Headlights

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Headlights

the elevator door opened

there was a woman

alone

 

after a startled stare

she stepped back

to let me enter

 

I didn’t get on

I let the door shut

so she could continue

her ride alone

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Architectural un/Digest/able

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Architectural un/Digest/able

The White House

architecturally speaking

holds no interest for me

big sprawling 

designed to impress 

not to live in

history was made there

apparently

 

but to me

it isn’t even a photo op

merely a symbol 

of promises unkept

of hopes betrayed

needs ignored in favour of profit

not for progress

 

I’ve seen it from a distance

that’s close enough for me

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Heritage

Heritage

I have no heritage

only entitlement 

that tries to tell me

that to weave a life of meaning

it is okay

to appropriate anything 

that catches my eye

especially 

if it means nothing to me

it can give meaning to me

 

I’ll redefine my self

no – not redefine

because as it stands now

I have no meaning

no self

outside of a cultural context

of entitlement

which tells me that even because 

I am a nobody

it is better being

anything else

 

the music I listen to

the clothes I wear

reflect a world around me

I am merely walking though

other cultures

are like zoo exhibits 

art installations

to amuse me

to divert me

from the fact that

 

I have no heritage

no backstory of ancestral struggles

other than the banal

patriarchal war for control

money oil sex religion

chains to hold people down 

not to free them 

 

scraps of pasts

remains of genocidal cultures

omnipresent days

arbitrarily clumped together 

for momentary comfort

 

who cares about heritage

as long we are comfortable

Back in the mid-80’s I became involved with Therapeutic Touch (I still practice it). One of the teachers was a native woman who lead me into an exploration of native culture – drum circles, sweat lodges that sort of thing. Weekend Warriors was the term used for guys like me. I saw it as exploration of a culture, not as appropriation. I was given a name, a spirit animal – which I now see as appropriation.

When I told my Dad about this he sent me a beautiful, hand-carved talking stick one year, then another year he gave me a pipe. I read tons of stuff, as I usually do, then sort of lost interest as it became clear that many involved were ‘buying’ heritage & judging it by the amount of turquoise jewelry you had, or who lead your vision quest. I eventually gifted my talking stick & pipe to a native AA member who was stunned & thrilled to get them. 

This is some of the context for this piece prompted by one of the Rules for Monks – using these Rules as prompts isn’t, to me, appropriation as I am in not way interpreting them but letting them resonate in my life. I am no monk 🙂 The piece also bounces around some current buzz words: entitlement, appropriation.

What heritage I have – Swedish, Welsh – is interesting but not ‘exotic.’ I am certainly proud of being both but there are no black rappers exploring Swedish street culture. I was also thinking of that news item a few years ago about the white woman who was passing herself off as black, until her white parents spoke out. Her defence was that she saw herself as black so she was black (or something like that).

I saw that as a need to create definition though stealing another culture while denying one’s own. An action that she felt entitled to do & her response to challenges wasn’t apology but to write a book about being misunderstood. Not that this appropriation isn’t a two-way street: Asians neck deep in European luxury goods, getting their eyes surgically rounded. But that is another blog post 🙂

 

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The Echo

samprules2

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

The Echo

because I disagree

doesn’t mean you are wrong

 

seeing things differently

doesn’t mean I know better

our ideological differences

ultimately don’t mean anything

minority majority

there’s always a power disparity 

yet your control over me

is still limited 

I may not be in charge

but neither are you

as we are caught in this dance

of conformity

 

there are noisy 

spokespersons on all sides

who shout down each other

as to who is right wrong

when the loudest wins

its only the echo

of what could have been

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Underwear Changes

Change Nothing Changes

if nothing changes 

nothing changes

safe is secure

but it isn’t always productive

 

constructing a life

that is safe and secure

denies the power of insecurity

the energy of being unguarded

 

things work fine

leave them be

why replace what is still working

even for a newer faster model

with features I never needed

 

what will I do with the time I save

find more ways of being 

safe and secure

of not taking any creative chances

 

why change the scenery

what’s the point of a new shoes

when all the old ones

are perfectly fine

 

why moan about the lack of growth

when growth means being open to change

it’s as if

only the dramatic change

is worth seeking out

 

as if growth only comes from

the greatest pointless risk

that surviving danger

is the only catalyst for moving forward

 

though why move forward

when things are as good as they need to be

boredom contentment

complacency 

the new hair cut

the step away from all black

to blue and yellow

 

the opportunity to replace 

what works fine

is to be open

to what may work the same

yet move things forward

 

to allow change

let go of the comfortable

that defines one

step into uncertainly

with the certainty things will change

Declaimer: I do not impose sequence or time of posting to coordinate with the time of year so it is ‘coincidence’ that the forces lined this piece to come at this time of year 🙂 

As I’ve blogged before I believe gradual change works better than dramatic change – I also believe that ‘superficial’ physical change can lead to deeper emotional change. I have a female friend in recovery who loved a pair of glittery sandals that were always falling off when she walked. She complained of feeling emotionally unsure about certain things & I suggested she get real shoes so she could walk steadily. She looked at me as if I were crazy. I said if she could walk without fear of losing her shoes her emotional footing would also improve. She did & it worked.

Some of us are object hoarders, others are emotional hoarders, some are both 🙂 Giving up a sense of never being good enough is difficult in a culture where feeling good enough is seen as conceit, as arrogance. Inadequacy become comfortable and losing it means replacing it with a change attitude about the self. Would I rather stick to that familiar sense of self or let it go – who would I be then?

I remember watching Hoarders & saw people willing to change, who clearly needed to divest yet who balked at the work needed to do it – they were ‘happier’ in the womb of their stuff – they didn’t know who they would be without it. Sometime I felt ‘the helpers’ did too much, too fast for those ‘rescued’ to adjust to a new clearer reality. Plus relying on guilt & shame in the process is never productive.

In my life change is constant in small ways & sometimes in big ways. I replace perfectly good things – tee-shirts, underwear, socks, mugs, music taste, daily routines – in order to encourage forward motion. Going to Capturing Fire a few years ago was a big change – taking myself out of the comfort of the local poetry scene into a bigger one paid off creatively. It was a logical progression as result of my participation in Hot Damn!

Changing my underwear has also been an interesting process. I don’t mean changing it more often but ‘upgrading’ from the standard solid colour Stanfields/Hanes multipacks to patterns, styles, even fabrics changed my sexual sense of self from the unglamorous functional to a more fun & unexpected sexy secret self that has resulted in a fuller sex life & possibly an even more confident me on stage. 

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Mary Teresa

Mary Teresa

Mary Teresa said

I can’t play with you anymore

her mother came out

get out of our yard

you aren’t welcome here

her brother Gerald

pushed me to the gate

you heard my mother

get lost

 

Why

 

Gerald shoved me again

punched me in the face

stop that his mother shouted

but Gerald hit me again

I could taste blood

 

you trouble maker

his mother pulled him away

you people are always trouble makers

now get going

don’t come back

don’t speak to Mary Teresa again

you hear me

she said

 

Mary Teresa glared at me

from the top of the back steps

stuck her tongue out at me

 

I didn’t know what I had done

Mary Teresa was a year older than me

so I guess she was eleven

her bother maybe thirteen

they lived a block over from us

but neither went to my school

they had their own

Saint something or the other

where the Catholic kids went

I wasn’t Catholic

 

we had lived in the neighbourhood

for about a year now

I knew the different schools 

there was taunting and chasing

that I avoided

 

I didn’t understand how their God 

gave them the right to bully

told them who was good

who was bad

years later I still don’t

understand

Catholic Protestant whatever

caught in a match

of who’s piss is closest to the good book

 

I never did speak to Mary Teresa again

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Get Off The Pot

samprules2Get Off The Pot

there is a time & place

for everything

except this

because this a time for nothing

a time to do nothing

to save nothing

this isn’t that rainy day

this isn’t when

the cows come home

when the crows roost

so stop waiting

for those eggs to hatch

no matter what you have on your hands

this is not the time or place

to save stitches

to waste your breath

or make yet more excuses 

no more chances

there is no grace period 

its now or never

and either suits me fine

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Still Waiting For Godot’s Tip

Waiting For Godot’s Tip

 

some people

you know

expect to be thanked

just for sitting at a table

if you don’t say

thank you for eating here

thank you for looking at the menu

they start making demands

with their eyes

 

mind you

you know

they expect you to know

what they want

expect you to apologize

if the specials aren’t special enough

if you don’t

bring water fast enough

they are waving their hands

 

you know 

I do this for hours

keep track of every little motion

every wrinkle of the brow

to stay on top of their needs

to fulfill

because that is my job

that is the job of the world

to be constantly aware

and ready to happily fulfill

unspoken desires

all for lousy 10% tip

 

you know

most days it isn’t worth it

but it’s better than

starving 

right

 

then I think

this is the job of the world

to be constantly aware

and ready to cater

to the unspoken desires 

of those around us

particularly

when we don’t know

what we want ourselves

Back to the 224 Rules for Monks after the October boo break 🙂 The rule that prompted this one is about not being too pushy with someone who is supposed to supply you with something. As I often do I changed the point of view to someone upon who we often make demands – in this case waiters. Have you ever tried to catch the eye of a waiter expecting them to guess you wanted another glass of water?

The notion of waiters easily lead me to the title – a play on Waiting For Godot – a play in which the lead characters wait for this guy to show up and offer them some sort of salvation – spoiler alert: he never shows up. The tip is what is awaited here – the hope for something of size – our reward to them for being pleasant. 

I’ve seen customers take it out on waiters for things that aren’t the waiter’s fault. Waiters bring the food, they don’t cook it, they don’t plate it, they bring it and let you eat it. They don’t wash the dishes, the cutlery, or decide on the portion size of your drinks, the strength of the coffee, or even what tables are available. Trust me they’ve heard that joke (whatever one it is) hundreds of times.

In editing this for more than typos (I’m sure there’s at least one) I expanded it as I realized that in life we all serve someone – bosses, partners – we live in a world of unexpressed expectations & cultural conditioning. The tip we get is the other person’s approval. This construct is impossible to transcend without being a hermit. It ends with admitting that often we really don’t know what we want, merely what we think we want or what we’ve been taught we want. That’s what the ad industry is built on. We get sold the ‘smoke’ but end up getting the cancer.

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My Time

samprules2

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

My Time

I am a creature of routine

no matter how hot the guy

I am unavailable at certain times

often the only time they are free

which they take personally

even though all we know

about each other are profile pics

what we claim our likes are

 

they act as if my time boundary

is playing hard to get

or just playing them

a sign I’m not really interested

all I want is their desire

not their bodies

 

one guy said ‘if you’re going to be that way

good luck because you’ll need it’

as if my schedule 

was a character fault

one called me inflexible

though I had suggested other times

other days

his inflexibility was of no concern to him

whereas mine was arbitrary

whatever 

I have a life

I don’t set it aside for dick

or perhaps they see it

as control

that I am making it clear

I am the dominant, the top,

not some submissive bottom bitch

gaping eager for their randy visit

 

even I am

it’s still my time

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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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