Jonesing for Joplin

Quincy Jones is a chameleon. His work with others is classic without a sense of his personality over-shadowing theirs. He lets the artist shine & I’ve heard anything he’s been involved with & thought ‘that’s a Quincy Jones production.’ He is not a revolutionary like, say, Phil Spector.

I have a couple of lp to cds of his ‘solo’ work: This Is How I Feel About Jazz, Plays Mancini, Ndeda. The first I found in a remainder bin & it is smooth bop. Ndeda was double set I bought used, that is a compilation of some of his soundtrack music (In The Heat of the Night) & instrumental things like Soul Safari. The Mancini is sweet & they are a perfect match. If nothing else Quincy Jones is a tasteful, elegant producer.

Near Jones is a set of lp to cd transfers of Scott Joplin music performed by Joshua Rifkin, Southland Stingers, Canadian Brass & New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble. Joplin almost became a footnote, his music relegated to music scholars until the movie ‘The Sting’ that made his rags universal & they were resurrected by so many ensembles one lost track & sometimes couldn’t tell who was playing which one. I enjoyed them in small doses 🙂 

Most of the recordings are too respectful, treating them like Chopin Etudes, some are jazzier & some are more in the line of sweet polite salon orchestras. So many artists recorded these I’m surprised there isn’t a Tomita version 🙂 Unlike many early 1900 blues performers there are no historic recording sof Joplin actually playing but there are some player piano rolls he made which are fun & can be found on YouTube.

A short story discovered in my archives. It goes back to pre-1995 as the original printout is dot matrix 🙂 I’ve done minimal editing. It is based on a real incident. 

The Allegory of Love

1

“Not again!” I reluctantly pushed Steve’s roaming hand away. “Don’t start something you’re not going to finish.”

He squinted up at me, uncertain & a bit drunk.

I leaned in to speak directly into his ear. “Just because I don’t like being used doesn’t mean ‘stop so soon’.”

“Used?” He took a deep swallow of his beer. “What do you mean?” He stepped back & bumped into a man in leather.

The bar’s music was so loud I couldn’t hear myself. “Call me. I can’t talk here.”

Steve nodded & disappeared into the crowd. 

Thank God I thought, breathing a sigh of relief & dismay. I do like Steve, but too much to continue with pointless flirtation.

I suspected that time a couple of weeks ago was our last encounter. It had been under the same circumstance. Me feeling the lure of the full moon & Steve feeling the lull of enough brew. We’ve had fun many times before & I always look forward to what I called ‘rubbing our two sticks together.’ 

Steve shared an apartment with Ron. When I met them both several years ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I was instantly attracted Steve. They were introduced to me as friends not as boyfriends. Ron was a bitch, or so it seemed. Ron & I got into clawing at each other for some reason. Something we’re all too good at, I suppose.

I ran into Steve a few nights later & came on to him like the proverbial ton on brick. It was a meltdown in the sack & has been nearly every time we got our sticks together. Usually at my place but sometimes at his, if Ron wasn’t in. Over the years sex was so good, & Steve comparable enough, I would have set up housekeeping with him, except there was that Ron in the ointment. 

Steve never described them as being lovers, but Ron seemed to run more of Steve’s life than anyone should run anyone’s. But who am I to judge?

I was open with Steve about my affection for him. He wasn’t displeased, but I could sense that emotions frightened him. Staying with Ron seemed to be his way of keeping scary feelings at bay. For lat couple of month I felt their relationship was about to change, but our last encounter made me see things differently.

I’d arrived at the bar later than usual & was making my first foray into the smokey land of men, when Steve reached out of a dark corner. He grabbed me by the belt & pulled me in for one of those long, sloppy kisses that turn me to jelly.

“Good to see ya, Brian.”

“It’s been awhile.” I laughed. I knew he was a bit looped; he usually was to be so bold.

“Watcha’ been up to? The photo biz still keep you in focus?” He teased, running his free hand over my stomach.

“Things are developing well enough. And you? Getting anywhere in men’s wear?”

“Got a promotion.” He said proudly.

“Things must be going well.” I gently bit his ear.

“We’re opening a new branch since I took over.”

“Great! Soon you’ll be Queen of the Reduced to Queers.”

He giggled. “I really like you. You make me laugh.”

“You make me …” I squeezed his bunds.

“Same here.” He returned the squeeze, while draining his beer. “I’ll be right back.”

He darted off for another beer. As I watched him merge into the crowd, I wondered if this was going to lead to one of our meltdowns. Short, stocky & hairy, he was the perfect teddy bear for me to curl around tonight.

Back with a beer, he hugged me affectionately. “You know my little wang goes ‘boink’ whenever I see you.”

“That’s nothing to complain about.”

“How am I in the sack?”

Feeling a little insecure tonight?’I thought, as I replied. “You’re great. I keep coming back, don’t I”

“You treat me so …” he took a swallow of beer.

“Tender?” I offered.

“Yeah! Like you cared.”

“Why shouldn’t I? You deserve it. Just one thing.”

“What?”

“Often we’re too rushed. I want to savour what I enjoy. I hate to eat & run when the food is so good.”

“Thanks.” He pulled me in for another fly-popping kiss. “Let’s go.” He said pulling on his jacket.

“The coast is clear tonight?”

“Ah, who gives a fuck? It’s my home as much as his.”

“You’re sure? You know I …”

“You coming?”

“Sure.” I felt a slight misgiving. “What the hell. We can go to my place, if you’d rather.” I suggested as we walked along. “You really don’t a nose-bleed going that far north.”

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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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Decking The Covid Halls 2020

Over the years the decking of my house has become more elaborate. Every room  had its share of holiday decor – figurines, snow globes, even action figures. Of course there was also the tree, the lights, the porch ‘treatment’ & of course festive towels & linens. Friends would add ornaments to the magic. Much of it was done for our Christmas feast guests or friends who would drop by. Thanks to covid19 restrictions that isn’t going to happen to the same extent this year.

Perhaps that’s just as well so that I could give some of those things a rest. Let’s leave the snow globe collection in the box for change, what’s the point of that kitch crèche? As a result things remain in their bins & boxes. In fact as I sorted what to put out this year I tossed things. Thanks for the memories but bye bye.

Opting for simplicity meant less staple gun noise 🙂 The lights went up, the tree went up, the linens got washed & will be used but the bulk of the treasure remain in their bins & boxes. You know not having all that hanging tinsel is fine. Next year maybe they’ll get hung in the trees on the front lawn. 

The festive lights remained a must though because they aren’t just for me, they are for everyone & anyone who sees them. This year, in out neighbourhood, they seem to have gone up sooner & gotten fancier. I’ve going out some nights after supper to do a walk around different blocks to enjoy them. I stopped to talk to one woman about her lights & she said, what I figured most people are thinking, ‘we need lights in this dark covid climate.’

https://topoet.ca/2016/12/16/lights-delight-2016/

Yes, let there be less interior clutter & more external light.

Christmas 1983

The Word Is 

this was this word 

I knew a child

it was Welsh or Gaelic

it meant love

a kind of love 

I no longer experience

<>

I learned it from a neighbour 

of my grandmother’s

when I was visiting Wales 

one summer

she gave me toast 

with mayo and tomatoes

she baked the bread herself

I’ve never tasted bread like that again

sort of burned and peppery

<>

I didn’t really like it

but I liked her

she taught me all these words

how to say things

I don’t remember

about plants playing 

the in sunlight

about kittens saving puppies

she made me laugh

<>

then I came back to Canada

all I could remember was that one word

the word I’ve forgotten

for love

not just any kind of love

I used to feel for a boy in school

he wasn’t even in my class

I would feel it whenever I saw him

but when I didn’t see him

I didn’t even think of him

I never even knew his name

just the way his eyes would make me feel

even if he wasn’t looking at me

I’d spot him

and feel this yearning

not to know him

but just to look at him

to watch him

playing with the other boys

they would run shout tackle each other

<>

if you asked me what I was feeling

I couldn’t tell you

I might have said that word 

I no longer remember

for a feeling I no longer have

for someone 

I can’t in my mind

beyond his eyes

<>

all I see is this scramble of bodies

tussling in the school yard dirt

then us lining up to go back into the school

sitting in rows in the class room

trying to learn math 

spelling

that feeling gone in the terror

of being asked to answer the teacher

I didn’t want to be there’

wanted to be lost in the feeling

in that yearning

<>

what was 

that word

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Amends

An acquaintance in recovery, someone whom at one time I guided through step work & some life decisions, called me recently. I haven’t heard from them in three or four years. They called to make an amend for their overly intellectual stance on sexual issues.

I wasn’t sure what to say. At the time I knew them, I never felt one way or the other about their stances on anything. I certainly was never offended or hurt by anything they said. An amend is to address damage done, offences given. When we went our separate ways it was with no rancour on my part. 

Part of the process of recovery is to grow & change & to move on when one feels it is time to do so. I didn’t see any need then, or now, for them to apologize for moving on with their growth. I listened while they went though their amend & didn’t feel the need to ask for any more information than they gave me. I said I accepted the amend. We joked a little about covid & keeping safe & that was that.

It did remind of the last time a member made an amend to me earlier in my recovery & I accepted it. A month later he accused me of not even being able to accept an amend – apparently I was supposed to say how much I appreciated their humility & how hard it must have been for them to make the amend to begin with. But much like this most recent amend I had felt nothing much about the incident he was being humble about.

I also kept that to myself – why diminish what was important to them by saying it was nothing to me. I did look back on our interaction -nothing that transpired stood out for me. I listened, they talked, I made supportive comments & when directly asked gave opinions. Life goes on. There’s no need to make amends for that.

Honesty

look I’m going to honest here

I like people to think

I’m one of those guys 

drawn to the inner light of a person

someone who has that unique gift 

to sense the tender spiritual values

the hesitant sweet flicker 

of the ethereal in a soul

and once I have that flicker

my heart is the candle lit by your flame

I fall in righteous burning love

<>

but let me tell you 

that is not the case here

I dig that way you look in those jeans

the hug of denim on your calves

that brush of hairy wrist

when your each across the table

is what gets me burning

I don’t give a fig for spiritual values

for all I care you could be 

a callow insufferable arrogant prick

really

I just want to get naked with you

I want to run my tongue over you

feel you do the same to me

<>

take you 

without the weight of personality 

don’t tell me your political views

your favorite sport team is irrelevant

the last book you read 

screw that

forget all pretences 

of being intellectual thinking creatures

and be the animals 

we are ashamed to be

<>

I don’t even have to see you again

I won’t give you a phone number

don’t want yours

I just want you

head to toe

mouth to mouth 

<>

wipe that shocked look 

off your face

it only comes from 

all those years of inculcation 

that to act like barn yard animals

is somehow less that honourable

that to give in even once

to the rutting gut busting urge

is demeaning  isn’t right

who wants to be right

when it feel so right

<>

come on

I’m ready to drop my pretences

as fast as you can drop your pants

look I’m being honest with you

I know how rare that may be

when we have to commodify desire

to mask lust as art or apologize for it 

but I’m not into apologies

unless its to say I’ll be sorry

if we let this chance go by

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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

October 2020 Recap

Over the month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to! The October WP map show my hits have come from 37 countries around the world. That India falls to 2nd place with the USA taking first. Hello Luxembourg! Hola Mexico! I even received some donations via paypal 🙂 My Tumblr is at 300, Twitter at 240 followers.

Plugging away at Picture Picture & am into the 2nd nano year of the original drafts. I made an abrupt jump from where I left off in year one. That first year I got really caught up in my hero’s back story – which was threatening to take over the book at the time – so started year 2 with the reality show investigation of those missing children. Picture Perfect so far: 42 sections, about 65,000 words posted with approx 122,000 left to be edited. 

October hasn’t see any drastic domestic changes except for the spike in covid. Restrictions around that have little impact on my daily life. Not giving out candy on Halloween is a bit of a relief – though I did buy a face mask to wear for the occasion. No candy sales in the hotspots though. I have been enjoying neighbourhood dedication to spooky decorating – Halloween is the one holiday that hasn’t been co-opted by any religion.

Wrapped up the annotated Distant Music, I had planned to just do it for the summer but couldn’t stop in the middle of the book. Went back to the inputs of my 1970 novel Allen Time. POV slips around in a fun way. There is almost no action! Allen thinks a lot though. Considering what to do next with this piece of juvenilia. 

Expanded my zoom life by adding another recovery meeting to the two I already log into. Checked out several before picking the one to add. With zoom one can find a meeting to fit nearly any time of the day, though for some you have to figure out time zones, for others figuring out the format is the challenge. I rarely turn on my camera though. Too many moving figures is distracting. I’m really not interesting in watching 30+ fidgeting people at one time & don’t want to add to that number. I end up minimizing the screen anyway to sound only – uses less bandwidth. 

TV remains our prime source of entertainment. Besides documentaries on Ancient Egypt, the science of the brain I’ve been watching an adaptation of ‘War Of The Worlds.’ Some serious eye-candy has kept watching as the plot is over-wrought emotional confrontations between the people under attack. The robot dog/spiders are excellent. Finished season one of Broadchurch – intense but stretched out. We’ll start season two once we finish Brave New World: another adaptation but it stick a bit closer to the characters & general plot of the novel. It even had real laughs.

Also watched some excellent, if a bit difficult movies. Beau Travail dr Claire Denis – (loosely based on Billy Budd – set in Djbouti; Sleepwalking Land dr. Teresa Prata; Mozambique; Mouchette dr. Robert Bresson: rural France. All visually stunning, brilliantly performed – all addressing the nature of masculinity & growing up. Each with a narrative logic that at times makes you question who is telling the story & all leaving some of the story up to the viewer to tell. Rewarding & worth seeing.

November brings back pieces prompted by the 227 Rules for Monks on Wednesday. Music works fine on Thursdays, the Sunday photo blog has proved to popular enough for me to keep it going. Monday remains free-for-all, but also where I’ll chatter on about objects in my house & of course my covid19 musings. Picture Perfect will continue on Tuesdays.

Crawling Back To Me

nothing is more arousing 

than obedience

someone who says 

‘what can I do 

to bring you pleasure

I will to do what you want’

someone who doesn’t 

hint at other pleasures

till the time is right

who is cheerfully compliant

to my desires

each& every time

eager and ready

obedient and responsive

never complaining 

never holding them selves in check

asking

what more would you like to do

someone who has no complaints

about your shoes

or the way you smell at any time

who has enough of a life

of their own

that there are no recriminations 

when you don’t call everyday

someone who doesn’t need 

constant reassurance that you care

even you don’t care

but merely happy to enjoy 

the happenstance of your company

yes give me obedience over looks

over money 

because no matter how cute they are 

how rich they are

if they aren’t willing

what’s the point

if they have their own demands

the balance shifts

takes away my gratification

then it’s too late

for them to come

crawling back to me

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

Distant Music

Distant Music

<>

1

<>

hush … can you hear the cat music

playing on flaying pigeon wings?

it brings out the hidden claws

of the once delicate lap warmer

now leaping wildly off the thinnest edge

to the beat of singing sounds

stirring safely behind glass

<>

2

<>

wittingly filling the room

with clicky busy city sounds

a thousand tiny tappers

rapping rhythms into the air

faster faster faster still

yet never flying to pieces

as I feel like doing

while lazily scrawling

symmetrical patterns

from my random pressures

wondering if the jazz flow

sounds as smooth to others

as it does to me

<>

3

<>

sometime I cannot make the energy

to go back over the old wrinkles

to make them smooth & clean

for the defining eyes of pryers;

I end up in some big armed chair

where I sit & stare so long

that I become a pile of creaking bones

yellowing skin & longing songs

<>

beside me now are empty chairs,

in front, beyond naked window.

crawls the night city sparkling

like a cluster of earth-bound stars

the wind whistles in dance

up & down the barren streets;

someone must be out there

to turn off & on all the stars;

but I cannot move

beyond these empty chairs

<>

while the dark & sullen moon

turns the stars aside to guide me

into letting the oars slip from my craft

so I can drift at last into my lover

<>

4

<>

changed are the ways of this Welsh lad

the days of longing are upon him now

with the first hint of cornfed comfort

making the long-by-gones seem so fine

here in the middle of my toss-up time

<>

I keep getting the feeling one gets

on dark, rain-spun, cloud-thick days

while looking out great bay windows

knees resting on velvet window seat

watching the mist nest in the elms

dawdling lazy-grey over the endless fields

of early morning English country side;

we discuss cricket or the government –

“frightfully so …

“rather, shall we say, common …

hey! hey!

stop the wheels before we go out of control

I’ve never been this close to that home

till now, & I hope, maybe, somehow

the clouds will have lifted by the time

I step, spanking-new, over-night, into there

<>

5

<>

hush … can you feel the man sounds

sailing on wailing baby cries 

it tries out the reveal cause

of the never ready bed charmer

now pacing softly the thickest floors

to the hum of distant music

floating unsure from Welsh hill

<>

Oct73

1 – I was visiting a friend in Halifax when I wrote this first section. I went there to see him & also to buy music that didn’t exist in the Sydney record store. One of the albums was of electronic/experimental music by the likes of Pauline Oliveros – yes even then I was pretentious enough to like the real thing 🙂 The music pulsed like wings flapping. My friend’s cat jumped up to the window ledge to confront the pigeons in the balcony but there were none there.

‘the thinnest edge’ is how one can leap to the wrong conclusion & get caught trying to figure out how to get back to solid ground. I’ve always had a ‘fear’ of balconies.

2 – I always write to music. These were the days of manual typewriters, when working on a manuscript could be retyping a whole page to correct a single typo. I was an okay typist & loved the sound in my workroom of the click of keys, the tempo of the pounding. Then I could never type fast enough to capture what I was thinking. 

I think the music I was more fascinated by was Santana’s Abraxas – chasing a thousand tiny percussionists with my keyboard. I was also digging Weather Report, Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. Writing as fast I could before I flew to pieces.

3 – The old wrinkles are typos, edits, rewriting, re-sequencing the verses in a poem. I was also writing a novel at the time so energy was flowing in several directions. ‘creaking bones’ echoes ‘skin & bones’ from an earlier poem. The final verse is a direct reference to Dylan Thomas’s “In my Craft or Sullen Art.” Though at this time I had no lover to drift into.

4 – The Welsh connection continues in this section. This sense of of my heritage doesn’t appear in the chapbook until now. There is a feeling of the east coast, of Cape Breton, that is present in some of the pieces but here I am relishing, or it is wallowing, in my own roots.

After traversing Egypt, Japan, Africa & am brought back to my ‘toss-up time’ & my own origins. The workshops at UNB were acknowledgements of me as a writer – the ‘toss-up’ was the decision of what to do with my expectations of being taken seriously. Was it to dream of this romantic ‘velvet window seat’ success or something more realistic?

5 – a reprise, with variations, of the first part of this poem. ‘cat music’ becomes ‘ man sounds.’ ‘bed charmer’ echoes ‘bed-ridden’ from The Last Waltz  to give the whole book as sense of completion. The first piece in the collection invites you to ‘set sail on my body’ – this last verse asks you to ‘hear the man sounds/ sailing off wailing baby cries.’ The book progresses from that boy to this man. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Picture Perfect 34

Picture Perfect 34

David Dell was waiting for them at reception when they went into his office.

“Nice to see you, Daniel.” 

“Good to half-see you, David. You remember Sanjay?”

“Oh, yes, of course. Come into my office.”

Dan always liked the comfy client chairs at Dell and Strong. He wished his Depot office was large enough for them.

“What can I do for you?” Dell asked once he was seated.

“I’ll let Sanjay tell you.”

Sanjay explained about the partnership deal, the money needed and what Sylvan brought to the deal as well.

“Half-a-million isn’t an insubstantial amount.” Dell leaned back in his chair. “So, Daniel, were you considering this as a personal loan or as an investment by James Photo.”

“Basically, I want to know if I was in a position to make this sort of capital outlay.”

“Let me check your records.” He pulled up a some files on his computer. “Oh!”

“What is it?” Daniel asked.

“First as a personal … investment. You might swing it with your house as collateral. You’ve done a fair amount work on over the last couple of years and your area is doing exceptionally well on the housing market.”

“Good.”

“But as James Photo, because of the way the corporation is set up, for such a substantial amount you would need all three of the partners to sign off on it. Even then, until the other deal is fulfilled that wouldn’t be possible.”

“Other deal?” Daniel asked.

“The one with Cuppa’s. Your sister obtained a line of credit for twenty hundred for that.”

“Two hundred thousand?” Daniel asked.

“Yes. Surely she told you how much, when you signed off on it?”

“No, she didn’t. Do you have the agreement so I can refresh my memory.”

David went to the door. “Deena can you bring me the James Family Photo file.” He waited at the door until she returned with them. “Thank you.”

He opened the folder, quickly flipped to a document and turned so it faced Dan.

“You see there’s the amount.” He flipped it to the last page. “There’s your signature. Right under your mother’s.”

He looked at Sanjay. “I’ve never seen this document before.”

“That’s a very serious allegation Daniel.” David said. 

Dan’s mind was reeling. He rubbed at the pain around his eyes. “What’s the date on it?” he asked but he didn’t hear the answer.

“I’m sorry. I’m not feeling so well.” He mumbled. “I need some fresh air.”

Sanjay steadied him as he stood.

He took a couple of deep breaths. “I may be mistaken. I do recall co-signing some contracts for Linda at about that time. Let me speak with her. I’ll be back later in the week, with her, if needed.”

“Of course Mr. James. What about the other matter.”

“Now that I know where I stand financially Sanjay and I have some things to discuss.”

“Thank you Mr Dell.” Sanjay shook David’s hand.

They went out to the car. “I will drive.”

“Not yet. I have to walk and breathe. You wait here.”

Linda wouldn’t forge his signature on a document. He must have signed it and forgotten or not realized it when he was signing the FairVista invoices. Surely she didn’t forge his approval. After all he was a documents specialist. He could find out if it was his signature. Then what? Press charges?

He went back to the car and got in.

“Are you alright?” Sanjay put his hand on Dan’s and squeezed it gently.

“I think so. It’s pretty clear though that with the house I might be able swing a mortgage for you. I’m not sure I want to do that though.”

“I understand. I didn’t realize your business was so complex.”

They drove home in silence. 

“I’m going to hit the sack.” Dan said. “My head is throbbing.”

“Should I give you a massage. That will help you sleep. Align your chakras for clearer thinking?”

“Tempting but no thanks. I won’t be up for much longer once I take a couple of pain killers.”

“There is always tomorrow.” He kissed Dan long and hard. “Now you relax for awhile while I get washed up. I’ll be in to tuck you in about ten minutes.”

Dan plodded up the stairs. What sort of scheme was Linda trying to pull anyway. It wasn’t as if he would have not signed on if she had approached him. They both had a talent for getting their way with the other. The thought of even confronting her about this made him sick to his stomach.

He took his clothes off and and sat on the edge of the bed. The air was cool and he shivered. What he wanted was Sanjay’s hands to warm him up. To take all this worry and pain. Mortgage the house?

He stretched out with his hands behind his head.

Sanjay came into the room.

“I was trying to figure out who these belong to?” He flipped a pair of underwear at Dan. 

They slipped off his chest and fell to the floor.

“Must be mine.” Dan groped for them.

“Neither of us owns Aussie Bums.” Sanjay said. “Unless you’ve been shopping while I was gone.”

Fuck they must be Peter’s!

“Maybe someone named Hamid does though.” Sanjay went to the guest bedroom and shut the door.

The next day Dan was getting to leave the house for his appointment at the eye clinic. His pain meds and sleeping pill had overrode the stress of the previous day. His mind was cluttered with various scripts where he said this and did that and Sanjay or Linda or Curtis would nod and back down slightly crestfallen and fully apologetic. He knew that talk often never leads to a solution and that the less he said would give people the rope they needed to hang themselves.

Sanjay was on the phone when he came down to the kitchen. Dan poured himself a cup of coffee.

Sanjay ended his call. “Mother is very excited about the anniversary and my visit. She sends her regards.”

“Fifty years is an achievement.” Dan said.

“Quite right. Sleep well?”

“As well as my meds allowed. You?”

“What do you think?” Sanjay sat at the kitchen table. “I was restless thinking of what has to change, between us.”

“Did you come up with anything other than these mixed signals.”

“How can you be so .. so … placid? I’m disappointed that you turned out to be like so many gay guys. Sleeping around at the drop of a hat.”

“He wasn’t wearing a hat.” Dan wasn’t going to be baited into defending his actions. “I was.”

“It isn’t that funny. To me.”

“It isn’t to me either but I did what I did. I’d probably do it again, whether we were married or not.”

“Don’t start in on your assimilationist bullshit. It’s just an excuse to to act out. It’s pathetic.”

“No more pathetic than your judgmental condescension.”

“Whatever.” Sanjay sighed sadly. “I hope you wore protection.”

“We didn’t go that far. And by the way, it wasn’t Hamid. One Desi at a time is more than enough for me.”

“I know it wasn’t some Desi guy.”

“Oh? Aussie Bum not Punjabi style.”

“Dan, you aren’t the only one who knows how to check the video security logs.”

“You did that?”


“I couldn’t sleep. I had to know who it was. I came down and went through them. A little young for you and rather pale too.”

“Yes to both. We never did discuss the age gap.”

“His face wasn’t on camera long enough for me recognize him.”

“It doesn’t matter who.”

“Must have been someone you knew. Maybe tricked with before.”

“You sound pretty sure of that.”

“You’d never bring a stranger back to the house. You’re too paranoid for that, I know you. So it had to be someone you were familiar with. I’d’ve guessed Silver’s assistant but he isn’t as tall as this guy. ”

“You’ve been watching too much CSI.”

“But,” Sanjay took the underwear out his back pocket and smelled it. “By the aroma of sweat and caffeine I’d guess someone who works in a coffee shop.”

Dan grabbed the undies from Sanjay. “What’s the point of this? You’re trying to turn this into some you-betrayed-me scene and that isn’t going to happen. So I had sex with someone. Here in the house.”

“In our bed?”

“Sanjay get over it. I haven’t ‘tricked’ as you called it, with another man for years, not once you moved in here.”

“Oh, so for the first couple years you were getting your dick wet whenever you could?”

“No more than you were!”

“Me.”

“When did you stop seeing Harold? Before or after you moved in here?”

“Harold was … well, he wasn’t some teenage trick. You knew about him when we met.”

“Not that you were still fucking him”

“It’s that kid at the Carafe.” Sanjay snapped his fingers. “I thought he looked familiar.”

“So it is.” Dan took off his house slippers and put on his runners.

“You are old enough to be his father.”

Dan went to the hall to make sure he had what he’d need for the day in his shoulder bag. “Should I take my iPad?”

“I don’t care. We were …”

“No. You were …. whatever. I have to get a move on. I should be home for supper. You’ll be here?”

“How can you be cold?” Sanjay asked.

“Frankly, Sanjay either you’ll stay or you’ll go. Or do you just want another chance to line up my chakras for a mortgage?”

<>

He caught the Queen streetcar. One down and two to go, Dan thought. Confronting Linda could wait till his regular Friday at FairVista. He texted Dell and Strong that he would drop in to re-read the Cuppa contract. He texted Curtis next to find out what progress there was on the cold case project. Funny how having one eye forces you focus on one thing at a time. Fewer distractions.

He got off at University and walked up to the the clinic. Dr. Grey was pleased with his progress and suggested he could use the eye for short periods of time as long as he kept it away from bight lights or glare.

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Picture Perfect 33

In the morning he called Dell and Strong to follow up on his email. He was able to get an appointment to see one of them at 3. If Sanjay was serious about this partnership Dan wanted to make sure it was feasible.

A courier came to the door with the proposal from Baxter. He flipped through it. Eye See would entail a six episode arc of one hour shows, each devoted a one of the missing children, and one to review all the findings. He was to examine documents and photographs while he interviewed members of each of the families. 

The shoot would start in late June or early July too take advantage of the ‘scenic’ locations and possibly attract some provincial tourism investments.  There was an initial itinerary of dates, locations that they would be following once they secured consent from all the families. They could shoot around lack of consent by reexamining newspaper clippings of the time and local people’s memories.

Dan sorted through the papers looking for a contract of some sort but there was none. What good was a proposal if it didn’t say how much they were offering to pay him? 

He looked in the envelope and there was one last page that got gotten stuck. It was a handwritten letter from Curtis.

“Dan –

Here is the basic package. Financial details to follow. Perhaps you would interested in a co-production and end up with more than just the standard ACTRA fees.

Let me know what you think

Curtis.”

What were standard ACTRA fees? Crap he was going to need a show biz lawyer to guide him through this shit.

His cell rang.

“Hi babe.” It was Sanjay. “I’m should be home in about an hour. Had to stop for a coffee.”

“Great! I’ll be here with eye patches on.”

“Nothing more?”

“You’ll find that out when you get here.”

“Tease. Bye.”

That meant Sanjay would be home by noon. They’d have a couple of hours to discuss the restaurant proposal and even a make out session. No, this wasn’t to be that sort of reunion. The memory of Peter’s glowing butt cheeks got him hard.

He cleared up the food containers that he’d let pile up over the week. He washed the dishes he’d been neglecting. The flowers Curtis had sent were still where he had put them. They could go into the composter. The vase he tossed into the trash. Not worth saving or explaining.

He put his bedding and damp towels into the washing machine. He didn’t want to risk any olfactory evidence of his play with Peter. Clean sheets on to the bed – clean towels in the bathroom. Tidy enough but not too neat either. 

His cell rang. Call display told him it was Curtis.

“Did you read the proposal?” 

“Yes.”

“What do you think of the title Eye See?”

“I hope it’s a working title. You avoided the important issue.”

“You want your name above the credits? Daniel James’s Eye See? That’s co-pro territory.”

“Threatening to make me a household name isn’t going to get you anywhere. Direct answers will.”

“I can’t help it. I get juiced by new ideas and project and get ahead of myself. My brain thinks faster than …”

“Logic? Practicality?”

“Something like that. But what do you think of the concept, the time line.”

“It sounds doable. I’m not sure I want to spend that much time away from my business though.”

“You won’t have to. It’s easy enough to fly in for each of the shoots themselves. They won’t take more than a day each out of your time. The crew will do the other stuff like location shots and prepping the next location.”

“So that means what? Six days of shoots.”

“That’s right plus whatever we need to do here in Toronto. That shouldn’t take more than another day.”

Dan remained silent.

“You’ll to be paid for whatever research you do.”

“Dan remained silent.

“At your usual rate.”

“What is the ACTRA rate?”

“It varies for hosts, but we’ll offer $2000. for each episode. We’ll be paying for flights, hotels that sort of thing.”

“I’ll want all that in writing. With actual figures.”

“Of course. I’m seeing the Quintex people this afternoon. If you came along it would make it a perfect pitch.”

“I can’t. I already have another commitment.”

“How’s the eye? I’m so, so sorry about all that.”

“I’m recovering. I should be able to play the piano again soon.”

“What?”

“A little joke. I’ll be back to work at the Depot tomorrow or Wednesday.” He almost added ‘I only believe about ten percent of what you tell me Mr. Baxter.’ But opted to keep his doubts to himself. 

“Okay. We’ll talk soon. Bye.”

As he shut off his phone he heard Sanjay pulling into the garage.

“You made good time.” He said as Sanjay came into the kitchen.

“To you perhaps, but I thought I would never get here. Not as bad as driving in Kolkata but still not pleasant. How is this?” He gently touched Dan’s cheek.

“Improved. No real pain anymore. Sore. Only hurts when I look.”

“It is nothing to joke about.”

“If it had been worse I might not be joking.”

They clasped each other, kissing and running their hands over each others backs and butts until Dan pushed away.

“No handy busboys for you in Bobcaygeon?”

“Too early in the season for tender college boys. Besides you know I like them well-seasoned and mature.” Sanjay was pulling Dan’s tee shirt up.

“Slow down.” Dan disengaged. “We have important things to discuss.”

“That can wait.” Sanjay grappled with him again.

“You always use sex to divert my attention.” Dan was glad that after his encounter with Peter his need for sex had been dampened. “Beside the pain meds sort of make me … you know.” He glanced down at his crotch. “I want to to be good for both of us.”

“They better wear off before tonight.” Sanjay grinned. “Or I can’t promise to maintain my restraint.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere. We have an appointment with Dell this afternoon. Before making any decisions about your partnership opportunity we should see where we actually stand financially.”

“So you are seriously considering it? I wasn’t sure you would.”

“When did Sylvan spring it on you?”
They went to the living room and sat on the couch.

“He’d hinted at it a few time but when I mentioned to him that I was considering a move back to India be with my family he wanted to know if I was unhappy with my work here. It came around to him asking if I wanted in on the businesses. He plans to continuing expanding and it made sense to him to have his star chef as more than an employee.”

“It’s about time he realized how important you are.”

“I’d rather be that important to you.” Sanjay got up from the couch and went to the kitchen.

Dan followed him. “Look, I’m willing to help if I can afford it.”

“If you want it/ you’ll knot it.” Sanjay sang.

“Not knot it again. Or are you just after me for my money?”

“You’re joking?” 

“Of course.”

“Good.” Sanjay put away the dishes Dan had left to air dry. “You don’t look like you’ve been going hungry.”

“Just because I don’t cook doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use a telephone. Linda sent a care package over to me. Lots of KFC. I know you can’t abide that in the house.”

“I thought I smelled a deep fried rat when I came in.”

“Of course she didn’t deign to deliver it personally so she sent it over with Hamid.”

“Hamid?”

“He works for Linda. I think is last name is Ranj … Randapati?”

“Ranjit?”

“Could be. He says it so fast I don’t want to make him repeat it. A northerner. I could tell by his accent. Not at all like yours.”

“You know a lot about him. Did he serve you more than food?”

“No! I doubt if his jalebi would be as good as yours.”

“What time did you say we were meeting Dell.”

“Three.” Dan looked at his phone. “We better get going. I’ll drive.”

“After that drive home I was hoping you would.”

“So how was the opening?” Dan asked once he got the car into traffic.

“Excellent but tiring. Sylvan asked all the local millionaires to come and rub elbows with some Toronto glitterati. It was like a one of those Tift movie openings. Actors you almost recognize meeting people whose names were once in the news all wanting to be seen with the people whose names and face you knew.”

“You get some autographs?”

“Not from this crowd. Trust me if it weren’t free they wouldn’t have been there. But there were people from Michelin. Sylvan wants another star and will probably get it.”

“Great.”

“Now tell me more about this Hamid.”

“I can’t really tell you much. He lost family in some uprising. He might be from somewhere around … Gurdaspur?”

“Then his name might not be Ranjit.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Some areas aren’t know for their good reputations.”

“All the more reason for him not to want to be there.”

“Those northern guys are notorious lungi lifters.”

“Lungi lifter?”

“Yes. Sleep with anything if the cash is right.”

“He seems genuine enough. Linda trusts him.”

“My point exactly.”

“Are you actually jealous?” Dan parked the car.

“Should I be?” Sanjay said shutting his door.

“Not of Hamid.” Dan kissed him quickly. Maybe of Peter, he thought.

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Woodstock Degeneration

Fifty-two years ago Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play – actually it was fifty-two years ago this past weekend that Woodstock became a cultural milestone – or was the milestone forged when the film was released? Whatever it did happen & now it serves as a landmark marketed as a product safe for everyone – it’s no long revolutionary or even cautionary. The music itself is mainstream nostalgia.

I have some of the cd releases that get progressively more encompassing to the point where they now include every announcement from the stage – I’m waiting for a cd set devoted to the helicopters landing. I have in my music collection the original lps release plus the full sets by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. I’ve even searched out cds by bands that played but that didn’t get recorded – Quill anyone? The live music overall suffers from uneven sound quality & at times bad miking – Hendrix’s set lacks the horn section which is clearly on stage playing with him. It has been mixed right out.

I’ve seen the film, the sequel, the collected bit that didn’t make it to the first two. Currently watching, for the 2nd time: ‘Woodstock: Three days that defined a generation’, an American Experience documentary (one of many) of people recollections about the festival: residents of Woodstock, the organizers, attendees, even some of the performers. 

I’ve read about it, heard about it from people who claim to have been there. One thing that is clear is that peace love was almost entirely a white heterosexual moment. The only openly queer person to appear on stage was the poet Alan Ginsberg. All the cuddling kissing couples in crowd shots are male/female pairs. I guess being hippies was bad enough they didn’t want the burden of real sexual openness. They might be counterculture but they weren’t degenerates.

I mention this because of the importance of representation. Were there lgbtq people at Woodstock? There must have been but they have mostly been erased. Free love was clearly not to be tainted by politically messy same-sex crap. There is one exception, that I know of – Taking Woodstock a 2009 film about the Woodstock Festival, directed by Ang Lee, based on the memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte. 

Did Woodstock define a generation? If it did it’s a very narrow definition & an even narrower generation. I heard about it in Cape Breton, I read about it in Rolling Stone, Time magazine. I may have seen some TV new coverage but there was no real political groundswell that lead to social change. Now it’s pledge fodder for PBS.

I’ll Scratch Yours

<>

it’s hard to accept 

that enough is never enough

I can scratch an itch

then minutes later 

need to scratch again

to get what I want 

leads to wanting more

if one-on-one is great 

a threesome is impossible to resist

<>

I’m a guy who can say no

but when I deny myself

I long to be praised

for not over indulging

on my way to sainthood 

when I want to gorge myself

the smug satisfaction of drawing a line

and sticking to it isn’t as rewarding 

as giving in one more time

<>

could be it that scratch

is not the solution to itch

should I try that zen approach

when the itch is ready 

the finger will appear

if only all it took was a finger

can I learn to live with that itch

for another cd another man in the sack

better car bigger house

whiter teeth faster downloads

snappier sneakers flashier T-shirts 

all calling  scratch me now

or forever regret all the opportunities 

missed by resisting

<>

even when I look away

I sense those glittering beacons

just out of reach

straining teasing demeaning me

till I’m on my knees

too weak to do anything 

except beg for some relief

<>

to live with hunger

goes against our get-it-now culture

admitting that I don’t really want to scratch

is met with disbelief

what’s wrong with me

I gotta get with the program

whatever the fuck that is

but how do I get rid of the itch

<>

isn’t there a way to feel free

be comfortable in my own skin

without the need to satisfy some urge

is this need to be free

just another in the long list of itches

<>

scratch my back

I’ll scratch yours

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Rainbow Pride EastEnd Toronto

More rainbow flags from around east end Toronto.

tree proud
bases covered
patriotic queers
more tree pride
porch proud
growing into pride
let it wave
pride is essential

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet