My mother was a memory hoarder. My sister has been going though boxes of things stored in our family home & has unearthed things from my past. This letter to Santa was one of those treasures. It tells me so many things about myself at that time – when was that time? Probably when we first moved to Cape Breton in the mid50’s. Before my brother was born. While I was learning cursive writing in school.
The spelling mistakes & writing errors are things that I am still plagued by in my hand written notes. Even then I couldn’t write as fast as I thought & so my letters stumbled over each other resulting in scratching words out or writing over them.
I can remember learning cursive in grade school. We had to have a special scribbler with lines to train us how to keep uniform sizes for small & capital letters. I have vague memories of the actual exercises but, much liking tying my shoes, there is no specific moment. I do see the influence of my Dad’s writing in the shape of some of the letters.
I was very keen on that cowboy suit. It was not the first one I had – it was a hat, vest, chaps & a two-gun holster. A cowhide print but probably not on cowhide. I recall getting fire engines a few times. Red plastic with ladders that could be swivelled & cranked up with a gear. I love me asking for ‘any old toys you don’t want’ Even then there was no such thing as enough but willingness to accept the mystery ‘any.’
I suspect the ‘thank you’ was suggested by my mother though, that’s not the sort of thing I would have added. An early lesson in trying to curry favour though gratitude. The ‘good at school’ sounds like me. I can’t say if that ‘good’ means if my marks or my behaviour had improved 😉
if I want what I want
& want it now
does that make me
is it better to be goal driven
or to live in the moment
is what happening now
as an end itself
rather than a step
to something better
something so much better in fact
that is happening now
makes me impatient for this to be over
so I can get on to the next best thing to do
if i don’t what i have now
how did i end up with it
should i have had better plans
did i miss the turn
take the wrong page
out of the wrong book
& end up with the last thing i wanted
or is this what i want
but don’t recognize it
have i been blindsided
by some urge
that spun me so far off reality
that i no longer know
what i like anymore
do i want what what i have
if i have what i want
is it important to reach fulfillment
is contentment settling for less
or accepting things as they are
because things aren’t that bad
pretty good in fact
though it took some time
to sort through wants needs
& don’t needs
i always thought i wanted
to be adored
worshipped in fact
because being loved
then it dawned on me
that what i really wanted was envy
i wanted people
to wish they had what i have
not that i know
what i really do have
it took awhile to sort that out
to filter it through
the expropriations of cultures
to a point where i had
a hard kernel of fact
that then escaped me[
because there are so many
bubbling hesitations to distract
direct my attention
that i forget what i discovered
so maybe that isn’t
the hard truth either
though i’m better off now
than i was once upon a time
when the world was young
and i was a mere boy
on his way to the old fishing hole
dangling a can of worms
on the end of his line
hot sunny day barefoot on the path
he walks down to the stream bank
warm rocks to sit on
not evening thinking of writing a word
or getting laid
now that is something to envy
I love old-school blow-mold Christmas decorations. Thanks to the influx of inflatables they are becoming rarer, & highly collectable.
Over the years the decking of my house has become more elaborate. Every room had its share of holiday decor – figurines, snow globes, even action figures. Of course there was also the tree, the lights, the porch ‘treatment’ & of course festive towels & linens. Friends would add ornaments to the magic. Much of it was done for our Christmas feast guests or friends who would drop by. Thanks to covid19 restrictions that isn’t going to happen to the same extent this year.
Perhaps that’s just as well so that I could give some of those things a rest. Let’s leave the snow globe collection in the box for change, what’s the point of that kitch crèche? As a result things remain in their bins & boxes. In fact as I sorted what to put out this year I tossed things. Thanks for the memories but bye bye.
Opting for simplicity meant less staple gun noise 🙂 The lights went up, the tree went up, the linens got washed & will be used but the bulk of the treasure remain in their bins & boxes. You know not having all that hanging tinsel is fine. Next year maybe they’ll get hung in the trees on the front lawn.
The festive lights remained a must though because they aren’t just for me, they are for everyone & anyone who sees them. This year, in out neighbourhood, they seem to have gone up sooner & gotten fancier. I’ve going out some nights after supper to do a walk around different blocks to enjoy them. I stopped to talk to one woman about her lights & she said, what I figured most people are thinking, ‘we need lights in this dark covid climate.’
Yes, let there be less interior clutter & more external light.
The Word Is
this was this word
I knew a child
it was Welsh or Gaelic
it meant love
a kind of love
I no longer experience
I learned it from a neighbour
of my grandmother’s
when I was visiting Wales
she gave me toast
with mayo and tomatoes
she baked the bread herself
I’ve never tasted bread like that again
sort of burned and peppery
I didn’t really like it
but I liked her
she taught me all these words
how to say things
I don’t remember
about plants playing
the in sunlight
about kittens saving puppies
she made me laugh
then I came back to Canada
all I could remember was that one word
the word I’ve forgotten
not just any kind of love
I used to feel for a boy in school
he wasn’t even in my class
I would feel it whenever I saw him
but when I didn’t see him
I didn’t even think of him
I never even knew his name
just the way his eyes would make me feel
even if he wasn’t looking at me
I’d spot him
and feel this yearning
not to know him
but just to look at him
to watch him
playing with the other boys
they would run shout tackle each other
if you asked me what I was feeling
I couldn’t tell you
I might have said that word
I no longer remember
for a feeling I no longer have
I can’t in my mind
beyond his eyes
all I see is this scramble of bodies
tussling in the school yard dirt
then us lining up to go back into the school
sitting in rows in the class room
trying to learn math
that feeling gone in the terror
of being asked to answer the teacher
I didn’t want to be there’
wanted to be lost in the feeling
in that yearning
I have a 4cd mp3 collection of San Francisco’s Steve Miller Band. The first covers 68-72: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On it is also Dino Valente (aka Chet Powers Jr); Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. The second covers 72-77: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams. Along with Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love ep; The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology (New York); Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton; Clinton John Leon: Clinton Vancouver BC.
So you might think I’m a fan. I certainly enjoy all the music I have by him but unlike, say The Doors, I don’t find myself coming back to him & only listen when he comes up in my play rotation.On first cd is: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On the second is: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams.
I had cassette’s of Brave New World, Your Saving Grace that I picked up at Radio Shack. The early work is what I am most familiar with, some songs have become iconic i.e. Living In The USA. Looking at the titles of some of these I can hear the song in my head. Solid, radio friendly pop music with a sense of humour that isn’t jokey.
To round these first two compilations I added a solo lp by Dino Valente, or Valenti (aka Chet Powers Jr) of Quicksilver Messenger Service. As Powers he wrote the anthemic “Get Together.” A peace-love song covered by nearly every California band. The lp is sweet, folk rock, but nothing special. Another Cali-band here is Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. Rock with a Texan twang & a little bar blues. Good time music.
Wait there’s more with an ep of Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love. A massive one hit wonder that nearly destroyed Lind. The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology New York folk music revival and psychedelia – a bit jug band & fun. Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton – boogie blues with Clapton recovering from Cream.
Finally Vancouver BC’s Clinton John Leon: Clinton. Someone I’ve actually met – he played at Word Jam at the Free Times Cafe a couple of time in the last decade. I bought his eps, cds, when he was in Toronto. Folk rock with a define urban horror twist with songs about zombies & stalkers. Makers me miss those good old open stage days.
Arts und Krafts
Kind readers one thing that I neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some very fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.
I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.
There were many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie Ann Marie Betty McDellon had created.
I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took.
Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.
Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.
The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role of that piece.
Moving to the upstairs in my house we come to these on the walls of the upper hall. First this wonderful paint-by-number that I bought, framed, at a Goodwill on Queen E decades ago. Luckily it was light enough to carry home. I knew this painting from my childhood, though not this specific one, as part of a set that my mother had painted. She did several of such sets & finding it brought back sweet memories.
On the opposite wall is this portrait of me as rendered by Dan Parent who was, at that time, one of the illustrators & writers for Archie comics. I had it done at Fan Expo. I went that year specifically to commission it. He took my photo, I roamed the ‘market’ buying dvd’s, tee shirts, searching for old school horror [Karloff vs Kruger] & come back an hour later & it was ready.
The same holds true for the other portrait that I had done the following year. for an extra five dollars I had more torso 🙂 As you can tell I haven’t aged since these were done but neither of these are my Dorian Gray – that is in a secret spot away from prying thighs.
The ‘demonic force’ was a Christmas gift from a friend at the end of the 1990’s. He enlarged a panel from a Chick Publication & hand-tinted it for me. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_tract#Chick_Publications) I still see this little tracts around, sometimes left on a bus, or rumple dup on the street. Cute propaganda.
Not propaganda is this self-portrait a friend did & gave me as a birthday gift. He was experimenting with colour for that Warhol effect. The last was a gift from David Bateman he gave me during the run of the poetry cabaret The Beautiful & Damned. It is a fun amalgam of Keith Harding & Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime images. It goes up in value every year 🙂
modern day chainmail
designer duds armour plated
for style lightness and protection
don’t want to look bad
when someone shoots at me
or tries to stab me in the mall
because I looked at them the wrong way
because I was the wrong color
wearing the wrong colors
in the wrong neighbourhood
how to be safe enough
and still look good
don’t want private guards
they’re not the accessories
I had in mind to complete this outfit
to be safe enough
to go to Starbucks for a latte
the fast walk and the scowl
now becomes a challenge
they’ll take me down a notch or two
kick the crap out me to liberate
my limited edition nike’s and iPhone
which they don’t realize
now features global positioning hardware
I hesitate to answer
because I only listen
through an ear piece
that picks up everything you say
funnels it though lie detection software
that tells me I can trust what you say
I stick to the simplest of responses
no don’t super size that
unless those fries
are a bullet resistant shield
I can hold in front of me
as I struggle to get home
without a scratch
most of which have since been taken down 🙂
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & eat at Capturing Fire this June in Washington DC – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet
I love these old school blow mold Christmas decorations.
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more Christmas kitch– sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet
I like the gift with no giver
the left behind book on the subway
the twenty dollar bill in a parking lot puddle
a gift with no sense of obligation
not even a sense of
should I find out who lost this
who are you going ask
when there’s no one around to ask
a gift that doesn’t demand response
for a return
where you have to match the value
where there isn’t a hidden agenda
where gratitude is in accepting and using
not in words and forced forgiveness
This is not part of the 227 Rules For Monks. It comes from my archive of rough draft dating, in this case, back to December 2008. If I never write another poem again I have a backlog of rough drafts to keep me busy for years to come.
This is the season of gifts – many given out of a sense of obligation to one’s building super etc. We bribe them for another year of considerate treatment – rarely do we gifts for no reason. At one time, at this time of year I do leave things on the subway, if I do use it – things like a toque or gloves – in hopes that someone might find them useful. Then a friend of mine, who works for the TTC, told me that those things usual went the lost & found or clearers took them home. So much for random altruism 🙂
Over the years I’ve become easy around gifts – giving & accepting. I’m as happy receiving home made cookies as I am with a paypal donation. (paypal.me/TOpoet) I also hav become a good regifter as well. I have enough socks & often gifted socks go to someone else, or donated to a clothing box. I no longer give gifts out of a sense of obligation.
Forgiveness has become more a mode of victimizing victims than something emotionally freeing. There is this subtext these days that if you don’t forgive someone who had harmed you you are being unreasonable & are as bad as the the person who harmed you. It’s as if not letting someone who has apologized, face the consequences of their action now makes the victim a victimizer. We may be God’s children but only one was chosen.
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more Christmas kitch– sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet
One Christmas Day decades ago on my morning walk I found this baby sock on the sidewalk. I couldn’t resist it & brought it home. I hung it on the fireplace screen as a Xmas stocking for the baby Jesus. The glass bell beside it is a more recent addition. I stole it at a White Elephant gift exchange a few years ago. For those unfamiliar with that game part of it is the taking of gifts from one another.
In one corner of the living-room is a dvd cabinet that gets a seasonal make over. The festive ‘cloth’ is actually plastic, which is why the creases have never folded out of it. The embroidery is real but done by a machine & the ‘lace’ is laser cut. It was another White Elephant steal.
On top of it are a couple of kitch but not seasonal items that only come out for the season. The praying hands are done in a delightful lime green flocking. They were a recovery anniversary gift over 30 years ago. They were a re-gifting from a friend who got them from someone who had picked them up on a visit to Las Vegas where else). My friend was a little insulted by them here as I was delighted & had them on display for years than decided they were best as a tonal feature.
The 3D picture is a take on classic protective angel hovering over children. This was a very popular Victorian trope of which I seen many representations from oils, prints, jigsaw puzzles & even embroideries. I bought it unframed a yard sale. 3D pictures are always kitch no matter how artful they maybe – this one is merely depth – the faces don’t flicker between pretty & skeletal or demonic 😦 I have it for many years as well & am always happy to take it out of hiding so the protective angel can hover over us all.
This final, for this post, picture goes back to 1981 – our first year in this house. You can see the actual mantle piece & the fireplace at work. That’s me pouring over some book that I almost remember but I do recognize the bookmark as a postcard of a Cocteau drawing. We still have that tinsel garland.
Richard III – Stratford Festival
June – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. capfireslam.org
All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival