Picture Perfect 54

Picture Perfect 54

In the morning Dan rolled his suitcase out to the back of his rental SUV. Baxter, then Roberto were piling their bags beside the trunk of Baxter’s compact car. Baxter had insisted on the sporty two-seater for himself because he doing a lot of running around.

“You’ll have no trouble finding space for that.” Baxter said looking from his car to Dan’s.

Both he and Roberto had two large suitcases.

“Can’t you load some of that in the remote truck?” Dan said.

“I suppose I could but …” he nodded at Glaucia. “She has another suitcase yet to come.”

Glaucia stood at her cabin door nodding at him with her white beats headphones firm in place.

“I can take a hint.” Dan laughed. “If you wanted to swap cars why not come right out and say so. Oh, I forgot, asking is not your style. Let me just my crap out of the front seat.” He checked to make sure there was nothing of his in the glove compartment or under the seat. “You can have the Hippo Dog sticks.” he said giving the keys to Baxter.

“Thanks.” Baxter said. 

Dan fit his suitcase into the trunk of the smaller car, then put his shoulder bag on the passenger seat.“Pays to travel light.” he said to Baxter.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Baxter said as he heaved the first of the suitcases into the back of the bigger car.

Dan surveyed the dashboard of the car. He’d driven it once already. It had all the latest electronic stuff they could squeeze into a car and keep it affordable. As he pulled out of the parking lot the built in GPS asked:

“Destination please.”

“Stellerton. Nova Scotia.” He said.

“Follow route 2. You will need gas in an hour. Next comfort stop is …”

“Thank you.” He found the control for turning the GPS voice off. He left the map portion turned on so he could see how far along he was on the route he had opted for which he was sure the GPS would argue with him about. Sometimes going ‘the wrong way’ got him to where he was supposed to be.

Then he went into the Waterside diner for breakfast. His was already on table where he usually sat.

“I told George you’d have the usual.” Stephanie said. “Hope you don’t mind? Saves time.”

“Fine,” Dan said sitting at his spot. The toast was still warm. “It’s going to hard leaving these perfect breakfasts behind.” He said to George as George put a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him.

“It’s going to hard not racking up these tips.” George said. “You’ll be back?”

“Maybe.” Stephanie said. “We may want to do some pick up shots, as they say. Never know what information may lead us back here.”

‘There’s always the Circus Museum.” Dan said. “I think it would be an ideal spot for an interview.”

“Or a birthday party.” Baxter said. “Maybe we’ll have the wrap party there once the shoot is done.”

“We best get going,” Roberto said. “That storm looks like it’s going be rolling in soon.”

“So no one’s coming with me.” Dan asked?

“No,” Baxter answered. “She’ll be driving with me and Roberto.”

“Then I’ll be on my own?” Dan said. “Cool. I can turn the radio up as loud as I want.”

He went back to his cabin to use the bathroom one last time. As he had officially checked out he asked George. 

 “Is the old Conner route still being used?”

“Oh yeah. That Trans Canada by passed a passel of places along the shore there. Not as well kept as the Trans but good enough. Make sure got a full tank o’gas before you head along there. No comfort stations.”

“Will do.”

The Conner would take an hour longer so it was avoided by the transfer semi’s that hogged the Trans Canada. His Dad hated those monsters and so did he. The less stress driving was the better. The fewer comfort stops the better too. That would mean more scenery and glimpses of the ocean.

The rain didn’t start until he turned east at Shediac. Seemed fitting that as he got closer to the Strait that the sea should rise up to meet him. When was the last time he’d thought that phrase? It was one his Dad would use in really heavy rain. He stopped to fill the gas tank. This stretch of highway was seeing more use thanks to the Confederation Bridge. He was tempted by the signs pointing the way to the bridge. Maybe if it wasn’t raining so heavily he’d be tempted. Something for after the shoot or next summer. 

At Port Elgin he crossed the Gaspereau River, was spun round on an unexpected highway round about, lost his sense of direction in the rain but managed to head in the right direction to stop at The Proud Tartan Bar and Grill for lunch. The place had wifi. First thing he checked was the weather report.

“Storm’s not going to stop soon.” The waitress said. “I can tell you that. Rather my left knee can tell you that.”

“I was afraid of that, Hazel.” Dan glanced at her name tag then the menu. “What would to recommend.”

“Good time of year for the speckled trout. Can’t go wrong with the burger either. Local beef. Ground fresh here.”

“Dig your own spuds for the fries too I suppose.”

“Yeah,” she laughed. “But no, though they are … hand-crafted by our skilled chefs.”

“Burger appeals. Fries too.”

“Want a Kiefers to go with that. Local micro-brewery.”

“Sure why not.”

He was the only customer in the restaurant. His table give a decent view of the river across the street. The sky darkened even more and a crack of lightening illuminated the other shore. Heavy fall of rain followed. He could hear it on the roof of the bar. Soon he couldn’t see past the parking lot.

“Roof is solid,” Hazel said as she put his beer on table along with a schooner glass.

He tipped the bottle to pour it into the glass and was amazed as the deep red of the brew.

“I love to see that look.” she said. “This is the one beer we always let the customer pour. Gently now, so there’s not too much head.”

Dan did as directed. He took a sip.

“Strawberry?” he said.


“And hay?”

“Right again. This is the end of their summer brews. The other is … ”

“Blueberry Beer?”

Hazel brought his burger. “Hope you don’t mind the onion roll.” she said as she put it on the table. “None of t’other.”

“It’ll be fine.” another one of these too. He tapped the Keifers bottle.

“Two’s the limit you know” she laughed. “Unless to got designated driver.”

“This storm keeps up and …”

There was another flash of lightening followed by a deep rumbled of thunder. The lights in the bar flickered off for a minute then came back on.

“That can’t be good.” Dan said.

“Nope. I’ll check the TV and see what I can find out.”

There were no more electrical problems while Dan ate his burger. He declined a third beer though. 

“If you’re fixing to stay the night you best get your kit from your car. You’ll have your choice of rooms here.”


“B’n’B upstairs. We don’t put the sign out until the season really starts.”

“Thanks.” Dan said. He paid for his lunch and added an equal amount as tip. Quintex would be paying so he could afford to be generous.

“Much appreciated Mr. James. I’ll get Joe to get room … 101 ready for you.” 


“You don’t think I cooked that hamburger for you.”

He went out to the the covered porch of the Proud Tartan. Did he really want to get his suitcase? The rain was so heavy Dan couldn’t see across the street. The wind was shaking the flag poles along the parking lot. 

“Here.” Hazel gave him a heavy rain poncho. “You’ll have get your own luggage.”

He dashed out to the car to get his suitcase. His jeans & shoes were soaked by the time he got back. 

“Don’t remember it raining this hard since I was a boy.” He sat at a table to take off his wet shoes.“Hurricane Francis, I think.”

“You from a round these parts?” Hazel handed him a towel.

“Yes. Grew up on the Cape. New Waterford.”

“Francis was some storm. Waves washed cars off the Causeway that year.”

Dan’s cell rang.

“I better answer this. It could be my crew wondering where I am.”

“Hello.” It was Stephanie. “What … I’m okay … Baxter had Roberto and Glaucia with him. That’s right he took the SUV I had been driving … Right now I am at …” he looked to Hazel “What’s the b’n’b called?”

“Tartan Beds.”

“Tartan Beds at the Proud Tartan. It’s in Port Elgin. It’s as far as I got before the sea rushed up to meet me … okay … I’ll let you know when I’m heading out of here but I don’t expect it will be until morning.”

“Bad news?”

“Yeah.” Dan walked to the front window to look out at the storm. The wind was whipping the various flags around. “The car my boss Baxter was driving lost traction on the highway and flipped. He’s been taken to a hospital in Halifax. He had two other passengers. They aren’t sure if they’ll survive.”

“You were close to these people?” 

“I hardly really knew them. I didn’t know Baxter until a few months ago. I liked them if that’s what you are asking. Close? No.”

His cell rang again. “Sorry.”

This time it was Peter. “I’m alright. … no I wasn’t in the car … you tell Sanjay everything is okay … yeah I’m sure he’s concerned … no I don’t know how this will affect the shoot but trust me Baxter will make the most of it. … yes, I’ll … okay … bye.” He put his phone on the table. “My house sitter. News report was that a TV film crew from Toronto was in traffic accident. He was sure I was dead.”

“Room’s ready.” A grizzled man in an apron tossed a key on the table.

“Thanks Joe.” Hazel said.

“I’m going to up to my room and slip into some dry clothes.” Dan pushed himself up from the table.

Halfway up the stairs there was a loud crash from outside & the power went out.

“First door on your left, Mr. James.” Hazel called up to him. “First door on your left.” 

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

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Dining Room

A souvenir of the writers’ workshop/retreat at Loyalist College in Belleville. There was also a painters workshop at the same time. One morning we visited the painter, saw their work, then read some our aloud to them. I swapped one of my Renaissance anthologies for this painting. Int he area many houses have a large bed of orange flowers – at one time to signify it was the home of Orangemen. Yes gardens were once tools of political & religious importance.

One of my role models 🙂 Tweety could get away with tormenting Sylvester with the dog ready to rescue him. The brass cymbals were a gift many years ago. I ring them on the full moon. In the window  you might notice a stained glass Cape Breton Island sun catcher.

The patron saint of writers – St Michael – the only saint with a sword. I bought this Broughton’s – a religious items store not he Danforth, just east of Woodbine. They have since gone out of business. I bout this ceramic figurine at their going out of business sale. It hovers on the plate rail over me by the computer. The bearded guy under his foot is part sea serpent. The Welsh plate beside it is a nod to my Celtic roots. It might have been gift or I may have found it at a 2nd hand store.

Photos of photos 🙂 The first by my niece before she she became branded as Betty Rocksteady. I love the triple exposure effect & its surreal Man Ray vibe. Check her out on Amazon.


The other is by my friend Kyle Andrews – driftwood in sunset on the coast of Nova Scotia around Canso Causeway. 




My lunchbox collection. These are from various years of FanExpo & were included as part of the deluxe package. Supposedly limited editions – but what does that mean? Were unsold ones destroyed?  repurposed? repainted as Terminator XIX lunch boxes? The photo, one of my favourites, is of no one I know. I found it on one of my walks, leaning on a garbage bin. I couldn’t resist it.


something happens when 

my skin 

is in the same room 

as yours


I don’t have to know you are there

I can feel something 

though my clothes 

through every layer 

coat sweater jeans undies

a emanation comes from you

your eyes   your smile

that changes my chemical structure 

it grows glows down to my toes


in fact

you don’t even have to be there

someone can mention your name

& I feel like a leaf turning 

to your sun

your picture 

your voice on the telephone


my hypersensitive flesh reacts

the closer you are

the less subtle the reaction

the more alone we are together

the less subtle the manifestation 

radians through the air around us

as we snuggle to watch TV 

step into a shower

approach the bed

emanation that knit

pull us closer closer

enmeshed in each other

breathe the same air

walk in the same sunshine

wash with the same soap


complete without each other

yet always eager for the knit

creating opportunities 

to mention the name

laugh about something or the other 

we could have done

caught up in the shower

lost between the bed and the TV


there are times 

when opportunity

allows awareness of another

I feel it first in my skin

I look around the room  the street 

to see where its coming from

can it be returned

eyes become heat seeking sensors

I’m a turning leaf

looking for some sun

more light 

more opportunity to share that flow

with someone else

even if it is merely to acknowledge 

not act

don’t have to act every time  


the grace of light fills us 

each to overflowing


no need to fear 

there won’t be enough

all I have to do is breathe deep 

open myself to the gift

of your sun



(canceled by covid19 😦 )June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.


(Maybe) All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet


Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), is best known for a short movement in his Romeo & Juliette ballet suite, which I do have but was never that taken by. I have a double cd collection of The 5 Piano Concertos. As well as an 8.8 hr mp3 collection that includes his Complete Piano Sonatas, Complete Symphonies, & the Ballet Suites: The Buffoon, Love For Three Oranges, Waltz Suite, Romeo & Juliette.


At one time I had the Piano Sonatas as a MHS box set & an lp of one of the concertos. I upgraded to the Sonatas mp3 & found a double cd set of the Piano Concertos. I love piano music & Prokofiev straddles the gap between romantic & modern nicely. Not as lushly melodramatic as Tchaikovsky the concertos are excellent, the sonatas are emotional, lyrical but with a more mathematic sense of structure – not as florid as Chopin.

The Symphonies, which I have as mp3, become more modern & sweeping like Shostakovich but not as dissonant. Like many Russian composers Prokofiev makes use of stirring Russian folks songs that us delightful, somewhat patriotic & satisfying. If you are unfamiliar start with the piano concertos.


One thing I enjoy about many of many eastern European composers is the use of their folk melodies to create amazing, emotionally commanding music that even without being from there myself I am filled with a sense of losing & nostalgia. I have found little North American classical music does that to me. Is there an epic, sweeping symphony based on, say, Native American musical themes?


“Apples bin Irish peace.”

“Yes. Go on.”

“I can’t think of anything more.”

Dr. Clarke put down his pen. “I see.”

“Is that a problem?”

“I don’t know. You tell me?”

“I wish I could think of more. Really. Sometimes my mind just goes blank … or so many things flash that I can’t grab them all. Don’t know which ones to say and as I start saying them the others darken. Disappear. Blank. I’m left with a blank.”

“That can happen. Try to relax. Green?”

“Peace. Did I say that already? I’m so afraid of repeating myself that I can’t think of anything to say. Nothing comes to me. I want to go.”

“You can leave anytime. If you want to get well you have to try harder.”

“I don’t see how this helps.”

“It helps me to find patterns of thinking. What does peace mean to you?”

“Peace? I’ve never thought about peace. Really. I guess it means like gardens and butterflies. Quiet. No, maybe some birds singing. Yeah and kittens chasing the butterflies around. Yeah, that’s what peace means to me.’

“That’s a postcard picture of peace but go deeper than a picture.”

“Peace isn’t perfection, is it? that’s what you want to me say isn’t it. Peace is impossible, it only exists in my imagination not in the world out there. There is no peace. Never ever going to be peace. Peace would be boring as fuck anyway. You know that, don’t you? Impossible.”

“Take a breath. That’s not what I mean but peace has a cost. In your picture who mows the lawn? Who plants the flowers? Peace isn’t an abstract thing.”

“I’m never going to get well, am I”

“Ready for the next word?”




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

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


Richard III – Stratford Festival

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


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

Caught Hard 1971 /76

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂 This is the last resurrected poem for this Easter.

Caught Hard 1971 


dull dark day dawns

disparately clinging to the night clouds

little mists of mares

floating up from the budding honeysuckle


I am fighting so hard

for an empty room

for this trophy of glass

it can’t last

it mustn’t last

this fighting alone

on the dew wet grass

so close to home

by the freshly born

morning in some other

question box corner standing

sunrise boxing ring


so you’ve come to see the fight

by being here

you are the fight

another shadow boxing affair

reflecting from my bottles

reflecting on my walls

fighting for every word you speak


I am dying softly

the everyday death we each die

wandering from payday to payday

paying enough for the right

to live when I die


paying to keep fighting

in only the perfect surroundings

soundings & singers

paying & dying & fighting

fighting off the laughter

that I feel exploding

each inner pondering like a sledge hammer

smashing each unhappy stone


restoring sensation of pleasure

white in the night

feeling close & coming to an end


caught hard up in the air

without a handful go much

just loose strings of stings

& other nasty things

to keep me from giving in

to consuming everything in one last bite


I’ve heard the hangman many times today

if I’m not a icicle

why do I feel so cold

swinging in the summer sun

swinging to the hangman’s hot jest


he’s trying hard to melt me down

so I can be sold in bits & pieces


many times

screaming inside my skull

he cannot bear to see me moving

to any other taunt but his

up the stairs

up the stairs

no one cares

just the hangman

filling his pockets with meltings


I am free to fall

I am free to get up

I am free

but feel so lost


if I am not a fossil

why do I feel so old

if I am not a fetus

why do I feel so unborn


tiny & afraid

waiting in the summer sun

for someone to touch


if I am not wise

why do I feel so foolish

in these words

I am found by so few

yet still lost to so many

I am the end of time

drizzled with smiling sunlight

in some early morning suddenness


if I am not dynamite

why do I feel like exploding

every time I think of you


the sun can’t seem to melt into the middle

yet I feel myself slipping away

up the stairs

up the stairs

away from the sun

that needs me melted

before we can start winter again


the hangman has seen me crying

the hangman has been free dying

to reach out to cut my rope and end

this dangling all day in the sun


no confession

no confessor for me

I cannot make sense of either

though both are bursting to

functions all around

me like falling rain

as I near the end of the rope


postitive negative postitive negative

polarized into neither

loving nor hating 

wanting nor having

afraid of saying

so many confessional hidden sins

that everyone realizes about me

but care too much to punish me for

This is one of few pieces that went from the above rough draft to a more ‘polished’ version that was included in my book Distant Music. All those ‘d’s at the start are a bit much 🙂 I do love the overt masculinity of the piece as I box to prove my maleness as a poet. Poetry being considered un-masculine despite the fact that the poetry we studied in high school was 99% written by men.

I was buttoning it up to somehow contain my sexuality as well. Queers don’t talk about boxing but movie stars. ‘reflecting from my bottles’ a clear reference to my growing alcoholism – another of the way I was dealing with sexuality – drown it.

A gay acquaintance at the time hung himself which may have lead to the hangman imagery. Working to pay the rent was like a noose too, the strangle hold of fear.

The version that made it into print is equally as meandering but is also more focused. The alliteration remains 🙂 The revised version does have a sense of ending though. Today there is no rope, or bottle, needed to to keep me standing.

Caught Hard 1976 


dull dark day 

disparately dawns

clinging coldly

to the night clouds

little mists of mares

floating doggedly

over murky dreams


I am fighting hard

fighting so hard

for an empty room

a glass trophy

it can’t last

it mustn’t last

this fighting alone

on the dew-wet grass

so close to home

with the freshly born

morning sunrise


just by being here

to see the fight

you become the fight

another shadow-boxing affair

reflected from bottles

reflecting cross walls

fighting for every word you speak


I am dying

that everyday death 

we each die


fighting in only 

the best of surroundings

soundings & singers

all dying in fighting

fighting off the laughter

I feel exploding

each inner pondering 

like a sledge hammer

smashing each happy stone


returning sensations 

of pleasure

white in the night

feeling close 

while coming to an end


caught hard 

up in the air

without a sandful of much

just loose strings of stings

of other satisfied things

to keep me from giving in

to consuming everything 

in one final bite


I’ve heard the hangman 

many times today

if I’m not a icicle

why do I feel so cold

a-sway in the summer sun

swinging peacefully

to the hangman’s hot breath


he’s trying to melt me down

so I can be sold in 

bits & pieces


many times

screaming inside

he cannot bear 

to have me sway

to any breath

but his

up the stairs

up the stairs

no one cares

except for the hangman

filling pockets 

with meltings


I am free to fall

I am free to get up

I am free

but feel so lost


if I am not a fossil

why do I feel so old

if I am not reincarnated

why do I feel so unborn


tiny & afraid

waiting in the summer sun

for someone to touch


if I am not wise

why do I feel so foolish

out of these words

am I the end of time

drizzled with smiling sun

in your early morning suddenness


if I am not dynamite

why do I feel like fighting

every time I think of you


the sun cannot melt 

through to the middle

yet I feel myself slipping away

up the stairs

up the stairs

away from the sun

that needs me melted

so we can start winter


the hangman has seen me crying

the hangman has been free dying

to reach out & cut the rope 

to end my all-day dangling


if I am not a hanged man

why do my feet

never seem to touch the ground


if there is no rope

around my neck

what holds me in place

keeping me from falling down

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

Kent State – The View From Here 1970

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Kent State – The View From Here 1970

I never knew them

but still I cried

I never will know them

now that they have died


but even if I could have

I doubt if I would have

for with apathy it’s easier to sigh

than get up & try

which is what they did

no longer content to be hid

by things yet to be said

now they are four dead


they never knew me

but still I cried

they never will know

now that they’ve died

hopeless dwarf desperation

overcomes giant hesitation

as I feel it’s my time

to move to the front line

to replace those that fall

or can’t relate to the call

then I wonder if I’ll see the end

alone or with a friend


I never knew them

but still I cried

I never will know them

now that they have died

now that they have died

‘Four dead in Ohio’ another Neil Young inspiration while he was part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The shooting in May 1970 stunned me & my friends. Many were musicians & angry protest songs were part of their repertoire. I was more flower-child than rabble-rouser. The found the hippy movement too heterocentric & unwashed for my sensibility. 

This is one of the few, perhaps the only, pieces I wrote then that reflected life outside my own muddling through life. There were student protests everywhere it seemed while I was started in my Cape Breton Ghost Town reading about it in Rolling Stone or seeing it on TV. What music filtered to the east coast was about as counterculture I got. Let’s face it even the  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were millionaires.

At the time I felt a sense of loss though. Loss & futility because the shooting made it clear the entrenched would always be with us & always in control. I see it today around the world. People calling kids who survived a mass school shooting ‘cry babies’ for wanting gun control. 

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

Sunshine Corners 1971

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Sunshine Corners 1971

summer day small & dangling

little blue suns from the bigger ray

falling adream in the middle of the day

with pieces of pie & cups of tea

long time cashed in by ups & me

cashed in for a boat ride

sold for a smile or a simile 

to sail away to

hidden treasure island innuendos

fastly teasing eyes & ears


hiding hiding

in sunshine corners

early days early days

late night mourners

streets of cars

eyes of ice

making the turn

signalling for a full stop

talking word after word

catching the bus

falling in a heap

like leaves on retreat


red night falling from behind

unaware of the feelings in the place

beneath the ground around all

I have to offer is a million marvels

a circus to some

an escape to others

a relief to be inside

the other side of the seesaw 

the scale that will never tip


in the air

in the air

in the air

the snow filled air

the thousand

never ending 

ever melting

fleeting flakes of snow

finding brief rest in sudden death

patterns in paper ribbons



in dark hair

on moonlight August hills

in little corners of restaurants

where we ate the fun of it

drank the hell of it

finally left the rest of it


in the air

in the air

in the air


it’s the moon in mystical mood

shining angular

on the fields of harvest stubble

on weather grey houses

on shadows as the crow

flies off for home 

or orchard 

or lingers to scream you awake too soon in the morning

you were saving for this moment

only to have it mocked by a black jester

who has never spoken to her sister

who shines for hours all day

while the moon bides her time

hidden in a cloud’s back pocket


there was a sun

bright & shining

now there is the blind man

feeling the sun on his face

feeling the water tugging his knees

deep in the other way of missing

building up

higher screaming hammering

all at once


in silence each note unechoed

each temptation resisted

dry laughter

little sounds within

the big sound


repercussions of daring 

to be alone

doing this

for the first time

wondering if the 

telephone is too out of time

to use


falsely afraid

for the beams

cannot burn

cannot shatter

afraid that they might

security afraid

but hoping to be let down


somebody claims to have found him

in my writing

in my searching

but for 

some reason he

he does not seem to be

what I am searching for

he I have found but feel there is 

something besides all this besides

some velvet guillotine to stop the 

interloping tangents from regressing into

solenoid spheres & exaggerated 

laughing fits of yesteryears


jagged like music

in clumps of smooth & rough

harmony & discord 


breaking forth

after expending so 

many days of violent 

turbulent struggle

into a soft hello

or a tender glance

or even the merest thought of 

becoming unwithdrawn

to the point

where helloes & glances

take no energy at all


so tell the darkness

that this sound can be heard

even while the warmth comes

as waves & veils over & down

head to toe

reflected in a window

neglected in a cellar

full of madness

desperate afraid angry


yet aware of loving

every minute of it


there is only the flight of the gull

to cut across the face of the sunset

there are only my tears

to wash down my face at sunrise


still feeling the tingling

of the right notes up my back

as the engines shift into hyperdrive

while I wait for the

passengers to climb aboard this

rocket to the sun

Let’s get this influence up front: ’I dreamed I saw the silver space ships flying/ In the yellow haze of the sun.’ There’s no denying the influence on early me by the early lps of Neil Young. ‘Ghost Town’ is clearly a variation of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.’ ‘After The Gold  Rush’ was the same with all that longing & fragility.

There are many reference to my daily life here as well. Drinking tea, eating pie with friends in my comfy basement room, drinking in restaurants, waking up hungover & feeling like harvest stubble. The emotional build up to finally say hello, or in my case, never saying it. I love & cringe at the same time, at some of the melodrama ‘there are only my tears/to wash down my face at sunrise.’

I have two versions of this piece. One handwritten with drawings & the other typewritten. I don’t know which came first but there are slight differences between the two. This one is the typed version – line breaks & all. 


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Cutthroat Circus 1970

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Cutthroat Circus 1970




someone to laugh

in this empty garden

somebody to shut the windows to the night

somebody to open the box of toys

hidden so long


topaz shatterproof whispering thief

finding his way into the locked room

tiptoes then dynamites the hanging

fearing to find escape outside of

becoming another fugitive figure

flung fatally into one of the frames


mixed relaxations



of sitting & rocking

the childminder asleep

like a tighter thought leaping

across the room at my throat


Ringmaster’s Intro Speech


realized confinement

time & tomorrow waiting

with a box full of everyone

wishes for their giving to

secret plans & dangling

free frozen in the act

of trying to be a lover

or another testy fake


beneath satin sliding silk

sticking sucking slender


waiting then leaping

at your throat

knife sharp


steel swift

shining sinking into

flinching flesh

bursting bleeding

bravely saving sighs for songs

as duty demands this sudden


dubious death


The Show




itemized perfections

petrified pain

aware merry-go-round



charmer looking for Mesmer

trying for the bigtop jackpot

scarcely leaning jagged seat-edged

watching amazed as

the trapeze swings



the trapeze swings


oriental curving through

a thousand falling feet

to the thudding ground

netted protected below


timid almost


shy for once

pleased & proud

confused aloud

almost sure these

hands reached for

across the crowd

might prove to be gone

plunging again

but knowing full well

it’s merely a trick of the band


the trombone

tension getting device

as the drums beat faster

& the trapeze bar mirrored silver

fogs with perspiration 

slipping hands

feeling thousand hands hounding

grabbing you out of mid-flight

& dragging you

gracefully arching

to the aching 

safety of home


gaunt & tall

removed & aloof

the savage tamer

of the tigers in the room

the charming knife thrower

electric pulsating neon

through pink spotlight

cage bar shadow rippled face

loses no time

in hurling rockets of steel

flashing through sawdust air

to trembling spangled buxom target

coyly smiling as she walk

from the spinning hazard into

your eager spread-legged dream

of night & thrill

in the trailers

in the tents

in the bandwagon

in the centre ring

the major attraction of all time


you might & majestic

while she

so calm & serene

& able to walk way

alive after having been burst upon

by your crimson dagger


simple acts of contrition

rings one & two

no bells are heard

but the leper’s bell

as the choir bursts forth

with discord after harmony 





the centre attraction 

is cutting himself to shreds

the knife thrower stands small in the wings

the centre attraction

is taming himself with whip & chair

s c r e a m i n g






g in the air

swings by his teeth

twisting & turning in erotic agony

as the bareback lady rides her

mount so heavily over

the sweating


finish line


clowns in fire engine

save the crying child

the crowd roars wild


the choir finds a fatal note




spotlights flash aimlessly




tent top


as beyond



as the final fugitive elephant

is prodded back into chains

is lured back into his corner of the circus


fleeting & everlasting

steaming rows of

honking seals

screaming rows of terrified children

as the tigers leap


at the cage bars

trying for freedom

foreheads bleeding & dripping

clowns playing

in frenzy to hide the

deep inside mastery of the circus


circus tickets

laughing futile 

flight through time

again the choir

singing some

faithless mass

the organist trashing his peddles

the guest soprano

leading through

new augmented chords

all united as all

lions leaping through flaming hoops

horses dancing the arias


pianist handless


pumping faster

the fire engines futile whine


while in the centre ring

I lead them all in

one final chorus of


At the time wrote this I felt it was a magnum opus. This is one piece were the enjambments were a carnival in & of themselves. ‘dan g l i n g’ stretched across the page, as well as down the page, with each turn of the typewriter roller dropping the letters down one line after the other.

‘topaz shatterproof whispering thief’ wtf? It clearly shows the influence of surrealism and Dylan Thomas. It creates, to me, an image that almost makes sense while being mystifying meaningless. ‘fugitive figure/flung fatally into one of the frames’ what the ‘f’ is going on 🙂 I do love ‘bigtop jackpot’ for the sonics.

The trapeze symbolized my sense of trying swing through life while keeping from being unbalanced by my expectations & sexuality ‘alive after having been burst upon/by your crimson dagger.’ The pumelling images almost reflect some of the melodramatic turmoil I was struggling with trying to get a sense of my own future.

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

Try to Shine 1971

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Try to Shine 1971

father of lights

father of lights

we try to shine as lights in the world

but what good can we do

with your every greater light

outshining us as every dawn

must we wait till your dusk

before we can shine at all

& if we wait what will we do

as it gets nearer the dawn

nearer the dawn


the fever shook the country

sometime in December I think

or seem to recall

things were pretty hectic

my back against the wall

the fever took quite a few

I felt it too

it ripped up & down my spine

tore my life to pieces

but for some reason

didn’t take me with the rest

I’m still here

keeping the record of the dead

of the fever followers

who will never return

perhaps the next fever will be mine


spring comes in promises

silver nuggets here & there

in first forest clover

but well

it seems so distant anyway

xmas & all

a few little glances

a smile & a call

never getting further than before

never getting nearer than the dawn


words of warning or warming

written for a few you’s

who stayed till dawn

nearer than before

in other summer days

we’ve lied & tried

& yet no dawn comes

to reflect the snow snuggled ground


it seems so strange at times

to be relating to a voice as a mouth

on the other end of the telephone

rather than the whole of you

it seems so strange at times

to be relating to thoughts as eyes

at the receiving end of a letter

rather than the whole of you


it’s not the empty morning that I’m afraid of

I can sleep

or read fortunes with oil on water

swirling sticks & liquorice

I’m afraid of loving

only to find trick of time

did remove me

into some other ticking type of clock

that chimes in disharmony

though perhaps there is another way

for me to wind up


I was hoping to meet

in the street by chance

meet you & free myself

of the longing to remember who you were

when I met you last

meet you & free myself 

of longing to meet you once again

in the street

only in the street

for in the street we both have room to escape

& no need to really be there

for longer than a smile & light

& maybe plan for some later meeting

which if happens will

make us even further apart than ever


nights after nights

& days after days of words

wandering on & on

not looking really

just wandering

fitting a few & losing a few

wandering closer & further from

hoping & despairing 

the eventuality of time

when I will have to stop

& say which is which

for both can only exist if I intend to

wander on & on forever alone

forever alone


father of lights

tell me a fantasy

tell me a meaning

let’s plan a meeting someday soon

each time it becomes harder to find

reasons why

but easier to find ways how

soon perhaps

it can happen

with no reasons at all


another start

where the same endings

never seem in sight

Bob Dylan’s New Morning ended with the song Father of Night. In the song he repeated ‘Father of   ….’ with variations of what the father was father of. The religious reference was toyed with ins ouch way that it lead me to write this piece. Direct religious references in my writing are rare but there are subtle ones that pop up frequently.

There’s a bit of story in this piece. ‘the fever’ refers  to the decisions of ‘you’s’ friends of mine to get out of the ghost town & move on with education, employment & even relationships. I felt stranded in Sydney writing letters & making long-distant calls – which reduced us to voices & eyes. 

One of closest string friends was un university & sometimes visited his parents or his girlfriend unexpectedly but didn’t always get in touch with me when he did. It drove me crazy. Such is closeted life.

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Ghost Town 1972

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Ghost Town 1972


I wanted to catch that feeling

of stars tossed by the wind

a fistful clutched of glass

twinkling sparkling stars

suddenly flashing so fast

through the blackest night sky

that wind

feeling its caress

its warmth

scurrying flurries of fragment silver

across an evergreen tree 


take that wind

moan it through a saxophone daydream

through empty shuddered grey-wooded saloons

stables jails & whorehouses

through the dry dust bowl of a ghost town


I wanted to taste that surge

of power released by the sun

a mouthful savoured of laughing

bubbling flooding power

suddenly bursting so loud

through the brightest sunrise

that taste

feeling its lingering

its invitation

escaping teasing lure of memory

in a black oaken cask


take that sun

moan it through a clarinet daydream

through empty shuddered grey-wooden saloons

stables jails & whorehouses

through the dry dust bowl of a ghost town


catch that wind & sun

then let them drift away

softly into your treasure trove

gently into your everyday

take them before they return

to the ghost town


calico bonnets & wooden sidewalks

a street turns to mud in the rain

some youngold prospector with gold in his socks

& a boy who talks of cotton & grain

a good old town

small getting big

caught by the sudden boom

discovered down by the lake

or in them were hills

the word flashed around

thousands to dig

so little to take

stomachs aching with greedy ills


calico bonnets my mother wore

jars of candy in the everything store

gone all gone never even mine

just an image I found just in time

of a bustling deal come to shore

landing firmly in this ghost town


a shoot out at noon

cattle drive by night

smokey kitchens baked beans

hand clappin’ revival

& other church picnic scenes

grabbed up for survival

for some pleasure of mine

movie over too soon

leaving traces of flight

across the rocket ripped room


slinging gun so low

red Indian moonshine glow

buffalos moved to make room

with little babies waiting for birth

coming across tv screen dreams

hazy & grainy & end of the show

turn it down

who wants any sound

in this dust windy ghost town


flies buzzing into windows

stumbling through the street

horse drawn wagons & stages to meet

widows starving on

childless fathers drinking on

shadows flickering into the night

hoping for the sheriff or the cavalry

to save them from the Indian fight


speak softly now

lights down so low

nowhere better to be

no need to go

linger & long

in this dust windy ghost town

About this time I was collecting the Time-Life series on the Old West. The set had wonderfully embossed covers & I’d get a new volume every other month. Wonderfully illustrated & unexpectedly detailed they fuelled me with a sense of the real West, as opposed to the TV & movie version. I was a fan of the books, not of the movies.

Though such of the imagery here comes from tv & movies, with that dash of surrealism i.e. ‘saxophone daydream.’ The ‘I’ speaks from being there, of having experienced this place using the accumulated details to sound more authentic. Then the reveal ‘just an image I found’ – so the piece is about imagination as an escape. Imagining one ghost town to escape from another ghost town. Sydney, my home town, being the real ghost town.

Going though this now I enjoy the images, even the use of alliteration isn’t as heavy handed as it got is some pieces – ‘scurrying flurries of fragment silver’ has a nice flow. 

I have been back to Sydney, & will be there again this summer. It has pretty much become a ghost town – most of business exists for the many cruise ships & liners that stop there for the ‘quaint’ factor. “Ooo look beer fudge.” I look forward to visiting my old haunts.
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Sea Story – July 1971

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Sea Story – July 1971


it’s been a rough passage

lies & all the lightening skies

I keep wondering when the southbound breeze

will kick me in the head & knock me to my knees

it tries & tries

so hard to please

dangling sweet smelling smiling hope before my eyes

but I must maintain my mainsail

avoid the sacrilege

of sacrifice

bear up proud & strong

to keep sailing toward no end in sight

the trunks have been abandoned long ago on the wharf

all are empty now

looted of their costumes

I must sail with sails my disguise

I must ride the blizzard inside & out

finally realizing that time has come

to hunt down the criminal vagabond

who attacked my fine silks with spilt wine

dirtied my sparkling mirror with

the expression of his eyes

all ravaged & hopelessly left loose

lying on the edge of time

while I so calmly remained removed & longed

to keep sailing toward no end in sight.


sultry slow children playing

back & forth

running from the tents

to the trees

unaware of their warm ease

as the sky pans by

a million fathoms empty of stars & moon

but full of powdered blue aside

no outside

clouded sprightly &

moving the grass

whispered at last

that windows could be opened

for this sailor to peer outside for awhile

there are no mistakes to plead correction for

only moments of flight

to long reflying for

only knots to wish retying for

only by gone crying & laughing

to languish in with pianos playing

over & under every longing & wish

we feel to return to dry land

violin strings sea storm

harp winds wailing

forever & ever warm wind sailing

towards the new ending

towards the maybe loving making in some Singapore shanty

that cannot open its doors

till we arrive with no more longing

to keep sailing toward no end in sight

flashing flashing fitfully warning

with sudden outbursts of lighthouse lunacy

trying so hard to cut the night in two

hoping for some sounding to come rebounding

to warn of hidden dangers murky depth

& silent glowing slithering by happiness

luring the wary into nets of stars

flying them off at a thousand miles per minute

toward the fatal swiftness of the sun


we played at being hopelessly lost one dusty morning

snow like dust on the decks

spinning down from eternity

we played at being hopelessly lost

our prow pushing forward into thick air

seemed to be leading nowhere

foreward foreward

the icy wind pushed us

the sails frozen such that we couldn’t take them down

foreward foreward

steering deeper deeper into

the equator’s sunshine blizzard

foreward foreward

following the smiling nude sea

into some deathless canyon ribboned on all sides

with impenetrable sheets of snow & rain

& laughing surprise packages as we each

opened our eyes to another fine morning

here in my little room

so far from the sea

so free from the sea

so removed in anguish from the diadems

of speech that somehow I manage

to keep sailing toward no end in sight

One of the drawbacks in transcribing these pieces has been the loss of enjambments 😦 Even if I duplicate them here – they disappear when I cut & paste a version into another program – Word Press strips everything away except italics. With the old typewriters I would only have to turn the roller one line down & start without having to go back to the beginning edge.

I have to admit I was probably a bit made with enjambments anyway but I loved the way they look don the page, I loved how you drop a word down on the next line, or phrase, for emphasis so it was like an aside to what was just read, as opposed the the start of a whole new stanza.

In looking back at Sea Story I see it influences by Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker’s lyrics. There’s no denying ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ plays into this piece – it was a poem I studied in high school.    It’s hard to miss all the alliteration ‘sweet smelling smiling hope’ plus some sonic wordplay -‘the sacrilege of sacrifice.’ I lived by the ocean but rarely wrote about the sea.

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