I Was A Teenage Coward

My sense of masculinity growing up was never up to the rough-and-tumble masculinity that was expected of me. I never lived up to those unquestioned imperatives. Some of this was because we moved east from Manitoba for a couple years making it difficult for me to establish ‘buddy’ friendships with other boys. When we did settle in Sydney, Cape Breton we changed neighbour hoods at least two times before settling in a third.

I did many ‘boy’ things mind you – rode my bicycle everywhere, played backyard baseball with a bunch of kids near by. But was never a fighter. I got into a couple of fistfights but it was easier to avoid them. So I never establish a position of respect amongst boys (or as I felt, with my father.)

Because I was never a fighter I was called ‘yellow,’ ‘coward’ long before I was called ‘gearbox,’ ‘queer.’ Being queer was to be less than a man, to be feminine – a girly-boy who would never be considered masculine & thus to be derided, ridiculed etc. There was no support system for ‘otherness’ other than becoming a butch fisted boxer to eat the shit out them – which wasn’t going to happen. I’m glad that I didn’t get the help that I needed then because sexually confused teens were given chemical castration, lobotomies to make them non-threats the fabric of wholesomeness.

That feeling of being a coward has never fully left me but I’ve just finished reading Mad Blood Stirring: The Inner Lives of Violent Men by Daemon Fairless. The book addresses the nature of violence as a means of defining masculinity. A definition that is culturally approved. The drag queen that beats the crap out of homophobes is respected, the one that minces away to avoid conformation is not respected.

Mad Blood Stirring is an excellent book, part case study, part interviews with ‘violent’ men, part the author’s own journey to discover the roots of his own violent nature. He recreates incidents of violent confrontations so vividly that I could feel the emotional rush that pushed him over the edge. As I said this is an excellent book well worth reading even if one isn’t a man or violent. 

That fact that I didn’t take the bait of confrontation wasn’t because I was a coward but because I was already stepping out the cultural imperative that manhood is only in the fist. Or maybe I had a testosterone imbalance 🙂

(one again WP does weird things to lines breaks)

The Killer In The Morning 

with a harsh shout 

the killer awoke from a dream
someone smothering him
a pillow over his face 

when heʼd killed 

he never used a pillow
or anything that hid the face

the best part of the kill
was in the eyes
that I canʼt believe you are doing this 

combined with the actual pain
as his hands crushed 

the wind pipe squeezing
hollow bones in his strong hands

he could crush an apple
the hardest granny smith
heʼd hold it up so juice 

splashed his face 

like a warm summer shower

cleaned and ready 

the killer sat at his kitchen table 

looked out at the sunny day
at people on their way to death 

death at his hands 

maybe not right now 

but soon sooner than they expect
at least one of them would die today

he knew that
the knowledge armed him
gave him power
gave him a reason to live
to be there amongst them
each of them ripe for his desires 

the headlines no longer cowed them 

they had little fear
a killing a day
the papers screamed 

who will be next 

the tv clatter box went on and on 

flashed from his latest victim 

to breakfast cereals
that would help you lose weight

ha he laughed to himself
I have a program
thatʼll give you a permanent weight loss 

donʼt bother calling
Iʼll find you today
it is a good day to die

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January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico

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every Tuesday


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

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

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Chapter XXXII Birk Changes Shirts

Coal Dusters

Chapter XXXII

Birk Changes Shirts

The acrid smell of smoke hung in the humid morning air when Birk woke up. He lay on top of the bed to enjoy the gentle breeze that came through the window. Even in just his undershirt and underdraws it had been another night where it was too warm to sleep with covers on. He had woken a couple of times feeling the floor give way beneath his feet. Clancy, with just a pillow case over his behind, was still sleeping on the other side of the bed with his back to Birk.  

Birk could hear his mother in the kitchen downstairs singing, “Bringing in the sheaves. Sowing in the sunshine.” Her voice getting louder each time she sang ‘sheaves’ and ‘sunshine.’ His sisters would join in on ‘sunshine.’

Through the open window he heard people talking on the street. He caught small bits of conversation as they passed. 

“Terrible about that fire.” 

“What ya think the company will do?”

“She run up them stairs faster than a cat on fire.”

He sat up, swung around and reached for his shirt. Even though he had rinsed it before he went to bed it still smelled strongly of the fire. He’d have to leave it on the clothes line for a day or two to let the wind blow the smouldered stench away. The shirt was spotted with little holes where the scattered embers of the fire had showered on him when he ran up and down the stairs to rescue Miss McTavish. Most of the burns were along the shoulders. A few of the holes were large enough for his little finger to poke through.

“Ruin’t” he whispered. He took a clean shirt from the ones hanging on hooks along one wall. He had three other shirts, an old white, dressy one with thin black pinstripes, that Blackie out-grew, which Birk wore for only special occasions; the final one was his usual canvas mine work shirt. It was also hand-me-down from George. The once dark blue canvas was soft and faded pale from all the washings it had had and the patches on the elbows would soon have to be replaced. What was left of the cuffs was beyond repair. At least it didn’t smell so strong of the fire. He put it on and started to do up the mismatched buttons. 

“Come on lazy arse.” He gave Clancy a playful push. 

Unlike Birk, Clancy was happy to sleep in the nude. He was also not shy about being seen completely nude. Clancy rolled to his back. 

“Another day and no dollars.” Clancy stretched his arms to the ceiling.

“Don’t we know it.” Birk pulled on his pants.

“Fishin’s today?” Clancy reached up and pulled Birk on top of him.

“At’s right.” he half-heartedly pushed himself up.

“Feels as if your little feller’s ready to catch something.”

“Yers too.” Birk grinned sheepishly as he rubbed against Clancy. “But we … “ he didn’t want his sisters coming in to find them this way. Bad enough that Clancy was naked. “… better get crackin.”

“Didn’t we bring home enough last night?” Clancy got out of the bed and got dressed.

“Needs something to go with it.”

When Birk came down to the kitchen with his damaged shirt his two sisters sat wide-eyed and silent, staring at him.

“What is it?” he asked them. “I grow anudder head?”

“Mrs. Malone was here.” Maddy said.

“She says you saved a babby from burning up the fire.” Sal said rocking her doll in her arms. “No fire going to burn you up my little one.”

“You said nothing about that last night.” His mother pushed the loaf of bread toward him. 

“Didn’t think much of it.” Birk cut off a slice of the bread and sat at the table. “I ruin’t my shirt in the fire though.”

He handed it to his mother. “You think it can be fixed.”

She took the shirt and held it up the sunlight coming through the window. “I guess I could put a patch on these two big holes but not on all them little ones. Might just as well make a new shirt. Pity as it was good shirt.”

Blackie took the shirt. “Good thing you didn’t catch fire yourself.”

“You think I wants to hear things about my son from folks next door?” His mother twisted his ear.

“Ow! Ma I didn’t think much of it. I had enough of m’mind getting myself in and out of the company store with stuff you. Wasn’t that flour and such enough for you?”

His sisters grabbed at the shirt and each of held a sleeve to her nose to smell it.

“You wore this when you saved that babby?” Sal asked as her eyes grew big.

“Of course he did.” Maddy said looking though the burn holes. “I can see the flames now as they come down on me. Ow! Ow! Ow!” She ducked under the table.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Sal echoed as she ducked under the table.

“Let me check your back.” Blackie said. “Time’s I’ve been caught in a flare from the boilers and not seen how burned I was till I laid on m’back.” He began to help Birk unbutton his shirt.

“Not in my kitchen.” His mother pushed them to the back door. “Take him out back. There’ll be sun enough to see better, anyway.”

Before they could go out Clancy came into the kitchen.

“I suppose you know’d all about it, too?” his mother said to Clancy.

“Bout what. Mrs. N?”

“Birk saved a babby.” the two girls said almost in unison. Then began to dance around the kitchen singing. Each holding one the the sleeves of the shirt. “Saved a babby. Saved a babby.”

“Maddy! Sal! Quiet down.” Birk’s mother took the shirt from them. “If’un you tear this up there’ll be no way to fix it.”

“That’s not all he did.” Clancy helped himself to some of the bread. “He saved a gal too. You know, that one from away. Boston.”

“One that lives with the priest, that Father Patrick?” Birk’s mother asked. “That sort always looks to be the centre of things.” She sniffed derisively. 

“Same one.” 

  “Din’ matter to me who she was.” Birk pushed the backdoor open. “Caught her apron skirt on th’door tryin’ to get that babby out of the fire. That’s all. She done the saving. I only got her away from the fire. Let’s go out, Pa I do feel something on m’ shoulders.” 

“Birk, sometimes I feel you have a whole life outside these walls I know nothing about.” His mother said as Birk and Blackie went into the back garden. “Here take this salve out with you. It’ll help with the burns.” She took a glass jar out of the cupboard. She handed it to Clancy. “I uses this when I get a little burn tending the stove.”

Out in the sun Birk fidgeted while his father examined his arms and back in the light. 

“See much?” he asked.

“Lot’s a hair.” Chancy gave a little laugh.

“Yer not too bad.” His Dad said. “A few blisters though …”

“Where the embers didn’t bounce off your hair.” Clancy opened the jar and took a gob of the lotion out. He rubbed it along Birk’s neck. “Worse along here.”

“I’ve had worse sun burns.” Birk flinched as Clancy rubbed the lotion into him. The lotion was a thick petroleum grease that had a slight camphor smell to it. He could feel it cooling his skin here it was rubbed in. 

“Some along here too.” Blackie said, rubbing some of goo into Birk’s forearms. “Sometimes I get so used to the heat I don’t even feel it burn me.”

“I didn’t feel anything at all.” Birk said. “There a spot along here?” He gestured to his lower back.

“Felt nothing? Not even her kiss?” Clancy asked as he rubbed lotion where Birk had indicated. 

“Kiss?” Blackie said.

“That priest’s niece was sure happy to be rescued.” Clancy said. “She threw her arms around Birk and kissed him right on his mouth.” He put the lid back on the jar of salve.

“And crushed the baby?” Birk’s mother was standing on the porch with the two girls.

Sal had wrapped her doll in Birk’s shirt.

“Kissed a girl.” They broke into a song. “Birk kissed a girl.”

“Nothing of the sort happened.” Birk pulled his shirt back on. “She was grateful but the baby’s mother was right there and that Father McTavish. There was no kissin’. Her uncle shook my hand.”

His sisters kept up their chant. “Birk kissed a girl.”

“You stop that.” Birk swung his open hand playfully at them. “Or next time there’s a fire you won’t be getting no candy.”

“Don’t be scared.” Sal said to her doll. “He’s trying to save you.”

“They’re having you on b’y.” His father said.

“Now, here’s something t’eat while you are up there fishin’” His mother plunked his lunch tin on the porch rail. “There tea in the jar. Made fresh with what you saved from the company store.”

Birk flipped the lunch tin open and there was more of the bread, some cheese and a couple of cookies, still warm.

“You ever sleep. Ma?” He bit into one of the cookies.

“This hot, only time to cook is at night. Here’s for you Clancy.”

“Yeh, but you don’t ever sleep Ma.” Birk said. “I can never remember seeing you on the bed.”

“That’s enough of that talk.” she pulled her wooden spoon out of her apron pocket and shook it at him. “I gets rest enough in m’chair in the parlour.”

His mother had an over stuffed armchair in the parlour with a foot stool where she would sit when she had done her chores or when she was waiting for something to finish cooking. The flowered print had worn off from her hands smoothing the sides and the pillows before she sat in it.

His sisters sat on the back porch bench giggling and whispering to Sal’s doll about Birk kissing a girl.

“We best be off.” Clancy said.

“Sky’s clouding over so keep an eye for it.” Blackie warned.

“Yeh. We’ll try to be back before the streets are mud.” Birk said. “Then we can fish for mud suckers.”

“Bring us back a babby if you catch another one.” Maddy said.

“Bet those burns are where her kisses burned you.” Sal said and the two girls burst into laugher.

Birk’s face flushed. “There was no kissin’” He shouted at them and glared at his mother and father.

“Means nothing if there were.” His mother said gently. “Birk they mean nothing by it.”

“Yeah.” Maddy piped up. “Who’d want to kiss a hairy monkey like you anyway.” She grabbed Sal by the hand and the two of them darted into the house. The tail of the shirt caught in the door as it swung closed. His mother frowned as it tore as it was yanked divot the house.

“I know that Ma but still … it was bad enough with George makin’ fun of me. I was doing the right thing, wasn’t I.”

“Of course you were,” Blackie said. “Don’t think we are aren’t proud of you for doin’ it, while others stood around watching.”

“It happened so fast I can scare remember what I did. I saw her up there strolling. I can’t even say if she screamed for help. Did I run up them stairs?” he asked Clancy.

“I don’t know. I wasn’t paying that much attention to you, until I saw you up there with her. Could be you jumped up there from the ground for all I know.”

“Maybe m’ sisters are right that I did let that gal kiss me.”

“She did get your name though. I remember that. Asked who you were after she smothered you with kisses for recusing her.”

“Sounds like your sore because she did ask who m’friend with the bags of flour was?”

“Candy. I had those jars of candy.”

“Doesn’t matter now.” Blackie said. “Today’s another day. We have to figure out what to do now that there’s no store in Castleton to deny us credit.”

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

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NaNoWriMo.01 2018

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tackle NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve done good work every outlast year it felt like work – previous years were like sailing without needing a steering wheel. Last year was like rowing in molasses. So this year I’m going to start with cliche plots, queer them up & see where that takes me.

 

Cliche plots will include haunted houses, possession, paranormal investigators, explicit gore and who knows what else. I’ve been watching the current season of American Horror Story (mildly enjoying it), recently watched Castle Rock, have the current Channel Zero on my pvr to watch – so I’m clearly interested in this genre yet have never really written about it so time to get on that broom 🙂

Rather than try to fashion a single plot, plus sub-plot I’m going to a series of linked short stories using the same characters in various supernatural circumstances. Perhaps allowing the lead pov to move from story to story. Starting with one of them getting a mysterious letter informing them that they’ve inherited a mysterious estate in a mysterious country.

I also want to play around with various form of narrative – Frankenstein is told by the captain who finds the doctor on the ice floes; Dracula is told via letters & journal entries. I recently watched The Saragossa Manuscript  in which a man tells a story in which a man tells story about man telling a story. James Joyce’s Ulysses as a horror novel 🙂 Working title The Blludstun Chronicles.

Please keep in mind this is a fresh off the keyboard sample that has had minimal editing – I haven’t even checked it for typos.

“Matt, You’ve got mail!” It was a text message from Don, my partner.

“Thanks” I texted back. I checked my email box and there was nothing there. Don would often send longer messages as emails because typing them in the cell phone annoyed him.

“There’s nothing there.” I sent back to him with a frown emoji.

He texted back a photograph of a letter addressed to me. ‘Mr. Matthew Taylor, 75a Crombie Mews, Toronto, Ontario” All written by hand.

“Very clever marketing.” I texted back. “Looks like real handwriting.”

The video alert flashed and Don was sending a live feed of the envelope.

“It’s not marketing.” Don said. “I recognize real ink.”

“Show me the stamp.” I said.

He angled the letter so the stamp came into view. 

“It’s a real stamp!” Don said as he picked at a corner of the stamp. “Glue not pre-sticky.”

The stamp was a Greek athlete throwing a disc. The lettering on the stamp wasn’t one I recognized. I did a quick image search on Google. It was from Dashan. 

“It’s from Dashan!” I exclaimed.

“Who is Dashan?” Don asked. 

“It’s a country not a person. Who’s the sender?”

“I can’t tell. The return address is in that gothic font.” He brought the return address into view on the phone.

“It’s blurred.” I said. “Hold it still.”

“I am.” He pulled the cell away from the developed so it was all in view.

“Strange. Everything else is readable except it’s like there’s some smudge on your lens distorting it. Open it!”

“I don’t think I should.” Don panned his phone’s camera to the lower portion of the envelope.

In thick red hand printing it said “To be opened only my the addressee.”

“Go on,” I said. “The envelope won’t know who opened it, will it?”

“Something important?” Frank, my supervisor was standing by my desk.

“Yeah. I got mail!”

“Not on company time.” 

“Sorry. But I mean I got snail mail.”

“What?” He stepped inot the cubical to take a closer look at the photo on my phone. “I’ll be.”

“I gotta go. I’ll open it when I get home.” I turned off the video link.

“It’s not your birthday.” Frank said. “Or did I miss the reminder.”

“Birthday?”

“It was at one time a tradition to snail mail birthday greetings.”

“It’s not my birthday. I have the Beaufort report to finish.”

“George Innis was on that case?”

“Yes. His notes are impossible to read and transcribing his audio is no easier. When he isn’t spilling coffee on his paper he’s slurping it went he records his findings.”

(Matthew works for a corporate investigative firm that specializes in corporate surveillance.)

When he got home he saw that the envelope was on the dining table. Unopened. He went toward the table and the air was noticeably cooler. 

“You feel it, too?” Don came out of the kitchen and kissed Matt. “The cool.”

“Yes. Must be draft from one of the windows?” Matt hugged Don and looked over his shoulder at the envelope. All day he’d wanted to get home to tear it open but now he wanted to wait.

“You didn’t open it?” He asked Don.

“I … it didn’t feel right.” Don said. “After I showed it to you with the cell I couldn’t wait to put it down. It was almost if it jumped out of my hands.” 

I stared at the envelope. It was an off-white, a little larger than standard business. 

“Why are you staring at it. Open it.” Don gave me a little nudge toward the table.

“I don’t know.” I approached the table. “I get this strange vibe from it too. Fuck! It’s even colder here. Maybe I’ll need my gloves to even pick it up.”

I picked it up and the cold immediately dispersed. The paper was a linen weave. Expensive, not some drugstore bought envelope. I could see the return address clearer but the name was indecipherable. 

“Open it.” Don said. “The suspense is killing me.”

“Okay. Here goes.” I ran my finger under the back flap. As it opened I caught a scent, sort of a peppery rose, that came from it. A place red mist flashed out of it then dispersed. I dropped the envelope. The lights flicker and dimmed in the room. I could no linger see anything around me.

Don moaned. I looked at him and his eyes rolled up in his head. He stepped back unsteadily, turned and reached for the sofa. He collapsed to the floor before he could reach it. I tried to help him to sit but my hands couldn’t grasp his body. It felt like I was trying to pull spotting out of an oily river and that something kept slipping out of my hands.

“You have no choice. Don’t make the wrong one.” Don spoke but the voice wasn’t his.

The room had gone from freezing cold to suffocatingly warm. I hooked two of my fingers into Don’s pant waist and pulled him to me. I clasped him to me. His body was vibrating.

“You have no choice. Don’t make the wrong one.” He repeated several times. For a moment I couldn’t feel the floor under me. Don’s body shuddered then went limp in my arms. The lights returned to normal.

“What does it say?” He asked.

“You don’t remember what just happened?”

“Yes you opened the envelope. What? Did I miss something?”

“You went into some sort of trance.” I said. “When I opened the envelope you seemed to be taken over.”

“Taken over? Please.”

“I don’t want to know what’s in that letter. From what’s happened already without even reading it I don’t want to know.”

“Whatever it is, now that you’ve opened it you have no choice.”

“I can put it in the shredder undread, I mean, unread.” I stopped to pick it up and saw the the contents had scattered on the floor. One of them, folded in three, was held by a gold ribbon. I picked it up and turned it over. It said “The Last Will and Testament of Thomas D. Blludstun” 

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October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 1 -30

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November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto



http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


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

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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

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

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 🙂