The Beaches August 2021

From a morning excursion to The Beaches area here in Toronto, Queen East past Woodbine. Walked the boardwalk on an overcast cast morning – sadly the threat of thundershowers turned into another hot sunny day 😦 

stunning sky over the The Beaches
boardwalk was lined with painted rock – every rock matters
pleasure cruise on choppy waters
almost Cape Breton seashore
dino that didn’t escape la Beaches sand pit
wild for adventure
ARc de Blob in Kew Gardens
ARc de Blob in Kew Gardens
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Sneak Peek – May 2019

April recap:

April unexpectedly proved to a rather retrospective month for me. In looking for the print-out of the Armstrong family tree I came across a pile of poems written way back in the late 60’s, early 70’s. I though – Easter = resurrection. I culled some out and did a very light edit as I input them. By light I mean dispensing with punctuation, start of line capitals, made spelling & typo corrections.

My fan base continues expanded slowly but surely. WordPress is up to 316, Twitter sits at 217, & Tumblr is at 224. Coal Dusters continues to grow as I get nearer the end with 96,500 words posted so far, about 37,000 words to go. The clash between the striking miners & the militia has been great fun to expand. I’ll be doing more research when I visit Cape Breton in August that’ll make the final draft even better.

The other April highlight was finally getting new glasses. It’s been several years since I’ve had my eyes checked it was about time. My vision has improved with age ( much like my sex life). This time there was no resistance to visible bifocals – I tried the non-visible but the bi-area was too small for me. I like a larger bi, for some reason. Opted for real colour for the arms – something I’ve never done before. They are a strong yellow. 

Not much coming up in May though 😦 Going to Stratford Festival to see Henry VIII – a play I’ve never seen before. I’ve also booked a tour of the Festival costume department that morning. After the costume sale last year I wanted to see more of the warehouse. Tours have to be booked in advance & are limited to 30 people. Lots of photos should result 🙂

One thing I’m not looking forward to this month is missing Capturing Fire on May31/June1. Though if lotto max coughs up before then I’ll book an emergency get away 🙂


it doesn’t matter where I aim

I come back to earth

my arc cannot lift me 

far enough way 

to escape the greedy clutch of gravity

my aim is set beyond

the horizon

beyond belief

around the silent corners

that wait for all

no not even wait

waiting involves expectation 

of something arriving

they have no expectations

the earth is mere witness

no not even that involved

the earth doesn’t see

doesn’t feel

it remains constantly present 

regardless of what goes on around 


beneath its surface

no emotional investment 

in anything



how sweet to be a rock

a stone 

a boulder

being what one is regardless 

of what goes on around you

even the pulverizing machine

creates no fear

no perception

safe in stoney silence

blind self-contained

even when in a pile of other stones

absorbing the same heat

or frozen 

in the same icy rain

not struggling next to one another 

for warmth 

no complaining of being too close 


the arc of the tossed rock

as it sings though the air

can’t throw it high enough 

hard enough 

fast enough

for it to escape the law of gravity

it falls to the earth

as we all fall to the earth

our bones may break

our expectations 

higher than a stone can be aimed

when they return unfulfilled

we aren’t crushed

but continue to practice

how to survive rough landings

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 

writing blocks broken at Loyalist




the oar dipped into the water

black icy deep

the lake had no cold bottom

Dad once said, ‘If you fall in

you’ll end up in China.’

I believed him

I still do


the oar dipped into the water

the moonlight reflected


off the freshly wet oar

the new oar

the first time I had used it

the first time it had come to this lake

the first it felt the

lure of China


the canoe was my Dad’s

it was his Dad’s

or so he told me

I never meet his Dad

his dad had died before I was was born

his dad had died before he was born

a mistake he swore not to repeat

and he didn’t


there was a scratch inside the bow

he claimed to have made

trying to steel himself against the pull of a fish

a fish that was never seen

which pulled the canoe

‘Made it move like it had a motor’

there are no fish in the lake now

the only ripples come from my oar

as it dips into the moonlit water


I didn’t know about the lake till I was twelve

I knew Dad disappeared

for two or three weeks every summer

Mom said it was to go to his secret spot

to search for china

I expected him to bring home new cups and saucers

but he only had a few stinky fish


then came the summer he asked

‘Do you wanna look for china with me’

I said

‘Sure maybe I can find some for you’

later I realized China was a place

that the lake was a watery funnel

that could suck a little boy like me down

down down down

deep into the deepest black of it


the oar dipped into the water

I was rowing across to the island

I glanced up quickly

to see the quarter moon

high above me

to see the island still in the straight line

I was trying to move in

the straight that I rarely walked

this was the only line between my dad and me

the last connection

our lake

his island

the canoe of my grandfather


this was all that joined us together now

the one summer I tied and then untied

the straight line

the summer my dad saw

I wasn’t the son of his dreams

not the brave little forester

he never was himself

but hoped that I would instantly turn into


I was afraid of the water

I didn’t like the lantern light

it made the playing cards look yellow

turned them into spooky kings and queen

the rules changed as quickly as I learned them


‘You enjoying this’ he asked

his breath a mist in the sunrise

‘Yes’ I answered quickly

‘Liar’ he gave me a small shove

‘you hate this

I can tell you’d rather be

back in your little room at home’

‘So would you’ I blurted back


I darted from him and into the woods

not that there was much more than

scrub around the tiny cabin

but I needed to be away from him

from his fatherliness

that turned my love into fear

that made me lie for a moment


I didn’t know how to please him

I didn’t hate it here

but it didn’t fill me

the way it seemed to fill him

I knew if I told him

he’d not be happy

if I lied he wasn’t going be happy either


when I came out of the brush

he was in the canoe

half way out in the lake

the oar dipped into the water

black icy deep

I waved

he didn’t turn

I called out

he didn’t turn

the oar dipped into the water

black icy deep


now these years later

I have my own oar

I paddle the canoe and stop

half way between the shore

and the island

I peer into the water

looking for China

looking for my Dad


here was were his canoe tipped

that day

as he turned to silence my screams

for him to come back

the canoe tipped and he fell

here the lake was a watery funnel

that sucked a little boy like him down

down down down

deep into the deepest black of it


I know the lie that drowned him

wasn’t mine but his






China was an early ‘hit’ for me. It has a strong narrative line, a strong keel of emotional truth as well, but the events are fiction. Every son (I can’t speak for daughters) dreams of killing their fathers. The need for approval was always the subtext of my growing up – but my need wasn’t always reflected in behaviour designed to get that approval.

Much like the me in this piece I did things with my Dad – fishing, camping that I never fully enjoyed & never felt accomplished in when I did do them. I could feel his sense of disappointment in not fulfilling his dreams of that a son should be, of what a boy should be.


I was also pushing myself to work with iconic Canadian images – canoes, moonlight on lakes, island retreats from reality. I can’t count the number of Canadian novels I’ve read in which the main character goes into the wilderness to make deep self-realizations about themselves. All I’ve realized in the wildernesses is that bugs are annoying. And shitting in the woods is uncomfortable.

That lack of empathy for wilderness comes through here I think – a sense if I don’t find that deep self-realization thanks to nature I’m somehow lacking in authenticity. My hero does have some realizations but in hindsight.

My relationship with my Dad wasn’t as fraught with the same expectations. The moments of my realizing I wouldn’t/could’t/didn’t intend live up to his dreams weren’t as dramatic. But like my hero here, I know what separated us wasn’t entirely my fault. I don’t think there was lie between us but a set of cultural expectations I balked at.snowlamp03

I haven’t performed this piece in some time mainly because the emotional quality is so charged, so authentic that people believe that it actually happened. They ask what lake this was, they offer sympathy for the death of my Dad. As much as I’m gratified this piece works so well I’m dismayed at their dismay it isn’t true.soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

November 18, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9




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