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

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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

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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.

 



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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

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Myth of Democracy

Myth of Democracy

rules change

I get that

this is not a democracy

I get that

we can bite and complain

but no one has a choice

we can’t force rule makers

to unmake the rules

we can’t force rule followers

to stop following

rules they have no control over

 

what is enforced

is not by choice

but by the mandate of others

others whom

we have voted into power

to make rules

there is no even playing field

 

rules change

but usually not 

in the middle of a game

of a fight

we are responsible

for knowing what those rules are

for reading the fine print

for understanding the fine print
for being able to sense

what community standards are

even when we aren’t

a part of that community

if what is illegal there

is legal here

 

we can’t find balance

because

even to question their rules

is breaking their rules


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Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anything

why you are asking me

are you trying to make a fool of me

which by the way

isn’t that hard to do

 

so you didn’t have to put so much thought

into asking me anything

but first I need to know

why ask me

 

right that isn’t answering your question

so try someone else

or say what you mean

because you don’t want an answer do you

 

it doesn’t matter 

what answer I give

you are trying establish 

that I’m not as smart as I think I am

 

while I am willing to admit

I have no answer for you

for any question you might ask

so ask away

 

I’m listening


This piece is about the asking of questions. I see film stars interviewed about who is in running for office, yet never see politicians interviewed about who is in running for the Oscars. This reminds me of a commercial parody – “I am not a doctor, but I played one on TV, so I recommend ^^^ for you.”

 

I recall being interviewed, with a couple of other poets, on the radio. The host asked the others about their inspirations, aspirations & upcoming events. When the host got to me the questions were about my record collection. Apparently their interest in me a poet was non-existent. Oh right – the other poets had creative writing degrees too, so they were real poets.

 

This is also a variation on my theory people only ask what you think so they can tell you what they think. What you think is irrelevant to them. I’ve learned to say things like ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’ve never given that much thought.’ Both relatively harmless replies. I once did ask directly ‘What difference does it make to you what I think?’  They had no answer.

The ‘ask me anything’ also reflects a willingness of my part to share things about myself freely, if I think they are relevant. One my recent trip to Cape Breton I had a great conversation with my niece about the nature of novel plotting, publishing & satisfaction. She actually wanted to hear what I had to say & actually pushed me into more complex answers about the psychological drive for writing.

Once when I was in Indigo someone asked me where a certain section was. When I said I didn’t know they got a bit miffed that as an employee I didn’t know. I said that I was a shopper not a clerk. They muttered something about bad customer service & wandered off. Ironically it turned out I was in the section they were looking for. Why ask me?


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Running Out

Running Out

I was running out of excuses

no  not excuses 

I was running out of lies

it’s not easy being a nice guy

really

 

it’s a conundrum

when you have great sex

with a guy who isn’t your type

who says he had a great time

and wants to see you again

while you aren’t just that into him

if the sex were boring

it wouldn’t be so complicated 

so that’s when the lies start

busy

sister visiting

sore throat

 

why can’t he take a hint

why can’t I just say

I’m not that interested

there isn’t enough chemistry 

between us for me

it’s nothing personal

well I guess it is pretty personal

it is him you are saying no to

 

even after the second time

when I had run out of excuses

the sex was good

but good isn’t enough for me

I want to feel 

not necessarily an emotional connection

but something 

more than the need to make excuses


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Nothing Here

Dig Deep

there is nothing here

nor is there

anything beneath the surface 

at least 

not worth searching for

what you will find

is that time has been wasted

looking for nothing

let the surface

be sufficient

looking for more

will result in disappointment 

dissatisfaction

when you find

that what is hidden from you

is hidden from everyone

hidden as the surface

not as something beneath 

it has no depth of perception

there is no need to strive to understand 

because understanding

changes nothing

the surface remains unchanged

no matter what you hope

to find underneath it

Is there more to me than meets the eye? It depends on whose eye is doing the looking. My Dentist sees a very different me than the barista at my favorite coffee shop or someone hearing me on stage. Which of these in my authentic self? Or does it matter? 

This cultural need to understand often gets in the way of experience. If we understand the why of a random mass murderer will that change what has happened. Does understanding make our grief & anger unfair to the killer. After all he/she/they came from a dysfunctional home & deserve our sympathy not an irrational need for revenge. 

This piece is a variation on my own reaction to this sort of emotional logic. Often understanding leads back to the same ‘secret’. It’s a wonder people continue to have children with childhood trauma the cause of so much destruction. 

 

I heard an interview with a painter who was asked about a certain ocean view painting. The interviewer wanted to know what it meant. The painter said he liked the view. The interviewer went on to ask what did it symbolize to the painter. He said it symbolized a nice view. The interviewer was disappointed with such a simple answer. 

It also come from people’s need to understand poetry, to understand art. It’s hard to grasp that often all there is the sound – the play of colours, the bounce of words, the image the words create. I recall a conversation about Walt Whitman with some English Lit MBA who felt only someone with a degree would understand Whitman. Perhaps they were right but you know, without understanding Whitman I love some of his writing & how its influence still resonates in slam poets today who have never heard of him. The MBA understood so deeply they couldn’t enjoy slam poetry. Besides it’s not as if Whitman had a university degree in anything 🙂

The piece says “understanding/changes nothing.” In recovery if one waits to understand why they were a drunk/addict until the stop they’ll probably be dead before they even understand. I don’t fully understand electricity but I do know how to change a lights bulb. That’s deep enough for me 🙂

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The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep

the owner of the cafe

had called someone

an inappropriate name

it was a twitter thing

a video 

posted of the 

owner saying 

those offensive things

now no one can go

to the cafe

without being considered guilty

of saying those things themselves

 

now

to be honest

I haven’t heard

what the owner said

I haven’t watched the video

this is all the context I know

and now

I can’t even mention the name

of the cafe

I can’t even admit 

that I’ve been there

in the past

or let it be known

that I regret

that I can’t go to that cafe

ever again


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Discernment

Discernment

I don’t like everyone

or everything

but I no longer waste energy

demonstrating my dislike

at one time it was 

a sort of performance piece 

to prove how superior I was

to what I disliked

it gave me a sense of self

defined by those opinions

 

as I aged

I saw that it made life easier

to stop scattering my energy 

on what I disliked

or even specific people

and focus that energy on 

keeping my mouth shut

so that even when asked

what do I think of so-and-so

I’d resist going into the litany

of someone else’s foibles

I’d say they can be difficult

and let it go at that

 

besides

I have more productive things to do

than talk about 

the egotistical ways of others

let’s talk about me

for a change

This was partially prompted by a discussion I had with a friend about how our likes change without us being aware of it. His example was Jerry Lewis – an actor we both found hilarious at one time but now makes him cringe to the point he can’t watch Lewis in anything. So when TCM showed The Bellhop, & The Nutty Professor I pvr-ed them both. Five minutes of each was more than enough to give me cringe spasms.

As hard as it is to believe I was once a mouthy, opinionated prick – as they say the less I knew the more judgemental my remarks became. I lost one drinking friend over a difference of opinions about something neither of us really cared about. Being critical was a proof on intelligence, of discernment. It wasn’t enough to dislike something one had to dismember it verbally. If you hurt someone’s feelings in the process – such was life.

 

I want to say I out-grew Jerry Lewis but that implies that those who love him aren’t as sophisticated or as mature as I am. Not that I expect to have a discussion about him ever again anyway but … there are often opportunities for me to venture opinions on popular trends, political situations that I usually take a pass on. I don’t have opinions I only have smart-assed one-liners.

 

I can’t pretend to be non-judgemental. I choose not to hang out with recreational drug users – I get tired of repeating what i said five minutes ago while they repeat what they said ten minutes ago every ten minutes. I also know that my likes or dislikes are often irrelevant anyway. When someone asked what I think I know they only me to agree with them or want to tell me what they think.

I love the way this piece ends with ‘me’ taking on the role of the one who wants to be talked about – I am never the one who ‘can be difficult’ 🙂
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