Cape Fever

Cape Fever

it was a black satin half-slip

with a hem of red lace

I found in my mother’s dresser

it was cool on my skin

I twisted & turned

in front of the mirror

to see it flow

clutching the waist

around my eight-year-old throat

so it was my black cape

dripping with the blood

I’d dragged it through

 

it wasn’t long enough

not full enough

meant for my mother’s narrow hips

when I tried to sweep it up

to cover my face

it fell off

it would never be Dracula’s cape

 

besides my eye brows were wrong

even after I tired to create

those terrifying arches 

using eyebrow forms from

my mother’s Elizabeth Arden make up kit

it had dozens of shapes  

none were arched enough

so I did what I could

by turning one upside down

spectacular

 

the mouth full of tomato catchup

was impossible 

too thick

for it drip over my teeth

or out of the corners of my mouth

the red was wrong

beet juice was the right colour

but way too thin

the two didn’t mix well either

 

but those eyebrows were spectacular

they scared even me

in the mirror

when I held a flashlight under my chin

all I needed was the right cape

and a victim

This is a sweet mix of real memory but not of an actual event. The half-slip existed, as well some crinolines. I was never brave enough to actually handle the half-slip but I did so towel capes, which were too heavy for the right effect. The crinolines I did wear on my head a few times. They gave me a feeling of long long big hair. Even then I wasn’t really dawn to cross-dressing – I guess the cultural sense of male and female was present.

My mother also had one of those make-up kits. It came in the mail. If I remember there were some Tv ads for these kits, or maybe they were in some magazine. A collection of eye brow stencils, lip stencils that she would use to create eyebrows & lip outlines for that perfect look. There were brushes an pencils. Even an eyelash curler. I did attempt eyebrows one halloween but they were more funny than scary.


This is one of those false childhood memory poems in which every detail is true but they never happened in the context they happen in here. I always wanted a cape, more in the Batman style though than Dracula. I found the red collar distracting 🙂 I have tired on a few as an adult & what a difference a fabric makes. Velvet sure looks good but it weighs a ton. Satin is nearly as bad. Plus keeping the hem out of the mud in a graveyard can be very distracting.

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#Shame

There ought to be a reality show ‘Shame on You’ in which contestants compete to out shame each other to see who can be the most publicly racist, sexist, hypocritical, or entitled. We already have enough people doing this for the news, so why not capitalize on it. Americas Top Asshole or something like that.

blackcouch

couch of shame

Everyone has things in their lives they aren’t proud of – the secret shames that I suspect we hold on to mainly because we’ve convinced they are to be hidden from everyone. You don’t talk about things like that unless, of course, there are cameras present. Being caught creates reputations not ruins them.

stump

ring of shame

Shame springs from ‘what others think’ & its prime purpose is to control, as opposed to stop, behaviour that might be disapproved of – I don’t mean things like murder – but stuff like lust, sex, greed. The recent adultery ruckus is about shame &, possibly, people who are addicted to shame & not sex at all. They like the sneaking around more than the getting – that taste of shame.

On the east coast I had a friends who shamed my music tastes – they were ‘hard’core’ blues head John Mayall was king, Blues Magoos were below contempt. Rather than be mocked I caved & went with that flow. Today I like Mayall & enjoy listening to him but its the innocuous Magoos that give me the greater pleasure. I replaced those lost lps -which I suspect are probably worth more on eBay than Mayall – with mp3s. Hearing them a few years ago for the first time in decades I was swept away & pleased.

pryor

shameless pair

It wasn’t until I was into my 50’s that I began to shake off sexual shame – all those messages from an anti-pleasure culture that I had never questioned, began to get looked at & nullified. Being queer is difficult enough without accepting cultural baggage without questioning it. As a teen it made suicide tempting (as it still does for gay/trans teens today – suicide seems an approved solution in fact – better suicide than support or education). I put the bottle to my mouth instead of the gun to my head – numbing worked as it kept me alive.

But I did pick up the razor blade – something I don’t talk about often. I was a cutter. I didn’t cut where it could be seen by anyone except myself. It persisted into my recovery for a few years. A habit that become so well ingrained I didn’t even question doing it. One day it dawned on me – I was ashamed of what I was doing to myself – why was I holding on to this? It was for the shame I felt, not for the blood I was drawing.

selfie

shameless selfie

The scars remain – physical evidence that only I can recognize. Even if I showed you where to look & let you look you wouldn’t see what I know is there. Hidden, but not by shame.

samp01

Confirmation

blood

sticky on my fingers

quick to cool

my blood

iron on my tongue

red black thin

not enough to feel warmth

enough to know I have cut

myself

 

not where anyone can see it

I don’t cut for attention

no marks along my arms or wrists

no mesh of scars to explain

to haunt me years later

 

I don’t remember how it started

was it to see some blood

or a need to make me hurt

a grounding in shame

take that you stupid idiot

teach my body a lesson

teach my heart a song

let that small drip refrain

 

I wash my hands when I’m done

watch the healing

then forget the ceremony

for hours

for days

even for years

before I am compelled once more

to feel my blood

sticky ripe between pale fingers

it smells the same

tastes the same

still comes as eagerly when called

by the blade

as I evoke

a few confirming drops of my self

money

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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo 2016
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Bell Museum in Baddeck in shameless Cape Breton

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Laura Nyro Genius

Let me state that I think Laura Nyro is a genius. Her story is amazing, tragic, uplifting & she deserves to be more than a top 40 footnote. Her songs are amazing, tragic, uplifting and often challenging. Things that a pop diva was not supposed to be and then she got buried. Oh, yes, she was lesbian, too – which may account for her premature burial.

greybooties

save the children’s booties

In my collection I have: Eli & The 13th Confession; Gonna Take A Miracle; New York Tendaberry; Smile; Nested. And a tribute album: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. Plus many of the hit covers by Fifth Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears (& others) of her songs: ‘Stone Soul Picnic,’ ‘Save The Children,’ ‘When I Die.’

Laura wrote soulful but pure pop music – her recordings are dynamic. Her vocals are astonishing, compelling & delightful. Like Janis Ian she started in her teens, made it big fast, then pulled back. Drugs, sex & rock’n’roll producers got in the way. Her early work is full of sweet horn work, almost gospel momentum, deep heart lyrics ‘Lonely Women’ & arraignments to weep for. She knew what she wanted & the men in industry didn’t like that, I guess. Those songs of her that were hits were almost note for note replications of her charts.

knitted

miracle of the scrunchie

Her best charting single was from “Miracle’ the lp she recorded with Labelle – it was Up On The Roof’ a Carol King song from this great set of covers. Her work was always challenging too – Tendaberry is raw, almost frighteningly direct at times. Her live album Lights is excellent.

She dropped out of sight for a few year & resurfaced mellower with Smile & Nested: two of most romantic, emotionally seductive albums I can think of. Her later Mother’s Spiritual & the posthumous Angel in The Dark show her matured musically, some covers of her favourites, originals with various approaches, her alone on piano, some horn & strings – very Steely Dan at times. Tori Amos owns her a deep debt. All of them are highly recommend.

blackbra

wet & black

The tribute album doesn’t really reimagine her as much as I would have expected. Sweetly jazz for the most part but too respectful & tasteful. But those songs are timeless. Her death in 1998 was too early.

sample

Sweet Smell of Success

‘Jill, did you do this?’

‘Why Mr. Nunn? Is there something wrong with it?’

Jill was never comfortable when confronted by her supervisor. Especially when the supervisor was holding the file she had worked on the day before. Jill became defensive, insecure.

‘It is good work. It looks like you are ready for something more complex.’

More complex! Jill felt her heart beat faster.

‘Well, yes after a year in this department you must be familiar with things around here. This basic stuff is for the newer staff to cut their teeth on.’

‘But … ’ Jill didn’t think her teeth were sharp enough yet to tackle anything more than she had been accustomed to these past several months. The work demanded just enough most of the time and for the first time since getting this job she began to feel she could handle it.

‘You don’t seem to have much confidence in your abilities.’ The supervisor put the folder down.

After years of being told she was stupid, lazy, fat, unattractive she never trusted people who told her the opposite. She immediately began to suspect their motivations. Men who told her she was attractive just to nudge her towards her purse moments later; men who would be gone if she had no money for more booze or cigarettes; men who would only seek to satisfy themselves and then leave her; men who she would hear snicker to their buddies when she entered Moe’s Tavern; men who would tell her they really weren’&t keen to be seen with a fat stupid bitch like her.

Now her boss, who smelt so clean and fresh, was telling her she did good work only to follow that up with what he was really after. To make her work harder, to demand more of her than she was ready to give, to demand more without giving her anything in return.

‘Thanks Mr. Nunn but I’m pretty happy doing this stuff.’ she smiled up at him.

‘Why? Your last job review said you were capable of much more. Don’t you want to get ahead in this company.’

Ha, she laughed to herself, get ahead by giving head. I know what you’re really after and I won’t put up with it or put out to get it.

‘I realize that Mr. Nunn but I’d like to stick with what I know till I think I’m ready. Can’t I make that decision for myself?’

Last year’s queer music blogs:

June 2 Billy Strayhorn http://wp.me/p1RtxU-L0

June 9 ‘Hangin’ On The Telephone’ http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Ll

June 16 Tea Room Tramps http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Mg

June 23 Ned Rorem http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Mx

 

 

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