Chapter LXIII – Lillian’s Frustrations Increase

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXIII

Lillian’s

Frustrations

Increase

After her meeting with the magistrate Lillian went to St. Teresa’s to collect her thoughts and pray. While she was there it began to rain heavily. She regretted not bringing her umbrella with her as she walked briskly back to the courthouse for two o’clock. She paced back and forth in the lobby checking the time on the clock there each time she passed it. At 3:15 a clerk came out.

“Miss McTavish. Magistrate Doucet will see you now.”

She went into his office and sat in one of the arm chairs in front of his desk. 

He made notes for a few moments before looking. “Thank you or coming back Miss McTavish.”

“Is no one present to record what I have to say?” she asked.

“Not at this point Miss McTavish. The case, as it were, is almost settled. We may not have to waste any valuable court time on it. I’m merely getting the details to see if there is enough to warrant taking it trial. I’ve spoke with the two lads in question.”

“They denied everything I suppose?”

“On the contrary they confirmed much of what you suspected. But I do want to hear what it was exactly you saw.”

“They were naked and touching each other’s private parts. Smiling while they enjoyed …” she shuddered at what she had seen. “Unnatural expressions in their eyes.”

“Where were you when you saw this.”

“Blue Lake on the south shore side.”

“Yes, I know the area. Good fishing at times. Sun was in your eyes at all?”

“There was a slight glare from the water but my vision was clear.”

“About how far from them where you?”

“I … I don’t know.” Was he doubting what she saw? “I know what I saw. It was a clear as …” she glanced out the window and peered across to the other side of the street, “the lace on the curtains in that window across the street.”

“I see,” he answered without looking where she was looking. “Miss McTavish as an outsider you have been quick to adapt our Island life. But you know that in some matters of decorum we are quite different. We tend to be less formal, less concerned with appearance. For example swimming in the nude amongst men in what is usually a private setting, is not at all unusually. I even did it myself often in my youth.”

“They were not swimming when I saw them” Lillian said firmly.

“You did observe them in the water didn’t you?”

“Yes.” Lillian blushed at the momentary pleasure she had taken in watching them in the water.

“Have you seen many men in the nude?” He asked gently.

“Never!” she exploded. “But this was more …”

“I can easily see how a young, delicate, lady such as yourself would be flustered by such a sight. It would have offended your refined sensibilities. Quite rightly so.” He chuckled. “But to impute more to what you saw than that is a gross overstatement. An over-reaction to the situation. But given recent events in your life. After the death of Mr. O’Dowell, I can see where your mien could be unsettled by such an unexpected and unwelcome sight.”

“It was not their nudity …” Lillian stood to make her point.

“Mrs. O’Dowell, I am dismayed that a female of your breeding would even countenance such thoughts as you have hinted at. An awareness of such unspeakable acts does not reflect well upon you or your family. Now sit down.”

She sat glaring at him

“Now, even if what you say is true, let me tell you now, nothing more will be done about this matter. Any attempts by you to besmirch these men will only sully the memory of the late Steve O’Dowell and the other men who died in that tragic accident.”

“Sully?” Lillian said. “Sully?”

“Yes, sully. This sort of sordid stain will taint memory forever. Birk Nelson was instrumental in that rescue. Leave it be.” He said forcefully

“I refuse.” She stood again. “You may not have the moral fortitude to take action …”

“Mrs. O’Dowell!”

“These people cannot be allowed to live such a way!”

“I see no evidence of that in this case. It is more case of a silly, grief stricken, woman being alarmed by a naked man.”

“It was more than that. Much more.” She slammed the palms of her hands on the desk. “Don’t these people care at all?”

“Mrs. O’Dowell.” He said quietly. “After working twelve hours in a dark, dank, wet, lightless hole they have little time or energy to care for much more than getting food, sleep and back to work another day. How they might seek even a small bit of pleasure is of no great importance. To other men, or to God. Good day Miss McTavish.” He went to the door and opened it for her.

“I will speak to the Bishop about this matter.” she said as she passed him.

“Consult with whom you wish.”

“They cannot be let off scot-free.”

“They haven’t been. Public nudity is an offence, as is creating a public mischief. They have both been charged and pled guilty to those charges.”

Lillian wanted to slap the tight smirk off the magistrate’s face. Treating her as if she were merely a hysterical female was bad enough but to indulge these men in their behaviour was too much.

She fumed all the way across the bay and back to the O’Dowell house. The windows in her room rattled as she slammed the door behind her. She sat heavily on the chair in front of her vanity table. Her face was drawn and pale. Her forehead and eyebrow muscles ached, her jaw was sore from being clenched. She tanked off her hat, took the pins out of her hair and began to brush it relishing the sharp pain on her scalp as she tugged at the snarls.

She heard the front door open and close.

“Are you in Lillian?” Clara called from the bottom of the stairs.

“Yes, Clara.” She shook her hair out and wrapped it in a quick braid as she went down the stairs.

“That scowl tells me things didn’t go as you expected.” 

“No Clara, they did not. Not that I’m surprised. The spiritual laxness of these people is a bottomless pit.”

“It is a struggle we all deal with in one way or the other.” Clara agreed. “Some sins are more visible than others. It’s those unseen ones we must be particularly vigilant about. Pride leads the list.”

“Pride! These people have no pride!” Lillian exploded. “If they had any pride they would not live as they do.”

“It’s not their pride or lack of it that I’m speaking of, but yours, my dear.”

“Mine!” Lillian was shaken.

“Yes, yours. When I first met you at Father Patrick’s I saw that in you. You felt you were better than the circumstance into which you had fallen. In some ways that was justified and I admired your stubbornness in refusing to let yourself be humbled by it.”

“I was humbled.” Lillian said.

“No! Humiliated but not humbled. Then when you came to us even your gratitude had an element of ‘look how I’m lowering myself to be of help to you. I may be refined but I’m willing to be a garden drudge.’ You demanded to have your sacrifice  recognized, acknowledged.”

“I did not!” Lillian said.

“Never in words. Even with Steven you sometimes acted as if you were doing him a great favour when you appeared with him. Never did it appear that you were there because you loved him but because it was duty.” Clara stopped to sip her tea.

“I married him for …”

“Don’t say for love. How could you deny a dying man his final wish?” Clara said.

“I … didn’t know he was about to die.” Lillian wiped a tear from her face. “Are you quite finished?”

“I might ask you the same question. Are you quite finished?”

“If by that you do I know what I’m going to do. The answer is no. I have limited resources and clearly no options, but I’m not finished.” Lillian sighed then cried bitterly. “I don’t what to do next.”

“Look to your heart Lillian not to your head or your pride. What do you truly want?”

Lillian stood. “More than anything I’d want to feel that  I have a future. To be free.”

 

She went out the garden. The rain had stopped and the plants were eager to turn to face the setting sun. Some of what Clara had said was true but she was wrong about one thing. Lillian had never felt she was a drudge in the garden. There she was in control. She had made it possible for some plants to thrive, to come back to life after years of neglect. She had seen the results of her efforts in the fresh herbs they had for salads, the ripening tomatoes, the new shoots that had formed on the climbing rose. 

With her own hands she had shaped and encouraged and had be rewarded amply. 

She pulled off some sage leaves and crushed them. The aroma was of the earth, of life and she had to find a way to be free to be a part of it. Here all she could do was crush it between her fingers or be crushed by it.

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Golden Bible

One of my recent Cape Breton posts mentions the the Oxford Dictionary  my family bought when I was but a child 🙂 It was grocery story lure – buy a section each week or spend so much & get the next section free. In the days before points cards this was popular along with green stamps. You’d get so many stamps with each purchase, paste them into books just for that purpose & when you had enough redeem them for stuff like dolls, kitchen gadgets.

On my books shelves I have two sets of books collected as supermarket promotions. One is ‘The Bible Story Library – Four volumes – 1956 -Educational Book Guild – New York.’ Lavishly illustrated with original vibrant color pictures, plus endless etching from the likes of Dore, plus murky photos of other religious art. I can remembering during over the etching that provided a pre-teen me with glimpses of nude men & women struggling in the Flood, or sprawled out in various battle scenes. Looking at it today I’m amazed the great six-packs so many of these guys had.

The set I have isn’t my original. I don’t remember what became of it. It didn’t turn up the boxes of my books that my Dad had stored away when I moved out. (Those boxes contained lots of Tom Swift Jr, & Hardy Brothers) I remember my second summer here in Toronto – 1979 – I had been wondering what happened to those books. Shortly after that I went in a huge sale an action house was having. endless boxes of books all over the parking lot and & found Volume 2 in one of the boxes. After about an hour of searching I found all four volumes.

The other set is ‘The Golden Book Encyclopedia – sixteen volumes – 3rd printing – 1960 – some (c)1940 – Golden Press – New York.’ Another lavishly illustrated set of books. I loved the hyper-real covers on each volume. The content was written for children & so hasn’t aged well 🙂 The illustrations are wonderful though, some in a campy way, but all well executed. I loved reading these when I was on the can.

My originals became quite tattered from use & abuse. I can’t recall very using them to research anything for school. The set I have now is not my original set but one which I ‘inherited’ from a friend who was moving & asked if I might be interested. When I was asked I had no idea what encyclopedia set it was but I said yes & I was delighted it was this particular one from my childhood.

These all come from Sobeys in Sydney. They also offered cooking sets, dishes, the same way – buy a different piece each week. There was once a set Classical Masterpieces lps, a set of geography books, but I don’t think my folks bought these.

Unswearing In Ceremony

how can I unswear allegiance

to my heart  mind

to my body  hormones

each time I think this is it

there’s another time

 

you hold your hand to my heart

you swear you’ll change 

that reform is possible

my head tells me 

you will never hold true to this vow

I smile & keep that to myself

 

knowing better and doing better 

are such different things

as much as I know better 

doing you is better than not doing you

 

there is the paradox of an oath 

I never took 

never signed 

never swore to you

unconsciously I have taken it

to be accepting  forgiving

not to make plans

when I know you will never fulfill 

even the simplest promise

of texting when you say you’d text

 

your dedication to the job

takes priority over your personal life

in fact it is your escape from it

that job is your bottle

you can’t help yourself

it blots out everything outside of it

even when you are told not to be there

you are there to tie up loose ends

that tie you up for days on end

 

I’m trying to swear off you

no more of this bullshit

while a part of me rather likes

getting caught up

in this hurt slightly martyred feeling

which has a certain sweet reward all of its own

I can pine at a window

hoping the car driving down the street is yours

when I know very well it’ll never be yours

 

having texts 

to long for

has a tang of romance 

of humanness

lets me feel less self contained & distant

wishing there was something I could do

but all I can alter is myself

 

you are an addict 

the grace that’ll reach you 

could work through me

but I’m not holding my breath

soon 

I may not even be holding my hand 

out to you

except to wave good bye

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Fortress of Louisbourg Photos

Model of original Fortress – area in pink is where most of reconstruction has been done so far

along the Quay – cloudy big sky

table set in guard room

things to play with: costumed guide, fiddle, cards, checkers

period water sprinkler system in Grandchamp Inn

pea soup, coffee & bread in Grandchamp Inn

children at play outside Grandchamp Inn

waitresses luring customers into the Grandchamp Inn

for more about my visit to the Fortress see:

Cape Breton Day 5 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3FU 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Make-A-Scene

repost out of the archives

TOpoet

Back to school changes even the lives of those with no kids, or need to go back to school themselves. I live in a hub of schools – at least 8 within walking distance of my place. The start of term means more police cars driving up and down our laneway, fresh tags on our garage door and clumps of smoking teens by the little store that only opens for the school term (2019 note: closed a few years ago).

tags

Some years I sign up for some sort of fall workshop – past years have been the UofT poetry master class, Jacob Scheier’s writing about loss at Ryerson, Spoken Word with Andrea Thompson at OCAD – this year I twigged (thanks to Lizzie Violet) to an Allan Turner workshop: Make-a-Scene – it is lead by a zombie clown, so my spoken-word might become spooken-word in time for my Go…

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Polar Bears and Rinoceroses

 

I love love love Jules & the Polar Bears’ two lps Got No Breeding & fəˈnet̬·ɪks. We’re talking early 80s – this is power pop-rock with a Talking Heads influence, rapid fire lyrics that are amazing. I am still amazing that this band didn’t become a smash hit – maybe the lyrics were too literate? Jules Shear is a sort of industry legend who never broke big, like Linda Perry.

 

The songs are are dense, light-hearted, bouncy, thoughtful & are full of great harmonies, complex arrangements. Romance, memory (The Smell of Home) all with a wry turn of phrase. I had these as lps, now as mp3 & always love love hearing them again & again.

To the mp3 CD I added a couple of lps by Rinôçérôse: Schizophonia; Futurino. Their use of accents made them a natural fit with ‘fəˈnet̬·ɪks’ 🙂 I have several recordings of this French duo that started out with a guitar based French House electronica sound which became more rock than electronica. Slightly experimental, absurdist lyrically, inventive and fun. These are later recordings & are show the progression of this band well. If you are unfamiliar check out their first release ‘installation sonore.’

 

 

Also, for no particular reasons I rounded out this mp3 collection Led Zeppelin’s BBC Sessions. Live takes on songs from their first albums & some songs that only appear here. The band was tight, they don’t try to replicate the studio versions. The Dazed & Confused in this set is amazing & makes it clear that, at this point in time, the band was fearless, extravagant & focused.

Intimacy

The sheets were white. The blanket, a pale pink that might have held more color at one time but was slowly becoming white. My Dad lay on the bed, on top of the blanket.

‘Not ready to get between those sheets yet.’ he smiled up at me.

‘Doesn’t feel too bad.’ I ran my hand under the blanket to feel the sheets. Cool but soft. I expected them to be hard, crisp.

‘Just one step closer to the grave.’ My Dad looked away from me.

‘Dad, this is a check-up, not a check-out.’

‘Same thing. Same thing.’

He was nearly eighty but still had full color in his hair, a firm solid, body from constant walking everywhere and anywhere. More walking since he retired. It was to keep his bone mass up. The better the bone mass the safer his hips and knees would be if he fell.

‘Dad this is just a regular check up, unless there’s something you haven’t told me?’

He looked back at me. I could tell that there was.

‘Jen … I …’

‘What?’ My heart skipped a beat. ‘What?’

‘You remember … No, I can’t tell you … never could …’ he sank into the bad and covered his eyes with his hand.

‘Tell me what? Are you in worse shape than you let on?’

‘I’m … I mean … your mother never knew … I want you to know that she never knew …’

‘Never knew what? What? Dad, tell me?’ I pulled his hand away from his face.

‘There was someone …. I mean …’

‘What? Do I have a half-brother or sister somewhere? Is that it?’ I knew my Dad was a randy guy. Always flirted with women at parties. I could see him at our bbq’s in the back yard laughing and hugging the wives of his friends. That he might have had an affair wouldn’t have surprised me.

‘No. That’s why this is so hard … I want you to know .. so you won’t find out when you … when I die … You remember Chuck and Grace.’

‘Grace? That mousy little thing? But Grace?’

‘No. Chuck.’

‘Chuck? What about Chuck.’

‘He was my lover.’

The room spun around me for a moment. Was I hearing right?

‘You and Chuck. What?’

‘It was an intimacy I never felt with your mother … with any woman …’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep

the owner of the cafe

had called someone

an inappropriate name

it was a twitter thing

a video 

posted of the 

owner saying 

those offensive things

now no one can go

to the cafe

without being considered guilty

of saying those things themselves

 

now

to be honest

I haven’t heard

what the owner said

I haven’t watched the video

this is all the context I know

and now

I can’t even mention the name

of the cafe

I can’t even admit 

that I’ve been there

in the past

or let it be known

that I regret

that I can’t go to that cafe

ever again


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Discernment

Discernment

I don’t like everyone

or everything

but I no longer waste energy

demonstrating my dislike

at one time it was 

a sort of performance piece 

to prove how superior I was

to what I disliked

it gave me a sense of self

defined by those opinions

 

as I aged

I saw that it made life easier

to stop scattering my energy 

on what I disliked

or even specific people

and focus that energy on 

keeping my mouth shut

so that even when asked

what do I think of so-and-so

I’d resist going into the litany

of someone else’s foibles

I’d say they can be difficult

and let it go at that

 

besides

I have more productive things to do

than talk about 

the egotistical ways of others

let’s talk about me

for a change

This was partially prompted by a discussion I had with a friend about how our likes change without us being aware of it. His example was Jerry Lewis – an actor we both found hilarious at one time but now makes him cringe to the point he can’t watch Lewis in anything. So when TCM showed The Bellhop, & The Nutty Professor I pvr-ed them both. Five minutes of each was more than enough to give me cringe spasms.

As hard as it is to believe I was once a mouthy, opinionated prick – as they say the less I knew the more judgemental my remarks became. I lost one drinking friend over a difference of opinions about something neither of us really cared about. Being critical was a proof on intelligence, of discernment. It wasn’t enough to dislike something one had to dismember it verbally. If you hurt someone’s feelings in the process – such was life.

 

I want to say I out-grew Jerry Lewis but that implies that those who love him aren’t as sophisticated or as mature as I am. Not that I expect to have a discussion about him ever again anyway but … there are often opportunities for me to venture opinions on popular trends, political situations that I usually take a pass on. I don’t have opinions I only have smart-assed one-liners.

 

I can’t pretend to be non-judgemental. I choose not to hang out with recreational drug users – I get tired of repeating what i said five minutes ago while they repeat what they said ten minutes ago every ten minutes. I also know that my likes or dislikes are often irrelevant anyway. When someone asked what I think I know they only me to agree with them or want to tell me what they think.

I love the way this piece ends with ‘me’ taking on the role of the one who wants to be talked about – I am never the one who ‘can be difficult’ 🙂
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Chapter LXII – Birk Faces Father Patrick

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXII

Birk

Faces

Father Patrick

It was raining as Birk walked away from the court house. He peered around for Clancy but didn’t see him. He’s been to Sydney many times but never on his own. It was clear walking was the only way he would be getting home. He had no money for bus fare. He hoped he was walking in the right direction.

When he got to the corner of Charlotte St. and Pitt St. he was reassured. He could smell the harbour front from there and kept going in that direction. One of the ferries often stopped here and if he could find one to take him to New Waterford getting the rest of the way was simple enough. That is if he didn’t catch cold from getting drenched in the rain.

By the time he walked the length of the docks he was colder, wetter and disappointed. He hadn’t spotted any boat that might be headed where he needed to go. 

The hustle of men around him unloading, loading made him miss the noise and activity of the mines. Men working. He watched them and saw that he could easily do what they were doing. Work that took muscle and not thinking.

“Birk!” a voice called from behind him. “Birk Nelson?”

He turned around to where it came from. A tall thin man, about fifty, in long tight fitting black coat strode toward him, hand stretched to shake his.

“Dan’l Patterson.” The man said as he shook Birk’s hand.

“Of the Inverness Patterson’s?” These were the only Patterson’s he knew.

“Quite right. Pity them closing another of the mines.”

“They’d rather save money than pay money to make money.” Brik said.

“I’m here with another load of lumber from the mill.”

“Wet day for wood.” Birk finally placed Dan’l. He and his brother ran a lumber millworks outside of New Waterford.

“You here looking for work?”

Birk quickly recounted the incidents of the past few days. Dan’l chuckled and shook his head a few times.

“That’ll be story to pass on to yer kids when you’av ‘em. Some women take great joy is making the misery of men worse ‘an it is already.”

“So I’m learning. Not as if I set out for this lesson though. I’m fixing to find a way back to Castleton Mines.”

“Give us a hand unloading and you can come back with us after we collect for the wood.” He reached out to shake Birk’s hand again. “Deal.”

“Thanks.”

Their wood barge was the far end of the wharf where local boats with small loads would tie up to unload. The planks were lifted off with rope-and-pulley hoist and Birk guided them to the back of a truck.

“You can wait here below while we take these to the lumber yard. Or you can come along for the ride.”

“I’ll wait.”

“There’s a bite to eat on board. Help yourself but leave something for us, eh?” Dan’l said getting into the front cab of the truck.

Birk grabbed the hoist and swung over to the deck of the boat and dropped down on deck. The deck smelled of pine. Clean and different from the smell of the mines, or the pine they used in the mines. That pine always had a tar tang to it from the creosote. This pine had a clean sea salt bite to it. The smell comforted him.

He flexed his fingers to see if handling the boards had done any damage to them. They were a bit red but otherwise fine. No bleeding, meant they were healing up properly.

He sat at the enclosed end of the barge and ate one of the sandwiches he found in the lunch box. It looked a good life to work in lumber. Perhaps if the needed another couple of pairs of hands he and Clancy might be in luck. It would it be a change to work in daylight, in fresh air.

The lumber yard truck pulled and Dan’l hopped out.

“Another days’ work done.” He said walking down the pier to the dock. “You ready to cast off?”

“Sure.” Birk relied.

Dan’l unwound the ropes that held the scow to the pier then clambered down the ladder to get on board. 

“Over here.” He nodded to pier side hoarding. “We give a good shove and she’ll float away on her own.”

Birk braced himself against the rail of the boat and pushed hard away from the wet piling of the dock. The boat moved so quickly he nearly fell over board.

“Haha.” Dan’l laughed. “Don’t know yer own strength eh b’y. Then ’tis hard to know what someone is cap’ble of by lookn’ at them. Who’d think small you could cause such a ruckus.”

“Ruckus?” Birk asked.

“Talk of the town for too many. You and that Boston gal.”

“People taking about that?” Birk’s face was hot.

“Not as any one’d blame for taking a poke at her.”

“T’weren’t that way at all?” Birk balled his fists. “Not a bit.”

“Rest easy Birk Nelson I know how stories become something they never was. There’s always some truth to’em though.”

“I dunno know what to tell you. I’m sorry I ever met her for one thing.”

“Story of many men and women. People’ll forget it whatever it was in a few weeks. We all got enough to deal with.”

“I sure hope so.”

New Waterford came into sight.

“Might as well run you over Castleton Mines while I’m out.”

“Thanks.”

“I hear your Da’s going to the steel plant.”

“Yeh. They always need good boiler men there. He figures he can find something for me too.”

“We could always use some eager at the millworks. Mac show you much about boilers?”

“I know my way around them but I don’t have my papers.”

“Good enough. Come by tomorrow. Lonnie could use a hand as he’s gettin’ on and we could use you around the yard too. Not much by way of pay but better than nothing.” He stuck his hand out. “Deal?”

“Deal.”

They edged up to the Castleton Mines dock and Birk got off. Even though the rain had turned the Mudside streets to mud he had more hope than he had since the strike had started. 

Night had fallen by the time he was back at his house.

“Where you been?” His mother met him at the door. “Clancy’s been here for hours.”

“He has?” He squeezed past his mother to find Clancy at the kitchen table.

“Yeah the coppers drove me back in their wagon when Doucet was finished with me.”

“No such luck for me. I got brought over by Dan’l Patterson.”

“What did Doucet say to you?” His mother asked. “We thought for sure you had been shipped off to Dorchester.”

“What! He gave me what for letting my bare self be seen but that was it. I sure expected worse from the way Miss McTavish had been going on. Everyone was taking her side and so serious they were too.”

“There’s always those who are quick to believe the worse of the Mudsiders.” his Dad said.

“I went down to the Sydney docks to find a way back and met up with Dan’l Patterson of the mill. He brought me back across. “Says they’re lookin’ for help with the boilers at the mill yard.”

“The Lord at work.” His mother said. “Out of every time of hardship He brings good.”

“Might be …”

Birk was interrupted by a pounding at their front door. Before it could be answered someone shouted.

“Birk Nelson come out here and face your Maker.”

“Me Maker?” Birk said.

His father opened the door. Father Patrick pushed his way in with three men behind him. The hem of his cassock was spatted with mud.

“Take him.” he commanded the men with him.

Before he could react the men lifted him up and carried him out of the house into the street. They dropped him face first in the mud and stepped away.

“You Protestant abomination.” Father Patrick shouted at the top of his voice.

Birk felt a sharp blow across his back. The mud held his arms so he couldn’t turn over quickly. There was some scuffling behind him. When he got turned around, sitting in the mud, he saw his dad grappling with Father Patrick.

“No man whips my son in public.” ise Dad wrenched the whip out of the priest’s  hand. “What gives you the right!”

“See!” Father Patrick turned the men who had come with him. “This is how the Godless protect one another. How they chose to rut the way animals do, no better than pigs in the mud.

“You foul beasts.” He pointed at Birk, then Clancy. “Who flaunted their unnatural proclivities in daylight … in front of my niece. ” He gasped for air.

Most of the neighbouring families had come out to see what the commotion was.

“Go back to your church Father.” Someone shouted. “Tell the Pope wipe your arse.”

“I will not allow your kind to get away with treating our women in this way.” The priest said.

“Yeah, only you have that right.” Someone answered him back.

A clod of mud flew through the air and hit Father Patrick on the back.

“Take him.” The priest ordered the men with him.

“You’ll take no one.” Reverend Brown stepped out of the crowd and helped Birk back to his feet. “You Catholic hypocrite. You help your own in bad times, ignore those who don’t deem pure enough then dare to come here to punish the very one who didn’t think twice to save the lives of your precious parishioners. I’m sure that when Birk struggled up that shaft he wasn’t saying to God ‘Now God make sure only the orange get rescued.’ Did you Birk!”

“No Reverend Brown I wasn’t.”

“You were there when Miss McTavish told them that we hadn’t touched her.” Clancy said.

“It was her spirit you stained by the vision of what you two were engaged in.”
“And what might that be Father Patrick? Something you learned about behind those sanctified monastery walls from your brothers.”

Father Patrick’s face paled as he glared at Reverend Browne.

“How dare you impugn the purity of those righteous men.”

“How dare you think you can come here with your high-handed righteousness and think we would grovel, that we would let you get away with it.”

“We can’t allow these … beasts to get away with their depravity.”

“A depravity that exists only in your mind Father Patrick. And you men with him. That’s you isn’t David McInnis?”

“Yes Reverend Browne.”

“You were one of them working with Birk when the collapse happened?”

“Yes Reverend. We’ve been working together for years.”

“You have any reason to question his moral fitness as a man? Anyone here have any reason? I know this boy’s family. You all do. They’ve been good faith church goers as long as I can remember.”

All that could be heard was the squish of people’s feet in the mud.

“I suggest you all go home and have a good night’s sleep.” Reverend Brown said.

“You haven’t heard the last of this.” Father Patrick said evenly. “My niece …”

“You niece needs to mind her own business.” Brown said. “She’s an outsider. You too, I might add, Father Patrick. I’ve been here in Castleton Mines for over twenty years. You’ve only been here for three. I’m sure the Africans will appreciate you more than we have.”

“You haven’t heard the last of this.” The Priest looked to the men who can come with him but they had disappeared into the crowd.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Something’s Different

March of this year in March I decided to up-grade my glasses – new frames, new prescription. Not a big deal, or so I thought, until I got a few compliments from strangers. By now they are old, to me, yet this past week someone, whom I have known long enough & also whom I have seen several times since the up-grade said ‘something’s different. are those new glasses?’ I replied, ‘they’re the same ones I had on the last time we talked.’

That’s the kind of change I like – one that is subtle. The drama of the big change – I’ll shave my head – no longer appeals to me. When I first shaved my head it was a startling change alright, nothing gradual about it. People started to treat me differently – I had become butch overnight 🙂

I prefer the gradual change. I’ve blogged about some of this before – getting up earlier by setting my alarm 2 minutes earlier every couple of months so I now have an extra 14 minutes to avoid writing every day. Besides if nothing changes nothing changes. So the past few months I’ve been reducing distractions. Most are harmless except that they are distractions.

Some have been hard to do though. Cutting way back on the podcasts I listen to for one. As much as I enjoy them I decided I don’t need the information & subscribing merely to be supportive isn’t enough for me. Why support people who don’t really support me? One podcast was as much about what the hosts were drinking as what they were supposedly talking about. No thanks. Plus less energy goes into downloading & then uploading to my iPod to listen o them. 

On the east coast I only used my iPod for meditation & relaxation in flight or in my hotel room. You know I didn’t miss it on my daily walks. I get to hear where I am without a soundtrack. One less thing to carry too 🙂

Same with twitter, tumblr, even wordpress. Less time spent skipping over things I’m not even looking at anyway. All those product mailing lists I needed up, some of whom send me daily notices of warehouse clearance sales, unsubscribed from so they aren’t cutting up even my trash folder. The less clutter the better the focus.

Focus and productivity are my fall intents. The less clutter the better the focus. 

Not Dead Already

I expected to be dead by 30

which seems to be one of those ages

that many never thought they’d live past

if not dead 

then so deep into fame fortune relationships

that they’d have everything to live for

though I’ve meet people

who had those things at 30

who wished they were we dead

or felt they were dead

they’d lost a part of themselves

to get the dreams fulfilled

dreams they expected 

would make them complete

 

I expected to be dead at 30 

35 at the latest

so when I eased 

past those tiresome ages

I was caught short 

time to grow up

figure out what I wanted to be 

now that I was alive

body fully matured

I’d say now that I was adult

but that really hadn’t happened

I was still a teen trapped 

in a old man’s body

yeah I know 35 isn’t old man

but try to tell that to a 20 year old

40 is ancient

I’m at the age where I’m a relic

adult enough to know 

I can’t turn back the hands of time

& glad those hands have been kind 

to my face

if not to my bank account

 

I never expected to see the year 2001 

let alone this year

figured if I hadn’t bought the farm by then

the world would have imploded exploded 

of its own accord

but like me it is doing

this slow smother

drowned in plastic 

& the need for more

even if I wear all natural fibres 

I’m not helping

to keep the planet breathing

 

so here I am

some sort of adult

looking around

still no surer of where life is going 

than I was when I was 16

then I was sure in knew where I was going

to my funeral at 30

a date fate saw to it that I never kept

I witness what is going on around me

some good some bad

some hopelessly futile

some valiantly optimistic

each time I put another word on paper

I am making waves for the future

ripples that will continue

even if there is not such thing s paper

even if no one can afford to live

there will be repercussion

for living past 30

the consequence of not dying 

young and pretty 

is getting old and sort of handsome 

in the right light

 

being an example

for the struggling striving generations

who just wish we relics 

would shut the fuck up

and die already

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

August Recap September Sneak Peek

August was my best month yet for this blog – one day getting 100 hits – severals days over 60. Canada at the top of the hit list, India 2nd place, USA 3rd, with !! Kenya 4th. The blog now has 345 followers (up from 298 at the start of the year). 216 Twitter followers;239 Tumblr followers. Steady increase is best. Managed to keep plugging away on Coal Dusters while I was in Cape Breton with 126,000 words posted so far – maybe another 15,000 to go to wrap things up.

The visit to Cape Breton was leisurely & energizing. Spent time with some old friends, got to some AA meetings, drove all over the area – the furthest was to Baddeck. Took lots of pictures, many of which I have been used here. Blogged everyday while I was gone, some days twice. Who knew I had so much o say, right. My favorite pictures have to be the big blue sky shots. But the ones of objects from my past are sweet as well, in particular the cover of the Oxford Dictionary.

Hot Damn! pulled of a bonus round 🙂 with an open stage as part of the Bricks & Glitter Festival. A Monday night show that was full to capacity. That’s right Monday night. It makes it clear the the show serves as valued opportunity for the community. The season 6 launch is September 24 at Buddies in bad Times.

Also coming up in September are a couple day-trip theatre outings. First to see Mae West’s “Sex” at Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is the play she went to prison for because it was lewd & immoral. I’ve done a bit of research & it was more because she was an amazing successful woman. The following week we’re off to Stratford to see Little Shop Of Horrors. I’ve seen different productions of the musical before, as well the original film & the movie of the musical. It all depends on the romantic chemistry between Seymour & Audrey 2.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet