Running Out

Running Out

I was running out of excuses

no – not excuses 

I was running out of lies

it’s not easy being a nice guy

really

<>

it’s a conundrum

when you have great sex

with a guy who isn’t your type

who says he had a great time

wants to see you again

while you aren’t that into him

if the sex were boring

it wouldn’t be so complicated 

that’s when the lies start

busy with laundry

editing

sister visiting

sore throat

<>

why can’t he take a hint

why can’t I just say

I’m not that interested

there isn’t enough chemistry 

between us for me

it’s nothing personal

well I guess it is pretty personal

it is him you are saying no to

<>

even after the second time

when I had run out of excuses

the sex was good

but good isn’t enough for me

I want to feel 

not necessarily an emotional connection

but something 

more than the panic

of running out of excuses

The 227 Rules for Monks is an exhaustive list that is often variations on the same idea – things like – not to touch touch your nose as you sit down, followed by, not to touch your chin as you sit down. As a result of what they lead to for me are variations on a theme as well, some some of these pieces are so like that – I wonder as I edit – ‘didn’t I edit this one two months ago’ & check back to find it – no I didn’t. Like peeling of layers with each version to find out what hides underneath.

On one level it deals with sexual civility, on another is it about the cunning nature of co-dependency – the way people get stuck in relationships, situations that aren’t working simple so they don’t hurt someone’s feelings. The Canadian border remained a covid sieve because out government was unwilling to offend other countries by staying – stay out. Looks here that got us. But that’s a rant for another post.

The short of list excuses are ones I’ve actually used to decline meeting up with someone – not just sex dates but often I just want to feed my addiction to isolation 🙂 Thanks to covid I have been telling some guys that I’m not opening my social bubble period. One was rather insistent about the possibility of sex with masks but I said no. Masks are okay for walking around, shopping but don’t handle gasping, deep breathing very well.

He mocked me for being paranoid & unrealistic about the level of threat. Wrong tactics for sure. I said ‘I’ve seen the #s go up & I’m not going down.’ I was afraid the next thing he’d be telling me condoms are part of a homophobic conspiracy. Did he take it personally? Maybe. Did I care – no. 


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I’m So Cute

I’m So Cute

you’ve used up my trust

yes 

I know you don’t mean any harm

no 

it doesn’t hurt

but I asked you to stop

because it is meaningless

yet distracting

<>

it is like the tip of the ice-burg

that small act

is meant to be affectionate

but I can’t stand it

I don’t enjoy it

it represents your lack of respect

after I’ve asked you not to

<>

if it means 

to you

that I don’t have a sense of humour

such is life

it’s not a control issue

on my part

it is the same as

serving food I’m allergic to

then getting pissed off

when I refuse to eat it

or insisting on playing

music you know I can stand

just to be playful

to be annoying

because I’m so cute

when I’m annoyed

<>

enjoy that memory

One of the bunch I used to hang out with on the east coast was a table tapper. It was a habit he wasn’t conscious of & as we talked he would play rhythms to whatever music might be on. He didn’t find it distracting but I did & told him a few times. He tried to control it but after a few drinks tappy tap tap tap. It was harmless enough but eroded my willingness to spend time with the gang when he was around. This piece isn’t about him, directly, nor is it about my need to control, really 🙂

It’s more about the power shifts in relationships – how much is one party willing to put up with or sacrifice in a spirit of cooperation. For some people the meaning of love is putting up with anything & everything, you know, the codependency dance romanticized by movies.

There’s also a micro-aggression subtext here – if what is said or done isn’t all that bad or direct then get over it. In fact being told to ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s just a joke’ is micro-aggression. To question their ‘control issues’ gets turned around into you having ‘control issues.’ 

This goes beyond someone tapping a table, which is usually not done to irritate but a nervous habit, but to something like someone who – thinking sticking their tongue in your ear is fun & should be sexually arousing when you find it intolerable. When you say things like ‘stop it’ they try to turn into a game & it becomes you being a wet blanket for not playing along – they just want to be playful. When you tell them where to stick their tongue they aren’t playing anymore. 🙂


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Have A Not

Not

Not visit houses just before noon

Not to slam the door when you leave

Not to wear out your welcome

Not to reveal how you really feel

Not to be the one to leave

Not to a give a damn

Not to bear false witness

Not to let the truth stand in the way

Not to be the guilty party

Not to wear you heart on your sleeve

Not to eat fish only any day but Friday

Not to take your name as witness

Not to give a fuck you too 

Not to wear the same underwear two days in a row

Not to wear clothes when you slam the door behind you

Not to let on how you really feel just leave

Not to came back apologetic

Not to fish for more than there is to catch

Not to ignore that there is always a catch

Not to damn the bare body

Not to be the last one to know

Not skip lunch

Not to be afraid of knowing 

Not Not Not Not

The rule that prompted this one is the actual first line – it was intended to avoid having whomever the monk visited offer them lunch. Word association kicked it off – over staying your welcome came to mind quickly. Without a second thought it became a list poem of variations on what not to do.

Some of the nots combine nots that have come before. Some are almost aphorisms ‘not to fish for more than there is to catch’ which is also a play on ‘fishing for a compliment’ also springs from ‘eating fish on Friday’ which is a Catholic commandment – the miracle of the bread & fish takes some of this into a very biblical subtext.

Canadians have a reputation for politeness – I will not say what’s on my mind lest I offend someone. Though I suspects more a case of – I will not say what’s on my mind lest I get too much attention 🙂 As a result some of this not list are admonitions to placate – they struggle to find the balance between being firm and being aggressive. If you are like me there comes a point when you don’t care. If you think I’m a prick, such is life.

The best list poems, to me, start to hint at a story. This one is about lovers not getting along, or are they playing out a familiar structure of push-pull, argue-make up, control-resistance. It almost reads like a magazine list of ‘do’s & don’t’s’ to make a relationship work. I don’t think I’ve ever slammed a door, that wasn’t asking for it 🙂


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The History of Listology

Week 5 of the Artist’s Way is about possibility & being stuck. Me, stuck at home, thinks there is a possibility a vaccine for covid19 will be found, one that will make some billionaire pharmaceutical even richer & chances are only the rich will be able afford it. Judging by the stats so far, the poor & marginalized will die out anyway. No profit = no cure. But I digress 🙂

Much of the Way looks at how codependency can become a major block to productivity. Sacrificing our time to be of help to others so we can be seen as generous, good, caring. One of the more challenging things about nanowrimo is removing all socially distracting circumstances so we can write selfishly. ‘I can’t help you move because I’m working on novel.’ can end a friendship.

The chapter is full of lists, of us making lists, of lists of things we can do, of things we wish we can do. I made a list of the lists of things & put it on my to do list. I’ll write The History of Listology. One of the task lists was ‘10 ways I am mean to myself.’ Not that I’m self-indulgent but this wasn’t so easy, as I figured it meant now, not how I used to treat myself.

 

My list is 1. snacking too much; 2. no muscle building in my fitness routines; 3. blah TV; 4. staying up too late; 5. not brushing teeth twice a day; 6. not walking as far; 7. hiding in crowds; 8. not speaking up; 9. too much coffee; 10. comparing myself with others. 

 

I am the enemy

in the eyes of strangers

they glance with distrust

sometimes hate fear distain

it’s not as if 

I set out to be the enemy

merely wanted to be myself

merely wanted to play well with others

learn enough at school

to take me through adulthood 

and back to the cradle of earth

didn’t set out 

to harm attack frighten anyone

don’t go out of my way 

to do that today

all I have to do

when sitting on the subway 

look up and there

glaring at me

strangers

sizing me up as the enemy

their plight is my fault

my needs an affront 

to their tender sensibilities

even when I am oblivious to them;

not pushing any agenda forward

being as still & quiet as I can be 

so as not to make waves 

to make them aware 

of my sabotage of their calm

by merely being present

by breathing the same air 

by daring to walk the street

expecting some common courtesy

the same I thoughtlessly extend to them

I don’t see them as my enemy 

only as my judgers

as people caught in a fear

of the unknown

I’m no mystery 

not a blank page 

they can quickly 

with their expectations 

of what I want to do them

to their innocent saintly children

it’s not the children I care about

not the adults either

which is what makes me the enemy

the one with no demands on them 

except to be left alone

to enter into simple human interaction

not laden with anyone’s presumptions

about what power 

old white men secretly hold

about the devious things 

queers are plotting

how we intend to undermine 

their delicate fabric

with 

well I don’t know what

where does the reality 

slip into the fear

the potential of what might happen

sparks the fear

that the enemy is near

the enemy is me

so keep your distance

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

June

(canceled by covid19 😦 )June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

(Maybe) All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Crazy-makers & Way.02

Into ‘week’ two of the Artist’s Way. ‘Week” as the book is done in weeks not chapters. I’m giving myself two weeks to do each section. Week One was okay, no great revelations but confirmations that the process I started with it decades ago has been productive. Some of my negative self-talk comes from more recent years that from my past. perhaps though it is echoes of that past bs that had seeped in.

Week Two deal with crazy makers as a way of avoiding creativity. Oddly enough one of my biggest crazy makers, no longer living in Toronto, had a major crisis as I was starting this Way chapter. A crisis that included: partner cheating, wedding is off, moving in with parents. Oh my! We exchanged a few texts as I was walking & I refused to be drawn in. I did say ‘you’re a survivor’ – supportive enough. I didn’t offer sympathy, advice or a plane ticket to Toronto :-). Two days later & all is ‘well’ with him. He sees it all as bipolar in love. I didn’t ask for details.

I know how not to invite crazy-makers too deeply into my life. Julia talks about how we use these situations as distractions or excuses & as a way to score points for being good, helpful, self-sacrificing saints. 

Today, thanks to recovery in a couple of 12 step programs, I’m okay with people thinking I’m stoic, uncaring & uncooperative. Productivity is more grounding than codependency.

I’ve taken myself on some fun artist dates. Simple things like a walk through the Williamson Ravine – made a trek to take pictures of the Dollhouse on Bertmount, near Queen & Jones – it is actually mentioned on Google maps. Stopped after the doll invasion at Bobbette & Belle  for an artist cupcake. I also consider Hot Damn! an artist date, even though I am there with several people I know, I’m pretty much by myself as one of few (if not the only) gay white cismales over 60 in the house.

Blind Sided

I’ve looked at this from all sides

taken your view

my view

the outsider’s view

the long short jaundiced

rear view

it doesn’t matter which side

I’m the one in the wrong

even if it is your fault

that I’m in this position

it’s still my fault for looking twice

when the first glance 

told me all I needed to know

I shouldn’t have taken a closer look

& let you pass me by

 

but what’s a man supposed to do

opportunities like you

don’t come my way everyday

not that this was my last chance 

but it was as good a chance

as I’ve had in some time

a stroke of luck

so here I am

the guilty party once again

someone who said what he shouldn’t 

at just the wrong time 

for the greatest effect

 

those names we called each other

were only meant to hurt

I didn’t believe them for a minute 

but you did

I’m just not as sensitive

one of my faults I know

cold heartless me

I’m too quick to react 

when my buttons get pushed

I should never have showed you 

where those buttons were 

never let your toothbrush 

in my bathroom

never let your socks under my bed

never say never again

 

it’s all my fault for making peace

for being the placater 

I should have let go 

when I first had a chance

rather prove that by holding on

I was really really serious about us

I had lots of opportunities 

to escape but I stayed

things will be different next time

I should have defended myself 

the second time 

changed my view the third

but I didn’t

to make sure you realized I cared

that I could be forgiving

now I’m looking from all sides

inside outside top bottom 

head-to-toe

the way I looked over you the first time

everything held the eye

I didn’t have enough eyes 

to take it all in 

no eye to a future

I knew it would come to no good

I would end up the heatless prick 

once more

I had to see if this time would be different

you wouldn’t be like all the others

you weren’t 

trouble was I was like all the others

you told me that over and over

every man you meet treats you this way

I was no better than any of them

 

for once

I’m glad you’re right

glad that over is over

trust me it’s over

I won’t make that mistake again

I won’t take it lying down 

standing up bending over backwards

or any which way 

if that’s what it takes

to be true to you 

I’d rather be a liar

because it doesn’t matter which side

the view is from

I’m the one in the wrong

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Kharis 

Kharis 

 

is this the last wrap

or the first

the first wrap was a tissue

of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

I used that wrap

over & over

until the tissue

was a layer

layer after layer of

‘oh i’m fine’

‘i don’t mind’

‘how can i make you happy’

 

walking away

rather than add another layer

hoping nothing had caught

no thread was snagged

on a expectation

an exception

on resurrecting love

 

I was protected

entombed by safety

by the fact

that all anyone wanted to hear

was ‘oh i’m fine’

‘this bandage solution will do’

‘you deserve to be fixed first’

 

bound tight

peering at life though the slits

surrendering to the weight of history

pushed along by an unquestioned past

by ritual expectations

controlled by the clasp of gauze

layer upon layer after layer

some turned to dust

some turned to scar

some turned to face the sun

reaching for release

 

decayed tissue 

dust motes settling in the moonlight

‘how can i make you happy?’

‘how can i unravel the book of life’

can i survive

without another layer

of this tissue

this scar tissue of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

This one was written October 2017 before I watched The Mummy (1959), then worked on the next day after I watched it. In the movie the resurrected Kharis sinks into a bottomless bog. He sees no wrong in what he has been done. His self-sacrifice is unquestioned while none of his victims acknowledges that the mummy may have any sense of self. Not that he gives anyone an opportunity to reason with him. He was ‘pushed along by an unquestioned past /by ritual expectations.’

The piece started with that image of bandages as a tissue of lies. The prime lie being the self-sacrifice lie ‘oh i’m fine’ which come out of ‘the weight of history.’  Culturally men are to keep their real emotions, except anger, under wraps. Questioning the history is to cast doubt on one’s real manhood. It is better to sacrifice than surrender.

It’s so easy for people to accept ‘i’m fine’ without questioning it. Kharis is a man sacrificed to protect the princess he loved. He is a type of zombie compelling by spiritual forces not by his own mind. Not questioning our male history makes many men into zombies fulfilling the prophecy of male stoicism.

I play with metaphorical bandage images through the piece twisting them round each other the way a mummy is wrapped to point where one no longer knows who is actually under those bandages. We never see the ‘naked’ man only his eyes through the slits – a sort of tunnel vision.

There are some direct references to the 1959 film as well – there is a ritual to resurrect Kharis, it is read from the book of life, he then hopes to resurrect the princess, his one true love. This hetero love is found in nearly every variation of The Mummy – of course the hero’s fiancee always looks like the dead princess etc. All caught in a powerful plot devise nearly as confining as the layers of wrappings.

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Too Forgiving?

A Facebook friend recently posted ‘can one be too forgiving?’ I don’t know the context for her question but I have read that forgiveness sets me free – free of what? Free of thoughts of revenge mainly. I replied: ‘forgiveness without change is codependency.’

bagblue

body (of clothes) bag

I know it isn’t easy to forgive – partly because we feel that it somehow approves of the behaviour, that in fact we are giving permission for that behaviour to continue. There’s a sense that forgiveness absolves them of responsibility – that it allows them to escape the consequences of their actions. ‘If you forgive me, why don’t you want to see me’ ‘why do I have to go to jail’ etc.

mauvepattern

pretty patterns

Forgiveness helps free me of bitterness or anger for something but it doesn’t mean I forget the lessons I may have learned. Cunning manipulators work hard at turning forgiveness into something that is your fault – refusing to put up certain behaviours can result in them saying ‘I can see you’re still angry.’ When in fact all you are being is firm.

The need to forgive, like anger, can be addictive & as difficult to get free of – it can easily become a way of defining who we are – pushing us to find new situations (or old ones) that reassure our forgiving or angry identity. We become people looking or opportunities to forgive or get angry & end up feeling unfulfilled if we can’t find or create them.

pinkred

pink vs red

I’d rather be called harsh that get caught up in the cycle of  approval by letting people take advantage of me just to prove I’m not angry or holding a grudge. When I stop playing into them in anyway, they find the door themselves. I don’t even apologize if it hits them on the ass as they leave.

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It Rings For ?

how long is it before

the ring of a phone

doesn’t remind me of loss

what is the arc of that ache

of the decay from anger to acceptance

neither of which I welcome

the loss of who I love

the disappearance of the flesh

the face that mutated

from one here to dark memory

there was no way to prepare

for hearing the words

uttered in a hesitant way

do you know …

was a friend of yours …

were you close …

all that hushed rush of air

as I listened absorbed

uncertain if I could actually

say anything in response

wanting to shout to scream

to release the fear pent up so long

now realized what I always knew

that what was expected finally occurred

not hearing if it was by accident

on purpose

by disease

by a drug deal gone bad

none of that mattered

the end result was the same

leaving me here phone in hand

wondering how long will it take

a year two years

how long has it been now

the days haven’t been counted

the years have oozed by

the ring of the phone has that effect

that memory

that fear arises

I’m unwilling to answer

I say a little prayer before I do

hoping against fact

that it isn’t that inevitable event

it has been years

I’ve been in this state of loss

of missing you

longing for your return

yet knowing that will never happen

somethings can’t be undone

the body may never be restored

the one I hold in memory is gone

the one that remains is going

I can’t hold it here I can’t keep it here

I can’t fight this fight for you

felt that loss long before it happened

feel that loss now

don’t know how to share it

how to pretend it isn’t raw tender

that I wish it would end

yet dreading the way it might end

that blaze of dismay not glory

that will take you away

once and for all

each ring of the phone

brings that gone closer

each time it isn’t you

the victim on the other end

I breath a sigh of relief

grateful that the moment is not now

there’s still hope

isn’t there

as long as the phone doesn’t ring

as long as it isn’t you

calling to say

that final maudlin good bye

soon1

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nano02

http://nanowrimo.org/

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sweater