Helm’s Deep Basement

The archeological pandemic basement deep cleaning unearthed several items of interests. The oldest of which is this still working Royal typewriter – carbon-paper dating puts it to mid-1950’s. This was one of the typewriters that I used while living in Sydney, Cape Breton. Some of the keys always jammed. When my father’s company closed its office & had one it’s more modern Remingtons to use. Though when working on the final draft for my Distant Music book I rented a space-age electric.

This was the era of white out – making corrections was a pain, ribbons had to replaced with some regularity but nothing matches the satisfying ding at the end off a line & the quick, by hand, rotation down one line. Enjambments were a dream to create & one would have a rewarding pile of paper to show for their work.

When I moved to Toronto I didn’t bring a typewriter with me. Too much weight for one thing & I figured I could get a decent 2nd hand one here. But before I could do that my brother was driving to Alberta (for some reason) & my dad said he’d send my typewriter along. I was expecting the sleek Remington but, as you can see, I got the Royal. I did use it for many years but was sure happy when we got our first eMac with its dot-matrix printer. No more whiteout – no more retyping a whole page to fix a single typo. No more carbon paper.

This Pearl of a washboard was the one my mother used when I was a baby to wash my diapers down by the stream 🙂 Just kidding. This is from my partner’s former career in jug bands – really – when he was a teacher he & a some fellow teachers formed the group to play at various student functions. He played washboard & also upright washtub bass.

Another couple of mummies unearthed are these action figures. Both that surfaced as Xmas gifts to be quickly relegated to a safe spot for their value to increase by keeping them in original packaging. Aragon I bought at a FanExpo from a pile of similar figures reduced to clear by Silver Snail (I think) so I’m sure it’s worth more than the $1.99 I paid for it several years ago. 

from 1976 – original typed on the Royal

Carol

saw your picture 

in the paper

just the other day

an emerald

in black & white

<>

hair holding tight

the model of perfection

keeping a happy thought

with all your might

<>

I turned the page thinking

I’d rather see that dress

on the floor

beside my bed 

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Tiki Time Mug Shots

As the pandemic purge continues what remains takes on a little more ‘importance.’ Getting rid of curtains that have been stored for over 40 years in the basement was an easy decision though. When did we ever expect to reuse them? Even the fabric, whatever it may be, can’t be repurposed. 

This ear mug hasn’t been used ever in over 40 years either but I won’t be tossing it. It was a Christmas gift the second year we were in this house. A friend was so delighted with the inventiveness of the handle, with its ear stud, he knew I would delight in it too. I did & still do. It hasn’t been used because it is too small – maybe it would make decent espresso cup but for a real cup of tea I have better options.

These a few of my tea mugs. They hold approximately 20 oz each. teapots without spouts 🙂 I’ve been acquiring them over the years. Each gets used for a month then goes to the back of the line. The ones with NaNoWriMo stickers are actually from Starbucks. The Friends mug I picked up at Winners & it only comes out for December use. I heart Tea was a Christmas gift. The plain white I bought at Kitchen Plus on the Danforth. I’m always on the look out for this size.

The polka dot mug is another Starbucks but too small for regular use. I love the dots. It’s a ceramic sort of travel mug with a lid insert but more for not spilling in the office while you drink, not for carry around as it doesn’t fully close. Thanks to pandemic even real travel mugs aren’t being refilled by coffee shops in Toronto.

This tiki glass is a favorite that during the hot months gets a lot of use. I bought years ago at a Cargo Imports (or some such) which vanished. It holds about 20 ounces, it also weight almost that much 🙂 Thick glass, with smile on one side & frown on other – comedy & tragedy. It is my iced-coffee mug when Toronto hots up. The straw is stainless- steel – I picked some of them up at Kitchen Plus a few years ago.

I make my own iced-coffee with brewed coffee ice-cubes – yes coffee freezes! I discovered that a few years ago & since then have made my own. I started when after having a Starbucks iced I saw that it was half plain water ice cubes – wtf. At that price I want cold coffee not caffeinated water. I brew a pot, let it cool, make a tray of ice-cubes & keep the reminder cool in the fridge.

Here’s a rant from 2008

Omnipotent

if I had unlimited power

I don’t know 

what I would do with it

I’d be so stunned by the ramifications

of every little ripple

how one thing leads to another

perhaps we all have unlimited power

that butts heads constantly

warring factions

each with its own vision of what is best 

at least for them

looking for immediate satisfaction

comforts wants needs desires

takes us far from harmony

who wants to live in harmony

unlimited power

doesn’t mean having everything your own way

or does it

<>

if I had unlimited power

I don’t know what I would change first 

how to create the correct balance

end war strife disease

how to feed that burgeoning population

control reproduction

who can chose who is to be born

without endless wisdom

<>

unlimited power

isn’t solution

every solution has a cost 

that someone has to pay

usually those who can afford it the least 

end up paying the most

the homeless can’t afford good food

the rich can afford good health care

the balance hasn’t been struck yet

nor will it

<>

unlimited power brings 

unlimited headaches with it

headaches almost as bad

as having no power

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Mug Shots

For a birthday, or maybe it was Christmas, my niece Betty Rocksteady sent me this framed piece of her art from a series she did of posters for an imaginary side show. A signed original that according to eBay is worth nearly $12,000. (just kidding). Flanking it as two travel mugs ordered from her online XX store. They are not all that functional 😦 Some sort of lined metal that doesn’t hold heat from long & the lid son both don’t form a tight enough seal to keep from leaking. But they look great. 

Betty is an accomplished & well-regarded horror writer. Check out her out at bettyrocksteady.com or better yet buy some of her books on Amazon. I would highly recommend her story in the Looming Low anthology.

Betty is a major fan of Ernest Bushmiller’s Nancy & envies me my Nancy mug. I bought this decades ago in Stratford Ontario. At one time there was a great gift shop at the corner of Erie & Ontario Street (Worthington’s?). It was full of collectables, tee-shirts etc. I spotted Nancy on a wall of mugs. Turned out it was not a mug but a music box! The fact that it played the Theme from the Godfather !! meant I had to have it. It is a treasure.

The Queen Mother thimble. Niagara-on-the Lake, I think.

I bought this sailboat mug at a dollar store decades ago because the boat reminded me of the Bluenose. Solid microwaveable crockery it is the perfect size for hot chocolate. At one time it was also my Loyalist workshop mug, it reminds of those good time. It has no maker’s markings. I love the Japanese quality of the boat design.

Another of my favorite objects is this KFC Colonel Sanders mug. I bought it at a yard sale decades ago. I may have paid a dollar for it. The high-gloss, very dark, surface makes it hard to photograph – I’m just point & click. It is a fired dark terra-cotta (I think) & is a finer, if that’s the right word, crockery than the sailboat mug. I’ve never used it for liquids – hot or cold. It is a treasure.

rough draft sample

Serious Business

I realize this is serious business

life is always matter of

life and death

at any minute it could be over

heart attack

stray bullet

a breath in a crowded room

<>

I know that you expect 

a certain degree of compassion

respect

yet part of me is unwilling to give it

not that I don’t feel it

but showing it 

is a different matter 

or perhaps I don’t show it

in the somber way you want

<>

I give little digs

snickers at the futility

rather than wail in desperate calm

about what we are powerless over

tears aren’t the solution

one gets dehydrated too quickly

lack of water can lead to 

more emotional & physical distress

a self-propelling conundrum

that can only be stopped

by measure of levity

<>

I didn’t mean to laugh 

at that car accident

or at the fate of the environment 

I’m not mocking the event

just our powerlessness over it

while we maintain this facade that

we do have power over it

<>

people die

I will die eventually

maybe soon

who knows

but I’m not one

who waits in solemn dignity

for the right exit moment

the right exit line

that wall paper is dreadful

<>

I’m not asking you to forgive

my lack of dignified respect

sometimes there is laugher 

in the mortuary

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Upper Reaches

Time to continue the tour of my house as we move upstairs to bed & bath. The bathroom has remained one of the least ‘decorated’ rooms the house – too, much moisture for one thing. There are shelves of towels, body wash, shaving stuff so the room is cluttered enough as it is. 

This stained-glass star is in the bathroom window. Handmade by my partner before we met it is one of the oldest object d’art that isn’t shop bought. He made couple of such pieces at a workshop he took one summer. We did have remains of this stained glass supplies for decades & I got rid of them in my covid cleaning frenzy.

I won this sunset (or is it sunrise) train track photo in a GenX Bears fund-raising raffle in the early 2000’s. I think they were raising money for their Pride Parade float. A friend was a member of the group. It was, as I recall, a ‘blind’ raffle, in which I knew the range of prizes but they were assigned randomly. I was happy to get this & it was perfect for over the toilet – I can gaze down the endless track of life as I pizza my life away 🙂

Across the hall is my bedroom which is relatively uncluttered – unless you count the dressers, racks of cds, book case, shelves of frequently used clothes as clutter 🙂 This wonderful Tarzan poster what a birthday gift from my fans at Cabaret Noir. I have seen the film – Acquanetta fulfills hetero teen boy exotica fantasy, while Weissmuller & Sheffield fuelled many a confused lad’s sexuality as, like me, we wondered how they kept their junk hidden under those loincloths while swinging through the jungle.

While I’m going about exotica fantasy – these jungle ‘epics’ were where many saw an abundance of hairless male flesh in our formative years. In particular, when I’ve seen some of these recently, as well some set in the jungle serials – I am delighted by the abundance of bare chested native guides, bearers & tribal kings. I wonder if any historian of black performers in movies has looked at this pool of performers.

This Japanese noren was a gift from a Japanese friend. It is a door hanging, about half-a-door in length, split down the middle. The samurai protects my room from negative energy 🙂 While the celebrants usher in good vibes. The leaf leads to my Peace Lily. 

On the wall, by the door, is this marvellous piece of religious kitch. A print I bought framed at an antique store, not longer there, near Queen & Broadview. It was love at first sight. Early 1900’s. This was a very popular subject – there are dozens of variations of the trouble soul clinging to the rugged cross in the storms of life. I love the face of Christ at the top of the cross – almost like seeing him in a piece of toast.

You Never Know Where He’ll Pop Up Next

<>

you saw the face of Christ

in a piece of toast

yet you don’t own a toaster

you can’t even boil water

you have enough trouble

opening a granola bar

<>

why was it only the face

was the slice of bread

too small 

to hold His entire body

was the holy toaster

limited to specific body parts 

<>

was it the result of

ancient aliens

who after they built the pyramids 

designed a toaster

specifically to replicated

the face of Christ in toast

a face that seems rather caucasian

for an ancient alien

<>

beside you aren’t the first 

to have seen the face of Christ

where it doesn’t belong

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Upstairs with Satan and Archie

Moving to the upstairs in my house we come to these on the walls of the upper hall. First this wonderful paint-by-number that I bought, framed, at a Goodwill on Queen E decades ago. Luckily it was light enough to carry home. I knew this painting from my childhood, though not this specific one, as part of a set that my mother had painted. She did several of such sets & finding it brought back sweet memories.

On the opposite wall is this portrait of me as rendered by Dan Parent who was, at that time, one of the illustrators & writers for Archie comics. I had it done at Fan Expo. I went that year specifically to commission it. He took my photo, I roamed the ‘market’ buying dvd’s, tee shirts, searching for old school horror [Karloff vs Kruger] & come back an hour later & it was ready.

The same holds true for the other portrait that I had done the following year. for an extra five dollars I had  more torso 🙂 As you can tell I haven’t aged since these were done but neither of these are my Dorian Gray – that is in a secret spot away from prying thighs.

The ‘demonic force’ was a Christmas gift from a friend at the end of the 1990’s. He enlarged a panel from a Chick Publication & hand-tinted it for me. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_tract#Chick_Publications) I still see this little tracts around, sometimes left on a bus, or rumple dup on the street. Cute propaganda.

Not propaganda is this self-portrait a friend did & gave me as a birthday gift. He was experimenting with colour for that Warhol effect. The last was a gift from David Bateman he gave me during the run of the poetry cabaret The Beautiful & Damned. It is a fun amalgam of Keith Harding & Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime images. It goes up in value every year 🙂

Modern Safety

Kevlar sweats

modern day chainmail

designer duds armour plated

for style lightness and protection

don’t want to look bad 

when someone shoots at me

or tries to stab me in the mall

because I looked at them the wrong way

because I was the wrong color

wearing the wrong colors

in the wrong neighbourhood

<>

how to be safe enough

and still look good

don’t want private guards

they’re not the accessories 

I had in mind to complete this outfit

to be safe enough 

to go to Starbucks for a latte

<>

the fast walk and the scowl

now becomes a challenge

they’ll take me down a notch or two

kick the crap out me to liberate 

my limited edition nike’s and iPhone

which they don’t realize

now features global positioning hardware 

<>

I hesitate to answer

because I only listen 

through an ear piece

that picks up everything you say

funnels it though lie detection software

that tells me I can trust what you say

I stick to the simplest of responses

double double

no don’t super size that

<>

unless those fries 

are a bullet resistant shield

I can hold in front of me

as I struggle to get home

without a scratch

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Dining in Wrestling Style

One of the best features of our house is the dining-room with its beams & plate rail. As you can see this side is fulfilling its display potential. At one time it was even fuller with endless mugs from recovery conferences I’d attended but day I thought ‘enough is enough’ & got rid of nearly all of them. They had no emotional resonance for me so I didn’t even take photos of them. I did keep a couple – in the corner by the Bunnykins.

This is what remains of my Royal Dalton Bunnykins collection that was broken in transit. If you are familiar Bunnykins is a collectable children’s china & figurines that set the stage for Hello Kitty & Sailor Moon. Innocent & kitch – the detail work is fascinating with lots to catch & keep anyone’s eye. I do love the artist with his palette.

Beside the B’Kins is this charming ‘grace’ plate – made in USA, decorated in Collingwood, Ont. Mid-50’s, I’d say. Picked it up at some 2nd hand shop in the 80’s. What isn’t there to love about this plate. The inculcating of children with Christian moral values & guilt- those poor hungry children. I love the ‘see Dick run’ graphics that reminds me of school book readers. The color palette & the attention to details around the bowls is great.

Now we jump to something much less innocent – my Jimmy Buckle memorabilia. As some of you may know, & as many of you will now discover, I find short guys very sexy. It goes back to a midget wrestling circuit that used to tour the Maritimes. The Shriners sponsored the show in Sydney. My Dad being a Shriner took me to see some matches. Was Little Beaver one of the wrestlers? I was enthralled.

The story is that when I first moved to Toronto I went to some of these touring matches & met Jimmy Buckle, had a very brief tumble with him & because he was on tour it didn’t develop into anything. He was married, to a woman, anyway etc etc. You like that story? Sadly it isn’t true. The mug was a one-off mock-up a friend did for me as a Christmas gift. But I can dream can’t I of undoing Jimmy Buckle’s buckle 🙂

On The Road Again

I took the road less traveled

to prove I was a real man

broken glass be damned

I can live without toes

<>

hot coals – nothing to it

burn my soul away – who needs it

brick-walled bloodied brows build character

yeah – sure

<>

I was ugly enough to start with

now I’m permanently scarred

hunchbacked from ducking punches

eyes blinded by bright ideals

heart broken by casual glances

balls busted by noisy scorn

<>

to weak to walk I crawl on and on

though I realize why this is

the road less traveled 

because it isn’t a fucking road

but better to die a real man

than admit there might be another way

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Living-Room

So this is a glance at my living-room. These two prints I picked up many many years ago at The Clay Room on the Danforth. I bought the veranda one first – I love the mood & sense that someone just stepped into the house. It sits over the mantle piece. A few years late I bought the bicycle one. Again the mood is relaxing. 

 

There is fine detail work in both that my camera doesn’t capture. They were both framed & under glass when I bought them. The fact that frames were a perfect match for the walls did play a part in my getting them. Both by the same artist whose name is scrawled unreadable (by me) on the bottom. The Clay Room no longer sells prints.

 

On the mantle piece is this scale model of a TTC bus. Here I’m showing it off out of its box but it does sit in its box on the mantle. Don’t want dust to demise its collector value. Made to scale. I ordered it from the TTC gift store. Hand painted, it also has a set of details int he box for various routes, which will remain in the box. I do have a spare one tucked away in a drawer too. Some day they may be worth enough to get some Stratford Festival tickets 🙂

The samurai is one of the posters for a 1989 show at the Beaux Arts in Montreal – ‘Le Japon de Shogun’ – which I bought when I went to the amazing exhibit there. It took a year or so to realize the person in the samurai was real & not a mannequin of some sort. I used to visit Montreal with a recovery friend who moved to TO & would go back for a week every summer. I loved the city & even learned a few helpful phrases – Mon hôtel est près d’ici. 🙂

Finally is this object that my partner bought at a sale at his school decades ago. It was made in one of the arts classes there & reminded him, for some reason, of Lord of The Rings. It is a grotesque & serves as a warning to negative energy to back off. It sits on top of shelf near the TV. 

Love’s Tangled Socks

what’s the word

you know the one

to call a kiss

that feels like walking into 

a dew jewelled spider web

on a sunny day

while looking in the basement 

for that lost sock

 

you know that word

that slip of the tongue

that tip of the tail

wagging excitedly 

yet with a vague damp unease

at the same time

wanting to give in

feeling it’s all too sudden

too sticky in your face

while one hand reaches

to brush the spider web off

the other wants to fondle the spider

 

what is that word

I have to get the right word

for that sensation

also one for that rapidly

elusive need for the right word

I have to tell you all this

in exactly the right tone

if I don’t 

it may never happen again

I may never find that sock

I’ll have to go with one foot bare

on this chilled concrete floor

while other is snug in a sock

trying to balance that tightrope

of grit under one foot

and comfy protection on the other

 

when did I lose that sock

when did I do laundry last 

I have pairs upstairs 

in neat rows in a drawer

but it has to be these socks

the ones you liked

to pull off my feet

you like to undress me

kiss each freshly bared part

trace my outline in your silver silva

draw me into to that web

the bed at the centre

where we would devour each other

without a second thought

 

the other sock has escaped 

I thought I had it trapped

like your tongue

held firmly in my grasp

yet it slips slides

elusive fleshy fragments

of tender mystery

and all I can think about

is the tender shock 

of this cobweb on my face

don’t want it to get in my eyes

it has caressed my lips

a dusty sooty taste

 

one hand darts up to brush it away

but stops when I see 

the spider scuttle away

into the dark

shocked by the size of this catch 

not ready to crawl across my shoulders

the way you do so well

not ready to take the seed

spray it into new shapes 

along my stomach

slithering cool trails

us laughing at the moment

turning over in the bed

looking for our clothes

time for clean socks

the other must be in the laundry

I’ll be right back

only I’m stuck here

caught in a loss for words

looking for a definition

that will wind you

around me forever

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

May

? Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

July

? All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee & donuts

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet