Razor Songs 1971

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s in Cape Breton. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. Enjoy 🙂

Razor Songs 1971

1

dancing in the snow

our bones clacking fixedly

in time with the dripping wax

that means our time will soon be black

& we will have to dance blind

never to see each other again

only feeling the cold slicing of the snow

through the satisfied winter air

 

in some distant hour I’ll fall into bed

roam through thwarted sleep

finding quick comfort with idle hands

now I am sleeping in a way

drifting in & out

filling cups of tea

in hopes of not looking up

to find myself stir a feeling

that feeling when I see you

shuffling through pencilled pages

mindful but busy

mindful but disbelieving

for I have lied before

am I lying now

2

words are like rain

like tears

like you

all I need are my words

the rain

my tears & you

but to have you I must

overcome my fear

of falling

into the abyss wherein lies

a pool of rain & tears

out of which no words can pull me

 

fantasy favours the wind swept tarns

sheer cliffs

sea beaten

ship wrecked

golden moors & haunted sounds

creaking doors & dangling diamonds

reality favours the sighted

 

I can see you now

reading

in a big backed chair

or in a hurry for your next frustration

happy to hear my voice as words

now know how frustrated I feel

knowing we are not in harmony

in bravery or even in person

 

I saw you then

heartless

on the edge of the bed

or between the sheets

happy to feel hands on you

happy to hear sighs of passion

knowing that you weren’t in harmony

only searching in the wrong person

for the right bravery

3

there is room somewhere for laughter

the cage cannot contain its sound

only its maker

bit I feel at times my sound

escapes this cage

only to be trapped by yours

a pocketful of laughter

spent by the time you

feel like seeing me cry

 

I’m letting myself sink

deeper & deeper into dust

no caring

for dust

like opium

removes my caring

my anxiety

replacing them with sighs

that tired aching arms cannot lift

so I must go on forever

hoping this is anger

hoping this is anger

anger to fight for fists

to beat away the anguish

of being warm for too long

but never caring enough to freeze

 

I fancy myself trapped

with dungeon rats

mouldy walls

& stagnant cistern water

waiting in anguish for the priest

but it is mere fancy

for here in this dungeon

I’m far too comfortable

to enjoy such a luxurious escape

4

an hour or so of being near

rips my pattern to pieces

I can pull together in a day or so

destroying the power the hour releases

in the form of frantic fear

I try to hand some joke line

about wanting you

when I really do

or am I lying

 

is each word

each motion

another step  in my

futile attempt at sexual conquest

before I find my fantasies

more tantalizing than the sun

on her naked body

drifting on the water

walking over hot sand

demanding that I take

it all now or sometime later

when it won’t mean as much

to either of us

I was rather fond of numbered sections thanks to T.S. Eliot who wrote several poems with number sections. I never became as reference heavy as he did though. I was also fond of long pieces which were often shorter ones strung together & then edited with echoed references to create a sense of unity. I see my fascination with images, paradox & melodrama. Chalk the title up to melodrama.

 ‘I see you/shuffling’ is an actual moment of being with one of my male ‘crushes’ – who was an artist. I’m sure my sexual longing was apparent to him but it was never directly acted upon or communicated. A fear I never overcame, at the time. 

The ‘her’ at the end, as opposed to ‘him’ was out of the fear of discovery by someone reading the piece then. I left it as written. Scholars sift though the writing & pasts of great closeted poets like Langston Hughes looking for clues that they were in fact queer. There’ll be no need to sift through mine 🙂


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

Millay vs Hughes

I’ve been reading biographies of two major US poets: Edna St. Vincent Millay and Langston Hughes. Both very eye-opening as to the differences between the poetry worlds of that time era as well as to the ‘private’ actual lives of these poets.

tree01 blues skies

Millay was/is perhaps one of the best selling poets in the US in the last century. I’m not sure where one finds real poetry sales stats. By the end of the 1830’s she was one of the most popular writers in the States. I have little familiarity with her writing outside of pieces in various anthologies or what I may read in high-school. I always regarded her as sort of prissy writer with a greeting-card-sentiment style. More the fault of those anthologies that my lack of reading.

Her life proved to be an amazing soap opera, with deeply troubled family dynamics and personal relationships. Lesbian affairs in university, a husband who encouraged her affairs with other me during their marriage, plus a descent into addiction & alcoholism. She lived a rich life.

tree03 bed in the bushes

She was writing and being successful at the same time as Langston Hughes – yet there seems to have been no interaction between their literary worlds. Both travelled Europe at the same time. Both published to growing acclaim in the USA, got caught up in political issues. One was white the other black. Perhaps this was why but it seems odd that the two worlds were so insular.

tree02 lost in the trees

The Hughes biography is huge – two volumes & I’m part way through the first one. The extent of his travels amazed me – over a year in Russia and the far east, time in Cuba too. The growth of his reputation and how it was almost lost to politics (was he a Communist?). A fascinating look at the Harlem literary scene and the political infighting there. The biograqpher is so determined that Hughes was not, gasp, a homosexual, he manages, as regular intervals, to have some one say directly ‘There was never indication that Langston was a homosexual.’ After the fourth or fifth time this happened I saw the biographer had issues as deeply repressive as Hughes.

I find it amusing to see how open the Millay biography was about her emotional life with others while the Hughes biography does the best it can to smudge over any hint that Hughes might have actually had an emotional life with others.

coming

April 21, Monday – featuring – Lizzie Violet’s Poetry Open Mic at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club – 7:30 – doors and open mic sign up, 8:00 – start

April 27, Sunday – attending – Julie Czerndea Workshop http://chiseries.ticketleap.com/chiseriesworkshop-julie-czerneda/

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

tombstone

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

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada

samples

Jigsaw

something didn’t fit

he tried to fit

it was as if he was the wrong piece

in the wrong puzzle

they were the ones who didn’t want him to fit

with those simpering smiles

smiles of friendships   of faked feelings

smiles that vanished when he came into view

smiles that changed to curls of the lip

how you doing asshole? they would ask

he’d walk past them

past the laugher that would follow

got your note to get out of gym, faggot

more laugher

even with friends

the same remarks

would come sharp out of the air to follow them

The Faggot Club   The Holy Gropers

what was it to them anyway

he didn’t fit their world they didn’t fit in his

something didn’t fit

TV families found solutions in 22 minutes

school wasn’t supposed to be

a jigsaw puzzle of a million pieces

a million different puzzles

his piece didn’t fit

but the piece

he carried in his coat

would put an end to it all

the natural solution

kill them

kill them all

shoot the simpering smiles off their smug faces

blast them back to the pallid hell they came from

the pallid hell

they didn’t want him to be a part of

The pallid tedium he wasn’t interested in being a part of anyway

he’d show them

ethnic cleansing they call it

he’d clean the school of them

teach them there was a repercussion to spite

it was the manly solution

that would prove he was no faggot

that he was no more asshole than they were

tell them that even if they were right

he had bigger balls than any of them

the piece

was comfortable warm

beneath his coat

a few pulls of the trigger

their smiles would disappear

who would be first

why bother picking

anyone of them would do

he walked up the steps to the school

a giggle group silenced as he passed by

hey where’s the rest of the faggot gang?

one asked as he walked by

he turned

Fine

the piece slid out so smoothly

erect hard firm

the trigger action silent fast

the four them dropped screaming

thanks for asking he walked on

leaving them

the city

the school

to enjoy the answer

Langston Hughes

For the next Damned I’ve picked Langston Hughes as our dead celeb. He’s one of those iconic American figures whose impact continues to be felt. His jazz poetry was written to be heard, to be performed, and that, to me, makes him one of founders of hip-hop, dub, slam and nearly any other kind of spoke-word poetry.

me03out in the country

As a black man he was an inspiration on par with King or Mandela. As a writer he is still an inspiration. I have the massive collected poetry as well a cd of him performing his work.

me02bundling to step out

Wikipedia says: “Hughes identified as unashamedly black at a time when blackness was démodé.” But his sexuality was suppressed – it remains ‘unconfirmable’ – poetry supposedly written to his lover has not been published. How much more powerful a role model would he have been if he could have been openly who he was. What ever is suppressed was in response to a culture that would have buried his genius lest his sexuality scared the children.

me01outing the inner

History is constantly re-assessed & re-interpreted so that what is actual gets lost in a mixed mist of cultural mores of the time that is doing the looking and the biases of the time being looked at. The result is that much queer history is lost or devalued or denied even in the fact of ‘facts.’ It seems the only proof-positive is photographs – but one can photoshop a cock into anyone’s mouth these days.

 

samples

Force

how did I turn out

the way I turned out

no one held a gun to my head

said you do this

you become that

unless the force of peer pressure

can be called that gun

what force is it that makes

one of us heterosexual

another homosexual

who would chose

considering the drawbacks of either

better to be nonsexual

to avoid all the pressures

of meeting   mating   so-called morality

working out  raising children

avoid stds

neither side of the life style equation

really gets such good press

the sexual grilling of congressmen

the boredom of those who never stray

the envy for those who do

the energy spent on judgment

not in pleasure

who would chose either

yet there is some force

beyond the ken

of the mind  heart  peer pressure

the dna string spinning around in our blood

a force that makes

all the variations flux and flow

those people caught up in it

are trying to make sense of it

that allows for a space for each

well, not all people

as some have this dna string

that doesn’t allow for any variation

where any variation

must be destroyed

shunned

and that very fact

makes me wonder

what force brings anyone into

the fold of the shunned

something happens

that pushes against the tide

of the commercial world around us

that breaks them free

of the rigid accepted standard

it happens  like sun spots

and like any invisible force

it becomes easier

to go with the tide

that to fight against it

the greater the resistance

the greater the pain

the hidden becomes less hidden

when the pain of hiding is too great

what was once such a scandal

doesn’t seem to have the weight

it once had

no force behind the fear

to sustain that pressure as it once did

it stopped being seen as revolution

accepted as a part of evolution

we can’t draw a line

that keeps the races apart

when hearts are involved

and the sky is the same over all heads

the earth is the same beneath all feet

the feet of the judgmental strike with the same force

are held by the same gravity

as the feet of those who are judged

as the feet of those

who know nothing about anything

the messy melting pot

that gives all the opportunity to be

none has the right to deny

that right to another

and even though some don’t

they find themselves

eventually drowned

in the ever rising tide of the past

of history

and the rest of us

make our way as best we can

not looking to disrupt anything

but merely to be

momhave you seen your mother, baby, standing in the shadows