Stratford Protocol

Earlier this week we took a day trip to Stratford. This is the first summer in decades I haven’t seen show there, & the first time since the 50’s my partner hasn’t seen a show there. Neither have never been there when they wasn’t a show running. Unlike out usual visits there we didn’t have to pack as much in the way of snacks & fluids 🙂

With most of the province inching into phase 3 I was curious to see just what that meant outside of the golden horseshoe. We left later than usual, no rush to get there for 2 pm curtain. The weather was perfect. The traffic was the usual with slowdowns outside of Kitchener. Our first stop was the Tim’s at the edge of Cambridge. 

Masks on & in we went. No seating but washrooms were open, on request, one person at a time. Follow the arrows to the exit please. Staff masked & gloved. Coffee up to their standards. From there we took the New Dundee Road though New Dundee, Haysville & on to Shakespeare, This was the only major slowdown for highway work being done on the intersection there. 30 mins while road-plows plowed the road. It seems university guys aren’t doing construction this year to pay their tuition 😦

It was worth the wait for our next stop: the Pie Shop. There we bought chicken pot pies, lemon tarts & other nutritious snacks. On to Stratford for lunch at Features.

Yes Features was open for ‘take-out’ only. But they had patio tables set up & brought your order to your table. The town had more people than expected wandering in & out of the fudge stores. But the Festival theatres were all shut down even the gift shops. With so little tourist traffic the town opted not to do any gardening along sidewalks etc.

We did drive around to see the new Theatre. The rush for opening has allowed them to take their time with landscaping. The lots was fenced off so I didn’t get any real close up photos. People in paddle boats on the Avon was out matinee performance 🙂

Drive home was good. Road workers on lunch break as we passed through Shakespeare. One last stop at the Pork Shop for their excellent pulled pork. Home by 4:30. exhausted by all that sitting, taking photos & enjoying the scenery? Maybe we’ll hit Niagara-on-the-Lake for an August day trip. A big maybe because there isn’t even a favorite restaurant we miss there.  

H I Jazz

 

I picked up jazz pianist Andrew Hill’s One For One decades ago at Cheapies. It’s a compilation double album of previously unissued studio tracks recorded in 1965, 1969 and 1970. Adventurous post-bop jazz in various group settings & all excellent. It’s my own lp to cd transfer. In an mp3 collection I have his Hommage (1975) solo piano works that is good solid jazz. This is not supper club music 🙂

Next is a stand alone cd of Dave Holland Big Band: What Goes Around. I love ‘modern’ big band. This propulsive, meditative, inventive & highly enjoyable. Holland is a double-bass players & appears in dozens of ensembles on ECM. A great started for anyone testing the jazz waters.

impulsive! is a 2cd stand-alone set of remixes of impulse original recordings by the likes of Mingus & Pharoah Sanders. Remixes were a thing for a time. Classical music given drum & bass, or breakbeat in the mix. Impulse, a major jazz label, let remixers into their back catalogue with good results. Though adding a hip-hop track to update a piece isn’t always the way to go. Some turn out great such as the re-working of Sanders: Astral Travelling. CD1 are the remixes, CD2 are the unadulterated originals. Good stuff.

Jazziz was a monthly magazine that included a sampler CD. It was difficult to subscribe to though – I had to pay a month at a time, in advance & sometimes the issue didn’t arrive 😦 Under J is the January 1995 sampler – that did lead to me purchasing cds by Jai Uttal & Bobby Previte. It was too frustrating getting issues so I gave up. It is still publishing on line.

The Viewing

Later that afternoon after taking too many pictures of the decayed bandstand in the park I figured it was time to head home. Once again the dilemma was which streets paved with banal memories did I want to take.

One end of the park tapered off into the downtown area, where I’d already been and another corner faced a row of the larger, wealthier homes of the town. Most of which were now lawyers and accountants offices. 

One of them was still a funeral home. The one my mother had mentioned this morning where there was to be a viewing for Mr Razov. I decided to go in. This would be something that held no memory. I’d never been in this place till now. A new experience in the old home town.

The front foyer was dark in brushed browns and gold. a young lady stepped from a corner.

“Welcome to Cherished Funeral Home. Who are you looking for?” She asked in a concerned, hushed voice.

“Mr. Razov.”

“Ah, yes. This way. He’s resting in the small chapel at the back. follow me. There hasn’t been many in but that’s often the case. Here we are.”

The coffin was at the far side of the room a spray of flowers at either end of it. It was opened but I wasn’t prepared to look at him.

On a shelf along the wall where photos of Mr. Razor. Several of him, labelled as being in Novonikolayevsk. One with his family – a wife with two small children. A newspaper clipping of him in the Toronto airport where he defected. A couple with the chess club – him standing over two pairs of us we studied the pieces on the chess boards in front of us. Even without seeing his face I recognized Howard Delaney from the back of his head. How long had it been since I seen Howard. 

“Good afternoon.” A deep voice from behind me asked. “You knew my father?”


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Distant October

October Night

nervous scuffling

waiting in the frost air

for a give-away flicker

from a curtained window

<>

suddenly

the signal

quick

flashing relief;

“okay men, move in,”

the Sheriff ordered, calmly;

he knew his stuff

<>

grinding out his butt

he led the seven

out of the lap of luxury 

where

Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do

<>

(some strangled arrangement

some fitful pondering

an empty cage isn’t always

the reflection of freedom)

<>

“so be on guard, men,”

the Sheriff warner, coolly,

“ ’tis dangerous stuff

dis searchin’ so late at night”

the door opened 

noiselessly at his touch,

“this way’

<>

shivering & afraid

in a bottled room;

hopefully hidden

trusting only one,

who suddenly signalled

with no time for revenge;

he could hear their feet

step carefully over the lawn

<>

shifting weight

one foot

to the

other,

floor creaking giant noise;

catching door open gently

a timid, almost heard squeak;

searching for a way out,

none

(no defence, no crime,

small & fragile

now wrapped in black

after a lingering ugly

mad dash for freedom)

<>

“I think I hear him,”

the Sheriff under-breathed,

motioning for a silent halt,

“in here!”

thrown open door

harsh light blinding

burst of bullets

blood-spattered wall,

spr

awl

ing grimacing corpse

<>

“not a pretty sight,”

the Sheriff chuckled,

avoiding the eyes;

turning quickly

stomach clutching

youngest posse member

staggers outside

in disgust

learning the easy way

about the hard way

<>

crisp moon shining

reflecting on car tops

as they dustily return

their satisfied duty done

return to the lap of luxury 

where

Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do

Oct/71

This piece has a clear narrative line – a western trope that has been filmed countless times. I wanted to use that template & turn it into poetry, to allow the reader to see the story in a different light. It is actually two stories at the same time. One is the ambush the other is ‘Space died.’

In the printed version I was able to separate the two stories with line enjambments which disappear in WordPress 😦 So I’ve been forced to do brackets for that visual shift. At points ‘out of the lap of luxury /where /Space died’ there was a nice drift of one story into the other. 

‘Space’ was one of my temple finches – small colourful birds that sang sweetly. Katmandu was a spider monkey my Dad brought home one day. Both were kept in separate cages. But cleaning the bird cage the finches flew around the room & one got too close to the monkey cage & was caught & killed. Hence the ‘empty cage’ line.

I like the way this reads like a screenplay with the clear images, the quickly defined characters: the Sheriff, the newbie. The seven is a reference to the Magnificent Seven. I wasn’t a cowboy movie fan by any means but this narrative line is assembled from many movies & tv shows like Gun Smoke, Bonanza & Have Gun Will Travel. Not Roy Rogers. Much like this piece, none of these had anything to do with the real west.

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

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Distant Winker

Winker

the hangman is a compulsive winker!

(or is that a twitch?)

I think he’s trying to con me;

he wants me to think the rope is silk,

that the drop is sweet & short,

the pain is faster that nightfall,

that the end is cleaner than rain

<>

knowing better, I wink back, coyly;

I’m trying to con him into thinking

that my only fears is that of heights,

that my knees aren’t shaking to fall into prayer,

that any fitful gesture could save me

<>

I’m letting him know I know

this final trick of his trade;

that slipknots are for fast get-a-ways

(I’m ready to be freed)

this criminal is a compulsive escaper

July/74

Some poet once said ‘All poetry is about death.’ So wether one wants to or not you end up writing about it. This is an ironic, sort of blackly humorous, look at death. It is also a list poem in which I go through the various aspects of the hanging – the rope, the knot, the drop to discount, in a way, the seriousness of each of them.

It is a romanticize take on a horrible fate – the gallant highway man laughing in the face of death, giggling on the gallows. A type of masculine bravery & bravado that I certainly lacked but admired. A bravado than only existed in movies anyway – which is where too many of us learned to be men.

I suspect that pop music played a role in this piece as well. Led Zeppelin’s Gallows Pole, Spooky Tooth’s Hangman Hang My Shell on A Tree; & of course the Incredible String Band’s The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter. Songs that in their way glorified the gristly. At one time homosexuality was a hanging offence. 

There’s also a loose plot with the exchange of winks, the slipknot – the escape was planned. What was the relationship between the criminal & the hangman? Winking has a sexual flirtation connotation – is this the way we flirt with death? Flirting to numb the fear & possibly lessen what pain there may be when that end comes. No one escapes.

But this is told from the pov of the to-be-hanged man. In Tarot the Hanged Man is the 12th card of the greater arcana. It is the card of sacrifice for a greater good – of animal nature to duty – a change of attitude toward life. So is the escaper saying no to change, saying no the change the hangman represents? Perhaps saying yes to escape is a change. The next card in the arcana is Death.

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

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Picture Perfect 28

Dan took the rear stairs and knocked on the Carafe’s back exit.

“Who is it?’ 

“It’s Dan James, Peter.”

Peter unlocked the door and let him in.

“You’re here early. I was just getting the coffee perking. I can do an Americano for you if you don’t want to wait.”

“That’d be sweet of you. I was too bushed to go home last and fell asleep upstairs.”

Peter poured water into the espresso machine and ground fresh coffee while it was heating up.

“I’m surprised Sanjay didn’t insist you come home. I sure would have after what happened to you.”

“Even if he were in town I doubt he would have bothered.” Dan said. “We’re not a couple any more.” Other than Jill he hadn’t told anyone about the break up, not even his staff. 

“That’s a shame but these things to happen, don’t they.” Peter put the Americano on the table.

“Thanks.” Dan sipped it and nodded appreciatively . “Don’t mind me if you have work to do.”

He watched Peter go about the morning routines at the cafe, setting tables right, checking napkins, sugar and such. Each movement was deliberate, confident. He found himself getting aroused by the firmness of Peter’s shoulder, calves. 

He shook his head to break the spell. Peter was definitely not his type. Too tall, too redheaded. But he did have an attractive face. Timmy was a red head, too. Was Peter uncut?

“Something wrong.” Peter stopped.

“Sorry. Just daydreaming.” He gently rubbed his forehead to see if that would relieve the pain around his eyes. “You must live in the neighbourhood to get here this early in the morning.”

“Yeah. Up on Gill. It’s about a five minute walk, ten if I take my time. So I can be here in rain, sleet, snow, sun, rain. Did I say rain already?”

“Who’s counting.” Dan laughed. Why was he finding this young man so attractive this morning. Peter had been working at the Carafe for about year now and had never appealed to him till now.

But he wasn’t almost single until now either. It had been over a week since he’d sex with Sanjay or even with himself. Or was this the pain meds wearing off? 

“I’d best be getting at my own place.” He went to the back exit. “You make a damn fine cup of coffee.”

“Thanks Mr. James. Anytime.”

Dan went up to his retreat. Was Peter flirting with him? Was Jeremy flirting with him. He didn’t know how to tell. At least Jeremy was in the right age range. When he first left the force he was so afraid when meeting other men, gay or straight, that somehow his every action would be seen as harassment. He shook my hand too long. He looked at me while he was talking about something. 

If Sanjay left he did he want to learn all that courting stuff again. At least on line guys where up front about what they wanted. In person one never knew.

He checked his agenda to see what was on for the day. Crap this was FairVista Friday! He rubbed at his forehead again. Did he want to cancel? He’d call the store to find out if many people had signed up for either of the sessions. If there weren’t enough he’d beg off. Knowing Linda she’d probably send Hamid to him pick up.

Baking smells came up from the cafe ovens. Fresh muffins would be a good start. Hopefully Peter wouldn’t be alone when he went down to pick up some.

First he’d open up the Depot. His swipe card wasn’t in his pants pocket. It wasn’t by the bed or in his shoulder bag! Fuck had he lost that too. No, he’d had it to get in. He got the pants he had been wearing the night before and it was in the back pocket. For security purposes he’d learned never to carry two important things together if he could help it. Hence his credit card was not in the same wallet as his i.d.

In the same back pocket was an appointment card from the hospital. He was to see the eye specialist that after noon at 1 pm. That solved the FairVista problem.

By the time he got down to the third floor Sandy had already opened up. 

“Nice bandage job.” She said. “Much pain?”

“Only when I talk.” Dan said.

“Any word from the police?”

“Nothing but the day is still young. Turns out Kilpatrick was drunk.”

“I figured. He didn’t smell that fresh when he came in.”

“Happened so fast I didn’t notice.”

“Hi!” Jill came in with a tray of coffees and bagels. “How are you feeling?”
“Headachy.” Dan said.

“Peter said you were in when he opened up.”

“Easier than going home.”

Ushio arrived followed shortly by Linda.

“I heard what happened!” she said. “How serious is the damage?”

“Heard?”

“I told my brother.” Ushio said. “He tells his wife.”

Sometimes Dan forgot that Ushio’s brother was married to Linda. He used to worry that Ushio was reporting things to her then stopped caring.

“I have an appointment this afternoon. The swelling may have gone down enough by then. But Dr. Grey didn’t think there is much to worry about. He said it didn’t appear that the eye itself had been impacted.”

He saw Linda looking around at the Depot as he explained things to her. Whenever she was there he felt she was judging if he was doing better than she was even though the books for both locations were open to both of them.

“So I won’t be out to the FairVista today.”

“You should take some time off to let it heal.” She said. “I can handle both locations.”

“You’d like that wouldn’t you.” Dan said. “I’ll be fine. Sandy can handle things here if need be. After all you trained her.”

“True. If there’s anything you need let me know.”

“I will. I’ll see you out to your car.”

He wanted to make sure she left before she found an excuse to hang around any longer.

At around 10 he called Officer Marks to see if Kilpatrick had given them any reason for his actions. Marks was out so he left a message.

Next he called Curtis Baxter.

“Daniel! I was about to call you. I have a wonderful offer to make you. I hope you are sitting down.”

“Does it have anything to do with John Kilpatrick?” Dan cut him off.

“Why, yes.” Curtis hesitated. “How do you know?”

“An unlucky guess.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What’s the offer?”

“After seeing your fabulous footage the network wants to offer you the chance to head your own reality show. Working title is Eye See. With your reputation it would be a synch. We’d start with you talking a deeper look at the missing children. The fact that you are in one of the pictures adds a personal dimension to the project we’re sure audiences will like.”

“What about Unsolved Cold Canada?”
“Oh we shelved that. John’s contract ends when the show ends.”

“You told him this yesterday morning.”

“Yes.”

“Let me make another unlucky guess. You told him he show was being canned in favour of one that I would be the host of.”

“Uh … something like that. Why all these unlucky guesses?”

“I guess you haven’t that John Kilpatrick came into my store yesterday morning to assault me. He may have permanently damaged my vision.”

“What?”

“Curtis you are clearly an untrustworthy asshole. I wouldn’t work with or for you under any circumstances.” He turned his cell off so violently he had check to make sure he hadn’t broken the screen.

It began to ring almost immediately.

It was Curtis. He opened the phone’s setting and ticked unavailable to this caller. The caller would get a message saying ‘The person you are calling is unavailable at the moment. Try again later.’ This would keep his voicemail or text from filling up if the caller was persistent.

He rubbed his forehead. His whole head was throbbing.

“Hurting?” Sandy asked.

“Yeah. To be expected. I’m am going to take Linda’s advice though. No specials this weekend so it’ll be a slow Friday.”

He went outside and hailed a cab. He found it disconcerting to have to turn his head so far to see around him. His neck ached from constantly trying to compensate for the loss of peripheral vision on his right side. 

First thing he did when he got in the house was set the hot tub on the patio to fill and heat. He saw that the landline was blinking for voice mail. He hadn’t given that number to Curtis. It was a message from Sanjay.

“Dan I called your cell and got that unavailable message. Called the Depot and Ushio told me that you got attacked. Are you okay?” 

The note of concern in Sanjay’s voice made Dan tear up. 

“I can come home today if you need me? Funny to say I miss you. Sylvan wants me to stay on for another couple of days after the grand opening. But I’d rather be there. Call me. I miss you.”

Dan went to the settings on his cell and saw that he had in fact selected unavailable to all callers not just to Curtis. He changed the settings.

He was about call Sanjay when there was someone at the door. He checked the monitor and it was Stephanie Carter. Had Curtis sent her? He ignored her knocking and doorbell ringing. How was she to know he was actually home? She gave up after ten minutes. He watched to make sure she wasn’t going to try the backdoor too. The motion sensor on the front door camera tilted as it followed her to a car at the curb. She got into the passenger side and the car drove off.

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Autonomy

In Week Eleven of The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron says: ‘The idea that money validates my credibility is very hard to shake.’ I’d take this even further but substituting ‘money’ with ‘suffering’ or ‘childhood sexual abuse’ or ‘conformity’ or ‘pick your own.’ There are so many sets of standards to measure validation that one can always find one that deems them not deserving. Maybe its the nature of ‘credibility’ that needs to be examined. Perhaps validation & credibility a manifestations of co-dependency – the need for a sense of self defined by outside forces.

I know we are ultimately defined by our culture’s standards but that is no reason not to question or even resist those perimeters. Sure, making money as a creator is a good thing, I’d love to get paid for blogging 🙂 Very few poets I know earn enough $ from their actual poetry to made a decent living – they struggle for grants, teach creative writing, edit for other writers. But that’s a rant for another post 🙂

Watched an amazing interview/biography of Toni Morrison. One of the things she talks about is writing for the white-gaze & when she stopped doing that her writing took on a a different sense, she was freed of needing to satisfy that gaze. This resonated with me as an issue of autonomy. In looking over my archive & greater depth than ever I see how much of what I wrote was written for the heterosexual-gaze.

Work that I pushed to make universal so the emotions were human, as opposed to being specific to me & my sexuality. Not that there isn’t an intersection of those emotions but I was suppressing direct gay sexuality to be more accessible, acceptable?

When I stopped suppressing my gay-gaze my poetry became more personal, more honest & so direct that my performance opportunities declined. I was a bit disappointed but who cares, right? My writing is what it is. I once had an agent tell me my sex scenes were too explicit. I guess was not writing for the heterosexual-gaze anymore 🙂 Autonomy 🙂

One of the tasks is another list of dreams but dreams in different categories – health, possessions, leisure, relationships, creativity, career & spirituality. Wishes with no thought as to practicality. This was a challenge in the light of the covid pandemic – every list included covid resistance, vaccine in first spot. It’s hard to dream of a future with this sort of threat – much like the 60s fear of nuclear holocaust that coloured our lives. But I survived that holocaust & I’ll survive this one.

 

Beyond Instinct

1 – ode to didgeridoo

<>

we are invited to travel

along a river of breath

chatter fades after the first vibrations

as we immerse in the deep C

notes below the harmonic of hearing

dark trilling the mud mind

the ear canal overfills gently

no room to hear anything more

a wordless dialogue in sound

digs us deep from the moment

into pre-animal instincts

the music before birth

beyond notes seeking a sharp landing

<>

2

<>

someone asked me

where did these words 

‘dark trilling the mud mind’

come from

<>

I wasn’t sure what to say

I’ve spent to many years

deconstructing the dictionary

there was nothing left to say

there is no where

there is no way to take you there

I’m lost in this horizon

setting you straight is beyond me

can’t tell where I’m coming from

not quite sure where I am going

but I know I’m here

caught in a fulminating flux

by a power greater than myself

something I’ll never understand

as long as I open the the experience

there is no logic to capture

the freedom of the flow

the where words come from

isn’t up to me

anything I say will only disappoint

or turn into my weaving

some self-indulgent web

a wordless dialogue in sound

to lead you to my bed

in an attempt to humanize myself

so you see the me beyond the dictionary

July 2007

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It’s In The Cards

an honest and trustworthy but tattered person who may be your friend
French advice coming in the form of a wise, traditionalist and conventional teacher
A financial change is coming
a man of integrity who is a weathered but generous and loyal friend
obstacles in the bushes may soon put you at a crossroads
indecision or a lack of commitment in a smoking relationship
a time of peace and harmony
you will need to make an important decision in the bushes

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The Mamas and The Papas


Cape Breton was a hotbed of folk music that quickly absorbed songs by Ian & Sylvia ‘Four Strong Winds’, Peter Paul & Mary ‘Blowin’ In The Wind.’ As well the usual Black is The Color – all rather traditional with acoustic guitar & mildly political messages. Educational & opposed to entertaining. Then one summer that changed thanks to a pair of songs. Monday Monday, California Dreaming.  

I was a huge fan of the The Mamas & The Papas. In an mp3 collection I have: if you can believe your eyes & ears; cass john michelle dennie; Deliver; The Papas & The Mamas; People Like Us; Live At Monterey; Bonus Tracks of solo works from the boxset; Mama Cass: Solo; Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas : This Precious Time. As a stand alone I have: The Greatest Hits.

That’s right! Hippies took over folk music. The The Mamas & The Papas were an acceptable, hip version of groups like The Association, The Beach Boys: also complex harmony California sunny groups. They were a group one’s parents approved of because of the lush harmonies. Even my mother liked them 🙂 I had their albums as lps as they were released. The tracks were a mix of originals, covers & even old big band hits. Something for everyone.

Much like the Byrds, their studio work became more complex & richer over time. The original work became more emotional & at times almost experimental. The broke up after The Papas & The Mamas, which has some of their most interesting work. The reunited a few years later for People Like Us.

I can’t say as I have a favourite lp to even song but some, besides the hits, always fill me with joy – String Man, Dancing In The Streets (that name checks Halifax, Nova Scotia), Rooms. The band was torn apart by sex, drugs & fame – setting the pattern for bands like Fleetwood Mac 🙂

Their after break-up solo work is uneven. Phillips: Wolf King is solid, Michelle’s is pleasant, Denny ordinary pleasant. Mama Cass worked hard but never found the right producer & he work was scattershot. Their work with Barry McGuire is pristine & more political than their own work.

One final memory – having and argument over their name 🙂 The Mamas and The Papas is what appears on lp but people would drop the ‘The’s, or reverse the order or reduce it Mamas Papas. I corrected one ‘friend’ & he went ballistic & was incensed when I pulled out the lp to point out the correct name. But you know, just a rose, the music is just as sweet regardless of the name.

The Good Pig

Almost unconsciously I start on the street that would take me to downtown. One that avoided all the school routes. I felt the same little dash of guilt I would feel when I was skipping school to sneak off to hang around the mall or the library. 

The sun was warm in a cloudless sky as I came to the slight rise at the intersection. It was a lot busier than when I was last home several years ago. 

Rather than continue on my accustomed way I crossed the street to the bridge that lead to the bad side of town. On the bridge I had a good view of the city and even the distant outskirts. More mountains than i’d ever realized. Though I supposed I would have known that if I’d been in this area more often as a teen.

The bad side of town was where the workers in the steel plant mainly lived. Closer to the plant. There was also a clear religious division with this area being mainly Polish Catholic while I lived a French Catholic mixed with English Protestant area. The high-schools were always bitter rivals.

I turned back to take the street downtown. There was a corner store where I decided to stop to get a bottle of water. It was dusty, dim with the only real light, other than the dusty windows, coming from an enormous, flat-screen TV on one wall. The chunky, balding clerk was very focused on it.

“Billy Waters?” The clerk asked.

“Right.”

“Frank Delaney.” He stuck his hand out. “I remember you from Davisville High-School. You were in the chess club.’

His face wasn’t immediately familiar but his last name was.

“Howard’s brother?”

“Yep. He was the brains.”

“Didn’t you play on the basketball team?” I went to the cooler and got a bottle of water.

“Yeah.” He gave a little laugh and pulled at his stomach. “I was a lot lighter on my feet then. In town for long?”

“A few weeks. Visiting the folks.”

“How they doing?”

“Pretty good. Any word from your brother?”

“Moved to BC. I got stuck here with this.” He made a gesture with hands the store. “I was taking Forestry at Memorial when Dad died and Ma needed some one to run the store. Howard had no interest. So here I am.”

“Nice to ren into you.” I moved to the door.

“Always a bag of chips within reach, so can’t complain. You might drop down to The Good Pig some night. There’s a bunch of us from Davisville who often meet up there for pool and drinks. We could shoot the shit. get caught up.”

Two teenage girls came into the store.

“Sure I’ll do that.”


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Distant Waltz

Waltz

lazy grey waltz

show me the steps

glide across the floor

a feather

in the fiddler’s sleeve

<>

shadow-creased vision 

hushed distance of recall

layered webs flickering

smokey images crumbling

wondering

how did I get this way,

so far, far away

from the hoedown moon?

<>

a sorrow tugs at my sleeve

timid but persistent,

when the river flows

it’s easy to wash it away;

the sun dries me so quick

here it is back again

a tear to keep me in check,

wondering

why did I turn around

when I heard night

sweep the webs away

again

against my will to know

that it was time

to strike up the band

<>

languid hazel waltz

watch my steps

as they skip over the lawn

a thorn in the fiddler’s shoe

<>

my life is the mist

hovering around the moon

cutting golden across the floor

through the opening windows

of the haystack ballrooms

where here comes that waltz

again

slow & close, almost in tears,

slightly futile, music echoes

you are far away & I dance alone

again

out into a moonless night

<>

smooth white waltz

follow my steps

carefree through harvest fields

a gleam

in the fiddler’s eye

July 14/75

This is another structured piece with the repetition of something colour waltz – fiddler’s something as a chorus through out. It proved to be ideal for performing & on the east coast I had a fiddler friend of mine improvise while I read it. It was quite magical.

Every word & image has been thoughtfully worked out to progress to the ending.  ‘show me’ to ‘watch me’ to ‘follow me’ – the move from learning to expressing to teaching. I am happy with the sense of melancholy that hangs like a mist around the piece – a sadness that doesn’t drift into depression or melodrama but becomes a Zen acceptance of the imperfection of life.

You might notice the influence of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon in the rustic images. I was/am no country boy so this is a very romanticized longing for haystacks & hoedowns. A longing for the innocence of farm life, farm life without work involved 🙂

All my images appear in this piece as well, the moon, mists, music & that intangible reach for something equally as intangible. Perhaps emotional connection? Physical connection – the waltz is a dance for two people in close intimate contact. Who is this fiddler? God? Life? Death? 

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

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Dust

Dust

when I turn to diamonds

will you wear me in your hair?

will you wear me on your fingers

or in your tiny ears

like stars in your black night?

fondled forever by many eyes

wondering who your diamonds were

before they became jewels for you

<>

When I turn to night

will you bring me daybreak?

will you bring me stars

or the moonlight

with its every-greedy movement

across your endless sky?

wondering where this night was

before it became the dawn

<>

when I turn to dust

will you blow me away?

will you gather me in your hands

or in a crystal box?

with your smiles the seal

and its sides your tears?

as you wonder who I was

to turn to dust for you

<>

I ask, for you see,

I too shall become

dust fragile

night invisible

diamond transparent

and I have to know

before I turn

before I turn

before I turn to you

Oct/70

Beware the love-lorn fool who knows how to use language to over-state his case 🙂 This piece is entirely an exercise in language not one about an actual person or experience. I get a rather middle-eastern vibe from it now – maybe the influence of Kahlil Gilbran – who wrote about love in similar  lofty, selfless, intellectual language. It makes me think of young girls who want to kiss some idol without it going further than that.

Today I am struck by the lack of sexuality, of lust, of carnality in this piece. Why was I reluctant to be explicit? Partly out of a sense of shame. The purer the emotional the more ethical, the more spiritual it is. To admit physical longing was base & not spiritual at all.

I am amused by the ‘fragility’ of it after the rough ‘rrr’s of Woodsman :-). It has a very pop song structure with images leading to the wrap up in the final verse. I was/am fond of theme & variation when I write poetry. I also enjoy patterned structure that isn’t rhyme or meter but image construct & repeated words ‘when I turn to’ ‘will you’ ‘wonder/wondering’. A structure that ties the verses together.

A structure that ends with that last verse. By which the reader doesn’t know of the object of affection even knows it is an object of affection. That unattainable object of desire that only exists in the mind of the poet. The ending is ambiguous – is the poet transforming into the object or finally ready to confront the object of desire. Or are both dust on the mirror that keeps the reader from seeing themselves 🙂

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

paypal.me/TOpoet