A Little Bent for Bentley Little

When I am asked who my favourite horror writer is I always say ‘Bentley Little’ & they go ‘Huh?’ For a writer who has produced nearly a novel year since his first published book in 1990, plus short story collections, his profile hasn’t skyrocketed. I first discovered him thanks to Stephen King who in some interview I read years ago said that Little was one of his favourite horror authors.

Like King Little’s writing style is conversational, rarely high-flown, or peppered with pseudo-scientific jargon. He plays on myth, legends & even reaches into American history – a ghost train constructed of & by the bones of the Chinese who built the railway – but always starts in the common place & makes the eerier & foreboding.

I have read dozens of Little’s books. I became, as I ma wont to do, a bit obsessed with hunting them all down, scouring 2nd hand bookstores for old ones & watching for new releases. The books are high on suspense, thrills & horror. He finds horror in ordinary things – that new box box store has sales that are to die for – literally.

I’ve kept two, so far, of them on my shelf: The Policy and His Father’s Son. In Son our hero discovers a society of letter-to-the-editor writers whose letters lead to change. It is one of the few novels about writers writing that catches the power of the word, what it means to the writer & then sends that concept into an amazing direction.

 

All the novels are highly cinematic but so far none aha been made into films. I suspect Little has resisted that thanks to what has happened to King film adaptations that have watered down the story to make it more commercial appealing. Bentley can be gory, funny & always scary. He catches human fears & paranoia & makes them into realities; what if the gates to your gated community are the gates to hell?  If you aren’t a fan, yet, I’d recommend The Policy as an excellent starter for this addictive writer.

Dead or Alive

one is already dead

one we don’t know

who knows this child

does anyone recognize 

his running shoes his hands his face

 

is he dead is he alive

we warned you 

not to go near the lake

late at night

first Brad now Jeff

each off on an adventure

 

is he dead

is he alive

what would have possessed him

we told him about the Denizen

we made sure

none of the boys

would go near the smoke shed

they never listen

they never listen

if only they were

content with the pancakes

flap jacks

waffles

maple syrup

we can’t seem to keep them 

sated in food stupors

they have to slip off

looking for adventure

don’t say boys will be boys

 

is he dead is he alive

Jeff Jeff speak to us

wake up 

the grey cold damp

isn’t holding you that strong

spit the cold grey lake water

out of your lungs

tell us did you find Brad

have you seen Olaf

which of you

went to the smoke shed

who stole the sausages

who wasn’t heeding 

the warning we posted

the tales we told

to keep you alive

 

is he dead is he alive

is he Jeff

feel for a pulse

feel for breath

is there a sign

anything

no this isn’t Jeff

it’s some other boy 

another lured to Pinebow Lake

another taken from us

 

if this isn’t Jeff

where is Jeff

where is Brad

where is little Olaf

all the good boys

the brightest and best

have taken their leave

or are they just hiding

peaking around the trees

to giggle and smirk

in some game of hide and seek

where the finders

stay with the hiders

till there is only one looker left

and that will be me

because I won’t go near the lake

late at night

I won’t slip out of my bunk

to look for sausages

I’d rather be hungry and found

 

we must continue our search

beat the bushes

leave no stone unturned

we must look till we find

we must discover

why boys will be boys

we must see if there are foot prints

we have to follow the scent

the deep decay 

of blackened tree stumps

 

something floats 

to the surface of the lake

a glistening slick

like oil red blood

it is moving to follow the moon

it is time for us to light the fires

to gather around

to be told again the warning signs

the things to do

to make sure we all remain here

 

who has seen Tim

he was here a moment ago

he had the matches for the fire

who has seen Garth

he had the marshmallows

come out come out

this game has gone to far

 

is he the next warning sign

the fourth sign

of what is to come

the gradual shift

that takes us each from the camp

to home

 

yes that must be it

the others have gone home

run back to their mommies

scared of the lake

scared of the dark

and never go to get their fill

of the good cook’s works

we can end the search

except to find out

who this boy is 

spewed upon the shore

who

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October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

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every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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The Boy and the Book

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. This another of the 92 pācittiyas.

The Boy and the Book

the dad admonishes

‘do not eat the book’

to the little boy

old enough to talk

but clearly pre-school

gnawing on the picture book

 

I wonder

is the paper digestible

is the ink toxic

what about the plastic

on the shiny cover

is it picture book of animals

does the boy expect

to find out what

a lion tastes like

 

can what nourishes his mind

also feed his body

will this taste haunt him

as he searches for it

in books  cookies  flesh

that bring back that memory

 

or will he realize

books are for reading

not for eating

that filling his head

will leave his stomach empty

that no matter

how many books he reads

his mind will never be satisfied

that it’s time to close books

and start to feed the world

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Unsubstantiated

samprules2

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

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

 

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Lazarus Kiss Finale

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

Lazarus Kiss.63

He went to his cubical and there was the latest Mac.0Z lap top with a note – “We heard that yours got fried and there’s no way we’ll let you leave home without one.”

Next stop was Plaza Place.

“Mr. Stevens welcome home.” The concierge at Plaza Place went up in the elevator with him. “We’ve had maintenance working twenty-four hours a day to get your place cleaned up. I’m sure it will be to your satisfaction.” He followed Harris into the condo.

This time it smelt of fresh paint.

“Looks like we matched your color pretty well.”

“Not too well I hope. It was time to repaint I think.” He looked around. “It’s fine. Thanks.”

“And this arrived while you were gone.” The concierge left.

It was a large crate from Santa’s Sex Toy Shoppe.. He pulled off the envelope stuck to it.

“Harris – you are my hero – hope this replaces Andy – sorry it’s still male – we’re still working out the difficulties with the female lady parts. Daria”

He wanted the old Andy.

He called Grandest Tours to confirm that his reservations were still valid. They were not. The extension was only good for twenty-four hours and there was nothing they could do a such short notice.

Fuming he called the airline. There was nothing they could do either except make sure he wasn’t charged for the flight he missed, if he sent them supporting police documentation. He bit the bullet and booked the first available flight the next afternoon. Carlos at Casa Della was most happy to shift the dates of his stay. News of his amazing rescue by the sex toy was all the talk of the island and would he consider bringing it with him. Harris promised to only if Casa Della would pay shipping costs.

*60*

He next called Alex to meet him at Mug Thuggs cafe.

“Harris, you look okay for a guy who was nearly tossed of his balcony.”

“Thanks, I guess.” He had hoped that shedding the curse would dispel the ambivalent feelings he had about Alex. “You know in a way you helped save me.”

“What?”

Harris explained about sampling his voice to use it for Andy. “You should have seen his face when you, via Andy said ‘Is that the best you can do. I can take it a lot harder than that.’”

They both laughed. Alex was handsome. There was no denying that but Harris didn’t feel any sexual attraction for him.

“I’m getting out of town, out of the country to recuperate. Aruba.”

“I …. I’ve been considerin’ what went on between us, ya know. That time when we … I … you … we made out at m’ place and I …. ”

“Spooged all over me?”

“Yeah.”

They both laughed.

“I kinda enjoyed that. Ya didn’ though.”

“I was never into it as much as you were.”

“But how can ya be sure, ya know, if we’re both under this spell.”

“Alex, I don’t know. I don’t want to know.”

“Yeah but I never ever thought of being with a guy. At least not outside of the ring.”

“Look we’re been through this before. The only abs I ever coveted were the Cyclops’s.” Harris said.

“Cyclops?”
“He’s a comic book character. It’s not that I dislike you or anything like that Alex, but there’s nothing between us.”
“Right. That’s what I reckon. It came t’ me the other day. I guess while ya were fightin off that guy. That curse thing of yours is what put us t’gether, right?”

“Exactly. It wasn’t as if we were consciously physically attracted to each other. The curse is broken.”

“Somethin’ has changed. I can look at you, be with you and not feel that crazy itch for you that was driving me the other times.” Alex nodded.

“Right. That sense I had of ‘I don’t want but I have to’ is gone.” Harris resisted reaching over to give Alex’s hand a sympathetic pat. “We’re free of it and each other.”

“So you’re off to Aruba?”
“Oh yeah. Can’t wait. Sun. Fresh air. All that will heal more of me than my skin.”

“Sounds like a relaxing time.”

“One of my thoughts while I was being tasered was that I hope I don’t have to cancel my trip because of this asshole.” He laughed. “But I sure missed that flight. Spent a hour on the phone before I called you to get another one. At three times the cost. It better be worth it.”

“Tomorrow?”
“Oh yeah. First flight with a seat was mid-afternoon. At least I don’t have to hustle out in the morning. Casa Della here I come.”

Harris sensed this was the movie moment for a kiss but stuck out his hand. They shook and Alex got on his bike. He watched Alex peddle off. He felt a sadness to see Alex go, to have this part of his life over. It was unresolved but Harris saw no way to resolve it. With the curse broken there was no need to resolve it.

*61*

Trevor picked him at Plaza Place the next morning.

“Ma needed her car but Nalisha was happy to let us use hers.’
Harris tossed his bag into the back seat and got in.

“Thanks Nalisha.”

“It is not often I get to help a spiritual warrior.”

“Me?”

“I know the battle you waged. When I came to your house with Trevor your mother told me you had been talking about Lazarus in your delirium. You’re familiar with the story of Lazarus?” Nalisha asked.

“Jesus raised him from dead?” Trevor answered.

“Yes. Jesus had a great love for Lazarus and pleaded with God to let Lazarus live. Lazarus could not die.  At least not in the way humans died. In his wanderings it occurred to him that if he could give his blessing away he might die. He wrote various blessings, sealed them with his blood and gave them to his children to share with people who needed to blessed, as he had needed to be blessed by Christ.

“To a poor man he give the blessing of abundance, to an ugly man he gave the blessing of love and so on. As he gave each blessing he weakened. He had written seven of these but by the time the fourth had been bestowed was dead.”

“What were the seven blessing?” Harris asked.

“No one knows. We only have records of those two in particular. The blessings have more layers than an onion. It goes through many levels of a person’s life, and of human history.

“Like Rowell, who gave the blessing to your family tree. It freed him of the blessing but as a result he had to pay a price for giving it away. His price was his life. To be fully free it was not enough to give it away. One had to give it back to …. Lazarus.”

“That’s what Rowell meant when he said ‘I have gifted the wrong man’ when he was burning at the stake.”

“You see Harris! You are a spiritual warrior. Only such a warrior could make that connection.”

“Yeah, whatever.” He laughed as he got out of the car at the airport. “Just don’t say it’s a blessing to make that sort of connection. I’ll send you a post card.”

The airport had new security checks so was glad he’d kept his luggage very light. The ticket agents were cool and efficient. No problems with his flights. No one with that gleam in their eye as they glanced at him.

He got a coffee and a toasted caraway rye bagel with a lite cream cheese and sat in the waiting area. He relaxed as he blended into a mass of strangers. None of whom would make any demands on him. No one was tailing him, protecting him. He hadn’t been by himself, alone, like this for ages. He could indulge in sweet, simple thoughts about white sand, look at a couple of time-shares. Was this was the time to make that down payment?

The flight boarded on time. The seat next to him was empty after the plane took off. The only ripple was a crying baby.

The stewardess stopped to tell each passenger that infants often reacted to the change in air pressure but once they got used it the child would quiet down.

He declined the planes headphones. He didn’t want to watch movies or keep up with the news. He wanted to start his vacation by leaving all that behind.

As soon as the plane had taken off Harris put in his ear buds, reclined his seat and drifted off to the Song of Venus on Tomita’s Bermuda Triangle. He was woken from his sleep by the stewardess.

“I’m sorry to disturb you sir. But would you mind it if one of the passengers took this empty seat. He’s stuck in the seat by the cranky child.”

“Sure.” He put his earbuds back in and was drawn quickly back into the music.

He kept his eyes closed as he made room for the passenger to get past him. The man smelled strongly of peppermint.

“Thanks.” the man said.

Harris could barely hear him though his earbuds. “No problem” he replied.

“M’ first time to Aruba.” the man spoke a little louder. The voice was familiar.

Harris opened his eyes. Alex was sitting next to him.

“Holy fuck!” he pulled his ear buds out.

“Didn’t reckon ya could get rid of me that easily? Did you?”

……………….

Yes! The end of this serialization. But it’s not the end of Lazarus Kiss. I will be doing another, more final draft before publishing the PDF & then hunting down someone to create the mobi version. The next draft will expand the Lazarus mythos itself . What are the other Lazarus Kisses? Will our heroes become Kiss Hunters to rid mankind of these ‘blessings’? Will Harris realize he misses his Kiss & want to get it back? Will he Alex ever go beyond rubbing each other the right way?

Can’t wait to read the whole thing? pre-order the PDF for $5.00 – paypal.me/TOpoet – say you want Kiss

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This work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Bye Bye Nano 2017 – December Sneak Peek

Signing off on Nanowrimo 2017 – productive & loads of fun. Hit just over 75k words. Hosted a couple of writing sessions at my house which were great opportunities for bitching and writing – I can multitask!! I’m happy with the direction the story is going in but can’t get back to it until I do the edit of Cold Dusters. A monumental task for January.

My one Nanowrimo regret is not getting the tee shirts or any other of their branded merchandise – postal costs have escalated to the point where I can’t see my way clear to order a $17 tee-shirt & have to pay an additional $17 for shipping & handling – add 30% for American exchange, plus the bank fees for US transactions & we’re taking $50 or more for that tee-shirt. May I’ll order one at the end of May for delivery to my hotel in DC in June.

The blog will back to routine for December. I’ve picked my photos and am allowing them to be more seasonal than usual. Monday with feature festive lighting; Wednesday will be square or rectangular objects; Thursday random pairings; Friday will be cast off toys.

Because Nano took so much focus I didn’t have time to keep up with my Tumblr postings so there’ll be set posted every day in December. Monday will be store fronts & tiles; Tuesday, as always, will be garages & laneways; Wednesday will be seasonal snowy scenes; Thursday will be chairs chairs chairs; Friday sunny or less than sunny skies; Saturday: more cast off toys; Sunday: more festive lighting.


Mike stood across from L’Bras D’Or. Afraid to cross the street. Afraid to go in, afraid not to go in. What would Robert do if he didn’t show up? Yes, that would be the test. He’d stay out there till Robert came out, then he’d know for sure.

Twenty minutes now before he was supposed to arrive. A walk around the block should get him there at the right time to miss his meeting. Twenty minutes, half an hour. How long would Robert wait before he came flying out to find him? How long could he wait to find that out?

He was about to cross when he saw Robert walk up the street. He wore a long deep blue robe with gold trim, African tribal designs on the midriff. Beside him was a tall woman, younger than he. The red and green African print shift she wore was shapeless.

Mike stepped between two houses. He didn’t want to be seen but if he pulled back too far between the houses he wouldn’t be able to hear.

“You cannot go on like this. You know you cannot.” The woman’s rapid words flicked at Robert. Her eyes narrowed as she slashed at him in a mix of French and Spanish so rapid Mike couldn’t follow even if he could understand it.

Robert put his right hand on her shoulder. “Sister Coppah, do not go on like this. I will return as planned. Till then I will not be …”

“Don’t do this. How can you be so selfish. There is more at stake here than your little pleasures.”

“That may be so, but for now that is all that concerns me.” Robert made a small gesture with his left hand over her face. Her eyes widened and she stepped back.

“You will regret this decision.”

“Life is built on regrets.”

“What about your people? Your so called children?”

So, that’s Robert secret life. He wasn’t some hustler, just some married man trying not to get caught in a fling. Mike could deal with that. He didn’t expect this to be more than what it was already. A few days of pleasure. One long distant relationship had been enough.

What would he do once he returned to Halifax though. No Patrick to look forward to? No get-a-ways from his safe routine there?

Robert started up the steps of his b’n’b. The woman held him by the arm.

“Father.” She curtsied slightly and bowed her head. “I’m sorry if I’ve upset you.”

Father? Daughter?

“Go back, Sister Coppah. I won’t desert you, or the others. Now or ever. But I have my own needs to take care. Would you deny me this brief respite?”

“No.” she said in a small voice. “But I hope the costs won’t be more than we expect.”

“They won’t be. In fact, there may be rewards.”

“If there are not, you won’t be the only one who pays.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Not only you, but the other. You must not disappoint your children. Remember. You have been warned.”

Robert laughed. “I have been warned. Again. Now go. I do not warn I act.”

Robert walked from her and into the hotel.

She stood on the steps. Was she waiting for him to come out? Suitcase in hand or what? She walked up two steps. Then glared across the street.

Mike pulled deeper into the shadow between the houses. She couldn’t have seen him, but he felt the heat of her look play on his forehead. Drops of sweat quivered on his eyebrows, the tip of his nose. No, she couldn’t have seen him. Even if she did, who was he to her? No one.

His neck ached. He had to get into the open air. He stretched fully upright, took a deep breath and walked to the street.

She didn’t turn away from the door as he crossed.

He went up the steps of the hotel. As he opened the door he glanced back. She was gone.

He stood at Robert’s door and listened. Water ran in the sink. He knocked. Could he mention to Robert that he had seen him and his ‘daughter?’

“It is unlocked my friend.”

Robert stood in the bathroom naked. He dried his face.

“I have been missing you. I should never have put it so late.” He kissed Mike gently. “How are you this afternoon?”

“Good.” He glanced around the room for the blue robes he had seen Robert wearing earlier. Nothing. He reached to touch the shell-beads around the crucifix. Robert held his arm before he could handle them

“Please. Only I am to come in contact with these. Indulge me.”

“Superstitious?”

“A little.”

Robert got dressed quickly. Shorts, tee-shirt, sandals.

“We will lunch and then perhaps go to the Gallery on Sherbrooke.” Robert said.

“You lead and I follow.”

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Shoulder Rub

On a recent Disability After Dark, Andrew Gurza talks about consent in light of recent sexual allegations in the news recently. He address the very direct types on intrusive use of power to force ones sexual needs on another, supposedly weaker or more vulnerable person. “You want to work in this industry you better put out.” or “You’re a helpless cripple so you should be happy anyone would want to molest you.”

Andrew recalls doing things or accepting sexual behaviour that he didn’t feel he should decline. This I fully understand from when I first ‘came out’ here in Toronto. Having sex I didn’t enjoy, with men I didn’t really feel attracted to, just for the sake of having sex. Or when I was with a guy I found attractive letting things happen than I really wasn’t enjoying just to be with them.

As I became more confident & comfortable this happened less. Now it is easy for me to state boundaries & face the consequence of being not wanted – telling men you aren’t into poppers etc. puzzles them. Sometimes they show up with pot, poppers, sex toys: things that I have already said I’m not into & expect me to give in, to be a nice guy. Not going to happen.

Odd how consent becomes a situation of coercion or gradual accommodation: just rub my shoulders or I’ll just rub your shoulders turns into – you led me on by letting me rub your shoulders. ‘btw autocorrect turned message me or else to massage me or else in all those emails.’

The manipulative tactics of the predator often start out so innocuous. He drove all the way from Oshawa or Brampton to see me, so now I should do what I already said I wasn’t into – it’s my fault for leading him on – so be a nice guy, polite, do I give in or give him the shove, or rather not give him the shove, or anything else. (By the way I am worth the drive for what I do enjoy.) Just because I let you hug me doesn’t mean I want to fuck.

“What are you looking at?”

Mike wasn’t looking at anything. He was trying to follow a tread of thought, a thought that had lead to his nickname – Muttman.

“Nothing.”

“Then look at nothing the other way.”

The young man who had snapped at Mike put his arm around his girl friend’s shoulders and pulled her closer to him.

The sound of the train clanked Mutt man Mutt man.

Was it the pleasant face of the young man that had started the thought process? The man had to be mid-20’s, maybe younger, fresh and attractive. With what he supposed was an attractive girl friend.

The Muttman name had sprung up in fourth or fifth grade and stuck to him to university. He hadn’t been able to shake it till he graduated. Now he was called either Mike or Mr. Poole. But something besides this pretty couple had to have set off the Muttman echo.

What had he been thinking of a few minutes ago?

He’d put his train tickets away and had checked to make sure he had the address of L’Assoupir, the bed and breakfast he’d stay at in Montreal. He’d been reading in the paper about the biker turf war in Montreal – cafes and clubs being blown up and had wondered if his b’n’b was near any of that. But they had a dog to protect them, right.

Right! They had a dog there. He’d heard it bark in the background when he made his reservation last month. Dog to – what kind of dog – to Muttman – a short jump.

Muttman Muttman. He hated that name. Even his teachers would call him that. He had Mutt embroidered on his high-school jacket. It had been easier to give in, to pretend to be okay with the joke than to pick a fight with everyone who called him that.

Muttman was better than some of the other names he’d been called. Pizza face, vomit puss. All because of the port-wine stain splash on left side of his forehead.

When he had asked his Dad why the kids picked on him because of his looks, the reply had been he might as well learn to live with it. It could be worse, at least he didn’t have a limp or need a wheel-chair. Now that’s a real disability. Some people got looks, some got brains, so he’d better hope he had some brains. He did but found that if he was too smart in school it made things worse not better. It was easier to be stupid and ugly to get along than fight them.

He had hoped that by university, when his adult body filled in, he would gain some sort of decent looks but that hadn’t happened. His shoulders remained uneven, odd ears that couldn’t be hidden with his thin hair. Nose with its bump and bend and a chin that jutted and rounded at the same time. Plus the discolouration which had faded some thanks to laser treatment but would never disappear.

The only thing his adult body was able to provide was some hair to fill in his face.

Gym work didn’t suit him. He tried but all he managed was to get hairier and thicker. Muscles just refused to form. His shoulders took on enough mass to look even so shirts fit him better.

Muttman Muttman.

Looks only a mother could love. At least with his looks he didn’t have to make excuses for his lack of lucky at the dating game. His Dad comforted him by saying that someday the right girl would come along. One who didn’t worry about looks. That was the only kind of girl worth having anyway.

Trouble was that girls didn’t appeal to him. All through school he saw them giggling behind the boys who taunted him with Muttman. They were as cruel as the boys, worse because they didn’t have the honesty to speak for themselves.

The boys were another story. Being bullied seemed a natural way to relate. He could stick up for himself when he had to, but avoided physical confrontations. It was easier to be a part of the joke than to fight it. He became the best bud of several of the most popular guys at different times. The brains that would help them with essays, hang out till they guys wanted to date.

He never wanted to be one of the popular guys. The pressure of looks and sports and dating didn’t appeal to him. It seemed like a lot of work for such a small reward. He understood what it was the girls were attracted to. Those perfect males bodies so unlike his.

He wanted from those boys what they bragged about giving to the girls. Tongue kisses, touches in private parts, sex. Fucking. Sucking. He wanted that and knew it was another thing to hide.

It wasn’t till his second year at university that he let himself explore that dream. The University of Toronto had a gay and lesbian student union. His first year there he’d been fearful of being noticed. But by the second he knew it would be safe. There were gays on campus he knew he wouldn’t be alone.

So he came out. Again found himself the best friend of someone one who had all the fun he wanted to have himself. When he complained about not meeting the right someone there would be a silence – then suggestions for more work-outs – try these glasses – looks looks looks.

The only look that every worked for him was the dark, the less light the better.

Muttman Muttman

The train took him to Montreal on another vacation. Another meeting with his lover. Yes, he had managed to land a lover. A long-distance lover, but a lover. Patrick Lough was a noted film critic and historian. Someone who was welcome at festivals and film openings around the world. Someone who liked sex with him.

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kiss3

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November 1-30

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November Sneak Peek

I’ll be changing things up a little for November so here’s a sneak preview of those changes. Nanowrimo starts November 1 – this year I’ll be posting very rough draft samples starting that day. They’ll be posted on Monday, Wednesday & Friday if you want keep up with where the new novel is sort of going. On the Wednesdays I’ll also be writing about how Nano is going & what music I’m listening.

The other days will remain the same, expect for those rough draft samples. Monday will be music, Tuesday: Lazarus Kiss; Thursday: 227 Rules; Friday: what Disability After Dark inspires in me. With the usual scattering of Saturday reviews. (Who has watched the recent Channel Zero: No-End House?)

Over the past few months I’ve started to organize the photos. I select all the ones I’m going use at the end of the previous month. Each weekday gets is own ‘theme.’ For November Monday: will be sports equipment; Wednesday: will be black objects; Friday: books – because this is Nano month I figure where our books will end up will be encouraging 🙂

My Talented Friends

With the festive season rapidly approaching it is a good time for me to recommend great gift options produced by many talented friends. Starting with some sweet sounds from SoulFistikato  the head nod. I met SoulF at Valentino Assenza’s Cryptic Chatter back in the day (time for a reunion show Val?). He (& frequent collaborated Dane Swan: whose excellent new book “He Doesn’t Hurt People Anymore” can be found on Amazon) are out of the slam scene. the head nod is a set of sampled, remixed & original instrumentals that are easy on the ear & uplifting to the spirit.

Charlie C Petch’s  Mel Malarkey Odes & Acts is a studio recording of their one-person Cabaret. I say Cabaret in reference to the musical as this is out of that vaudeville tradition – even the instrumental numbers have that Kurt Weill lilt. Charlie is another artist I first encountered at Valentino Assenza’s Cryptic Chatter back in the day (time for a reunion show Val?).

Carolina Brown’s Carolina Brown is a richly textured set of their songs. Compelling guitar work with raw & sometimes playful lyrics. Carolina confronts gender & transphobia directly & connects emotionally to the listener. I’ve heard Carolina several times & have enjoyed the fearless energy they use in creative expression in such a directly honest way that invites rather than challenges. Not that some of music isn’t challenging but it is a challenge one is willing to face.

Kris Gebhard’s Fairy Feather Files is another collection that confronts gender & transphobia directly & connects emotionally to the listener. Spoken-word with gentle marimba interludes that refresh the spirit. Kris presents difficult realizations with a tenderness that lets the listener hear the experience. I first heard Kris at Capturing Fire (produced by Regie Cabico) in Washington DC. Challenging in content at times but done in way affected way that draws you in emotionally.

So much for the audio portion of this post. Andre Prefontaine’s Freshwater Genteel & Saltwater Rage chapbook is full of fun, difficult, angry, not-so-fun but always honest poetry. Their writing is sharp, thoughtful, penetrating & human. I’ve seen Andre perform several times & each time am amazed & inspired. Contract him via Facebook to find out how to buy this book.

Finally Goddess X’s Blk Grl Sick: Tales from the Library Burned. I met X at Capturing Fire a few years ago & was stunned by their writing & their performance. The writing is powerful, raw, honest & clear. I always read poetry out-loud – this allows me to feel the words as opposed to slipping over them with eyes. In reading this book aloud I was caught up in the frustration & fears of being a black trans woman in the USA in way I didn’t expect. This is a fearless, challenging, fierce book.

Maybe these sound too challenging for Christmas gifts? Sure a pair comfy slippers would be nice but challenging someone to see the world around them in a different by giving them chance to leave their comfort zone is infinitely more rewarding. Take up the challenge it could also help change the way you see the world.

The Good Old Days

when I was a boy things were different

we’ve come a long way from those days

when there wasn’t anything to do

till the sun had come up

as there was no light allowed at night

stumbling in the dark

from one strip joint to the other

to listen to dancers in the dark

fleshly moist parts

pressed against your shoulder

the only part of the body

they were allowed contact with in the dark

now that we have light at night

it’s like going to the dentist

antiseptic and numbing

ah yes we all remember

those days when the only music

came from the slap of thighs

when the village women did the wash

as they whacked the dirt out of clothes

 

we didn’t have the worries we do today

then we worried about

how many smelt or moose

would the men catch

would there be enough

so that even a lad of ten

would have a fiver

to take to unlit strip bars

so the men could afford a soothing drink

to make up for the time it took

to wash the blood out of their hair

while the village women

whacked their clothes on moist rocks

to get the stain of smelt or the stink of moose

out of those rubbed-soft loose-fitting pants

that held the private parts

of the men they loved

those were the days when people loved

 

we had such pie in those days

small pans

so carefully tended in wood stoves

wood that we children had to find

we had to scour empty condo complexes

break off chair legs or hat racks

so we could be a part of things

so we could prove

we were good for more

than homework and giggling

because we loved to giggle

especially at the women

who spent so much time getting ready

for their shifts at the unlit strip bars

putting on sparkling fish scales

that no one would ever see

and the men hot and hollowed

would stagger home to fall asleep

on piles of wet laundry

licking their lips

waiting for the sun to rise

 

those were the days

when things were different

unlike now

when different

is just another brand name

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

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November 1-30

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Lazarus Kiss.34

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

Lazarus Kiss.34

“Today I am to marry Mary Fields. I feel deep shame that she is with my child for if she were not I fear we would not marry. I do not recall the occasion of bedding her. If we had not been discovered by her mother and brother I would have denied it. The fact remains we were in the same bed together when morning broke.

When it was discovered she was with child I did the honourable thing by her and her good family.”

Later in the same diary:

“My dear wife has passed away in childbirth. I have a fine son to be named Eldon. I will miss her sorely as she has proved to be a boon and blessing despite our troubled beginning. She was most considerate and understanding of my various indiscretions. She never questioned my inability to remember what had transpired.

It grieves me deeply to have become an adulterer with no conscience or presence of mind to prevent it from occurring. Each time I have pledged to Our Saviour it would be the last, that it would never transpire again. Yet I would discover that it had.

Once my dear wife is buried I will leave this territory while I have a well regarded reputation for goodness.”

This is one of the last entries in the diaries. We know that he did leave Pennsylvania and move further west to set up his legal practice. He kept no more records himself of his life. He was elected to the state assembly of Colorado. It was his son Eldon who moved to Canada.

There are no records of a Rowell Byrnes, that is if this is an authentic name.  Rowell is mostly commonly a last name.”

Harris went through the pages and there was a photocopy of the actual curse. Did the original that Rowell wrote still exist. If he had that he could burn it and free himself from it.

*37*

Harris waited for Trevor on the east bound subway platform. The day at dE.tail had passed quickly and uneventfully. Life seemed normal. There had been, as far as he could tell, no sudden infatuations. His eyes ached as they often did from the constant staring at the screen while he nursed pixels of rose blush to rose less blush. Occasionally he wished he could turn his eyes off because he’d catch himself looking at the subway ads wanting to tweak shadows or nudge text a little to give images more pop.

“Hey Dog. Looking fresh.” He tousled Harris’s hair.

“New cut.” Harris tired to smooth out what Trevor had ruffled.

“Man I never thought you’d cut loose of that pony tail. Takes pounds off.”

The train pulled up and they got on. The car was crowded so they stood where they could find a space.

“Any further adventures today?”

“Nothing. Happy to say.” Harris shrugged. “A day of peace and quiet is what I wanted and that’s what I got.”

“Cool. This suits you. The highlights.”

“Since when did hair mean that much to you?”

“It don’t, man. Can’t a guy say something nice sometimes. I mean you’ve been making major changes. Don’t you want anyone to notice?”

Harris shrugged. When no one at dE.tail had said anything about the new cut he thought he should have gone for a more dramatic cut, a total hair color change. At work he’d caught himself a few times grab for an elastic to pull it back into a pony tail only to reach up and there was no hair there. At least his shoulders no longer felt bare without the shield of hair.

“I got more info on the curse.” Out of his shoulder bag he pulled the photocopies his Dad given him.

Trevor read them. “A love beyond recall … sound like poetry.”

“Yeah, I suppose. Beyond recall may mean you don’t remember, that you can’t recall, it once it has happened.”

“Possible. I always thought a curse would be something like ‘may your soul rot in hell.’ This sounds pretty good.”

“Me too,” Harris laughed, “Or ‘may your complexion never clear up.”

“Whoa, now that’s nasty.”

At Victoria Park Station the bus was right there.

Without the fog that shrouded it the last time the apartment block didn’t look as foreboding. The long hall smelled of French fries, then hot dogs, then burnt toast.

The door to Trev’s Aunt Nilasha apartment was open.

“I am so happy to see you again Harris. The confusion you were in the last time hasn’t cleared away. Trevor tells me you have had very exciting times since you were last here. ”

They stepped out of their shoes while she closed the door behind them.

“Exciting isn’t quite the word I’d use.” Harris took a gift bag out his shoulder bag. In it were hand cream samples that had come into dE.tail. “This is to thank you for being concerned with my mystery.”

“Really?” she laughed. “There is no need for this.” She opened one and smelled it. “Very pretty. Thank you.”

“Now sit. I have delved into the nature of your curse. One this subtle and yet so strong is very rare.”

“I figured as much. Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.” Harris could remember the curse word for word.

Nilasha gasped. “These are the very words? Repeat them.”

He did.

“How did you obtain this?”

He told her about the diaries and give her the copies of the pages.

“Yes. Yes this confirms what I have learned. Do you understand that it is not a curse. It is a blessing, a gift.” She said as she sat. “You want to give the gift back?”

“I would if I could.”

“I’m of the opinion when it was first uttered it was meant to offer hope for those who found it hard to interest mates. What one acquires, another loses, though. The universe seeks equilibrium.”

“One gets love but loses memory?” Trevor suggested.

“Something like that. We assume that with wishes there is no cost when they are granted. There is always a cost to the receiver.”

“What about a cost to the the giver?” Harris asked.

“You are still looking for a way to rid yourself of it. Have you considered what it may cost you do that. What are you willing to sacrifice?”

“Sacrifice. Like a virgin on a full moon?” Trevor joked.

“I told you Harris, this is a blood bond that has been in your family for centuries. Now that you are sensitive to it I think you have to learn how to live with it. Leave these with me.” She patted the Tobias pages. “They have more to tell us.”

Outside Nilasha’s apartment block Harris turned on his phone. There were three voice-mail messages. One from his Dad to see if he had read the Tobias papers. One from Tavi to remind him of a big project starting the next day and to get plenty of sleep. One from Alex asking for his help for a computer problem.

“Why do people expect me to know anything about computers?” he asked Trevor. “Because I use one all day doesn’t mean I’d know how to fix one. Would you think a nurse knows how to fix an X-ray machine?”

When he got back to his place he returned Alex’s call. Although he didn’t want to follow through on what was there a part of him enjoyed Alex’s voice, enjoyed his memory of the look of him. He had tried watching an ultimate fighter show but the angry animal speed and the lack of discernible rules made it hard for him to follow or enjoy. He’d seen them all over each other on the mat, punching or trying to punch and didn’t know who to be rooting for, if anyone.

“Hey Alex. It’s Harris. I guess you’re at work. Try me around lunch time tomorrow. I have a big work project starting so my phone’ll be off till noon. Bye.”

*38*

When he got to work the next morning his big project was a major overhaul of the Sport Spot advertising approach. No more pitching with spokes-people who were middle-aged pro-golfers. They wanted a younger market. The rough spec drafts of the online and print catalogues were ready. His job was to make the models look healthier, to give their complexions the right glow, the glow that would make buyers buy.

They had two new models: Geoffrey Calligan, multi-gold medalist olympic swimmer and Monica Bostford, who was extending her fifteen minutes of Top Model fame, her appearance on Big Brother last season and the Amazing Race this season. Racing amazed with Geoffrey as they promoted this new line of Sport Spot equipment and accessories around the world.

The catalogue was set up to tell the story of these two showing new recruits through the various equipment as if they were in a gym. The recruits looked as if didn’t they need a gym but that wasn’t his problem.

He was to make sure all their bodies had more eye appeal. Male models were to have less body hair. In the case of Geoffrey it was his job to make his particular ‘package’ look smaller. No one wanted the ab buster to become known as the ball buster because Geoffrey’s ample bulge pulled focus.

A day of flattening shadows, fattening calves, rippling six-packs and electronically nipping out nipple hairs.

#Toronto #amwriting #dating #lgbtq #nanowrimo #novel #Lazarus Kiss #Ontario

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Lazarus Kiss.20

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

“Oh, got secrets to tell the old man.” He followed Harris up the stairs with a  couple of cups of coffee. “Just like the old days.”

Harris sat as his desk and his Dad sat on the bed.

“Dad, why did you tell me about this curse business?”

“My Dad didn’t tell me till I‘d gotten married.”

“You married younger than I am now.” He licked frosting off his fingers.

“I was worried, afraid that your not knowing was getting the the way.”

“I can’t help feeling that no one sincerely likes me, that they are under a spell where they don’t have any choice. Some mornings I’ve been afraid to leave my apartment, not knowing when its going to happen.”

He told his Dad about the security footage, about Mamma Pazzoni trying to break into his apartment to break his neck for breaking her son’s heart.

“We can get a restraining order against that woman. One thing divorce lawyers learn to deal with is angry women.”

“That’s not the point Dad. I don’t want to have to deal with these types of consequences for things that aren’t my fault.”

“I know. I know. I went to a shrink for a few years, before I met your mother, to see if I could get to the roots of why I wasn’t connecting. When my father told me things fell into place but that understanding didn’t take away the fact that I had to deal with it.”

“But you didn’t have to fight it after you met mom, right. You said it stopped.”

“Pretty much. I had to work at it though. With what my father told me I was aware and was determined to act on that awareness. I learned to recognize the …. the on set of opportunity and to steer clear of it. When I consistently said ‘no,’ it happened less and less and finally stopped.”

“So you’re saying that even though I’m not responsible I am responsible.”

“Right.” he Dad laughed. “Have you told anyone?”
“Trevor Daniels. He doesn’t fully believe me. Or didn’t till I told him about that Frances and her deranged fiancee. I’m not sure he accepts it though. Who would.”

“You boys going to be up there all day?” His mother called up. “Your phone keeps ringing, Harris.”

“We’ll be right down.” His Dad finished off the last brownie. “Seems like years since we’ve had a father son talk. Feels good. Hope it helped.”

“I guess it did.”

Downstairs Harris checked his phone for messages. None. Missed calls were from an unknown number. He got his clothes out of the drier and dressed in his old room. There was a full sized poster of Cyclops on the back of the door. He could remember arguing with Timmy, one of the Mullins boys, about Cyclops’s abs – Tommy said they were part of the costume and Harris insisted they were part of Cyclops’s body. Reality was how one saw it, he supposed.

He went downstairs.

“Here’s brownies to take home with you, dear.” His mother put a container of them on the table by the front door. “Did you tell him, Tom?”
“I forgot. we got to talking about other things.”

“Tell me what?”
“Your cousin Michael is coming to town.” His Dad shrugged.

There was a look between his parents Harris didn’t understand.

“He’s staying here?”

“Oh, no. He’ll be at a big hotel. He’s a movie star, you know.” his mother explained.

“Now you’re telling me.”

“As you are aware I haven’t been much in touch with that sister of mine or her family.”

“Right.”

“He’s in those Mirror Mind movies.”

“What! I’ve seen the first two. The next one is coming out in the fall. I don’t remember any Michael Caldwell?”

“No. He acts as Marshall Caldwell. I read in the paper that the name was his mother’s idea. But I don’t know what part he plays. Clara sent the DVDs. I can’t be bothered with them. Do you want them?”

“Sure.”

They were on the table beside the brownies. It was still pouring so he called for a taxi.

Marshall Travers. Harris wasn’t sure who was who in the movies. The series was about a bunch of what he considered, photogenic thumbs suffering to weepy music. Their reflected mirror selves and their physical selves were at war with one another. The reflected selves had powers like shape shifting and could dart into the real world while the physical selves remained human.

He was getting into the elevator at his condo when his phone rang.

“Hi.”

“It’s Alex. I’ve been tryin’ to get ya all afternoon.”

“I told you I’d be at my parents.” he snapped.

“I forgot.”

Harris felt guilty now. He didn’t really know Alex but already felt he had endanger their relationship.

“I’m just getting home. Where are you?”

“Not t’far, I reckon. By Greendale station.”

“Come on over.”

“Cool. Where?”

Harris has assumed that like Mamma Pazzoni Alex knew where he lived.

“Plaza Place. Tower 2. Buzz 512. Suite 1802.”

Harris put the brownies in the fridge. Went to the bedroom and checked to see how fresh his sheets where. They were fine. The buzzer rang.

“That didn’t take long. Come on up.”

Would he have to explain Andy Humphun?

*20*

When Harris had said no to him dropping by the other day Alex almost tore the phone off the booth wall. He banged the receiver against the plastic wall as hard as he could. Didn’t this fat jerk-off get how hard it was for a guy like himself to make that kind of call. Didn’t he see how slimy he felt using pay phones to keep Linda from finding out.

He’d always found it hard enough to call women. Calling a man for a date to have it put off made him see red. A red that stuck with him through the rest of day. After that call he went directly to the KB Gym to workout. Punching and kicking the bag didn’t reduce his need for something more.

At Story he was restless and inattentive, even swore at one customer. The Story crowd was such a bunch of lame ass losers anyway. At least at McBrick there would be a fight every week or so. A dust-up a man like him could handle.

At Story he was lucky if a customer got frustrated looking for a contact lens they had dropped on the floor.

When he got home from work he didn’t want to do anything, talk to anyone. Linda was asleep when he slipped into the bed. When he felt her hand stray on to his stomach he rolled away.

“What’s the matter? Baby don’t want to play.”

He didn’t want to have anything to do with her.

“Tired. In the morning.”

“Ahh, needs encouragement.” She played with his balls.

“No.” he pushed her hand away.

She sat up. “You’re fucking someone else. I knew it. The last time you had been that hot for me was when you were getting it off that skank Debbie. Guilt sex.”

“Jezz Linda. Can’t a guy sleep.”

“Not this guy.” she bit him playful on the shoulder.

“Yes, this guy.” he pulled the sheet back over his shoulders. “Let’s just get some sleep for a change, okay.”

“Whatever.” she lay back down, her back to his.

When he woke shortly before noon she was gone. One less thing to deal with. It was pouring rain.

While his bagel toasted he checked the time. What time had  Harris said to call? Late afternoon? No harm in trying now. He punched the first numbers into his cell and stopped. No. Linda might see them. The bagel began to burn. He yanked it out of the toaster, singed his fingers. He swore, kicked a kitchen chair at the wall and punched one of the cupboard doors.

“Fuck fuck fuck.” What had this guy done to him. He couldn’t get him out his mind. Why?

He went on the computer to the gay porn he had bookmarked. The clip was about sixteen minutes long. If that was how long queer sex lasted he could probably manage that to get it out of his system. He watched it twice all the way through. The guys had such big cocks Alex wasn’t sure if they were real. If this is what Harris expected he hoped he wouldn’t be too disappointed. His cock wasn’t small by any means but it certainly wasn’t abnormally large like these peckers.

Fuck fuck fuck. Why was we worried about how another guy would judge his dick. If it was more than enough for Linda it should be more than enough for that fat-assed faggot.

He went to the gym and worked on the areas of his body he had missed the other day. Two days of this should drain away that energy but added to it.

He went to the pay phone there a couple of times to call Harris but there was no answer. What was the point of having a cellphone if the fucker never answered it?

The rain was worse when he left the gym. He didn’t want to go back to his place. He stopped for a coffee and sat glaring at the rain. He couldn’t sit still and walked aimless for awhile.

When he stopped at a pay phone by Greendale station and tried one more time he was soaked. Water was dripping through his pants into his shoes and socks.

“Hi!” Harris answered on the first ring.

“It’s Alex.” A wave of relief went through him. “I’ve been trying t’get ya all afternoon.”

“I told you I’d be at my parents.”

“I forgot.”

“I’m just getting home. Where are you?”

“Greendale station.” He’d better not put me off again.

“Come on over.”

“Cool. Where?”

“Plaza Place. Tower 2. Buzz 9512. Suite 1802.”

Alex repeated the numbers as he ran though the rain. Hell, if he forgot he’d use his cellphone. He didn’t give a fuck what Linda thought.

Shivering he pressed the buzz code in.

“That didn’t take long. Come on up.”

Can’t wait to read the whole thing? order the PDF for $5.00 – paypal.me/TOpoet – say you want Kiss

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