Therapy

 

True story – Several years ago I started to see a guy & there was good chemistry between us. When he found out I had never been to therapy it ended because he couldn’t relate to someone who had never been to therapy. I thought – such is life. He made me think of people who say ‘I don’t trust someone who won’t drink (alcohol) with me.’

 

A recent Gayish podcast (119) was about the role of therapy in lgbtq+ lives. One of the hosts conclusions was that everyone needs therapy – by which they mean one-on-one work with a therapist. I have never engaged in one-on-one work with a therapist. (Please don’t revoke my gay card 🙂 ) The closest I’ve come to therapy, I guess, is decades of 12 Step meetings – group therapy of sorts – in fact the that modem of group self-help is the model for group therapy. But 12 Step doesn’t involve professionals to facilitate such groups. https://gayishpodcast.podbean.com

I’ve written extensively about growing up gay which has worked out much of the ptsd I experienced as a child & teen – the ptsd I’ve experienced from the gay ‘community’ is another story 🙂 What is worse – being bullied & belittled by the straight community for being queer or being bullied & belittled by the gay community for not being handsome, young, hung or buff enough to be acceptable? 

The Gayish episode is an excellent guide to types of therapy based on the hosts personal experience. The statistics on mental health & addiction issues in the lgbtq+ community are dismaying but not surprising. As we see greater visibility for queers in our culture I hope many of the emotional, mental issues that come from isolation, fear, internalized homophobia, will lessen. Gayish is one of the ways in which such changes continue.

Lucky

when I tell people 

I’m lucky to alive today

they act as if I’m overreacting

because in many ways

my life has been a breeze

I didn’t suffer any physical 

sexual abuse growing up

never went hungry

my parents never divorced

so what do I have to complain about

 

it’s not that I’m complaining 

just making a statement of fact

I’m lucky to alive

maybe they don’t know

that there as a time

when gay teens were put into 

mental institutions to be cured

given shock treatments

lobotomies

behaviour modification

chemical castration

so they would be obedient 

normal boys and girls

 

role models were nonexistent 

until Elton John came along 

(oh, why couldn’t it have been 

Bruce Springsteen)

 

what saved my life 

was music & writing

not writing how

‘fear was too great’ 

but writing about anything 

music never judged me

never waited outside school to beat me up

didn’t tell on you

didn’t turn away

when I searched album covers

for inspiration in words

in Jim Morrison’s tight pants 

mooning over sturdy arms 

of drummer Keith Moon

never knowing anything about their lives

 

maybe if I had known 

Jim Morrison 

was a real back door man

Moon was a bi guy

their fame allowed them freedom

but not freedom of the press

careers would have been ruined

 

yeah I’m lucky to be alive

because the help I could have used

then

would have killed me

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

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Please Don’t Shoot

Please Don’t Shoot

I let death happen

by proxy

if I didn’t eat meat

wear shoes

would animal treatment

become more humane

 

do it take a stand

no more meat

nothing with a face

search out alternatives

plants may have faces

that I don’t recognize

so that makes it fine

 

the air that I breathe

is teaming with life

the water I drink

is alive with microorganisms 

that may have faces

my vision isn’t that good

atomic microscopes

focus so finite 

I can’t recognize anything

 

is that jelly fish like shimmer

darting around other shimmers

afraid of being seen

shamed by our look

not ready for their close-up

they aren’t animals

are they

 

is my decision that they don’t count

relevant to anything

other than another brick

in a sense of superiority

the smug comfort

of valuing all life

only as it serves my appetites

 

people

like me who still eat meat

will always be ethically

self-indulgent creeps

who should be shamed

better yet shot

 

but please don’t shoot me

until after dinner


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Everyone Has One

Everyone Has An Opinion

his opinion was

irrelevant to me

not that he was

in fact I enjoyed

spending time with him

until he commented

on an item in the news

the item was not relevant

to why were naked together

 

as he went on & on

I was at first amused

then dismayed

offered a more moderate

point of view

which goaded him even further 

 

he was fun in bed

I choose to overlook his opinion

one I never asked for

& now that I knew it

there was no need to

know more about him

or his opinions

only when we might 

get together again

 

which we did eventually

and when we did

it was good

until he launched 

into an opinion

 

he spoke as one

who only listens

to those who agree with him

which I understand 

why spend time 

with people who argue with you

life is too short

 

I’m no one’s teacher

besides he knew what he knew

who was I to disagree

so

seeing him again

was no longer relevant

Sex & politics are often a bad mix. One of the traditions in 12 step recovery is that our opinions on outside issues are left outside of the room – the focus is on recovery not on who is running for x party. As in this piece, knowing too much about the other person can often change how we hear them. One things I’ve realized about myself is often I have no real opinions only smart-assed one-liners.

I don’t mind making chit-chat when I see a guy mind you but I stick to things like the weather, music, maybe TV shows we discover we both like – but I avoid politics, religion, etc. I can be judgemental when certain political, race, or even class options don’t coincide with mine. This guy, & this is a real experience, felt fine to spontaneously mouth off with his bigoted thoughts on both blacks & whites.

As I haven’t experienced the world as he has I didn’t argue but let him know I didn’t see some of these issues as he did. At least he wasn’t homophobic 🙂 The sex was great, but to be honest, that isn’t enough for me. Even in a FWB relationship I need some emotional &, I guess, philosophical connection.  He on the other had felt that because I wasn’t argumentative that we were compatible enough for his needs.

I stopped putting energy into future get togethers. Made excuses a few times, caved a few times (solely because the sex was good). I succeeded in directing conversations away from his hobby-horses. But it was more work than I was willing to put inot what was supposed to be play. That was the focus of our getting together, not me learning tolerance & patience. So I stopped responding. Such is life. 

The title is a reference to the phrase – “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks.”


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Chapter LIV: Birk in the Rubble

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LIV

Birk

in the

Rubble

By the third day the faces were fully ready to be worked. Birk found that he and Clancy were back into their old routine. Joking in the mornings and focused when they started to work. Birk was happy to hear Clancy singing behind him as they got back to the grind of hacking the coal out of the seam. He slipped back into his physical digging and everything that had happened in the past few months vanished as he sweated.

“Com’on by. Time for a slurp of tea.”

“Wha?” Birk pushed himself out of the crevice he was working in.

“Can’t make up for lost time that way Birk.”

“Feels good though to be doing sumthin’ ”

They put their tools in a safe spot, got their lunch cans and scuttled along to a level spot on the floor to sit.

“Where you get to when you take off?” Birk asked expecting the same answer.

“Back to my Ma’s. How many time’s do I haf to tell you? I figured your family have enough to do keepin’ fed without my extra face to feed. Not much to do here with out getting pulled into that spineless union’s foolishness. Ya can’t trust them.” Clancy slurped his tea. “Still smells the same down here.”

“No more ‘an you can trust the owners.”

“That’s for sure. I hear you kept yourself busy in a pretty way.”

“Wha?” Birk nibbled at his bread.

“You and the nun. Steven O’Dowell’s betrothed.” 

Birk could see Clancy smirk in the dim light.

“That lass’s only been trying to teach us how read and write proper. Don’t see as I’m going to do much with that. I could read figures well enough. But now I can sign my name pretty good. But …. ”

“She’s was getting to you, wasn’t she?”

“Yeah, but not is that way.” Birk was eager to have someone to talk to about Lillian. There were things he didn’t he could tell his mother.  “Everyone thought I’m …. sweet on her. Asked me how I felt about her getting hitched to him. As if I would be bothered by that. But t’isn’t so. Sure she’s pretty and that but she makes it hard to breathe when she’s around. It was as if she’s trying cover me up with whatever scent she’s wearing. Always looked at me as if she wanted something more than an answer to what the numbers add up to.”

“She must have had her eye on you.”

“I wish she didn’t. Ma gets so burned up about her being a Catholic girl. She thinks Lillian wants to turn me mick too. I wished I knew what she was after.”

“What most women want Birk m’boy. To land a decent man who’ll look after them.”

“She was living at the O’Dowell’s then anyway so she had him. He’s more the decent man. I’s surprised to see him coming down everyday with us too.”

“Politics. He aims to be premier. He can brag how he knows what common folks have to do to get by. I don’t know what she saw in you, less she needed hairy chimney sweep.” Clancy’s laugh echoed in the shaft.

“Yeh. I’m glad yer back … that … Clancy, I never had a mate I much took too … not even m’brother.”

“Yeah. I missed you too monkey.”

Birk resisted the temptation to reach out and touch Clancy.

Back at the face they were working he was happy to hear Clancy singing the familiar ‘shovel and pick, pick and shovel,’ then, ‘rake and hustle, hustle and rake.’ He stopped mid-word.

“Hush,” Clancy whispered. “Stop for a minute.”

Birk leaned away from the wall. “What is it?”

They stood holding their breaths. A distant rumble could be heard. Then the ceiling over them groaned and a long, thin, flat shard of it shook free and fell with a dusty thud.

Birk pushed Clancy toward the wall. “We better high tail it.”

“Right. That’s what happens when you only have inspectors come to check the air. Not the shoring of the faces.”

They made their way to the main shaft that was crowed with the other men on the shift. They were grousing about how the management had pushed to get things started and how the union didn’t make any difference or even care about the possible unsafe conditions. Another heavier rumble overhead stopped their nattering.

“At’s a big one.” Jake Malone called across from where he was working.

Part of the ceiling collapsed ahead of them.

“Shite.” Clancy swore as he crawled into the now narrowed shaft. “Come b’y before it gets worse.”

There were men scrambling in front and behind them. More than once Birk got a solid kick in the side or face. He was pushed out onto the rough floor. Other men tumbled out after him.

“Clancy!” He called out. He choked on the thick gritty dust. 

The miners pushed him along to the cage that would take them up. There was another even louder crack followed by a rumble and the ceiling behind him came thundering down amidst the shouts of men trapped under it.

“Clancy! Me buddy’s back there.” Birk stopped and pushed his way back to the rubble, fell to his knees and began to pul at the chucks of rock. Some crumbled in his hands.

“Come away lad.” Hands pulled at his shoulder. “There’s nothing we can do for them as got caught.”

It took two of the miner’s to pull Birk to his feet. 

“We all lose someone to the coal one way or t’other.” one of them put an arm around his shoulder and led him away.

“No!” Birk muttered. “I can’t give up.” 

He pushed them away and went to where he had been digging and began to pull the rocks away again. “I know he’s alive. I can feel it. I can’t give up that easy.”

It was the same feeling he had before Clancy showed up at Sal’s burial. Something in his chest told him Clancy was near then and that something told him Clancy was here now. Alive.

One of the miners who had pulled him away came back to him with two shovels and handed one to him. “This’ll make it easier. One things as I know is to never ignore that feeling.”

They were joined by some of the others in shifting the debris. They came to the canvas air flow flaps. There was someone trapped under that. Part of the frame for the ventilator had crumbled to offer some protection to those men.

“There’s men under this.” Birk shouted as his hands tried to get a purchase under the thick edges to peel it back. It was too dark to see exactly who it was though.

Red and two of the men left the bodies they had found and brought them to the less dim area of the shaft by the cage entrance. One of them was dead. The other moaned as he was being moved.

The injured man reached out and grabbed Birk by the wrist. “Monkey is that you?”

“Shush, Clancy. It is. We’ll get out of here soon.”

They laid Clancy on one of the coal trams. In the flicker of his lamp Birk saw a thin ooze of blood around Clancy lips and ears. 

“I can’ feel anything.” Clancy whispered. “Are my … “

“Yes Yes yer legs is there. They look okay.” Birk ran his hands lightly over Clancy’s body feeling for any breaks, no bones were sticking out. “You’re all there.”

“Even my little fella?” Clancy tried to laugh but coughed some blood.

“Pretty sure. Maybe a bit worse for wear after that.” Birk wiped a tear away. 

Red came over. “How’s he doing.”

Birk stood up. “He’s making jokes about his little feller, that’s a good thing.”

Red kneeled beside Clancy.

“You going to be fine son.” He put his ear to Clancy heart. “That’s still beating. How’s it to breathe?”

“Not so easy.” Clancy wheezed and coughed up more blood.

“Suspect you broke a couple of ribs back there. Good thing the manifold fell atop you.” He stood brushing his hands off. He turned to Birk. “Masters wasn’t so lucky.”

“I got the count for you Red.” Ken Langly, one of the miners came over. “Feenie, O’Conner, Slake Jim, French Dan and Dark Sammy unaccounted for. A few cuts but none as is hurt that bad.”

“Something to thank the good Lord for.” Red signed deeply. “Air’s not too bad. Ventilator shafts must still be clear enough.”

The cage shaft echoed with the screech of mental on mental. The harsh sound grated on Birk’s ears.

“They tryin’ to move the cage up and down. She must a got stuck somewhere when the … collapse shifted things.”

Without the cage the miners would have to either wait near where they were, or start to climb up the sides of the shaft. They were more than a mile below the surface and they was the risk some of the handhold stavings had come loose if the shaft was twisted out of shape enough.

“I’m going to start up.” Ken Langly announced. “One of us has to make a try. I’ve done it more than a few times.” He laughed. “You know, to get a breath of fresh air.”

“I’ll go with ye lad.” Red said. “They’ll be wanting to know who’s survived and who’s hurt down here. So far only young Clancy here. Busted a couple of ribs.”

They started up the sides of the shaft. Every so often some debris would come down.

“How you doing?” Birk sat on the floor by the tram where Clancy was lying.

“Only hurts when I talk about it.”

“Go on with ya.” Birk leaned back, his head against Clancy shoulder.

“You know when that slab fell on me all I could think was that I’d never get out to Blue Lake again. You done any fishing out there?”

“Took my sisters out a few times but not same as the last time we was out there. Too far for them to walk anyway. I ended up carrying Sal, the fish and everything else too on the way home.”

“At’s all right and you were learning how to read and write the way a proper Boston boy would.”

“Sure while you was playing nurse maid to yer old mother.”

“She not as fine as that one though.”

“Why you keep harpin’ on about that gal. She’s all yours Clancy if she’ll have you. That is if O’Dowell can’t keep her happy. I told you before I don’t care none for her fine ways. Sure they can grow on you after a time but that doesn’t mean I want to … spend anymore time with her than I have to.”

“Gives me something to think on besides us dying down here.” Clancy said.

A mass of rocky debris and some lumber fell through the shaft and down to the bottom of it.

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Garland Jeffreys

I can’t remember when I first heard Garland Jeffreys. One of my friends in Sydney had picked up an lp or maybe I’d bought one on spec at Woolworth’s in their rack of deleted lps. Or I might have even read a review in Rolling Stone. But he is a memory from my Cape Breton life. I have now in an mp3 collection Guts for Love; Rock & Roll Adult; Don’t Call Me Buckwheat.

He was more a cult favourite than a big pop star. More of a Warren Zevon than a Jackson Browne – who were also making ripples at this time. Jefferys’ sound was somewhat different though. More soulful, dash of reggae  Tough songs about love, politics & race. A direct influence on Lenny Kravtiz. Rock & Roll Adult is an amazing live album. Cool Down Boy about his physically abusive father is powerful.

Like many of my mp3 collections this one spans time & genres. So it also has Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE. Hop-hop artist with a queer vibes that is sonically dense but none of the songs really grabbed me. Same with Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox – radio friendly pop. I enjoy this sort of disposable music from the likes of Mars or even the Jonas brothers. Romanic, r’n’b lite. 

Here as well is a Toronto indie band Melting Pot: Cancel Everything. Grounded by the guitar of Nelson Sobral this is solid rock that is well produced, engineered & fun. Finally another throw back with a sort best of collection of The Left Banke: There’s Gonna Be A Storm. A brilliant 60’s group that didn’t hop the psychedelic bandwagon & produced some great songs. Their mix of strings, harpsichord & rock is refreshing, clearly a precursor to the chamber pop of Antony and the Johnsons.

Pain

‘Is there pain after death?’ Tom looked over to Frank. ‘That’s what we’re here to find out, isn’t it?’

‘Not entirely. But that’s a good notion to work with. I doubt if there is pain after death, with no attachment to the nerve endings, no corporal presence to to be connected to, there is nothing to feel the pain.’

‘Physical pain but what about emotional pain, spiritual pain?’

‘Spiritual pain? Have you ever felt spiritual pain?’

‘Yeah. It’s a restless emptiness that can’t be filled with people, places or things. When I use them to sooth that pain, it only gets worse. The spiritual remedy is the only one that has helped.’

‘Well, we are certainly in a philosophical frame of mind this morning.’

‘Must be my Season of Change. ‘What has been started, continues in each of us, even if we don’t know it.’ ’

‘That’s from Dr Melburton’s book?’

‘I think so. It what made me come with you. To find out what there was to find out here.’

‘So you believe there is a power here.’

‘Here, there and everywhere. Hiding. Always hidden.’

‘Only we don’t know what we might find.’

‘We know what we hope to find. That’s a start isn’t it.’

‘And we hope to find out if there’s pain after death?’

‘Something like that. I’ve felt something around me since we heard that chant. You have too haven’t you Frank?’

‘I suppose. Seems the air is more humid today.’

‘Rainy season is creeping up.’

‘The dead are just hiding and we are seeking them.’

‘What?’

‘Something my Dad once told me. He said they have passed beyond mortal sight.’

‘As if life were hide and seek … I kind of like that image. They’ve merely hidden and we may never find them.’

‘Oh, we’ll find them. The harder we seek the sooner we’ll find them.’

‘Then perhaps we’d better stop looking so hard.’ Tom laughed uneasily. ‘I don’t think I’m ready to …’

A flash of lightening was followed by a nearby clap of thunder. The drinking glasses on the bathroom sink rattled.

‘Very close.’

‘I have come to protect you?’

They turned and the leader of the boys they had seen two nights ago stood on the balcony of their room. His body streaked with raw, red paint, daubed with splotches of red, white and yellow. He was naked.

There was another ground shaking crash of thunder. The rain started. Heavy. Thick rain that darkened the room.

The boy stepped into the room and collapsed on the bed.

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

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“Abject Object”

Over the years I have seen nearly all Shakespeare’s plays. Thankfully Stratford Festival presents one of the infrequently produced ones every year or so. This year it is Henry VIII, which we saw at the intimate Studio Theatre. A play with the largest cast list done in the smallest theatre presented a challenge for director Martha Henry, which she met with ease.

This was a preview production but most of the performances were excellent. Irene Poole as Queen Katherine was strong, her death scene was compelling – cutting the appearance of the spirit apparitions allowed the scene even greater emotional resonance. Kim Horsman as Duchess of Norfolk was great fun. Jonathan Goad as Henry was boyish, regal and made the king so appealing one almost forgives his treatment of women. The supporting players were good, Scott Wentworth as the Duke of Norfolk was particularly strong.

Thanks to the series The Tudors I was able to sort out the political web that was being spun for Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn but I’m not sure how anyone unfamiliar with the actual history would have fared with the religious & political intrigues that run though the play. But the play is also an emotional look at the disintegration of a marriage regardless of the political context.

The staging was simple, the costumes were detailed, though there were more sequins than one would have expected at that time 🙂 The ending bows were cleverly  choreographed. Highly recommended.

 

My only quibble is with an audience member, in my row, two seats to my right who felt it was perfectly fine to use his smartphone to check messages & text replies two different times, while the show was in progress. I guess I should be grateful he didn’t start a whispered conversation on it. 

 

 

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Hidden Heart

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Hidden Heart

all I am hiding

are my emotions

really

no I don’t have anything

in my hands

up my sleeve 

I didn’t put anything

where you couldn’t find it

everything is out in the open

what good would it do

to hide your shoes 

so you can’t leave

hide your underwear

so you can’t dressed

hide the towels so

you can only dry off between the sheets

with me

me

who has nothing to hide

 

except my feelings

or rather my lack of them

though you claim

my claim of lack of feelings

is actually hiding something

because my door is so open you

because I have made a place

for you my life

you even have your own tooth brush here

it is out in the open too

 

see nothing is hidden

really

except how I feel

which I can’t reveal

until you open up

to tell me what you have hidden

in your heart

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Not Insulted

I’m Not Your Girlfriend

no

I’m not insulted

but

after years of being called

faggot fairy

I’m not going to put up 

with other queers

using those words 

to tease

to cut me down to size

the same goes for 

girl or girlfriend

 

it’s not that 

I don’t have a sense of humour

the only lesson I get

when you say

‘get over it girlfriend’

is that you are still feeding into

the commodification

the compulsion

of making ‘gay’ me

into something less masculine

no masculine is the wrong word

but ‘girlfriend’

is meant to be derogatory

because of the view

that ‘girl’ is lesser

no one says

‘get over it boyfriend’

 

so no I’m not insulted

merely bored

tired of people using 

the dominant culture’s language

to maintain a status quo

I don’t take myself so seriously

you can call me faggot

but don’t expect respect

in return

The climate around appropriate language is become increasingly volatile & unpredictable. It seems that if one isn’t as upset by something that another person is upset by then the problem is your lack of support, of sensitivity to their issue. Is it even appropriate anymore to give gender specific names to children?

Within the Lgbt+ community there is shift to gender neutral appropriateness. At many events one is asked what pronouns they wish to be used. Hosting shows I’ve been careful to find out what to use for introductions, & when blogging about shows I try to use as few pronouns as possible so as not to mis-gender anyone. It is creating a more nuanced use of language. 

In my post My Ass Pussy I talked about the use of feminizing language for man-to-man sex to somehow make it less gay. On a recent Gayish Podcast they talk about the use of ‘gurl’ between gay men as a playful taunt. To not want to be be called ‘gurl’ is seen as being overly sensitive & hence not queer enough.

Trans people fight for the right to choose the language that is used to refer to them, for pronouns, for respect. Blacks do the same. Yet when I don’t want to be referred as ‘gurl’ I have been sneered at by the very people who want to be so inclusive. I’ve been dis-included in some circles because I’m not accepting enough to let them call me faggot because they feel it’s okay because we are all faggots anyway, so get over yourself. I am over myself, but this sort of amusingly derogatory use of language tests my tolerance more and more. I’m not insulted but we are not amused.


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Chapter Liii – Lillian Has Something To Prove

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter Liii

Lillian

Has Something

To Prove

Lillian was working in the herb patch in the O’Dowell’s back garden when Aileen called to her from the back porch.

“A gentleman to see you Miss Lillian.”

Lillian stood and brushed the dirt off her hands onto her apron. “Gentleman.”

“Father Patrick, ma’am.”

Aileen held the door open for her as she continued to wipe her hands clean.

“He’s in the small study.”

Lillian had been in the small study once. It was a room off the front foyer that Steven’s father had used to store his hunting equipment which Steven had converted into an office when he ran in the election.

When she went into the room her uncle was standing with his back to her facing the desk. There were two armchairs in front of it and a bookcase on one wall. There was only one small window near the ceiling, more to allow ventilation in the room than light. The room smelled of cigar and pipe smoke.

“Father Patrick?” she said.

He turned. “Lillian how good to see you looking so well.” He sat in one of the arm chairs. She sat in the other. “I have been in Boston.”

“Ah. Steven was wondering why you hadn’t shown up during his campaign.”

“Sometimes politics and religion don’t need to mix. He did well enough with any show of support from me.”

“Yes.” She wondered what he wanted.

“I also understand you and he are to be wed.”

“Yes.”

“You know I can’t allow that. That union will not happen in any Catholic church in this parish or any other I can contact.”

“Perhaps you should take that up with the Bishop. He’s already agreed to perform the ceremony.”

“That will be changed. Have you told Mr O’Dowell about James Dunham? I’m sure …”

“He has, in fact, met James Dunham in Halifax.”

“And that didn’t dissuade him?”

“Not in the least,” Lillian wanted to laugh.

There was a knock at the door.

“Yes?” Lillian said.

The door opened. Aileen entered with a tea tray.

“Miss Clara said you may want the tea served.” She put the tea service on the desk.

“Thank Miss Clara for me.”

“That won’t be necessary.” Clara stepped into the room. “I didn’t want to barge in on what could be private conversation.”

“For the moment it is.” Father Patrick said. “If you don’t mind.” He stood and attempted to show her out of the room.

“If we are discussing the wedding I feel I should in included in the conversation.” Clara said.

“My uncle feels it’s an unwise decision on my part.” Lillian said. 

“Not exactly unwise, my dear.” Her uncle said. “I think it’s a very calculated decision on your apart. Devious. Eve would have been in awe. I have no objection to Miss O’Dowell hearing our conversation. Do you?”

“If it entails sordid rumours you have about Lillian past rest assured I have heard them.”

“They are not mere rumours, are they Lillian.”

“Don’t bother answering him Lillian. I am aware of Mr. James Dunham and of his ungentlemanly conduct with Miss McTavish. In fact I have met with him myself and spoke to him directly. I know the full story.”

“Apparently you are not as concerned about your family’s reputation as her family was about theirs.”

“This is not Boston Father Patrick.”

“Quite true. Quite true. But Mr. James Dunham is not what brings me here today. I will repeat what I told Lillian. This wedding will not take place.”

“You can’t stop it.” Clara said.

“One cannot marry the dead!”

He took a newspaper clipping out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Lillian.

She read it. It took her a few moments to comprehend its full import.

“Well, what does it say?” Clara asked.

“There was a memorial service in Boston for me last week. I died here some months ago of influenza.” she handed the clipping to Clara.

“The service was presided over by her grieving uncle, Father Patrick McTavish. What is the meaning of this Patrick?”

“I think it is pretty clear.”

“But I am alive. People know that.”

“The death certificate says otherwise. Signed by me.” He took a piece of paper out his inside pocket and haded it to Clara. “You have no proof of who you are, my dear. None at all.”

“Proof!” Clara exclaimed. “This has been signs only by you. There’s no doctor’s signature.”

He snatched it back from Clara. “A mere formality.  Also you can’t get married without proof  of identity in the Catholic Church. Lillian, do you have your baptismal record? Your confirmation certificate? You don’t even have a family to say you are you. The memorial was very emotional. You mother wept. A Mr. Henderson was heart broken.”

“David Henderson?” Clara said glancing at Lillian.

“He went to Europe when I was fifteen and he was not a beau, merely a boy I knew.” Lillian wanted to jump up and strike her uncle. “Why are you doing this?” she asked as calmly as she could.

“You must reap what you sow my child.” He said gently. “Her father said she was a willful, spiteful, conniving child and she had grown up to be even more so. Do you think I would let you ruin yet another family to satisfy your need for depraved comfort. When I was forced to drive this … this …. harlot from my home I was stunned to see her be taken into your bosom Miss O’Dowell. I feared she would be an asp. A snake in the grass.”

Lillian stood slowly. “Have you had your say uncle? Have you done your worse?”

“Lillian I mean no harm. Forgive me.”

“Forgiveness is not mine to give.” She looked him in the eyes. “If this is the consequence of my not bending to your depraved carnal desires then I am willing to suffer this consequence for keeping my honour intact.”

She opened the door to leave the study. “If you’ll excuse me Clara I have something in my room that may help clarify things. If they don’t satisfy the Church.”

“No one will have you.” her uncle said. “No one.”

“Father Patrick.” Clara stopped Lillian. “You have said more than enough. You have perhaps revealed more about yourself than you have about Lillian.”

“How can you remain so … indifferent to this hussy’s actions.”

“Whatever her actions may have been, and I assure you, I know she is no innocent babe, she has not displayed such an evil devious mind as you have. To revenge yourself is this way leaves me speechless.”

Lillian dashed up to her room and found the photo album and news paper clippings. She brought them down and presented them to Clara.

“This marriage will happen.” Clara said sternly. “Her family will be informed of your callous actions.”

“You think they banished her here on a whim?”

“They banished me because their reputation was more important to them than their child. Oh! It was all right for my brothers to get caught up in gambling, drunken galavanting behaviour.” Lillian found herself shouting.

“But let their precious daughter show a bit of spirit and out she goes. When they thought I had lost any value as a marriage pawn to enhance their precious social standing they disposed of me as if I were … a … a tea service that had gone out of fashion.”

She turned to Clara. “If I am a calculating harlot looking for the best possible marriage then I learned it from them. It runs in the family apparently. Doesn’t uncle?” She wanted to slap the stunned look on his face. “Falsifying my death to suit your ends is no better. Runs in the family.”

She pushed Clara aside nearly knocking over Aileen who had been hovering near the door listening. She stood in the foyer resisting the temptation to run up to her room, slam the door and throw herself on her bed to cry. That’s what the woman in books did. Cry till some man came up the stairs to make things better for them.

“Aileen.” she said.

“Yes Miss?”

“If anyone wants me, I’ll be out in the garden. Those climbing roses need to be cut back.”

On her way through the kitchen she grabbed the gardening sheers and headed directly to the climbing roses. She’d been intending to remove the dead branches for weeks now and she attacked them with a vengeance.

She lost track of time as her anger dissipated. Why was every path she took caught in these unforeseen and unforeseeable brambles. David Henderson turning out to be unsuitable because of a Jewish grandmother, Mr. Dunham a trifler, Birk Nelson so fearful of displeasing his mother and now this. If only she could cut these brambles as cleanly away from her path as the ones from the climbing bush.

With each clip she thought to herself ‘what can I do.’ ‘what can I do next.’ 

“Lillian!”

There was a hand on her shoulder. It was Clara.

“Lillian, I have been calling you for a few minutes.”

Lillian stood and wiped the sweat off her brow. “I couldn’t hear you over these.” She snipped at the air in front of her with the sheers.

“Then perhaps we’ll get them oiled properly so they won’t be so noisy in the future.” Clara smiled. “You uncle is certainly a man of actions and opinions.”

“Another of the McTavish bad traits.”

“Do you love my brother?”

“Love? I don’t know. If you mean that flood of blinding adoration, then, no, I don’t.” If that put the final touch on the end of this path she was ready to face it.

“That’s what I was hoping to hear. I’ve seen how you’ve dealt with him this past month. You know I wasn’t happy of this match but Steve would brook no argument with me. I didn’t want to distract him from his ambitions and I figured you would fall by the wayside.”

“Sorry to disappoint you.”

“Oh I wasn’t disappointed. He was willing to listen to you on matters of appearance and even of how to present himself to the public that he would never had heeded from me. If anyone won the seat it was you being by his side making sure he said the right things at the right time. Someone who was flooded with adoration couldn’t have been so … objective.”

“Thank you, Clara. This is the last thing I expected to hear you say.”

“Perhaps you’ve wondered why I never married?”

“Yes, but you did have your father to look after.”

“We had money and could have afforded to hire help but my father, much as yours did, I suspect, wanted to keep a protective eye on me. I never had the opportunity to meet a James Dunham. A few men courted me but none ever found the approval of my father. Those that did were ones he deemed suitable because of their social status, their financial potential and for no other reason.”

“I had never thought we might have that in common.”

‘But you have more determination than I ever had.”

“So does Father Pat.”

“It’s not you he’s striking at but your family. He told me about your father’s reaction to the death certificate. He may not have known it but your father’s grief brought the good Father great …  I want to say pleasure but that’s not it at all. It gave him an opportunity to castigate your father for being such a Godless parent. For being indulgent and permissive.”

“Permissive!”

“Oh yes, allowing you opportunities to enjoy life that he himself had not had. Your family’s wealth and social position become more important to them than their faith and as a result you were their downfall and punishment.”

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Jacksoul to Jamiroquai

There was a time whenMuchMusic actually showed music videos!! One of the Canada bands that shone was Jacksoul lead by the talented Haydain Neale. I have their ABsolute, sleepless, Resurrected as stand alones. The sound is radio & music video friendly sweet soul with jazz touches. The songs are plaintive, romantic, & smooth to the ear. Neale has/had a very appealing voice. Very John Legend. Sadly he died some years ago.

 

Next on the shelf are a couple of Mp3 collections that feature Jamiroquai: a funk/acid jazz group lead by singer Jay Kay. On one cd is Emergency on Planet Earth; Travelling Without Moving; A Funk Odyssey; Synkronized; on the other is Rock Dust Light Star, Dynamite. Jay’s voice is very Stevie Wonder. There have been some radio hits, dance floor hits too. Music with an ecological message that you can dance to. The album sound changes over time as they flirt with then embrace old school disco: strings, congas. Sexy, enjoyable & never challenging.

 

In the first MP3 collection are several indie eps I picked up at local poetry shows. A couple by DanJahRus: 2019, Sunrise. Hip-Hop rap with Dan’s mixing skills equal to his writing. DRP: Clever Title – son of a friend of mine had a sort of metal bar band & recorded some tracks in a basement. Youthful fun.

BC’s CJ Leon: Booty Music for Zombie Swingers; Street Corner Gothic – folk punk sexual anarchy with zombies. good sound quality. Toronto’s: Examples. Rex is a folk punk queer Japanese protest singer. We need more of this. Archie & The Bunkers is an organ based trio full to the brim with sweet, cheese surf music fun. Three Beards: bearded men writing & singing about their feelings.

Also some non-indie powerhouse albums. I became obsessed with the song Lonely Street & found a decent version on Mick Hucknall’s American Soul. Mick was lead singer for Simply Red. This was a come-back attempt with covers. Easy listening pleasant. Bob Dylan’s Tempest. A recent release I picked up more for nostalgia. He still writes well & sings well in a Tom Waits way. The same with Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What. Paul Simon never wrote a bad song & his voice is still intact, as is his sense of political irony. Finally: Debbie Gravitte – Defying Gravity – this a great Lp of Broadway songs, some obscure, some well-known. I love her version of that title track, from Wicked.

Stroke of Genius

‘Mambo?’ Ted gave Jim a playful shove. ‘Where did you get that name from?’

‘Just came to me.’ Jim snapped his fingers. ‘A stroke of genius.’

‘Yeah along with ‘dat acc’nt mon’?’

‘Well, those guys had it coming. Snooping around here every night. Had to give them something they could enjoy.’ Jim began to wipe the green make up off his chin. ‘Did you see his face. Boy, looked like he was about to crap his pants.’

‘Yeah, but ‘Mambo.’ Good thing you didn’t give any of the others names.’

‘Good idea. You can be ChaCha. Phil can be Tango.’

‘I don’t feel right about it though. What if they … ’

‘What? Tell on us? I can see them now at the Militia Office. These boys with red and green faces told us they would protect us from evil. That’d go over big around here.’

‘You did pick the red and green. Afraid of the blue and white.’

‘Ted this is for fun. I know enough not to cross the line. That would have been begging for trouble.’

‘Since when did that bother you?’

‘It doesn’t. Fear is an emotion I choose not to fear. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot either. Bad enough we used the right markings.’ He continued to rub at the make up around his eyes. ‘Is it all off?’

‘Sort of but I think you rubbed too hard.’

‘You too.’ He gave another playful hip shove that sent Jim sprawling. ‘You think the other guys got home okay.’ Jim stood.

‘Don’t they always.’ 

‘I don’t think …’

‘Then stop thinking. Let me worry about that. We’d have more fun if  you’d stop all that thinking. It’s not as if we are robbing the tourists, just putting a little of local fear into them. Get their imaginations going.’

‘It’s not all imagination and you know it.’

‘Yeah! So. It’s no fun to play in safe places. So this had a little more edge than the rag doll and pins routine. Gives them more for their dollar.’

‘I know. I spooks me. That’s all. Mama Gre’loo says we have to be careful with the forest spirits. This is the Season of Change and all things that start a change now must follow where it leads.’

‘You gotta stop listening to that foolishness. You sound like one of those tourists. You know?’

‘I know. Come on, let’s get that stuff washed off so we can get home.’

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every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

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