The Cold Spot

The Cold Spot

you have to understand

I’m not the kind of guy

who has any intuitive sense

I never get feelings about a space 

about a person

I never pick up on vibes

even suggestions go over my head

eye-contact is pointless

not that I don’t see the contact

but it doesn’t say anything more

than someone is looking me

not that they are looking for me

not that they are interested

 

I need direct contact not intimation

I’m not insensitive 

to the emotions of others

mind you

but when it comes to interest in me

I’m oblivious

so when I felt your energy

from just looking at a photograph

I was a little taken aback

then when we met

that feeling was intensified

then when we got naked

I was overwhelmed

until I found your cold spot

 

your body was warm 

your tongue was hot

but your cock was cold

sure it was hard

but it felt like ice in my hands

 

I couldn’t bear to touch it

to have it touch me

it felt fine as long as 

it was kept in your underwear

when you told me

that I wasn’t the only one

who was repulsed by your naked cock

I was sort of relieved 

I wasn’t repulsed though

because it was a good cock

uncut thick long enough

but cold 

 

turns out you had a lover

one who died 

then his spirit nestled into 

the comfort of your balls

to haunt your cock

a spirit that only appeared

when you were naked with anyone

 

it was a cold

that no amount of lust could thaw 

the longer I held it

the more the cold moved into me

it became a barrier 

neither of us could over come

or come over

 

so we parted

reluctantly

and now

I am haunted by the memory

of your haunted cock

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Bloody Footprints

Bloody Footprints

the movie opens

on a busy sidewalk

someone with a knife

stabs a stranger

keeps on going

while the victim collapses

remember the knife

the flash of it

the thrust

blood blood blood

 

people stepping in it

as they step over the body

on their important way

bloody foot prints

quickly splotching the sidewalk

as the camera

pulls up up

the police arrive

the credits roll

over the expanding trail

of bloody foot prints

 

steps lead to smart shops

to offices

into elevators

down marble corridors

over carpets in hotel hallways

cafe floors

washroom stalls

 

blood gets on hands

trying to clean shoes

the fingerprints on mirrors

coffee cups

documents

dried flakes fall between 

keyboard keys

smear smart phones

traces tracked undetected through 

airport screening machines

splotches on luggage

the blood travels around the world

 

the sidewalk

with the outline of the body

is a pool of blood

after crime scene photos have been taken

after cellphone photos have hit the net

city works come to clean it up

 

the camera looks for the stabber

pushing through crowds

roving over heads shoulders

no faces

hands washing

blood pooling in sinks

almost dripping down the walls

of apartments

seeping out of TV screens

bloody footprints

lead up to a door

 

the bell rings

you reach to open the door

the closing credits roll

This piece is based on a real movie but I can only recall this opening sequence of the stabbing and the falling to the ground. I’m not sure if it didn’t happen as they were crossing a downtown street, rather than just walking down a street – people jostling in opposite directions. A car horn honking while another car drove around the body with a close up of the irritated driver’s face. All before the opening credits come up.

That’s all I remember of the movie. I have no idea who the cast is, what the music was like. The time area was early 80’s. The plot was, gasp, a killer targeting random people one of whom was his actual victim. American – probably United Artists – a studio that specialized in this sort of thing. Bumbling police with one detective needed to redeem his reputation by solving this case – which he does.

The rest of the piece after the first verse is my imagined plot. Some based on when I watched shows like CSI, some based on the real indifference people have been shown to show when violence happens – avoiding involvement. The blood becomes a symbol for the emotional effects of the killing. Those traces that remain, sometimes for decades, when someone witnesses say a car crash.

It becomes a list poem of where those blood traces travel, of some of the ways crime is treated now with cell-phone pics as we rush passed. The only difference her his that there are no reports asking people ‘how did they feel?’ But the movie camera keeps up the search. It is the detective following the clues. 

The poem ends in a way no movie can end – here you, the reader, get pulled into the both the poem and the movie. Sure the ending is a bit of a literary conceit and at the same implicates us in the crime in a fun way – what do we walk away from when shouldn’t. 

 

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 1 -30

http://nanowrimo.org

November 15, Thursday: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto



http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Chapter XXXI – Lillian Has A Dream

Coal Dusters

Chapter XXXI

Lillian

Has A Dream

The remaining people stepped back as the fire truck from the mine pulled up. The water pressure was much stronger than the hand pump the men had been using and the remaining flames were quickly doused.

The fire did spread slightly to both buildings on either side of the company store but the men managed to keep the damage to a minimum. As the fire cooled there were abrupt pops and small explosions from the charred debris of the store.

“Canned goods.” her uncle explained.

He left her and went to talk to the men who were containing the blaze. All that remained of the store was a portion of the front under where the windows had been and the metal front door frame. 

“Where will you go?” Lillian asked Mrs. Seldon.

“I … I hadn’t thought of that. I’m sure Mr. Bowden will be able to find accommodations for us.”

“And after this?” Father Patrick asked.

“We lost everything in the fire.” Mr. Seldon wiped soot and sweat off his face. “So packing our possessions to move won’t be one expense we’ll have to face. I don’t mean to sound bitter, Miss McTavish, but it’s not as if I’m responsible for company decisions. The place they should have set fire to isn’t even on this continent.”

 

Fatigue washed over Lillian. More than anything she longed to go up to her bedroom in Boston, draw a hot bath and wash off the grime of the day. 

“I will return to the rectory now Father Pat.” she told her uncle.

“Yes, do so my child. Your fortitude impresses me when I least expect it to. We will have much to talk about in the morning. Can you manage to get home on your own?”

“I’ll see to it that she gets back safely Father Pat.” Manny O’Dowell approached them dabbing at his face with a kerchief he pulled from his back pocket. All it did was move the grime around his eyes. 

Similar to most of the men around her Manny was smeared with soot. His clothes were wet from helping with the pumper that had doused the flames. The fire was contained now.

“Sorry about m’appearance ma’am.” Manny said.

“Lillian?” Father Patrick asked nodding at Manny. 

“Yes uncle he’ll do fine, that is if you aren’t too tried from helping here.” Lillian took a clean rag from her apron and wiped some of the soot off Manny’s face.

“No ma’am. It isn’t that far, really.” He grinned.

She and Manny walked along Chestnut Avenue to the turn that would take her home.

“That a mighty brave thing, miss, that you done.”

“Thank you, Mr. O’Dowell.”

The sky was cloudless above them.

“The stars look so close.” Lillian said stopping to looking up. 

“Yes, miss. But a clear sky is often a sign of a storm coming soon.”

They continued on their way.

“You can tell?” she asked.

“Something you learn to see.” Manny explained. “Some can read signs in their bones. The way they ache moments before a thunderstorm.”

“I expect there’ll be a many aches tonight after what’s happened.”

“Too true there miss. But the color of the sky … ”
“How long have you been in the mines Mr. O’Dowell?”

“A few years now Miss. Pa said I had to know how the men earned their money so I could value it more when they spent it in our stores.”
“Do you know a … Birk Nelson?” she asked.

“Sure Miss. His pa, Blackie is in charge of the boilers at the colliery. Blackie’s a decent man but that Birk is a true Christer. Sorry miss … sorry about my language.”

“We’re all a bit tired from the day, Mr O’Dowell.”

“That’s no excuse. Why you asking about that ch … I mean … Birk. He thinks with his fists, if you understand what I mean. He acts reckless but he’s a decent sort, I suppose, for an orange bast … for a Protestant, I mean.”

“It was he who rescued me from the fire.”

“Wished it was me, miss.”

“He lives in the … “

“Bloody Mudder … I mean Mudside. That’s what we call their area Miss, cause it turns to mud when it rains. Yes, he lives there.”

“I suppose he’s one of the one with two kids already, too.”

“Oh, no miss. Lives with his folks. His brother Geo got hitched a some … a few months ago. Moved to Alberta for real work. Things so bad they had to take in a roomer too. Clancy … not sure what his last name is. He’s a mainlander, so I don’t even know who is father is.”

“Works in the mines too? Clancy, I mean.”

“Yes miss. He got my old job workin’ as Birk’s rake man. Birk as some sore about that. Me getting out from under the ground. His sport was born a mine rat and will stay a mine rat forever, if you ask me.”

“Mine rat?” Lillian hadn’t heard that expression before. 

“Yes miss. The mines is full of vermin that gets born down there. Sometimes they are born blind, they don’t need to see anyhow just smell.”

Lillian shuddered. “Not an easy life for them. From what I’ve heard the miners never had enough of anything.”

“Those in Mudtown gets what they deserved does them orange bast … sorry miss.”

They were at the front door of the rectory. The church hall doors were still open and the lights were on.

Lillian didn’t feel it was her duty to worry about these matters. She wanted to rest. Perhaps finish that letter to her brother. She had so much to tell him. The fire, the daring rescue. Then she remembered she was dead.

“Thank you for seeing me home Mr. O’Dowell.”

“Manny, if you please.”

“No, for the present I think it will remain Mr. O’Dowell.” Lillian recognized that look in his eyes. What was it about men that even a casual conversation with a woman would lead them to believe any further familiarity was invited or even wanted?

“Yes Miss McTavish.” His shoulders slumped. “It’s been a great pleasure to … have a … conversation with you.”

He shook her hand and walked into the night. She forced herself to go into the hall to turn the lights off and close the doors. There were papers, empty bottles, cigarette littering the floor but she would leave those for the church’s clearers to tend to. She left the windows open to allow the night breeze to clear away the smell of cigar smoke.

In the rectory she went up to her room intending to rest a moment before washing for bed. Her shoes smelled of smoke as she pushed them off. She lay on the bed and fell asleep immediately.

She dreamt that she had taken the train back to Boston. One off the train she ran from he station to her house but it wasn’t on the street where she remembered it was. She asked strangers where number 56 was and they looked at her blankly.

She up and down the street but there was no number 56. She saw people she recognized but none of them knew her. Over the shoulder of one of them she saw across the street to the front steps to her house. She rushed dupe the steps and put her key inot the door.

When door swung opened she was greet by the familiar smells of fresh cut flowers from the sitting room, the smell of cooking from the kitchen. She called out that she was home from Cape Breton, That she’d brought gifts of bread and jam for every. She’d baked the bread herself. 

Her mother appeared from the living-room dressed in black.

“Lillian is that you or is it a ghost?” Her mother stepped back fearfully.

“No Mother it is Lillian. I’m very much alive. Learning to bake bread didn’t kill me after all.” She reached out to embrace her mother.

“What do you think you are doing Lillian McTavish.” The figure of her mother had become Father Patrick. She was no longer in her Boston home but in front of the alter at St. Agatha.

Father Patrick was addressing the congregation from his lectern and pointing to her. All the parishioners were looking at her.

“She that has tasted of sin will never receive the life everlasting.” Her uncle was shouting. Spittle flew from his mouth, dribbled down his chin. Smoke rose around her. 

She woke gasping for air and pulling at the neck of her night-gown. She sat up in the bed and saw where she was. It was her room in the rectory. The smell of the fire on her clothes was strong. She got up and opened the window to let in some fresh air. Back in the bed she fell back to sleep.

The morning light was coming through her window when she awoke with a start. The clothes she had slept in itched. The room still smell of the fire.

She could hear noises from below. By the quality of the light she knew it was well past her uncle’s breakfast time. 

She shoved her feet into her shoes. The backs of her hands where slightly burnt. She hadn’t noticed that in her excitement during the fire.

She went downstairs to the kitchen. Her uncle was seated in his usual chair at the kitchen table.

“I’m sorry Father Patrick … I …”

“That’s quite all right my dear. After the ordeal of yesterday anyone would need a good night’s sleep. The people of Castleton Mines have been expressing their gratitude for your daring act last night. Sit.” he vacated his chair for her.

She sat. 

“Let me express my own gratitude by serving you.” He place a cup of tea before her. “It is the English, which I know you prefer over the Ceylon. Your egg will be ready in a moment, as well.”

“Father Patrick!”

“Your actions last night have made me aware that my judgements of you may have been harsher than necessary. You have changed greatly from the sullen, silly girl who arrived here some months ago. The Mother Superior believes you have all the qualities needed to be a fine nun. At first I wasn’t so sure but now I am convinced. Your brave willingness to sacrifice your life in order to save that child is what true martyrs are made of.”

“Martyr!” Lillian blushed. She wasn’t interested in becoming a martyr. “I didn’t do that to be a martyr but to … I want to be seen as a person, not as a burden. Not a daughter whose innocent indiscretion is such a family shame she is dead to them. I want to be free to be myself.” She gulped her tea.

“Granted, but one can only truly find themselves though the intercession of Our Saviour.”

Lillian wanted to laugh, to scream but contained herself.

“Yes Father Patrick. The way is becoming clearer to me.”

“As I prayed it would. I have tended to the water heater so there will be ample hot water if you wish to avail yourself of it before you attend to your household chores.”

“Thank you Father Patrick.”

She went into the bathroom and filled the tub. While it was filling she went to her room for clean underthings and a fresh pinafore. She unwrapped the last of the Castile rose soap she had brought from Boston. Another tie to her past now washed away.

She sat in the tub and undid her hair. She lay back allowing it to float on the water. 

The water quickly darkened with the soot from the fire, with the oils of her hair. When had she last washed it? Weeks? Months? She had no reason till now. She was sure that Birk Nelson would enjoy the smell of her hair.

One she was dry she rubbed lotion onto her burned hands. Refreshed she luxuriated in clean clothes. She went to the bin of cast-off clothing collected for the miner’s families. On the top of it were some shirts and trousers of her uncle’s. Clothes she had recently repaired even though they no longer fit him. She selected a shirt and a pair of dark grey pants. 

She wrapped them in brown paper with a note. One the package she wrote “Birk Nelson.” Finding his house shouldn’t be too hard for as brave lass as her.

 

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 ice-cream in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Hollies

I have a love & not-so-loved relationship with The Hollies who since the 60s have made some great recordings & also some banal, tedious records. I have a fairly large collection that spans 4 cds of mp3’s as well as one stand-alone, Romany (one of my favourites).

Part of the initial British invasion in 1963 The Hollies are still together & performing in 2018 with some of the original members. Members have come & gone & come back. I think my first memory of them is Look Through Any Window. My first lp was Stop! Stop! Stop! But because they were considered radio-fodder & not as deep as say, The Rolling Stones, I didn’t really follow them. 

When Graham Nash left 1968 it was a ‘thing’ because he felt the group was trying to be too serious by doing an lp of Bob Dylan covers. His departure was probably the best thing that happened to them as they went on to produce some amazing singles & lps: My favourites are Distant Light, Romany, Another Night, Crazy Steal. Romany is a under-rated masterpiece & a great place for anyone to start their Hollies exploration.

I have, as mp3s: Stay With the Hollies; In the Hollies Style; Hollies; Would You Believe?; For Certain Because; Evolution; Butterfly; Hollies Sing Dylan; Hollies Sing Hollies; Confessions of the Mind; Distant Light; Out on the Road; Hollies; Another Night; Write On; Russian Roulette; Crazy Steal; 5317704; Buddy Holly; What Goes Around (1983 reunion with Nash); Staying Power; Then, Now, Always; A’s B’s & Eps; Epic’s Original Master Tapes.

The later recordings: Staying Power; Then, Now, Always – aren’t bad but not as vibrant as their mid-period work or as playful as their earlier lps. Also in this mp3 collection I have CSN; CSNY. these are here because of Graham Nash. These are classic pop & highly influential recordings. Stunning songs, harmonies & politics, though only Neil Young managed to create great music outside of the group. I  find Nash’s songs to be banal but pretty. 

Gentle 

The eraser tore through the paper. The fourth page Jan had spoiled. Only ten minutes left to the end of the class and she still wasn’t any closer to starting than she had been when the class had started. She shoved the papers, pencils, crayons off her desk and to the floor.

‘What’s wrong Jan?’ Her teacher, Miss Grant kneeled by the desk and began to pick up the stuff that had just been pushed to the floor.

‘Nothing. Nothing is the matter. Why does something have to be the matter? Why?’

‘It doesn’t, Jan. Let’s see what you’ve done so far.’

‘Nothing to see.’

‘Miss Grant! Miss Grant!’ Dave piped up. ‘I have lots for you to see.’

‘I’ll get around to you Dave. Why don’t you start again Jan. Try something simple. Small.’ she folded a page into quarters. ‘See. You don’t have to fill the whole page like the others. Such a waste of the rain forest, don’t you think?’

Jan nodded in agreement, clutched a pencil and began to make lines on the page. Lines that became tree trunks.

Miss Grant stood and went over to Dave.

‘Whatcha you doing?’ Syl turned to peer at Jan’s picture.

‘Never you mind.’ Jan covered her work as best as she could and in doing so crumpled the picture she had started. ‘Oh shit. Why don’t you leave me alone.’ She balled the page in her fist and hit Syl on the ear with it.

‘Now, now, Jan. You have to play gentle with the other. Not everyone is as strong as you.’ Miss Grant rushed over.

‘Well, so what. Just leave me be for a few minutes.’ Jan stood and tried to push past Miss Grant. The teacher held her firmly by the shoulders. ‘You let me go. I’ll report you. I’ll tell.’

‘Tell what?’ Miss Grant forced her back into her desk. ‘You have to be slow with your self Jan. There is no hurry. Just take your time.’

‘I don’t give a crap about you or this school or growing up. I don’t. So just leave me alone.’ She covered her head with her hands and sobbed onto her desk.

The buzzer went. 

‘That’s all for today class. Now leave quietly and I’ll see you all back here tomorrow.’

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 1 -30

http://nanowrimo.org

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Sneak Peek November 2018

Looking back on October & it proved to be a productive & creative month with new Halloween poems posted every week & one more to come for November 1: Day of The Dead. I didn’t realize how much the subconscious absorbed from horror movies. People must that liked them as my TOpoet.ca following jumped to 283, a surprise to me as I hoped to hit that by the end of the year. Lots of new followers from India. Twitter & Tumblr show no increase.

With Dusters I’ve blogged just over 55,000 words so far, with at least another 62,000 to go. The editing has been easy. Not worrying, yet, about pleasing an editor or publisher has freed the process for me to add what I think fits the story. One of the things I keep in mind is that I want to keep the ‘style’ in that period’s young adult gung-ho style. So no swearing to deal with 🙂

November means NaNoWriMo so I’ll be writing everyday to make sure I surpass the 50000 word goal. What am I working on this year? My initial notion is a set of connect short stories with each dealing with a different horror trope – the haunted house, the possessed boyfriend, the mutant (also possibly a boyfriend 🙂 ) – that sort of thing. Working title is The Bloodstone Tales. Samples will be posted here – probably on Fridays.

Photos will change during the month: Mondays will see more festive pics mixed in; Wednesdays red will fade to spheres; Thursdays will bring those random pairs; Fridays will stay open to doors.

NaNoWriMo probably means no Tumblr posts for November or at least until I feel I have enough written each day. In fact the few distractions the better. I only have one, so far, show to attend – Hot Damn! on November 15. 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Paradise Staged

Before seeing the Festival production of Paradise Lost we stopped into the costume warehouse sale to see what was on sale but more to see what was stored there. It was day 2 of the sale & all the ‘good’ stuff had been sold in the first few hours of day 1. I did buy a shirt though just to say I have a piece of Festival history. 

There were plenty of fun cloaks, sequinned dresses & few props. I found out that there are regular tours of the warehouse so one will be planned for next season. I did get some fun photos though which was my real reason for going there.

Paradise Lost was excellent. I wasn’t sure how the endless, blank verse poem would be staged. Doing spoken word frequently I know the struggle there can be in lifting words of the page. Adapter Erin Shields, director Jackie Maxwell & Lucy Peacock (as Satan) did an amazing job at making the text engaging & often much funnier than I’m sure John Milton intended it to be.

Centre stage at the Studio Theatre is a pile of shirts (going from dark at the bottom to white at the top) reaching to the ceiling, around it are hung black shirts. Lights out & we hear the dark shirts drop to the stage: the fallen angels. As Satan Lucy Peacock commands the stage whenever she appears. The interaction between the ‘good’ host of angels reflects their pecking order.

The supporting cast was all good. I particularly liked Sarah Dodd as as sort of east coast slutty Sin & as Zephon, who was eager to perform as Satan in the play-within-a-play. Perhaps because he was mainly naked I did enjoy Qasim Khan as Adam. His comic timing was excellent. Both he & Amelia Sargisson, as Eve, played the naivety of their characters to perfection. 

The play-within-a-play mystery play telling of the war that lead to fall was hilarious & ti was clear the supporting cast was having great fun with it. The rhyming couples were a nice sonic break from the blank verse too. This is a brilliant piece of theatre that rivalled Coriolanus for theatricality without relying on tech-magic to do so.

The other shows I saw this season:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f 

Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K 

The King and I: “The King and My Memories” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31Y

Julius Caesar: “Honourable Women” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-33T

The Hound of the Baskervilles: “Entertainment Afoot”  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-34I

The Tempest: “Brave Spirits Indeed” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-35S

Grand Hotel https://wp.me/p1RtxU-37e

Rocky Horror: “I Feel Sexy” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-38u

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

Stratford Costume Warehouse pics:

http://topoet.tumblr.com/post/179316578048/ 

http://topoet.tumblr.com/post/179385874798/

http://topoet.tumblr.com/post/179469551438/

 

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson may not have invented the paranormal investigation genre but her novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ certainly made it an economically viable film genre. There is a history of pulp fiction psychic detectives which is worth searching out but they all involve solving & debunking in a crime context. Some treat the paranormal as real other as fraud. In The Haunting there is no crime & Jackson allows the reader to draw their own conclusions but one feels she was on the side of ‘ghosts’ being real.

 

Her life was a nightmare in & of itself. A domineering, womanizing husband who controlled her earnings, because as a fragile woman she couldn’t be trusted with money. I simplify but much like other female writers (i.e. Grace Metalious) she was confined by success rather than liberated by it. Much like the investigators of the house who are trapped by psychology and the unknown.

I’ve read some of her novels & enjoyed them, as well as her wonderful short stories. She writes about the paranormal in such a casual way it becomes believable. Her female characters are vivid without being over-the-top. Her plotting is satisfying without explaining every detail. She allows the reader to fill in some blanks.

I’ve talked with people about The Haunting & some say they don’t get the ending – they want something clear cut – is Eleanor delusional? Or has she really made contact with the spirit of the house? They find the horror elements of the book too subtle – no slasher just cold air, noises, door knocking & that chilly hand holding moment.

What inspires me about her writing is how powerful plain language can be; how one can create mood & tension without blood & gore. One doesn’t need literary CGI to give readers goosebumps. 

An Empty House

the smell of cooking

warm meals on the table

a pork chop with a bite out of it

kettle boiling

a shower running upstairs

steamy vanilla body wash

a damp towel on the sink

a change of clothes on the bed

an email ready to send

a cd on repeat

the same song over and over and over

a cellphone ringing

unattended lawn mower growling on the lawn

echoes in an empty house

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

Die! Monster! Die!

Die! Monster! Die!

abattoir hook 

fire ants

broken bottle to the face

boiled in oil

crushed by metal crusher

cut into tiny pieces

drowned

drilled through the brains

eviscerated

exploded

fried in vat of boiling oil

flayed

gutted

gassed

hung

harpooned

incinerated

incased in ice

jigsawed to bits

juiced by blender

knife to the heart

karate kicked to a pulp

lazer sliced

lethal injection

mummified

machine gunned

nailed to a cross

nuclear detonation

occult undermining

over fed to exploding

pit of sulphuric acid

poisoned

quicksand

quartered and drawn

ripped to pieces by razor backs

riddled with bullets

shovel to the head

stabbed

taxidermicide

tar pit trap

underwater grave

ulcerated colon

vaccinated with anthrax

vacuumed into space

wired to atomic bomb

wisteria soup

x-ray over-exposure

xenomorph attack

yellow jacket swarm

yoyo string garotting 

zebra stampede

zika infection

 

and yet it still walks amongst us

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Mummy

Kharis 

is this the last wrap

or the first

the first wrap was a tissue

of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

I used that wrap

over & over

until the tissue

was a layer after layer of

‘oh i’m fine’

‘i don’t mind’

‘how can i make you happy’

 

walking away

rather than add another layer

hoping no thread was snagged

on a expectation

an exception

on resurrecting love

 

I was protected

entombed by safety

by the fact

that all anyone wanted to hear

was ‘oh i’m fine’

‘this bandage solution will do’

‘you deserve to be fixed first’

 

bound tight

peering at life though the slits

surrendered to the weight of history

pushed along by an unquestioned past

by ritual expectations

controlled by the clasp of gauze

layer upon layer after layer

some turned to dust

some turned to scar

some turned to face the moon

reaching for release

 

decayed tissue 

dust motes settling in the moonlight

‘how can i make you happy?’

‘how can i unravel the book of life’

can i survive

without another layer

of this tissue

this scar tissue of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

This piece was inspired by both the phrase ‘tissue of lies’ and seeing Christopher Lee in ‘The Mummy’ 1959 – that was on TCM. The essence of the story is a man so in love he can’t stay dead. I saw it as an allegory for the notions we get wrapped up by our culture about what love means. How those wrappings confine rather than preserve and yet many persist in putting them on voluntarily.

There’s also reference to the ‘bandage solution’ in which the apology is supposed to be absolution that lets one off the hook. ‘I’m sorry for queer bashing you so please don’t send me to jail.’ Enough layers of ‘sorry’ and guilt gets buried.Here too I see the bandages as those things we say to placate others while we hide our real feelings – ‘I’m fine’ rather that ‘I’m fucking angry.’ 

In the Lee film there is The Scroll of Life that brings the Mummy to life – no moonlight tanna leaves in this version – one ritual has to be performed moonlight etc. The power of the word replaces the mystic of plants. The Mummy’s drive to protect and make happy the princess & goes about it blind to any damage left in his wake. 

Masculinity can be like layers of bandage, traditions & cultural expectation that men find themselves compelled to fulfill – a weight of history & unquestioned pasts that like the ending of The Mummy drowns men in a swamp of ‘oh i’m fine.’ Is masculinity a better option than admitting that entitlement can’t unravel the Scroll of Life. 

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Chapter XXX – Lillian to the Rescue

Chapter XXX

Lillian

to the Rescue

From the front parlour window Lillian watched the men gathering at St. Agatha Hall for the union meeting. She wondered why it was only men who went into the Hall. Why were their wives made to wait outside at such times? After all the decisions made here would effect their lives as much as the men’s. 

She hoped to see the hairy miner in the crowd but didn’t notice him. Her memory of him was vague at best. She had been unwilling to actually focus on him the few times they had met in passing. It wasn’t fitting for her to pay much heed to any of the Protestants in Castleton. His dark eyes and unshaved face made her shudder. What if he was too … animalistic for her purposes. Perhaps the Convent would be a better option. No! That decision could wait until she’d had a good look at the man himself.

Without changing out of her apron she left the rectory and went around the back of the Hall to a spot near one of the open windows of the Hall to hear what was being said. She couldn’t see over the heads of the man leaning on the inside sill. She recognized voices. Her uncle’s, that union man. If Birk spoke up she doubted if she’d recognize him. It was clear they wouldn’t be going back the mine that very night or in the near future. She hoped the rectory had enough fuel for the hot water heater. 

After confused, angry shouting the men began to move en masse. They went from being a disorderly but listening crowd to a mob. She joined some of the wives who had been stationed outside, to follow at a safe distance. A few men at the edge of the mob were drinking, shoving and fighting among themselves.

Father Patrick and Reverend Brown stood at the hall doors calling for the men to come back to finish the meeting. 

The men were chanting. “The Pluck Me. The Pluck Me.”

The mob gathered in front of the company store. She had been in the store several times before the strike began but only once since. Mrs. Seldon, wife of the store manager was also from off-island and had never gelt the local had accepted her. She had given Lillian a much needed listening ear when she first arrived in New Castleton. If there was some new patterned fabric she would send for Lillian in hopes of selling her some. Lillian loved to look at and handle the material but could only afford to dream.

They had spent evenings going through the Eaton’s catalogue looking at and longing for the various shoes, dinner wear and household items. They both were taken by the new washing machine that would reduce the amount of work needed to wash and wring out the clothes. With the birth of her son, Charles, Mrs. Seldon said she could use two of those machines to keep up with dirty nappies.

She felt a surge of powerless as she saw Mrs. Seldon shout from the second story window to discourage the men from taking any violent actions. When the men began to tear the boards protecting the plate glass windows she was faint. The men had gone from humans to animals as they attacked the front of the store.

  Boards were quickly pulled loose, the windows broken and the men clambered into the store through the sills, heedless of the crunch of glass underfoot. They were ants swarming over an apple core in the garden. First one, then two, then what seemed like hundreds of them. Like the ants with crumbs, the men were departing with bags of flour, bolts of fabric, barrels of things; carried in their arms, on their backs. The women joined in the clearing tins of food off of the shelves of the store.

She could hear Mrs. Seldon weeping and pleading with them. A couple of the wives dragged her out of the store and shoved her into the lane between the buildings opposite the store. The Seldon’s new born was wailing from the upstairs room. A fire broke out in the back of the store. The men were heedless of danger as they continued to pull out goods and disappear into the night with them.

She could no longer see Mrs. Seldon. The wails of the baby got louder. 

“You have to do something!” she grabbed one of the miners. “There’s a child up there.”

“Not my look out.” The man pushed past her. “I didn’t leave it behind.”

Lillian scrambled up the outside stairway that led to the rooms above. The unlocked door opened into the living-room. Smoke had filled the room. It stung her eyes. She covered her mouth with her apron and made her way to the corner where the crib was. She grabbed at the writhing child, wrapped him in a swaddling blanket and got him into her arms. The baby kicked and cried even louder.

Flames were now spurting through the floor boards around the edges of the carpet. As she got to the door, the floor began to collapse under her feet and into the store beneath. She prayed at least one of the miners would be caught in the inferno. The thought made her shiver with guilt.

Her apron caught on the door frame and she couldn’t pull it loose. She couldn’t let go her hold of the child as she tried to protect it from the sparks that rained on them. The smoke and heat made it impossible for her to see where the apron was caught. Her heart raced. She feared this was her doom. The landing where she balanced on the outside stairs began to smoulder. Another section of the floor in the room behind her crashed into the store. 

Clutching the baby in one arm she fumbled at the apron to see where it was caught. Maybe if she could untie it she could get loose. Struggling she began to mutter, “Our Father who art …”

A man appeared beside her out of the smoke. She couldn’t see his face.

“Oh! Thank God. My apron …” 

He reached behind her, ripped the apron free and dragged her down the stairs while trying to shield her and the baby from a new barrage sparks that fell on them as the roof collapsed into the building.

She glimpsed flames darting through the very stairs and around their feet as they stumbled down. The hem of her skirt began to smoulder. Flame burned her ankles. As they leapt from the next to last step the stairway collapsed and was swallowed by flame.

Hands grabbed them the moment they were off the stairs. The man kept her close to him until they were in the crowd. There was a scattering of applause as the mob parted to let them make it to safety. They were steered to a bench in front of the iron foundry across from the company store.

“Thank you. Thank you.” Lillian said to the man as she sat down. “I was preparing to meet God.” She gasped for air and coughed as she breathed in the smoke around them.

She set the baby on the bench beside her and opened the covers to make sure it was alright. It starting kicking and giggling as the swaddling was loosened. She picked it up and began to rock it gently.
“As was I, miss, as I ran up those steps. The closest I ever wants to come to the mouth of Hell.”

She rubbed her eyes with the sleeve of her free arm. They were clear enough for her to look at the man who had rescued her. His soot streaked face was familiar to her. It was her hairy miner.

“Thank you again.” She paused trying to recall his name. “I … we’ve met before, I think?”

“Think nothing of it, Miss. If it weren’t me, one of the others would have done the same.”

“What is your name? Please, so …. my uncle will be anxious to thank you himself, I’m sure. Father Patrick.”

“We have met a few times afore Miss, but were never prop’ly introduced. M’name is Birk Nelson.” He shook cinders out of his hair onto the ground. 

“I’ll most probably need a hair cut after this.” He grinned foolishly. “Thought it was going to burn off my head for a bit there.”

The very man she had been thinking of earlier in the day had rescued her! Was this God’s answer to her prayers for a way out of her situation? What clearer sign could one ask for? Moses had his message written in flames for him, too. Here was her’s. A commandment to marry.

She saw her uncle at the edge of the crowd. She waved to him.

“You must let me …” 

“Miss, I must be going. I sees that you and the babby are safe. I’ll let your kin look after you now.”

“No. Where … ”

He was gone before she could find out where he lived. She knew it had to Mudside. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find him there.

“Lillian!” Her uncle put his arm around her shoulders and helped her stand. “Are you all right?”

“I had to … to save Charles, the baby.” She loosened her hold on the infant. The child began to cry. “It is the Seldon’s.”

The Seldon’s weren’t parishioners of her uncle’s so she had kept her friendship with them to herself till now.

“You mean you went into that inferno to save their child?”

“Yes, Uncle. I was caught myself on the door by my apron and was in need of rescue. One of the miners risked his life.”

“Considering this was all their doing, it was the least one of them could do. I can’t imagine they wanted to add your death to their ill-considered actions.”

“Lillian!” Mrs. Seldon pushed Father Patrick aside. “Charles! You have saved Charles. I was so afraid he had been trapped in the fire.” She began to weep. “I tried to get back in but they held me back.” She took her child and began to rock it. 

Most of the mob had dispersed, satiated by their stolen goods. Some remained to bask in the glow of their handiwork. Lillian found it hard to breathe in the smoke and heat.

Mr. Seldon arrived with several other men. Lillian recognized one as Mr. Bowden, one of the mine managers.

Another group of men appeared pushing a large cart with a some sort of pump apparatus. A hose ran from it to the harbour. They began to pump and water trickled out in spurts to put out the flames.

“The best pumper is on company property.” Her uncle explained. “The miners won’t cross their picket lines to get.”

More men appeared with pails of water that they were throwing on the walls of the buildings on either side of the company store. Mr. Bowden motioned two of the miners over and they ran to the colliery with him.

“With the strike no one has been able to get to it.”

“Too late. Too late.” Mrs. Seldon sobbed. “We lost everything, for what! No one can make a profit from destruction.”

“It’ll be all they can do to keep the fire from spreading.” Mr. Seldon said. 

“How could men do something of this nature?” Lillian asked. “To make things worse solves nothing.”

“Often human passion can even drown out the voice of our Creator.” Father Patrick said.

“Some of these were men I’ve seen at Mass. I would never have imagined them capable of this kind of action.”

“Hunger, Miss McTavish.” Mr. Seldon said shaking his head sadly. “Can’t say as I can blame them but this isn’t going to help there cause.”

She watched in dismay as the back wall of the store wavered then crumbled in on the fire. 

The air hung heavy with the smells of burning mixed with the odd sweetness of things that had been incinerated in the store as it burned. 

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