Anti-Social Workshop

Anti-Social Workshop

around the workshop table

the seats were so crowded

it was impossible to sit

without physical contact 

with the person on either side

not to sit at the table

would be seen as

anti-social 

not wanting to be part of the group

one would fail to be

a full participant

outsiders weren’t wanted

at this table of outsiders

outsiders

who stiffened

when their person space was

infringed upon

forced into unwanted close company 

with one another

more time was spent

apologizing for being squeezed

than was spent on the workshop

all that was produced 

was frustration

at the lack of respect

for personal boundaries

& a disregard one another’s opinions

As you might guess this piece was written well before the pandemic. It was also the writing workshop that made me decide never to go to a workshop held in a bar, restaurant or even someone’s home. This one was in a private room with a curved booth banquette around a large round table. A table that could sit ten people – as long as they didn’t have coats, shoulder-bags/knapsacks, iPads, writing pads, or elbows. There were twelve of us including the facilitator.

Oh yes – we all expected to order drinks of some sort to allow free use of the space. Fortunately the beverages could be floated in the air over the table so there no risk of spilling them on our hand-outs, iPads or writing pads. 

There was jostling for positions at the table as late-comers arrived. Thus a six hour workshop was reduced to five – no make that four with time lost to the delivery of libations & the need of the facilitator to repeat things said while various people missed what was said due to turning of cellphones that rang while things were being said.

It was also at this workshop that one participant said to another, who had said the piece lacked clarity – ‘you aren’t the target audience.’ Sigh. At the first ‘let’s stretch our legs’ I went to a nearby coffee shop & opted not to return. I’m guess I’m an overly sensitive faux-poet not willing to suffer for art.


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Ankles Crossing The Line 

Ankles Crossing The Line

boys don’t cross ankles

when they sit

only girls cross their ankles

boys can put a foot

on the opposite knee

that is how men sit

you are a man aren’t you

you better start to act like one

how is your belt buckled

only girl have the buckle on the left side

or is it the right side

shirts for boys have buttons on the right side

shirts for girls on the left

or is it the other way

for buckles and buttons

<>

someone always looks

enforces gender appropriate

mannerisms

a code that if broken

meant derision

only girls sit to pee

only girls cross their ankles

when seated 

only girls

can part their hair in the middle

or on the left side

or was it right

I don’t remember now

but in high-school that was vital

<>

I never got any of that straight

because I wasn’t straight

I wonder if there’s a history of gender that explains how things became categorized as being gender specific. I mean things like colours (pink vs blue), actions (standing when a woman enters the room), professions: well okay I do get that one, as many depend on brute strength, but male nurses are suspect, objects (jewelry), scents (Old Spice vs Chanel No. 5). Men wore aftershave, women wore  perfume. I sometimes wear Chanel No. 5.

There are gendered versions of watches, running shoes, shirts, cosmetics etc. Man-sized meals. Real Men don’t eat quiche. Shirley Temple for the ladies, Virgin Caesar for the gents. All of which starts young – toy kitchens aimed at girls, toy tools for boys. Imprinting that never gets questioned. I don’t recall ever asking my mother why all my clothes were blues, blacks & browns – by the time I got to high school I broke free & went for multi-colour & was frequently picked on because of it. 

The desire to look ‘fashionable’ was not masculine. The male uniform was bulky jeans, scruffy shoes, blocky dark plaid shirts & shapeless jacket. If one was on a team a team jacket was permissible. If you weren’t on a team you didn’t count anyway. Boys didn’t dance well at sock hops. Masculinity was always established by violence – or rebel stuff like smoking.

Girls who smoked were sluts, boys who moved were toughs – but that’s another poem. I was a rebel who never smoked 🙂 I was a rebel who wore white shoes, who let his hair grow into a Beatles cut. I once was asked are you a boy or a girl so I guess my even my walk wasn’t masculine enough. Conformity was masculine, nonconformity was suspect.

I’d like to think things have changed but a man wearing a gown to the Oscars created a sensation. The increased notice of trans has made many uncomfortable with the changing clarity we once had thanks to defined, unalterable notions of gender.

My pronouns: it, that. 


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Early Worm

Early Worm

am I too early

is this the right time

is this where I’m supposed to be

did I wake you

I’m usually early

is this seat taken

I’m not the first to arrive

I’ll walk slower

I’ll get off one stop sooner

walk around the block to kill time

<>

I don’t really want to be here

I’m not as eager as it seems

transit was faster than expected

there were no delays for a change

someone has to arrive first

maybe I shouldn’t be the first one they see

I won’t come back later

I’ll be one of the first to leave

I’ll only stick around awhile

<>

only the late have a place in this room

the ones who struggled to get here

who had trials & tribulations

they arrive breathless agitated apologetic

eager to be there 

all I sacrificed was time

I am usually early when I go to things like poetry readings, plays, coffee dates – I like having a few minutes to orient myself – to find a decent spot to sit so I have my preferred view of the stage. At spoken word shows I prefer to face the stage directly when positive. The worst thing about one spot was the narrow room which meant no one could face the stage with twisting their necks constantly. I was pleased when they closed.

With the spokenword shows I frequented or became involved with being early also gave me chance to help, if needed. Hosts were always glad for someone just to see someone there. The wait for the first arrivals can be nerve wracking.

When seeing shows with reserved seating: i.e Stratford or Shaw, we’d get seated asap to void clambering over people in those tightropes – often not even wide enough to sit without your knees rubbing on the seat ion front of you. Architects who do that seating layout often forget people have legs -thanks for the great sight lines but curses for crushing my kneecaps so badly I can’t walk for the rest of the day. 

At least with reserved seating one does get asked to vacate their seat for someone arrived just in time for the show to start & feel they deserve your ideal spot more than them. I’ve done door for shows & come back to find my coat & bag removed from my seat but people who presume they have the right to turf me without asking. 

If you’re late, you’re late – it’s not my fault you have to struggle in. I’m not going to move down one for your convenience. I’m not that nice a guy. 


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Over Dressed

samp

Over Dressed (or just full of himself)

I out dressed

the feature poet

he nodded a hello

then proceeded to ignore me

his set was good

mine wasn’t better

but different

we see the world in different ways

use the language in different ways

his set was well received

applause books sold

my set was snapped

given stomps a few times

his was motivational political

important issues were addressed

mine was personal sexual

identity issues were addressed

previous to this reading

we had been friendly enough

moving in very different circles

that on such occasions

would intersect

he reputation was well supported

by his work

mine wasn’t really established

mainly because I didn’t give a fuck

about my reputation

we weren’t competing for anything more

than a bit of attention

at a reading

he could have all the grants

accolades he wanted

I just wanted to present

07woodchair01This first one isn’t about any poet in particular, or any reading in particular, but a composite of events. It’s pretty much a documentary on what happens at readings except I left out the part where fans of one writer feel no need not to whisper through the sets of other writers & act huffy if you glare a theme while trying to listen whomever is on stage at that point.

Sometimes a poet & their following only show up a few minutes before they are to perform & leave directly afterwards. Clearly stating that they don’t think enough of the other performers to grace them with their presence. 07woodchair02I’m also a believer in the poet as peacock – one of my rules for readers is ‘dress as if you want to be there.’ Pretty superficial I admit but we live in a culture that judges as much on looks as talent. But my attention to great shirts & tee shirts has lead me to be seen as insubstantial & not serious about my work. Which to me is a fairly superficial judgment too.07woodchair03It’s as if only the clearly suffering have authentic experiences that deserve to be written about & only these experiences have the profound depth to be presented. Personally I prefer to look as good as my writing. I might also add that this all came to mind as a result of the prompt not because I wallow in superficiality & as I have to remind people, poetry can be fiction 🙂 07woodchair04Finally is this one of the ones I didn’t feel worked out that well – the pov voice is too complaintive & self-aware to the point, to me, of being whiny – which feel doesn’t invite the reader in enough.soon
cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

October  6 – Thursday Toronto, 8 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.

et

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

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nanobullseye

http://nanowrimo.org/

December – Thursday Dec 1st – Toronto, 8 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.divine

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: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx5KD1eDccdjdTdQ28kZRNg

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#Carnival Planet #Calliope

Calliope

there is this circus of flesh

that moves faster

than the blood can pound

that over rides all cautions

lessons learned  go out the window

when that circus opens

cotton candy balls of fun

for the ones who surrender

to take give take give

rise and fall

expectation and delivery

the fierce red flush of ginger hair

that surrounds the heave and heft

of the the timid and free

fleeting and heavy

melt of the stars

into a mouth

into the sudden rise

shape fall

stomach churning moment

when a glance is returned

can it be for me

take this opportunity

to ride the ride

to strut the street

to be in the middle of the bed

sheet strewn masses

wrinkled rivers of shadows

dim corner

vibrant and frightened

tongue chasing twists

buttons popping

slow stroke of zipper

happy slide of pants

shirts

sweaters

shoes socks

fly through the air

merry go around

 

I know the promise

I take this opportunity

to chase the roller coaster

to sharper shocks

higher highs

all dips hips slips no splinters

only the rock solid rocket

twist and tumble

the grazed knees

the bruised knuckles

the wet dry hot cool

sweat sweet breath to catch

running faster lunge

the weight of one on the other

that pulls each to the earth

accepts and shares

separates and courses

through the veins

beat pulse

throb shudder

seek the chance to get back on the ride

I know the circus

will pitch another tent

but I am reluctant to leave this one

so sweetly pitched

so well enjoyed

employed spent and flaccid

dreamy and sleepy

cozy warm comforting

how did this come about

what was the momentum

what was the cause

of this gift satisfaction

of this mind cleaning eruption

this blank slate surrender

for a few blinding seconds

squeaky mattress and lost footing

of where is my …

…. are these yours

tomorrow soon again

as good as the last time

better than ever

comfortable and accomplished

 

yes so accomplished

we play each other

like a big rolly polly

steam calliope

that never runs out of steam

browndresser01

This time of the year can be a carnival for the senses – all this commercial shouting about gifts, the perfect music, more people than usual looking for something, some one. Caught up in lights, seasonal smells of cooking, candy and too much aftershave on the subway (or not enough). A crush rush that exhausts but leaves little time savour it.browndresser02

This piece is about relishing but only if one surrenders to the momentum. I’m also working at writing about sex without being overt – aiming for a hormone level of response. The circus analogy for sex isn’t new but I wanted to see what I could do with it.

I like some of the phrasing and the way it slips for one half-image into another is an almost unnoticeable flow – ‘the melt of stars/ into a mouth.’ In edit I did work on pacing, on sequence, to have it flow up and down, as it were, to follow the flow of meeting, tentative, then hopping on the ride and ending with the need for the ride to continue. For me the thickness of calliope music was a nice symbol for the thickness of cock.blackchair01

This is an old piece, goes back to early 2000’s in fact, when I was getting back into poetry. I wanted to write about sex without saying ‘dick.’ That wasn’t such a difficult challenge though as I become more comfortable in front of audiences my sex writing become more direct. The need to distance from overt queer content seemed dishonest.

Not that I wanted to write directly pornographic explicit poetry but I wanted to stop trying to make some of my writing less universal – I think this piece is fairly genderless – it could opposites attract or same sex encounters. With no writer’s name attached it could be written by any sex. blackchair02

It is authentic but at the same time hiding something from the reader. That hiding came from my own residual fear of being too direct – what if audiences are offended by ‘dick’ – today I don’t care. If my being a white, entitled, cismale, over 50 who likes dick offends someone – such is life. Welcome to carnival planet earth.

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

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The Killer Dappled by Sun

sample

The Killer Dappled by Sun

 

the killer flexed his hands

sunshine warm playful

wrapped around his fingers

he squeezed

but couldn’t grasp the light

couldn’t hold it

stop it

control it

harm it

the light was safe from him

 

he found comfort that something

was safe from him

he couldn’t murder the light

there was a limit to his power

he was human he had frailty

 

he looked around

the cafe patio

shadows light danced on faces

chattering mindless

anyone of whom he could kill

one of whom he would kill soon

with hands that basked

in the gentle caress of the sun

they would find a throat

they would take the light out of those eyes

they were slaves to a system

of comfort for comfort’s sake

well he’d put an end to someone’s comfort

 

the killer was a liberator

he would liberate one by one

until he was free

it would be good to be free

free of the need to liberate

the need to kill

once he had quenched that thirst

he would be free to enjoy this life

this world

this moment in the sun

patio patio in the rain

When I go back to some of these pieces I still get chills. This is the third in the Killer series. I love the word ‘dappled’, thanks to Hopkins it has a great poetic resonance: ‘Glory be to God for dappled things.’ So here I have a killer with the same spiritual sensitivity to the gift of light itself.

I’ve also placed the Killer in an innocuous public space. What could be more pleasant than afternoon coffee on a cafe patio somewhere. Do you ever look up from your handheld devices to see who else is out there, wonder what they may be thinking. This is how suspense happens.

couchx

dig that couch

The greatest villains have a sense of honourable purpose. They see their actions as being in the best interest for some long term good – so the immediate damage isn’t relevant to them, merely something to put up with.

carseats

back seat driving range

We rarely get to see what happens if a bad guy wins – what will he do if he gets his way? Now that he can rule the world, then what? Hide away on some tropical island? Most likely he’ll spend time protecting what he has not enjoying it on some cafe patio.

soon1

November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo 2014 –nanobullseye http://nanowrimo.org

chair

chair dappled by sun

Way Back to 1978

I have a box of birthday & recovery anniversary cards going back to 1978 when I put the cork in the bottle, as well as ended other substance ingestions – other than coffee, that is. I have some from the anniversary of my first year up to this year.

lion

Many of the ones I’ve kept are from men who are no longer in this dimension. Names and faces that I’ve half forgotten & some who are still around today. I went into the box to see what was there and to take something out – nothing in particular but anything that didn’t hold an emotional charge so I could let it go before the new year.

I’m not sad but I do feel a bit of sorrow for these lost handshakes. I don’t ever remember the last time I went through these cards. Like my string of Christmas cards – I have some that go back years from people who have died. I have the last Christmas card my mother sent me.

chair

There is a meaning to me in each of them. Some are signed by dozens of people many of whom I have no idea who they are, who had no idea who I was expect, I was celebrating with them in Montreal, or wherever. I know I’ll be letting a couple of these cards go even though they still have an emotional charge.

chairs

Reading them I also see that I now believe the sentiments. For many years I felt people’s good wishes where done out of kindness not out of an authentic affection for me. I think that’s called growing up 🙂

samples

Fireworks

The lemon fresh bubble bath in the Jacuzzi made both Dish and Spoon feeling clean, refreshed and forgiving.

“Spoon dear, I am so sorry for my outburst this afternoon. Tossing Tea Pot’s lid into the midst of the shuffle board tournament wasn’t a lady like thing for me to do.”

“There, there, my sweet, I know you’ve been under a lot of pressure of late.”

“Still, the look on her spout was worth it.”

“I’ll say. Especially when the Salts scored the winning shuff – shuff is that what they call it when they push the marker across the board? Anyway she brought them the prize.”

“Spoon this trip on the Gravy Boat has to be one of the best ideas you’ve had since we ran away. I think we are closer now that we have ever been.”

“Thank you, my sweet. We just don’t seem to get the chance to spend this much time together. You’re always off to other meals.”

“While you spend too much time in dark drawers.”

“I do not!”

“Spoon, you think I don’t know what goes on in dark drawers. You and all that cutlery pushed together, sometimes mingling with forks.”

“I have never mingled with a fork.”

“Don’t deny it. I know these things. You cutlery are like that. Clinking away in the dark.”

“Oh, I see. And what about you? Nestled with those other dishes. Piled one on top of the other.”

“Suffocated in more like it. That’s why I love you so much Spoon we have similar shapes but you don’t smother me when we nestle together.”

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” a voice came from outside their cabin door. “We must run and hide. Do something!”

Spoon jumped out of the warm water and went to the window.

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

“What is it Spoon?”

“Fireworks.”

“Oh, I love fireworks.” Dish pulled a tea towel around her to dry off. “Let’s get up on deck where we can it for ourselves.”

As they attempted to leave their cabin they were pushed back in by Chick.

“You must not go out. It is too dangerous. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

“There, there, Chick. It’s only fireworks. A show. Not the sky. Don’t be so alarmed.”

“Fireworks!” Chick bobbed back and forth. “Are you sure about that.”

There was a barrage of green puffs over head.

“I don’t believe you. The sky is falling.” Chick skittered along the rack in alarm.

Dish and Spoon walked hand in hand to the upper rack.

“If it falls, at least we have each other.”

clean enough to drink from?