Behind The Cape

Cape Fever

it was a black satin half-slip

with a hem of red lace

I found in my mother’s dresser

it was cool on my skin

I twisted & turned

in front of the mirror

to see it flow

clutching the waist

around my eight-year-old throat

so it was my black cape

dripping with the blood

I’d dragged it through

but it wasn’t long enough

not full enough

meant for my mother’s narrow hips

when I tried to sweep it up

to cover my face

it fell off

it would never be Dracula’s cape

 

besides my eye brows were wrong

even after I tired to create

those terrifying arches 

using eyebrow forms from

my mother’s Elizabeth Arden make up kit

it had dozens of shapes to trace 

none were arched enough

so I did what I could

by turning one upside down

spectacular

 

the mouth full of tomato catchup

was impossible 

too thick

for it drip over my teeth

or out of the corners of my mouth

the red was wrong

beet juice was the right colour

but way too thin

the two didn’t mix well either

 

but those eyebrows were spectacular

they scared even me

in the mirror

when I held a flashlight under my chin

all I needed was the right cape

and a victim

 

This piece is based on a real memory of me playing with this half-slip. I might have a bit older as well as this memory is in our Royal Ave house which we didn’t move into until I was about that age. Was the slip satin? I don’t know but it was smooth & cool. My mother had, thanks to me Dad, various pieces of sexy lingerie. Did she like it as much as he cleary did?

I was old enough to be left on my own though. I would try on her high-heels but never felt the need to wear her clothes other than playing with those half-slips & sometimes a crinoline. I loved the flare of that stiff fabric as I spun around to watch it spin around.

 

I had seen Bela Lugosi on TV by then & knew in a very general what it was about – capes, looking over one that covered the face & of course drinking blood. I was frightened mainly by that face, the arch of his eyebrows not by what he was doing. All I remembered of the plot was people bending to his will & then him turning into a bat. It wasn’t until I saw the film as an ‘adult’ that it made sense to me.

 

The things done for the color of blood weren’t that elaborate & were tried as a Halloween effect not as a part of this actual moment.

Looking back now I’m not sure if I really to be a vampire as much as I wanted his mind control power.  Who cares about consent as I bend you to my will. I didn’t want victims either, my fear of getting caught playing with the slip was enough fear for me. I doubt if I was that interested in victims as I was in no longer being one. Besides (spoiler alert) Dracula dies in the end.

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On My Kindle 01

Last week I wrote about childhood sets of books. This week I’m looking complete sets on my Kindle. One of the cool things about Amazon for Kindle are the number of collections complete works by authors whose works can be impossible find in bookstores or even libraries. Different ebook companies have brought together set of mostly out of public domaine books at ridiculously low prices.

For example the set  “Slavery: Not Forgiven, Never Forgotten” – which for about $2 US includes:

Narrative of Frederick Douglass

12 Years a Slave

The Underground Railroad

Up From Slavery

Willie Lynch Letter

Confessions of Nat Turner

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

History of Mary Prince

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom

Thirty Years a Slave

Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green

The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Behind The Scenes

Harriet: The Moses of Her People

Father Henson’s Story of His Own Life

50 Years in Chains

Twenty-Two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman

Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb

Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave

Story of Mattie J. Jackson

A Slave Girl’s Story

From the Darkness Cometh the Light

Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy

Narrative of Joanna

Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Who Escaped in a 3×2 Feet Box

Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Buried Alive (Behind Prison Walls) For a Quarter of a Century

Sketches of the Life of Joseph Mountain 

Oroonoko

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Heroic Slave

Slavery’s Pleasant Homes

Our Nig

Clotelle

Marrow of Tradition

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

A Fool’s Errand

Bricks Without Straw

Imperium in Imperio

The Hindered Hand

The History of Abolition of African Slave-Trade

History of American Abolitionism

Pictures of Slavery in Church and State

Life, Last Words and Dying Speech of Stephen Smith Who Was Executed for Burglary

Report on Charge of Aiding and Abetting in the Rescue of a Fugitive Slave

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

Duty of Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Gettysburg Address

XIII Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1865)

Civil Rights Act of 1866

XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868)

Reconstruction Acts (1867-1868)

Whew! This is a university syllabus that probably no university book store or even research library could supply. 

Many of these sets are to broaden my knowledge of some writers who are known for their big hits; others are by authors of queer interest whose works I knew vaguely or of whom I have never heard of before until reading about them in my endless readings. One set is the Works of John Addington Symonds. I knew of him through mentions of his interactions with Walt Whitman. His books on Ancient Greek culture are sometimes citied in histories of queer writing. So I figure when I first got my Kindle to read some of those works. Interesting essays about travel in & history of Italy, but thank God writing style has changed. 

The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (+ 130 Poe short stories); Mary Shelly: The Ultimate Collection; The Complete Works of Bram Stoker. Who read what Mary Shelly wrote other than Frankenstein? Stoker wrote more than Dracula? Reading their other works one sees the why those works have faded. Mary was more or less an accidental writer & reading he rather work it’s easy to see why some suspect her husband played a role in her big hit for the plotting & characterizations. She was not really a fabulist. Bram became an almost tradition writer of his time & none of his other plots were as ‘startling’ as Dracula. 

Lovecraft is a boyhood favorite of mine. His plots are rich, his writing style now strikes me as overly florid & it is creamy influenced by the Shelly & Stoker – but he does avoid, the most part, the need for some sort of romantic subplot. My bedroom on the east coast had slated ceilings so his story about the room with odd angles in the ceiling & walls always appealed to me. Those angles lead to another dimension. I have the bio ‘I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft’ on my e.bookshelf short list.

It’s not all gloom doom or educational on the Kindle thanks to Stephen Leacock: Humour Books collection; Mark Twain: 51 Classic Works. Both of these are authors I loved in my teens. Leacock still makes me laugh out loud. Twain can go on but he had a grasp of the foibles of human nature I love. His short pieces are fun & the longer books reflect their times. Both a writers of the local experience – Americana, Canadiana full of innocence that still speaks of today. Who isn’t intimidated if not anxious dealing with banks; has the plight of blacks in the USA progressed from the fears of the runway slaves in Twain?

Book Bound

in one of those boys’ books

tom swift hardy brothers

can’t remember which one 

there were mysterious lights 

on the cliff

or were they from a strange shape 

in the ocean

hovering by the moon 

something distant and indistinct

but threatening

 

tough guys

were skulking around town 

something held in coat pockets

that might be a gun

a magnetic pulsator

that would incapacitate  

one or all of our heroes

who would come to

tied up somewhere

worry about their girlfriend

they always had girlfriends 

who were peripheral 

to the story 

but clearly in place

so we young readers

would not get a whiff 

of anything more unsavoury

that those unshaved goons

with foreign accents

who slouched around the ranch

the railway yards

to do no good

 

the boys always had girlfriends

so no one would get the idea

that they weren’t the ideal role model

ripe with normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

how to make the star capacitor

turn the hydrogen to oxygen 

so they could breathe again

float to the surface

drive off

fly off

with the adoring faces of their girlfriends

soft and worshipful

 

red-haired teens 

with freckle faces

none of them shaving yet

jumping into their roadsters

worrying about their kidnapped fathers

deciphering cryptograms

punching each other joyfully 

in the arm

as each hurdle was accomplished

as each bruise cleared up

always ready to face 

the next opportunity

never doubting what they could do

never questioning 

how they really were

what did this all mean

why couldn’t they go

a few weeks without smugglers

Martian terrorists lurking around

to make make it difficult for everyone

 

they never had to face peer pressure

other than the football team

a team that never got drunk after a big game

boys who where boys

becoming real men

growing up slowly

always gaining parental 

acceptance and approval

amazing their pals

yet not letting it go to their heads

square jawed 

rugged 

individualist who only disobeyed 

to make things better

grew up with out self doubt

normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

but how not to escape

what was written for them

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

https://www.facebook.com/events/504067323723768/

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

https://wp.me/p1RtxU-uJ

Shelly Stoker

Two ‘horror’ novels that have inspired me are Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ Though I did not read them until after I had seen various movies based on them both. In fact I didn’t realize they were adaptations of novels until my late-teens. 

I presently have collections of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker on my Kindle. Getting compete works appeals to me as both of these writers have been reduced to their single hit – so reduced that often people don’t think they wrote anything else. Needless to say they did but nothing else captured the public eye the way their big hits did.

I have read the big hits a few times now, both recently, and also read some of their other fiction. I have to say I was both elated and disappointed. Brilliant plots, interesting characters but writing styles have changed so much I find myself slogging through the prose.

I found it hard to divest myself of the movies as well. The Frankenstein novel is structured as memory, as opposed to a action, we get telling. The language is often highflown romantic intellectually purple prose. There is no real Igor in the novel 😦 Plus the creature is rather articulate. It is the plot that holds together, where as the writing is annoying. Her other fiction, that I’ve read, continues this intellectually purple prose of the finest feelings of truest love.

Some of the same holds true for Stoker – Dracula is told as letters & journal entries – very much the style of the time. But every letter writer sounds like the same person. The grand chase scene is endless with a series of delays, snow storms etc to the final confrontation. Much of the vampire mythos is set out: garlic, wooden stakes, sleeping in coffins, & bats. Again too much telling. 

Movie versions have done well by both these basic plots and getting back to the original source material  to see where it all came from has been fun. Seeing how these big successes affected the lives of the writers has also been informative. Today we have the same high concept writing/ movie making where often the concept is frittered away by the telling. 

What inspires me is that the fantastic can be made real with the right world-building & consistency of concept. The authors were invested the reality of their creatures even if they failed to fully develop the character. If you haven’t read either of these it is time you did 🙂

Fiends

when we were fiends

there was nothing that didn’t excite us

the sacred hunger for the better blast

the color unseen

the uncommon lunge from fire to fire 

clumsily lurching from profane to evil

ugly became true beauty 

the more confrontational the surface

the deeper the meaning had to be

 

we would laugh giggle sneer

at those lunching on luncheon meats

not realizing we were the fiends

who made mockery of striving

up some corporate ladder

we would sweep past that boundary

we were going to create substance

that would last longer than the Beatles

have more cruelty than war

drink more blood than Dracula

we were the righteous vanguard

to take fiends into the next level 

 

we would stay up all night 

smoking toking stroking 

our eyes marbles in sand 

rolling our way through 

begrudging sunrise light 

to diners thick with fusty cozy fish smell

for crack of morning eggs 

swimming in blessed grease 

swearing we were bound 

heart to heart in our struggle 

against this culture that wanted 

to deny fiends proper place at any table

 

we tripped off to university

jumping courses in midterm

anthropology to comparative religions

seeking a way to alter 

the substrata of this messed up 

over commercialized culture

 

fiends forced to deal with

the mundane march of shoes to job

we wore the sheen of clock time

kept our fiendishness to ourselves

letting it out in mosh pits 

letters to the editor rages open stages

to keep the brain dancing

while we saw others melt into safety

 

we sit just out of the afternoon sun

don’t want skin cancer

no one wants aging fiends with lesions

waiting for our green tea to steep

looking with longing at sweets

at sweet young things

everyone is younger than yesterday

striving to be fiend of the moment

pierced bleached mohawked

wearing the sneer we invented

looking at us with the disdain

we copyrighted so long ago

even if they don’t recognize it

in their sacred lunge for the new

we are still fiends

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Cape Fever

Cape Fever

it was a black satin half-slip

with a hem of red lace

I found in my mother’s dresser

it was cool on my skin

I twisted & turned

in front of the mirror

to see it flow

clutching the waist

around my eight-year-old throat

so it was my black cape

dripping with the blood

I’d dragged it through

 

it wasn’t long enough

not full enough

meant for my mother’s narrow hips

when I tried to sweep it up

to cover my face

it fell off

it would never be Dracula’s cape

 

besides my eye brows were wrong

even after I tired to create

those terrifying arches 

using eyebrow forms from

my mother’s Elizabeth Arden make up kit

it had dozens of shapes  

none were arched enough

so I did what I could

by turning one upside down

spectacular

 

the mouth full of tomato catchup

was impossible 

too thick

for it drip over my teeth

or out of the corners of my mouth

the red was wrong

beet juice was the right colour

but way too thin

the two didn’t mix well either

 

but those eyebrows were spectacular

they scared even me

in the mirror

when I held a flashlight under my chin

all I needed was the right cape

and a victim

This is a sweet mix of real memory but not of an actual event. The half-slip existed, as well some crinolines. I was never brave enough to actually handle the half-slip but I did so towel capes, which were too heavy for the right effect. The crinolines I did wear on my head a few times. They gave me a feeling of long long big hair. Even then I wasn’t really dawn to cross-dressing – I guess the cultural sense of male and female was present.

My mother also had one of those make-up kits. It came in the mail. If I remember there were some Tv ads for these kits, or maybe they were in some magazine. A collection of eye brow stencils, lip stencils that she would use to create eyebrows & lip outlines for that perfect look. There were brushes an pencils. Even an eyelash curler. I did attempt eyebrows one halloween but they were more funny than scary.


This is one of those false childhood memory poems in which every detail is true but they never happened in the context they happen in here. I always wanted a cape, more in the Batman style though than Dracula. I found the red collar distracting 🙂 I have tired on a few as an adult & what a difference a fabric makes. Velvet sure looks good but it weighs a ton. Satin is nearly as bad. Plus keeping the hem out of the mud in a graveyard can be very distracting.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Buffy Buffy Buffering

I have a confession to make – I’m a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I have the complete box-set of the TV series. I got a year or so ago & have been watching nearly an episode a week. Currently I’m about 8 episodes into Season 4 – where the Scoobie gang goes to university. All I can say is that the writers feel a little lost so far. Without two of the major players from the first 3 seasons they seem unsure of what to do without them or without the high-school as the grounding set.

I’m also listening to Buffering the Vampire Slayer. An amazing podcast by Jenny Owen Youngs & Kristin Russo, a married lesbian couple (I say this because they say it frequently). I heard about Buffering (I keep hitting ‘g’ instead of ‘f’) from Liv Mammone on Facebook when she first starting season 1.

Buffering is commenting on each episode in sequence is deep into season 3. So I have a large backlog of their posts to listen to as I & I’ve just come to the end of season 1. But to keep from getting further behind I’m listening to their freshest podcasts at the same time. So I have Buffy coming at me from 3 different points in the story arc.

As they frequently point out the show not only reflects high-school but also the sense of what we hide, or think we hide, from others as lgbtq people. To avoid spoilers I will say that the show explores lesbianism in a very fun, sensual way. Season 2 does have a minor character who is an out gay male high-schooler but his story arc is so undeveloped it strikes me now as an attempt to be comic than anything else.

The Buffering podcast is great fun. The hosts know their stuff & their eye for small detail is excellent. They notice things ie: posters on the wall, how can anyone run in those shoes – sort of stuff that frequently catches my eye too. One thing they haven’t mentioned (but maybe I haven’t heard that episode) is who pays for their clothes. I don’t mean for the costume department but in the reality of Sunnydale. The characters rarely wear the same outfits from one episode to the next. We never even see them shopping for clothes (other than for Halloween or the prom). Clearly the Hellmouth has elves that make new clothes overnight for everyone.

Cape Fever

it was a black satin half-slip

with a hem of red lace

I found in my mother’s dresser

it was cool on my skin

I twisted & turned

in front of the mirror

to see it flow

clutching the waist

around my eight-year-old throat

so it was my black cape

dripping with the blood

I’d dragged it through

 

it wasn’t long enough

not full enough

meant for my mother’s narrow hips

when I tried to sweep it up

to cover my face

it fell off

it would never be Dracula’s cape

 

besides my eye brows were wrong

even after I tired to create

those terrifying arches

using eyebrow forms from

my mother’s Elizabeth Arden make up kit

it had dozens of shapes to

none were arched enough

so I did what I could

by turning one upside down

spectacular

 

a mouth full of tomato catchup

was impossible

too thick

for it drip over my teeth

or out of the corners of my mouth

the red was wrong

beet juice was the right colour

but way too thin

the two didn’t mix well either

 

but those eyebrows were spectacular

they scared even me

in the mirror

when I held a flashlight under my chin

all I needed was the right cape

and a victim

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

a new chapter every Tuesday

 

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

 

June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Cape Fever

Taking an October break from 227 Rules to share some very recent ‘scary’ pieces. How recent? This one  was written October 2, 2017. Blood is best fresh and this one is still dripping.

Cape Fever

it was a black satin half-slip

with a hem of red lace

I found in my mother’s dresser

it was cool on my skin

I twisted & turned

in front of the mirror

to see it flow

clutching the waist

around my eight-year-old throat

so it was my black cape

dripping with the blood

I’d dragged it through

but it wasn’t long enough

not full enough

meant for my mother’s narrow hips

when I tried to sweep it up

to cover my face

it fell off

it would never be Dracula’s cape

 

besides my eye brows were wrong

even after I tired to create

those terrifying arches

using eyebrow forms from

my mother’s Elizabeth Arden make up kit

it had dozens of shapes to

none were arched enough

so I did what I could

by turning one upside down

spectacular

 

the mouth full of tomato catchup

was impossible

too thick

for it drip over my teeth

or out of the corners of my mouth

the red was wrong

beet juice was the right colour

but way too thin

the two didn’t mix well either

 

but those eyebrows were spectacular

they scared even me

in the mirror

when I held a flashlight under my chin

all I needed was the right cape

and a victim

A Bloodless Dracula

Made a day trip out to Niagara-on-the-Lake to see the Shaw Festival production of Dracula adapted by Liz Lochhead. Much like Hamlet, in this day & age, it is impossible to see Dracula for the first time. And like see various productions of Hamlet one comes to see what they have done with various production values, performances & subtext.

This version features great performances by Allan Louis as Dracula; Marla McLean as Mina; Cherissa Richards as Lucy; and Graeme Somerville as Renfield. Each invested their characters with real emotion & clearly relished some of the juicy text without over-acting. The others were strong though I found the supporting servants, nurses etc relied on campy comic accents giving us laughs in a text that needed all the tension it could get.

I was disappointed in this rather bloodless production in which the over 25 set/scene changes proved most of the action. I realize dramatizing the novel, told in letters & journal entries presents challenges. Lochhead streamlines the story & keeps it moving along but inviting characters so shoehorn in social commentary about the times was distracting & didn’t add, for me, any resonance to the play. The same with the mildly Oscar Wilde humour that was added. I would have rather seen one of the stage versions that popped up in the early 1900’s.

I was not disappointed by the score by John Gzowski. Moody without being used to create emotion. I would have bought the cd if there was one. Costumes (finally a Dracula cape I would actually wear), lighting, the constantly changing sets all worked well. Allan Louis made a most robust Dracula, one who clearly didn’t really need his ‘superantural’ powers to bend women to his will.

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Dracula Must Die

The haunted house Halloween edition of the Beautiful was hosted by Lizzie Violet. She set a very high standard for costume which no one else quite reached. Winner of the costume prize, by audience applause, was Koom Kankesan with his Death By Consumerism – credit card embedded in the brain – look.

slip off your shoes and relax
slip off your shoes and relax

First feature John Oughton performed in a semi-see-through skull mask to keep with the darkness of the night. His work is sharply observed, tightly-crafted and sometime amusing. of Honest Ed’s: ‘the world turn to Ed to see just how cheap a man can be.’ ‘life is a sneeze that blesses itself.’ ‘movies show us how reality is edited into memory.’

hooded pillar
hooded pillar

When I saw that David Nickle was going to feature I was fanboy excited, have read & enjoyed his books. He did not disappoint with two eerie pieces – first one about a city literally haunted by the spirit of a hit-and-run victim; then ‘Dracula Must Die’ his kindergarten take on Buffy – as the kids take on the Dracula child in day care with them. Funny and tense.

winter boots in summer
winter boots in summer

Music feature  James Roy Daley turned out to be another horror writer/editor whom I’ve enjoyed over the past year but I didn’t realize he was also a singer/songwriter. His was Ricky Nelson possessed by the spirit of Eddie Munster. Sweet folk-rock love ballads with very, very dark turns: ‘I might be killing her/but I’m thinking of you.’ A great set. A great show and a chilling time was had by all.

samples

Movie Night

we had been wandering the wilderness

with only popcorn and jumbo colas

to give us sustenance and strength

on day two of our trek through the multiplex

looking for an exit

that didn’t lead to yet another theatre experience

where we were nudged into seats

to be pummelled by loud

ceaseless

ultra high HD adverts

and promises of real good movies next week

the washrooms were at the end of crooked

unlit corridors

with doors that seems velcroed to the floor

while we were holding in

as best we could

the gut rumbling cheese food

used to soak the nachos and chilli

no toilet paper

only hand driers

gleaming white sink

and hands free taps

of luke warm water

all strawberry lemon scented

tv screens instead of mirrors over the sinks

with more trailers of better movies coming next week

someone moaning in a locked cubical

the corridor changed direction when we left

looking for the movie we had come to see

clutching our tickets we waved to ushers

who were busy on cell phones

by the end of day three we found the movie

we’d paid to see

only to discover it was no longer showing

and we couldn’t get a refund

but they did offer half price nachos and chilli

the next time we came to a movie

because there would be better movies next week

after an elevator  two escalators

we found ourselves back on the street

the sunset darkened

by the closing credits of our movie