Not Insulted

I’m Not Your Girlfriend

no

I’m not insulted

but

after years of being called

faggot fairy

I’m not going to put up 

with other queers

using those words 

to tease

to cut me down to size

the same goes for 

girl or girlfriend

 

it’s not that 

I don’t have a sense of humour

the only lesson I get

when you say

‘get over it girlfriend’

is that you are still feeding into

the commodification

the compulsion

of making ‘gay’ me

into something less masculine

no masculine is the wrong word

but ‘girlfriend’

is meant to be derogatory

because of the view

that ‘girl’ is lesser

no one says

‘get over it boyfriend’

 

so no I’m not insulted

merely bored

tired of people using 

the dominant culture’s language

to maintain a status quo

I don’t take myself so seriously

you can call me faggot

but don’t expect respect

in return

The climate around appropriate language is become increasingly volatile & unpredictable. It seems that if one isn’t as upset by something that another person is upset by then the problem is your lack of support, of sensitivity to their issue. Is it even appropriate anymore to give gender specific names to children?

Within the Lgbt+ community there is shift to gender neutral appropriateness. At many events one is asked what pronouns they wish to be used. Hosting shows I’ve been careful to find out what to use for introductions, & when blogging about shows I try to use as few pronouns as possible so as not to mis-gender anyone. It is creating a more nuanced use of language. 

In my post My Ass Pussy I talked about the use of feminizing language for man-to-man sex to somehow make it less gay. On a recent Gayish Podcast they talk about the use of ‘gurl’ between gay men as a playful taunt. To not want to be be called ‘gurl’ is seen as being overly sensitive & hence not queer enough.

Trans people fight for the right to choose the language that is used to refer to them, for pronouns, for respect. Blacks do the same. Yet when I don’t want to be referred as ‘gurl’ I have been sneered at by the very people who want to be so inclusive. I’ve been dis-included in some circles because I’m not accepting enough to let them call me faggot because they feel it’s okay because we are all faggots anyway, so get over yourself. I am over myself, but this sort of amusingly derogatory use of language tests my tolerance more and more. I’m not insulted but we are not amused.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Chapter Liii – Lillian Has Something To Prove

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 Liii

Lillian

Has Something

To Prove

Lillian was working in the herb patch in the O’Dowell’s back garden when Aileen called to her from the back porch.

“A gentleman to see you Miss Lillian.”

Lillian stood and brushed the dirt off her hands onto her apron. “Gentleman.”

“Father Patrick, ma’am.”

Aileen held the door open for her as she continued to wipe her hands clean.

“He’s in the small study.”

Lillian had been in the small study once. It was a room off the front foyer that Steven’s father had used to store his hunting equipment which Steven had converted into an office when he ran in the election.

When she went into the room her uncle was standing with his back to her facing the desk. There were two armchairs in front of it and a bookcase on one wall. There was only one small window near the ceiling, more to allow ventilation in the room than light. The room smelled of cigar and pipe smoke.

“Father Patrick?” she said.

He turned. “Lillian how good to see you looking so well.” He sat in one of the arm chairs. She sat in the other. “I have been in Boston.”

“Ah. Steven was wondering why you hadn’t shown up during his campaign.”

“Sometimes politics and religion don’t need to mix. He did well enough with any show of support from me.”

“Yes.” She wondered what he wanted.

“I also understand you and he are to be wed.”

“Yes.”

“You know I can’t allow that. That union will not happen in any Catholic church in this parish or any other I can contact.”

“Perhaps you should take that up with the Bishop. He’s already agreed to perform the ceremony.”

“That will be changed. Have you told Mr O’Dowell about James Dunham? I’m sure …”

“He has, in fact, met James Dunham in Halifax.”

“And that didn’t dissuade him?”

“Not in the least,” Lillian wanted to laugh.

There was a knock at the door.

“Yes?” Lillian said.

The door opened. Aileen entered with a tea tray.

“Miss Clara said you may want the tea served.” She put the tea service on the desk.

“Thank Miss Clara for me.”

“That won’t be necessary.” Clara stepped into the room. “I didn’t want to barge in on what could be private conversation.”

“For the moment it is.” Father Patrick said. “If you don’t mind.” He stood and attempted to show her out of the room.

“If we are discussing the wedding I feel I should in included in the conversation.” Clara said.

“My uncle feels it’s an unwise decision on my part.” Lillian said. 

“Not exactly unwise, my dear.” Her uncle said. “I think it’s a very calculated decision on your apart. Devious. Eve would have been in awe. I have no objection to Miss O’Dowell hearing our conversation. Do you?”

“If it entails sordid rumours you have about Lillian past rest assured I have heard them.”

“They are not mere rumours, are they Lillian.”

“Don’t bother answering him Lillian. I am aware of Mr. James Dunham and of his ungentlemanly conduct with Miss McTavish. In fact I have met with him myself and spoke to him directly. I know the full story.”

“Apparently you are not as concerned about your family’s reputation as her family was about theirs.”

“This is not Boston Father Patrick.”

“Quite true. Quite true. But Mr. James Dunham is not what brings me here today. I will repeat what I told Lillian. This wedding will not take place.”

“You can’t stop it.” Clara said.

“One cannot marry the dead!”

He took a newspaper clipping out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Lillian.

She read it. It took her a few moments to comprehend its full import.

“Well, what does it say?” Clara asked.

“There was a memorial service in Boston for me last week. I died here some months ago of influenza.” she handed the clipping to Clara.

“The service was presided over by her grieving uncle, Father Patrick McTavish. What is the meaning of this Patrick?”

“I think it is pretty clear.”

“But I am alive. People know that.”

“The death certificate says otherwise. Signed by me.” He took a piece of paper out his inside pocket and haded it to Clara. “You have no proof of who you are, my dear. None at all.”

“Proof!” Clara exclaimed. “This has been signs only by you. There’s no doctor’s signature.”

He snatched it back from Clara. “A mere formality.  Also you can’t get married without proof  of identity in the Catholic Church. Lillian, do you have your baptismal record? Your confirmation certificate? You don’t even have a family to say you are you. The memorial was very emotional. You mother wept. A Mr. Henderson was heart broken.”

“David Henderson?” Clara said glancing at Lillian.

“He went to Europe when I was fifteen and he was not a beau, merely a boy I knew.” Lillian wanted to jump up and strike her uncle. “Why are you doing this?” she asked as calmly as she could.

“You must reap what you sow my child.” He said gently. “Her father said she was a willful, spiteful, conniving child and she had grown up to be even more so. Do you think I would let you ruin yet another family to satisfy your need for depraved comfort. When I was forced to drive this … this …. harlot from my home I was stunned to see her be taken into your bosom Miss O’Dowell. I feared she would be an asp. A snake in the grass.”

Lillian stood slowly. “Have you had your say uncle? Have you done your worse?”

“Lillian I mean no harm. Forgive me.”

“Forgiveness is not mine to give.” She looked him in the eyes. “If this is the consequence of my not bending to your depraved carnal desires then I am willing to suffer this consequence for keeping my honour intact.”

She opened the door to leave the study. “If you’ll excuse me Clara I have something in my room that may help clarify things. If they don’t satisfy the Church.”

“No one will have you.” her uncle said. “No one.”

“Father Patrick.” Clara stopped Lillian. “You have said more than enough. You have perhaps revealed more about yourself than you have about Lillian.”

“How can you remain so … indifferent to this hussy’s actions.”

“Whatever her actions may have been, and I assure you, I know she is no innocent babe, she has not displayed such an evil devious mind as you have. To revenge yourself is this way leaves me speechless.”

Lillian dashed up to her room and found the photo album and news paper clippings. She brought them down and presented them to Clara.

“This marriage will happen.” Clara said sternly. “Her family will be informed of your callous actions.”

“You think they banished her here on a whim?”

“They banished me because their reputation was more important to them than their child. Oh! It was all right for my brothers to get caught up in gambling, drunken galavanting behaviour.” Lillian found herself shouting.

“But let their precious daughter show a bit of spirit and out she goes. When they thought I had lost any value as a marriage pawn to enhance their precious social standing they disposed of me as if I were … a … a tea service that had gone out of fashion.”

She turned to Clara. “If I am a calculating harlot looking for the best possible marriage then I learned it from them. It runs in the family apparently. Doesn’t uncle?” She wanted to slap the stunned look on his face. “Falsifying my death to suit your ends is no better. Runs in the family.”

She pushed Clara aside nearly knocking over Aileen who had been hovering near the door listening. She stood in the foyer resisting the temptation to run up to her room, slam the door and throw herself on her bed to cry. That’s what the woman in books did. Cry till some man came up the stairs to make things better for them.

“Aileen.” she said.

“Yes Miss?”

“If anyone wants me, I’ll be out in the garden. Those climbing roses need to be cut back.”

On her way through the kitchen she grabbed the gardening sheers and headed directly to the climbing roses. She’d been intending to remove the dead branches for weeks now and she attacked them with a vengeance.

She lost track of time as her anger dissipated. Why was every path she took caught in these unforeseen and unforeseeable brambles. David Henderson turning out to be unsuitable because of a Jewish grandmother, Mr. Dunham a trifler, Birk Nelson so fearful of displeasing his mother and now this. If only she could cut these brambles as cleanly away from her path as the ones from the climbing bush.

With each clip she thought to herself ‘what can I do.’ ‘what can I do next.’ 

“Lillian!”

There was a hand on her shoulder. It was Clara.

“Lillian, I have been calling you for a few minutes.”

Lillian stood and wiped the sweat off her brow. “I couldn’t hear you over these.” She snipped at the air in front of her with the sheers.

“Then perhaps we’ll get them oiled properly so they won’t be so noisy in the future.” Clara smiled. “You uncle is certainly a man of actions and opinions.”

“Another of the McTavish bad traits.”

“Do you love my brother?”

“Love? I don’t know. If you mean that flood of blinding adoration, then, no, I don’t.” If that put the final touch on the end of this path she was ready to face it.

“That’s what I was hoping to hear. I’ve seen how you’ve dealt with him this past month. You know I wasn’t happy of this match but Steve would brook no argument with me. I didn’t want to distract him from his ambitions and I figured you would fall by the wayside.”

“Sorry to disappoint you.”

“Oh I wasn’t disappointed. He was willing to listen to you on matters of appearance and even of how to present himself to the public that he would never had heeded from me. If anyone won the seat it was you being by his side making sure he said the right things at the right time. Someone who was flooded with adoration couldn’t have been so … objective.”

“Thank you, Clara. This is the last thing I expected to hear you say.”

“Perhaps you’ve wondered why I never married?”

“Yes, but you did have your father to look after.”

“We had money and could have afforded to hire help but my father, much as yours did, I suspect, wanted to keep a protective eye on me. I never had the opportunity to meet a James Dunham. A few men courted me but none ever found the approval of my father. Those that did were ones he deemed suitable because of their social status, their financial potential and for no other reason.”

“I had never thought we might have that in common.”

‘But you have more determination than I ever had.”

“So does Father Pat.”

“It’s not you he’s striking at but your family. He told me about your father’s reaction to the death certificate. He may not have known it but your father’s grief brought the good Father great …  I want to say pleasure but that’s not it at all. It gave him an opportunity to castigate your father for being such a Godless parent. For being indulgent and permissive.”

“Permissive!”

“Oh yes, allowing you opportunities to enjoy life that he himself had not had. Your family’s wealth and social position become more important to them than their faith and as a result you were their downfall and punishment.”

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

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip this summer to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Jacksoul to Jamiroquai

There was a time whenMuchMusic actually showed music videos!! One of the Canada bands that shone was Jacksoul lead by the talented Haydain Neale. I have their ABsolute, sleepless, Resurrected as stand alones. The sound is radio & music video friendly sweet soul with jazz touches. The songs are plaintive, romantic, & smooth to the ear. Neale has/had a very appealing voice. Very John Legend. Sadly he died some years ago.

 

Next on the shelf are a couple of Mp3 collections that feature Jamiroquai: a funk/acid jazz group lead by singer Jay Kay. On one cd is Emergency on Planet Earth; Travelling Without Moving; A Funk Odyssey; Synkronized; on the other is Rock Dust Light Star, Dynamite. Jay’s voice is very Stevie Wonder. There have been some radio hits, dance floor hits too. Music with an ecological message that you can dance to. The album sound changes over time as they flirt with then embrace old school disco: strings, congas. Sexy, enjoyable & never challenging.

 

In the first MP3 collection are several indie eps I picked up at local poetry shows. A couple by DanJahRus: 2019, Sunrise. Hip-Hop rap with Dan’s mixing skills equal to his writing. DRP: Clever Title – son of a friend of mine had a sort of metal bar band & recorded some tracks in a basement. Youthful fun.

BC’s CJ Leon: Booty Music for Zombie Swingers; Street Corner Gothic – folk punk sexual anarchy with zombies. good sound quality. Toronto’s: Examples. Rex is a folk punk queer Japanese protest singer. We need more of this. Archie & The Bunkers is an organ based trio full to the brim with sweet, cheese surf music fun. Three Beards: bearded men writing & singing about their feelings.

Also some non-indie powerhouse albums. I became obsessed with the song Lonely Street & found a decent version on Mick Hucknall’s American Soul. Mick was lead singer for Simply Red. This was a come-back attempt with covers. Easy listening pleasant. Bob Dylan’s Tempest. A recent release I picked up more for nostalgia. He still writes well & sings well in a Tom Waits way. The same with Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What. Paul Simon never wrote a bad song & his voice is still intact, as is his sense of political irony. Finally: Debbie Gravitte – Defying Gravity – this a great Lp of Broadway songs, some obscure, some well-known. I love her version of that title track, from Wicked.

Stroke of Genius

‘Mambo?’ Ted gave Jim a playful shove. ‘Where did you get that name from?’

‘Just came to me.’ Jim snapped his fingers. ‘A stroke of genius.’

‘Yeah along with ‘dat acc’nt mon’?’

‘Well, those guys had it coming. Snooping around here every night. Had to give them something they could enjoy.’ Jim began to wipe the green make up off his chin. ‘Did you see his face. Boy, looked like he was about to crap his pants.’

‘Yeah, but ‘Mambo.’ Good thing you didn’t give any of the others names.’

‘Good idea. You can be ChaCha. Phil can be Tango.’

‘I don’t feel right about it though. What if they … ’

‘What? Tell on us? I can see them now at the Militia Office. These boys with red and green faces told us they would protect us from evil. That’d go over big around here.’

‘You did pick the red and green. Afraid of the blue and white.’

‘Ted this is for fun. I know enough not to cross the line. That would have been begging for trouble.’

‘Since when did that bother you?’

‘It doesn’t. Fear is an emotion I choose not to fear. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot either. Bad enough we used the right markings.’ He continued to rub at the make up around his eyes. ‘Is it all off?’

‘Sort of but I think you rubbed too hard.’

‘You too.’ He gave another playful hip shove that sent Jim sprawling. ‘You think the other guys got home okay.’ Jim stood.

‘Don’t they always.’ 

‘I don’t think …’

‘Then stop thinking. Let me worry about that. We’d have more fun if  you’d stop all that thinking. It’s not as if we are robbing the tourists, just putting a little of local fear into them. Get their imaginations going.’

‘It’s not all imagination and you know it.’

‘Yeah! So. It’s no fun to play in safe places. So this had a little more edge than the rag doll and pins routine. Gives them more for their dollar.’

‘I know. I spooks me. That’s all. Mama Gre’loo says we have to be careful with the forest spirits. This is the Season of Change and all things that start a change now must follow where it leads.’

‘You gotta stop listening to that foolishness. You sound like one of those tourists. You know?’

‘I know. Come on, let’s get that stuff washed off so we can get home.’

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

every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Last Will and Testament

TOpoet

samples

Last Will and Testament

Being of sound mind & body

well, considering the pain killers

antibiotics vitamins

various medications injected

ingested inhaled by myself

over the years

the sound of body I have

is the rattle of my lungs

the flap of my mouth

as I spew at those around me

and if they were asked

they certainly wouldn’t

testify to my clarity of mind

so perhaps we can skip

that part of the testament

to the smug snug drug manufactures

who feel the astronomical cost

of the medications is justified

by the cost of research

I ask how many of those researchers profited

or did the vast profits

go to share holders

to smarmy executives or

publicists

who made sure the world knew

of the wonder drug

to my various doctors I leave

this signed & numbered series

ultrasounds of my rumbling body

x-rays of my chest

mri’s of…

View original post 470 more words

I Put Out


I started listening to a new podcast in April – Gayish. There has been 118 podcasts so far & I’m both keeping up to date & listening to the archive starting with number 1. Two gay cismale friends talk about stuff while having a few glasses of wine. Recent podcasts covered circumcision and French tuck (not the same thing apparently 🙂 )

 

Earlier topics included coming out, interviews with one another’s family members. Their focus is dealing with stereotypes & calling themselves out on getting caught up in those stereotypes. They actually do research & cite studies & statistics to back up their facts. They are also quite funny.

 

I have joined their FB page, follow them of twitter, also joined the Patreon support https://patreon.com/gayishpodcast. The other Patreon I support is Disability After Dark https://www.patreon.com/disabilityafterdark/. Both of which explore sexuality in a direct, fun & supportive way. Not that I live in a bubble but listening to Gayish is like having the smart, gay guy pals that I’ve never had. 

The very first was about putting out on the first ‘date.’ The open talk about gay sex, top, bottom is good to hear, in a gay culture in which bottoming isn’t seen as positive as topping. i.e. bottoms are sluts, tops are studs. They even name check two books I have read. How To Top Like A Porn Star; How To Bottom Like A Porn Star. I found both books to be beneficial. When I came out there were no ‘how to’ books so it was decades before I really enjoyed bottoming – because the first tops I played with didn’t know what they were doing.

I do put out on a first date, but I don’t go the whole hog until the third 🙂


Wide Open

something happens 

when my skin is in the same room 

as his

I don’t even have to know he is there

I can feel something 

through my clothes 

through every layer 

coat sweater jeans undies

a emanation comes from him

his eyes   his smile

his indifference

that changes my chemical structure 

that grows glows down to my toes

in fact

he doesn’t even have to be there

 

I can start to talk about him

someone can mention his name

and I feel that subtle shift

like a leaf turning the sun

his picture 

his voice on the telephone

a text

doesn’t take much

for my hypersensitive flesh

to begin reacting to him

the closer he is

the less subtle the reaction

the more alone we are together

the less subtle the manifestation becomes

those radians through the air around us

as we approach the bed

step into a shower

snuggle to watch TV

those emanation knit

pull us closer and closer

enmeshed in each other

breathe the same air

walk in the same sunshine

wash with the same soap

complete without each other

but always eager for the knit

creating those opportunities 

to mention the name

laugh about something 

we could have done

but got caught up in the shower together

got lost between the between the bed and the TV

 

I can’t say that I don’t feel 

this radian from others

there are times when opportunity

allows that awareness

I feel it first in my skin

look around the room  the street 

to see who it’s coming from

can it be returned

eyes become heat seeking sensors

who looked for me that way

whose radiants flickered over mine

I’m turning like that leaf

looking for some sun

more light 

more opportunity to share that flow

with someone else

even if it is merely to nod and smile

acknowledge not act

don’t have to act every time  

anytime

the grace of light fills us each to overflowing

no need to fear there won’t be enough

 

all I have to do is breathe deep 

and open myself to the gift

of learning another name

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

every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Nice Jeans

Nice Jeans

who said

you could wear my things

because I certainly didn’t

 

maybe

if you had asked me

I might have consented 

but to take it on yourself

to figure I wouldn’t mind

is going too far

if you get my drift

 

you don’t want my grubby hands

all over your things

you’ve told me that often enough 

well I don’t want my clothes 

all over your slutty body

you heard me right

you thieving slut

 

that it looks better on you

than it ever did on me

is not justification 

mine is mine

 

now take it off right now

give back to me

I don’t care who sees you here

the people in this mall

have seen uglier sights

than your skinny ass

so give back my clothes

 

give me back my dignity

my privacy

my right to have something 

of my own

what did I do

to deserve a parent like you


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Old Enough To Know Better

Old Enough To Know Better

some say that age

is just a number

you are as old as you feel

not as you act

but if you don’t act your age

you are trying to fool people

 

age may be just a number

but one that tells a story

one that defines you

generalizes 

labels your place in life

 

people don’t even need to meet you

but if they know your age

it has told them everything 

they need to know

like race gender

colour of your hair

each tells others

all about you

even if they never spoken to you

 

if you are that blond

well everyone

already know about blonds

even ones you’ve never met

we know all about that black guy gal

just by looking

everything is revealed by

her over-made eyes

his six-pack

 

six-pack is just a number 

right

a rib-cage

not a personality

an age is a cage

used to lock away

sight unseen

 

how old am I

why ask

it’s just a number

not a death sentence

 

There’s an episode of Designing Women in which a character who dates older men tells the one she’s currently dating to act his age – so he dies. The joke being that at his age most men were already dead. Now, I’m not at that age, or at least I don’t think I am. How old do you have to be to shot in a church? Not that I’d be caught dead in a church, but that’s another story.

 

This piece is as much about aging as it is about how easy it is to slot people into categories based on age, race, gender, job etc. One facet being enough to define them in such a way it becomes difficult to see them beyond that one facet. What team do you like in the play-offs? Saying one isn’t into sports isn’t the right answer. My reply is usually ‘the team that wears the least.’ Ambiguity apparently breeds distrust.

 

This is how ‘image’ sells. Photos of stars without make-up are often rendered unrecognizable. Privacy is obtained by disguising themselves as themselves not as the product sold on screen. But treat the dressed-down version as an ordinary person & beware, right?

In the shallow world of on online gay male dating age is nearly as crucial as dick size. In fact I’ve seen profiles say, to the effect that, ‘if you are over 50 your dick better be over 8 inches.’ One learns that many men aren’t the age this say they are, or that the photos of them are actually 10 years old.

 

 

I’m not keen of being confined by any definition. So when asked, how big is your dick, I’ll say ‘more the enough to satisfy;’ when asked my age I’ll usually say ‘old enough to know better.’ 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Chapter Lii – Birk Back Underground

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 Lii

Birk

Back

Underground

Birk woke with a start. Clancy was at the foot of the bed, shaking the frame gently until he woke.

“You know strike’s over b’y.” 

Birk pushed himself up, not sure if he was dreaming. “Wha?”

“We gets to go back today. Election’s over too. Winning don’t change a thing.” Clancy tossed his rucksack on the dresser.

“I knows that.” Birk sat up and put his legs over the side of the bed.

“You sleepin’ as if there’s nothing to do.”

“I’m sleeping the way someone who don’t have to share his bed with someone who tosses like a … a shirt on the line on a windy day.”

“And smells as fresh.”

“Yeh, freshly fished out of a net.” Birk tossed his pillow at Clancy. “So you’re back?”

“Had to check up on my mother before going back to the colliery here. Nothing better to do.”

“I was getting use to having all this bed to myself.” He pulled his work pants on and pushed his feet into his work boots. “Been a while since I wore these. Kinda stiff.”

He stood facing Clancy. He’d forgotten how blue Clancy’s eyes were. He grinned not know what else to do or say. He thought of grappling with Clancy, wrestle him to the floor but reached out and mussed his hair instead.

“Time’s a-wasting!” A shout came from the bottom of the stair.

“Yer Ma hasn’t changed.”

“Good things never do.” Birk laughed.

 

No management was to be seen when the miners gathered for their first day in the mine. Father Patrick was there to to bless their efforts so that the town could be rebuilt in the light of God.

The first days in the pits where spent making sure the shafts and stavings were sound enough for the mine to be worked. After the endless weeks of inaction it was good to be back at the work but at the same they would only get paid for the coal they produced. There was no pay for replacing, reinforcing the hoardings, for doing all the maintenance work that had gone undone during the strike. The scabs that the company had trucked in lacked the skills to do more than sweep and shovel so they only worked the first tunnels.

“You’d think they’ve cleaned out the carts at least.” Red grunted as they went down for their first maintenance shift.

“Least they ventilated the shafts. Inspector went through ‘em already to make sure.”

“They don’t want to kill us that fast. At least not before we reopen.”

No one was happy about the way the strike had been settled. Everything forced on them by the management, the government, who didn’t appear to care about the miners but only about their taxes and dividends. The newly elected provincial government couldn’t undo what the Feds had done despite their promise to do so.

Birk was too focused on getting things ready to be bothered talking much with Clancy beyond quick grunts of agreement as they did their tasks. When he got back at night after their shift he was too tired to talk. Sometimes they both fell asleep during dinner. But he could sense Clancy’s restlessness.

Even as he tried to keep his distance in the bed, their shoulders or hands would brush briefly in the night. Clancy had something on his mind but Birk couldn’t get him to talk about more than the mines.

“What did you make of what the men of the cloth had to say before they let us go down today.” Birk asked Clancy as they walked home after their shift.

“They mean well but that Father Pat always acts as if he’s judging us and not happy with what he sees. Father Browne acts as if he knows how hard it is to be as good as we aim to be.”

“Too bad he didn’t give us all that other prayer.  Mac was always fond of one that went  ‘Each dawn as I rise, Lord, to face a pit filled with hell. To scratch out a living as best that I can. But deep in m’ heart is the soul of a man. My black covered face and calloused hands, rides the dark tunnels.’ When I was small Mac’d sing that and then chase with his hands stretched trying to tickle us boys.”

“I can see that now.” Clancy laughed. “My Dad was never around much to play with us. When he was it more shouting as us to keep quiet and sit still.”

“The dark tunnels used to scare me some. I’d have nightmares about them and the black faces trying to eat my soul.”

“That I can understand. Can’t imagine even a mick’d be thankful to be made a miner though.” Clancy said.

“Least ways they came to bless us without making the micks stand on the side the rest of us on t’other.”

 

Birk and Clancy joined the miners who were massed in the work yard around the opening to the colliery.

“What’s going on?” Clancy asked.

“Steve O’Dowell is here to wish us well on our first paid day back to work.” someone said.

“That explains the reporters from the Post and the Herald.” someone else said.

“Can’t say as I’d hold that against him,” Red Mac said. “He’ll do a good job getting us back a decent contract. Armstrong wanted us to settle for nothing.”

“Where’s  O’Dowell? We want get down there before lunch break.” someone said.

“Up in the office with James Bowden. Waiting on final word from the inspectors it’s safe to go down.” Someone else said. “Otherwise Bowden would send us down.”

Scotty Sullivan, the assistant manager, came out of the management building. Red Mac, the shift foreman, walked over to him.

“Much longer?” Red asked.

“Nah, you can start down now if you want. Inspectors say all but bottom level’s been okay’d.”

“You know we can’t start until all have been given the okay.” Red said.

“We won’t send any shifts down to that level.” Sullivan replied.

“You know we can’t do that?’ Red said firmly.

“I’ll let the press know that on the first day the mine’s were opened that the union was refused to go back to work after signing the contract. Suits me fine.”

“You bastard.” someone shouted. “So it starts already!”

There was grumbling amongst the miners.

“If you fellas have done as good job down there as you claim to have done on the other levels what are you afraid of. BritCan didn’t ask for a rush job half-assed done by you qualified miners.”

“You were told it would take either more men or more time.” Red said.

“Not my problem. Today is when we are to open and either we open, or your union face the consequences.” Sullivan walked over to the the boxes upended to make a low stage. He stepped up, “If any of you men are unsure about the safety of the mine after you’ve been the ones to do the repairs you are free to leave. There are those who are eager and willing to do an honest work for reasonable pay.”

Birk turned to Clancy. “What do you think?”

“I think we’re ready to work. They push us around now to prove they are still in control.”

Steven O’Dowell and Gus Murphy came out of the office with James Bowden, Father Patrick and Reverend Browne and walked through the men. Steven was wearing miner’s coveralls, carrying a pick and one of the helmets. He could have passed for one of them except for the white shirt and tie he had on under the coveralls.

He stepped up on the overturned boxes. The miners cheered and applauded.

“Men. Friends. I call you friends because I am one of you and will be even more so after this day.” There was more cheers and applause. “I’ll be going down into the mine to work with you. Something my predecessor never did.”

“When’s the date?” someone called out.

“Date?” Steven asked. “Oh! My wedding. Funny you should ask that as we set the date this morning before I came here. It’ll be two weeks from today at St. Teresa’s in Sydney. She’s over to O’Dowell’s in Sydney this morning to pick out a wedding dress. You are all invited to come.”

The men stomped and whistled.

“Now before we go down Father Patrick and Reverend Browne are here to offer blessings. Father Patrick.”

Steven stepped off the box and Father Patrick stepped on it.

“Parishioners, men, it is with great happiness that I see you finally getting back to your calling. I’ll offer two short prayers. First the Ave Maria. 

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus
fructus ventris tui, Iesus
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae
Amen.”

Several of the miners joined in while others of the Catholics mumbled along as best they could.

“The other is one that, with a small change of my own, suits all men. “O My God, I adore Thee and I love Thee with all my heart. I thank Thee for having created me, for having made me a miner and for having watch over me this day. Pardon me for the evil I have may done; and if I have done any good, deign to accept it. Watch over me while I take my rest and deliver me from danger. May Thy grace be always with me. Amen.’ God bless and God speed you all.”

The men applauded politely.

“Now for the rest of you Father Browne will offer some words.”

Father Browne stepped on the box. “Those of you who know me know I’m a plain spoken man. My father was one you and died in the mines. I’ve seen trials and tribulations and I’ve seen brave miners rise to them and to help each other as best as they. I’ll use no fancy words,” he glanced at Father Patrick, “but I’ll offer one I heard often from my father.

“Look at these hands, Lord, worn and rough. A face scarred with coal marks, and my language is tough. But you know in the heart, Lord, is the soul of a man that toils at a living few men can stand. Sulphur, coal dust and sweat on my brow. If you’ve got a corner after my work is through, I’d be mighty proud to live, neighbours with you.”

Most of the miners joined him from the first line. They stomped and roared as he finished. He stepped off the box.

“Who’s ready to go to work.” Steven pulled on his helmet, hefted the pick-ax over his shoulder and hopped off the box. He went into the crowd shaking hands with the miners. “I may have to borrow a lunch form one of ya. Got so rushed to be here I forgot to pack a lunch pail.”

A couple of the miners lifted him up on to their shoulders and lead the way to cars that would take them to the cages down. He went down with the first group of miners.

Birk and Clancy went down the with second group.

They got off at their level. Red was waiting as their shift crew got off.

“Where’s our fair haired boy go to?” One of them asked.

“Down to next level. Said he wanted to see how they did a blast. Virgil’s as good a blaster as any we’ve got. He’ll make sure O’Dowell gets a good show.”

“There’ll be campaign speeches out of this for his next run, sure.” Someone said before they headed down to the various staging areas where they were working. “Least Father Browne knows the work the way that Papist bastard ever will.”

“Least he speaks English.” Another of them laughed.

“I’m surprised that priest don’t crawl down to scatter holy water on the seams for luck.”

“Nah we’ll do that with our own holy water.” one of the miners joked.

“Don’t be pissing down on me ‘cause if you do he’ll down to give you the last rights.” Another said.

“Be careful boys or you’ll slipping someone’s shit before you know it.”

“Won’t be yours. We know that stink anywhere.”

The miners laughed.

“Everything look good?” Birk asked letting his lantern play over the joists.

“Given the time we had, things looking great.” Red said. “Try to pace yourselves some though. We’re not going to make up for all that money lost in the first day.”

Birk and Clancy made their way to the face they were assigned to work.

“You think O’Dowell’s going use that pick much?” Clancy asked.

“Only on his teeth.”

“That is if they’re his own.”

“Best hope there’s no gas down there, they’ll never smell it over that perfume he’s wearing.”

“Didn’t smell half bad to me. Better than most of stench when we’re down here. Wonder if she picked it for him?”

“Nah, that’s what he stunk of before she ever showed up. You could always tell when O’Dowell had been anywhere.” Birk laughed.

They came to where they were going to be working. The first severals blows with the pick numbed Birk’s hands then he stopped feeling anything expect the way the point connected with the coal. When he stopped to catch his breath he could hear Clancy raking behind him and singing.

“This is the way we pay

This is the way we pay

for the right to die this way”

After an hour or so Birk stopped to wipe sweat off his face.

“Feels good.” He said to Clancy.

“Whatever you say boss.” Clancy replied.

“Forgot how it smelled down here though.” Something scurried over his boot. “The rats must be happy to have us back again.”

“Useless buggers probably gnawing away at the joists. Do more damage than the water.”

Birk pulled his rag back over his mouth and went back to clawing at the coal.

“Hush.” Clancy plucked his pant leg.

Birk stopped and they listened. There was low brief rumble beneath them.

“O’Dowell getting his little tap o’blast.” Birk said. “I can tell the size by what we hears. Didn’t get much out of that one.”

“It’ll give him something to tell the missus when he gets home!”

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

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip this summer to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Mozart

Let’s get this catalogue out of the way first – My Mozart collection, in various boxsets, mp3 compilations, includes Abduction From the Seraglio; Clarinet Quintet; Piano Trio; Concertone; Sinfonias; Serenades; Divermentios; Musical Joke; Flute Quartet; Flute Concerto; Flute Quartets; Horn Concertos; The Magic Flute; Masses 1; Mass 317/Exsultate; Regina; Ave Verum; Overtures; Cosi Fan Tutte; Mass 427; Church Sonatas; Le Nozzie Di Figerro; Piano Concertos: 9 cds; Piano Sonatas: 5 cds; Piano Trios; Violin Concertos 1 2; Violin Duos; Piano Quartets; Violin Sonatas; Requiem D Min;  Serenade #9; Quintets; Variations; Serenade#19; Nacht Musik; String Quartets 6 cds; Symphonies 11 cds; String Quintets; Oboe Quartet; Piano Clarinet Trio; Violin Sonatas; Piano Four Hands; Woodwind Concertos; As well as a set of Bryn Terfel arias from the operas.

I am a fan 🙂 One of the first pieces of his that I totally loved was the Concerto for Harp & Flute. It transported me & still does. I had many of these on lps. First as box sets of the piano music that I ordered from Vox, some singly from MHS, then the bulk from Time-Life who did a complete Mozart in 5 lp box sets. I loved getting things in the mail. Some of these are lp to cd transfers.

 

It is hard to pick out favourites as I love the string quartets, the piano sonatas delight, his flute music is charming, his operas are okay (I’m not really an opera fan). The Magic Flute is a good intro to opera. His masses are moving and soothing. His range is amazing with sparkling music for flute, oboe, bassoon, & glass harmonica (yes this was a thing.) Oddly cello was never singled out for a solo extravaganza. My most recent addition was his music for piano four hands.

I also have pieces by his father, even his rival Antonio Salieri. Mozart didn’t write in a vacuum & I like to have ‘context’ for my favourites. I have jazzed up Mozart. Plus The New Koto Ensemble Of Tokyo plucking away at his war horses 🙂 (They also do a great version the Four Seasons). 

Mozart’s operas are excellent starts for people who don’t know or think they like opera. More emotionally open than his chamber music they edge toward the more romantic period. An innovator, a genius from a time when classical music was pop music 🙂 Much of his output was chamber music – pieces written for families – this was entertainment at home before radio.

 Sleep

‘Let’s check it now.’

‘Look, it’s nearly 3 a.m. Let’s get some sleep and we’ll check the tape in the morning.’

Frank was already plugging the cable connector from the camera into the back of the TV. ‘Tom this is what we came here for. We’ve been doing that jungle walk for two weeks and now we finally have something.’

The screen came to life. Murky movements jumped back and forth.

‘Worse than the Blair Witch.’

‘You try sometime then.’ Tom snapped back.

‘Sorry I was just …’

The picture came into focus. The sound was muffled, distant.

‘Shit!’ Tom hit the top of the TV.

‘That’s not going to do much.’ Frank laughed. ‘Turn it up.’

‘Why bother with that.’ Tom pulled the cables from the TV. ‘Let’s use this.’ He opened his lap top. ‘I have a program in here that will refine things considerably.’

It took the tape several minutes to be downloaded into the computer.

‘Couldn’t you get anything faster.’

‘You making a crack about the size of my hard drive?’

‘You said it not me.’

The program flashed that it was ready. The sounds were still muddied but with some audio editing Tom played them back clearly:

‘We call the time to change

we call the time to change.’

‘That’s not what that kid said.’

‘No, that’s what we heard first though. Remember. I thought it might be the wind in the trees.’

‘We call the time to change?’ Frank repeated. ‘Wonder what that can mean. We call the time to change.’

The lights in the room dimmed and the computer screen blinked on and off and on again.

‘Whoa! Better not say that too many times.’ Tom pulled the curtains shut.

‘You don’t think …’

‘You know what I think. I told you we would be playing with …’

‘We are not playing here Tom. This is serious research.’

‘Right and these are serious results.’

‘Okay. Let’s see what else we have there then. ‘We call…’ Frank began.

Tom put his hand over Frank’s mouth. ‘Enough with that. We have to be careful when we don’t fully understand.’

‘But it’s just words Tom.’

‘You know that isn’t so.’

The teenage boy appeared on the screen. His lips moving.

‘What! I can’t hear him.’

‘There’s no audio here.’ Tom punched at the keyboard moving back and forth along the audio indicator.

‘Silence.’

‘When did the sound cut out?’

Tom did more inputting.

‘Seems to have cut out when he appeared and comes back when he disappears.’

‘He’s the one called Mambo? What did they say he was called? Cha Cha?’

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

every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Bottle Apostle

TOpoet

lament

Apostle Bottle

my pain can be explained away

in bars only so many times
it blurs into an endless smear
oily floors broke-back chairs

stools half an inch off centre
bartenders wipe wet circles

with easy disdain

the pain loses focus but not intensity
it gets transmuted
the complexities of lives with people
whose pain canʼt be contained
by the clink jostle of bottles
clustered in fridge clutter
tubs of something ends of cheeses
or by boasts of what lies ahead
from compulsive liars
their story constantly changes
they canʼt keep their words in check
about new bloody nosed adventures

from pillar to pub
from postgame to predestination

my pain can’t be explained away in bars

because it keeps coming back to roost
as I try to get up to the next spot

where things will be different

new bartenders new glasses
new windows of opportunity
bringing home the bacon
or…

View original post 403 more words