Sydney Academy 1



After graduating from Woodill the next step up the educational ladder was Sydney Academy – the big boys school. Senior High grades 10 – 11- 12. This was a was a relief mainly because although there were hills they weren’t as steep as the ones down Royal Ave. The walk was much shorter.

One building I remember is the dry cleaners, Snow White Laundry, which was directly across the street from the front entrance. It had a wall painting of, of all things, Disney’s Snow White & some of the dwarves. Looking out the windows facing Terrace St it was the one thing one always saw. The wall painting eventually went – maybe Disney copyright lawyers threatened to sur.

The main entrance doors were for teachers & visitors. We students entered around the side where the parking lot was. No lining up by classes. We had homerooms & moved from class to class, as opposed to the teachers moving from room to room. At Colby & Ashby we remained in one classroom the whole semester. Woodill may have been the same one room but I can’t recall. 

The building was larger than Woodill’s. Some students being bussed in. It was Sydney’s main public senior high – there was a Catholic equivalent – which was the school’s main sports rival. The school had a huge gym, a major phys-ed program that included basketball, volley ball, gymnastics. It did have a hockey team as well but that was a separate entity for boys who qualified for the team.

The school had science labs, woodworking & metal workshops & probably ones for domestic sciences as well. Lots of extra-curricular activities like Jr. Red Cross, Drama club etc. There was a cafeteria on the basement level, which is where the lockers rooms & showers for the gym were. Sock hops were held in this area too.

The social context was totally different from Woodill with the mix of students from across the city. It wasn’t particularly diverse though. Sydney did have a large black population but they were ‘confined’ to the Whitney Pier area – which, I think, had its own senior high. 

Coming next week: troubling locker room memories

Square Root

I wished him dead

every time I sat in his class

I wished he were dead   buried

not someone I had to face every day

 

I would only have to glance up at him

writing formulas on the black board

the drone of his voice 

and wish him dead

 

he would always call on me

to read out what he had written

I picture his brain exploding

bloody cosines gush from his nose

all over his spotless white shirt

 

I wanted a sharp steel edge 

on my protractor

to cut out his heart

save the class from algebra trig calculus

his stories of sailing

how he figured directions 

with his slide rule

 

die die die

so we can figure out the angle

to bury you so your rotting corpse

will slump into your penny loafers

bones a jumble of secants 

and underpants

 

the formula on the board

meant nothing to me

it could have been written in flame

blah blah squared 

equals something degrees

 

my feet burning by the time I sat down

he would pat me on the shoulder

say   you seem to be catching on

when I was really catching on fire

his abacus belt buckle at eye level

 

I’d stare at the rubble on my page

hope his hand would stay a bit longer

hope some of his knowledge could rub off

what was the angle of the dangle 

behind that zipper

 

if he were to die I wouldn’t have to wonder

about where to look 

when he stood so close

 

I leave the class

can’t remember a formula or anything

all I could see was that glint of belt buckle

and that wouldn’t be on the exam

http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1yO

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

every Tuesday 2019

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

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


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

October

Stratford Festival – The Crucible

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

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 

Home (not of the brave)

For the summer I’m looking at my Brown Betty chapbook. All the pieces dealt with growing up in Cape Breton. As usual WordPress plays havoc with line breaks 😦

Home (not of the brave)

he lived across the street from us 

mornings I’d peek from the front door 

till he had left for school
then I’d sneak along the maple trees 

make my way down the hill to class

 

most days I’d avoid him 

his gang 

sometimes I couldn’t

and would come home 

with a bloodied nose bruises 

that disappointed my dad
who didn’t understand
why I couldn’t stand up for myself

 

after school 

when I was in sight of home 

I’d run like hell to the front door 

where I’d be safe but not secure 

I grew up & spent many years as adult thinking I was a coward. No matter how many people tell me I’m so brave with what I write, in how I present myself – I still thought of myself as a coward. I have another piece about how uneasy I can feel walking past a group of teens because of my memories of being bullied, taunted as a teen by groups of teens. 

Looking back I see the cultural context that I didn’t fully understand: men prove their worth with their fists – simple as that violence = masculinity. I was never very competitive so I also got caught in winner = masculinity. Queers were already labeled as inferior so there were all these contracts in my head that I didn’t even recognized. I felt shame because I wasn’t able, or even willing, to conform to those behaviours that would make me a full fledged boy, man. Like Pinocchio I wanted to be a real boy. 

Part of this shame came from feeling that I didn’t live up to my Dad’s expectations of my masculinity. Expectations that’ like my own, came from not questioning the cultural coding of masculinity. The incidents in this pieces are true. When we moved to the Ashby in Sydney there was a Catholic family across & down the street from us of loud boys, a drunken Dad, an older sister with a reputation. One of the boys was about my age. He smoked, was a tough, had been in trouble with authorities, had a gang of three or four other buys he hung with & got into trouble with – stealing things from cars etc.

 

I quickly became one of their targets for bully bating, name calling & some physical confrontations. One this picks don my much younger bother hoping it would get me to defend him – how could I protect him hen I couldn’t even defend myself? My dad though I should learn judo at the local Y. There was a clear sense I was a disappointment to him for not being as manly as the juvenile delinquents across the street. 

I wanted to be a real boy but never succeeded.

previous Brown Betty posts:

Man With A Past 1 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3B3

When I Was A Young Boy  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3By


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Ashes of Our Pasts

Ashes is one of the new pieces I read at the recent Winter Snow Ball. It is mildly sexy, mildly political, slightly personal and a whole lot of tactile stimulus.

glove01lonely glove

One of things that I realize about ‘kids’ today is that most of them have lived in a world in which being queer isn’t quite as fraught as it once was – I say ‘quite’ because teens are still being bullied into suicide for ‘otherness’ – but there is a certain tolerance as result of queer presence on TV, in pop music too, so it isn’t suppressed as it was when I was growing up, coming out.

glove02in the pink

Yet there are nation where things as bad as they ever were here in North America. So this piece addresses that in a direct way. I try to avoid political rhetoric while making whatever point I may be making. It also looks at the nature of freedom and of what holds us, even after years.

glove03the (g)love(less) lottery

I infused the piece with color, smell, feel, sound without overloading it. Also I wanted to allude to race issues without exoticizing race. Men are men.

coming

February 21, Friday – featuring – Racket at the Rocket: 7 p.m., Red Rocket Cafe, 1364 Danforth Ave. https://www.facebook.com/events/818441091515505/

smrkt

March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

Email_Header_Image_2014.1aa1067

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville https://www.facebook.com/events/589522924455695/

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada

samples

Ashes

he smells of coal

I know its a conditioner

an after shower lotion

to keep his skin from drying

into ashy patches

he smells of coal

but has never been in a mine

has probably never burned coal

the smell takes me back

to my childhood

growing up in a coal town

sorting a freshly delivered load

in the basement bin

picking though for rocks

that would pop in the furnace

scare my mother

when we moved out of that house

to one with oil heating

I never missed the smell of coal

until I met him

a tar dark skinned man

who held me with a cautious tenderness

he’d come from a country

were men of his sort

were stoned in the street

where women who loved women

could be raped with impunity

here he was still unsure

he didn’t quite believe he was safe

he couldn’t free himself

of the fear he grew up with

I cannot free myself

from the smell of coal

I grew up with the same fears

as he did

so when we meet

we taste the ashes of our pasts

my power spot

my Loyalist power spot