Vanishing Species

Recently Toronto experienced an unexpected warm spell that was welcome by most except for these not so hardy members of a vanishing species. Chances are some will return next season but none will ever be the same again.

I feel dirty
featureless futureless
crumbling inside
hand me my nose please
sun block please
nice profile
defenceless fortification
the ramparts in ruins
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could catch food

tossed in the air

he’d tilt his head back

adjust a little to follow the arc

just like a seal


he did this party trick

so often

people called him

seal boy

even though he was in his 50s


I didn’t envy him

being called upon

to perform

at parties

at bars


he reluctantly tossed peanuts

they were so small

he was afraid of choking on them

he longed for something more challenging


he dreamed of being called

seal boy

the size queen

This piece is mostly fiction – a character study. Not that I didn’t know, at one time, guys who would do ‘party’ tricks. Nowadays they turn up on TV shows with their hidden talents – i.e. swallowing ping-pong balls & popping them back out of their mouths, one at a time – drinking a glass of water & spurting out their nose – oh what fun they would be a wedding burping the wedding march.

It’s also a sly comment on the willingness of people to do anything just get attention on TV, TikTok, YouTube. Some shows call for ‘real’ talent, others aim for special abilities (playing Chopin on the piano using your feet only) or on-line fame for being a clumsy idiot. We’re also a culture that is willing to celebrate lack of talent: i.e. Mrs. Miller – who couldn’t sing but, well, she landed a recording contract for her awful vocalizing. 

For some the type of attention is irrelevant as long as they get it, in fact notoriety is more important than critical respect. Consider American politics. Thanks to TV etc we now have a craving for attention – which explains the extremes some go to on the red carpet – style always loses to grotesque ‘what the f’ looks. In stead of slaves to fashion we now have a generation of clowns to fashion. 

Larry – not the person’s real name – had a fairly banal talent – to get attention on TikTok he’d have to be catching some more dramatic than peanuts. There’s also a sense of holding on to our youth. I feel that Larry became ‘seal boy’ in grade school – showing off at recess. As he got older it was easier to catch food for attention at parties than it was to play piano, right?  

This isn’t the only generation that prized unusual talents. Check outétomane – a man ahead of his time. Imagine him blowing away the judges on America’s Got Talent with his version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (the Fifth is too easy) while catching peanuts.

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City of Valleys 3 



“Play that one about, ‘Trudy’s glad you got your arms around her.’ That’s a great song.”

“Mitch, I’ve spent the last hour playing and need a break.” 

Once they got to the apartment, Mitch had headed to the fridge for a beer. The long drive made him thirsty. Kevin hadn’t expected his first night to be a command performance for Mitch. Therese had gone to bed hours ago.

When he took the guitar out, it was to play Mitch his new number. That new number stretched out to hours. Not that he minded, but he wanted more of Toronto than the view from Mitch’s twenty-third-floor balcony. 

“We gotta get a demo made of you, man. Reminds me of Jagger. A man’s voice. There’s this guy who comes to Ten Pennies. Says he’s some sort of agent or booker. We’ll make sure he hears you. ‘Cause that voice of yours is fan-fuckin’-tastic.”

“Yeah, well thanks, but it needs sleep.”

“Just one more. That one you wrote ‘bout Trudy. She’s Deb isn’t she? Come on fess up.”

Kevin blushed. “So what if she is …”

When he first wrote the song it went: “Trudy’s Dad, I got my arms around him, in a love to take us to tomorrow.” The girl in the song was Deb Trask and the Dad was her Dad, Shep, and Kevin’s crush on him was the reason he had left the east coast. ‘Dad’ became ‘glad,’ ‘him’ changed to ‘her,’ in the first rewrite.

He knew Deb from school and he didn’t pay attention to her till one day he ran into her with her Dad, Shep. Shep wasn’t the first man he’d been sexually attracted to, but was the first one he had opportunity pursue. If two years spent not getting caught staring can be called pursuit.

He took Deb on a snowmobile run the very next day. Deb had three sisters, two older, one younger. Kevin became the boy in their family. That he and Deb were meant for each other was obvious to everyone.

Shep had encouraged him to learn the guitar and to sing. He prodded Kevin into his first gig at a local variety show. To Kevin’s own dad music was a waste of time, when he ought to learn a trade or pay more attention to his chores around their house.

Yet, the fact that Kevin had a family and future suited everyone all the same. The Trasks owned the local service station, and Kevin began to work there after school to learn auto mechanics first-hand. It earned him a first class mechanic’s certificate. It was clear he’d marry into a great business. 

Kevin became more drawn to Shep. To the point where Deb once asked if he liked her father more than he liked his own. His Dad was a pretty decent guy, but Kevin didn’t know how to explain the truth.

When Kevin announced that he intended to go to Toronto, Shep was as surprised as Kevin’s own Dad. If he stayed on the east coast, he’d either kill himself or be killed when they found out his secret.

Cocksucker and faggot were words used to hurt anyone. No one believed the person they called fag was one, but it was the ideal insult. He made sure no one suspected it applied to him.

Deb was a simple way to avoid that with the bonus of Shep as a great arouser. When he made out with Deb, all he had to do was imagine her Dad in greasy coveralls and he was hard. 

He didn’t hide his arousal from Deb, but when she encouraged him to go further he didn’t. His explanation that he respected her and didn’t want to do anything foolish, was the right thing to say. Fooled her and kept her at the same time.

In the past year, physical closeness to Shep at the garage had become too painful. As they worked together under a car, his eyes went from the car chassis to Shep’s chest. Kevin’s fantasy was to reach out, pretend to wipe oil off Shep’s work clothes and rub down to his balls.

Deb knew he was unhappy, and when Kevin broke the news about his move she thought it was because he didn’t love her. How could he tell her that it was her Dad he wanted?

“What are you thinking about, sport?” Mitch broke Kevin’s reverie. “Reminded you about Deb, did I? Don’t worry. If she loves you she’ll wait, and if not she’ll be hopping the first hard cock that comes her way.”

“Yeah right.” And so will I. So will I. 


David had drifted inot a light sleep on the couch when someone sat next to him.

“Too bad you woke up. We were going to do your nails.” Mark laughed. “Been here long?”

David glanced at his watch. “About half an hour. Nice place to relax.”

He and Mark had lived in the same building till Mark moved last year to one of the easy-to-maintain bachelors in a complex of mostly HIV patients. Since his diagnosis four years ago, Mark had closed his law firm and removed all stress from his life. 

“Plants have positive energy. One of the day nurses has been bringing all the power plants in to this room.”

“Power plants?”

“Something to do with healing spirits. Please don’t tell anyone. We’d rather they thought medical science was working and not mystic powers.”

“Must have been a good meeting for you to be so full of it.”

“It was, but as they say, any meeting is a good meeting. Without those recovery guys,” Mark teared up, “I probably wouldn’t have lasted this long.”

David and Mark had been friends for about eleven years, but he didn’t known much how booze and pills were in charge till Mark got sober. Several years ago he had disappeared for a month, and then was back bright and shiny, clean and sober. The difference was remarkable.

So remarkable that many of Mark’s playmates didn’t recognize him, or as Mark put it, didn’t want to think themselves as damaged as he was. 

“The new drug cocktail is helping too,” Mark went on. “It’s been about a week and I can feel it working in me. Those little protease inhibitors swimming around in my blood. Strip-teasing the HIV into blowing its load before it can do any more damage.”

“Now that’s what I call a powerful visualization.”

“Yves helped me with it. He could help me with a lot more than that if I had my way. Mm mm mm.”

“Keep visualizing.”


Yves walked up the steps of his house. The lights were on in the other half of the duplex. Sometimes he dropped in on Luke and Steven, but tonight he’d attend to his own life.

From inside the front passage he saw his three Lucite and gold Leo’s as they gleamed in the street light that fell on the mantel piece. It was no accident that the first things anyone who came in his front door saw were these three “Writer of the Year” awards.

Over them was Station Five of the Stations of the Cross. Carved in walnut with inlays of light pine and reddish rosewood, it depicted Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus bear the cross. It was a reminder to Yves that help is always present, that without divine help he never would have won his awards, and that to help others was to experience his own divinity.

A big plus was the detail the carver had given the near nude torsos of Christ and Simon. Rugged, bearded men, who used all their physical strength to survive for the power of God. A synthesis of sex and spirit, carved by someone whose love of the male form matched Yves’. Perfect, except for the wisps of cloth carved to cover their privates.

The Leo’s were for his work as a news producer and writer at the CBC. But when heads rolled for budget cuts the awards didn’t help him hold on to his job. Not that he tried to hold on very tight, and his screaming match with the then Prime Minister over funds for HIV research didn’t show his impartiality in a favorable light. To call the Prime Minister a gutless, spineless asshole was its own reward and more than worth it.

Yves crossed himself and knelt before the mantel, grateful that the awards gave him a golden handshake to pay off the house and allowed him not to work until he chose. In the past three years, he hadn’t done much till he accepted an advance to write this book about cock. 

He grabbed a cola from the fridge and went to his study at the back of the second floor of the house. The desk with his computer overlooked a fitful wildflower garden. He turned the computer on and went to his bedroom to undress.

He rubbed the pop can’s cold perspiration on the small of his bare back and sat at the monitor. Rather than start in right away, he checked his phone messages:

“Hi Yves. It’s David Walters. We … uh … bumped into each other earlier tonight. I … uh … well … I’d love to talk to you about .. um … what you wanted to talk about. You can reach me at 387-5293 after, say, six tomorrow night. Bye.”

Yves played the message a couple of times to figure out what was the sound in the background.

He checked his e-mail and there was another response to his cock survey.

“Hello Yves:

Like the idea of  this. Here’s something off the top of my uh …. head ….

My mother taught me to call my cock a “goober”.  I HATED that name and was always mortified when my mother used it either privately or in public.  I thought it was the most stupid name because the television character on The Andy Griffith Show, played by Jim Nabors, was named Goober. I thought it was funny when I learned Jim Nabors was gay and my mother had always called cocks “Goobers.”

Good luck, DK Prino.”

Yves had posted the survey on various sites and often didn’t know where a response originated from. As he read this one, he looked for the perfect cock talk like he once used to look for the perfect cock. As if the man with the perfect thoughts about his dick would be the perfect man for him.

After two hundred plus, he hadn’t found the right way to start, but these near anonymous e-mail responses were the most productive. Less guarded and probably more honest. They might be the work of twelve-year-old girls and he’d never know. But that was part of the territory.

As he sometimes joked, “It puts the terror back into territory.” With his final draft due in a week, terror was in the way the cursor blink pulsed up and down his spine.


“Go on, call him.”

“Mark, I couldn’t.” David feigned fear. “He’ll think …”

“He’ll think you want to talk about cock.”


Mark punched in the numbers. “Why put it off?”

“Stop that right now.” David pictured Yves’ heavy-set body wrapped around his thin compliant flesh.

“It’s ringing.” Mark handed the phone to him.

“‘Ello you ‘ave reached Yves LaPointe. Please leave a message and I’ll get back directly. Thank you for calling.”

David hadn’t noticed the French accent earlier. “Hi Yves. It’s David Walters. We … uh … bumped into each other earlier tonight. I … uh … well … I’d love to talk to you about .. um … what you wanted to talk about. You can reach me at 387-5293 after, say, six tomorrow night. Bye.”

Throughout this Mark muffled his giggles with a pillow.

“Happy now Mark?”

“Not as happy you’ll be. That man has amazing hands.”

“And an accent. ‘Ello dis is Yves LaPointe.’” David exaggerated Yves message. “I do like a man with a thick accent.”


Kevin stepped out to the balcony. Mitch had a corner apartment with a view of Toronto, though it didn’t face the lake or take in the CN Tower. It was a two-bedroom apartment where Kevin would have his own room.

He had got Mitch to bed about ten minutes earlier, and finally had some silent solitude. A few scant hours ago he was an east coast kid and now he was big city boy.

He leaned over the rail to see more of the city. Almost cloudless, the lights of the skyline merged with the stars. 

Pressed against the cool of the balcony he stiffened in anticipation. He opened his fly. His hand moved along his dick and as his come formed and moved, he breathed deep to pull those lights into him, to pull himself through the air into the lights.

He strained on tip toes, his come shot out, cleared the balcony rail and flew into the night to join the stars.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Cards For Pain

Small town summer theatre has changed from the days when The Odd Couple or Hello, Dolly! were the offerings. Now one can see Mama Mia, or even The Rocky Horror Show – that’s right Rocky is now ‘safe’ enough for all. I’ve seen Rocky on stage a few times, most recently as part of the Stratford Festival. Like that one, the Stirling Festival Theatre incorporated the audience participation establish by the movie fan base. ‘It’s a step to the left.’

I loved everything about this production which successful tweaked the play a little. Some of the narrator’s dialogue was given to Sal Figliomeni drag queen Shirley Happening, who, after instantiuous costume change into Trixie, sang the opening & closing double-feature song with great energy. She also gave the audience instructions on when to participate resulting in Brad being called ‘asshole’ & Janet ‘slut.’ Is it misogyny that ‘slut’ was shouted by more people & louder than ‘asshole’? 

But the gender philosophy of the play is better left to academics as we ordinary folk enjoy the dynamic singing & singing of the cast. As Frank-N-Furter dominated the stage from his first appearance I start with J.P. Baldwin’s great performance. He clearly enjoyed these songs, ripping into Wild & Untamed Thing full force. His treatment of I’m Going Home let the emotion of the song do the work, even as audience members tossed playing cards into the air. 

Ryan Whittal’s Rocky (not on a slab) thanks to a funky little golden romper didn’t need a gender reveal party. The sets were simple & effective & made the show feel more like the original did when it also had little $ for production values. 

The cast was excellent, energetic & many of them got to display unexpected vocal ranges, in particular Lousia O’Keane as Magenta. I loved that Dr. Scott rolled on stage with a snug Cape Breton tartan blanket tucked around his legs. Solid choreography & a tight band made this a great show.

I’d say ‘see this show’ but this was the final performance for it. If there was suggestion box I would recommend they tackle ‘Hair’ next season.

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Dull In Denmark


Took another Stratford day-trip Wednesday to see Hamlet. First the good news – we had lunch at the re-located Features & were happy with the bright, spacious location. Same menu (on new a menu folder). Same staff. Best part, the washrooms are no longer down a slippery flight of rickety stairs into a dark low-ceilinged basement.

Now for the bad news, something was dull in the state of Denmark & it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps it was the long pandemic delay that gave them too much time to simmer this production – a simmer that turned it into flavourless Hamlet.

The opening was promising with funeral organ music & the dead king in a glass coffin already on stage. Guards were contemporized into a dark suited security detail – earplug communicators etc. The ghost work was nicely handled. But after Hamlet ‘swears,’ I got sleepy & missed some things, including the To Be soliloquy. A sure sign of how dull the performances & staging where. I perked up when the travelling players finally arrived. 

from a past production

Overall it was, to me, an uninspired production, though the staging had some good elements. The use of the balcony mirrors & projections was interesting, as was hidden body mic on Ophelia. The costumes were street wear – as if the cast had arrived late & rushed on stage without changing out of their street clothes. I can’t even remember what Hamlet wore. Costumes should help define the characters & so everyone here was defined as nobodies. Laertes in sweatpants? How regal.

from a past production

Amaka Umeh in the lead works hard, saws the air at every possible moment but never found a character. The King lacked any sense of threat. Ophelia lacked wispiness & seemed more peeved than heart-broken. None of the principles felt that invested in their characters, none of them seemed to be enjoying being on stage.

In the end we were left with a dull silence.

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Good Looks

Good Looks

I wasn’t looking at you

I wasn’t looking at anyone

no one is looking at anyone


we don’t even look at ourselves

expect through a lens

of memory

of perception

of cultural filters

of digital accuracy


I don’t want to see anyone

not directly

so as not to give rise

to inaccurate expectations

to misinterpretation of the glance


we all just want

to find our place

without bumping into anyone

without having to look 

where we are sitting


look up

is to make unwanted contact

visual acknowledgements

are not to be allowed

they lead to


no one knows what they lead to

it is better not to take that chance


I’m not looking at anyone

at anything

no one looks at me

life is serene

Many years ago a discredited televangelist was accused of giving another man a ‘homosexual’ look in a spa locker room. Decades ago a man in Australia was found not-guilty of murderer because he experienced a ‘homosexual panic’ because of the way another man looked at him. The eyes have been weaponized.

Sexual harassments suits have cited the way other employees looked at the accuser – focused too long on legs, buttocks, chest. I’m not sure how long ‘too long’ is – the punch line ‘my eyes are up here’ underlines the need to direct our gaze anywhere but at the anatomy. Yet not looking someone in the eyes is seen as hiding something, of being shifty – looking them in the eye is being accusatory or invasive of their privacy. 

Hence the power of hand held devices to avoid those treacherous waters. Soon, like modern cars, they’ll have a proximity alert to let you know how close you are to bumping into someone, or something, because   they are in our blindspot. Maybe they’ll develop a way to give people who are too close a slight shock to alert them to ‘get back.’ 

As a kid I remember wishing I had Superman’s x-ray vision that allows him to look through things – though unlike x-rays he saw them as objects not outlines or ghosts. I always wanted to send away for x-ray glasses I saw in the back of comics that supposedly did the same thing so I could use them to see through clothing, or through walls to watch people undressing. Google tells me some were merely plastic glasses filled with cardboard that had a depiction of the things you could see if you had x-Ray vision 😦 (

I’m sure if I was wearing them in public my eyes would be covered so no one would accuse of giving them a homosexual look. I’ll stick to my wrap around sunglasses.

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Pointers for Cabaret Singers

I loved the Pointer Sisters from the get go. Their first several lps were an eclectic mix of the Andrews Sisters harmonies & swing, raunchy r’n’b, country, blues, pop & eventually, high energy dance music. The retro big band sound had been heralded by Bette Midler but the Pointers took it in a less camp direction.

I remember seeing them on Carol Burnett’s show doing Shaky Flat Blues. I have The Pointer Sisters (1973), That’s A Plenty (1974), Steppin’ (1975), Energy (1978),  Break Out (1983). I loved the dense harmonies on songs like Jada, the funky energy of Wang Dang Doodle, their take on Springsteen’s Fire. As they progressed their look change too from the almost church late’s 30’s look to a take change shirts & high-heels disco look. 

Rounding out the mp3 collection are The Ray Charles Singers: Songs For Latin Lovers – a great version of Desafinado – more sweet harmonies. The Manhattan Transfer: The Best of – featuring Java Jive; Swing: this is another group that mined retro 40’s, 50’s with bouncing harmonies, great orchestrations & even some ‘original work’ like the Twilight Zone & Birdland – the hits collection is excellent.

Now a deeper step back in time with some real cabaret stars. First is a great fake-live album by Marlene Dietrich: Wiedersehen mit Marlene. The audience reactions are from her actual shows but have been layered onto some studio recordings. Next is the legendary Mabel Mercer: The Art Of, which includes  Little Girl Blue (later done by Janis Joplin). She has gravelly gentle voice with an unhurried jazzy take on classic songs. Jaye P. Morgan, a nightclub singer who became a TV personality (or maybe it was the other way around) with a sweet voice for songs like My Heart Belongs to Daddy.

Finally the legendary Bobby Short: Live at Town Hall. He has one of those jazzy voices that is an acquired taste – urbane, slightly naughty & sophisticated. This is a fun set of show tunes, jazz standards & a nod to pop music of the time. If you want to dabble in cabaret singers Mabel Mercer is your best bet.

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Mae Being

Mae Being

the outrage

at her success

was matched by the publicity

the outrage

brought her success

how dare she

a woman

write like a man

use men

the way men used women

the obscenity 

of carnality on stage

was too much for the male

powers that be

when she wouldn’t back down

they shut her down

sent her to prison

sentenced her to becoming

the top box-office draw of the decade

despite being a woman

yet her success

didn’t silence her censors

it only made them more eager


to teach her a lesson

to be obedient

to shut her mouth

watch her words

or they would snip the words

so only the censors heard them

so she

took her money to the bank

& bid the public

good bye

One of the last plays I saw on stage was Mae West’s Sex at the Shaw Festival: Re-reading my review Make the production sound better than it was lol – it was ultimately disappointing in its lack of performance energy.

During the 70’s I was somewhat of a Mae West fan. I had poster of her – hands-on-hips, her sequinned, form-fitting dress glittering &, I think, a giant feather boa over her shoulders. A deliberate choice on my part to appear heterosexual. I read a couple of biographies, loved her double-entendres – Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me? At the time I didn’t realize this was a tell-tale sign of being gay lol.

At the time I hadn’t actually seen any of her movies. TV fare in Cape Breton was quite limited & we rarely got such scintillating oldies. Clark Gable yes, MaeWest no. I didn’t see many of them until I picked up a box set of her films – which I enjoyed but time sure have changed. I didn’t see what the fuss was about. Yet even today being open about enjoying sex leads to judgmentalism. Pleasure being deemed as less authentic, less ethical than suffering.

Today I wonder if Mae was as sexual in her private life as her persona projects. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she died a virgin, a very wealthy virgin

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Gunn Mann

Soundtrack composers are easy to dismiss for the mass appeal of their work – populist & therefore shallow. Henry Mancini is one such composer. The range of his musical ability is staggering when one looks at the span of his career. Academy awards only testify to the popularity of his work not of its quality.

Also with time, even his timeless pieces have taken on a sort of nostalgic campy quality. A song like Moon River seems quaint. I have always loved his music for Peter Gunn & have the original TV soundtrack. When you get past the Arch of the Cue Balls you have a fine, state-of-the-jazz art album that can stand with anything by, say, Horace Silver.  Quincy Jones Plays Mancini is a great set of covers. I love Baby Elephant Walk.

I guess I am a Herbie Mann fan, at least of his work up to the mid-70’s. The first Herbie Mann I heard was Push Push way back in 1971. I loved it & the use of harp in jazz was a revelation. I had that lp & replaced it with the cd. I found the double lp Evolution of Mann remaindered at Zellers & it covered the earlier part of his career, eventually I did the conversion from lp to cd. Stone Flute, & Gagaka I also had as lps at one time & both are stunning sets.

As mp3 I have by Herbie Mann:  Flute Flight 1957, Flute Soufflé 1957, Do The Bossanova 1962, The Complete Latin Band Sessions w Chick Corea 1965, Impressions of the Middle East 1966, Gagaku & Beyond 1976, Two Amigos 1990 w Dave Valentine, Beyond Brooklyn 2004 w Phil Woods. Stand-alones: lp to cd transfer of Evolution of Mann: a sort of hits collection; Stone Flute 1969 meditative with strings includes stunning take on The Beatles ‘Flying’, Push Push 1971 w Duane Allman Gene Bianca on harp. 

Mann was a world music fan before it was on trend. He explored Latin, Japanese, Northern Africa music with musicians from those areas. He steeped himself  in the sound & sensibility & co-created memorable music. I love the Gagaku work. Where to start? I’d go with Push Push. Don’t let his hairy shoulders put you off.

Rounding out the Mann mp3 cd compilations are: Wes Montgomery: Fingerpickin’, Moving’ Along. Early work by Wes with his trademark fluid jazz guitar. Stanley Jordan: Magic Touch – modelled after Wes, another deft guitarist. Art Pepper: The Trip – excellent sax with more of a hard bop edge. Some mid 50’s sleaze adventures, where you feel the tassels twirling around your nose as you listen: Strip Tease 50’s Classics: by the likes of Dave Rose, Sonny Lester – songs like Strip Poker, The Stripper; Buddy Bregman: Swinging Kicks. Burlesque A Go-Go: various rock-a-billy for peelers.

Perhaps the ultimate Bond soundtrack by John Barry: Goldfinger. Shirley Bassey delivers the best Bond title song of all time. Finally as a break from all that:  Don Slepian: Electronic Music From The Rainbow Isle – a moog, computer music pioneer; Szatvari Csaba: Galilei’s Nightmare – new ageish sound textures.

Take The Plunge

the room was full

maple leaves sumac oak

aspen poplar beech

more leaves than the eye could see

could gave names to

rose lilac no flowers just leaves


each one tagged 

ready to be discarded


leaves fluttering chafing rustling

at each breath I took

whispering to each other

that I was there


at the sight of my rake

they feared the rake


the brown big bag behind my back

wasn’t going to hold them all

I’d need more bags

more rakes


the leaves trembled in anticipation

to be stuffed crammed

longing to be taken outdoors

to become compost

for future leaves


I didn’t know where to begin

were there stairs

the house was crammed

floor to ceiling

nothing could be seen

leaves crumbling 


over one another

more arrived every minute

squeezing though cracks in the wall

down the chimney


it was an endless task

I began raking 

pulling them from under chairs

bag after bag

line the curb

yet the house never emptied

all around me 

the swirl of leaves

green red black pointed waxy

I couldn’t get down the stairs

my rake was useless

they no longer had fear

no bags left and there were more


catalpa palm smoke tree

I climbed out to the porch roof

the street was an ocean

the bags I had tenderly packed

had all broken open

children where running and playing

diving through the leaves

never touching the ground

unaware of the dangers

beneath the glorious tempest of leaves


I took the plunge


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The Kafka Hotel

The Kafka Hotel

Nothing was the right size. G stood in the centre of the hotel room. The windows were too high to look out of & were too large for the room. On tip-toe G could barely get a brief glimpse of the high-rise across the street.

It strained G’s neck to keep looking outside. The suitcase took up half the bed. The bed would clearly be too small for anyone to stretch out on. The desk was more like ledge. There wasn’t enough room under it for legs. Not enough room on it for a laptop to open properly. The chair back came half-way up G’s spine and offered no support to lean back on.

The wall-to-wall carpet wasn’t quite wall-to-wall. In one corner there was an bare angle of raw concrete floor that hadn’t been covered. The sink in the bathroom was so low G had to stoop to get hands under the taps to splash lukewarm water on the face. There was no cold or hot just lukewarm. The shower stall door didn’t close properly so water rained all over the floor when the shower was on.

Nothing was the right size except for the price.

I’ve never stayed in a hotel room this bad but some have come close. I remember one where the ‘closet’ was just big enough to hang a shirt. More than one had desks with minimal leg room underneath. I did have one with a shower door that didn’t close properly. I suspect every hotel, no matter how good, has crappy ‘discount rooms’ that they give when people book with points or though some online agency.

The first draft of the piece had only ‘G’ as a name so I kept that. I pruned away gender designations to make G as anonymous as the room itself. I was tempted to not mention body parts – hands, face to further dehumanize G but then it felt too much like a parody of Metamorphosis. 

I’ve read Kafka’s novels & short stories a few times. I enjoy his sense of things happening for no discernible reason. Characters who hit that blank wall that refuses to explain, apologize or help. In fact they are made to feel at fault or shamed for even asking for ‘clean towels.’ Life is out of our control – which isn’t fiction as we’ve learned in these covid19 days.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee – sweet,eh?