Restored to Sanity

Restored to sanity – a phrase from AA’s step 2 – is one that many people in recovery trip over. Sure we irrational, self-centred in the extreme – but insane? Illogical perhaps & unreliable sure. I think part of the current ‘conflict’ with the word ‘sanity’ is that we live in a world in which what is acceptable behaviour is inconsistent – if you are rich enough, white enough you can get away with many things others get shot for.


I’ve come to see that sanity is more as a way of control than of establishing mental competency. If one is docile, obedient, subservient they are clearly sane. If one shows little too much personality, creativity, expresses distain for contemporary standards they are trouble makers, if they persist they are crazy & need to be locked up, or at least chemically controlled & usually shunned, disregarded & discounted. So in recovery when we speak of sanity it is easy to get confused. In my life it has manifested as less self-destructive behaviour as opposed to socially acceptable thinking. Conformity doesn’t = sanity.

Some react to the word ‘restored’ which seems to imply that they were sane at some point – how can you be restored to something you never had in the first place? This another of those linguistic tricks that allows cultural norms to dictate what sanity is – it’s always good for a laugh though. Yet does it matter if one is remade or restored? Being willing to let our destructive, self-serving thinking change is a step to serenity, serenity = sanity.

Some of my resistance to the ‘sanity’ was seeing it as banality. Not that I was wild in the street but I certainly saw (& still see) things differently from those around me – maybe being queer was a part of that differing vision. After all, at one time homosexuality was considered not only criminal, but a serious mental issue that required shock-treatment or worse to cure.

“Restored to sanity … ” – I’m not holding my breath – but at least my lack of it is no longer in your face 🙂

In The Workshop 

I loved to spend time in my Dad’s workshop

in a little shack behind our house

when my bothers went to war

I got to help him

as he repaired the snowmobile

a job that he seemed to do every day

or when he made

little kitchen objects for my mother


his moose-bone-handled tools

were lined up in neat rows of hooks

over the work bench

he would say “spanner seven”

and I would get it for him

his thick fingers held even the heaviest tool

as if it were the most delicate instrument

while he twisted spark plugs

or carved small scenes of robins

into the bowls of pie plates

humming happily

as he concentrated on his work


I would creep into the shed

when he wasn’t there

to sit in the humble stillness

I would brush wood chips

into small piles with my fingers

fondle the handles of his tools

they would feel inviting in my hands

as if holding them

would allow me to do what he could do


sometimes he had me sing

what we were learning in choir practice

he would put his tools down

listen with his eyes closed

his hands on his belly

his fingers moving

as they conducted me from verse to verse

when my mother would call us to eat

I was disappointed

getting more of this moment

than pie could ever give me


the smell of his sweat

mixed with snowmobile oil and grease

as he showed me how to clean spark plugs

became one of the powerful erotic

aromas of my youth

it was into this shack

I would sneak with the boys

whom I had learned to undress

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Enough 6 and 7

We live in a culture in which ‘enough’ means settling for less than we want. To say one has had enough is a sign of giving up striving for a higher standard of living. Our economy is built on disposability not quality. Even if it is durable it’s time for a newer improved version. Upgrade or be left in the digital dust. Our Mac upgrades so often I don’t even know what it does anymore beyond the basic functions I use it for.

Yet even with all those improvements it still doesn’t do what I want it to: convert pages to mobi. Unlike my character ‘defects’ in which procrastination have been converted to patience. It becomes difficult to balance that trade off – wanting to comfortable with self as it is yet letting it mature into the improved version.

How can you love yourself as you are while constantly striving to improve that self? I’ve never met a cismale who had enough sex – if one-on-one is great a threesome would be even better. So that inner need for more, that cultural pressure to get better & more expensive makes balance difficult.


Where does that leave me as I continue to work through 6 and 7 – essentially striving for patient improvement. Persistence is the key for me. Dramatic change is possible but one of my shortcomings that has diminished is the need for melodrama – I rarely mistake emotionalism for true feeling – that’s an improvement. One that slows me down enough to enjoy the endless process.

How I Learned to Play With Boys

in my village

I didn’t do boy things well

shoving maple trees in the canal

breaking cathedral windows

flinging smelt guts at high schoolers

and running away

so I played with the girls

enacting family dynamics by

pulling clothes on off pink plastic dolls

that had sharp little fingers   pointy toes


when I tried to do boys things

the boys were disgusted

one day after choir practice

they dragged me into the Whistling Wood

to a grove piled high with moose skat

they pelted me with the shit

laughed and taunted

“how do you like that dolly fingers”


I kept my eyes closed my mouth shut

as they covered me from head to foot

then they ran away

the shit was thick like elephant hide

I scraped my hands on the nearest tree

I could tell by the bark it was oak

afraid to open my eyes

I walked stiff legged    hands grasping

till I came across a beech tree

I knew I was closer to the place

where the woman washed the clothes

next I found a maple tree

as I groped through Whistling Wood

the birch the alder the willow

each brought me closer to the stream

I plunged in

it was cold

the moose dung was so toxic

smelt floated dead to the surface

I scrubbed and I scrubbed

till my skin was red rough and raw

my hair went from black to blond

the pond went from clear blue water

to a brackish tar pond


it was never the same again

I emerged clean

shivering and naked

I darted from rose bush to lilac tree

till I was my home


at school the next day

the boys were afraid

I would tell what had happened

I said nothing

and started to play with them again

I used what I had learned from the girls

how easy it was to undress boys

to take off their clothes

unlike dolls their limbs were flexible

and that’s how I learned to play with boys

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August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already


September: TBA

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


June 8-9 attending: Capturing Fire 2018

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

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6/7 Are Endless

The past few weeks I’ve written about steps 6/7, more about 6/7,  (6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.)

Some wonder why it’s so hard to let go of behaviours that ultimately work against our progress? While others wonder why we are working to change in ways that no longer serve their best interest. After all people-pleasing isn’t so bad when you are the person being pleased. The social context of some of my behaviours was quite cunning.

To prove that I was clever, smart, deep, intelligent I was always ‘on.’ Being cynical & sarcastic was the way of proving & asserting my creativity. I had to keep proving it over & over. But is that actually a defect, a short-coming? I realized that the need to prove myself wasn’t actually progress. It was a sign of my lack of confidence, of a belief in myself – my value was only equal to your acceptance & recognition of me. If you didn’t laugh I was worthless.

As we step out of people-pleasing activity some will say things like “You used to be so funny, so easy to get along with, so open-minded … etc” Well, if I have to laugh at, add to or merely not argue with someone’s racist sexist bather to be approved of by them then it’s time to move on. I no longer even feel a need to teach them better – I did at one time but all  I taught them was that I was a judgemental no-fun prick – even if that’s true I don’t want people to learn that so easily.

People around us often want to to remain the same. When I got sober I lost friends who drank. When I tell guys on line that I don’t drink, smoke pot etc they just aren’t interested. Such is life. Those former friends are defective characters removed from my life 🙂

Then Things Changed


that was me


those were my words


I believed what I said

things change

I change

stop trying to pour me of today

into the image of me



people tell me I’ve lost weight

when I was never aware

that they were aware

of what I weighed

that what I look liked mattered


I didn’t know or care

yet now that I’ve changed

physically in their eyes

they still see me

as the same person

but not so fat

they never said I was fat


mind you

but that I’ve lost weight since



I don’t say what I once said

my world view has changed

become broader

& more refined at the same time

my body gets narrow

my vision get clearer

in ways people notice

people I hadn’t set out

to be noticed by



now knowing

they’ve been looking

that they are capable of comparing

the old me


with the new me

I still don’t give a shit


thanks for noticing

Chapbooks available:


kiss3on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already


September: TBA

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


June 8-9 attending: Capturing Fire 2018

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee  – sweet,eh?

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Still At 6s and 7s

Last week I wrote a little about steps 6/7. (6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.) Partly because one of my regular meetings was reading  & discussing them but mainly because it was my sobriety anniversary on July 6. How long? I’ll tell you by private post but suffice to say I’ve been around this block a few decades.

One of the things I’ve found helpful is to work the steps literally as opposed to what I thought they said. In these two I read ‘remove’ as ‘replace’ but that’s is not what is stated. The replacement process is my responsibility. The removal is not – it’s sort of like putting the garbage out – I have to take it out but I don’t have to load it on the truck – I have to take it out because the garbage men aren’t going to come into my house & find it either. So taking it out part of being ready.

My street has annual yard sale. One year, when the sale was over, I left what wasn’t sold at the curb – I did not take stuff back hoping to sell it next year – I let go. In the tarot the Tower card says the old must die to make room for the new. Its the same with my growth – if I keep taking those things back I’ll never leave space for change. Letting go of old stuff after a yard sale makes room, frees me from my attachment to expectations. I was willing to have emptiness.

The thing with letting go, with putting the garbage out, is that this isn’t a permanent solution 🙂 It has be be done regularly. I can reduce my usage – recycle when possible but I am human. I’ve come to see remove more as reduce, or redirect, or repurpose as opposed to being removed the way tonsils are removed, never to return. I still have my tonsils.

Your Sons

no I do not want

to sleep with your sons

or your daughters

for that matter

at least I don’t want to sleep with them

as a result winning this battle

in fact

if we hadn’t engaged in this conflict

I might well have desired them

but that was not the object


I don’t want to burn your crops

destroy your cities

I only want to win

I want you to acknowledge my superiority

in battle

that’s it

my superiority in bed

is another matter

one that I don’t need to prove to anyone one

my tanks are the biggest

the best

what I am in bed

isn’t relevant


I won’t want your wives

your homes

I won’t loot

your ancient treasures

I’m not going to change

your government

that’s up to you

because clearly

you were incapable

of taking care of yourselves

you are conquered

not rescued

you have to save yourselves

so instead of offering me

sexual solace

in hopes that I’ll do

what you have to do for yourselves

get busy




your sons

are so sexually attracted

by the power of my determination

I might be willing to give them a tumble

Chapbooks available:


kiss3on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already


September: TBA

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


June 8-9 attending: Capturing Fire 2018

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee  – sweet,eh?

like my pics? more on my Tumblr blog

At 6s and 7s

At a recent AA meeting we were discussing steps 6 and 7. (6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.) The longer I’ve been clean and sober the more important these two steps have been for my continuing spiritual and emotional progress. Though some may feel my progress has been rather slow, or even negligible, it has certainly continued.

As step 6 was being read I had a small realization – a spiritual awakening to sorts – that when I came into recovery I had no character! What I had was the facade of a personality – a personality constructed by prevailing cultural restrictions of acceptability. I was formed by reaction or by compliance not by any sort of actual deep thought process of my own. Right or wrong were dictated by popular vote not because I felt something was right or wrong. I accepted many things without questioning them.

“Being queer was sick – I was queer therefore I am sick.” I accepted that feeling that it wasn’t something I could change but had to live with in secret. Not questioning that theory was the ‘defect of character’ I had to address in recovery not the fact that I was queer. This is how the steps have worked me – layer by layer – like an archaeological dig – dusting the surface is a good start but eventually one has to dig deeper. That’s were the ‘humbly’ comes in.

Often there is a reservation about the religious language in these – God, Him – why would one expect a doctrine that has labelled us as ‘abominations’ do anything to help us. This is a great, almost logical, way of avoiding the change these steps offer. I’m not Christian but I’m willing to let a Christian surgeon save my life. Of course if I chose to die I can use religion as a smoke screen for that decision. I choose to live.

samp03AutoCorrect Perfect

there’s always something

my eyes don’t catch everything

words lose their meaning

thanks to auto spell

I often don’t know what I’ve just said

or if what you’ve written

is what you’ve written

so I don’t feel so responsible

for those little typos

that change love to leave

that change emotionally comithtemnt

I mean commitment

to being committed for emotionally disfunction


there’s always something

that’s why I count on your eyes

to pick up what mine miss

trust me no matter how right it appears

it needs you to make more better right

I couldn’t do it without

those sharp insightful comments of yours

you find what slips between the lines

while I’m so busy

making sure those lines are straight

to your perfect heart

Chapbooks available:


kiss3on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

June 8-9 attending: Capturing Fire 2018

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee  – sweet,eh?

Haunted Hotel

Is my hotel room haunted? A little after I had fallen asleep my first night here I heard movement in the room. At first I thought was the sheets, or someone in the hall but as I woke it was clearly someone walking around my room! I remained still in the bed things, it’s about time I met a ghost. It was quiet for a moment then started again – footsteps around the bed. I sat & squinted but saw nothing 😦 I turned on the light & I was the only one visible in the room. I laid back and it started again. I realized then it was the room above me – I’m on the 7th floor & yes there an 8th floor.

I fell asleep quickly after that and slept pretty soundly. I’m not used to sleeping in such a dark room – only light being the little green specs of various electronics. I always cover the numbers on the clock radio – too bright. If I could black out the light from the hall around the door it would be even darker.

After hitting a meeting at the Dupont Circle Club my Thursday goal was Dumbarton – I did find it but failed to find the cemetery. The museum was boring. The Gardens weren’t open until 2. Such is life. I hiked around Dumbarton park, took lots of pics. Didn’t see any signs directing to cemetery. Did see a deer though. No ghosts.

Got a bit lost getting back to the hotel – which allows me to explore other parts of the city. My may indicated that Q street would lead me to where I wanted to be. I grabbed a bagel to give me sustenance. It was good but the clerk would have been better 🙂 Got stopped a few times because of my Canada luggage tag. So I wonder if I should remove it for now?

Got back to hotel a little after 1 – walking since 9 – so I needed to get my shoes off to rest, meditated. showered & shaved my head. Some text chat with an interested fella I’ve been emailing with for a couple of months. I have low expectations so I was a bit surprised & then quite pleased when he showed up. We’ll leave it at – let’s just say I am learning the lay of the land first hand 🙂 He had to be up for work at 4 a.m. !! Which gave me time to finally hit the Triangle Club – the lgbtq Alano Club – which doesn’t open until 6. I took in the ‘Out Side The Lines’ meeting in which they look at literature that relates to recovery but isn’t necessarily AA published. It was interesting & I wasn’t at all stressed by their use of outside literature.

Another full day in which I was much too busy to real eat more than my healthy breakfast, a bagel & a pizza slice. Maybe I’ll lose enough weight to come back to TO as a ghost of my former self 🙂 The real fun starts tomorrow night so I’ll try to file up with a real meal before the Fire ignites.

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Past Washington posts

Friendship Dead

Friendship Dead

Brian lay waxy pale colourless





the room was full

live people

bright flowers

hushed conversations

occasional giggles

forced smiles

limp handshakes

uncertain head shakes

the same remarks

so sudden

who knew


his family

all present

the family of Brian


whom many of us knew

for fifteen twenty years

a family

none of knew about

we had clues about a brother

a twin sister

but nieces nephews

an asian sister-in-law

more sisters

all strangers to us

his friends

strangers to them

it turns out


questions asked

how did you know

what was your last memory of

haven’t we met

oh I didn’t know

you were his brother

you are as closed lipped

about family as he was


it wasn’t as if

he was the closest friend of many

but known by more

than he might have realized


passed though

for one last look

one look to be sure

that what was said was true





snatched away from us


but he had been so hidden from us

all these years

all these lunches


pains trials tears tribulations

and yet

this bedrock of family

was barely mentioned

the bitter father

the distant mother

we’d heard about

but not the others



then I look at my own


how little I talk about them to others

as if the family were a secret

but it isn’t

there just isn’t a secret to talk about

no odd uncles

no cruel mothers or missing fathers

an intact unit

an intact functional family

of care compassion and love

seems the families I hear the most about

are the ones where the damage continues

where it never seems to heal

where the scabs of the past remain fresh

scars become badges

of entitlement

My dad did this so I am this way

yak yak yak


so perhaps Brian had good secrets

in that family closet

that we are now get to see

for a moment

that death

is now allows them to share with one another

perhaps the unrest

is put aside for

numbed by the shock


we stand in small groups

occasional glances to the open coffin

some stop to touch the cold hands

some to kneel and pray

others remain distance

glance over a shoulder

in conversations

look at the photos of Brian

photos of different times


high school

last week

alive and now not


Still reaching back to 1999. Pieces I haven’t look at again until now though I can remember writing them, sort of, in general but actual contents has been forgotten. Friendship is based on reality. Even the name ha snot been changed but unless you know this specific Brian he’s a cypher.

I’d met him in recovery, a good & regular member of my Saturday Morning AA group. We’d talked often, gone for breakfast after the meeting many times over the years I knew him. His death was a shocked to all of us as he was well liked & healthy. We never did hear the cause.

Our friendship had changed over the years & the breakfast fellowship had ended a year for so before his death. My sexuality presented no issue until one breakfast, after they remarked on cute waitress, I said the bus boy was hot – things changed when my sexuality was no longer a theory.29drawers02

The viewing was as described – this meeting of his family – this odd sense of learning something so new about a man many of us had known well for years. But this is one of the facts of AA life, we share what is pertinent at meetings, not every detail. Thought it can be a challenge to keep a private life.

Another fact of recovery is that we often see the same face at meetings for decades but never know anything more about them than their name & what they choose to share at the table. 29drawers03The piece looks at how we share ourselves with others. No one getting the whole picture. How we create boundaries of what we trust people with & when we close up for self-protection. I’m out at all times but I don’t constantly tell people when I meet them ‘oh hi i’m a queer.’ If they can’t tell or assume otherwise it isn’t my issue unless it’s relevant to the conversation.29drawers04As I said his death came as a shock – he was physically well – her one day then gone. I was saddened but not heart-broken – he was a friend but nothing more. Oddly it is the death of strangers than can affect me more – the Pulse shootings were heart breaking – perhaps because the target was more than people but an population that even though I’m not p.o.c I am a part of & feel I have no way to defend or protect.



cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016 (I’ve already registered)


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –


check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015:


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blue diamond

Bottle Apostle


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 whatever his her name is
to fry a while between the sheets
trying to spark reality

out of bruised lips

thick tongue probe for the one true love

slur words of unchangeable fidelity

to each smiling indifference


there is a way out for some
subtle acceptance of other steps
away from the merry go round
of one round after the next
away from explaining problems in bars

into a strangely well lit territory
hand shakes coffee grounds
clear eyed people
who donʼt explain away their pain
but share that it can be endured
rather than submerged or replaced
by the endless gasping

open mouthed gape

of the apostle bottle

04sofa01Apostle is one of the few pieces I’ve written about being a drunk. Like many of my pieces it started with that those opening lines – the why of drinking for many people is to sooth some hurt or to stop feeling some hurt.04sofa09I enjoyed using various ‘round’ images – like glasses are round – like how we buy a round of drinks – stools, wet circles more rounds. The circular nature of solving the drinking problem with another drink. I also enjoy the sonics that run all though the piece click – jostle – clustered – clutter. The fridge an echo of the first piece in this chapbook.

Drinkers may start with the truth but its value soon vanishes when the results aren’t as good as the feeling of tricking people with lies – it allows a sense of superiority, as longs one can keep track of the story being palmed off after you fry between the sheets.04sofa03Usually those tales were meant to lead to tail – bringing him that ‘piece’ of bacon, meat. The over emotionality of drunkenness – the body is less sensitive, so is the brain so emotions have be larger to even be felt – that spark has got be the love of one’s life.04brownchair09‘hand shakes coffee grounds’ brings the notion of recovery into the picture. This is the social context of AA – one way of escaping that endless circle of one more drink will fix it. Ending with the wonderful rhyme and image apostle bottle – reversing the words gives me bottle apostle also powerful – that belief we searched for liquid resurrection.


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Comfort (Zone) Inn

When I made my reservations to stay at downtown hotel for Gratitude this year I didn’t know that the TTC was shutting down, for Saturday & Sunday, the Bloor line between Pape & St. George – shuttle busses would be running; so had a real sense of Gratitude when I got to the hotel. Transit usually takes me 20-30 min, add shuttle busses & it hits over an hour, with at least two transfers. To be honest I’d stay home rather than under go that sort of stress.


I opted for the Comfort Inn on Jarvis, it was a 15 min. walk to the hotel where the round-up was being held. Plus cost half of what the host hotel was offering. The Inn is a medium range, simple hotel. The room was cool, dark & quiet. Wifi was included & it was fast. My only gripe: the closet was as wide as a pair of shoes. But for three days – no big deal.


The round-up was excellent -180 eager for recovery – LGBQTS – laughed cried hugged & shared at great workshops, panels. Speakers were good. ‘If you only feel whole when you’re helping someone it’s time to learn to help yourself.’ The banquet food was good but I’ve always been let down by the banal brunch – particularly when one is paying $30 for the meal I expect more than scrambled eggs & sausages. I asked about cranberry juice & that would have cost me.


It was interesting being downtown though. I was amazed at the amount of construction. Blocks of buildings gone on the west side of Yonge, north of College; & ones on the east side look slated for tear down too. What’s with Starbucks? I hadn’t noticed how they have proliferated in that area. Can Ryerson students afford that much latte?


Sunday after the conference wrapped, I put on my shorts & trekked down to the St Laurence Market antique scene. My oh my lots of old china, piles of bangles, furs, coins & books to avoid. Took some pics (#GardenDistrict)& felt like a tourist in my home town. Got home Monday morning & there’s no bed like my own little bed.


Rimes of Ancient Drunks

got time to listen to an old drunk

well, not so old and not drunk enough

but you’ll listen won’t you

buy me a beer

and I’ll tell you your future

not that you deserve to know your future

because it’s the same future for all of us


you won’t want to miss this

I’ll tell you  what you really need to know

that stuff in books

isn’t going to get you anywhere

words aren’t the answer

you think you know it all

well all you know is shit

are you listening

you understand that much don’t you

all that thinking and writing

isn’t going to get you any where

you know that don’t you

there isn’t any way out of this

even what I say isn’t going to mean shit

in the long run

it’s just a pointless chase

after something that isn’t even running

something that can never be caught

you following me – catching my drift

I see through the likes of you

come on buy me another beer

I’ve more to say than you’ll ever think

no matter how broke you are

the morning always comes

a body needs a drink

a way out for a few hours

that’s all we really want

you getting this down

do I make you uncomfortable

can’t be bothered looking at me

is that the problem

you wanted a little quiet

to doodle useless words about

the way of  the misery in your world

that some gal is not giving you enough

some guy playing the same game

no way out of it, is there

not that I give a shit

you know that don’t you

that’s half the problem

no one gives a shit

they just want suffering to stop

so they don’t have to see it on TV

that’s the way of the world

you know that don’t you

and you

you think you have some notion

of a better way to live

yet don’t have the decency

to buy a guy a drink

well that’s the way of the world

that’s why I say what I gotta say

something you won’t ever hear

because something more important

is waiting for you

buy me a beer

maybe I’ll change your life

because you know buddy

it’s time for a change

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


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Aliens Anonymous

This title came to me while I was at a meeting recently. With my recovery anniversary near the start of July I’ve been thinking a little about when I arrived in the rooms, as it were. By the end of my drinking I was caught in a shame spiral that made death by alcohol seem deserving.


can you see the real me?

I was unable to be openly honest about my sexuality, except, of course, after a few drinks & oops things did happen with a ‘straight’ drinking buddy. So I was queer, a compulsive liar (because if I couldn’t be honest about myself why tell the truth about anything anyway, right); I was a thief. As a child I messed around with other children so I was a child molester anyway. There were no role models for me & like many closeted queer, I thought I was supposed to be a cross-dresser too.

On top of which I was (& still am) intensely creative, imaginative, & driven to express myself. Creativity is only respected if it makes lots of money – poetry is not butch enough – though no one ever quibbled about Leonard Cohen’s manliness.


am I’m in the kitchen or the bath?

I felt like I was from another planet – an alien – alienated from the culture I was living in on the east coast – there was an artsy crowd but I wasn’t considered their intellectual peer so never felt invited into it – coming into recovery was, for a time, finding myself with guys who were in many ways like me – queers who drank to get through the identity struggle.


there’s a whole person somewhere in there

In the recovery literature there’s a passage to the effect that ‘the old pangs of anxious apartness would disappear.’ Well, let me tell you that after over 37 years this hasn’t happened to me – I still feel that apartness, but today I’d rather feel it that numb myself to it. The apartness is a part of being human, I’d rather be human than an alien.


another of the rough rough drafts of my canto-by-canto rewrite of Dante’s Purgatory. By ‘rough’ I mean this is the first time I’ve looked at this canto since I first wrote it several years ago.

canto 6

Verlaine urged me

toward the exit

on to the next stage of our journey

when the denizens of the terrace

turned nearly as one to me

and various of them

began to plead with me


‘Duncan please

you are the one who can bring us rescue

tell us what to do

or better yet intercede on our behalf

make the gates opens

let new light flood through to us here

let the steamer work

so we can get better espresso

call a repair man

we’ll pay you back later

you have the juice we need

to get all of us back on line

plug us in

line us up with the right wifi provider

bigger tetra-bytes of memory

please we trust you

you know deep in your own creative soul

that this is what you are intended for

don’t you don’t you

you many ever reach the heights

we have reached

but you can give us the boost we need


take a few moments

write a little affirmation for us

an ode to our creative souls

that will release us

from this endless unproductive waiting

you have to

you must

please pretty please

think what it will mean to you

you can become

a foot note

in our great biographies

in each of them

there are so many here

each of us is counting on you now

now bring the light to bear upon us

to get the beans ground properly

to get the waiters

to bring us the right orders

so what if we weren’t sure of what we want

you can straighten that out

get them to go to the Barista

the big steamer in the sky

to perk us the proper brew



only you can do that now

when you return from that trek

get all your friends to do the same

the more who wish us the well

the sooner we can get on with

whatever their is for us to get on with

do you understand

are you willing’


The misery and desperation

on their faces touched me

and sickened me at the same time


‘Get the fuck away from me

you bunch of lazy bums

so what if you had the spark

and let expectations dull it

shine your own shoes

that is the only way to do it

stop moaning and groaning

and counting on things

outside your own volition

to get you anywhere

the glimpse of purity you have had

can continue

but not though my eyes

only through your own

so stop looking to critics



to give you light

but look instead to your own inner soul

to your own creative need

to do and keep doing

don’t blame me

if that light flickers

even if that light doesn’t appeal to me

so get the fuck out of my way

I have better things to do

than intercede on behalf of any of you.’


‘Oh yeah

what is Verlaine doing

is he not interceding for you.’


‘He is my guide nothing more.’


‘Then be our guide too Duncan

you have to lead us

through to the next level of consciousness

to the great transformation

you must

you can do it.’


‘Look I have enough trouble

doing that for myself

I’m not to be followed

in any way

I don’t even like Verlaine’s verse

I hate to admit that

I can’t even think of a line

but he has been sent to me


so perhaps someone will be sent to you.

so now get lost

because it was in being lost

that I was sent this guide

lost and powerless

not knowing there anyway out

you think there is a way out

until you lose that thread of hope

there is no way out’


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

October 18, Sunday – feature: Cabaret Noir: Inner Child Sacrifice


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


shelf reflection