Dirty Hands

Dirty Hands

every time we touch

the paranoia is too much

<>

yes

I washed my hands

then sanitized them

did you

do you have proof 

do I have to watch you

<>

do we have to wash each others hands

before we touch 

anything

wash after every time 

<>

we now prioritize 

what we put on hands on

is it worth the risk

do I want to waste

my clean hands on that

Another of the pandemic lockdown poems. Hand sanitizer dispensers were installed in every subway station, at store entrances, on restaurant tables, in washrooms. Many had been carrying small squeeze bottles since the SARS event some years ago. There was such a constant harping on washing hands properly it felt being nagged by a slightly deranged mother. 

When friends dropped by, or I visited, first thing was going to the bathroom to wash hands. Plastic gloves for shoppers was mandated for a time. Masks defended each other from breathing. There was the ‘threat’ of making breathing on another person as type of assault.

Sex without gloves & masks was a fetish. Masks quickly showed up in porn. Though I never did see any about hand washing lol. The pandemic did dampen on line the search for sex playmates, even when the vaccine was rolled out one would see ‘had my shot’ as part of profiles. 

It also made men choosier about who they were interested in. Age perimeters were clearer, then dick size, race, distance to travel, sex activities were all less negotiable. I’d see profiles that said things like ‘no facial hair’ etc. If we’re going to wash our hands it has to be worth it lol.

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Merry Covid Christmask

One of my Christmas guests has asked if all the other guests will remain masked while here, expect, of course to eat & even then, masks have go back on between bites; also, will they all do home Covid tests before arriving to make sure they aren’t ‘carriers’. Instead of candy-canes should I hand them masks & covid tests at the door & turn anyone away who isn’t negative? 

Perhaps set one room aside for any eating & drinking & mask lifting – while in the other, everyone must remain masked & also avoid talking too much, laughing too much, & in general breathe as little as possible. 

Should I assume that my guests have enough common sense to take their own practical measures for their personal safety & for the safety & protection of others. If my concerned guest is uncomfortable they can social distance themselves with my air purifier at their side. It is a bit noisy but such is life.

This is one the Covid symptoms that doesn’t make the list of Covid symptoms – gone are the easy days of having a few friends over for a seasonal celebration. There is now this list of protocols to deal with beside the list of snacks to have on hand. I now reach for a covid home text kit before I reach for the NeoCitron if I have the sniffles. Is that an allergy sneeze or the first sign of Covid?

All I want for Christmas is not to die in emerg. 

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Symptomatic

 

A friend offered me a ticket to see Elton John here in Toronto. I said no thanks. Not because I don’t like Elton (though his single with Britany Spears is a piece of crap) but I’m unwilling to spend that length of time with that many unmasked or masked people sweating, shouting, singing along. I know masks are ‘strongly recommended’ but no longer mandatory.

To too many ‘strongly recommended’ means ‘unnecessary.’ I have friends who contracted covid after taking their masks off to have a drink at a Lady Gaga concert. So I’m not taking chances. I wear one in transit, when I go into any store, answering the door for food delivery. Even under the sarcastic gaze of people in a coffee shop not wearing theirs.

Yes, I’m paranoid. 

Three days after our recent Stratford day trip I did the home test kit to be extra sure. If I sneeze or cough I use that home test kit – everything is a symptom. Is that a mosquito bite or monkey pox? Am feverish or is it the 40 degree humidex that’s making me sweat at night. Don’t stand so close to me. Everything is a symptom. So far all my results have been negative but I’ll stick to caution. I’ve had all the boosters, so far & the monkey pox shot but they aren’t invisible shields of protection.

The test kits are sort of fun once one gets used to them. The directions are so small I needed a magnifying glass to figure them out when I first started. Now I feel like a miffed scientist (miffed as opposed to mad) when I self-administer the test & stir it up in the little plastic test tubes. Too bad they can’t be recycled somehow. 

There is no comfort in the governmental assurances than things are under control, that in Ontario, the proportion of vaccinated means quarantining is no longer necessary. I suspect the economy is more important & now that our heath system is being privatized think of the profits for those ‘health’ providers. They seem to forget that the dead don’t pay taxes & once their insurance or estates have been sucked dry by private providers there is no one to sue for the balance. 

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Small

Small

I am small in public

I try to take up as little space as possible

my stiff arms are held

as close to my body 

as my muscles can make them

I do not brush up against anyone

I don’t look them in the eye

I sit were I am out of the way

I make room for others

others whose right to the air I breath

is greater than mine

I am infringing

on the need of more valuable people

to take up all the space

they deserve

I shun attention

<>

I am large in private

I dance around the room

I sprawl on chairs

spread my legs wide

take up as much space as I can

I breath

I laugh out loud

I don’t watch where I’m going

my shoulders brush the wall

I can make contact with anything

in private I am free

in public I am caged

The endless rules for Buddhist monks cover in detail nearly every aspect of their lives & many merely refine the previous one. But we humans have our own set of unwritten rules of behaviour that are more cultural conditioning than anything else. 

All of these rule poems were written pre-covid & some of them seem prescient about social distancing, masking in public – cages to control behaviour, that even as restrictions are lifted, some people are happy to maintain. I, for one, often felt that restaurant tables were mashed in too tight – so tight I sometime knocked over drinks on one table while squeezing into the next one. In some situations one can’t make themselves small enough. Don’t stand next to me, or if you, don’t breathe.

It’s also about the ‘mask’ we often wear. Being nice to people who we can’t stand, demeaning bosses, manipulative romantic partners, attention & energy vampire who count on us maintaining some mask polite behaviour that becomes approval of their actions. To speak up becomes being ‘a wet-blanket’ ‘not sense of humour’ ‘don’t be so judgemental’ or ‘like or lump it.’

Social conventions are cages to protect us from each other, I suppose, & like clothing, they hide our private thoughts from the world.


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Recap April 2022

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew with over 600 people get notification whenever I post a new blog! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. The USA tops the world list is interest but that Mauritius (Bonjour abonnés mauriciens) & Ghana are in the top 10 is a surprise. As you can see by the top 10 posts That’s Not Funny (https://topoet.ca/2022/04/26/thats-not-funny/) tops the list. F**k Cancer is a post from 10 years that made a trip to the top 10! 

Picture Perfect: 114 sections, about 162,000 words posted so far with about 25,000 words left to be edited then posted. I also cut some 2000 words out this past week & figure there’ll be another 2000 to get chopped soon. So I could be done by the end of the summer.

Synchronicity often puts books together for me. Last month I finished Stephen Leacock’s London Travels eBook & next on that eBooks shelf was Sunlight & Shadow (1880) by John Bartholomew Gough (died 1886). He was a temperance orator! The book is his reflection on life in London as he brings his message & it is fascinating – & also a little sad as attitudes towards alcohol & poverty haven’t changed much since then. What is amazing is that his comments on being misrepresented by the press are still relevant, plus his ‘tips’ on speaking in public hold true for today as well.

Read ‘Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger’ by Brontez Purnell – this is hilarious & highly recommended. Unfiltered Sedaris-like essays on the vagaries & vulgarities of gay male life. I laughed out loud often. Be prepared for explicit sex & language.

Enjoying Servant of the People – the eerily prophetic Volodymyr Zelensky series. The writing is fearless in its political attack, the performances are spot on, though as it turns out Zelensky wasn’t acting, merely rehearsing for the role of a lifetime. Here in Canada Vision has been showing it with English subtitles which I presume aren’t censored or mistranslating what is being said. 

I have been getting to one in-person recovery meeting a week. The return to meetings in Toronto has been slow even though the only requirement by meeting spaces is that we stayed masked. Like many I’m not comfortable with more than ten people in a large room, even when all are masked. A couple of the zoom meetings closed for their in person meeting but returned to zoom to run both. I think zoom recovery is here to stay.

Two visits to my dentist this month, so I’m not sure what my summer plans are after having that $$ turned into fillings. The other drain on my summer plans was a new TV, as the ‘old’ one was losing its plasma picture – it was like watching though a thin layer of smoke that was getting smokier by the week. We found it was impossible to find one without internet in its system 😦 Getting it set up was a maze of menus but once again we can enjoy full screen & amazing colour. 

After the winter of our discontent, coming up in May, a day trip to Stratford  to see Richard III. We will be driving regardless of this entreaty “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!”

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Here To Stay

Day-to-day life had developed a new routine as the severe lockdown measures loosened a little. You could meet with a friend, have coffee, walked unmasked while socially distanced & soon, it was felt, we’re even be able to go shopping without masks on. Many recovery meetings had returned to limited size, masked f2f meetings. Many were in the process of reopening then the latest variant wild fire sparked then took off.

covid Santa

Double masked recommended, additional booster shots with folks lined up for hours to get them (while being heckled by smug anti-vaxxers). Often it’s hard enough to order though a mask, through plastic cashier guards – double masked means everyone will either need an android to order ahead or carry note pad to write their order down. I’m sure rapid-tests will be next on the mandatory list to even go into Tims to order a cup of coffee.

People are weary of being vigilant for themselves & others. Being forced to discover new ways of social interaction is frustrating & at the same time a relief. Avoiding people becomes less personal when covid is the buffer. The hardest part is the roller-coaster of restrictions, hardest on small retail – making it possible to plan lest the next set of protocols cut your staff in half. Travel was never easy since the additional security measures after the Twin Towers – now you have to not only take your shoes off but prove you are covid negative going & coming back.

Once again we’re faced with a socially shut-down festive season. Even though I’m triple vaxxed, double masked I’m not taking any chances with parties, & will avoid public transit as much as possible. I’ve reduced our annual Xmas day gathering to five people (past years we’ve had up to 12). Gone are the day when two people could sit side by side in my little living room. 

I’m pretty sure covid & its variants are here to stay mainly because of the economic disparity between countries that can afford protection & those that can’t afford even clean water. 

Festive wishes in keeping with your belief (or lack of) system.

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Danforth Potholes

In Toronto we’re at the edge of post-covid19 life as the retail world returns to life, within safety protocols, that is. Stores have signs that say maximum capacity 121, while others say no more than 4 at time. Some say ‘for rent’ not having survived the prolonged lockdown. I suspect some took the lockdown as a sign to close up a business that was merely breaking even. 

Some that did close were fairly popular coffeeshops that subsisted on their takeout business anyway. Maybe the per sq. foot costs weren’t being covered by the sale of elevated cupcakes? Some places that survived have cut back their hours – no longer opening a 9 a.m. but at 11 a.m., or in some cases not until 2 p.m. Others are ‘by appointment only.’ I suppose the $ saved in operating costs helps their bottom lines.

Several have been replaced by similar business, chains like A&W or Burger King. The most invasive had been, what I call potholes. Marijuana dispensaries – that have taken over video, buy-your-gold, stores. Some have obvious names – High Time, Natural High, Neighbourhood Joint – others aim for a different ‘class’ – Canvas, Tokyo Rose (?). At least one has gone ‘native’ naming itself after one of the original land-owners. Cultural appropriation or perhaps the owners are natives? I don’t care to find out because even if they are, it is still a marketing ploy.

Last summer I did several photoblogs of ghosts – stores that had shut down due the pandemic – without cash flow they didn’t survive. I stopped taking those pictures as it become increasing depressing to see that covid19 wasn’t merely killing people but also opportunity. I’d say killing ‘the economy’ but lets face it big pharma is raking in the bucks. 

As for the potholes that have shown up all over Toronto – I guess they are better than abandoned storefronts.

Kharis 

<>

is this the last wrap

or the first

the first wrap was a tissue

of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

I used that wrap

over & over

until the tissue

was a layer

layer after layer of

‘oh i’m fine’

‘i don’t mind’

‘how can i make you happy’

walking away

rather than add another layer

hoping nothing had caught

no thread was snagged

on a expectation

an exception

on resurrecting love

<>

I was protected

entombed by safety

by the fact

that all anyone wanted to hear

was ‘oh i’m fine’

‘this bandage solution will do’

‘you deserve to be fixed first’

<>

bound tight

peering at life though the slits

surrendering to the weight of history

pushed along by an unquestioned past

by ritual expectations

controlled by the clasp of gauze

layer upon layer after layer

some turned to dust

some turned to scar

some turned to face the sun

reaching for release

<>

decayed tissue 

dust motes settling in the moonlight

‘how can i make you happy?’

‘how can i unravel the book of life’

can i survive

without another layer

of this tissue

this scar tissue of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

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Tales of Brave Trending

Oscar Wilde said something the effect that it doesn’t matter what people say about you, as long as they are talking about. Bad press is better that no press act all. It is better to be trending for being an asshole that not to be trending at all. The recent US President was a master of trending & seemed to get ‘fatter’ on the negativity than on praise.

A couple of rock legends have breathed life into their trending by being vocal anti-vaxxers. Releasing new music to articulate their stance. Eric Clapton, Van Morrison – as a duo & separately have chosen to stand up for the common people with their recent releases. 

I’ve listened to the songs, read the various comments & am more amused than impressed. Positive posters praise them for their anti-establishment stances & their decisions not to play where masks are mandatory etc. I want to say ‘Honey, these men are millionaires not anti-establishment spokespersons. They represent their own bottom line not your rights as an individual.’ Check out the ticket prices to their concerts.

As I said, I’ve listened to their brave anti-lockdown songs & you know, if they weren’t publicized as anti-safety-protocol songs it would easy to assume Eric is mildly peeved that his latte wasn’t milky enough. The music itself is low-energy, the singing is indifferent & the lyrics are cliche. 

Those who are critical of Eric & Van’s anti-establishment stance have derided them for being uninformed. There have been pics posted of their cds being tossed in the garbage. I want to say ‘Honey, these men are millionaires you can’t un-buy their music.’ 

I see all this more as p.r. than anything else. A way of seeming culturally relevant in ways their music isn’t, unless nostalgia is a radical construct. Their search for self-expression was rarely anti-establishment. A man who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads turns out to be an anti-vaxxer. Gasp!

Civic Duty (2008)

I’m believin’ what Stephen has to say

Harper harping on what ordinary folks

think of the arts 

sad to say he’s right

ordinary guys are more interested 

getting in cheap dope

getting their hands on the latest xbox

than they are in 

Canadian Short Story anthologies

they want hockey scores 

blow jobs on demand

they don’t want no Canadian identity TV 

they want CSI not Little Mosque on the Prairie

they want Steven King 

not David Adams Richards 

<>

in fact Mr Harper 

you would do us all a favour 

if you out right banned 

anything that called itself Canadian 

who needs McLean’s 

when we can have People

who wants to see Canadians 

give us Linsey Lohan in a yellow thong

not Sarah McLaughlin in gossamer scarves

<>

the ordinary folks don’t give a crap about much 

they would really love it if 

you could see to it t

hat they never have to work

because they don’t like getting up

dragging their weary bones 

to some soul sucking job

so if you really want to get elected 

let us live in luxury 

without having to do anything

we don’t want no education 

studying is a total bore

and a waste of taxpayers money 

creating art elitists 

university degrees 

they only use to make them act superior 

to us ordinary Joes and Janes

whose backs they are climbing on 

to get to the opera

while we have to sit around Tim Horton’s

waiting for our Old Fashioned glazed 

to be digested

we want tv’s everywhere

free cable

free data plans

get rid of the cbc

give us all sports channels

free porn for my android

<>

it has to be free

if you want to get elected 

free beer for teens

that’s the ticket

give the ordinary folks 

what they truly desire 

a life free of want

free of any responsibility

the arts are the pretty tip

of that ugly iceberg

<>

I’m so believin’ 

what Stephen has to say 

glad someone had the balls 

to finally say those arts phonies 

are just cry babies 

who suck the vital masculinity 

from our country

we gotta get this country

back on track

take back Canada

redirect the wasted energy 

we put in to the arts

we finally have leader

who can lead out of the cave 

& into the deep dark forest

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Face To Face F2F

In Toronto some recovery groups in churches have reopened for f2f meetings, all adhering, as much as possible to safety protocols. Many of the other usual places i.e. community centres, hospitals – have been slower at reopening for user groups of any sort. There are rumours that community centres will be reopening in October, at the earliest. This depends on the return to school over the next couple of weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to more restrictions.

I haven’t taken advantage of these reopened recovery meetings. I’m happy with the zoom community that allows for easy attendance – no transit to deal with for one thing. Social distancing is easy to maintain & one can mute a member easily 🙂 No more leaving the room to silence them.

I went to my first f2f meeting meeting haven been asked to speak there – a twenty minute talk about my recovery experience. It was within walking distance & I timed my departure to arrive just as the meeting started. There was sign in  for contact tracing & hand sanitizer at the door. Chairs were placed for social distancing. Some members were masked a couple were not. I kept mine on. The first participant berated the unmasked for defying protocols & they didn’t bat an eyelash. The others, when they participated removed their masks to speak then put them back on. This made sense to me so when I did my little talk I did the same. 

After a very brief look at my drinking history I focused on a line in the Big Book ‘we will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.’ There is a difference between intuitive knowing & automatic reflex. One thing I’ve discovered is that if I am baffled I should do nothing rather than respond because I’m afraid to admit I’m unsure – to be unsure is admit I’m stupid, incapable etc.

I wasn’t sure what to do about the unmasked but knew my primary purpose there was to share my experiences not lecture on masks. Social distance was kept & I was thanked by some for talking about living the steps today & note dragging them through a drunk-a-log.

At my zoom meetings many are longing for the social context of face-to-face, I am not one of those. I certainly enjoy that context but am content not having to deal with indoor social distancing & dealing with people only via eye contact. 

from October 2015

Conformity

<>

It’s a SOCA convention

a man in a rust-red tweed sport coat

riches out his hand

‘are you here for the convention’

it’s my hotel but not my problem

<>

though I am awake & out before 9 a.m.

not hungover or looking to score

the schooners around me are boats

not beer glasses

in some brassy sports bar

<>

I know about recovery

rooms of people sitting in circles

rounds of support

restless feet in black shoes

where they end by

holding hands

they want to show me mercy

but I don’t want to hold their hands

joining in that circle

won’t bring me into their lives

<>

one is the loneliest number 

who has one rusty nail

sees one snow flake

though no two flakes are identical

<>

I am recovering like them

but I don’t enter their circle

won’t make snow angels with them

I felt the itch that induced SOCA

but never scratched it that way

<>

he reaches out his hand

I say ‘not here for the conference’

and sail out into the morning

not ready for conformity

<>

(SOCA – Southern Ontario Cocaine Anonymous)

(Conformity

http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1pR )

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Pandemic Travel

all pics from Scotia Bank Arena

So we’ve entered another phase of pandemic life as we know it & in response covid has mutated to become more contagious – pharmaceutical companies are now pushing for booster shots – to save mankind while boosting their profits. The un-vaxxed surf their wave of ‘it’s my right to die & it’s my right to take you with me’ rational.

I’ve kept my eye on the loosening of travel restrictions & wonder who profits from the mandatory covid testing? In order to go you need a ‘fresh’ test, in order to come back you need another ‘fresh’ test but if you haven’t made appointments in advance you could be stuck. Will travel health insurance cover the cost of covid testing in the USA? 

Google says average price is $150. for tests in USA but can cost up to $850.00! There can be additional fees for collecting the samples, for transporting the sample to the testing facility. On top of which not all vaccines are acceptable so one has to make sure they have two of the accepted shots! 

All this is along with all the other preparations needed to travel: ie passport, hotel, airplane tickets, documentation to prove you have the above, proof of registration on some ‘return to Canada app.’ Do I have to travel with a printer to print out that proof? I’ll need an extra carry on just for all that stuff. Oh yes & a supply of masks. 

Speaking of masks I won’t be taking TTC, shopping at Farmer’s markets, eating indoors or attending plays without wearing one. As for travel plans for now I’ll just stay home & take a zoom tour 🙂

Whitney Pier Museum

I visit little local museums

dedicated to the industry of the area

steel workers    miners

displays about the various ethic groups

Jewish   Black    Ukrainian

old high school year books

pictures of teams   hockey   basketball

rows of mothers knitting for the war

soldiers returning   or those lost

churches that have come gone

business that survived  faded

as economies rose   dipped

the first black owned store in the city

families in fields picnics outings

Christmas parties in church auditoriums

faces turned to cameras

or sullen in front of raging blast furnaces

smeared with cold dust at a mine exit

men in groups workers comrades

sometimes everyone named

who’s your father a tree of discovery

<>

I sift through these

wonder about the real lives of these men

where is my history

I’m to assume each of them

had a wife   kids somewhere

they sweated worked for that dream

a house   garden 

no way to find out if any of them

sought out something in each other

no mention that 

Jack and John lived happily together 

in this house on Lingan Road

everyone knew but no one cared

<>

I don’t need to know the lives

of those famed homos of the past

Radcliff Hall Alan Ginsburg

the list gets longer 

as we allow history to reveal

what historians thought too sordid 

to bring to light

the sex lives of heteros 

are fine fodder mind you

<>

I look at these photos

what truths are unrecognized

no display of the same sex inclined

as if the queers in history

were not ordinary folks like these 

in little local museums of the closeted

2008

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