The Late Charlie C Petch

I suppose I should start with the disclaimer – I’ve known Charlie over 20 years. We met when I immersed myself in the Toronto spoken word scene in 1999 at the Renaissance Cafe (now a butcher shop) when Valentino Assenza’s Cryptic Chatter was in flower. At that time Charlie hadn’t embarked on the arc of a life that took him from female cultural gender drag to his present trans masculine reality. An arc that can be on going.

The pieces in ‘Why I Was Late’ follow some of that arc. I’ve heard several them many times over years & appreciate Charlie’s ability to rewrite what you’ve just read with a closing line. This is writer who knows the power of the right ending – as opposed to the obvious ending. Charlie never takes the easy way out, never underestimates the intelligence of a reader to understand.

Directly or indirectly the pieces deal with growing up while living in a rigidly gendered culture – one in which even colours are not allowed to be neutral – i.e. pink for girls – serious writers wear blacks, greys & purples. But colour coding & print fabric condemnations are another post. 

Charlie’s piece about being a lighting rigger shows how females in traditional male occupations have to struggle with the cultural acceptance that it is the females fault if men find them attractive. They become as adept at fending off uncalled for male attention as they do at doing their job. I suspect many females avoid those professions, not because they can’t do them but to avoid dealing with men’s rampaging testosterone.

Simple, direct language makes these pieces accessible to everyone. This a book of lived-in experience not of abstract musings on the silence of snow or the lambent light on prairie wheat but of people enjoying, struggling with the demanding emotions of self-realization, of stepping out of the culturally dictated colour codes & into the power to be.

Now in its second-printing this Brick Book publication is available from Brick Books as well as at most major & independent bookstores. Get it.

Bloody Footprints

the movie opens

on a busy sidewalk

someone with a knife

stabs a stranger

keeps on going

while the victim collapses

remember the knife

the flash of it

the thrust

blood blood blood

<>

people stepping in it

as they step over the body

on their important way

bloody foot prints

quickly splotching the sidewalk

as the camera

pulls up up

the police arrive

the credits roll

over the expanding trail

of bloody foot prints

<>

steps lead to smart shops

to offices

into elevators

down marble corridors

over carpets in hotel hallways

cafe floors

washroom stalls

<>

blood gets on hands

trying to clean shoes

the fingerprints on mirrors

coffee cups

documents

dried flakes fall between 

keyboard keys

smear smart phones

traces tracked undetected through 

airport screening machines

splotches on luggage

the blood travels around the world

<>

the sidewalk

with the outline of the body

is a pool of blood

after crime scene photos have been taken

after cellphone photos have hit the net

city works come to clean it up

<>

the camera looks for the stabber

pushing through crowds

roving over heads shoulders

no faces

hands washing

blood pooling in sinks

almost dripping down the walls

of apartments

seeping out of TV screens

<>

bloody footprints

lead up to a door

the bell rings

you reach to open the door

the closing credits roll

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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Recap September 2021

Stratford safety protocols

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 465! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA & Canada top the list is no surprise but India is back to third place while Sweden &  Bangladesh remain in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello Zimbabwe! 

Most popular posts were Pandemic Poetry Project (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/16/pandemic-poetry-project/); Sunlight & Shadows (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/13/sunlight-and-shadows/). My particular favorite was Tales of Brave Trending (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/19/tales-of-brave-trending/).

My Tumblr is at 350 followers. 226 Twitter followers. Picture Perfect: 86 sections, about 126,000 words posted so far with approx 66,000 remaining to be edited then posted.

A surprisingly great watch has been American Horror Show: Double Feature. All the usual throat slashing & blood drinking but this time combined with a sharp, merciless look at creativity & the sacrifices made to be productive. In this case a drug that unlocks a writer’s, painter’s blocked inner potential. If you are brilliant & blocked you become genius, if you are mediocre & blocked you become a sort of stumbling grey person. Intense performances with Frances Conroy stunning & Macaulay Culkin excellent. 

Finally got around to seeing Parasite – a visually & philosophically stunning film. Figuratively & literally the plot moves through cultural levels to a fugal climax that is breathtaking. The rich house set is an amazing piece of modern architecture – one of those sets like the astounding deco apartments that show up is 30’s movies but only existed in movies. The plot made me think of Dante’s Inferno as it takes us literally through the rings of Hell. 

Also watched Valley of the Dolls, again 🙂 https://topoet.ca/2021/09/26/valley-of-the-bras/ 

nice tongue action

Finished reading Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem (1928). McKay was part of the Harlem Renaissance & wrote several novels & books of poetry but his approach was ‘earthier’ & deemed not elevated enough to cast a favourable light on his race. The novel is a fun, fast slice of the night life, the work life, the love/sex life of the times by someone who lived those times.  His hero has a strong emotional bromance with another male character: Wiki tells us “McKay was bisexual; he pursued relationships with both men and women throughout his life. He never officially “came out” (nor did anyone else in his time) nor explicitly stated his sexual preference.” 

The highlight of the month was a day trip to Stratford to see Three Tall Women. https://topoet.ca/2021/10/01/ah-yes-i-remember-it-well/ 

The Tingler

as a boy

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

mot that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go you lying loser.

<>

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to some movie I saw

where some sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

<>

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

<>

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no fucking difference

<>

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now was a lie

and that’s the truth

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet 

August 2021 Recap

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following stands at 464 ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA tops the list is no surprise but that Bangladesh moves up to 3rd spot & that Bahrain is in the top 10 is a surprise. China! Ireland! sill up there. Ola Spain. Most popular post was The Beaches (https://topoet.ca/2021/08/12/the-beaches-august-2021/  ). My personal fav is Summer Striptease https://topoet.ca/2021/08/23/summer-striptease/ .

My Tumblr is at 332 followers. Twitter at 229 followers. Picture Perfect: 82 sections, about 112,000 words posted so far with approx 72,000 to be edited then posted. Returning to the Rules For Monks on Wednesdays for this month – October will see a return of scary poems on Haunted Wednesdays. 

Finally watched Rocketman & loved it. The film is a visual, sonic & emotional delight. Surreal & yet true to life. I liked the way the narrative flowed from music to reality to surreal so smoothly while inviting me in to the addictive mess his life had become. Taron Egerton did his own singing (unlike the Freddie Mercury bio in which the lead won the Oscar for best lip-syncing). Like many recovery stories this one is too much about the glamour & glitter of the downfall with the recovery dealt with in a minute. Highly recommended.

Another great watch was ‘Ma Vie en rose’ 1997 – a sweet, remarkable movie about gender identity. A young child – supposedly 7 – decides they are a boy-girl & experiences & survives cultural resistance & forced gender norms & transphobia. Excellent writing, unforced humour, great performances. Highly recommended for all ages.

read: Germinal is part of the Les Rougon-Macquart a collective title given to a cycle of twenty novels by Emile Zola. This was, I think, the fourteenth in the series. It is brilliant. I’ve read two other ‘versions’ of it – each English translation is a rewrite of the original & retells it through the eyes of the translator. Zola is a French Dickens, only, unlike Dickens, his stories are grittier, darker & more directly sexual. If you don’t know Zola start with Terese Raquin. I have an Amazon Kindle collection of the complete novels & am about half-way through them all – I only have 150 hours of reading to finish them 🙂 Zola is one of my prime fiction influences.

Read ‘Farewell to the Sea’ the third novel in Reinaldo Arenas’ Pentagonia: a five novel “secret history” of Cuba. I’m re-reading all my Arenas, he’s another of my prime fiction influences. Farewell deconstructs the novel with free-wheeling interior monologues, ranted poetry, shifting p.o.v. in his no-holds-barred attack on Cuban justice, politics &queer sexuality. Funny, mythic & compelling. A mid-century masterpiece. 

It has been a good month with no major events as things slowly open up after the long pandemic shutdown. Waiting for what form this vaccine passport will take. Will I have to give the wait person access to my OHIP info to order a meal? Probably works only for smart phones.  Wondering how the need to prove covid status will effect things – rapid test costs $40 at Shoppers – so tickets for events that ask for that status will now cost $40 more. Friends looking for new jobs and/or apartments now searching the obituaries. Not so brave not so new world.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet 

On my Kindle 02

The Works of Hall Craine (1853-1931) contains all 15 of his novels. Never heard of him? Neither had I until he was mentioned in Something in The Blood, the Bram Stoker biography by David J. Skal (an excellent book). Craine’s popularity during his lifetime was unprecedented. He was an international literary celebrity, and sold a total of ten million books & was the most highly paid novelist of his day. I’ve only read the first of the novels in this collection & it was an effort to push through a plot that hinged on incest or is it incest. But I’ll read more of them. None of his novels have been discovered by Masterpiece Theatre 🙂

The Complete Poems – Walt Whitman. Whitman is one of my inspirations. I have, in paper, a great biography & also a paperback edition of Leaves of Grass. This massive collection has everything including revised versions. I’m not crazy about Kindle for poetry as enjambment & page layout suffers. 

The fact that I have the Complete Works of Emile Zola should come as no surprise. This was one of the first set of works I downloaded to my Kindle. I’ve blogged about Zola a few times now. He is one of my prime fiction inspirations. I got red up with searching book stores for novels other than the big hits: Thérèse Raquin, Nana, Germinal. I’m always happy when this collection rotates to the next to read on my rotating e.book shelf.

The Complete Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a revelation. Not many get past Sherlock. Those that do find The Lost World & some of the other Professor Challenger work. But most don’t get as far as his historical romances or Napoleonic war short stories. The problem with these historical works is their lack of ‘puzzle’ – they are straight forward plots with solid but dull characterizations. Only a completist like myself gets this far 🙂

Moving On

a drink won’t bring you back

crack won’t bring you back

getting numb won’t 

take this pain away long enough

it will always return

gets worse after each black out relief

there’s always the restless sun

making it clear

there is no return to what once was

talking it out won’t change things

gone is gone

new shoes won’t bring you any closer

a new look 

is not what it will take

nothing is going to work

I feel you are there 

in the next room

sleeping or watching tv

that when I’m in my way home

you are going to be there

waiting

cooking a meal for me

another toke won’t bring you back

raging at your empty space

won’t change anything

can’t fill the room

cant fill the time it’s going to take

until I run of things

to try

none of which can never bring you back

can’t dig down into the earth 

to bring you back to life 

to resemble the scattered fragments

caught for a moment over the lake

sunshine grey

can’t wet them with 

plant them with enough fertilizer

to grow you again

bring you back to life

can’t give me life either

not enough bottles 

not enough rocks

not a sweet enough pipe

not enough sex

to bring you back

can’t sing loud enough

can’t be quiet enough

to hear you

can’t wash that memory 

out of my hair

can’t give your clothes away

yet

can’t fill them like you

can’t wear them myself

can’t stand to look at them

letting go

not wanting to hold

not know what to do

because nothing will bring you back

and I’m tried of doing nothing

apologies are too thin 

too late

food not filling enough

not enough cake 

to bring you back

not prayer

bargaining 

anger 

acceptance

forgetting you 

not acting as if I don’t miss you

won’t bring you back

won’t keep that song 

from bringing you to mind

bringing you to mind 

won’t bring you back

tears won’t do it

gifts won’t do it

joining you 

won’t bring you back

not wanting you back

won’t bring you back

sleep won’t bring you back

moving on

won’t bring you back

but it means

I won’t be here

when you do come back

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

https://www.facebook.com/events/504067323723768/

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

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

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

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

March

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

April

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

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

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

On My Kindle 01

Last week I wrote about childhood sets of books. This week I’m looking complete sets on my Kindle. One of the cool things about Amazon for Kindle are the number of collections complete works by authors whose works can be impossible find in bookstores or even libraries. Different ebook companies have brought together set of mostly out of public domaine books at ridiculously low prices.

For example the set  “Slavery: Not Forgiven, Never Forgotten” – which for about $2 US includes:

Narrative of Frederick Douglass

12 Years a Slave

The Underground Railroad

Up From Slavery

Willie Lynch Letter

Confessions of Nat Turner

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

History of Mary Prince

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom

Thirty Years a Slave

Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green

The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Behind The Scenes

Harriet: The Moses of Her People

Father Henson’s Story of His Own Life

50 Years in Chains

Twenty-Two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman

Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb

Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave

Story of Mattie J. Jackson

A Slave Girl’s Story

From the Darkness Cometh the Light

Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy

Narrative of Joanna

Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Who Escaped in a 3×2 Feet Box

Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Buried Alive (Behind Prison Walls) For a Quarter of a Century

Sketches of the Life of Joseph Mountain 

Oroonoko

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Heroic Slave

Slavery’s Pleasant Homes

Our Nig

Clotelle

Marrow of Tradition

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

A Fool’s Errand

Bricks Without Straw

Imperium in Imperio

The Hindered Hand

The History of Abolition of African Slave-Trade

History of American Abolitionism

Pictures of Slavery in Church and State

Life, Last Words and Dying Speech of Stephen Smith Who Was Executed for Burglary

Report on Charge of Aiding and Abetting in the Rescue of a Fugitive Slave

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

Duty of Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Gettysburg Address

XIII Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1865)

Civil Rights Act of 1866

XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868)

Reconstruction Acts (1867-1868)

Whew! This is a university syllabus that probably no university book store or even research library could supply. 

Many of these sets are to broaden my knowledge of some writers who are known for their big hits; others are by authors of queer interest whose works I knew vaguely or of whom I have never heard of before until reading about them in my endless readings. One set is the Works of John Addington Symonds. I knew of him through mentions of his interactions with Walt Whitman. His books on Ancient Greek culture are sometimes citied in histories of queer writing. So I figure when I first got my Kindle to read some of those works. Interesting essays about travel in & history of Italy, but thank God writing style has changed. 

The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (+ 130 Poe short stories); Mary Shelly: The Ultimate Collection; The Complete Works of Bram Stoker. Who read what Mary Shelly wrote other than Frankenstein? Stoker wrote more than Dracula? Reading their other works one sees the why those works have faded. Mary was more or less an accidental writer & reading he rather work it’s easy to see why some suspect her husband played a role in her big hit for the plotting & characterizations. She was not really a fabulist. Bram became an almost tradition writer of his time & none of his other plots were as ‘startling’ as Dracula. 

Lovecraft is a boyhood favorite of mine. His plots are rich, his writing style now strikes me as overly florid & it is creamy influenced by the Shelly & Stoker – but he does avoid, the most part, the need for some sort of romantic subplot. My bedroom on the east coast had slated ceilings so his story about the room with odd angles in the ceiling & walls always appealed to me. Those angles lead to another dimension. I have the bio ‘I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft’ on my e.bookshelf short list.

It’s not all gloom doom or educational on the Kindle thanks to Stephen Leacock: Humour Books collection; Mark Twain: 51 Classic Works. Both of these are authors I loved in my teens. Leacock still makes me laugh out loud. Twain can go on but he had a grasp of the foibles of human nature I love. His short pieces are fun & the longer books reflect their times. Both a writers of the local experience – Americana, Canadiana full of innocence that still speaks of today. Who isn’t intimidated if not anxious dealing with banks; has the plight of blacks in the USA progressed from the fears of the runway slaves in Twain?

Book Bound

in one of those boys’ books

tom swift hardy brothers

can’t remember which one 

there were mysterious lights 

on the cliff

or were they from a strange shape 

in the ocean

hovering by the moon 

something distant and indistinct

but threatening

 

tough guys

were skulking around town 

something held in coat pockets

that might be a gun

a magnetic pulsator

that would incapacitate  

one or all of our heroes

who would come to

tied up somewhere

worry about their girlfriend

they always had girlfriends 

who were peripheral 

to the story 

but clearly in place

so we young readers

would not get a whiff 

of anything more unsavoury

that those unshaved goons

with foreign accents

who slouched around the ranch

the railway yards

to do no good

 

the boys always had girlfriends

so no one would get the idea

that they weren’t the ideal role model

ripe with normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

how to make the star capacitor

turn the hydrogen to oxygen 

so they could breathe again

float to the surface

drive off

fly off

with the adoring faces of their girlfriends

soft and worshipful

 

red-haired teens 

with freckle faces

none of them shaving yet

jumping into their roadsters

worrying about their kidnapped fathers

deciphering cryptograms

punching each other joyfully 

in the arm

as each hurdle was accomplished

as each bruise cleared up

always ready to face 

the next opportunity

never doubting what they could do

never questioning 

how they really were

what did this all mean

why couldn’t they go

a few weeks without smugglers

Martian terrorists lurking around

to make make it difficult for everyone

 

they never had to face peer pressure

other than the football team

a team that never got drunk after a big game

boys who where boys

becoming real men

growing up slowly

always gaining parental 

acceptance and approval

amazing their pals

yet not letting it go to their heads

square jawed 

rugged 

individualist who only disobeyed 

to make things better

grew up with out self doubt

normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

but how not to escape

what was written for them

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

https://www.facebook.com/events/504067323723768/

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

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

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

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

March

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

April

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

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

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

https://wp.me/p1RtxU-uJ

Therapy

 

True story – Several years ago I started to see a guy & there was good chemistry between us. When he found out I had never been to therapy it ended because he couldn’t relate to someone who had never been to therapy. I thought – such is life. He made me think of people who say ‘I don’t trust someone who won’t drink (alcohol) with me.’

 

A recent Gayish podcast (119) was about the role of therapy in lgbtq+ lives. One of the hosts conclusions was that everyone needs therapy – by which they mean one-on-one work with a therapist. I have never engaged in one-on-one work with a therapist. (Please don’t revoke my gay card 🙂 ) The closest I’ve come to therapy, I guess, is decades of 12 Step meetings – group therapy of sorts – in fact the that modem of group self-help is the model for group therapy. But 12 Step doesn’t involve professionals to facilitate such groups. https://gayishpodcast.podbean.com

I’ve written extensively about growing up gay which has worked out much of the ptsd I experienced as a child & teen – the ptsd I’ve experienced from the gay ‘community’ is another story 🙂 What is worse – being bullied & belittled by the straight community for being queer or being bullied & belittled by the gay community for not being handsome, young, hung or buff enough to be acceptable? 

The Gayish episode is an excellent guide to types of therapy based on the hosts personal experience. The statistics on mental health & addiction issues in the lgbtq+ community are dismaying but not surprising. As we see greater visibility for queers in our culture I hope many of the emotional, mental issues that come from isolation, fear, internalized homophobia, will lessen. Gayish is one of the ways in which such changes continue.

Lucky

when I tell people 

I’m lucky to alive today

they act as if I’m overreacting

because in many ways

my life has been a breeze

I didn’t suffer any physical 

sexual abuse growing up

never went hungry

my parents never divorced

so what do I have to complain about

 

it’s not that I’m complaining 

just making a statement of fact

I’m lucky to alive

maybe they don’t know

that there as a time

when gay teens were put into 

mental institutions to be cured

given shock treatments

lobotomies

behaviour modification

chemical castration

so they would be obedient 

normal boys and girls

 

role models were nonexistent 

until Elton John came along 

(oh, why couldn’t it have been 

Bruce Springsteen)

 

what saved my life 

was music & writing

not writing how

‘fear was too great’ 

but writing about anything 

music never judged me

never waited outside school to beat me up

didn’t tell on you

didn’t turn away

when I searched album covers

for inspiration in words

in Jim Morrison’s tight pants 

mooning over sturdy arms 

of drummer Keith Moon

never knowing anything about their lives

 

maybe if I had known 

Jim Morrison 

was a real back door man

Moon was a bi guy

their fame allowed them freedom

but not freedom of the press

careers would have been ruined

 

yeah I’m lucky to be alive

because the help I could have used

then

would have killed me

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

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Dune

Over the past few years I’ve been rereading science fiction novels that I read in my teens and twenties. Books by Vonnegut, Heinlein etc. They have been enjoyable but held little resonance for me. Stranger in a Strange Land was a favorite at one time but rereading it I realized it was the magic-thinking aspect that appealed, not the science.

Recently I reread Dune by Frank Herbert. Through the 60’s to early 80’s I belonged to the Science Fiction book club (which eventually added Horror to its title). Dune was one of the books that I got as part of my enrolment offer. It stunned me. I must have read it several times to re-experience the adventure. It was also one of my first fictional crushes – Paul Atreides was hot.

I recall my own world building attempts at the time: creating maps of places, making up language, inventing devices for the people/creatures in worlds – none of which ever progressed into plots or even short stories. The religious underpinning sos the book fascinated me with its witches, orange bibles, quotes from that imaginary scriptural text. The messianic nature of Paul’s mythology – was he the first ‘as the prediction promised’ hero?

Reading it now I am still awestruck by the intricate world building, the complex social & emotional lives the Herbert built. Female characters are as rounded & developed as the male characters. How I would love to have ‘the voice.’ The world building is astounding. New words are introduced in such a way one knows exactly what they are without explanation. I see how this series inspired Star Wars & a hundred of other films.

Unfortunately Dune itself has never been successful made into a film, or mini-series. Attempts have been made but, so far, they have merely captured events without convey the epic scale or emotional complexities of Dune.

Sadly what gay characters there are, are decadent, physically repulsive, and evil. Sigh.

Ingratitude

let me get that for you

I know you can do it yourself

but sometimes it’s nice to help

no no I insist

you deserve to it take it easy

I’ll do everything

like I always do

no insist

it makes me feel so much better 

when I do these little things for you

keep you comfortable

helpless

 

no you aren’t helpless

as long as you have me

to do everything

it’s is my pleasure to help you

you don’t have to worry about a thing

just ask and I’ll be happy to oblige

no no don’t get up

I’ll bring the paper to you

I’ll read it out loud if you want

 

don’t be silly

I trust you to do things for yourself

but you know 

I do them so much better than you

and I don’t mind at all

why fend for yourself

when there is someone 

who is so willing so eager

almost indispensable

don’t worry 

your pretty little head about anything

save your thinking for important matters

such as what to wear tomorrow

if you don’t like what I’ve picked out

 

I’ll make sure

you get up on time

you won’t ever be late for anything

as long as you have me 

to tend to your needs

I’ll even tend to needs

you didn’t know you had 

 

what’s in it for me

just the joy of being useful 

to someone as useless as as you

all you have to be is you

one of those who don’t have to do a thing 

 

let me pamper you

let me walk a mile in your shoes 

so you don’t have to 

if I could

I would take a dump for you

yes I would

 

now open up

I’ve cut your meat into little pieces

do want then pre-chewed

I‘ll do what it takes 

to keep you in this sweet state of surrender

no i don’t think I control you

you are in control

your ever wish is my desire

merely ask and I’ll do it

I’m that selfless 

 

don’t you know

people will envy you

that you have someone so attentive 

so eager to fulfill your commands

to spare you from 

having to experience life

in any of its many unpleasant facets

all you have to do is enjoy 

being helpless but in control

oh yes you are in control

my happiness depends on yours

I am more capable of making you happy

than you are yourself

 

admit it

you like not having to be responsible 

for your own life

I’ll take the blame

I’ll make all the excuses

it is my joy

my one goal in life

is to make sure 

you don’t have to live yours

except as I make it pleasant for you

 

who could ask for more

if you want more

ask me

really I don’t mind

even if you do mind

I’ll have to insist

ever so gently

relax

stop fighting

you don’t need an identity 

when you’ve got me

you don’t even need a purpose

when my own purpose 

it to keep you happy

to keep you safe from 

purpose of any kind

you don’t even have to be grateful

who could ask for more 

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

every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Reliving with HIV

I moved to Toronto in 1979. In that first year I got sober, met the man I still share life with, and lost the job that brought me to Toronto. The second year I was working closely with gay men in recovery. The gay cancer – GRID – was already taking its toll on the community. When it first became AIDS – people were confused with Aydes: a diet candy – which went out of business partly because of the phonetic associate with the disease.

A couple of men in 12-step-recovery got me involved in what eventually became ACT – The AIDS Committee of Toronto. I attended those early board meetings as a group of men, women, gay, queer, lesbian, straight created a structure for dealing with what became a holocaust. I helped create the buddy system. Did home care for men I knew. I cycled out of committee work & became part of a meditation, healing circle. I buried more people that I can count.

That’s not a resume I care to reflect upon but recently I read “Hold tight gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the battlefield of AIDS” by Martin B Duberman. It looks at the history of HIV activism in the USA though the lives of two talented men. One white, one black. You know, I can’t recall many minorities participating in those early days when ACT was being shaped here in Toronto. This book reveals the complexity of class, race & marginalization.

Reading it I relived my own fears, frustrations & powerlessness in those years. I felt grief as each – Michael, then Essex died as a result of the inability & unwillingness of the medical community to deal with the crisis. The book also reveals in detail how the marginalized minorities were often left to their own devices to be included in anyway.

The music of Michael Callen is still available on iTunes, check him out on YouTube. More cabaret style though his days with the Flirtations and great fun. Essex Hemphill’s spokenword can be seen on YouTube as well, but be warned he is a brilliant, fearless & confrontative in ways that are still challenging today. Some made me tear up. Sadly most of his writing is out of print 😦 (I’ve ordered two of the out-of-prints via Abe Books). His poetry is breathtaking & heart stopping. His open-hearted emotional frankness has now become one of my inspirations.

Formative

she asked

are you married single 

neither

widower

nope

you have to be one those

I’ve lived with my partner 

for over twenty years 

we aren’t married.

oh, I that’s common-law

what is her name

his name you mean

oh there’s no place 

on this form for male spouse

he isn’t my spouse

he’s my partner

very well 

I’ll put own common-law 

 

now what religion are you

none

oh you don’t believe in God 

as matter of fact I do believe in God

then what faith do you practice

none

but you can’t believe in God 

and not have faith 

I do have faith

I do believe in God 

but I’m not caught up 

in any religious persuasion

I’ll say atheist then

atheists don’t believe in God 

I reminded her

but I have to have answers for this form

I’ll just put down atheist

no I am not an atheists 

is there a place there for heretic

no

 

then the form is fascist

it doesn’t allow 

for practices 

other than those it defines 

as acceptable 

I didn’t create the form sir 

I’m just filling it in

but you made that judgment call 

didn’t you

that if I wasn’t religious 

I had to be atheist 

agnostic at best

 

we can skip that  part of the form

then why is it there

for statistical purposes sir

but the only people 

who get statistically counted 

are those whom the form allows 

to be included

what about us who don’t fit 

the confines of the form

don’t we get counted

you get counted as nonbelievers

but I just told you I do believe in God

I’m just not Catholic

Buddhist

Jewish or whatever 

possible categories you have 

on that form

isn’t there a box you can check for other

no sir there isn’t

let’s move on please

 

what political party do you support

is this as relevant 

as the religious question 

or just more statistical information

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

every Tuesday 2019


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

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

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

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Émile Zola

Nana was my introduction to Émile Zola. I bought a copy of it way back in the 70’s when I was living in Cape Breton. It floored me. I knew he was writing, publishing in France at the same time Dickens was publishing in England. Both wrote about class, labour, family but that’s where the resemblance ends. Zola wrote adult fiction full of drugs, druggies, adulterers, prostitution, social disease and nice people too.

Nana floored me with its frank sexuality. No classic novel I’d read by Scott, Stevenson, even Dostoyevsky approached this level of sexuality. At points he delves into the lesbian subculture of Paris that still amazes me today. It certainly wasn’t what I expected in a novel of that time & also showed me that there is a hidden gay history too. Nana uses her sexuality to move up and down the class ladder. In fact all the women in Zola novels are clearly sexual beings, not always in control of it, not always giving into it.

He has a great grasp of human psychology from a time when human psychology wasn’t even a field of study. I have, on my Kindle, the complete works – which I hope to finish before I die 🙂 He was prolific & as a result as popular as Dickens. I bought the complete works to get the novels that are out-of-print in translation. As a result I can’t commune ton his ability as a stylist – the translations are good enough for me. His plotting is solid. Went, or more of them, are a family saga that rivals any daytime soap. The family tree of his fictional family is impressive, as was his ability to keep it organized. He was a social commentator who spared no one.

If you are unfamiliar I would recommend Thérèse Raquin, (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Cx) or Nana. Germinal is also amazing & inspired my novel Coal Dusters – good too are L’Assommoir and La Bête humaine.

 

Plus he was very handsome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Émile_Zola#/media/File:Émile_Zola_by_Carjat.jpg 

The Fault In My Chromosomes

there is a theory

that when the first atomic bomb 

was exploded

the molecular structure of life 

of our dna

as we know it 

was changed

 

there’s always some explanation

for what went wrong

the first match

the first man 

who looked at the moon

and thought 

that’s not god

why am I blood-letting goats

to make sure

the moon will rise again

to insure sure we get good crops

 

us assuming that there is 

some secret level of control

we can manifest 

if we find the right path

we can work down 

to the chromosomal level of life

get at the delicate tissue

to harness it 

or our our personal gratification

then everything would work out swell

 

no war

no struggle

no hunger disease

no TV – that’s going too far

what if the atomic structure of life 

was changed by the first TV broadcast

what if those beams

were controlling us humans

telling us what to say

what to wear 

what to eat

when to go out

how many layers of clothing we need

that would never happen

we can’t be manipulated

at the cellular level by a cell phone

electronic conveniences are our tools

we aren’t their tools

they do our bidding

they have no control over who we love

over how often we hook up

they don’t conspire against us

we are in control at all times

we can turn them off 

see I’ve set my cell phone to no ring 

I can leave it that way for hours

often I don’t even check for texts

some people can’t imagine that at all

somedays I don’t turn on my TV for hours

don’t check my email

I am always in control of my universe

 

when the first atomic bomb

was exploded

molecular structure was changed

so I am not responsible for my actions

nothing is ever my fault

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


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


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

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet