Ours Alone

Ours Alone

the tenderness here

must remain here

only for the two of us

to enjoy to cherish

 

the sight of it

in the open air

in a public space

would sully it

 

turn it into performance

it would cease to be sacred

it would be an assault

on common decency

 

for two men 

to hold hands in public

for them to kiss

in front of innocent children



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Squeeze Me

Squeeze

he was squeezing

something on his jaw line

near the left ear

he’d stop

then go back to it

an ingrown hair 

another time he was scratching

a dry patch on his back

scratched until it was raw

but not quite bleeding

sometimes gnawing at finger nail

another time biting at something

on the inside his cheek

not every time we were together

 

we get together every couple of weeks

for a movie & food

for making out

it took a few years

before this squeeze pattern emerged

one that I recognize

I was once caught up

in small acts of self harm 

the pinched pimple

the scratched spot 

I know the odd satisfaction 

that comes from inflicting

tiny persistent

pain

on myself

I have the scar tissue to show for it

 

I was never into big self-harm

burns to the hands

criss-cross slits on the arms

I was satisfied by my small

micro-aggressions against myself

against my body

I treasure the body

he harms

how do I call attention

his micro-aggressions

I’m not a professional

no one ever called my attention

to how I treated myself 

I kept it too hidden

no one would see

the spot I picked till it bled

eventually that need left

 

not that I’ve seen him bleed

not until he tells me something more

than let’s play

then I’ll know

he wants more than comfort

There’s a relationship theory that what appeals most to us is something of ourselves that we see in others – some commonality – not sure where ‘opposites attract’ fits into that theory 🙂 For me, sometimes, the reflection of me I see in someone else is more a red flag than a red cape. This piece is about a real person – a guy I’ve been seeing for a couple years now – so we are quite emotionally & sexually compatible. He is not my mirror though & comes from a very different cultural background.

 

Part of my history is cutting – which took many forms besides the ones mentioned here – nail biting, pimple squeezing – thought I doubt if his comes from the same emotional place. His turned out to be a reflection of work-place stress. I did offer moisturizer a few times in case the itch was dry skin – rather than say ‘stop doing that.’ 

 

When I’ve been tempted to say something, to him or anyone else, I think first about my motivation, about my own past – as the piece says no one ever ‘diagnosed’ my actions. Perhaps because I grew up at a time & place where children weren’t diagnosed for such habits – now-a-days nail-biters get medication to behave acceptably. Also I wasn’t much of listener.

Teachers would say stop biting & I’d think ‘bite me.’ As I got older the unwillingness to take heed increased, in some areas. You drink too much – only meant I had to find a better crowd to drink with 🙂 Knowing better I could ignore via rationalization whatever someone disapproved – after all culture was wrong wrong wrong about the sordid sickness of queer so it was wrong about everything else too.

I’ve become a grateful that my sweet friend is comfortable enough to be himself around me – his quirks aren’t mine to correct but his presence is for me to enjoy. Besides he squeezes me in the best ways 🙂


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Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

Secret Set Building 

Early this year I got the flyer for this month’s Secret Handshake Poetry Reading Series – even though, once again, I was incorrectly named, I decided to go ahead & altered the flyer with correct billing – which is why I’m in the pink 🙂 Things like this make the issue of misgendering very real to me.

It’s been some years since I’ve done a feature (& at the last I had similar name issues.) One host told me TOpoet.ca was too self-promoting! I’ve never seen this list of performers: readings by X, X, X etc. All readings are self-promotion, so fuck right off you sanctimonious dick head. If I sound like a diva, don’t act surprised 🙂

Now that the diva’s out of the way – I’ve started set building for the show. I’ve gone through the last couple of months of pieces prompted by the Rules For Monks. So there will be several very fresh pieces in the set. Some of these were also influenced by my stay in Sydney – my ho town, I mean, home town in Cape Breton. In particular the nature of the culturally instilled masculinity/femininity that children never question but struggle with fulfilling. Pieces that haven’t seen been featured on the blog yet.

 

Part of the set will be out of the 2008 archives that I’ve been shifting through to include in my Monday posts. The archaeological dig of the massive pile of piece that has been getting deeper & bigger & left to ferment. As I don’t write as often as I once did it was time to actually look at what I forgotten – once I get through the typos it I have to scour my memory to figure out ‘what the hell was I getting at.’ It is rewarding. Once 2008 is done I may go back to 1998 🙂

As usual the most demanding decision will be what to wear 🙂

this may show up in the set:

What To Wear

does this fit

does it look good on me

do I look sane in it

does it turn you on

do I look educated in this

does it suit the occasion

will it get me laid

can it open doors for me

will it need to be ironed

can I wear it in public

will it turn heads

does it make me look old

look desperate

does it come in other colours

maybe a size larger

does it make up for my lack of style

do I have the guts to wear it

does it wear me

will it last longer than a glance

is it why you want me

am I anything without it

can it be replaced

can it replace me

excuse me 

while I slip into something 

more comfortable

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

January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

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

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

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

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

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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

The Honeymoon Suite

The Honeymoon Suite

the last thing I expected 

was for this to last

beyond the first blush brush of heat

so when I found myself

looking around a room 

I didn’t know I’d entered

I was caught off guard

 

while you 

remained unaware 

as if this sort of thing

happened so often

it hadn’t drawn your attention

I wasn’t all that concerned

with finding a way out

but wanted one 

that would take me deeper



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Terra

Terra Cotta

he insisted

on terra cotta flower pots

not pots

planters

you know the kind big enough

for a …

oh you’ve heard this story

you know where it’s going

unlike the men

meeting him

they didn’t know where they were going

just that he promised

to take them somewhere 

offered –

well I’m not sure what he offered

it’s hard to call that something sex

I guess I’m old fashioned that way

 

terra cotta is better for the plants

for the roots

it breathes properly

allows water to filter through

plastic containers trap the water

traps insects

plastic absorbs heat

the soil doesn’t breathe

 

neither do the men

 

Selim Esen, 44

Abdulbasir Faizi, 44 

Majeed Kayhan, 58 

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37  

Andrew Kinsman, 49

Dean Lisowick, 47

Soroush Mahmudi, 50

Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40

Often current events get instilled to the prompts I’m using – the prompt becomes a direction for me to deal with real life events in a poetic, almost fictionalized way. The prompt allows for symbolism. In this case the serial killer of gay men was in the news – I was very careful of where I place ‘gay’ in that description as I’m not sure if the killer is self-identified but merely picked gay men as being vulnerable enough for him to victimize.

One of break-throughs was finding human remains in the giant terra cotta planters he was using in his gardening business. I’m a gardener & know a few things about terra cotta – it is preferable to plastic containers – plastic doesn’t ‘breath’ or cool properly so plants don’t grow as well in them. It was a simple association between roots buried in pots, to men buried in pots.

As more was revealed about the hunt for the killer some details were repeated over & over, the pots being one of them. All one had to do, in some situations, is say terra cotta & everyone knew the association. How long did it take for o.j. to get back to meaning orange juice?

 

I ‘enjoy’ performing this piece – the shifting use of language, the ironic parallel of plants & men plays well without being comic. I don’t enjoy the fact that I had to write this piece. I don’t mention the killer’s name, I won’t ever, but the names of his victims deserve to be heard so that these men, for a moment, get to breathe again as you read them. Try saying them out loud.

 

Sunday –  January 26, 2020 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/


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Have It

You Can’t Have It

you can have it

it isn’t mine to give

but you can have it

I don’t know who it belongs to

so take it

 

the land rights

aren’t really protected

well enough

to balance the profits you offer

what is good for the most

is more important

than what is sacred for a few

you can have it

 

there’s no need for consultation

what do they know

about business anyway

superstitious paganism

is always pointless

in the face of cultural expediency

they only want to preserve their comforts

by denying us ours

so take it

 

do what you have to get it

just because it is theirs

doesn’t mean anything

to anybody

expect the press gawkers 

twitter won’t save anyone

you don’t have a reputation

worth protecting anyway

so take it

 

it’s not mine to give

but not theirs to keep either

yet they are keeping it 

no matter what the cost

to you


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Prize Wise

Prize Wise

I knew

just knew in my bones

Karen was getting the prize

that should be mine

because the teacher 

didn’t like me

just because Karen’s mother was sick

the whole class had voted

to give her the prize

not because she deserved it

but they felt sorry for her

 

I was eight or nine at the time

and decades later

I still feel that resentment

that became the message

‘no matter how well you do

someone else always deserves

the prize more

so why bother’

 

this message resonates

when I think

only the damaged

write with an authentic voice

only the disenfranchised

have a right to attention

only the six-pack seniors

have a right to sex

I should feel lucky

grateful for what I  get



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Completion

Unsubstantiated

each day of silence

creates impatience

people want to know

families loved ones

want to know

reporters want to know

completion impossible

until we know

yet even when we know

the details are shocking

 

speculation remains unsubstantiated 

though the layers of facts

builds up

for two to three to eight

fragments found buried deep

in planters

under the noses

of even the lookers

of even the ignorers

 

each day of silence

is remembered with longing

the silence of unknowing

offered a solace

that the noise of facts

can never provide

Another piece that was written when the alleged serial killer of gay men was finally making the news. ‘Alleged’ is one of those words that allows media to distance itself – it doesn’t make a commitment to concrete fact – much like the notion of the serial killer that was deemed circumstantial & unsubstantiated for a few years.

The dots connected the many missing men were not connected but considered merely coincidental – after all, homeless and/or immigrant men were disappearing all the time – in some cases this disappearances went unreported or weren’t seen as connected to the gay missing.

This piece is as much about the media’s use of language as it is about the search, which by this time had finally turned up remains in planters. No names were associated with those remains while forensics determined if they were even human.

The alleged killer was identified as ‘a person of interest’. I rarely write about ‘current events’ but this one resonated deeply with me or many reasons – the prime being that I casually met one of the victims some time before he went missing. Many of the victims were a physical type I find attractive, the ‘alleged’ killer was not.

 

‘the silence of unknowing’ includes the not knowing the details of how these men were murdered. For some just knowing their loved one was involved in gay activities was already too much but the nature of the sexual activities involved was more than they needed to find out. I’m not sure what ‘sense of completion’ resulted for anyone.

 


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Blood of the Lamb

Unreliable 

 

your story changes

each time you tell it

so is it no wonder

no one is sure just what happened

 

not that you cry wolf

but the wolf mutates 

first it didn’t snarl

then you weren’t afraid of the snarl

subtle elaborations

 

no one doubts

that you met the wolf

but it’s no longer clear

what happened next

except that you survived

without even a bite mark on you

 

though perhaps 

the next time you tell the story

you will reveal the scar

from the bite 

that you said didn’t happen 

because you couldn’t tell everything

you didn’t expect it to be believed

you needed to trust us

before going any deeper

into what really happened

 

so it went from seeing the wolf

in the general area

to meeting said wolf

and declining further contact

to never having been in touch

with the wolf before you saw him

to having sex with the wolf

but not enjoying it enough

 

or 

 

well we’re not sure

except we don’t doubt

you met the wolf

or that the wolf

was caught with the blood of lambs

in his fur

none of blood was yours

but you knew some of those lambs

 

what will come next

as your story changes

that you escaped is clear

but what are you hiding

from yourself

This is another piece partly triggered by the serial killer coverage, in particular the number of gay men who came forward before, during & after the hunt. Those who tried to bring police attention to the notion of a serial killer were not taken seriously by the authorities – they were merely paranoid alarmists.

When it became clear these men weren’t being paranoid alarmists the press was quickly on the scent of witnesses. The killer, as it turns out, was known as a randy daddy in the community. Several had had first-hand experience & were eager to tell their stories. The press, as usual, took them at their word. Surely no one would claim to have slept with the killer just to get some TV time?

One man ended up interviewed at different times during the investigation. Interviewed by different networks & various media. His story became more revealing as more was revealed about the killer. He was, to me, literally the fictional unreliable narrator. He was caught in a paradox of wanting to talk yet not wanting to be judged at the same time. He was no ‘innocent’ victim.

 

It’s unfortunate we live in a media culture where the disposable are so eager for acknowledgment they jump at any opportunity for being seen. Because the early whistleblowers were marginalized they weren’t seen as credible but as attention seekers. Even now with some time between the conviction & today there are some who feel those faggots got what they deserved. What are they hiding from themselves?

 


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Safe From Me

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Safe From Me

somedays it isn’t safe

for me to be seen in public

not safe for others I mean

personally I am unconcerned

but the welfare of others 

has to be considered

just a glance from any male

let alone a gay male

can be triggering

sending someone spinning

into painful childhood memories

that don’t involve me directly

but my mere looking 

where I am going

can set people off 

 

I never ask how are you doing

lest that appears to be disrespect

for their boundary issues

I dress to deflect attention

I won’t compliment your appearance 

never talk about my happy childhood

because  by doing so

I may be diminishing 

what you experienced in yours

 

I get tired of negotiating permission

to continue a conversation

is it okay if I talk about ….

negotiating to avoid making

others uncomfortable

it isn’t wise to presume 

that just because they are a clerk

that they want to be of service

 

I haven’t left my house

for years now

it’s the easiest way

of keeping the world safe

from me

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