My Summer Hero

My Hero

around the corpse

heaped on the ground 

after a fifty floor drop

someone chalks a line 

<>

blanks of violence

fill them in

cart them away

<>

he’s my hero

the chalk man

when I grow up

I want to be the outliner

I can fill his shoes

testify to broken bones

record the positions

of twisted arms legs

<>

cataloguing 

the final dive

into reality

feb76

I don’t recall any real hero worship going up. I wasn’t a sports fan so there weren’t posters of hockey or baseball players on my walls. A few of pop stars but they weren’t really heroes, or even role models. I was quite fascinated by the astronauts though, I did repeatedly read a paperback I had that told their story. 

More than anything this piece reflects my fascination for the macabre & the pleasure I take in pushing narrative in unexpected directions. The title leads you to expect a poem about a celebrity or some low-key humdrum person who is a role model but instead starts with this image of a body – is this the body of my hero? The language is matter-of-fact almost newswire in lack of emotional content.

Second verse still downplays emotion but with a hint of the sardonic in making the violence mundane. Then comes the the hero – the chalk man. ‘When I grow up’ indicates our narrator is a child, maybe an adolescent but one who is unaffected by the body but who sees the practicality of dealing with it in a detached way – ‘record the positions.’ Perhaps someone who has watched too many police procedurals on TV. In some ways it is a comment on how indifferent we become to violence. 

More recently I’ve seen children’s chalk drawings all over the sidewalks since the pandemic lockdowns in Toronto, Multicoloured flowers, faces, words of encouragement, even a hopscotch with 100 squares! Recently one for the 215 bodies of children found at a Residence. Chalk plays a big role in children’s lives it allows for impermanent self-expression that can be immediate & freeing at the same time. 

The last verse veers into poetics with an ending as unexpected as the actual fall. The finality of death. It moves from the childlike voice of ‘he’s my hero’ into the one of that ‘final dive.’ Again impermanence – an outline that will wash away in the rain. A hero who will always have a job.

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & visit Cape Breton
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Welcome To The F Files

https://topoet.ca/2021/06/26/welcome-to-the-f-files/

Big Dickens

I have the complete Dickens on my shelf – paperback & hardcover. The paperbacks are Penguin classics with lots of notes. Some of the hardcovers are the classic Oxford editions. My Nicholas Nickleby is a 2 volume reproduction of the original serialized version that includes the ads etc. Some of the books I have read more than once. I have also sat through various Masterpiece Theatre explorations of the novels, seen movies & musicals of same & have Five of the Christmas books also as mp3s. I have resisted downloading the entire works as ebook.

I’m not sure which Dickens was the first I actually read – probably A Christmas Carol, though it could have been Oliver Twist, or was the Pickwick Papers? There was one of the Pickwick stories in out high school English literature text. The one where they go skating. I was in focused pursuit at one time of getting everything, even the obscure ones, like Master Humphrey’s Clock.

It was the boy hero that captivated me. I didn’t recognize the accuracy of his depiction of the poverty of time though. Recent readings show how unstinting he was with that cultural context. People caught up in journeys, quests in following their dreams & hopes. He was a master plotter who did count on coincidence a bit much, & often fell back on the long lost relative, but who cares.

What still inspires me about him is his ability to create complex, human villains i.e. Mr. Murdstone, Daniel Quilp, Uriah Heep, Bill Sykes. He had a gift for names that rivals Shakespeare’s. His heroes were too good to be real, his women either good little wives, generous relatives or harsh thanks to the men in their lives. His narrative structure was simple, almost formulaic, stories were told in linear movements, with some backstory when needed.

I’ve always like the fact that he was an unabashed sentimentalist and that as a writer he had no compunction in manipulating the readers emotions. When I realized he wrote drafts by hand – let that sink in a little – by hand – I was staggered. Of course he was being usually paid by the word so his books did get rather long. But his shorter works are also stunning: Hard Times is one of his best works.

Day and Night

day never holds me 

as fully as the night

in light there is always

a part that doesn’t get revealed

doesn’t get illuminated

turn as fast as I can

part of me is always in shadow

 

light is not the total lover

always leaves one part untouched

night covers all

nothing gets omitted 

over-looked

holds me in toto

comforting tender complete

caressing even where I cannot see

I was submerged and protected

no night burn for me 

for being too long naked in its glance

but I do welcome the sun

the energy released in my flesh and bones

by the ignition of my skin

 

if I had to make choice 

between night and day

as to which would be the better lover

I couldn’t say

day brings flowers

night brings stars

both return despite 

my placid display of cliches

tender is the night

bright is the day

as one retreats 

to make way for the other

I am saddened

I want to hold them both

straddle those slippery moments

when one makes way

gracefully stepping aside 

they do not fight 

to see who will be next

there is no resentment

that I have taken each 

in their own time

that I give myself equally to them

give myself without question 

without doubt

so do not make me choice

 

when I die

will I go into the light

or merely roll over 

into the comforting dark

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


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Paul Simon

Paul Simon – one of my non-literary inspirations recently released ‘In the Blue Light’ a new recording to celebrate his 77th birthday. He’s taken some of his older songs & reimagined them as pop jazz. I would have liked him to go even further back to his Simon & Garfunkle work. It is a fine set of songs all the same. Listening to it made it clear to me that some of my influences weren’t the dead poets I was forced to study in high school or even the literary poets that ‘real’ poets cite as inspirations so that can sound educated.

 

Simon’s lyrics weren’t necessarily that complex. I Am A Rock spoke to my teenage sense of isolation. Little did I realize ‘I am an island’ was a John Donne reference, nor did I need to know in order to be drawn into the words. It had alliteration, evocative imagery – things that became a part of my own early writing style. It was so simple & direct that it made poetry accessible & seemly easy to write.

So I wrote endless poems in imitation of Sounds of Silence, Old Friends, For Emily. I actually still have some of those high school explorations somewhere. His longing for love was never dark – like, say, Jim Morrison; nor was his search as wordy or complex as Bob Dylan. His music itself was sunny. Even my sexually explicit poetry maintains, I hope, the sense of innocence than runs through his lyrics.

Later Simon became more personal to him yet never felt forced, overly bitter or oblique. He used humour to express some of the difficulties he was going through as he got older, as his fame became less rewarding or as his reputation stood in the way of his just being a guy who wrote and sang. It’s only looking back now as I think about my inspirations do I see how much I owe him.

Why I Want To Be A Clown

the clowns enjoy 

making babies cry 

the highlight of their day 

is when they get a good scream 

out of a baby 

elated when they scare a child

say around 9 or 10 years old

into crapping his pants

 

oh they can’t get enough 

of the shame on a kid’s face

as bowels let loose

because of their crazy 

smeary greasy faces

they would plunge surge

surround an innocent kid

huge mouths agape

with broken teeth 

speared with reds and greens

from the make up they ate 

to get them geared up 

to charge into the ring

 

stumbling bumbling drunk

pretending to vomit in a bucket

throw confetti at one child

then real puke on the next

to the hilarious roar of the audience 

 

when they found the one 

preferably a boy 

because girls were no challenge

the older that boy the better in fact 

one who acted uninterested 

invite him into the centre ring

mock him with garish faces 

bray till he ran out crying

made that little fucker 

shit shit shit his pants

they slap each other on the back 

as they exit the ring

 

sniggering 

at the the lion tamer

who relied on whips

not on wigs

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

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet