Picture Perfect 32

“Are you flirting with me?” Dan asked.

“Sort of. It wouldn’t be appropriate at the cafe but we are alone. You can’t blame me for trying. You’re always friendly but distant and I’ve never found a way to … you know to get your attention. Or it was till you … I mean I saw how you … ah … stiffened when I wiped the latte off your face.”

“I was hoping you hadn’t noticed that.” Dan tried to laugh as if it hadn’t meant anything.

“Hard not to notice.” Peter said.

They both laughed.

“Stop!” Dan tried to calm down. “It’s hurting my eyes.”

“Sorry.”

“Not your fault.” Dan opened his door to get out.

When he and Sanjay first met he had been seeing a couple of others guys, fuck buddies, but stopped playing after being with Sanjay for nearly a year. Monogamy was never discussed between them. He’d had a few other encounters more to prove he could than because he wanted to. He was sure Sanjay had done so as well.

Impulsively he leaned into the car. “Peter do you want to wash more than my face? Do you want to have sex with me?”

“Yes.” Peter replied.

“Okay.” Dan pressed the remote on his house keys. “Park it in there. I mean your car.”

The garage door opened.

“Yes, Papi.” Peter said and started the car.

“Papi! What? I’m not your Papi, Papa nor am I your Daddy. Understand.”

“Yes, Sir.” Peter said sternly.

“That’s more like it.” 

Dan went in the front door and through to the garage. While he secured that door he looked at Peter. He had none of the physical attributes Dan found attractive in a man. Peter was too tall, too red, too All-American. Too much like his memory of Timmy.

“Hungry?” Dan asked as they walked through the kitchen?

“No one who works at The Carafe ever goes home hungry, sir.”

“I suppose not, but they do go home smelling like a coffee pot that hasn’t been washed in weeks.”

“You want me to scrub down, sir.” Peter started to undress.

“Yes.” Dan could get used to being called Sir. “Stop.”

“Yes sir.” Peter said with his tee shirt pulled partly over his head.

Dan reached out, pulled up Peter’s tee shirt and caressed his smooth stomach. Peter was so white he seemed to glow.

Dan pulled the tee the rest of the way off. 

Peter stepped back. “You line what you see?”

“Undress.”

“Yes, sir.” He quickly pushed his sneakers off, lowered his jeans and stepped out of them crumpled over his shoes.

Dan stopped him as he was about to take off his underwear. “Go upstairs. Use the bathroom by the back bedroom. I’ll be up shortly.” He tossed the tee back to Peter. “Rinse this out while you’re at it.”

“Yes, sir.” Peter took the stairs two at a time.

Dan put the files he had brought home from the Depot on his desk. What was he getting himself into. More importantly why? Wasn’t being horny reason enough? Was he horny or acting out to get even with Sanjay? Proving something to himself? This isn’t what good queers do. Maybe he was tired of being a good queer.

He undressed as he went up the stairs. Kicked Peter’s underwear and socks out of the way and stepped into the shower with him.

They kissed. Rubbing against Peter’s soapy belly got him hard instantly.

“Thank you, sir. That feels good.”

“You like to wash. Don’t you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Be my face cloth.”

Peter soaped and rubbed Dan with his stomach, his ass, the top of his head. Then he guided Peter hand to his ass, let Peter’s fingers enter his asshole.

“You like that sir.”

“Yes.”

Peter took his fingers out and and pressed his hard cock between the soapy cheeks.

“Thank you sir.” Peter said. “I needed to be cleaned.” With a quick push he entered Dan.

“Oh God.”

Then as quickly he pulled out. “I can’t without protection, sir.”

“Good boy.” Dan said. 

“You aren’t disappointed.”

“No. You aren’t disappointed.”

“No, sir. Definitely not.”

They got out of the shower.

“I’ll dry you.” Dan began to towel down Peter. 

“Thank you, sir.” Perter spread his legs to give Dan access to his cock and balls.

Dan was taken by Peter’s smoothness. Sanjay was a hairball, as were most of the men Dan found attractive. Peter’s cock was cut, not as thick as Sanjay’s but longer. He was tempted to suck it as it got hard but resisted. Tease was control. Peter moaned as Dan nuzzled this ginger pubes.

“Turn around.” Dan dried Peter’s back and worked his way down. “Your ass is so hairless. I hope you don’t wax it.”

“No, I don’t wax it, sir.” 

Dan pushed the cheeks aside and licked Peter’s hole.

“You enjoy that?” he said.

“Yes.”

“Don’t shave anything but your face.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dan stood and slapped Peter ass hard. “You are dry enough. On the bed.”

He pushed Peter flat onto his back and straddled him running his hands along his shoulder and then pinching his nipples.

Peter reached up to do the same.

“Did I give you permission to touch me?” Dan twisted Peter’s nipples harder.

“No, sir.” Peter gasped painfully. “Sorry, sir.” Peter let his arms fall back to the bed.

“That’s better. You like being a good boy, don’t you.”

“Yes.”

Dan leaned forward and kissed Peter, sucking Peter’s tongue into his mouth. He felt their cocks rubbing against each other. When he thought he was gong to come he stopped and rolled onto his back.

Peter shifted Dan so that he was spewing him from behind.

Dan felt the Peter’s hard cock gently pressing his hole.

“You have a condom, sir.” Peter asked.

“Just be still. I want to feel closeness of you on me.”

“I won’t enter you without protection.”

“I know. I don’t want you to. I want to enjoy possibility.”

“You don’t really want me, do you, sir?” Peter asked.

“Look, just because I don’t want to get fucked or fuck you doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying being with you.”

“Then what?”
“I haven’t fooled around much since meeting Sanjay. That’s all.” He didn’t want to go into his RCMP history. “All this stuff about consent has made me leery, you know.”

“Is that why you asked me if I wanted to have sex with you?”

“Yes. Hinting and innuendo isn’t enough. A kiss isn’t permission anymore. An erection isn’t an invitation.”

“I get that. Do you want me to make you come, sir.”

“Yes. Do you want me to make you come?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Straddle me. Perfect.”

With Peter’s knees on either side of his head the Peter’s cock was in Dan’s favourite position for sucking. Taller than Sanjay there was also enough room for him to work at it the way he wanted to. Peter was sucking his cock and playing with his balls and hole.

“I’m going to come. Sit on my face.” He pushed Peter up and jacked himself off with that hole on the tip of his tongue. Two strokes and he came. A moment later he felt Peter’s come splatter his belly. Dan let his head fall back to the bed.

“Can I move, sir?”

“Not yet. I’m enjoying the view.” Dan bit one of Perter’s ass cheeks as hard as he could.

“Ow,” Peter gasped in pain. “Thank you, sir.”

He held Peter’s ass cheeks in his hands and massaged them. A light fell on the crack just enough to illuminate the hole and the hairs on Peter’s balls.

“What time do you have to pick up your father.” Dan asked.

“Eleven, sir.”

“Then you’ll need to be out of here by 8:30 in the morning to make sure you get there on time.”

Peter pushed himself off Dan and sat on the edge of the bed. He grabbed one the damp towels and wiped Dan’s stomach.

“Lake Come-O.” Dan said.

“I … I can’t stay the night. It’s not that I don’t want to but …”

“No explanations. Get dressed.” 

“Are you disappointed, sir.”

“No.” Dan was hoping to avoid opening and closing the garage and resetting the security system to let Peter leave. “Get a move on. You’ll have to work harder to please me properly the next time.”

“Thank you, sir. I’m happy to know there will be a next time.”

Once Peter was gone Dan took another quick shower to wash the come off his stomach.  It was interesting to him to take the dominant role. With Sanjay he was rarely the aggressive one, not that he was passive but Sanjay was the one who initiated sex play with Dan as an eager participant. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Distant Jam

Log Jam

<>

water frozen

are logs jammed 

like iron fists

like parts of one

like time

<>

one spar digging

blunting steely hook on ice,

chipping away tiny sparks

flying large through the air;

landing to rejoin

only a few feet away

<>

we must move the logs

we must move them downstream

the mill blade is hungry

the sun longs to be set free

<>

two spars, now three;

the mean awakened from

thick jointed dreams;

steam plotted revenge,

now a thousand all chipping

clattering in the league air,

each salty bead of sweat

freezing into thicker traps

<>

one, free, now two,

no hope for the others, yet;

the clear rive water

lapping blood

into fresh gashes;

three free, now four,

No more. No more!

<>

one spar stuck

one boot-hold lost

one boot-filler lost,

slipped into the ice

as repayment;

face up-turned

tugged

tossed under the shell

<>

we must move the logs

we must move them downstream

the mill bade is hungry

the corpse longs to be set free

Jan 72

I wanted this piece to be stuck in the middle of the collection. It’s another one with a strong narrative line, easy to understand even without the subtext of being trapped under the ice of a life one didn’t expect to be frozen into. It’s also another piece of testosterone driven masculinity. The return of ‘the muscle-rippled holder of that chainsaw’ only now he’s dealing with the results of his labours.

No, I have never been a lumberjack – nor have I moved logs down stream. I didn’t do any research on log jams for this, nor did I study things trapped in the ice. So I’m not writing about what I know in an experiential sense. But no one has said ‘you got this all wrong.’ I was deliberately working with Canadiana forest tropes as a way of chasing loose the abstract content of the other pieces. 

I enjoy how the story unfolds with the hard work of ice-bound logs, how the number of men increases, the sound of chipping increases, the harness of the ice, the persistence of the loggers as they overcome the jam. The foreshadowing of water being like ‘blood/fresh gashes.’ Then the cost of industry when one of them falls under. There is no rescue attempt.

There is also the movement in the two repeated verses, almost like a song chorus, that changes from ‘sun’ to ‘corpse.’ It is a great piece to perform, as is ‘Woodsman’, & would usual pair them. 

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

M M M

Mano Solo: La Marmaille Nue (1993). This is a pleasant stand-alone cd that I picked up in Montreal back in 1994. The music is frisky – a perfect combination of Kurt Weill & Jacques Brel with a dash of the musical Cabaret – sort of what Rufus Wainwright was aiming for 🙂 Songs about love, beer & man’s indifference to man. A great introduction to French music.

Then there’s Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Music For The People (1991) a great introduction to music by guys who looked good in underwear. Was he decent rapper? Who knows. The album itself is brilliantly produced. The borrow of Good Vibrations featuring Loretta Holloway – works because the original is a dynamic & Marky rides that piano wave. The same for his re-imagining of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side. What ever happened to the Funky Bunch? I guess they didn’t want movie careers.

More M with Gay Marvine: Secret Fixes Mixes; It’s Bath House Etiquette! A couple of very queer dance collections remixed by Marvine. He has an ear for old school disco & I love his tracks. These are part of a 7.3 hr mp3 cd collection that also includes – Boots: Aquaria – electro dance;  Disclosure: Caracal (Deluxe) – more fun electro dance; Ab Soto: Mr. Soto electro dance with a latino funky beat & great queer, sex-postive lyrics; Julio Bashmore: Knockin’ Boots – guess what: gas positive elctro dance music;  Manila Luzon: Eternal Queen – one of the many dance diva drag queen discovered by Drag Race. Higher energy & I love ‘Bitch I’m A Bottom’ 

Finally on this collection is the retro-classic Joe Bataan: Anthology – more of that high energy stuff with a real latino grounding & less electronic. Bataan reaches back to the early days of disco. Yet he fits in perfectly with the more recent work by Ab Soto.


“We thought he had just left us. Abandoned us for decadent western living. That’s what the authorities told us. That our Dad couldn’t cope with his responsibilities to the State. He didn’t love us enough to come home. They showed us letters from him that said that. Our mother didn’t recognize the handwriting. We sent Christmas cards but now I doubt if he ever got our letters or cards to him. Once he had defected that was it.”

“But he did care for you. I remember he was so proud to have sons, and was so sad that he couldn’t be there with you.”

“Then why did he leave us there. We never really understood then. Going though his papers here I find that he spent a lot of time trying to get them to let us join him here but they blocked him at every turn. Your government didn’t help. I doubt they even tried.

“Not my area, as they say. There’s a point were everything is classified, so who knows what the truth is. Could have been some bureaucrat didn’t trust him and that was that.”

Vasili nodded. “Yes we have learned how much was suppressed over the years. It helps a bit now but then we thought it was all his fault. Particularly when our mother died. We had no one. We expected him to show up at the funeral. I don’t know if he knew she had passed away.”

“Things have changed. I hope.”

“Not that it is much better here in the long run. Do you know anything about that time he was assaulted.”

“Not much, just that it happened.”

“He ultimately died from his injuries from that assault. In his papers there’s a letter from the country prosecutor stating that they don’t press charges because the men involved would claim he had sexually interfered with them.”

“What!”

‘It went on to say that even if this wasn’t true, such an allegation would be difficult to disprove and did he want to have this taint on his public reputation. He could be deported.”

My Dad’s remarks about Mr. Razov now made sense to me.

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Distant Shadow Dance

Distant Shadow

where is the mountain pass?

<>

I need you

but the mountain

is in my way

<>

if I cross

I can never return

for I am the mountain

while my need for you

is the mountain pass

Oct/70

I love the way this piece doubles in on itself – a spiral that rewrites what you have read by the time to get to the end. I had been reading books on Zen by this time. Partly to step out of the culture I felt trapped in & partly to seem more intellectual than I really was. I’m not sure how much I understood of them at the time but they sure looked good on my book shelf. 

It’s another poem to a non-existent ‘you.’ The shadow was perhaps the fear of coming out? There’s also a realization that we often stand in our own way & until we learn to get over ourselves there is no progress. Maybe getting older was the shadow because as we age we can only remember but never get back.

Persephone Danced

I hear carousel music

when I want a lullaby

a dreamy hand to cover

this melody I can’t control –

who will I kill today?

<>

Persephone danced for Gauguin;

Medusa carved for Rodin;

ears bled for Van Gogh;

children laughed for clowns;

who will we kill today?

<>

let’s hang the clown,

railroad the circus out of town;

leave him sway till he rots;

who will we kill today –

ha, let’s hang all the clowns

JN76

I am a fan of Gauguin. I had prints of his painting hanging on my walls. The adventure of his life, the escape to the Pacific, were ideal fantasy fodder for me. If I had gone to French Polynesia it certainly would have been the native men I would have fallen for. I read & reread a biography I had of him. I had the Time-Life art series ‘The World of …’ so I was familiar with the works of Rodin; Van Gogh. They were thwarted geniuses – just like I was 🙂

I’m not sure how this poem segues from verse to verse – dance music painting sculpture – all fine arts, I suppose, but the connecting tissue is lacking. I’m also not sure where this penchant for hanging, or for clowns came from either. Maybe the face painters present to the world is a painting hung on a wall – like clowns presenting their painted faces to the world?

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Distant Caught

Caught Hard

<>

1

<>

dull dark day

desperately dawns

clinging coldly

to night clouds;

little mists of mares

floating doggedly

over murky dreams

<>

I am fighting,

fighting so hard 

for an empty room –

a glass trophy

it can’t last,

it mustn’t last,

this fighting alone,

on the dew-wet grass

so close to home;

with the fleshly born

morning sunrise

<>

just by being here

to see the fight

you become the fight;

another shadow-boxing affair

reflected from bottles

reflecting across walls

fighting for each word you speak

<>

I am dying

that everyday death

we each die

<>

fighting in only

the best of surroundings,

soundings & singers,

all dying in fighting –

fighting off fits of laughter

I feel exploding

each inner pondering


like a sledge hammer

smashing each happy stone

<>

returning sensations

of pleasure

white in the night

feeling close while

coming to an end

<>

caught hard

up in the air

without a handful of  much

just loose strings of things

of other satisfied things

to keep me for giving in

to consuming everything

in one final bite

<>

2

<>

I’ve heard the hangman

many times today;

why do I feel so cold

a-sway in the summer sun?

swing peacefully

in the hangman’s hot breath?

he’s trying to melt me down

so I can be sold

in bits

and

pieces

<>

3

<>

many times,

screaming inside

he cannot bear

to have me sway

to any breath

but his:

up the stairs

up the stairs

no one cares

except for the hangman

filling his pockets

with meltings

<>

I am free

to fall

I am free

to get up

I am free yet feel so lost

<>

if I am not a fossil

why do I feel so old?

if I am not reincarnated

why do I feel so unborn?

tiny & afraid

summer sun waiting

for someone to touch

if I am not wisdom

why do I feel so foolish 

out of these words?

am I the end of time

drizzled with smiling sun

in your early morning suddenness?

<>

if I am not dynamite

why do I feel like fighting

every time I think of you?

<>

the sun cannot melt

through to the middle

yet I feel myself slipping

up the stairs

up the stairs

away from the sun

that needs me melted

so we can start winter

<>

4

<>

the hangman has seen me crying

the hangman has been free dying

to reach out & cut the rope

to end my all-day dangling

<>

if I am not a hanged man

why do my feet

never seem to touch the ground?

<>

if there is no rope

around my neck

what holds me in place

keeping me from falling?

Jan71/Jan73/July74/June76

Welcome to alliteration 🙂 All those d’s, c’s, m’s are perfect for waking you up in the morning. Looking back now I see how this piece reflects some of the anti-materialist hippie counterculture of the early 70’s. People fed up with working hard for nothing – employee of the month with no real sense of satisfaction. Hearing songs about that by pop stars who became millionaires.

I was/am not a particularly pugnacious guy so all this boxing/fighting imagery seems more like masculine bravado. There was some inner turmoil often both fuelled by & hidden by alcohol: “another shadow-boxing affair/ reflected from bottles.” The turmoil was creative: what can I write to make me rich; it was also sexual – the fight to express myself & not be judged. 

This piece moves with a looping of repeated images that eave in & around each other, the hangman, the sun, melting, fighting in different combinations as it literally fights to find cohesion & meaning. I see it now as the struggle for identity – to find one in the world around me. 

‘your early morning suddenness’ seems to hint of a romantic involvement that didn’t exist at that time. Fear kept me emotionally frozen, this is what was to be melted so I could enter the world with the cold mask of creativity to protect me.

All these rhetorical questions spring from the hippie search for self – where you going Billy? How many roads must a man walk down? The hangman makes a return here but in a less playful way. Then in that last verse we get rhyme! Something that I generally avoided then (& now). 

The piece is stitched together from various pieces as the dates at the end indicate. I had them in note books & felt they resonated with each other. The ’74 take was when I pulled them together. ’76 was the final edit for the chapbook & I resequenced them for flow & to create the illusion of depth.

https://topoet.ca/2019/04/26/caught-hard-1971-76/

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Distant House

Empty House

something strange is pining by candle-light

moves to touch me, as deadly day bright falls

away to church shadows gracing bare walls

with the open deepness of a cruel night

the harsh angles become soothed in my sight

while the flames make the corners softly warm

so I can begin to feel safe from harm

hidden, in this room, from thoughts of flight 

I lit candles to share my loneliness

remembering you said you liked the glow

the way it would fill my room, you know,

with such mystery as tender closeness

I hope both ends burning can fill me too

for I’ve been an empty house without you

The lines are longer than usual, for me. The images are carefully honed for uniformity & clarity. There is a more Catholic undertone to this that I realized at the time I wrote it. The lighting of candles is a very Catholic ritual. At this time I enjoyed candles, those scented ones where very popular. Even Zeller’s had a rack of them.

There’s also that trope of writing by candle light, which I did try a few times but it was far to dim & not pretentious enough without an audience. I sense some Dylan Thomas in the use of language here –  those church shadows – deepness of a cruel night. Or maybe that’s Procol Harum 🙂

Another piece about lost love, unrequited love & the longing that goes with it. More than a touch of self-pity – woe is me alone in the dark & being very romantic about it all. I sure enjoyed melodrama in those days. Maybe it tries too hard to be poetic as it verges on greeting card for that ending.

It also has a veneer of heterosexual love about it. Not that gender is specified. I was fumbling with my own coming out, claiming to be bi & so adopted this ambiguous sexuality in my writing. In fact there is no lust in this piece. I’m writing about the finer love that transcends the physical 🙂 There was no one in my life then anyway so I was not left to feel like an empty house. The piece is a pose not an experience.

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.

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Transcendence

The Toni Morrison bio-documentary/interview A Life In Pieces is amazing. One reviewer was quoted as saying something like ‘she has transcended race in this latest book’ – the implication being that this is a good thing that makes her an even better writer. You know I’ve never read a review of novel/books by authors such as Joyce Carol Oates or Stephen King that says that they transcended race, or gender.

One of the things that Morrison said was that she decided not to explain issues in her characters lives but to merely present them because she felt her black readers would already understand & she felt no need to tell them the why of what they already knew. This resonated with me as I often felt need to give my queer characters backstories that explained their coming out – something I still find in movies & novels about the queer experience – explaining things for the heterosexual gaze. There is more to my life than my coming-out experience.

As my poetry became less concerned with explanations or making emotions universal I did get some negative feed back for being too insular – very similar to critical response to some of Morrison’s work that was too race oriented to be ‘quality’ literature. That is until she transcended race. Which I don’t think she really did, or had to do, it’s just that the culture around her became more educated & caught up to her.

I have a few of her novel on my shelf that I may reread. I did download her book of essays ‘The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations’ & have bumped it up to the front of the read next on my Kindle. I’m in the middle of two other books on it now & can’t start yet another one until one of them is finished. Emile Zola’s “La joie de vivre” & Koji Suzuki’s Edge – both amazing & highly recommended.

(from July 2007)

Racking Up Bonus Miles

more never leads to enough 

satisfaction is a sigh of defeat

too much stuff is a nice beginning

the constant scratch seeking struggle 

doesn’t matter if it fulfills a need

or even a want

it’s just stuff

lots and lots of stuff

fill every nook & cranny

empty is a sign of defeat

bare space isn’t spare simplicity

it is need poverty

only the rich can afford empty space

which they fill with their satisfaction

satisfaction is defeat

more is better than equality

<>

life is a pointless staring glazed at TVs

that aren’t big enough

too much empty space

between the neutrons 

making up picture 

it’s too easy to fall between the cracks

in the waiting glazed fumble

give me stuff or give me breath mints

<>

bursting at the seams is a start

time to look for bigger seams

to get more stuff in

stuff the up the cracks

stuff up your ass

stuff stuff stuff

<>

how good it feels

to bring home bags of unopened books

the smell of the paper

the space between letters

waiting to be filled

new cds flash in the sunset

as I peel plastic skin off them

new shoes not laced yet

new helicopters new tanks

to keep our boys safe in war

war that never gets enough

there is no such thing as enough death

no quenching that hunger

<>

that smokey smell

is life burning away the past 

to make space for the future

why learn lessons

there are new mistakes to be made

mistakes like forgetting 

that more never leads to enough

satisfaction is a sigh of defeat

too much is surrender

will that be cash or visa

you get more bonus miles with visa

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Distant October

October Night

nervous scuffling

waiting in the frost air

for a give-away flicker

from a curtained window

<>

suddenly

the signal

quick

flashing relief;

“okay men, move in,”

the Sheriff ordered, calmly;

he knew his stuff

<>

grinding out his butt

he led the seven

out of the lap of luxury 

where

Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do

<>

(some strangled arrangement

some fitful pondering

an empty cage isn’t always

the reflection of freedom)

<>

“so be on guard, men,”

the Sheriff warner, coolly,

“ ’tis dangerous stuff

dis searchin’ so late at night”

the door opened 

noiselessly at his touch,

“this way’

<>

shivering & afraid

in a bottled room;

hopefully hidden

trusting only one,

who suddenly signalled

with no time for revenge;

he could hear their feet

step carefully over the lawn

<>

shifting weight

one foot

to the

other,

floor creaking giant noise;

catching door open gently

a timid, almost heard squeak;

searching for a way out,

none

(no defence, no crime,

small & fragile

now wrapped in black

after a lingering ugly

mad dash for freedom)

<>

“I think I hear him,”

the Sheriff under-breathed,

motioning for a silent halt,

“in here!”

thrown open door

harsh light blinding

burst of bullets

blood-spattered wall,

spr

awl

ing grimacing corpse

<>

“not a pretty sight,”

the Sheriff chuckled,

avoiding the eyes;

turning quickly

stomach clutching

youngest posse member

staggers outside

in disgust

learning the easy way

about the hard way

<>

crisp moon shining

reflecting on car tops

as they dustily return

their satisfied duty done

return to the lap of luxury 

where

Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do

Oct/71

This piece has a clear narrative line – a western trope that has been filmed countless times. I wanted to use that template & turn it into poetry, to allow the reader to see the story in a different light. It is actually two stories at the same time. One is the ambush the other is ‘Space died.’

In the printed version I was able to separate the two stories with line enjambments which disappear in WordPress 😦 So I’ve been forced to do brackets for that visual shift. At points ‘out of the lap of luxury /where /Space died’ there was a nice drift of one story into the other. 

‘Space’ was one of my temple finches – small colourful birds that sang sweetly. Katmandu was a spider monkey my Dad brought home one day. Both were kept in separate cages. But cleaning the bird cage the finches flew around the room & one got too close to the monkey cage & was caught & killed. Hence the ‘empty cage’ line.

I like the way this reads like a screenplay with the clear images, the quickly defined characters: the Sheriff, the newbie. The seven is a reference to the Magnificent Seven. I wasn’t a cowboy movie fan by any means but this narrative line is assembled from many movies & tv shows like Gun Smoke, Bonanza & Have Gun Will Travel. Not Roy Rogers. Much like this piece, none of these had anything to do with the real west.

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.

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Distant Winker

Winker

the hangman is a compulsive winker!

(or is that a twitch?)

I think he’s trying to con me;

he wants me to think the rope is silk,

that the drop is sweet & short,

the pain is faster that nightfall,

that the end is cleaner than rain

<>

knowing better, I wink back, coyly;

I’m trying to con him into thinking

that my only fears is that of heights,

that my knees aren’t shaking to fall into prayer,

that any fitful gesture could save me

<>

I’m letting him know I know

this final trick of his trade;

that slipknots are for fast get-a-ways

(I’m ready to be freed)

this criminal is a compulsive escaper

July/74

Some poet once said ‘All poetry is about death.’ So wether one wants to or not you end up writing about it. This is an ironic, sort of blackly humorous, look at death. It is also a list poem in which I go through the various aspects of the hanging – the rope, the knot, the drop to discount, in a way, the seriousness of each of them.

It is a romanticize take on a horrible fate – the gallant highway man laughing in the face of death, giggling on the gallows. A type of masculine bravery & bravado that I certainly lacked but admired. A bravado than only existed in movies anyway – which is where too many of us learned to be men.

I suspect that pop music played a role in this piece as well. Led Zeppelin’s Gallows Pole, Spooky Tooth’s Hangman Hang My Shell on A Tree; & of course the Incredible String Band’s The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter. Songs that in their way glorified the gristly. At one time homosexuality was a hanging offence. 

There’s also a loose plot with the exchange of winks, the slipknot – the escape was planned. What was the relationship between the criminal & the hangman? Winking has a sexual flirtation connotation – is this the way we flirt with death? Flirting to numb the fear & possibly lessen what pain there may be when that end comes. No one escapes.

But this is told from the pov of the to-be-hanged man. In Tarot the Hanged Man is the 12th card of the greater arcana. It is the card of sacrifice for a greater good – of animal nature to duty – a change of attitude toward life. So is the escaper saying no to change, saying no the change the hangman represents? Perhaps saying yes to escape is a change. The next card in the arcana is Death.

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 below along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Distant Waltz

Waltz

lazy grey waltz

show me the steps

glide across the floor

a feather

in the fiddler’s sleeve

<>

shadow-creased vision 

hushed distance of recall

layered webs flickering

smokey images crumbling

wondering

how did I get this way,

so far, far away

from the hoedown moon?

<>

a sorrow tugs at my sleeve

timid but persistent,

when the river flows

it’s easy to wash it away;

the sun dries me so quick

here it is back again

a tear to keep me in check,

wondering

why did I turn around

when I heard night

sweep the webs away

again

against my will to know

that it was time

to strike up the band

<>

languid hazel waltz

watch my steps

as they skip over the lawn

a thorn in the fiddler’s shoe

<>

my life is the mist

hovering around the moon

cutting golden across the floor

through the opening windows

of the haystack ballrooms

where here comes that waltz

again

slow & close, almost in tears,

slightly futile, music echoes

you are far away & I dance alone

again

out into a moonless night

<>

smooth white waltz

follow my steps

carefree through harvest fields

a gleam

in the fiddler’s eye

July 14/75

This is another structured piece with the repetition of something colour waltz – fiddler’s something as a chorus through out. It proved to be ideal for performing & on the east coast I had a fiddler friend of mine improvise while I read it. It was quite magical.

Every word & image has been thoughtfully worked out to progress to the ending.  ‘show me’ to ‘watch me’ to ‘follow me’ – the move from learning to expressing to teaching. I am happy with the sense of melancholy that hangs like a mist around the piece – a sadness that doesn’t drift into depression or melodrama but becomes a Zen acceptance of the imperfection of life.

You might notice the influence of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon in the rustic images. I was/am no country boy so this is a very romanticized longing for haystacks & hoedowns. A longing for the innocence of farm life, farm life without work involved 🙂

All my images appear in this piece as well, the moon, mists, music & that intangible reach for something equally as intangible. Perhaps emotional connection? Physical connection – the waltz is a dance for two people in close intimate contact. Who is this fiddler? God? Life? Death? 

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