Little Town Flirt

On a recent Disability After Dark Andrew Gurza talks about flirting – which is a sexually loaded conversation that relies on innuendo as opposed to the direct ‘let’s get it on’. In gay male culture there is often no grey area in which one has to be furtive in finding out if the other person is sexually interested in you but sadly if that person isn’t sexually interested then there is no further interaction.

 

I realize this disconnect isn’t only in gay circles. I’ve meet too many straight male poets who find it impossible to interact with female poets they don’t find physically attractive & who can get very bitter when the female won’t come across after all the time they spent them helping to edit a piece of writing. Piece of writing has to lead to piece of ass. But I digress.
Flirting is so treacherous – it’s at the point where if one is nice it has to mean one in interested. I’ve pretty much stopped initiating conversations with strangers, gay or straight, male or female, outside of recovery lest my agreeableness be seen as coming on. If I come across as aloof or cold that’s better than being sued for sexual harassment.

I’m not one of those guy who feel entitled to pay strangers a compliment & except it to be reciprocated with anything more than a nod or even acknowledged. I’m always stunned by men who think some woman they never met before should be flattered when told how good looking they are & then be deserve to be thanked for their male gaze. But I digress again.

On line this is a different. At least on gay male hook up sites – one can say nice pics, or nice cock shot expecting it to lead somewhere. It’s not as much pick up line as opening the door. Of course guys who get rejected after that direct approach can get rather rude when turned down. It’s easy to first when you know the other party is in another hemisphere. I’m careful never to lead someone on or get overly reactive when there is no interest. Such is life.

In gay face-to-face situations I can carry a conversation but only get flirtatious if I mean it. But I’m at the age where men rarely flirt with me anyway. At Capturing Fire I have felt a bit of interest in me but have resisted fanning that flame with flirting. I’ve found that if I ignore it an cool itself down. It is a bit odd politically though – telling a trans you like them, but not in that way – is a challenge – but that’s a post for another week. Just because I say you look marvellous doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you.

The Amazing Sheridan LeFanFanoo

http://wp.me/p1RtxU-PE

 

The Amazing Sheridan LeFanFanoo

came to our village

with his astounding magic act

he would read minds   lips   give ski tips

hypnotize people to yodel

as they skied down the slopes

in an Alpine Adventure

in single word his accent

would schloss from Swiss to Austrian

his little moustache would dance

along with the yodellers

 

under his spell you would yodel

or cockle-doodle-do or hiss

whatever he wanted you to do

then he would whisper something

only those under his power could hear

over the following days

villagers would stop in their tracks

to yodel or cluck or hiss

 

I snuck backstage

to catch a glimpse of

the Amazing Sheridan LeFanFanoo

I peeked between the trunks

that held his tricks

I saw him slap his pretty assistant

he called her a lazy bitch

she nodded and left him in the dim backstage light

he patted his forehead with a small handkerchief

then began to change into his next outfit

while his assistant yodelled on stage

I glimpsed his naked body

sparse black hair on his chest thin legs

at that moment his eyes caught mine

“who’s there” he asked fearfully

I scampered off

 

for the next few weeks we kids played

at being the Amazing Sheridan LeFanFanoo

boys and girls

with little mascara moustaches

tried to hypnotize one another

talked about the Whistling Wood

as if it was some exotic ski location

and trying out French German accents

at choir practice I tried my yodel

no one was impressed

 

once

while my mother

whacked the clothes clean on the rocks

I called her a lazy bitch

she gave me a tired smile and hissed

“you sound just like your father”

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Thursday – September 7 at 7:30 PM – 11 PM – HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

http://www.artbar.org

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Never Touch (My Hair)

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas. This is where the word ‘dye’ in 17 Not to make someone else wash, dye or card the wool for a bhikkhunī took me.

Never Touch (My Hair)

she was a stranger

who felt no compunction

in reaching out to touch my hair

I must have been in my mid-twenties

at the time

my hair was freshly washed

shoulder length

‘it’s like baby hair,’ she said

I was a natural blond

even blonder

after a month of summer sun

‘I would kill to have like yours’

she smiled

‘thanks’ I replied

not adding

that I hate my hair

I hate it being so smooth

hate being asked

are you a boy or are you girl

being called fruit

by guys because of my hair

not that I was mr masculine

to begin with

 

shortly after that

I dyed my hair for the first time

I wanted a change

I bought a home kit

to make it permanent jet black

the look was striking

my mother said

‘what were you thinking’

I went to work

raised a few eye brows

but no comments

the black faded after the first wash

so much for permanent

in a week it was ash

in three weeks

back to baby-fine blond

 

my hair

was like my sexuality

something I couldn’t disguise

no matter what women

I flirted with

what I tried to call it

what I drank to blot it out

it would always be

I had to live with the envy

some felt about that hair

about something I was powerless over

something I hadn’t constructed

something I learned to live with

 

I remember my first perm

a head of tight blond curls

they bounced in the light

it was my face

but a different me

the stylist conferred with a colourist

both agreed

that my hair was too fine

to hold colour for long

that it would be a shame

to tamper with it anyway

 

the permanent curls

would flatten within a week

I wasn’t willing

to go to bed with hairpins in

to look like my mother

so I’d get that perm

every month or so

I loved my hair for the first week

then a week of doing what I could

to keep the curl in

it was too much work

too much time checking in mirrors

 

I had a friend who was

what he referred to as

a hair burner

he touched my freshly washed

uncurled hair one day

‘you have baby hair.

I have clients

who would kill to have hair like that.’

I said

‘I hate my hair.

it’s too much work.’

he said

‘do you trust me?’

I let him do what he wanted

it took a couple of hours

that first time

to cut it short short short

then incise it with electric razor

patterns into the hair

sometimes a maze

other times circle or triangles

always different

 

then he died

murdered by HIV meds

 

I shaved my head for his funeral

no one would ever touch my hair

again

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The Bombast Trap 

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT for links previous pieces in this series.

The Bombast Trap

I don’t visit my village often

now that I am settled here in the big city

I am happy   comfortable

with the bombast

the diversion of metropolitan events

the swirl

ever changing fabric of faces around me

brings me a sense of reality

that I never had in my village

here I have some escape from others

no one needs to know me

or anything about me

in my village there were no secrets

even the unspoken truths

were well known facts

or so it seemed to me when I moved here

 

it takes a great effort on my part

to visit my sisters

who still remain there

our parents passed away years ago

I visit so my nieces and nephews might know

there is a world outside of the jumble

of legends they are brought up with

 

these visits are filled with strange foreboding

as I travel there

the sky seems to darken   lighten

according to my moods

when the transport lands

I almost want to say

no

take me back to my condo

but I step off and quickly cross the tarmac

to the eager outstretched arms of my family

 

walking down the streets of the village

I am reminded of past events

my hip will ache

where the moose took me in my sleep

I shudder as I hear the choir practice

my knuckles red from being slapped

by the choir master

for not hitting the ela with the other boys

 

I keep these visits as short as possible

a quick walk around

to the unchanged schools and stores

a visit to the cathedral

to walk the 10001 steps to the altar

where the gilded moose at the foot of the cross

looks cheap and faded with the years

I wonder how anyone could put so much faith

in these trashy icons of belief

yet I feel a sense of cleansing

as I run back down the steps

 

I walk my niece to her shift at the strip joint

it wasn’t such a bad life that I led here

but I know there is

nothing

to hold me here

nothing

that could make me want to build a life here

the memories aren’t substantial enough

the trappings of the cathedral

aren’t as tight as the bombast trap

I have gotten myself into in the big city

This is the last of the Village Stories for this summer. There are more yet to come next year. I’ve enjoyed this look back at this old pieces, refreshing some of them & also being taken by the view of that world they presented. Some of them I had little memory of other than knowing I wrote them 🙂

As I got to the narrative end of them I found myself struggling to keep up the momentum. This is one of the last pieces in which my hero looks back on his past. Much like Doing Nothing there is a sense of disappointment as opposed to affection in looking back, inning back & at the same time a disappointment in what has replaced the security of village life.

The payoff of being adult isn’t what was promised but is better than remaining safe in the village. As I said last week I do visit Cape Breton & do enjoy my time there but I wouldn’t go back if I didn’t have family there. Unlikely hero I don’t go back as an example to them but as a long lost brother.

Life there is as difficult as it is anywhere. The struggles for work, fulfillment haven’t changed but life isn’t any cheaper there than it is say on Toronto. Houses may be less expensive but the costs of dainty life are the same – cable costs as much there as here – cell phones rates aren’t any less. I’ll take the trappings of big city life – I don’t feel them as tight or restricting as my narrator does. Maybe if I won lotto max I’d consider visiting more often but moving back isn’t in the cards. I’d rather bombast to no bast.

 

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

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Lazarus Kiss.35

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

A day of flattening shadows, fattening calves, rippling six-packs and electronically nipping out nipple hairs.

If Lin hadn’t tapped him on the shoulder he would have worked right through lunch.

“Working very hard.’ Lin leaned in to get a better look at the image Harris was working on. “I can see why. She is a very pretty … spokesperson?”

“I suppose. I stop seeing them as people but as pixels to be nudged.”

“It is sad when beauty loses meaning.”

“I can’t get distracted by beauty.”

“Time for lunch break Harris. Let the pixels rest.” Lin laughed. “I want to go a fast-food to get some meat on my bones like you have. Friends tell me I am too thin.”

Harris pushed away from his desk. He enjoyed the slow steady progress he was making with the images. Touching them without touching them. Monica didn’t need as much work at Geoffrey. Facial eruptions of hers to be smoothed out but adjusting Geoffrey’s package over and over was an action he happily anticipated. He was becoming curious as to what was there.

“Are you saying I’m fat?”

“Oh no Harris. Large, yes. Fat never.”

As they crossed to the Eaton’s food court Harris spotted Becky. Their eyes met briefly but he didn’t acknowledge her. He’d learned his lesson the other day. One remembered rejection was enough for him. At least the curse had been sparing him that.

As they were going into Eaton’s Harris heard a woman calling him.

“Harris! Harris! Hold a minute.”

It was Becky.

“Look I truly am sorry for being such a snob the other day.”

“I see.” he glanced at Lin. “Uh … Becky this is Lin Zhang. Did I pronounce that right Lin?”

“Very nicely Harris.”

They stepped out of the way.

“I’d love to see you again Harris. We could meet at Mug Thuggs.”

“I guess so, but you said … boyfriend etc.”

“I know what I said. Things are iffy but it’s not like …. I’d just like to get together with you again. I did enjoy myself.”

Why did she care … oh Christ … was this the latest variation the curse.

“I may be busy tonight. I’m not sure what time I’ll be free.”

“I’ll be there. Until about 10, say?”

“Okay.”

She pecked him on the cheek and disappeared into the lunch crowd.

“You see this is why I have to put on some weight. Women like men of substance. It makes them feel secure.” Lin grinned.

“I have never heard that theory before Lin.” Harris said following Lin into the shopping centre.

“And she smells like candy I want to be eating.”

As they rode the escalator down his cellphone rang.

“Harris here.”

“Hi Harris it’s Alex.”

“What’s up?” Harris’s heart sped up.

“Look do ya know how to clean a computer.”

“You mean the hard drive? That’s not my end of the business.”

“No. The screen. Stuff got splashed it.”

“Hum …” Harris nodded at Lin and then towards Big Eats – Where Everything Is Supersized. “I usually call maintenance when that happens here. I’ll see what I can find out and call you back later.”

“I’s hopin’ ya might come by later an’ help.”

“I could drop by after work. Where do you live?”

Alex started to give him the address.

“Wait I’m going to have to write this down. Or better yet why don’t you text me the address.”

“T’anks. I really appreciate this.”

The afternoon at dE.tail was endless as Harris fussed with minutia to satisfy the Sport Spot people. Faces that looked fresh and perfect to him were sent back with a request to make the freckles a shade fainter, to change the trailing arch of an eyebrow. Internet consumers we’re going to buy this overpriced equipment because a Top Model’s eyebrow had one or two less hairs in it.

They were more likely to buy it because it came in a range of colors. This was the only innovation Sport Spot offered. No amount of re-sized genitalia was going to change that fact. Now if Geoffrey were spokesperson for Santa’s Sex Shoppe that would be a different story. At least Harris would have had a glimpse of the real thing, all be it as a silicone duplicate as battery operated dildo. Andy would have three legs.

He took one brief break to text maintenance to send up something to clean his monitor screen. They replied there were kits in the supply closet.

He groaned when a photo he had worked on twice came back with a further request for facial toning. Tired from the hour overtime already put in he slightly heightened the gleam of the lavender LatteLat machine and sent it back without doing anything to the model’s face. He got an instant reply that it was perfect.

He left before they could make more requests.

*39*

As Harris exited Chester, the subway station nearest Alex he texted that he’d be there shortly.

Alex lived on the second floor of a house a few streets north. Large open front porch with a couple of lawn chairs. Bright pink geraniums in pots and hanging baskets of fuchsia and baby’s breath.

He rang the bell and while he waited he wondered if his balcony got enough light for this kind of plant. Alex never struck him as the plant type.

“T’anks for comin’.” Alex held the door open for him. He wore a loose UofT polo shirt and baggy grey sweats.

After a day of working on Geoffrey’s pecs, abs and other attributes Harris was relieved that none of Alex’s attributes were suggested.

“No prob. Got tied up at work.” He had to brush by Alex to step in. His flabby stomach felt even flabbier as it briefly came into contact with Alex’s. He looked up the stairs to keep their eyes from meeting.

He walked up as fast as he could. How large did his ass look. What difference did that make.

The apartment door opened directly into a small living room. TV to one side of the door. A dresser to the other side. Photos of Alex along the wall by the door. The apartment smelled of a vanilla body-wash from a recent showered.

Harris slipped off his shoulder bag. Rested it on the dresser and opened it to get out the cleaning kit.

“I got this as the office.”

“T’anks. Get ya a beer? Sapporo chilling in the fridge?”

“Sure.”
“I know at’s what ya get at Story.” He put the two Sapporo on the coffee table.

“Nah.” Harris was flattered and puzzled. This was the curse but no one had been this attentive as a result of it. If it were Monica Bostford he’d know exactly what to do, and would want to do it. He had no idea of where to begin with Alex but desire would probably be a good starting point. He felt no desire.

“Where’s the …” he hoped it wasn’t in the bedroom.

It wasn’t. The computer desk faced a bay window on the other side of the living room.

“What happened.” He leaned over to look at the smear.

“Spooge.”

“Spooge?”

“Mine.” Alex blushed. “M’ ex Linda found it on a pair of her delicates an’ to get back at me smeared it.”

“Spooge?”

“Come.”

“Got it.” Harris hit his head in mock stupidity. “Tilt the screen for me. That way when I spray, it won’t drip into the monitor. At least that the theory.”

He squirted the small spray bottle to mist the bulk of the smear.

“I’ll give it a minute to soften the spooge residue.”

“Spooge residue” Alex grinned. “Never heard that not even on CSI.”

Their eyes met for the first time. They both laughed.

“Hold it while I see if this’ll clean it off.” With the soft cloth Alex gently wiped the screen. “I think that’s done it.”

Alex set the screen back in place.

Harris moved a throw cushion and sat on the couch to drink his beer. “Homey. You lived here long.” He got up and walked over the computer again.

“ ‘Bout five years. M’ Da owns the house. Owns a couple.” Alex sat next to Harris. Adjusted the the cushion between them.

“I see.”

“Yeah. Last few years I shared it Linda. She left th’ other week. I t’ink I told ya. It wasn’t workin’ any more. Ya know t’ings ‘appen. She though’ I was sleepin’ ‘round an’ … it’s not as if she wasn’t either but … ”

Their eyes met again.

Harris noticed the trophies shoved into a corner by Alex’s computer. He stood and picked up one. It was a round metallic column about five inches tall with a gold kick-boxer on top. “Best Senior Division Boys”

“So how did you get into U F?” Harris hoped knowing more about Alex would ease the longing the curse had forced upon him.

“First grade bullies at new school pushed me ‘round. I went nuts. Beat the crap out o’one of ‘em. Broke his nose ‘fore they broke us up. I was small. When I got goin’ nothin’d stop me. I got angry easy. M’ma figured I should get a way to … direct that anger.”

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Feist or Farrell

In the opera world there is a niche in which sopranos let there hair down to perform ‘pop’ music. In the 50’s one of the most successful was Eileen Farrell. I came across a used copy The Eileen Farrell Album several years ago & it is pretty fun even if her takes on nightclub classics aren’t convincing but they do skirt camp. She has a full strong voice that makes for an interesting contrast to Feist.

I have as stand-alones Feist’s let it die, open season,The Reminder & tucked in an mp3 collection Metals. She has great pop sensibility, a well-produced sound. I do find it ironic that she is considered more authentic than say Katy Perry as their music is equally as slickly produced.

Feist is a whisperer, most of the time. Like Farrell she’s controlling her full range when she sings. This frailty lends much of her work a vulnerability that is appealing. I enjoy the music & the lyric content but none of it really sticks to me either.  I never felt ‘wow’ what an unusually sound’.

She not the first Canadian whisperer to make it big in the international market either. Way back in the 60’s there was Susan Christie – who hit it big with the novelty song ‘I Love Onions’ – the lp that song comes from is as sweet & endearing as anything Feist has recorded. Feist owes Susan a debt of gratitude. One she also owns to Françoise Hardy as well. Françoise, product of the 60’s, has another of those sweet little voices & the similarities to Feist are very strong. Same with Brigitte Bardot http://wp.me/p1RtxU-TV . I would be amiss not to mention  Blossom Dearie http://wp.me/p1RtxU-28a – an amazing jazz singer with the same ‘frail’ range & a great sense of humour too.

Orientation

‘Welcome Students …. ’

The PA system cackled with crackle and echo. Two boys rushed to the front, flipped the panel open and did something.

What was that something? Where did they learn it? Certainly not here. Electronics and knob fiddling wasn’t one of the classes in the curriculum. Where did the two guys I remembered from high-school who would always show up learn to fiddle away these little auditory defects? Why where they always in two’s?

The shorter of the two nodded to the dean. The little tuft of black hair on his chin made his face almost look older.

‘Welcome Students …’ Crisp as fresh washed lettuce.

The two boys high fived and walked up the aisle. Our heroes. No need to get a sports letter when one knew how to fiddle about.

‘Welcome Students … ’ the Dean began again. ‘I am Dean Yogg. I know this is the start of a great life for all of you. Lovecraft University is pleased to welcome you all.’

There was a polite rustle from the mass of students.  ‘Yea Lovecraft.’

‘For the new students there will be an orientation session in Room 413 in the Dunwich Building after lunch. Each of you has been assigned a senior to help you through the first week. That pairing off will start now.’

A senior stood and called off the name or two that had been assigned to him or her.

‘Sycorax Falanna.’

‘That would be me.’ I stood up. Rarely did I hear my name pronounced correctly first time. I saw that I had been assigned the shorter of the two boys who had fixed the sound system.

‘Welcome to Lovecraft U. I’m Cal Fortunata.’

‘Cal… is that short for Caliban?’

‘You got it.’ He laughed. ‘The sweet sounds of night.’

 

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Thursday – September 7 at 7:30 PM – 11 PM – HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

https://www.facebook.com/events/110567226312109/

Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

http://www.artbar.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

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Suicide 2

The past month I’ve heard of the suicides of various people I almost know – friend of a friend; brother of a friend; a man who had come in & out of recovery. Each hearing involved being asked about the why – talking about the despair & sense of guilt felt by them. There is no easy answer to such questions. Why is like a finger print – everyone is different.

When I was active with ACT I attended a couple of intense workshops on suicide prevention – I’ve even called Health Services when a friend of mine ranted about killing himself then abruptly hung up – he lived to make the same threats another day.

When I realized & accepted that I can’t give anyone the will to live I felt less responsible when faced with such threats. I’m just a guy, not a trained professional & if I have to become a trained mental-health professional to maintain a relationship then that relationship isn’t for me. I have compassion, empathy but can’t say why I chose to live in such a way as to keep someone else alive. I’m not God (if one believes in God that is) – I’m not a force of nature just a guy witnesses, sometimes, the pain in other people’s lives.

I’ve shared with these friends that this is tough stuff because it is tough stuff – not that its tough because they or we are emotionally weak, spiritual shallow or lack the intelligence to feel otherwise. Sometimes we can rescue one another, sometimes we can’t. But we do survive together no matter how alienated we feel. Survival is good.

Giddy Up http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Q6

a mainland business consortium

wanted our village

to invest in a moose riding academy

where young ladies of a certain pedigree

would learn to ride the hounds on moose

these men had elaborate blue prints

detailed architectural models

all they needed were investors

it would take a lot of our money

to make money

so we wouldn’t be so dependent

on the fission plant or the strip bars

to put food on the table

when the villagers were reluctant

to part with their hard-earned cash

these men became derisive

of our close-minded small-town mentality

of our inability to see this great opportunity

the mayor offered to invest if they could

show us how to ride a moose

my Dad

took them to the moose breeding ground

we followed to witness this spectacle

much to everyone’s surprise these city men

were able to get a saddle on a smaller one

when one of them climbed on it

the moose wouldn’t move

it barely looked up at him

as the man dug his heels into its sides

saying “giddy up – get a move on”

the moose’s dung-slick tail

smacked the back of the man’s head

when Brandi Toffee

their buxom spokesmodel

arrived to sit on the one saddled moose

it went berserk

sexually aroused by the female legs

clamped to its back

the sight of the moose’s erection

caused the city men to fall into a swoon

which gave us no end of mirth

the spokesmodel lost her hair extensions

as they got snagged on maple branches

while she fled though the Whistling Woods

the aroused moose bellowed pitifully

when it trapped her in her SUV

the moose riding academy never opened

and we villagers kept

our hard-earned money for another day

 

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

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Thursday – September 7 at 7:30 PM – 11 PM – HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

https://www.facebook.com/events/110567226312109/

Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

http://www.artbar.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

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Serenity

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas. This is where I ended up with 16. Not to carry wool along with oneself for more than three walking days.

Serenity

I couldn’t think clear

for days

that seemed like weeks

weak with those thoughts

sorting resorting

each thought clouding things

even more

even more

each thought building on the last

another tangent

another possibility

murkier than the last

yet refusing to quiet

without the noise

it was if life would end

the lost was proof of direction

the confusion was proof of intelligence

the stupid are never lost in thought

the complicated are the bright spots

glimmering in the dense mist

of one idea   one notion   one misstep

after the other

clarity was for the simple minded

the intellectually challenged

 

it wasn’t easy

to remain so invested in this

sorting and resorting

but without it there would be

no one here

just a blank stare of serenity

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Nothing Doing 

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT for links previous pieces in this series.

Nothing Doing 

when I came of age

I left the village

I was gone for many years

before I came back

there was nothing to draw me back

I left under clear skies

with no anger or attachments

except to certain of my memories

that I have been writing here for those of you

who are interested in times long ago

when things weren’t as they are today

 

when I went back to my village

I was surprised how little things had changed

sure they allowed night at night

but the cathedral still stood

so that boys could break the windows

so the bishop could intone

the service of moose divinity

that was to lead us to righteousness and piety

the choir wasn’t as good as it was in my day

the boys weren’t as dedicated to it

what with play stations and laser pointers

to keep them amused

they felt no need to sing

the Whistling Woods still howled

with a late night wind

that brought back even more memories for me

 

I walked the streets of the village

along the dock side

now a mere family stroll area

the fleets no longer going to trawl

the smelt being fished out

there as nothing for the fishermen to do

the moose had been about depleted

which was one of the reasons

I left with so few regrets

the old ways were being replaced by nothing

no one could figure out what to do

how to make boys into men

sending us off to war was one way

and many of us were willing to fight

even if we didn’t understand

what we were fighting for

there was public shaming

of those of us who wouldn’t fight

but making boys into body counts seemed pointless

so many of us to left

to make our way in the world

 

a world where it was so hard to find

what made a man man

it was more than well lit strip bars

it was more than money cars electric toys

it was something that many of the lads

who left with me never found

they were dragged into the morass

of quick hit drugs and flashy feelings

to escape the sense

that they could never prove themselves

the lessons I had learned from the girls

held me well though

I continued to undress men

though unlike the boys of my youth

these men weren’t willing to sit still

they were always in a hurry to get naked

get clothed to be on their important way

 

life outside the village was better and worse

I was never sure if I was to be happy

or if I was to mope about

how things had changed

I liked the change

liked being in the flow of a life

bigger than my village life

but at the same time

this big city lacked the legends and lore

that had comforted me

the red and silver here are decorative

they mean nothing

the strip bars are antiseptic and numbing

the women had no respect for the sacred pole

 

I lacked for nothing

yet felt nothing

It was some twenty years after I left the east coast before I returned. Much like my narrator I left with no real attachments to anyone, any place or even anything. There were no family issues that needed to be fixed either. I never felt the need to go back to prove how well I was doing. I didn’t miss anything about the place in face.

When I did go back it wasn’t quite stepping back in time but not much had changed physically. They were in the midst of tearing down the steel plant & cleaning up the soil – at one it was the most polluted place in Canada – but that’s another story. The last I was back that work was complete & it was weird seeing the levelled land that was once belching hot smoke & filled with hundred of men risking life & limb to put food on the table. That hot smoke was corroding their lungs & the lungs of anyone who lived close & breathed it in.

When I do visit one of the things I do is walk to school. I went to several different schools as removed around in the city. Some were gone, replaced by modern school boxes. One remained. Next time I visit I may see about actually going into the school to see what memories the corridors hold for me.

Many of the churches remain but have been closed due to lack of congregation. I was never a couch going kid, nor was my family, so all the references to the Cathedral are fantasy. There was a real division between the Catholics & all other faiths though. Some of the rituals in Village Stories as based on real rituals mixed with wiccan ceremony.

One of things I did grow up with was this need to prove myself a man. Being gay didn’t take that easy, perhaps impossible. I wasn’t a rough-houser by any stretch of the imagination. It seemed the only way to be a ‘man’ was to get married, have kids, get drunk & beat them – that was a real man. Being ‘male’ was demonstrated by mindless use of women for sexual gratification.

As I progressed through this series I tried to retain some of the whimsy but as you might tell it becomes a little rooted in reality – at least in an emotional reality. Leaving home was one of the ways one became an adult but just as the villagers wanted to step into the future my narrator discovers that the step doesn’t fulfill as promised. Not that it was an empty promise but he’s human – we all want to still believe in a literal Santa Claus as opposed to the spirit of giving.

 

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

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Lazarus Kiss.34

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others and a love within recall that alters you.

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Lazarus Kiss.34

“Today I am to marry Mary Fields. I feel deep shame that she is with my child for if she were not I fear we would not marry. I do not recall the occasion of bedding her. If we had not been discovered by her mother and brother I would have denied it. The fact remains we were in the same bed together when morning broke.

When it was discovered she was with child I did the honourable thing by her and her good family.”

Later in the same diary:

“My dear wife has passed away in childbirth. I have a fine son to be named Eldon. I will miss her sorely as she has proved to be a boon and blessing despite our troubled beginning. She was most considerate and understanding of my various indiscretions. She never questioned my inability to remember what had transpired.

It grieves me deeply to have become an adulterer with no conscience or presence of mind to prevent it from occurring. Each time I have pledged to Our Saviour it would be the last, that it would never transpire again. Yet I would discover that it had.

Once my dear wife is buried I will leave this territory while I have a well regarded reputation for goodness.”

This is one of the last entries in the diaries. We know that he did leave Pennsylvania and move further west to set up his legal practice. He kept no more records himself of his life. He was elected to the state assembly of Colorado. It was his son Eldon who moved to Canada.

There are no records of a Rowell Byrnes, that is if this is an authentic name.  Rowell is mostly commonly a last name.”

Harris went through the pages and there was a photocopy of the actual curse. Did the original that Rowell wrote still exist. If he had that he could burn it and free himself from it.

*37*

Harris waited for Trevor on the east bound subway platform. The day at dE.tail had passed quickly and uneventfully. Life seemed normal. There had been, as far as he could tell, no sudden infatuations. His eyes ached as they often did from the constant staring at the screen while he nursed pixels of rose blush to rose less blush. Occasionally he wished he could turn his eyes off because he’d catch himself looking at the subway ads wanting to tweak shadows or nudge text a little to give images more pop.

“Hey Dog. Looking fresh.” He tousled Harris’s hair.

“New cut.” Harris tired to smooth out what Trevor had ruffled.

“Man I never thought you’d cut loose of that pony tail. Takes pounds off.”

The train pulled up and they got on. The car was crowded so they stood where they could find a space.

“Any further adventures today?”

“Nothing. Happy to say.” Harris shrugged. “A day of peace and quiet is what I wanted and that’s what I got.”

“Cool. This suits you. The highlights.”

“Since when did hair mean that much to you?”

“It don’t, man. Can’t a guy say something nice sometimes. I mean you’ve been making major changes. Don’t you want anyone to notice?”

Harris shrugged. When no one at dE.tail had said anything about the new cut he thought he should have gone for a more dramatic cut, a total hair color change. At work he’d caught himself a few times grab for an elastic to pull it back into a pony tail only to reach up and there was no hair there. At least his shoulders no longer felt bare without the shield of hair.

“I got more info on the curse.” Out of his shoulder bag he pulled the photocopies his Dad given him.

Trevor read them. “A love beyond recall … sound like poetry.”

“Yeah, I suppose. Beyond recall may mean you don’t remember, that you can’t recall, it once it has happened.”

“Possible. I always thought a curse would be something like ‘may your soul rot in hell.’ This sounds pretty good.”

“Me too,” Harris laughed, “Or ‘may your complexion never clear up.”

“Whoa, now that’s nasty.”

At Victoria Park Station the bus was right there.

Without the fog that shrouded it the last time the apartment block didn’t look as foreboding. The long hall smelled of French fries, then hot dogs, then burnt toast.

The door to Trev’s Aunt Nilasha apartment was open.

“I am so happy to see you again Harris. The confusion you were in the last time hasn’t cleared away. Trevor tells me you have had very exciting times since you were last here. ”

They stepped out of their shoes while she closed the door behind them.

“Exciting isn’t quite the word I’d use.” Harris took a gift bag out his shoulder bag. In it were hand cream samples that had come into dE.tail. “This is to thank you for being concerned with my mystery.”

“Really?” she laughed. “There is no need for this.” She opened one and smelled it. “Very pretty. Thank you.”

“Now sit. I have delved into the nature of your curse. One this subtle and yet so strong is very rare.”

“I figured as much. Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.” Harris could remember the curse word for word.

Nilasha gasped. “These are the very words? Repeat them.”

He did.

“How did you obtain this?”

He told her about the diaries and give her the copies of the pages.

“Yes. Yes this confirms what I have learned. Do you understand that it is not a curse. It is a blessing, a gift.” She said as she sat. “You want to give the gift back?”

“I would if I could.”

“I’m of the opinion when it was first uttered it was meant to offer hope for those who found it hard to interest mates. What one acquires, another loses, though. The universe seeks equilibrium.”

“One gets love but loses memory?” Trevor suggested.

“Something like that. We assume that with wishes there is no cost when they are granted. There is always a cost to the receiver.”

“What about a cost to the the giver?” Harris asked.

“You are still looking for a way to rid yourself of it. Have you considered what it may cost you do that. What are you willing to sacrifice?”

“Sacrifice. Like a virgin on a full moon?” Trevor joked.

“I told you Harris, this is a blood bond that has been in your family for centuries. Now that you are sensitive to it I think you have to learn how to live with it. Leave these with me.” She patted the Tobias pages. “They have more to tell us.”

Outside Nilasha’s apartment block Harris turned on his phone. There were three voice-mail messages. One from his Dad to see if he had read the Tobias papers. One from Tavi to remind him of a big project starting the next day and to get plenty of sleep. One from Alex asking for his help for a computer problem.

“Why do people expect me to know anything about computers?” he asked Trevor. “Because I use one all day doesn’t mean I’d know how to fix one. Would you think a nurse knows how to fix an X-ray machine?”

When he got back to his place he returned Alex’s call. Although he didn’t want to follow through on what was there a part of him enjoyed Alex’s voice, enjoyed his memory of the look of him. He had tried watching an ultimate fighter show but the angry animal speed and the lack of discernible rules made it hard for him to follow or enjoy. He’d seen them all over each other on the mat, punching or trying to punch and didn’t know who to be rooting for, if anyone.

“Hey Alex. It’s Harris. I guess you’re at work. Try me around lunch time tomorrow. I have a big work project starting so my phone’ll be off till noon. Bye.”

*38*

When he got to work the next morning his big project was a major overhaul of the Sport Spot advertising approach. No more pitching with spokes-people who were middle-aged pro-golfers. They wanted a younger market. The rough spec drafts of the online and print catalogues were ready. His job was to make the models look healthier, to give their complexions the right glow, the glow that would make buyers buy.

They had two new models: Geoffrey Calligan, multi-gold medalist olympic swimmer and Monica Bostford, who was extending her fifteen minutes of Top Model fame, her appearance on Big Brother last season and the Amazing Race this season. Racing amazed with Geoffrey as they promoted this new line of Sport Spot equipment and accessories around the world.

The catalogue was set up to tell the story of these two showing new recruits through the various equipment as if they were in a gym. The recruits looked as if didn’t they need a gym but that wasn’t his problem.

He was to make sure all their bodies had more eye appeal. Male models were to have less body hair. In the case of Geoffrey it was his job to make his particular ‘package’ look smaller. No one wanted the ab buster to become known as the ball buster because Geoffrey’s ample bulge pulled focus.

A day of flattening shadows, fattening calves, rippling six-packs and electronically nipping out nipple hairs.

#Toronto #amwriting #dating #lgbtq #nanowrimo #novel #Lazarus Kiss #Ontario

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This work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

DeJohnette DeGenius 

Jackie DeJohnette is a jazz master genius. I’m not up on jazz critical literature so I can’t say if he is under-rated but I can say he is certainly not under-recorded. In addition to his own solo & group work he has played with with nearly every jazz musician of note. His work with Keith Jarrett is sublime.

As a percussionist, drummer he is equally at home in combos, big band, solo, chamber, free jazz & experimental. When I was buying cds if I saw he was a part of the line up I knew it was going to be worth listening to even I had never heard of any of the other players.

Like many jazz players at one time he was a mainstay of the ECM label. I can’t list all the releases of theirs that he appears on. As a sideman he was inventive, supporting but rarely called attention to himself. He knew how to make others shine.

I have stand alone Pictures. A suite of impressionist pieces in which he plays piano, organ as well as various percussion. Amazing. In an mp3 collection I have his New Rags; Special Edition; Standards: New York Session with Keith Jarrett – all replacements for vinyl versions I had at one time. This is adult thinking jazz but with strong emotional pull – never so abstract as to distance the listener. To round the mp3 collection I have some of his work with Chico Hamilton: El Chico; Kenny Wheeler: It Takes Two!; Wynton Marsalis: Think of One.

If you are, as I once as, just starting to enjoy jazz or want to explore deeper than easy listening I’d recommend anything that includes DeJonnette in the line up.

Embrace

Mike stepped out of the shower. He cursed himself for not opening the room window so the thick steam could escape but at the same time enjoyed the feel of it on his warm skin, the slick of it on the walls.

He left the shower running while he stood in front of the mirror. The day had been hot and dry and his body longed for this damp. He attempted to wipe the mirror clean to shave but the beads reformed too fast.

Reluctantly he turned off the shower. He half expected the smoke alarm to go off in his room.

Yes it was going to be a good trip after all. He rubbed himself dry twice. His skin tingled from the heat of the shower, from the heat of the day, from the rough of the towel. He could still feel Robert’s embrace. How long ago was that? Two hours? Three? He couldn’t believe it. He, Mike had met a strange man, in a strange city, and made that contact!

Not just any man but a handsome exotic dark skinned man. The kind he frequently fantasized about but felt that with his humdrum looks would never get to meet or if he did meet wouldn’t get more than a condescending smile from.

Robertino De Saint-Zexpris. He repeated the name several times. Rolling the R’s and squeezing the X. Such a name. Such a man. Such a man whom he would be meeting with shortly.

What should he wear? Nothing. Ha Ha. Now that’s the best part. Naked would they get naked this night, this first time, or would that be held out, put off till neither of them could wait.

Naked. Ha! There’s my mind running wild. So he hugged me. So we had a great time at the museum and he’s asked me to sup with him tonight.

Where does naked fit into that? Just a guy who wants someone to eat with. Simple. Yes, he had to keep it that simple, so that if that was all it turned out to be he wouldn’t be disappointed. He didn’t want another disappointment after the bomb-shell Jack dropped on him.

Yes, let’s just keep this as an opportunity to dine out not eat out. Mike laughed at his little joke.

What to wear? What would come off the fastest? What would wrinkle the least? Wrinkle! Who gave a fuck if it wrinkled. If it was coming off it would come off whether it was Hugo Boss or Goodwill.

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

http://www.artbar.org

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