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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Distant Valentine

A Valentine

forced to love, 

now that’s a tear-jerker,

having heard no man

is self-contained & complete

I am forced to love

made to search 

through warm & folding bodies

for isolated responses

for unsure coincidences of desire

sparked by demand

structured into relationships

for the perpetuation of the structure

desperation in every meeting

(will this be the one?)

the eternal lunging crush

prisoners of seduction

fixed positions

bayonets of loving thoughts

tender traps

looked for only the fall into

forced to love

to rationalize tenderness

politicized into affections

scandalized by survival

it’s all one to one

paired by demand

one alone becomes distrusted

forced to love

forced to love

Feb14/76

Of the pieces in the chapbook this is one of the ‘newest’ & reflects a definite stage in my growth philosophically & emotionally. I’m actually directly questioning cultural norms around romance, sexuality & indirectly probing the nature of gender. Clearly I am ‘questioning’ not yet coming out but opening that door 🙂

‘Paired by demand’ hasn’t changed all that much though. We live in a culture where being ‘single’ is seen as an an unhappy choice, a sign of emotional immaturity. Being trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship is for some reason healthier than being single. Getting out of one is merely making one ready for the right relationship to come along. If you wonder how we are ‘structured’ think of how impossible it is to afford to live alone. Most restaurants are at least two seats per table. Bars stools are about the only single seating offered. Drinking alone, yea.

At the time I wrote this I wasn’t as articulate about this squeeze of the cultural imperative to mate bond. Being queer & somewhat closeted at the time I was conflicted by trying to fit the heterocentric romance module I was presented with. The sacredness of fidelity, the sinful cost of pleasure. Folding bodies like folding chairs that only the right person could unfold. You’re nobody until somebody unfolds you.

Looking back I see how the exploration of the cultural mating imperative has become one of my running themes. Like masculinity, it is something that goes unquestioned. Marriage for love & not politic – i.e. merge alliances between nations, merging financial concerns – is a somewhat recent development – maybe 150 years old. The nature of ‘forced’ is one of convenience & control that is accepted & goes unrecognized. The deepest loves of my life have never been forced.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Know Better?

ages  names

44 44 58 37 49 47 50 40

 

Selim Esen

Abdulbasir Faizi

Majeed Kayhan

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam  

Andrew Kinsman

Dean Lisowick

Soroush Mahmudi

Skandaraj Navaratnam

 

all men

old enough 

adults

not teen-age runaways

not ‘I’ll live forever’ twenty somethings

men

one commentator said

‘who should know better’

 

all men

all with beards

all found dead

two white

6 missed

2 not missed until found dead

1 unnamed even when found dead

7 found online

 

all looking for love

that isn’t clear

all looking for sex

that isn’t clear

some seeking asylum 

acceptance 

finding limits pushed

but not expecting 

to be pushed beyond limit

 

most so fearful

of discovery

they took what they could get

without … I want to say complaint

but no one knows

no one can know

what they were looking for

what they expected

we know what they got

death

 

a talking head on TV said

‘they learned their lesson’

what lesson

that homosexual men

are all sadistic murderous predators 

a cliche

once more proved valid

or

dating apps aren’t to be trusted

that searching for sex

deserves to be punished with death

that they got what they deserved

 

they deserve better

than some talking head on TV

shifting blame

from perpetrator

to the dead

I performed this piece as part of my Shanty Tramp set on Jan 26, 2020. I placed it in the middle of the set along with another of the Terra Cotta poems. All of them deal with the serial killer of gay men here in Toronto in 2017/18. Like some of pieces it deals more with the media coverage as the cases unfolded. It also echoes the naming of names that I have heard/read in relation to the massacre of trans people. This list isn’t as long. It also echoes the use of names & ages in the news. Ages are used when they aren’t relevant to the report – ‘an age gender died in a fire.’

 

Here I separated the ages from the names of the known victims. I have not memorized or perfected their pronunciation for performance – I never want them to come easily off my tongue the way they did with news announcers. I don’t even connect the names with the statistics around race etc. I don’t venture a statistic about their sexuality.

 

 

The commentator quotes are real. I found myself watching some of the coverage, even things on 2020 & ‘news’ shows of that ilk. I also read something into the subtext of remarks made by various talking heads – essentially these men got what they deserved for being gay – the same logic behind spousal abuse – if she had been more compliant etc. The shifting of guilt from the perpetrator to the victim.

Some of the subtext was that these weren’t good queers like the ones who got legally married & adopted children in heteronormative acceptability. The shaming of sexuality – no, it is broader than that – the shaming of enjoying a variety of sex partners (regardless of genders) played a bit part in the media coverage. Only married homos or celebrate homos are good – the rest get what they deserve & this serial killer gave them justification for this lesson.

My lesson: media will use any excuse to be condescending & self-righteous. 


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 Queer Status: Suspended

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Queer Status: Suspended

I’ve lived with the same man

for over forty years

I don’t use poppers or party and play

so I’m not gay enough

 

I did hiv home care 

buried friends 

stepped away from the front lines

so I’m not queer enough for the room

I sleep around

sometime have unprotected sex

so I’m not a good example

I don’t like Celine Dion

which is enough to get my

gay card denied

 

I’m over several hills

hills that only survivors 

know how daunting it can be

shamed for not being young enough

to be in the room sells us

face lifts work out routines 

websites for grandpa devotees

 

gay marriage was a nudge

to make homosexually acceptable 

in heteronormative terms

was too conditional

I was amused by the need

for that sort of card carrying conformity

 

I can let myself out

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#Boyfriend

Even with the Jays game there was a good turn out for the Naked Heart – Howling Against Assimilation  panel. It was held at the City Park Library – the brainchild of Jeff Kirby. It is housed in what was once a huge deserted storage room off the stairwell to the parking garages at City Park. This a brilliant repurposing of space in the co-op. Everything in the space: furniture, books, even the computers have been donated by the community it serves.

cpl

entrance to City Park Library

Kirby moderated the panel & opened it up with a discussion of a larger assimilation issue – why has queer lit gone from edgy erotic sex to middle-of-the-road romance over the past decades. I don’t think any of us panellists were prepared for a discussion of contemporary queer literature mind you.

My take was that with gay marriage came a move to play down queer sexuality in favour of traditional heteronormative values. Those queers who have sex outside of relationships are sluts & are not presenting a positive image to the heteronormative world – slut shamming. I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement with me. Peter Kingstone speculated that some of it has to do with the HIV crisis as well.

cpl02

stairs to parking garage & City Park Library

Peter talked about his various video projects that explore giving voice to various often dismissed people. Part of his ‘assimilation’ & resistance to it springs from his experiences as a sex trade worker, which he regards as ‘ordinary’ but often created a gulf of judgement when he presents creative aspects of himself outside of that context.

Catherine Hernandez talked about the balance of being true to one’s inner spirit & the need to fulfill grant stipulations – to put food on the able without being compromised creatively. Articulate & creative she finds the energy for that balance can be distracting but the projects she is working on are clearly challenge she likes to face.

cpl03

stairwell mirror selfie

Kaleigh Trace talked her mobility issues – of body sovereignty – how ablists would rather see her as thwarted & unfulfilled by her physical condition as opposed to seeing her as a intact & happy in her own skin woman.

Toward the end of the panel the nature of body sovereignty took stage. Catherine remarked on the trope of the wise person also being the damaged person – they may be ‘fill in the bank’ but they re wise to make up for it. It made me wonder what the reaction would be to, say, a blind asshole?

redcart

Peter, Catherine & myself read from our work a piece the reflected in some way the nature of refusing to be assimilated. I trucked out Boyfriend which I’ve posted below. An excellent panel which certainly made up for the Jays losing 🙂

sample

Boyfriend

I’m so excited

I have a new boy friend

he’s barely fifteen

 

years younger than me

 

did that pause catch you off guard

were you sure I was going to say

he was only fifteen years old

was it hard enough to think of a man

having a boyfriend at all

then add to it the shudder that it was

an innocent emotionally underdeveloped

fifteen year old child

 

though I can remember me at fifteen

jacking off to visions of rock star cock

Jimi Hendrix Bruce Springsteen

that I wished there in my bed

 

telling you too much am I

get used to it

I’ve heard enough straight poets go on

sparing no intimate details

about blissful raspberry nipples

moist peach fuzzed mounds

 

so I’ll talk about man on man action

even if it makes some of you restless

a bit bored     a bit threatened

girl on girl would make you more comfortable

 

I usually try to make the nestling

of men’s bodies into each other

sound sort of sweet and tender

pulling myself away

from the gasp   grasp of sweat    pubic hair

 

so I’m excited

about my new boyfriend

though I hate boyfriend

boy carries that too young taint

man friend isn’t close

lover is more complex than it is at this point

bed buddy     yeah I like that

I have a new bed buddy

he’s nearly fifteen

 

years younger than me

money

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