This Isn’t A Compliment

 Discernment

it’s not that it isn’t satisfying

in no way is this a judgement 

of the quality

the quantity

there may be deeper flavours

those aren’t the issues

really

it’s not that there’s a alternative

or some way

of not accepting what is offered

in favour of something else

enough is enough

even if it is only available now 

there is no need to apologize

explain

or delay

what is here

will have to do

this isn’t a complaint 

merely compliance 

taking it in

making the most of it

while admitting

this desire not to have more

at least not more of the same

We live in a paradoxical culture in which we are either polite to the point of codependency or enraged when our desire to control is thwarted. We say or do things we’d rather not do just to spare someone feelings then get pissed if they aren’t grateful enough. 

Often we’re dealing with people who see our disinterest as a person attack. Not to noisily agree with them is seen as arrogant, judgemental closed mindedness. 

Discernment becomes pretentiousness. As the current USA President demonstrates, to be even mildly critical is to be dismissed as an unpatriotic hater – if you aren’t blindly with us you are against us.

This piece is a list poem not one with with a direct plot line, no narrative other than the one the reader imposes on it. So if you didn’t find it had a beginning middle or logical ending – it doesn’t. It respects the readers’ ability to make connections, to find their way without every moment being sign-posted with neon arrows.

Some of the lines are things I’ve overheard, hear on TV/movies, read where people are talking about identity, sexuality, or food. Words have been given a spin but changing a letter, adding a letter etc. Pulling them out of one context & dropping them into another. Like the piece, this chat about the piece feels there is no need to apologize or explain. I’ve discovered that what I say & what you hear can be two different things anyway. 


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

Bigger Better

Every Man Wants

when I said

I’d had enough

I meant I needed no more

not wanting more

isn’t a sign 

that I don’t like what you offer

so don’t take it personally

no I’m not trying to lose weight

why

do you think I’m fat

or that I’m afraid of putting

the pounds on

I’m happy with the way I look

 

sure

like everyone I know

I’d like to loose five pounds

okay maybe ten

when I look in the mirror

I like what I see

I’m content with my body

yeah sure

I’d like a six pack

every man wants a bigger dick

but you know

what I have is what I have

no one has complained

 

so no

I don’t need any more

no matter how tempting 

I may want it

but no thanks

there are others more hungry 

who need another helping

all I need

is to enjoy the empty plate

The threat of covid19 resulted in panic buying that exposed, to me, our cultural addiction to materialism. I’ve written pieces about this compulsion for more – one of the things the 227 Rules underlines is the freedom that comes from letting go of the need for things. The Rules around clothing are a way out of fashion, out of being defined by appearances – though the monk’s robes in & of themselves define wearer as a monks.

Some of this is based on actual experience. When I order a burger in a restaurant I say ‘no bun.’ More than once I’ve had the server say or ask if I’m cutting back on carbs or am trying to loose weight. I usually say yes to whatever they propose. Yes is faster than explaining what is none of their fucking business. Some places will offer tomato slices or extra fries for the bun. Whatever. I find the buns to be bloating & usually tasteless, so why bother?

 

Much of materialism is based on lookism – often unrealistic body types. At one time nearly everyone I knew was on a diet, involved in a fitness routine – more to attract the right partner than to be healthy. In fact it wasn’t enough to be healthy – it had to be more. Being content with one’s looks was self-indulgence or worse – self-loathing.

 

My personal fitness regime is geared to keep me healthy. I want to live long & in good health. I dress for comfort most of the time, but I do know how to dress for appeal too & don’t mind doing that. I eat sensibly, cut out a lot of empty-calorie junk, take my vitamins. The main vanity I indulge in is good moisturizers & of course sunblock in summer. No one has complained 🙂
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Picky Picky

Picky

as you said

I am picky

not that I didn’t appreciate your offer

I’ve learned

that just because I can

doesn’t mean I have to

 

I’ve learned by past experience

time after time

of saying yes

to please someone

who wants to gratify some need of mine

doesn’t result in satisfaction

 

so when I say no

it is because I don’t want to

not that I’m not interested

or that it isn’t something I might enjoy

but because I know better

in fact

I’d rather have you think

I’m picky

than explain why I say no

and calling me picky

isn’t going to change my mind

This is a concept that took me a long time to realize: “because I can/ doesn’t mean I have to.” It fights out consumer culture’s push of more more more  in which there is no such thing as too much – having enough is seen a settling for less – enough is passive, more is productive. In some areas (ie music) I suffer from this addiction to ‘too much.’ In posting about my collection on Fridays I sometimes find things that I had forgotten I had 🙂

This piece is also another reflection on people pleasing. Some people will take someone turning down a drink, a toke, a line of coke personally. As if they are being told they aren’t good enough, their booze or drugs aren’t good enough – they feel judged. Too often trust is based on mutual enjoyments, friendships are built over passing joints around. In the queer world saying no to drugs is seen as saying to to sex. But that’s another post.

A large part of the 227 Rules for monks deals with their comportment in public – mostly ways of not calling attention to themselves. Not that they encourage people pleasing but at the same time they encourage the diminishment of self – the rules for clothes make one robe indistinguishable from that of another monk. Which goes against our culture … or is that cult of identity.

 

I’m not going to become a monk but I do like being less confined by the need to prove identity or to surrender identity to please someone else. “because I can/ doesn’t mean I have to” is a balance of not letting opportunity taken or declined become definition. 


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

The Right Price

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

The Right Price

Nothing was the right size. He stood in the centre of the hotel room. The windows were too high to look out of and were too large for the room. Standing on tip-toe he could get a brief glimpse of the high-rise across the street.

It strained his neck to keep looking outside. His suitcase took up half the bed. The bed would clearly be too small for him to stretch out on. The desk was more like ledge. There wasn’t enough room under it for his legs. Not enough room for the top for his laptop to open properly. The chair back came half-way up his spine and offered no support when he leaned back.

The wall-to-wall carpet wasn’t quite wall-to-wall. One one side there was a bare angle of concrete floor that hadn’t been covered. The sink in the bathroom was so low he had to stoop to get his hands under the taps to splash tepid water on his face. There was no cold or hot just lukewarm. The shower stall door didn’t close properly so water splashed out on the floor when he took a shower.

Nothing was the right size except for the price.


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

https://www.facebook.com/events/144488273335343/

Ours Alone

Ours Alone

the tenderness here

must remain here

only for the two of us

to enjoy to cherish

 

the sight of it

in the open air

in a public space

would sully it

 

turn it into performance

it would cease to be sacred

it would be an assault

on common decency

 

for two men 

to hold hands in public

for them to kiss

in front of innocent children



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Terra

Terra Cotta

he insisted

on terra cotta flower pots

not pots

planters

you know the kind big enough

for a …

oh you’ve heard this story

you know where it’s going

unlike the men

meeting him

they didn’t know where they were going

just that he promised

to take them somewhere 

offered –

well I’m not sure what he offered

it’s hard to call that something sex

I guess I’m old fashioned that way

 

terra cotta is better for the plants

for the roots

it breathes properly

allows water to filter through

plastic containers trap the water

traps insects

plastic absorbs heat

the soil doesn’t breathe

 

neither do the men

 

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

Often current events get instilled to the prompts I’m using – the prompt becomes a direction for me to deal with real life events in a poetic, almost fictionalized way. The prompt allows for symbolism. In this case the serial killer of gay men was in the news – I was very careful of where I place ‘gay’ in that description as I’m not sure if the killer is self-identified but merely picked gay men as being vulnerable enough for him to victimize.

One of break-throughs was finding human remains in the giant terra cotta planters he was using in his gardening business. I’m a gardener & know a few things about terra cotta – it is preferable to plastic containers – plastic doesn’t ‘breath’ or cool properly so plants don’t grow as well in them. It was a simple association between roots buried in pots, to men buried in pots.

As more was revealed about the hunt for the killer some details were repeated over & over, the pots being one of them. All one had to do, in some situations, is say terra cotta & everyone knew the association. How long did it take for o.j. to get back to meaning orange juice?

 

I ‘enjoy’ performing this piece – the shifting use of language, the ironic parallel of plants & men plays well without being comic. I don’t enjoy the fact that I had to write this piece. I don’t mention the killer’s name, I won’t ever, but the names of his victims deserve to be heard so that these men, for a moment, get to breathe again as you read them. Try saying them out loud.

 

Sunday –  January 26, 2020 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 

Safe From Me

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Safe From Me

somedays it isn’t safe

for me to be seen in public

not safe for others I mean

personally I am unconcerned

but the welfare of others 

has to be considered

just a glance from any male

let alone a gay male

can be triggering

sending someone spinning

into painful childhood memories

that don’t involve me directly

but my mere looking 

where I am going

can set people off 

 

I never ask how are you doing

lest that appears to be disrespect

for their boundary issues

I dress to deflect attention

I won’t compliment your appearance 

never talk about my happy childhood

because  by doing so

I may be diminishing 

what you experienced in yours

 

I get tired of negotiating permission

to continue a conversation

is it okay if I talk about ….

negotiating to avoid making

others uncomfortable

it isn’t wise to presume 

that just because they are a clerk

that they want to be of service

 

I haven’t left my house

for years now

it’s the easiest way

of keeping the world safe

from me

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

Cadaver Dogs

DNA Traces

did he live here

there

he tended gardens

the cadaver dogs

are nosing the rose bushes

the lilacs

he planted here

there

 

each was his place

refuge or hideaway

haven or grave

the men who know

will only talk

if their bones are found

traces of their dna

say

we were here

there

 

we now live in a digital world

symbols

of the discarded

the disappeared

never to be reported

not missed until

their remains were found

 

men with hidden sexuality

now with hidden bones

senses of self

some homeless 

before they were lifeless 

 

cadaver dogs are on the trail

some families still deny

their complicity

in a culture

denies its complicity

shaming sexuality into hiding 

long before those bones

were stripped of flesh

before being hidden 

perhaps

never to be found here

there

This is one of several pieces I wrote in response to the search & capture of the serial killer of gay men. Other pieces looked at the media response to the search, others to the denial that there was even a serial killer. Part of that inability/unwillingness was due the the social status of many of the victims. By social status I mean homelessness or immigrant. If you are homeless no notices you are gone.

As the piece says some weren’t missing until their remains were found. Some remains were of men reported missing but whose closeted culture didn’t include their sexuality. The murderer was found when he killed a white male who had people who missed him immediately. They were unafraid of immigration policies, weren’t so imitated by police, that they reported him missing.

Their insistence & persistence – putting up posters, searching themselves – lead to the eventual capture of the murderer. The murderer preyed not only on these’s men sexuality but also the shame that kept, for some of them, their sexuality a secret from families & friends. They were murdered a much by that culture of shame as they were by the actual hands of the killer.

The vicitms: Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Your Special Place

Your Special Place

we’re doing this

for your own good

think of this cell 

as your special place

a safe haven

from everyone around you

where no one is around you

no one to judge

mock

manipulate you

 

a place where you can be

yourself

regardless of how difficult 

others will find that self

they won’t have to learn

how to get along with you

nor will you have to compromise

in any way to fit in

 

isolation 

will make everyone happy

comfortable

because being comfortable 

is better than accepting change

“Go to your room.” was never a punishment to me but an escape. Not that I had anything to escape from but I was in a space where there was no direct outside force defining me expect, maybe, the need to do my homework. I fantasized at time about being in prison, based on my limited exposure to movies & novels about life behind bars, & thought being stuck in solitaire wouldn’t be such a bad thing expect for the lack of sunshine.

This piece spring from some of that but also it’s a look at the power of the ‘spin.’ How was isn’t anyone’s best interest is made to appear as if it come form a good place. Think of the colonizers who couldn’t convince native that western ideas were better than their native ways. Wear clothing your shameless savage – clothing that we will not only for you to wear but will sell you – because consumerism is good for the economy. Besides it says in the Bible you shalt not be bare-assed in the presence of the Lord.

There is a difference between isolation & neglect. Prisoners in solitaire know someone will be there daily to check on them daily. I’ve had friends who died alone in their apartments & their bodies weren’t found for weeks, months in one case & then only because the rent hadn’t been paid. No one missed them. That is a worse form abuse than solitary confinement. They, for whatever reasons, weren’t able to stay connected with the community around them because they were ‘difficult.’

One of the cunning tricks of isolation is that can become addictive, a way of disengaging from a world one isn’t comfortable with. Some prisoners deliberately ensure that they will be place in solitary to avoid having to cope with hostile environment of prison. 

This piece ends on an ambiguous note – who is that has to change? The person who doesn’t want to compromise or the culture that wants them to fit in.

 



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Nice Shoes

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Nice Shoes

1

I don’t compliment 

unless I mean it

a compliment is not flirting

a compliment is not a threat

a compliment is not a come on

is not another condescending 

patriarchal comment

based on cultural imposed definitions

of what is pretty 

handsome 

acceptable

2

I don’t compliment

it gets quickly misunderstood

misrepresented

one never knows

what damage the other person is carrying

sometimes nice smile

triggers the weight of history

nice hair

becomes inappropriate

3

I am leery of a compliment

it often has an agenda

of not-so-subtle manipulation

after all they like your poem

so it’s only fair

you read their unpublished manuscript

to decline turns the compliment

to a complaint

about some poets being

full of themselves

4

I’d rather be full of myself 

than build a sense of worth

on empty compliments

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