Get Getz

Stan Getz is an old school jazz master who has not be unequalled & widely imitated. His sax sound is similar to Paul Desmond in its dry quality but his style is much more playful than Desmond.

Probably best know for his collaborations with Joao Gilberto he has recorded with many of the geniuses of the time: Charlie Byrd, Luiz Bonfa, Chick Corea, Bill Evans & even Canada’s Oscar Peterson. Perhaps this list indicates that his strong suite is latin jazz – which is true but his work spans many styles from lounge to ‘modern.’

 

As stand-alone I have Getz with Al Haig: Prezervation; with the Oscar Peterson Trio; with Bill Evans; with himself on Award Winner. His interaction with the jazz piano masters are different – he plays well with others, Most of the pieces are jazz standards with a few original compositions.

 

Tucked away in various mp3 collections are Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto; Jazz Samba with Charlie Byrd; Anniversary!; Jazz Samba Encore! with Luiz Bonfa; Captain Marvel with Chick Corea. His latin work is exemplary, playful, mellow but never dull. All his work is sweetly sexy as well.

Getz is someone I would recommend for anyone starting in on jazz – accessible but not simple. He also provides a solid introduction to the likes of Oscar Peterson & Bill Evans.

Riot

‘Here.’ Steve reached out, grabbed my arm roughly and yanked me behind a small car. 

Part of a chair sailed over my head followed by something metal. I wanted to look but Steve propelled me farther along the row of cars.

‘Just keep your head down.’

Something landed on the car we just passed. The car shook a moment and then erupted. Thick black smoke poured around us.

‘We can head that way.’ Smoke stinging my eyes I pointed through the park behind us. ‘The smoke should give us some cover.’

A handful of others had the same idea. They got about 20 feet into the park when gun fire rattled. Two of them dropped.

‘Someone’s up there.’ Steve nodded to the building at the far end of the park. ‘Snipers.’

‘Shit.’

The crowd on the other side of the cars began to disperse in different directions.

‘Should we follow any them?’

‘No,’ Steve took a deep breath.

We head more gun fire, screams, sirens. 

‘We can’t just sit here though, can we.’ I knew we had to keep moving  ‘The Militia will arrest us.’

‘No. If that was the case I’d turn myself in now but no one’s getting out of here alive. These guys aren’t out to suppress, they are out to destroy.’

‘Look!’ I pointed to a manhole cover.

‘Sewers in this city? Please. No we need a plan.’

‘I thought we had a plan.’

‘Well, sorry, but this riot wasn’t a part of the plan.’

‘You wanted an exciting get away and you got it.’

‘This isn’t the time or …’

The car we were hunched behind began to rock and turn over toward us. We jumped up and fell back to the shop behind us. An armoured tank was rolling over the car. It’s cannon turret rotated toward us.

‘Oh hell.’

We backed against the window of the shop and inched along to the door way. The door was locked. A narrow red light came from the top of the cockpit.

‘Duck.’ Steve shoved me to the sidewalk.

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


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

A Little Bent for Bentley Little

When I am asked who my favourite horror writer is I always say ‘Bentley Little’ & they go ‘Huh?’ For a writer who has produced nearly a novel year since his first published book in 1990, plus short story collections, his profile hasn’t skyrocketed. I first discovered him thanks to Stephen King who in some interview I read years ago said that Little was one of his favourite horror authors.

Like King Little’s writing style is conversational, rarely high-flown, or peppered with pseudo-scientific jargon. He plays on myth, legends & even reaches into American history – a ghost train constructed of & by the bones of the Chinese who built the railway – but always starts in the common place & makes the eerier & foreboding.

I have read dozens of Little’s books. I became, as I ma wont to do, a bit obsessed with hunting them all down, scouring 2nd hand bookstores for old ones & watching for new releases. The books are high on suspense, thrills & horror. He finds horror in ordinary things – that new box box store has sales that are to die for – literally.

I’ve kept two, so far, of them on my shelf: The Policy and His Father’s Son. In Son our hero discovers a society of letter-to-the-editor writers whose letters lead to change. It is one of the few novels about writers writing that catches the power of the word, what it means to the writer & then sends that concept into an amazing direction.

 

All the novels are highly cinematic but so far none aha been made into films. I suspect Little has resisted that thanks to what has happened to King film adaptations that have watered down the story to make it more commercial appealing. Bentley can be gory, funny & always scary. He catches human fears & paranoia & makes them into realities; what if the gates to your gated community are the gates to hell?  If you aren’t a fan, yet, I’d recommend The Policy as an excellent starter for this addictive writer.

Dead or Alive

one is already dead

one we don’t know

who knows this child

does anyone recognize 

his running shoes his hands his face

 

is he dead is he alive

we warned you 

not to go near the lake

late at night

first Brad now Jeff

each off on an adventure

 

is he dead

is he alive

what would have possessed him

we told him about the Denizen

we made sure

none of the boys

would go near the smoke shed

they never listen

they never listen

if only they were

content with the pancakes

flap jacks

waffles

maple syrup

we can’t seem to keep them 

sated in food stupors

they have to slip off

looking for adventure

don’t say boys will be boys

 

is he dead is he alive

Jeff Jeff speak to us

wake up 

the grey cold damp

isn’t holding you that strong

spit the cold grey lake water

out of your lungs

tell us did you find Brad

have you seen Olaf

which of you

went to the smoke shed

who stole the sausages

who wasn’t heeding 

the warning we posted

the tales we told

to keep you alive

 

is he dead is he alive

is he Jeff

feel for a pulse

feel for breath

is there a sign

anything

no this isn’t Jeff

it’s some other boy 

another lured to Pinebow Lake

another taken from us

 

if this isn’t Jeff

where is Jeff

where is Brad

where is little Olaf

all the good boys

the brightest and best

have taken their leave

or are they just hiding

peaking around the trees

to giggle and smirk

in some game of hide and seek

where the finders

stay with the hiders

till there is only one looker left

and that will be me

because I won’t go near the lake

late at night

I won’t slip out of my bunk

to look for sausages

I’d rather be hungry and found

 

we must continue our search

beat the bushes

leave no stone unturned

we must look till we find

we must discover

why boys will be boys

we must see if there are foot prints

we have to follow the scent

the deep decay 

of blackened tree stumps

 

something floats 

to the surface of the lake

a glistening slick

like oil red blood

it is moving to follow the moon

it is time for us to light the fires

to gather around

to be told again the warning signs

the things to do

to make sure we all remain here

 

who has seen Tim

he was here a moment ago

he had the matches for the fire

who has seen Garth

he had the marshmallows

come out come out

this game has gone to far

 

is he the next warning sign

the fourth sign

of what is to come

the gradual shift

that takes us each from the camp

to home

 

yes that must be it

the others have gone home

run back to their mommies

scared of the lake

scared of the dark

and never go to get their fill

of the good cook’s works

we can end the search

except to find out

who this boy is 

spewed upon the shore

who

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


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

 

Zombie Dance

 

Psycho Zombies in the Rain

it was raining ballerinas

you know

rain so heavy

each drop created a splash tutu

as it landed

on its one toe

to join the corps du puddle

a literal rain dance

 

wet ragged gene mutated zombie

staggering down the street

skin stinking in the rain

crumbling for the lure of brains

grabs a light pole

flings aimless decaying arm

drops into the gutter

eyes washed but not cleaned

lightening strikes

the unlucky char

washed down the sewer drain

 

the rain not a sheet but a curtain

a shower curtain

lightening cuts through it

an electrified knife

stab stab after stab

screams drowned out by the rain

rain so heavy

we can’t see across the street

can’t see 

through the car window

wiper blades not cutting it

smearing rain like blood

on a steamy bathroom tile

Can you name all the movies referenced in this piece? This piece is a word-association dream-logic poem that pays tribute to at least two of my favorite movies in a mash-up of those genres – Psycho and Singing In The Rain. The logic flow of ballerinas to Gene Kelly dancing in the rain seemed quite natural, to me. Thanks to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies it isn’t such a leap to zombies in the rain, is it?

‘rain dance’ leads directly to the most famous rain dance: the classic scene of Gene Kelly dancing and splashing and singing and swinging on a lamp post. I give it the full decay treatment – I love this so much I want to see this movie. Michael Jackson’s Thriller didn’t go far enough. Real rotting corpses would fall apart dancing like they do in his video. But then again Triller isn’t a documentary.

Char down the sewer drain took me directly to swirls of blood down shower drain in Psycho – a move that features Janet Lee driving through the most amazing rain to end up at that charming motel where she cleans up real good. Hitchcock doesn’t go as obvious as I do  with lighting cutting the air while the knife slashes his heroine but sometimes poetry isn’t about subtlety.

I love so many things about this piece – it has no political subtext 🙂 It is full of crisp, cinematic images that flow effortless from one to other. Images that have become cliches in horror films & yet have been repurposed to create a whole new movie genre and a fun poem too.

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

Chapter XXIX – Birk to the Rescue

Coal Dusters

Chapter XXIX

Birk to the Rescue

When Birk and Clancy got to St Agatha’s that night the meeting hall was jammed. Men were standing squeezed in all around the room. The windows had been opened to allow for some air. But the breeze barely moved the cigarette smoke that hung over their heads. There wasn’t room for the tea trolly even if the men had wanted tea in the heat. Some were drinking and sharing from their own bottles of refreshments. 

Alf Landen, the MLA was there once again, so every one knew this was to be more important than the last few meetings. He was talking quietly with William Gregory, Father Patrick and Reverend Brown in the front row. There were no company representatives there. 

Gregory stepped to the small stage. “Men I think you all know Alf Landon.”

“Yeah,” came a shout from the back “Some of us were made drunk enough to vote fer him!”

There was laughter and cat calls.

“Save it.” Gregory motioned for them to be silent. “He has some news for us from the cabinet.”

Alf stepped up to the stage. He hooked his thumbs under his suspenders and cleared his throat. “Thank you Will. First I want to reassure you that I am on your side, men. I think the way the coal corporation is treating you is shameful. But I am only one voice in the house. Not everyone agrees with me. Also, let me say how pleased I am that the strike has remained peaceful.”

“Not fer much longer.” someone shouted.

“I wish I had better news for you but we, at the provincial level, are at an impasse with both the union and the mine management. In cabinet we discussed the issues and after heated augments I can assure you we can see no way to force a change in company policy. We’ve taken it to the federal level as well.”

“We know how the feds deal with unions.” someone shouted.

“How?” someone else called out.

“They send in the troops to trample the miners and their children.”

There were more cat calls from the audience.

“Men!” Father Patrick got to the stage. “This isn’t going to help your cause in any way. If both sides remain … unmoved … ”

“Yeah! What will help?” someone shouted over him. “Praying to the Lord Jesus only hurts m’ knees worsen workin’ in the mine for twelve hours.” One of the miners walked up to face Father Patrick. “At least I sees some coal for that.”

“Men. Men.” Alf stood on a chair. 

They silenced.

“There is something you can do. You can go back to work on the company’s terms. That has to be better than letting your families suffer. ”

“That isn’t goin’ to happen.” Someone shouted. “They was suffering on what we were making before, anyhow.” Another of the men said.

“Okay. Okay.” Gregory got the men’s attention. “Alf you know that is unacceptable.” He pulled Alf off the chair and got up on it himself. “There will be a march in Glace Bay on Saturday next. That’s eight days from now. We have union members coming from the mainland to show their support. The steel plant will be closed down for the day when our brother members there put down their tools and join us. We have to show them we mean business.”

“What we been doing these past weeks?” Birk asked. 

“You should talk,” one of the them men said. “Yer pa Blackie still goin’ in there, isn’t he. Shutting down them boilers will show them we mean business, too. Won’t it?”

“Men!” Alf said. “Damaging the pits themselves won’t do you any good. You won’t have anything to to go back to if the mine closes down because you did something foolish to the boilers and let the mines flood.”

“Easy for you say,” someone shouted. “You don’t have a wife and three kids at home with nothing to eat.”

“I knows one place where we can something to feed our families.” Jim McKlusky said. “We all do! The Pluck Me.”

“The Pluck Me.” The men took up the phrase and started to leave the hall.

“Wait! There’s decisions to be made.” Alf shouted.

“We made em. Answer is no.” one of the men said. “No! No! No! To same work for less pay.”

“The Pluck Me. The Pluck Me.” The men chanted as they left the hall en masse. They marched in a ragged mob along Chestnut Avenue to the company store.

Clancy and Birk followed at the back of the shouting men. McKlusky was pounding on the front door of the company store. Two other men had gone around to the back to make sure the manager, Daniel Seldon, didn’t slip away, down the outside side stairs. The front windows had been boarded over the week before. The only light came from a window on the second floor.

“He ain’ going anywhere.” Birk muttered. “Too much stuff inside. He’d never step away from a profit.”

“Open up, Seldon. Man, we know you’re in there.” McKlusky shouted. “We don’t want to harm you. We know it ain’ your fault wha’s goin’ on but we have families to feed too you know.”

The window on the second floor opened. It was to the left of the front door. A woman’s head stuck out. “Dan’l t’ain’ here.”

It was his wife.

“He’s gone up to the big office. He was sent fer at supper time. He ain here.”

“Then let us in mussus.” McKlusky stepped back to call up to her. “We means no harm to you and yours.”

“I canna let you in. It’d be the end of me. He dinna want this to happen. But he’s got no choice He’s sorry he ever let his brother talk him inta runnin’ the cump store. Swore it was easy money. But it isn’t. It isn’t. We has to pay for everything same as you do. Even if it don’ get bought and goes bad we still has to pay for it.”

Birk had never heard Mrs. Seldon talk for so long.

“In that case we’ll have to ….” McKlusky reached along the edge of a piece of the wood that boarded up the windows and gave it a strong heave. It creaked and started to come loose.

The other men joined him and the boards were quickly all torn off. The windows behind were then shattered. Three men kicked in the door and they streamed into the shop.

Birk glanced at Clancy to see if they were going to join in the pillaging. Clancy grinned and muttered, “Well, guess we might as see what tea they got stashed there, eh? Or you enjoying that lilac leaf tea?”

“I don’t know. Don’t feel right to me.”

He looked up and saw Manny O’Dowell struggle out of store clutching packages of cigarettes.

“If the mick’s are doin’ it I guess we might as well too.” Birk said.

“Stop! Stop!” Mrs. Seldon was screaming as she rushed down the stairs into the store. She was pulling at the shoulders of the men to get them to stop. “Please stop.”

Some of the wives had joined the men in going through the shelves. One of them went to Mrs. Seldon and smacked her and shoved her to the front door.

“You had that comin’ for a long time.” she said to Mrs. Seldon. “Be quiet or we’ll tie you up and leave you.” 

“There’s more in the root cellar.” The woman turned to the crowd. “That door is over here.” Two of the women yanked the door open and one of them went down and began handing up sacks of potatoes.

Birk and Clancy pushed their way to the section of dry goods, beans, flour. Things Birk knew his mother could make use of. With their arms full they shouldered their way back outside. There was a flicker of flame near the rear of the store. The flicker quickly got larger.

Men where pushing and shoving each other out of the store.

“Watch my beans.” Clancy put his arm load of cans down and dashed back into the building. 

Flames spurted out of the roof. A baby was crying loudly. Dogs were barking. 

Clancy came stumbling out in a billow of smoke. He was clutching two jars of penny candy under one arm and a can of tobacco under the other.

“Something for yer sisters. Something for us.”

“You …” Birk had been fearful that Clancy wouldn’t get out of the fire. “You got a nerve Clancy Sinclair. True nerve.”

He saw a woman dash up the side stairs of the store that lead to the second floor and into the building. She appeared moment later holding something and trying to shelter it from the flames. Her skirt got caught on the door jam and she couldn’t get it loose.

Without thinking Birk bolted up the stairs, tore her skirts free and rushed her down the stairs. Sparks showered on them as the roof began to collapse into the building. He could smell his hair burning as it was singed in the heat. There was some applause as he got her safely into the crowd.

She thanked him repeatedly staring into his face. Even darkened by soot he knew it was the priest niece. She insisted on getting his name. He told her. When she was waving her uncle over he slipped away.

“Didn’t think you had that in you Birk.” Clancy brushed ashes off Birk’s face.

“Think I’d stand here and watch someone burn up?” 

They gathered the stuff they had taken.

The crowd stood silently and watched the flames destroy the company store. Mrs. Seldon stood to one side sobbing as she rocked her baby.

The fire was still going when they went back to Birk’s house. 

“Say nothing of what happened.” Birk said.

“You mean you playing the hero? It was a good thing.”

“I don’t care. There’ll be no end of it once Ma knows.”

In the kitchen they laid out what they had grabbed in their haste. Mrs. Nelson sorted through the various cans and stuff they had.

“I don’t know Birk Nelson. I didn’t bring you up to be … a… hooligan who’d take advantage of people in this manner.”
“But Mrs. N. what good would it have been to let this food go up in flames. Ashes don’t do anyone any good.”

“Wise words Clancy. Rest assured those ashes aren’t going to do any one any good when word gets back to the coal company what was done.”

“Yes Ma’am.” 

“Best wash off that soot before you go to bed. Yer almost as black as ya are after coming from the pits.” She smiled and rubbed Birk’s forehead.

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


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

Shelly Stoker

Two ‘horror’ novels that have inspired me are Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ Though I did not read them until after I had seen various movies based on them both. In fact I didn’t realize they were adaptations of novels until my late-teens. 

I presently have collections of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker on my Kindle. Getting compete works appeals to me as both of these writers have been reduced to their single hit – so reduced that often people don’t think they wrote anything else. Needless to say they did but nothing else captured the public eye the way their big hits did.

I have read the big hits a few times now, both recently, and also read some of their other fiction. I have to say I was both elated and disappointed. Brilliant plots, interesting characters but writing styles have changed so much I find myself slogging through the prose.

I found it hard to divest myself of the movies as well. The Frankenstein novel is structured as memory, as opposed to a action, we get telling. The language is often highflown romantic intellectually purple prose. There is no real Igor in the novel 😦 Plus the creature is rather articulate. It is the plot that holds together, where as the writing is annoying. Her other fiction, that I’ve read, continues this intellectually purple prose of the finest feelings of truest love.

Some of the same holds true for Stoker – Dracula is told as letters & journal entries – very much the style of the time. But every letter writer sounds like the same person. The grand chase scene is endless with a series of delays, snow storms etc to the final confrontation. Much of the vampire mythos is set out: garlic, wooden stakes, sleeping in coffins, & bats. Again too much telling. 

Movie versions have done well by both these basic plots and getting back to the original source material  to see where it all came from has been fun. Seeing how these big successes affected the lives of the writers has also been informative. Today we have the same high concept writing/ movie making where often the concept is frittered away by the telling. 

What inspires me is that the fantastic can be made real with the right world-building & consistency of concept. The authors were invested the reality of their creatures even if they failed to fully develop the character. If you haven’t read either of these it is time you did 🙂

Fiends

when we were fiends

there was nothing that didn’t excite us

the sacred hunger for the better blast

the color unseen

the uncommon lunge from fire to fire 

clumsily lurching from profane to evil

ugly became true beauty 

the more confrontational the surface

the deeper the meaning had to be

 

we would laugh giggle sneer

at those lunching on luncheon meats

not realizing we were the fiends

who made mockery of striving

up some corporate ladder

we would sweep past that boundary

we were going to create substance

that would last longer than the Beatles

have more cruelty than war

drink more blood than Dracula

we were the righteous vanguard

to take fiends into the next level 

 

we would stay up all night 

smoking toking stroking 

our eyes marbles in sand 

rolling our way through 

begrudging sunrise light 

to diners thick with fusty cozy fish smell

for crack of morning eggs 

swimming in blessed grease 

swearing we were bound 

heart to heart in our struggle 

against this culture that wanted 

to deny fiends proper place at any table

 

we tripped off to university

jumping courses in midterm

anthropology to comparative religions

seeking a way to alter 

the substrata of this messed up 

over commercialized culture

 

fiends forced to deal with

the mundane march of shoes to job

we wore the sheen of clock time

kept our fiendishness to ourselves

letting it out in mosh pits 

letters to the editor rages open stages

to keep the brain dancing

while we saw others melt into safety

 

we sit just out of the afternoon sun

don’t want skin cancer

no one wants aging fiends with lesions

waiting for our green tea to steep

looking with longing at sweets

at sweet young things

everyone is younger than yesterday

striving to be fiend of the moment

pierced bleached mohawked

wearing the sneer we invented

looking at us with the disdain

we copyrighted so long ago

even if they don’t recognize it

in their sacred lunge for the new

we are still fiends

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


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

 

Revenge of The Tingler

The Tingler

as a kid

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

not that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go, you lying loser.

 

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to a movie I saw

where a sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

 

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no difference

 

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now 

was their lie

The Tingler is one of my favorite cheesy horror movies. The over-arch performance of Vincent Price combined with the primitive special creature effects and superb. The basic plot: fear creates a creature in the body that kills you – fear kills literally. This basic premise has been used time after time since but never, for me, as effectively. I’m also grateful there has been been a remake with CGI amping the scares.

I was a bad liar as a kid. But there were times when I was accused of something I hadn’t done but had no way of proving it and was instantly guilty under-pressure. Oddly when I had done something & got caught I could plead innocence & be believed. I learned at an early age that truth was malleable – in today’s political climate it is clear that the truth is irrelevant. It seems blatant dishonesty is considered a virtue. But I digress though I wonder about the values children are learning today?

I worked at maintaining an innocent point of view in the piece, even the sections that retrospective. Things that I was called did stick with me though my parents never called me a loser but certainly made it clear I wasn’t living up to cultural values they approved of. My fascination for teen movie magazines was called useless though. My crush on Haley Mills was seen as foolish, but it was safer than my affection for Tarzan. 

The things I was really lying about weren’t my actions but my thoughts. Thoughts that to reveal I figured would kill me. A fear that took revenge on me for decades.

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

Chapter XXVIII – Birk Does Nothing

Coal Dusters

Chapter XXVIII

Birk Does Nothing

Even though they didn’t have their routine of work shifts to get to, Birk’s mother made sure he and Clancy were up at the usual time in the morning. The strike was entering its fourth week with no progress in negotiations.

“We goin’ ta have the best garden ever.” Birk wiped the sweated off his biceps.

He and Clancy were turning earth in the back garden. After the rain stopped in the first days of the strike Birk’s mother saw the soft wet earth as ripe for being worked proper. Potato eyes had been planted in a row along one side of the yard. Tomatoes were seeded in another row. 

Blackie had gotten cow dung from one of the farms and they were now working it into the soil between the potato rows. The potatoes had sprouted within days of being planted and Birk’s mother expected a good crop.

“Hope it grows fast. We’ll be eating soup made of boiled flour sacks soon.” Clancy said.

Over the past weeks they had, as had most of the miners, been looking after household repairs that had been let go of for some time. Even though the company owned the houses all maintenance was the responsibility of the miners. Miners who often had no time or energy after their shifts to do much more the eat and sleep.

Roofs were repaired, draughty windows stuffed with rags, broken glass replaced with thin wooden shingles, leaks plugged, eaves straighten, wells drug deeper or cleaned out, outhouses cleaned out. Things that could be done without spending money. The row of company houses Birk lived in were in the best condition than they had been in years. All they needed a coat of paint. Now idleness was setting in.

Birk and Clancy had been gone hunting with Jake twice and brought home some venison which was a welcome change from the rabbits that Birk trapped. But food necessities were dwindling in all the homes. Salt, sugar, molasses, flour and tea were slowly becoming scarce.

Birk’s mother made sure the Sal and Maddy were fed but even the portions for them were getting smaller. The girls went foraging with Birk for berries and dandelion greens. The greens were bitter to Birk but better than nothing.

One of the neighbour women showed them how to make a tea from the dandelion roots, how to dry certain wild flowers for tea, what mushrooms were safe to eat. The pickleweed from the saltwater marsh proved to a reasonable substitute for salt.

Birk and Clancy went to North Sydney to see if they could get part-time work on the fishing boats for a couple of days but there was no work for them there either. There were enough miners with actual sea experience who had taken what positions might be available. The fishermen were sympathetic but had be known to take matters into their own hands when any idle miners set out on their own to fish.

Clancy was able to get Mrs. Franklin to allow them to use the bath house once a week in return for keeping it clean and stocking the boiler room with wood and coal for the hot water. With the men not bringing in money she didn’t have many paying boarders left and was suffering financially because of that.

The young men showed up at the colliery for their daily strike shifts. To make sure management knew they were there, the miners would bring their fiddles to sing and dance to pass the time. Often with their children there as well to give their wives a break.

“Getting by on your dollar a week?” Jake Malone asked Birk.

The strike fund pay was a dollar a week for single men, a dollar and fifty cents for a married worker without children, those with children would get two dollars, regardless of how many children they had.

“Pays for milk but that’s about all.” Birk said. “How’s by you.”

“We’re stretchin’ it as best we can.” Jake replied. “Beth gets some from her folks. They have that farm out by Lake Ansley. Eggs this week. Yer welcome to a couple if you want.”

“We bagged some deer,” Clancy said. “Could swap you for what you may got to spare.”

“I’ll get Beth come over later. Good thing she’s not with … you know. This not a time to bring a child into this world.” He coughed and spat, toed the sputum. “Even m’spit is turning to water. Don’t look right without a heap o’ black in it.”

The church bells rang. 

“Time for us to knock off.” Birk said.

“See you at that meetin’ t’ night?” Jake asked. “About time the union had some news for us.”

Once again the union meeting was at St Agatha’s hall. There had been some informal ones at the Protestant church but the Catholics refused to come over to Mudside for union business.

“We’ll be there.” Clancy said. “Not much else to do these days.”

They headed back to Birk’s house.

“Doin’ nothing all day is making me want to … I don’t know … it’s like I’m hungry for something and don’t know what it is? Race you the back pasture.”

Birk knocked Clancy off his feet and started running over the uneven dirt lane that lead to the house. 

“You bastard. When I catch you …”

Clouds of dust rose from the dried out mud as Birk ran. The heavy thump of his boots on the roadway echoed off the houses. When he reached the side fence he stopped to see where Clancy was. He was no where to be seen.

“Ya give up that easily.” Birk grasped for air. 

Clancy darted out from the side of house, He dove head first into Birk and they tumbled though the gate into the garden.

“Get yer fat behinds outta my garden.” Birk’s mother burst out of the house with her wooden spoon held over her head.

“Sorry Ma.” Birk said pushing Clancy’s face into the dirt. He jumped up, leapt over the back fence and kept running through the field. He stopped at the oak tree and slumped against the base of it. He was tugging his boots off when he was showered by a handful of dirt.

“I guess you right Birk. We needs to get doing something besides nothing. But rolling in the dirt isn’t it.”

“I know. I know.”

“I could get used to this though.” Clancy tugged off his shirt and shook dirt out of it. “No coal dust and the life of leisure.” He rolled the shirt up and put it under his head as he laid on the ground beside Birk.

“Not me. I get this itch to do something. Used to feel so worn out from workin’ in the pit all day that I can’t wait to rest. Now I feel too rested.”

“We haven’t been fishin’ for awhiles now.” Clancy reminded him.

“True. Rocks don’t squeak loud as that bed o’ mine.” He caught Clancy’s eye briefly.

They had tried to rub on each other once but the bed rocked and squealed so loud they stopped before it woke anyone. 

“Don’t know how Geo managed that bed. Never made that much noise when he was on t’ other side o’ me.”

“One body movin’ isn’t the same as two.” Clancy said rolling over to his side to face Birk.

“Could be. So may be it’ll be fishin’ tomorrow. Depends on what Ma wants us to do.” His eyes met Clancy’s.

“I think we repaired every stick of future in your house already.” Clancy turned away.

“Except the bed.” Birk laughed.

“Hopes we catch another glimpse of that gal though. Nice of her to come by with bread for us at the gate there that once.”

“Could be she’ll be there t’night at the meetin’ ” Birk elbowed him.

“Could be.” Clancy grinned.

“That how you keeping your mind busy? Thinkin’ on her?” Birk shoved Clancy’s shoulder playfully with his foot.

“What of it.” Clancy grabbed Birk’s foot and pull him over on top of him. “She’d still smell a whole lot better than that foot of yours.”

They began to wrestle as they rolled over each other down the slope behind the tree. Each attempting to pin the other to the ground. Clancy stop resisting to let Birk sink on top of him.

“You giving up.” Birk asked.

“Nope. Just giving over. This ground don’t squeak. I feel you little fell’s ready ready.”

“So it yours.” Birk giggled.

“Stop horsing around you two. Ma’s be calling for you.”

Birk rolled off Clancy. It was Maddy.

“There’s some supper ready for you. Or would you rather play like kids in the muck?” She shook her finger at them. “You best wash up some before you come in the house.”

“Yes Ma.” Birk said. “I mean yes Maddy.”

He stood and helped Clancy stand. 

“You’ll need the broom to clean up properly though.” Maddy said as they followed her back to the house. “It’s either that or the spoon.”

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

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

Herman’s Hidden Cameras

As much as I enjoyed Herman’s Hermits as a teen I wasn’t encouraged to admit it. They were radio-fodder bubble-gum as opposed to real musicians like the Rolling Stone or even the Beatles. They were regarded as sweet, squeaky-clean and a band only girls could enjoy. Music hall songs like ‘Henry the VIII’ didn’t help their image either. I picked up stand-alone cd The Very Best of back in Dec 2006 to reclaim that part of my past.

Sure some of the songs suffer from ‘clean’ but many of them are solid, if not brilliant, pieces of pop music. The band wasn’t terribly original, creative or even were outstanding musicians. But their studio work is impeccable. It helps that Peter Noone’s voice is sweet & appealing. ‘No Milk Today’ is a breathtaking track – the production work is sublime & still amazes. The fact that it was written by Graham Gouldman (10CC) certainly helps. 

I picked up stand-alone Highs of the Sixties back in 1994. This is the complete opposite of the Hermits. A compilation of the sort psychedelic, garbage-band music that I could easily admit to enjoying. It includes tracks by Love, Count Five (one of the first latino bands to make it big), The Standells – many one-hit wonders but all fun. I’ve since tracked down collections by some these one-hitters like Blue Cheer, The Seeds, Count Five. I already had an extensive Love collection before I picked this cd up.

But what about the present you might ask? Next on the shelf are these stand-alones by The Hidden Cameras: The Smell of Our Own; Mississauga Goddam; AWoo. This a fun, queer, musically-diverse band that I really enjoy. With songs about water sports ‘Golden Steams,’ politics ‘Ban Marriage,’ love ‘Music is my Boyfriend’ & life ‘Learning the Lie’ performed with energy that invites all listeners into their world. Led by Joel Gibb  the band uses standard rock augmented by strings, wind instruments to create an often rollicking, sometimes folky, sweet romantic tapestry of music that often makes an ‘ironic’ counterpoint to the lyrics. Hidden Cameras take sound pictures of the world in a way I like to see it. 

Lucky Day

It felt good to sleep in. Something I didn’t allow myself to do that often. A warm, snug bed from which I could hear the cold wind outside. As I rolled over to try for another few winks the door to my room opened enough for a head to pop through. 

‘Good morning, sleepy head.’ Jim smiled at me.

‘What are you doing here?’ I sat up.

‘What do you think?’ he came into the room.

‘And why aren’t you dressed?’

‘Another dumb question.’ He slipped into the bed beside me. ‘Neither are you.’

Our bodies nestled together comfortably. 

‘I got the day off so I figured, why not drop over here and spend some of it with you.’  Jim gently bit my shoulder.

‘Great idea. That spare key was for emergencies.’

‘Yes, well this is an emergency.’

‘So I can feel.’

I rolled over on top of him. Just then my cell buzzed.

‘Don’t get it, or you won’t get it.’ He warned, twisting the ring in my left nipple.

The cell buzzed, and as programmed, the buzz got louder the longer it rang.

‘I have too.’

I reached over and picked it up. ‘Hello.’

‘Hi Dave.’

‘Steven is that you?”

‘Yep. Just arrived in town.’

‘You should have warned me.’ I covered the receiver, ‘It’s Steven, my agent from New York.’

‘Well, I was hoping to surprise you. I have the new contract. Bidding stopped at 2.5 mil.’

‘2.5 mil!! I’m amazed.’

Jim was biting my stomach under the covers. ‘Stop that for a minute will you.’

‘Sounds like I caught you at a bad time.’

‘Not at all. No wrong time for 2.5 mil.’

‘Free for lunch?’

‘Lunch? Sure. You staying at the same hotel.’

‘Same room is fact.’

‘Okay see you around noon.’

‘Frank wants you for lunch and I want you for breakfast.’ Jim came from under the covers to kiss me.

Just then the door bell rang. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my bathrobe and dashed down the stairs to the front door. A flower delivery man waited.

‘David Bradley?’

‘That’s me.’

‘Sign here.’

I signed for a box that opened to reveal two dozen red and white roses.

‘Looks like this is your day?’ Jim looked over my shoulder. ‘Who are they from?’

‘I haven’t checked yet. But find today’s paper. I should check my lottery numbers.’

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


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

 

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft is a master of both purple prose & terrifying visions. I remember reading him in my late teens & being drawn in totally to the out-of-kilter world he created (or was he merely describing an alternate reality that wasn’t fiction at all?) On my Kindle I now have his complete fiction: short stories, novels & even some poetry.

He took me to a disturbed Maine seaside long before Stephen King moved in 🙂 I was impressed by his writing style, though now I find it a bit florid, and was even more impressed by his decision to dispense with the happy ending. There is no escape from the tentacles in his Cthulhu Mythos.

His invented language, strange rituals & decaying churches enthralled me. One of my favourite short stories has the escapee struggle from captivity to find themselves in front of a mirror & being terrified by the monstrous creature they see. My other favourite is the room with weird angled corners that drives people mad. The Dunwich Horror is perfection (& the movie isn’t too bad either).

Re-reading many of these stories as an adult, on my Kindle, I am both transported & a little bored. How many decaying churches, or deep underground caverns full of malignant artifacts do I need to read about anyway. He has spawned an industry, though, of novels, short stories that are still being written to explore & expand his worlds. 

I was inspired by his use of language, his story telling and the ability to create & sustain a complex & compelling mythos so rich that some believe it is not fiction. I approach my Village Stories with some of this in mind – though I didn’t go for supernaturally scary but for a more emotionally culturally-scary mood.

Delete Delete Delete

I went for a walk

took my camera

to see the world as an observer

not a passer-by

I took shots of

stray shoes stray cats

a frozen smile

dirty gutters budding trees

windows that needed washing

people that needed washing

teens smoking

locked doors

cars too close to the curb

a small dribble of blood

bicycles that rotted all winter

posters pasted on closed shop windows

spray tags on mail boxes

an empty threat

cut flowers at a corner store

empty park benches

the distance between the aches

clumps of soggy newspaper

the mouth of a cave

hands holding empty air

three cellphones

a dog killing a rat

a birthday cake

a broken object that beeped faintly

green teeth

a missed opportunity

a wrong turn

a gathering of indifferent hoodies

an orange chain link fence

the last of the great ones

discarded bloody bandages

a farewell to arms

a Tim’s cup trapped in subway escalator

a dead fly in a camera shop window

a reason to go on

undergarments in a storm drain

an absent ache

dead batteries

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

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

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

 

Cape Fever

Cape Fever

it was a black satin half-slip

with a hem of red lace

I found in my mother’s dresser

it was cool on my skin

I twisted & turned

in front of the mirror

to see it flow

clutching the waist

around my eight-year-old throat

so it was my black cape

dripping with the blood

I’d dragged it through

 

it wasn’t long enough

not full enough

meant for my mother’s narrow hips

when I tried to sweep it up

to cover my face

it fell off

it would never be Dracula’s cape

 

besides my eye brows were wrong

even after I tired to create

those terrifying arches 

using eyebrow forms from

my mother’s Elizabeth Arden make up kit

it had dozens of shapes  

none were arched enough

so I did what I could

by turning one upside down

spectacular

 

the mouth full of tomato catchup

was impossible 

too thick

for it drip over my teeth

or out of the corners of my mouth

the red was wrong

beet juice was the right colour

but way too thin

the two didn’t mix well either

 

but those eyebrows were spectacular

they scared even me

in the mirror

when I held a flashlight under my chin

all I needed was the right cape

and a victim

This is a sweet mix of real memory but not of an actual event. The half-slip existed, as well some crinolines. I was never brave enough to actually handle the half-slip but I did so towel capes, which were too heavy for the right effect. The crinolines I did wear on my head a few times. They gave me a feeling of long long big hair. Even then I wasn’t really dawn to cross-dressing – I guess the cultural sense of male and female was present.

My mother also had one of those make-up kits. It came in the mail. If I remember there were some Tv ads for these kits, or maybe they were in some magazine. A collection of eye brow stencils, lip stencils that she would use to create eyebrows & lip outlines for that perfect look. There were brushes an pencils. Even an eyelash curler. I did attempt eyebrows one halloween but they were more funny than scary.


This is one of those false childhood memory poems in which every detail is true but they never happened in the context they happen in here. I always wanted a cape, more in the Batman style though than Dracula. I found the red collar distracting 🙂 I have tired on a few as an adult & what a difference a fabric makes. Velvet sure looks good but it weighs a ton. Satin is nearly as bad. Plus keeping the hem out of the mud in a graveyard can be very distracting.

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