Distant Bones

Skin & Bones

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1

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taken for granted

all things fall

in place or out

but they fall

all the same

stumbling slowly through thick sunshine air

sky blue like an Egyptian ceiling painting

of a smiling, dying bull-crocodile god

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trying to retain

some simplicity 

of lines

in words or out

I fall

all the same

into more intensely abrasive catacomb

descriptions of finely stretched skin

over the most delicately carved bones

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skin & bones

all one owns

to to the best

we can

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skin & bones

skin & bones

plain folk homes

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2

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beating & tearing

at sound-blistered ears

hunting & hiding

from forest fire fears;

confused by understanding

mother figures teaching fingers

how to phone home

every time that feeling

of being lost creeps in

to sooth these tired ears

that cannot bear to hear

of home or phones

rattling up & down

this old box of

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skin & bones

all one owns

to to the best

we can

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skin & bones

skin & bones

plain folk homes

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May 73

Another piece built on repetition, structure, & conflicting sensations  – ‘abrasive’ ‘finely’. Echoes with no source or resolution. Verses start simple then stumble into complex syllables, allusions & confusing images so that ‘simplicity’ becomes ‘complexity’ so rapidly one never fully grasps the simple – it gets yanked out of your hands.

I was, still am, fascinating by the Egypt of the Kush. I watch endless documentaries on royal tombs, mummies, lost cities. On the east coast I read books on the Egyptian pantheon of god & goddesses. The story of Osiris was as compelling as the Christian beliefs that over-turned them. Sobek is the crocodile god, while Apis is the bull god. Why I put them together is lost to my memory 🙂

The chorus is a return to the simple. ‘catacomb’ contrasts with ‘plain folks homes.’ Also the realization that mummies, regardless of who they were, how old they were, how desiccated they were, they are still skin & bones. The same skin & bones we have today. The human body hasn’t undone any major structural change in the recorded history of mankind.

The second section steps away from simple to embrace busy images that flow in a dream like logic – blistered ears, to forest fires. Music has always played a big part in my life – I can remember coming back from hearing a live band with sound-blistered ears. As a drunk I sometimes suffered from telephonites –  calling friends to maintain, create some contact, context – that I may have found but never really felt. In the end I was doing the best I could to feel at home in my own skin & bones.

royal burial chamber relics?

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Coda

Song With Coda

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Song

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our voices

heard as echoes

over the windless

barren planes of speech

hope

someday to find

the end of the sentence

before they die

of no one to listen

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our eyes

seen as mirrors

reflecting dust

images of past mistakes

hope

someday to find

the quiet surface

before they are blinded

by no one to see

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our hands

used as tools

to wander aimlessly

over face & thighs

hope

some day to find

some other warm body

before they wither

from no one to touch

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our emotions

felt as fears

repressing old guilts

in search of absolution

hope

someday to find

the final tenderness

before they smother

from no way to express

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Coda

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even 

as my voice cracks from calling

hands bleed from grabbing at straws

eyes are blinded in the search

emotions are blocked by futility

I will cry out

reach out

search out

forever

until I find a way of touching you

<>

Jan69

This is one of the earliest pieces in the collection & as such is the most revealing of young-man excess & emotional melodrama. Nicely over-written with more force than I possibly felt at the time. It’s difficult for me to see any specific influence beyond nameless prog-rock lyricists. It makes me think of the dance pose of reaching out to some imagined horizon for the unobtainable. Sound & fury signifying the need to impress readers with the use of language 🙂

I wanted to write a poem that would make someone fall in love with me. I wrote many variations with this subtext in mind, which knowing it was an impossibility. Language can lead to connection but isn’t a magic spell.

It is another of my imposed structure pieces ‘our noun verb noun etc’ that gives each verse a pattern of theme & variation. The theme being the search for something or someone & the inner obstacles that have to be dealt with to find it. Reading it now I cannot say what the object was then – other than sounding deep & philosophic about the plight of the love lorn. Another of the closet subtext pieces where gender is avoided.

It reflects my fears of ‘no one’ because at that time there was no person who was the focus of my affections. I had lusts, longings for some but the urge was physical not emotional. Then I still believed a relationship was the way to fulfillment. Today I know relationships can be fulfilling but real fulfillment is a spiritual journey 🙂

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Harp

Wind Harp

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Night, gripping the stars,

tightly clutching the moon,

could only hold my glance briefly;

I knew it too well

one look brought back everything

too many jumbles of clustered sky

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so I was thinking of you,

my eyes closed,

blinking open for safety,

fast snatches of night, feeling the wind on my face,

hearing the tumbling leaves

prepare of the shock of rain

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I almost called your name;

funny,

me alone there in the night

calling to unhearing ears

instead of being home safe

out of the impending storm

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funnier still,

it never rained;

I waited, longing for it,

but, well, it never rain;

which was why

at five-thirty in the wind

I found myself asleep

with your name in my dreams

flashing in a torrent downstream

with a mile or so ahead

to leave your name behind

humming as blue

as the red morning air

Ah the pain of the dream of unrequited love. I had crushes but no real emotional involvements on the East Coast so perhaps the ‘you’ I was thinking of in this piece was not a person but the opportunity to be fully out. An opportunity like the impending storm that never materialized.

I enjoy the deliberate play of words that reflects struggle: gripping, clutching, tumbling, torrent. Clutching also implying ‘clutching at straws’ – the striving for unsubstantial, unattainable goals. The moon is always out of reach 🙂 

A wind harp (an Aeolian harp) is a real instrument. Often on top of a hill where it can be played by the wind. Sometimes a natural phenomenon created by trees growing in the right spot. Often man-made out of metal of different thickness, set at different angles to carve notes out of the wind. Ethereal. Great fun in cemeteries 🙂 I have a recording of Jan Garabek using a wind harp as part of a sonic texture. 

I like the ambiguity near the end – ‘found myself asleep’ – is the poem a dream of that windy hill or did I fall asleep on that windy hill waiting for rain that never came? I’ve also learned to ‘nail the landing’ by this point as that ending is perfect – unexpected & satisfying. The hum of the wind harp bounces the colours into a strange harmony.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Tartan

Tartan Africa

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1 – Africa

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Africa genesis

so far from the Louvre

Africa Baroque

in thick damp brown earth

Sahara sands

drums rain jungle

lion black man

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mother mother

I’ve wandered so far from home

this time & every time

the gate was left open

building destroying
enjoying

finding myself so far

from so many old home weeks

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I would make Africa my home

take her

lover her forever

in torrential river beds

waterfalls
endless grassy antelope zebra plains

waterholes

birthplaces

leopard spots tiger stripes

so far from snow

so close to my pillow

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2 – Never Never Land

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it would be too hot

it would rain too much

I’d never understand their customs

never ride a camel

never drink the water

never touch their women

never sleep in their huts;

I could never do much

except this sitting,

smiling, laughing, drinking

reaching to touch

with pocketed hands

never never never never

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even in the darkest sky

there is al least one star

I wonder where you are

I wonder who you are

Tribale twinkle

in the Paris night

by there tower;

could I reach out

could I touch you?

the Tower is too high

I am too weary

cheery

lilting

song birds in a thousand cages

on a dusty side street

in an Arab bazaar,

singing to be bought

but not set free;

never could survive

for being trapped so long

they have no instincts left

death would be their survival

if I bought them all

to set them free

so I won’t

besides I don’t have enough money

it would take too long

to open every cage

it would never work

never never never never

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3 – Tartan

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tartan country

Gaelic

coal mines

crying masladh

dieing dean bacach

sifting sandily

the rust dust air

struggle bosdail

while clinging to the seachad

the good old days

clans

Royalists

fortresses

Metrople la France

too bad it can’t be ended

too good to be believed

so much calmer than the mainland pace

creaking down hill it seems

if you read it in their papers

if you believe in their bad dreams

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time is slowly changing

in the land of endless hills

twisting Cabot Trails

sunset autumn trees

that even when you go

it has you coming back

for final peace

on its unpaved roads

shady Sugar Loaf’s

falling away now

to the unhaltable

eating up of everything

by prosperity 

with its more more more

high-rise hotels & all

but kill ‘er gently b’ys

‘cause ‘er kids are tough 

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4 – Africa Too

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Africa mother

I know you are so close

I sense your warmth

yet cannot touch you

the stars are hidden

by cotton candy-clouds

drifting too slowly

monkeys screaming

elephants trumpeting

rhinos charging

through the dusky morning mists

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none of its is really there now;

in Africa, I mean.

the wild is in parks;

houses is rows

schools

doctors

I Love Lucy

in the Heart of the Darkest Continent

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it would do no good

to shut the gate

I would only climb the fence

or push it down;

running scared, down the street,

away from revenge

crawling back at night for safety

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Ahhh Africa,

the oldness of Egypt

growing up 

into snotty street punks

makes me want to cry

to die to

keep the rich raw earth

feelings in my mouth

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5 – Tartan Fading

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when I try to speak

of this Smokey Island

I cannot find

the right combination

of tartan cobwebs

to spin into a picture

of coal-dust steel-plant flower beds,

growing the heather of tarns;

the ice winter of dreams

the laughter of the people

moving & flowing alive

in the salt smell of coal sea air

<>

Jan.Feb/Mar73

Over time I’ve come to see this as one of the ‘better’ pieces in the chapbook. It reveals more about growing up Cape Breton than any of the others. Even with the abstract moments it is a good snap shot of my sense of displacement as I search for a sense of safe haven.

It opens with any array of African clichés – a distant place I knew very little about & much of that thanks to Tarzan & similar safari movies populated with fully dressed white dudes & a panoply of half-naked black men. It is a dream retreat in this first section.

It is not so dreamy in the second part with my list of realistic drawbacks. I’m also caught by the distance of that Paris escape, another place far from me, from my artistic longings. Like birds caged so long the freedom of Africa would kill me? The closest I ever got to that wild was already in cages.

The third section drops us into Cape Breton with another list of cliches with a decent dash of Gaelic. The economy there was becoming unstable with long-time major industries struggling in the world market. Tourism was always strong there & was to become even more important so the twisting Cabot Trail was no longer for the locals 🙂 There was an exodus of generations who had family ties & nostalgic roots that kept pulling them back.

Four takes me back to Africa where like Cape Breton tourist dollars, exploiters needs were controlling the continent. The ancient history seemed to be confined to Egypt as seeing though colonist exploiter’s eyes. Even today I see documentaries where talking heads are astonished that such primitive tribe could produce such fine artifacts -ahem – maybe they weren’t so primitive.

I had seen on TV around that time, early 70’s, that I Love Lucy reruns were the most popular TV show in the world, that she was watched in every country. They showed glimpses of her being watch by natives in huts in Africa. I was watching Lucy in Cape Breton – she represented an American culture that was not mine or theirs. So where does our cultural sense of self come from, when what is under our feet gets co-opted by a materialistic monolith without us even being aware of it.

In the end I am left with a wistful nostalgia for Cape Breton – which isn’t where I was born, but Manitoba where I was born has no resonance. I was a man searching for more than a sense of heritage, more than the concept of home but for a sense of safe haven.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Black Flies

Black Flies

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expectations

reduced

to chance encounters

stories to share

suffering to compare

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mysteries 

unfold

careful scarfs

spare realizations

fleshy destinations

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darting black flies

looking for blood

Jun 76

I remember writing this piece during one of the summer workshops at the University of New Brunswick. It was after the first night there & having met the other writers for drinks, chit-chat & introductions outside of the classroom setting. I think it was around a bonfire or perhaps in the common room of the residence.

Once the usual get-to-know-you information was exchanged – hometown, writing experience etc we moved to more personal stuff mainly bad experiences. Surgeries that went wrong, partners who betrayed etc. I didn’t really have much to contribute about tribulations & as the tribulations escalated it became a contest of who suffered & survived the worst. You had a ovarian cyst , well I had cancer of the brain – top that!

It’s like The Dance of the Seven Veils where we are selective about what gets revealed & never reveal how many veils there actually are. People bonded over shared, similar, unpleasant experiences. At that time I had had no major surgeries, no criminal assaults, no car accidents, no relationships, no children – I was not all that interesting until the workshop really got going & my insightful, no-holds-barred self was revealed.

This shared-disaster pattern is one I’ve seen repeated often over the years I’ve taken workshops, participated in consumer panels, participated in pharmaceutical drug research studies. Strangers quickly bond over shared experiences & if you don’t share you are left on your own, most of the time. Which allows me to focus on why I am there in the first – which isn’t to be liked but to learn. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Healing

Trigonometry of Healing

1

started this morning;

no, maybe last night,

my memory fails easily

when it comes to this

growing of the seed;

its sprout stabbing me,

who, happily, being blind

didn’t begin to feel

the long planted germs;

never suspected

till the first bloom

of nightmare strangulation

the loss of a limb

a belief

can be a shattering time;

so while waiting

for the pieces

flying off the handle

to smash against the wall

I raged

as the needlessness of it all

I’ve been longing

for a knife across the face,

now, suddenly here it is.

my very wish come true

watch your wishes well

for any one might come true

2

a factory of timid death

sends tip-toeing whisperers 

to my heaving bed,

like me, that think

that I am aware

of how there is

an end of sorts

to the longness

of this road

blood & veins

muscle & organs

skin & bones;

cogs in a tired carriage 

hurtling over a cliff

I am aware

if the time it takes

to devise confusion,

to separate give from take –

give me

take me

one is for sale

the other is for free

3

how to take the poison out

without amputating the limb

has become more of a problem

than the vile poison itself

still, there is no use

in calling for a doctor,

for even if he came

the limb would be in hiding;

as it keeps in hiding from me

the reasoning of the poisoners

4

found straw in my pocket,

it’s been a long time 

since anyone’s been that close;

I get the feeling

that I’m catching up

with my primitive sacrifices,

revelling in my artifices

where pagan dancers

celebrate being outside

the ruins of my past,

as pipers play blue tunes

I rolled about

in flesh-cut wheat

stuffing my pockets

with broken glass;

till it was late night

when the gleaming bastard’s song

hung hateful in the air

steaming in the lamplight;

“make another mistake,”

his choking voice sang

“the time is ripe

your grass is green”

5

taking the potency of fear

from their talk of forward

I think of backward suicide;

scarfing attention for silence

feeling silent containment

makes deeper wounds 

in the palms of my hands

which is better

their small circles

or my brutal ending?

6

now that I’ve invented

a balance for the mastery

of give & take;

I wonder how much it takes

to sooth the pain it gives

to mop the butcher’s floor?

cut out my heart!

cut out my eyes!

package them in plastic;

make the product pure

make the crying laugh

make the sun moon;

I am for sale!

buy me

buy me

abuse me

use me

try me

please don’t turn your back,

for I’ll slip away,

which is the lasting I want

7

slashing once,

down my chest

then again

across my ribs;

leaving a bleeding crucifix

exasperated with

nervous expectations

of the next snail slow blow

what next?

neck?

genitals?

his halting

bumblings

scalpel dropping

make me want to grab the knife

and direct the blade more correctly,

smooth over these jagged ends,

fold the skin over the stumps

so healing leaves neat scars

in obtuse triangles & stars 

where my feet done dangled

where my hands once clapped

he doesn’t want my advice

for he cuts by proxy

working in another room

where I have no say or sight,

besides his eyes perceive

much better than mine can

8

the butcher boy

poisons the meat

with his very touch;

he loves to feel

his hands know

more correctness 

than any others

seeing me ready, as last,

for finally being sold

while in the same motion

being whisked

out of his reach

he fanatically makes the rounds

of all my prime cutters,

smearing them

with grimy hands

9

the damage done,

knowing he has had his share,

I still feel he’s after more;

but I am safe

until we meet

face to face;

so spread me thin

as fast as you can

for I am for sale

but so unsure

Aug 73

You can credit T. S. Eliot for my love of long, meandering, numbered section poems. Here the section numbers included the degree sign after each  but WP editing suite finds that difficult to render & I’m too lazy to figure how to make it obey. Such is life. Such is the march of time too, so with some of these pieces, from nearly 50 years ago my memory is unclear.

I have a vague recollection of writing this as a single piece over the space of about a week. It, unlike some of my writing then, isn’t stitched together with various scraps. I can’t say if I wrote it in the order it appears here – though it does have definite progression. It deliberately references other poems in the book – for example ‘nightmare strangulation’ is a nod to the hangman; ‘straw in my pocket’ to Waltz.

I also play with cliché ‘flying of the handle’ ‘give & take’ ‘the damage done’ – recasting them in ironic contexts or leading them to unexpected conclusions. ‘pagan dancers’ is a reference to my paintings of the time (link) – also the dancer on the cover of the chapbook.

Reading this now I see it as another poem about coming out, about the confines of cultural butcher-boy definitions of gender, creativity, productivity. At the time I wrote this I wasn’t aware that ‘the seed’ was those various elements. Many lgbtq people create themselves from parts of the world around them – our sense of self is the result of our inner Dr. Frankenstein creating from fresh. Not that heterosexuals don’t have to do some of this but they have clearer role-models to work with. It was like being give ten model kits of various planes cars boats that had been opened up & dumped into one pile without instructions.

What parts of me have to be cut out to get to the core? I also sense this use of violence, of bloody butchery as a way to appear more masculine. Being a teenage poet is not as butch as being a teenage football star. 

It also alludes to the fact that I was a cutter. Wounds that no one could see but myself. A self who also had an awareness of his suicidal thinking, which was buried in this piece. I don’t recall anyone, who read this piece or who heard me perform it, ever asking me if I was serious. I guess they thought it was a part of the poet’s pose. Artifice as opposed to a serious mental issue. 

The last lines echo a favorite song if mine – ‘How can I be sure, in a world that constantly changes?’ Today I’m not afraid of being unsure – that’s one of the things that makes me human. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Jam

Log Jam

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water frozen

are logs jammed 

like iron fists

like parts of one

like time

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one spar digging

blunting steely hook on ice,

chipping away tiny sparks

flying large through the air;

landing to rejoin

only a few feet away

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we must move the logs

we must move them downstream

the mill blade is hungry

the sun longs to be set free

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two spars, now three;

the mean awakened from

thick jointed dreams;

steam plotted revenge,

now a thousand all chipping

clattering in the league air,

each salty bead of sweat

freezing into thicker traps

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one, free, now two,

no hope for the others, yet;

the clear rive water

lapping blood

into fresh gashes;

three free, now four,

No more. No more!

<>

one spar stuck

one boot-hold lost

one boot-filler lost,

slipped into the ice

as repayment;

face up-turned

tugged

tossed under the shell

<>

we must move the logs

we must move them downstream

the mill bade is hungry

the corpse longs to be set free

Jan 72

I wanted this piece to be stuck in the middle of the collection. It’s another one with a strong narrative line, easy to understand even without the subtext of being trapped under the ice of a life one didn’t expect to be frozen into. It’s also another piece of testosterone driven masculinity. The return of ‘the muscle-rippled holder of that chainsaw’ only now he’s dealing with the results of his labours.

No, I have never been a lumberjack – nor have I moved logs down stream. I didn’t do any research on log jams for this, nor did I study things trapped in the ice. So I’m not writing about what I know in an experiential sense. But no one has said ‘you got this all wrong.’ I was deliberately working with Canadiana forest tropes as a way of chasing loose the abstract content of the other pieces. 

I enjoy how the story unfolds with the hard work of ice-bound logs, how the number of men increases, the sound of chipping increases, the harness of the ice, the persistence of the loggers as they overcome the jam. The foreshadowing of water being like ‘blood/fresh gashes.’ Then the cost of industry when one of them falls under. There is no rescue attempt.

There is also the movement in the two repeated verses, almost like a song chorus, that changes from ‘sun’ to ‘corpse.’ It is a great piece to perform, as is ‘Woodsman’, & would usual pair them. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via paypal along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Shadow Dance

Distant Shadow

where is the mountain pass?

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I need you

but the mountain

is in my way

<>

if I cross

I can never return

for I am the mountain

while my need for you

is the mountain pass

Oct/70

I love the way this piece doubles in on itself – a spiral that rewrites what you have read by the time to get to the end. I had been reading books on Zen by this time. Partly to step out of the culture I felt trapped in & partly to seem more intellectual than I really was. I’m not sure how much I understood of them at the time but they sure looked good on my book shelf. 

It’s another poem to a non-existent ‘you.’ The shadow was perhaps the fear of coming out? There’s also a realization that we often stand in our own way & until we learn to get over ourselves there is no progress. Maybe getting older was the shadow because as we age we can only remember but never get back.

Persephone Danced

I hear carousel music

when I want a lullaby

a dreamy hand to cover

this melody I can’t control –

who will I kill today?

<>

Persephone danced for Gauguin;

Medusa carved for Rodin;

ears bled for Van Gogh;

children laughed for clowns;

who will we kill today?

<>

let’s hang the clown,

railroad the circus out of town;

leave him sway till he rots;

who will we kill today –

ha, let’s hang all the clowns

JN76

I am a fan of Gauguin. I had prints of his painting hanging on my walls. The adventure of his life, the escape to the Pacific, were ideal fantasy fodder for me. If I had gone to French Polynesia it certainly would have been the native men I would have fallen for. I read & reread a biography I had of him. I had the Time-Life art series ‘The World of …’ so I was familiar with the works of Rodin; Van Gogh. They were thwarted geniuses – just like I was 🙂

I’m not sure how this poem segues from verse to verse – dance music painting sculpture – all fine arts, I suppose, but the connecting tissue is lacking. I’m also not sure where this penchant for hanging, or for clowns came from either. Maybe the face painters present to the world is a painting hung on a wall – like clowns presenting their painted faces to the world?

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Fab Forty 1965

Dave Chritchton

I came across this CJCB Dave-a-go-go-Fab-Forty list in my social isolation covid cleaning frenzy. Although it is from April – many of these were songs of the summer. Daydream; Nowhere Man; California Dreamin’; These Boots. Going through the list I was surprised at how many of these songs I could hear in my head. Some of them I can’t get out of my head either 😉 

Some I have no recollection of – He Wore The Green Beret? Listening to Leslie on YouTube I have no recollection of this song – it is, as expected an answer record to Sgt. Barry Sadler’s hit. This is also the only song with a political agenda. Eddie Rambeau? 

I had many of these 45’s & lps. Now I have many of them at mp3s. Even those one-hit wonders – Elusive Butterfly; Magic Town. As expected the hits are all very pop with a few unexpected r’n’b, soul tracks there: Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett. First hint of psychedelic is the Yardbirds Shapes Of Things.

I remember the radio dominated by the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits but this chart is mostly USA top 40 fodder – no CanCan as far as I can tell. 

A bit of research tells me that the Liverpool Set were Canadian but they only released three singles. 

I can remember turning some of these songs up (19th Nervous Breakdown) & others down (Young Love) on my radio as I did my homework. I was always eager for my favourites to get played & I phoned in my votes to keep some things up there in the top ten. My music collection includes lps, singles by at least 30 of the bands/performers on this list! My retro collection is so full of good memories but trust me it has stayed relatively contemporary. It was tracks by the likes of Ramsey Lewis that open the doors to jazz for me. As Jim Morrison sang, at one time ‘music was your only friend.’ That wasn’t fully true but music is one of the only friends I have from high-school.

from August 2007

I’ll Scratch Yours

it’s hard to accept 

enough is never enough

I can scratch an itch

then minutes later 

need to scratch again

to get what I want leads to wanting more

if one-on-one is great 

a threesome is impossible to resist

<>

I’m a guy who can say no

but when I deny myself

I long to be praised

for not over indulging

on my way to sainthood 

when I want to gorge myself

the smug satisfaction of drawing a line

and sticking to it isn’t as rewarding 

as giving in one more time

<>

could be it that scratch

isn’t the solution to itch

should I try that zen approach

when the itch is ready 

the finger will appear

if only all it took was only a finger

can I learn to live with that itch

for another cd another man in the sack

better car bigger house

whiter teeth faster downloads

snappier sneakers flashier T-shirts 

all calling  scratch me now

or forever regret the opportunities 

missed by resisting

<>

even when I look away

I sense those glittering beacons

behind me just out of reach

straining teasing demeaning me

until I’m on my knees

too weak to do anything 

except beg for some relief

<>

to live with hunger

goes against our get-it-now culture

admitting that I don’t really want to scratch

is met with disbelief

what’s wrong with me

I gotta get with the program

whatever the fuck that is

but how do I get rid of the itch

isn’t there a way to feel free

be comfortable in my own skin

without the need to satisfy some urge

is this need to be free

just another in the long list of itches

<>

scratch my back

I’ll scratch yours

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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Distant Caught

Caught Hard

<>

1

<>

dull dark day

desperately dawns

clinging coldly

to night clouds;

little mists of mares

floating doggedly

over murky dreams

<>

I am fighting,

fighting so hard 

for an empty room –

a glass trophy

it can’t last,

it mustn’t last,

this fighting alone,

on the dew-wet grass

so close to home;

with the fleshly born

morning sunrise

<>

just by being here

to see the fight

you become the fight;

another shadow-boxing affair

reflected from bottles

reflecting across walls

fighting for each word you speak

<>

I am dying

that everyday death

we each die

<>

fighting in only

the best of surroundings,

soundings & singers,

all dying in fighting –

fighting off fits of laughter

I feel exploding

each inner pondering


like a sledge hammer

smashing each happy stone

<>

returning sensations

of pleasure

white in the night

feeling close while

coming to an end

<>

caught hard

up in the air

without a handful of  much

just loose strings of things

of other satisfied things

to keep me for giving in

to consuming everything

in one final bite

<>

2

<>

I’ve heard the hangman

many times today;

why do I feel so cold

a-sway in the summer sun?

swing peacefully

in the hangman’s hot breath?

he’s trying to melt me down

so I can be sold

in bits

and

pieces

<>

3

<>

many times,

screaming inside

he cannot bear

to have me sway

to any breath

but his:

up the stairs

up the stairs

no one cares

except for the hangman

filling his pockets

with meltings

<>

I am free

to fall

I am free

to get up

I am free yet feel so lost

<>

if I am not a fossil

why do I feel so old?

if I am not reincarnated

why do I feel so unborn?

tiny & afraid

summer sun waiting

for someone to touch

if I am not wisdom

why do I feel so foolish 

out of these words?

am I the end of time

drizzled with smiling sun

in your early morning suddenness?

<>

if I am not dynamite

why do I feel like fighting

every time I think of you?

<>

the sun cannot melt

through to the middle

yet I feel myself slipping

up the stairs

up the stairs

away from the sun

that needs me melted

so we can start winter

<>

4

<>

the hangman has seen me crying

the hangman has been free dying

to reach out & cut the rope

to end my all-day dangling

<>

if I am not a hanged man

why do my feet

never seem to touch the ground?

<>

if there is no rope

around my neck

what holds me in place

keeping me from falling?

Jan71/Jan73/July74/June76

Welcome to alliteration 🙂 All those d’s, c’s, m’s are perfect for waking you up in the morning. Looking back now I see how this piece reflects some of the anti-materialist hippie counterculture of the early 70’s. People fed up with working hard for nothing – employee of the month with no real sense of satisfaction. Hearing songs about that by pop stars who became millionaires.

I was/am not a particularly pugnacious guy so all this boxing/fighting imagery seems more like masculine bravado. There was some inner turmoil often both fuelled by & hidden by alcohol: “another shadow-boxing affair/ reflected from bottles.” The turmoil was creative: what can I write to make me rich; it was also sexual – the fight to express myself & not be judged. 

This piece moves with a looping of repeated images that eave in & around each other, the hangman, the sun, melting, fighting in different combinations as it literally fights to find cohesion & meaning. I see it now as the struggle for identity – to find one in the world around me. 

‘your early morning suddenness’ seems to hint of a romantic involvement that didn’t exist at that time. Fear kept me emotionally frozen, this is what was to be melted so I could enter the world with the cold mask of creativity to protect me.

All these rhetorical questions spring from the hippie search for self – where you going Billy? How many roads must a man walk down? The hangman makes a return here but in a less playful way. Then in that last verse we get rhyme! Something that I generally avoided then (& now). 

The piece is stitched together from various pieces as the dates at the end indicate. I had them in note books & felt they resonated with each other. The ’74 take was when I pulled them together. ’76 was the final edit for the chapbook & I resequenced them for flow & to create the illusion of depth.

https://topoet.ca/2019/04/26/caught-hard-1971-76/

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet