Enough 6 and 7

We live in a culture in which ‘enough’ means settling for less than we want. To say one has had enough is a sign of giving up striving for a higher standard of living. Our economy is built on disposability not quality. Even if it is durable it’s time for a newer improved version. Upgrade or be left in the digital dust. Our Mac upgrades so often I don’t even know what it does anymore beyond the basic functions I use it for.

Yet even with all those improvements it still doesn’t do what I want it to: convert pages to mobi. Unlike my character ‘defects’ in which procrastination have been converted to patience. It becomes difficult to balance that trade off – wanting to comfortable with self as it is yet letting it mature into the improved version.

How can you love yourself as you are while constantly striving to improve that self? I’ve never met a cismale who had enough sex – if one-on-one is great a threesome would be even better. So that inner need for more, that cultural pressure to get better & more expensive makes balance difficult.

 

Where does that leave me as I continue to work through 6 and 7 – essentially striving for patient improvement. Persistence is the key for me. Dramatic change is possible but one of my shortcomings that has diminished is the need for melodrama – I rarely mistake emotionalism for true feeling – that’s an improvement. One that slows me down enough to enjoy the endless process.

How I Learned to Play With Boys

in my village

I didn’t do boy things well

shoving maple trees in the canal

breaking cathedral windows

flinging smelt guts at high schoolers

and running away

so I played with the girls

enacting family dynamics by

pulling clothes on off pink plastic dolls

that had sharp little fingers   pointy toes

 

when I tried to do boys things

the boys were disgusted

one day after choir practice

they dragged me into the Whistling Wood

to a grove piled high with moose skat

they pelted me with the shit

laughed and taunted

“how do you like that dolly fingers”

 

I kept my eyes closed my mouth shut

as they covered me from head to foot

then they ran away

the shit was thick like elephant hide

I scraped my hands on the nearest tree

I could tell by the bark it was oak

afraid to open my eyes

I walked stiff legged    hands grasping

till I came across a beech tree

I knew I was closer to the place

where the woman washed the clothes

next I found a maple tree

as I groped through Whistling Wood

the birch the alder the willow

each brought me closer to the stream

I plunged in

it was cold

the moose dung was so toxic

smelt floated dead to the surface

I scrubbed and I scrubbed

till my skin was red rough and raw

my hair went from black to blond

the pond went from clear blue water

to a brackish tar pond

 

it was never the same again

I emerged clean

shivering and naked

I darted from rose bush to lilac tree

till I was my home

 

at school the next day

the boys were afraid

I would tell what had happened

I said nothing

and started to play with them again

I used what I had learned from the girls

how easy it was to undress boys

to take off their clothes

unlike dolls their limbs were flexible

and that’s how I learned to play with boys

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kiss3on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

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August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already

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September: TBA

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1504753909765085/

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

http://nanowrimo.org/

June 8-9 attending: Capturing Fire 2018

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

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Chalk Outline

In a recent Disability After Dark Andrew Gurza talks about his teen years, which brought me back to my own fear-filled teens. We’re from different generations, and vastly different social contexts but the awkwardness of being a gay teen is remarkably similar. I’ve also been saddened, to put it mildly, by the suicide of Tyron Unsworth – a 13 year old gay boy who opted for death rather than face the bullying he constantly experienced.school

His school said they had no idea this was going on & that if they had been told they would have intervined. The fact that when his older bother did complain about his particular bullying he was told to act more like other kids & to toughen up. Thus blaming the victim. Why would Tyron expect anything different in his case?

bluechalk02I experienced frequent verbal & physical bullying until I left Sydney – Cape Breton. I was also told to act more like other kids & to toughen up. Never was there a sense that those bullying kids were in the wrong – that if I opted to be ‘other’ then I had to pay this price for my disgusting depraved sexuality.

You know, at thirteen I had no idea of what to do, no role models to call on. One friend offered to teach me how to walk more like a man. Ironically the people who said I should be more like others became critical because I wasn’t thinking for myself.

I did entertain thoughts of suicide. I opted for the longer, more painful method of alcoholism that started in my late-teens. That & being as invisible as I could, which clearly didn’t work. I can remember one day at my job, which involved dealing with the public, some guy said ‘lets ask the faggot.’ Defend myself? Against the truth.

desk02The few times in school when I got into physical altercations the aggressor had four or five buddies cheering him on. So not only was I a faggot but I was also a coward. The downward spiral.

Andrew has had people tell him they are amazed that he’s alive – meaning ‘why didn’t you off yourself.’ As if the normal solution to his limitations was death. He dug in his heels with a stubborn fuck you (hand me the lube) stance. I survived because living well is the best revenge.books

Tyron Unsworth didn’t survive. How much emotional fortitude is a 13 year old expected to have? Why did he have to learn to defend himself in the first place? Gay marriage hasn’t caused gay teen suicide to decline but has given some the opportunity blame a victim – after look what we’ve permitted for you. I never wanted marriage when I was a teen – I wanted respect.

27stairs06

 

The poem 12 griefs in Venus Selenite’s book Trigger starts on ‘the first day of Christmas my oppressor gave to me a chalkline on my sidewalk’  the subtext being-  this chalkline could have been her’s & she’s glad it isn’t. Tyron’s suicide is a chalkline that could have been mine and my grief will not remove it from around him.

 

school

Home (not of the brave)

 

he lived across the street from us

mornings I’d peek from the front door

till he had left for school

then I’d sneak along the maple trees

make my way down the hill to class

most days I’d avoid him   his gang

sometimes I couldn’t and would come home

with a bloodied nose   bruises

that disappointed my dad

who didn’t understand

why I couldn’t stand up for myself

after school when I was in sight of home

I’d run like hell to the front door

where I’d be safe but not secure

 

Hot Damn! Exit Strategies

pinksnow01The December edition of Hot Damn! at Buddies in Bad Times, didn’t waste time with chimneys or stockings before it got directly down to the naughty and nice with Charlie Petch hosting a slam of writers who were anything but sugar plums – though some were fairies (& damn proud of it). By the end of the night it was Bop Dionne Samuels The Bird of Paradise Paradise who proved to be fairyest of them all 🙂

The Hot Damn!’s December brought fine open mic-ers & eager slammers to the Buddies cabaret stage. First up was Kyle Andrews who read from his piece in the anthology Making Out Like A Virgin. The book collects writing by survivors of childhood sexual abuse – true stories of how they have healed and moved forward. A powerful, but not heavy-handed, collection of hope and purpose everyone should read.pinksnow02

From the first round slam: if there is no such thing as the passage of time, rocks the shape of every one of our disappointments, my voice is running out of steam, I come out to people but it doesn’t get easier, all of the people were white … all the food was banal … mistaking my kindness for interest, I don’t ask those questions back, you can’t promise not to hurt me by accident, teach me the words of my next poem, you expect me to take all the risks, kicking people out will be his first priority, have a moment of silence for that lesbianna … make a sandwich for that lesbianna … she is hungry’

ribbonFeature Thepoet Mona  returning to Toronto from Winnipeg, gave a well-constructed set of personal pieces about relationships, race, politics, family and self-awareness. She was accompanied at time by Daniel (with a fine moustache) on guitar. ‘red wine whispers a planned whisky escape, I am built of exit strategies, seeking penance and permission, it hurts me now but it was right to leave, that’s sounds like a bad idea – what time?, (about Trump) racist America was already her y’all, my skin tone is a narrative I don’t understand, sometimes getting out of bed is a political statement’

snowribbonSomehow my notes for the last set of open stagers & the round 2 of slam disappeared 😦 Someone not wanting to be quoted? So I have no lines from it to share with you. I make notes of lines as I listen, using one side of the page, so maybe someone needed a blank side of a page & mistaking my hen scrawl for scrap paper took it for their own vital work.

Six strong poets performed in the slam. Funny. emotional, challenging and in some cases rambling. A couple of them lost points for going over the slam time limit. As host Charlie Petch reminds us we applaud the poet not the points but when one of the points of slamming is to discipline the imagination to a structure poets suffer for flaunting the rules. Save the full version for your feature 🙂

Hot Damn! will be spreading the queer gospel to Peterborough in January, then Hamilton in February  before returning to Buddies on March 1.

sample I read Venus Selenite’s 12 griefs on the open stage. It’s from her book Trigger. I changed one line in the final iteration of the 12 days to read the chalk outline of a thirteen-year old on my sidewalk. News of the suicide of a Tyrone Unsworth bullied for being gay brought me memories of my troubled thirteen-year self.

While Enjoying A Grape Popsicle

‘it’s the sookie

the gutless wonder – get him’

three pairs of feet rushed me

Dave Parsons, his brother Stinky

and kid sister Mag

with a bruise on her arm

Dave a year older than me

Vic in my class at school

at 12 I knew what helpless meant

there was no way out

sometimes they were suddenly there

shoving and pushing me

‘yah yellow crybaby’

Dave had me in a head lock

handed my Popsicle to Mag

‘can’t even fight a girl’

he pushed me at Mag

she hit me in the face

‘go on – you useless gutless wonder’

she hit me again

I tried to stop her third smack

the others piled on me

‘hit her would you – we’ll teach you’

kicking shoving me to the ground

I tried to stop crying

‘sookie baby you tell

and we’ll say you did that bruise to Mag’

looking back

I can place these kids

in small town unhappy drunken homes

where Dave learned

words like ‘gutless wonder’

booze-hound Dad working mother

older brothers in and out of jail

acting out as they were acted upon

abuse that I didn’t experience in my home

which doesn’t change the fact

I didn’t know how to protect myself

I believed that I was gutless

my useless word against theirs

Dave broke an arm rolling a stolen car

Stinky got busted for dealing

Mag had her first kid at 16

I suppose they suffered for their actions

yet even as I put them

in this sociological context

I still wish I had the power then

to beat them

weeping for me to quit it

as I eat my grape Popsicle

and piss

on their bruised

powerless

facessoon1

14257567_1162384753819933_3271661288579707843_o
on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

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http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

6DC0301

Early 2017:

my first local feature in over a year: location date TBA

it came in

April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm startgames

http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –

newcap

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

August 31-Sept.3

fec17-header

https://www.facebook.com/events/526940540845331/

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

http://nanowrimo.org/

money

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblrsnowsho

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Grape Popsicle

school

While Enjoying A Grape Popsicle

‘it’s the sookie

the gutless wonder – get him’

three pairs of feet rushed me

Dave Parsons, his brother Stinky

and kid sister Mag

with a bruise on her arm

Dave a year older than me

Vic in my class at school

at 12 I knew what helpless meant

there was no way out

sometimes they were suddenly there

shoving and pushing me

‘yah yellow crybaby’

Dave had me in a head lock

handed my Popsicle to Mag

‘can’t even fight a girl’

he pushed me at Mag

she hit me in the face

‘go on – you useless gutless wonder’

she hit me again

I tried to stop her third smack

the others piled on me

‘hit her would you – we’ll teach you’

kicking shoving me to the ground

I tried to stop crying

‘sookie baby you tell

and we’ll say you did that bruise to Mag’

looking back

I can place these kids

in small town unhappy drunken homes

where Dave learned

words like ‘gutless wonder’

booze-hound Dad working mother

older brothers in and out of jail

acting out as they were acted upon

abuse that I didn’t experience in my home

which doesn’t change the fact

I didn’t know how to protect myself

I believed that I was gutless

my useless word against theirs

Dave broke an arm rolling a stolen car

Stinky got busted for dealing

Mag had her first kid at 16

I suppose they suffered for their actions

yet even as I put them

in this sociological context

I still wish I had the power then

to beat them

weeping for me to quit it

as I eat my grape Popsicle

and piss

on their bruised

powerless

faces

tossed03 anything your size here?

This particular incident didn’t happen, the names are made up, the kids are real, the family relationship is made up, what happened to these kids as adults is real. I did experience this sort of bullying – the emotional use of a boy younger than me to edge me into a fight then getting pushed around for daring to hit someone younger than me.

tossed02 dump truck dumped

The name calling happened, not always with this level of physical threat – but it left me feeling unprotected, unsupported & vulnerable – which lead me to believe they were right I was gutless, a coward who didn’t want to face anyone fists to defend myself against being whatever it was I had to defend myself for being – sometimes merely for being there, walking down the street.

I recall a few times going to my Dad about it and he told me to walk away from it, to remember that sometimes these kids didn’t have it as well off as I did. I have piece where he tells me to learn to defend myself, which didn’t do anything for my fears. Like most kids I think I wanted rescue from something I didn’t cause, not being told, indirectly, that it was my own fault for not being able to beat them up.

tossed01 need a new bedspread?

The hindsight ‘context’ didn’t come till I was writing the piece, maybe that realization came first, I don’t know, but as I say, the realization that they were as victimized by their context as I was by them doesn’t make it any easier to get through.

ufo they’re here for you

How I Learned to Play With Boys

samples

How I Learned to Play With Boys

in my village

I didn’t do boy things well

shoving maple trees in the canal

breaking cathedral windows

flinging smelt guts at high schoolers

and running away

so I played with the girls

enacting family dynamics by

pulling clothes on off pink plastic dolls

that had sharp little fingers   pointy toes

when I tried to do boys things

the boys were disgusted

one day after choir practice

they dragged me into the Whistling Wood

to a grove piled high with moose skat

they pelted me with the shit

laughed and taunted

“how do you like that dolly fingers”

I kept my eyes closed my mouth shut

as they covered me from head to foot

then they ran away

the shit was thick like elephant hide

I scraped my hands on the nearest tree

I could tell by the bark it was oak

afraid to open my eyes

I walked stiff legged    hands grasping

till I came across a beech tree

I knew I was closer to the place

where the woman washed the clothes

next I found a maple tree

as I groped through Whistling Wood

the birch the alder the willow

each brought me closer to the stream

I plunged in

it was cold

the moose dung was so toxic

smelt floated dead to the surface

I scrubbed and I scrubbed

till my skin was red rough and raw

my hair went from black to blond

the pond went from clear blue water

to a brackish tar pond

it was never the same again

I emerged clean

shivering and naked

I darted from rose bush to lilac tree

till I was my home

at school the next day

the boys were afraid

I would tell what had happened

I said nothing

and started to play with them again

I used what I had learned from the girls

how easy it was to undress boys

to take off their clothes

unlike dolls their limbs were flexible

and that’s how I learned to play with boys

roof power animal nap

This is one, of a over two dozen, in a series of poems ‘Mythological Childhood.’ I wrote & continued to write these as a result of reading Lewis Hyde’s ‘Trickster Makes This World’ (highly recommended). Which, as the title suggests, looks at mythology & creativity.

stuffed never melting idol

It spurred me to look at my past as a teaching tool, to allow it to morph from what really happened – in this case to being bullied, playing with dolls – into some more fantastic. At the same time I found elements that become repeated through the series – such as the moose, trees, the choir, the Whistling Woods.

I tried to create a sense of east coast place without being specific to any region. There are references to actual sites: Sydney, where I grew up, was ‘home’ to a toxic tar pond, eventually turned into a shopping mall (but that’s another story). The reclamation of the toxic land became an industry unto itself over the years.

birds guardian spirits

As the series expands it’s clear we’re on an island. The trickster often represents a sense of otherness that disrupts the ordinary flow of things & attempts to move things to his greatest benefit. I say ‘he’ because in most myth systems the tricker is usually a he who transforms at times to a she. Not that I’ve ever want that transformation but it is one of the prevalent myths about queers – we want to be the opposite sex.

birds

spirit guardians