’t worth it

can’t remember if it ever was

so please shut the fuck up 

I don’t care

no one does

oh boo hoo hoo

<>

that’s not what you expected to hear

it’s not my worry 

that your cellphone headset never worked right

that your mother is dying

that you love those new shoes

that you had some deep insight 

to your inner tender core

you feel on top of the world

getting ahead of the curve

whatever

so whoop-de-do

who gives a flying fuck

certainly not me

so wake up and smell me gone

oh boo hoo hoo

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2020 Umbrella Blues

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 363 to 445! That’s over 80 new followers without me going out of my way beyond blogging regularly. The WordPress map show my hits have come from some 85 countries around the world. India still tops the list is interest but that Italy & Japan are in the top 10 is a surprise. Kenya still in the top 20 – but Malawi! Still no hits from North Korea 😦

The 2020 post that got the most hits was https://topoet.ca/2020/06/10/catholic-girls/ but a post from 2014 made a surprise showing too https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/. The post with the most all-time hits is also from 2014: https://topoet.ca/2014/06/06/there-was-the-word/. My Tumblr is at 295. It would be much higher but I frequently block follows for buxom babes, porn slam (shooting up crystal meth) sites. Twitter 229 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along nicely with 48 sections, just over 73,000 words posted so far with about 116,000 words to be edited & then posted. Editing it is fun &though I recollect most of the plot I am getting to expand somethings & fill in others. I need a cheat sheet of names at all times though.

In this has been the year of the pandemic, I never expected to be living in a scifi movie. The threat is real but the stress comes from not knowing when or if it might strike me. I take all the precautions, masks, hand washing & social distancing – which have all proved to be enough so far. Zoom has become one of my best friends 🙂

Getting to AA meetings is simple & no having to deal with winter wear has been an additional plus. Members there frequently mention how they miss all the face-to-face contact but you know I’m indifferent to it. I have never been one for social gathering , of any sort, of more than four or five people. Another bonus is this lack of social contact has resulted in no colds or flu, so far, this winter. I’ve quickly embraced face masks & have amassed a nice collection with fun patterns. a few solid colours, that allow me to feel less medical when I put one on. One way of making masks work is to make them fashion. But I’m not enjoying the realization that going to the store for a loaf of bread is actually playing Russian roulette without knowing who is holding the gun.

My 2020 plans for Capturing Fire in Washington never materialized & I doubt if I’ll be visiting the US, or anywhere else, even in Canada, until 2022. With the travel industry decimated even in country travel will be a challenge. No boats, trains, buses or airplanes to the Maritimes  might bring back the car 🙂 It isn’t clear what will happen with the Stratford Festive, they have planned a season but social distancing requirements may scuttle it even if the vaccine roll out goes well. Maybe one will need a proof of vaccine to get in to see a show? Maybe a return to classical Greek theatre style where all the performers wore masks?

Umbrella Blues

that rain is wet

comes as no surprise

it’s just that sometimes

I’m bored of the rain

tired of its endless fall

the sound of the drop

the feel of it on my skin 

by rain

I mean life

<>

not that life is wet

but it’s just that sometimes

I’m weary of it all

even more so these covid days

<>

so far

I’ve dodged that bullet 

as the numbers of infected

go up & up 

I’m not yet in that number

I say a prayer of gratitude

but I’m tired of dodging that bullet

to go the the store

to walk down the street

<>

peeved by walking into on coming traffic

to create social distance

between me and others

on sidewalks narrowed by patios

I’m weary of the worry

of the avoidance

of the feel survivor’s guilt

<>

have you seen my umbrella

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Stratford photos taken a day trip earlier in 2020.

I’m So Cute

I’m So Cute

you’ve used up my trust

yes 

I know you don’t mean any harm

no 

it doesn’t hurt

but I asked you to stop

because it is meaningless

yet distracting

<>

it is like the tip of the ice-burg

that small act

is meant to be affectionate

but I can’t stand it

I don’t enjoy it

it represents your lack of respect

after I’ve asked you not to

<>

if it means 

to you

that I don’t have a sense of humour

such is life

it’s not a control issue

on my part

it is the same as

serving food I’m allergic to

then getting pissed off

when I refuse to eat it

or insisting on playing

music you know I can stand

just to be playful

to be annoying

because I’m so cute

when I’m annoyed

<>

enjoy that memory

One of the bunch I used to hang out with on the east coast was a table tapper. It was a habit he wasn’t conscious of & as we talked he would play rhythms to whatever music might be on. He didn’t find it distracting but I did & told him a few times. He tried to control it but after a few drinks tappy tap tap tap. It was harmless enough but eroded my willingness to spend time with the gang when he was around. This piece isn’t about him, directly, nor is it about my need to control, really 🙂

It’s more about the power shifts in relationships – how much is one party willing to put up with or sacrifice in a spirit of cooperation. For some people the meaning of love is putting up with anything & everything, you know, the codependency dance romanticized by movies.

There’s also a micro-aggression subtext here – if what is said or done isn’t all that bad or direct then get over it. In fact being told to ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s just a joke’ is micro-aggression. To question their ‘control issues’ gets turned around into you having ‘control issues.’ 

This goes beyond someone tapping a table, which is usually not done to irritate but a nervous habit, but to something like someone who – thinking sticking their tongue in your ear is fun & should be sexually arousing when you find it intolerable. When you say things like ‘stop it’ they try to turn into a game & it becomes you being a wet blanket for not playing along – they just want to be playful. When you tell them where to stick their tongue they aren’t playing anymore. 🙂


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MISSING: 2020

I miss the smell of the restaurant – of food cooking, of someone serving the meal & taking away my dirty dishes, of being able to ask for suggestions. Taking your chicken souvlaki out of a paper bag and finding out it is pork isn’t the same as seeing it on the plate & sending it back right away. I miss plating – the art of someone else arranging food on your plate.

I missing being able to give your order at a coffee shop without having to shout through your mask & over-enunciate words like ‘sweet & low’ & having to repeat yourself as they still don’t hear clearly over the music. I miss paying for things with cash. What do people without plastic do?

I miss wearing shirts to public events, because there are no public events to wear them to. I have a wardrobe based on public appearances, even if the appearance is meeting someone for lunch or doing a feature in front an eager audience of poetry fans. The face mask has replaced the shirt, the t-shirt for now.

Shopping has changed here in Ontario. Not that I spent a lot of time in stores but I miss the sense of destination, of discovery as I browsed the aisles looking. When I do shop I am focused on what I want but there are times when going through the tables of remaindered books at Book City, or even Indigo, results is amazing discoveries. 

Not that I mind online shopping for most things & I sure do love packages showing up at my door but I miss the hunt. No more impulse shopping. No more checking every aisle in the grocery store for specials, now it’s all about following the right arrows to maintain social distance. 

I missing not knowing what day of the week it is because I’m no longer doing what I used to do every Wednesday that took me out of the house. My cell phone now tells me what day of the week it is. I think this is Monday.

Old Feet New Shoes

it’s never a fresh start

there is no clean page

no expanse of innocent white

to start in on

there is always a past 

something to remember to avoid 

lessons learned

something to escape from

to forget

to write over scribble out 

<>

new shoes always go on old feet

we stand on what we are familiar with 

bring the same skill set 

to each fresh opportunity

to do the same thing in a different place

yet how different is the place 

a chair is always a chair

lights are always lights

<>

different shades fabrics 

but new jeans are still jeans

same hair changed style

anxious for the new

as if the old 

was worthless inferior

<>

why should things last at all

the longer cars last 

the fewer cars get sold

the fewer cars get sold

the economy grinds to a halt

people are out of work

it’s all your fault

you fucking pedestrians

we’ll make narrower sidewalks 

to discourage all that walking

<>

nothing new in this same old rant 

about the same pointless crap

words won’t fuel the economy

who reads 

who listens 

who cares

nobody wants a fresh start

just new shoes

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet