Universal Hunks

Universal Hunks – A Pictorial History of Muscular Men Around the World, 1895-1975 – David L. Chapman with Douglas Brown – Arsenal Pulp Press. A couple of the photos in this surfaced on a ‘vintage men’ twitter I follow, with a link to the book, which I ordered & have as paperback. Ebook was available but this is one I needed to turn pages.

It is an excellent study on the nature of masculinity around the world – masculinity seen as muscular strength. It also has a sharp subtext on colonization, race & male nudity. I recall in high school some of my male classmates were alway eager to go through the National Geographic Magazines in the school library to find bare breasted women. One guy got suspended for cutting those pictures out, (or maybe it was bra ads in Miss Chatelaine.) I was usually disappointed in how few tribal men got the same tender photographic attention.

Strength & masculinity & violence have been a standard of defining  what makes a man a man. The books reminded of the old Charles Atlas ads that appeared in comic books & men’s magazine where skinny guy on beach get sand kicked in his face by the muscular bully – skinny guy buys the Atlas muscle building course & tosses that bully aside – the message being bullies deserved to be beaten – violence is the way to making oneself respected a man.Of course today if that happened in the USA one of them would merely pull a gun & kill the other in self-defence.

Universal Hunks takes us around the world outside of North America with a series of excellent photos of muscle men. Some became brand names for health products – eat these biscuits & you too can unbend horseshoes. Many enlarged their fame with postcard pictures doing stunts or merely posing in very tight garments or even bare chested. 

The photos gave admirers the opportunity to look as long as they wanted. Many posed for sculptors & painters as well & some shots of those studio moments are included. Many of the photos are amazingly ageless & could have been taken of men last week. None of them deliberately eroticize their subjects, that is up to the viewer, in this case me 🙂

Suffocating

me face down flat on the floor

me: fifteen

the floor: high school gym

pine slats and the smell of socks

lift from the waist

me lifting sweating

I could do this much of the class

I felt safe in one spot

not facing anything   anyone

<>

now roll over

this was a little worse

I could see the other guys in my class

but I’m still safe

in one spot on the floor

I dreaded it all so much

I’d arrive at school in my gym clothes 

to avoid the change room

okay on your feet boys and boys

we groaned up

jumping jacks

<>

I was still safe in one spot

I could keep up with this

it was basketball that did me in

where I could never remember left from right

never could manage a lay up

traveling with the ball – whatever that was

I would pass whenever I could

sometimes I’d fall to get out of the way

<>

but that fear was merely prelude 

to what I dreaded the most

the showers

I’d yank my glasses off right away

soft focus everyone

into naked fuzzy forms

I would slink in as small as I could

rinse down

dart back to my locker

keep my eyes to the floor – to faces

but there was always someone too close

someone I couldn’t keep from focusing on

when I was trying not to look

at hair everywhere on some of them

asses backs around their balls

<>

I would dress barely dried off 

rush up the stairs and outside

to breath

to keep from drowning 

in the damp desires

that were suffocating me

<>

……

Check out my blog about this poem: 

Suffocating  http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1dQ  

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Out With The Bathwater

Out With The Bathwater

he wanted to drink

my bathwater

or so he said

I never did take him up on it

if he had said that

after a few dates

I might have found it

appealing  

almost flattering

but to start with that

was a bit much

it was the sort of

coming on too strong

I called ‘a red flag’

similar to sending a phone number

in the first message

or as the first message

not even a call me

or I liked your profile

I’m not going to call that number

<>

he wanted to drink

my bathwater

when I asked him why

he said that it was pretty obvious

the water

was something that had touched

every inch of my body

the way he wished he could

I was amused

intrigued

all his pics were blurry

or close ups of his nipples

no face pic

<>

I asked for a face photo

never heard back from him

The on-line hook-up world is full of every fetish you can imagine. Obviously I know more about the ‘gay’ male faction but am sure this array of kink is found to the same degree in the hetero scene. Most sites are full of vanilla guys with a dash of leather, s&m, b&d & there some sites are devoted to specific types of play or types of men: bears, older, black – so you can narrow focus.

Profile info usually includes what sort of play the person is interested in & I, unlike many, read that section of a profile (after I check out their hight 🙂 ) Even profile nicknames tell me enough: PoppersRus – is not for me. If approached I make it clear that, based on their interests, we aren’t a good match. Some guys get a bit huffy mind you as if my not being interested in x is judging them. Whatever. If you want to, say, dress as a baby including a diaper, that’s fine by me but I’m not interested – my lack of interest is not a sign of disapproval.

This piece is based on a couple of actual non-encounters. I am perhaps more cautious than some, mind you, but some first contacts don’t even get responded too. Bathwater Jim did a reply though because his (I assume it was a man) approach was novel enough to warrant that much. The reply turned into one of those corny dating book pick-up lines. ‘if I told you you had beautiful body would you hold it against me?’

The anonymity of the internet allows people to approach strangers in ways they probably wouldn’t in person. It’s easy to brave when both parties are faceless, voiceless. I enjoy profile pics but know that with the right angle, lighting & photoshop anyone can be larger than life. 

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Story Bundle On My Kindle

I have a raft of Story Bundle offerings on my Kindle. In the past I’ve had their annual lgbtqia selections. I also pick up their world scifi collections & currently am working through this bookshelf:

Cannibal Chef – Cassandra Khaw

Priome Meridian: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Secret History of Moscow – Ekaterina Sedia

The Apex Book of World SF 3/4/5

The Vanishing Kind – Lavie Tidhar

Under the pendulum Sun – Jeanette Ng

The Thousand Year Black – TOBI Hirotaka

Slipping – Lauren Brukes

Nexhuman – Francesco Verso

Falling in Love With Hominids – Nalo Hopkinson

Escape From Bagdad! – Saad Z. Hossain

After the Falre – Deji Bryce Olukotun

AfroSF v3

I enjoy these looks at the future from writers outside the ciswhite heterosex context. I have read the first two volumes of The Apex Books & loved them. 

Also waiting to be read are: Dune Messiah: Frank Herbert; Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant – Melissa Scott – this is the 3rd in this series that I first came across in a Story Bundle of lgbtqia scifi. Star: Yukio Mishima – Mishima is an inspiration to me. I saw this on the shelf at a book store & checked on Amazon & downloaded a copy. Too bad there isn’t away to do that as an in-store download purchase or I would have done it there.

Psychedelic-40 – Louis Charbonneau; Sexperiment – Clyde Allison – I stumbled on these thanks a Tumblr feed of pulp scifi feeds. The covers were enough to make me want to read these plus those titles are fantastic. I can’t wait to read them. 

Looming Low Volume I; Dig Two Graves: Anthology Vol. II; Anathema: Issue 8. Looming & Dig feature stories by my niece Betty Rocksteady (she writes nightmares 🙂 ) Gory with a helping of sexuality & insects. Anathema is a Canadian spec fiction magazine that is strongly lgbtqia. I’ve been a subscriber from issue 1. Excellent stories minimal gore.

Recent additions are Valley Of The Dolls: 50th Anniversary Edition – Jacqueline Susann. Susann is another of my literary inspirations – this book in particular with its mix of soap opera, wish fulfilment, showbiz & sex. I’ve read it several times & my paperback is showing signs of age. Deep Work – Cal Newport: a self-help book! A friend of mine read it & it pushed him to remove diversions from his life so he can focus on productivity or at least on things that move him forward. The Internet is full of fake-productivity time-wasters like Facebook, twitter, linked in, etc. 

Most recent addition is What happens on tour, stays on tour by Kevin Paterson. I ‘met’ Kevin online via WordPress. This is the fourth ebook book of his I’ve downloaded. Yes I did read the others & quite enjoyed them so I’m looking forward to this one. 

The Witch

the witch that is my name

cartwheels over the city

clowns around when there is nothing

here to laugh at

when there are only tears to spill

to dampen the grave dust grace

of lost stars and missed chances

 

you aren’t the only one

needing to be charmed back to wetness

not the only one who had lost his day

in the night of frustrations and distrust

not the only one who thinks

the witch that is my name

can do more that any one name

can possibly do

besides

you don’t believe in fairy tale stuff

there are no happy blending

no shuffled coils

that can ever lead you back

to the safety of the tomb

 

the witch that is my name

cannot remove the pain

that creeps into your bones

that leaves you feeling

like a ghost without a skin

cannot move you along this path

any farther than you are now

but will not sit around with you either

there are floors to be swept

things to be undone

 

the witch that is my name

flies around blind alleys

with the same discomfort as any other

lost hankering figment

the blood in my veins hurts for you

takes me where I least expect to be

and leaves me the word

the unutterable word

that cannot help anyone

that cannot bring comfort to anyone

but me

cannot replace your skin

cannot take your place

 

the witch that is my name

has been divested of all power

except the power you give yourself

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every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

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

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Right Entrance

The Right Entrance

the girls

had their own school

a Catholic separate school

we’re talking 60’s – 70’s

Cape Breton

 

I don’t know if there was one

for Catholic boys

but the girls had their own

to protect them 

from the unruly attentions of boys

 

schools I went to were mixed

but there was

boys’ manual training

girls’ domestic science

separate entrances for boys for girls

mixed classes

but boys’ gym

girls’ gym

 

the best way to control

those masculine urges

was segregation

guys who got laid were men

girls who got laid were easy

girls who didn’t were teases

guys who didn’t 

bragged about doing it

or salivated endless about pussy

boobs

because they were men

 

never once

never

was there a sense

that the guys were in the wrong

it was only the girls 

who need to be protected

guys weren’t taught

to think differently

in fact

we were encouraged

to get a little

get laid

get into her panties

 

find’em

feel’em

fuck’em

forget’em

 

this was masculine prerogative

entitlement

a natural urge

that resented any attempt

to curb it

do you want your sons

to grow up to be fags

yeah sure

free and easy access

to pussy

is the cure for queer

 

yet I grew up

gay queer a fag

full of fear

yet sure of who I was

& who I wanted to have sex with

 

I tried dating

getting a little

getting a little wasn’t enough

to cure me of anything

so I forgot’em 

but I did learn 

which entrance

was right for me

This piece is a documentary. All of it is my high-school experience though some of the facts go back even further in my history. When my family moved to Cape Breton I was enrolled in a nearby school with a mixed gender & to a degree religious population. Entirely white as well I might add. Protestant with a scattering of Jewish students – who we knew were Jewish because of the many holidays they had.

It wasn’t until I got to high-school that I realized there was a separate school system for Catholics, particularly girls. Rather it was a high-school run by a teaching order of Catholic nuns. It wasn’t limited to Catholic’s as I think one of my sisters went there because it offered better secretarial training. A class that was never offered to boys – we did get an introduction to basic accounting though.

Beyond this religious segregation there was a gender divide in the rest of the school system for sports, non-academic vocational options – boys got manual training & shop; girls got domestic science & shopping. Most of the academic classes were mixed but there was separate entrances for grades & genders. 

Sydney did have a sizeable black community, as well as a large Native community – but we only saw them if our teams were playing against them. As best as I can remember there was no racial mix in my high school except for one, lone Japanese girl.

 

The four f’s ‘find’em’ was a real mantra usually used by ‘guys who didn’t but bragged about doing it’ The piece also reflects how gender doesn’t equate sexuality – that even though I had all this male behaviour example I turned out queer, having no queer male behaviour example to lure me into the unnatural side. 

The ‘entrance’ that was right for me? I’ll leave that to your imagination 🙂


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‘Quieting the colonial hum’

 

The Hot Damn! season 5 finale filled Buddies in Bad Times to the rafters. The house filled so rapidly that the event actually started on time !! Yes, a spoken word event that started on time 🙂 House music was provided by DJ Sofia Fly, who also supplied great entrance & exit music for the slammers. Not that the energy of the house needed any help 🙂

 

The show opened with Charlie Petch’s land acknowledgment followed a set of songs by Ogichidaa Kwe. The song about the warning heard but not believed resonates in our political climate as we deal with governments who feel warnings are not to be believed without the right corporate backing.

I was one of the lucky poets who participated in Nasra Adem’s Mirror of Tarot workshop the night before at Unit 2 so I was ready to see their feature set. In a flashing of red and gold Nasra’s set was spokenword alternating with songs and a dash of political anger. 

some moments from that set: the sun looks up & catches my glint – I just want to ride my intentions – I quiet the colonial hum around me – how loud men are with their fear – healing only happens when I’m safe enough to call for help – bluest black starlight – if this shit ain’t intersectional it don’t exist – white feminism can suck my dick – you can wipe your tears they aren’t needed here.
After a break Charlie started the slam with the queer national anthem – somewhere over the rainbow. Then the eager slammers hit the stage with pieces that were emotionally powerful, funny, deeply personal & accurate skewering of our dominant culture’s inability to accept diversity on all levels.

moments from round one: a shade of blue trying make bruises jealous, half my identity was stolen from me by the time I was six, I want you to talk to me rather than write it all in your journal, compensation doesn’t undo the truth, he tried to whitewash me with his bedsheets, my bravery doesn’t mean your allyship is unnecessary, down the rabbit hole of trauma, the nights my memory of you is my razor blade, I never studied dance but learned how to fall with precision, it’s safer to play chameleon, either swallow fear of be swallowed by it, fat kids should eat because they are fat, every bite tastes like shame.

Moments from round two: you don’t want me & it cuts to my soul, wrote a note on my phone not to text you, the sound of motherhood knocks a cracked door, when in this city I avoid the subway, I would hold you the way gravity holds the atmosphere, I guess it isn’t about sex anymore, confession is telling how good she tastes, is there a way to be Christian & not be ignorant, being queer is fucking difficult, I used cover girl to cover up the hicks, congratulations! you’re straight, why can’t I be as angry as him.

Over these five years Hot Damn! as become an amazing force for diversity. It has created & maintained a safe space were the gender marginalized members of already marginalized communities can come together to express their loves, frustrations, fears and outright fucking anger without being judged. Oh right, they are judged as part of the slam, but that’s a different matter 🙂

It was a non-stop feast (or perhaps feeding frenzy) of words from the competing poets Sulva, Charly Bird, Dee Durward (QUEIRDO winner! Doe!) Robert Molloy, & Danielle Workman. After scores were tallied: the top three were (it was SO CLOSE) Jayda Marley (3rd 58.5), Fira (58.9) and winner Wes Ryan (59.2). 

 

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