Out of Control

Out of Control

I am a man

in a man’s body

there was a brief time

when I doubted this

a time when gender was fixed

by cultural controls

<>

to explain

variations in object desire

people were reduced

to data

that data was used to explain

what didn’t fit

so that men

in men’s bodies

who desired other men’s bodies

were actual women in men’s bodies

genders misplaced

trapped and looking for release

that a man would desire another man

was explained

in terms of heterosexual norms

because only a woman

could would should

have sexual desire for a man

<>

when I realized I desired men

I almost accepted the theory

that I was a woman 

trapped in a man’s body

though it never made sense

but it was deemed more acceptable

than man to man attraction

the data proved that

yet my human experience

refused to conform to that data

<>

facts spun to conform

not inform

a pervasive compulsion to control

what 

at least in my pants

in out of control

One of the things that Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam encouraged me to do was examine, in even greater detail, how our sense of sexual self is ‘created.’ Much of it comes from pop culture. Rampant heterosexuality dominated & even as the lgbtqia community was coming into the mainstream it often remained caught in those heterosexual behaviour constraints such as marriage for acceptance, being a good homo by adopting children to create the typical family.

Even sexual interactions were caught up in this coding – top, bottom, fem, butch, masc, whatever. This piece looks at some of the theories I read about in exploring sexuality – the wrong body has recently morphed into trans body diaspora, which, to me, it logical. But back in the day it was considered a fringe rationalization to make non-het sexuality acceptable.

Similar is the theory that one is haunted/possessed by the spirit of the opposite sex- so its really not me that likes men but the ghost of the woman that has taken over my body. 

Both theories that I find amusing as opposed to informative or definitive. I still live in a culture that is sex-a-phobic period. As much as there appears to be an appreciation, say, for women owning their own sexuality it’s still seen through the male gaze of acceptance. It’s also a culture in which suffering is deemed authentic & while pleasure is deemed intellectually shallow.

So I’ve stopped wondering about the puzzle of my sexuality & have opted to ignore any data, any attempt to explain it & choose to enjoy because I am fine with being intellectually shallow.

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Recorporated

 

Recorporated 

I was on the subway. Standing & avoiding those crowding close me. Breathing slowly into my mask, head down to keep as from contact as possible. The new reality.

People got on & off at each stop. Each negotiating space around them & between others. Some apologizing for brushing up against someone when it was impossible to avoid brushing up against someone. The old reality.

In the window reflection I saw someone stand close beside me but when I glanced to them there was no one there. The reflection was unchanged though. There was clearly a person – I say a person because though the shape was clearly there, the face was distorted by the glass. I couldn’t tell if it was male or female. I couldn’t even see any race. I could feel them press against me as the subway stopped. When I looked to apologize there was no one there. No one.

They were only there in reflection. Wearing a mask much like mine.

The train stopped at my station. I moved to get off but stopped for a moment to glance at the figure by me. I saw it moving past me in reflection. I followed. It turned. I saw it full face. It was me. He exited. Stunned, I couldn’t follow.

The door closed. I had no reflection. I merge back into the crowd. Stood behind someone, willing them to look up. When they did I saw my refection.

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East End Toronto Ghosts

More closed business, some thanks to covid, others thanks to rental increases

East Indian at Danforth/Pape corner that was just getting settled in when covid hit
nice tile work wasn’t enough to keep them going
a couple of these opened near odd subway stations i.e. Donlands – no school kids = no business, besides the Danforth has enough coffee spots
Coxwell at Dundas E – not so convenient after all
chains under the window were for strollers not tots
now an inactivity studio
Danforth has enough coffee spots with no room for this one – soon to be a fried chicken joint –
I ate here frequently – massive rent increase closed its doors after what seemed like 100 years of being a Queen E dining destination spot
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Ghosts Toronto Stratford



Bus Terminal Family Restaurant – at Danforth/Coxwell
one of the several incarnations of the diner – now empty
garage at Gerrard E/Main now gone – I loved the colours
ample parking for using the washrooms 🙂
curved awning at the garage – garage now replaced by modern box
once a fixture on Albert St. in Stratford, we often parked in front of it when having lunch at Features & even shopped there, now moved to Festival Marketplace Shopping Centre – where we will never park
Canada Tire Express Danforth/Gough – it has been various pop-up stores & presently some Fitness studio that may become a covid ghost
another Danforth ghost – I don’t remember what it used to be – Gems Co is still on the 2nd Floor
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Ghosts and Haunted Stumps Toronto

Pan on the Danforth – good Greek/Mediterranean food

tile entrance to Pan which is still there

Seduction on Yonge – sex no longer sells

Greek City on the Danforth – moved then vanished

corner of Sherbourne & Bloor – soon to be a covid ghost – Timothy’s gone & Starbucks took over – then pandemic

Danforth & Logan – the Tim’s stain refuses to be gone

tree on lawn of house next door

haunted stump & bones of tree professionals came later in the year to remove the stump

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The Haunting 

Today horror is equated with gore and photogenic stumps interacting with CGI. If the ‘entity’ isn’t shown readers, viewers are disappointed. This resulted in endless bad creature costumes (how hilarious is Mothra as a creature). All too often the ‘entity’ was more important than the actual story & dialogue. In so many horror films all that changed were the actors & the entity. The story & dialogue were basically the same.

A fact I didn’t realize until I was an adult. Some of those films, books, hold up, others well, haven’t dated so well. The original Frankenstein film hasn’t been improved upon with better effects, better monster make up. None of text have added any real depth to the film. The actual Shelly novel is as much a philosophical treatise as it is a thriller. The creature is more intellectual than allowed in most of the film variations.

I recently watched The Haunting – based on Shirley Jackson novel. I have seen this film several time but each time I see different elements. Also I watched it with a friend who has never seen it before. I also should add that I have read the novel more than once, read other work by Jackson & back in 1991 I directed a stage version – so I am familiar with it.

Horror, the supernatural, & to a degree gore, have been inspirations for me since I was a child. Having a cemetery, managed by my father, as a playground growing up certainly added to that interest. Oddly I never did become a goth. But I certainly loved monsters the Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula – these were the supernatural creatures. Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them, Godzilla – where environmental monsters thanks to toxic chemical, nuclear radiation.

The horror of The Haunting maybe man made: something that manifests from our personal inner turmoil, or from another’s inner turmoil seeking revenge, release, completion or to teach us a lesson as in A Christmas Carol. The Haunting sets the bar high & very few films have succeeded as it has. Jackson’s novel sketches in vague scientific speculation but leaves the rest up to us.

Later versions of movie parapsychology have added more equipment, better fx but no increase in the spook factor. I also find even Jackson relies too much on psychology to semi-explain things. Eleanor arrives already emotionally unbalance. The ambiguity of whether she looses touch with reality or has intact been absorbed by the spirits of the house is the spooky thrust of the story.

Without this film & this novel, we’d wouldn’t have an endless parade of novels about parapsychological investigators suffering for their research, or an endless parade of reality TV shows about parapsychologic investigators with bad hand-held cameras, whispering ‘did you hear that?’ in night vision lighting.
I would highly recommend both seeing the original The Haunting & reading Jackson’s novel ‘The Haunting Of Hill House.’ They complement each other. They also show how eerie chills can be created without monsters, cgi or dismemberment.

Maple Ridge Road

people told us

the abandoned Macintosh mansion

at the end of Maple Ridge Road

was haunted

but we didn’t believe them

so on the last full moon of October

Davey, Martin and me

we snuck into the house

and were never seen again

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

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

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

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

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

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

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Ghost Kiss

toys in the snowI write about many things often picking subjects that I don’t read about enough. I have a collection of pieces that are memories of growing up queer. Gentle, affectionate and nostalgic memories, some are real others are wishful. Emotional authenticity became more important than historical accuracy. I’ve read more poems that I can count about the sweet awakening of hetero sexual awareness than I can count, but few of gay men making the same discoveries.

balloons in the tree

I tried to capture a sense of innocence, not of guilt and shame. I wanted the pieces to be free of the ‘some drunken adult’ syndrome in which our sexuality is merely the result of some formative year trauma.

I also wanted to write queer poetry that wasn’t coming from an angry, in-your-face, or raw sexual, place. Sometimes the most powerful politic can being who one is without making it into an issue that demands acceptance. Ghost Kiss is one of these many nostalgia pieces.

Ghost Kiss

I was eight

Peter was ten

his grandmother

in tight plum slacks

was a million

the occasion

his hallowe’en party

 

I was dressed as a ghost

my mom’s easy-to-do costume

I didn’t want that off-white sheet

with uneven eye-holes

‘scarier’ my mom smiled

with a nudge

 

I trudged off

anticipated mockery in my ears

Grandma greeted at the door

popping her teeth out

‘who wants a kiss’

she would purse her lips

if you wanted one

you’d get the wrapped kind

if you didn’t

she’d cackle

‘ha ha I’ll give you one

before the night is over’

 

pirates ballerinas

cowboys spacemen

kids in real costumes

Peter was dressed as a ghost too

only he had curtains

nylon and sort of transparent

they were really spooky

 

me and him slipped off

to a cool upstairs room

stripped off and reappeared

in each other’s costumes

to fool everyone

 

when Grandma

caught sight of my naked little body

under those curtains she shrieked

‘you horrid horrid little boy

how could you do something like that’

and sent me home

no treats

 

except for the moment

when Peter and me naked

hugged kissed

then got into the ghost costumes

many of us still wear today