Valley of the May Dolls

Over the month my TOpoet.ca following blog shrank to 350! I went through my followers list & cleared some who had never liked a post or who really didn’t have any real connection such as ‘dog training tips.’ Only one has re-followed me.  The May WP map show my hits have come from around the world. Latvia! Indonesia! 

My Tumblr following  is at 272. Twitter at 225. I know these are all low numbers – some people have thousands of followers but on both I delete or block followers who are harvesting rather than actually following. Picture Perfect is up to 32000 words. 

May has been another month of adjusting to the new reality of masks, sanitizer & social distancing. I’ve reluctantly cut back on my morning walks & have replaced some of them with domestic chores: gardening, cleaning, purging but that will come to an end – the house will be clean enough & I can go back to daily walks. I have been doing social distant walks with some recovery friends so the isolation hasn’t been total. Also seeing a couple of my fwb (who are maintain social isolation themselves) for movies & chit-chat. 

Working through The Artist’s Way slowly but surely. It clearly wasn’t written with a pandemic lockdown in mind 🙂 Some of the issues it addresses take on a different sense of importance (or lack of) as the death toll mounts. But it has encouraged me to reexamine my past.

By reexamine I mean that literally literally – I’ve been reading Old Trout Funnies – a book about a comic book, an acquaintance of mine created while I was living in Sydney. We were drinking buddies. I left before Issue 3. The book puts Trout into a context & explains many of the very localized references. Plus I get name checked a couple of times & I know many of the people who show up as characters in the wild stories. Fascinating & highly recommended.

Also literal has been the inputing of my first novel ‘Allan Time’ which I wrote in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Resisting the temptation to edit has been a challenge, though I have made the paragraphs breaks tidier & improved the spelling. It is an interesting process as my memory of writing it is very limited. One thing is clear though is how closeted I was. 

I’m currently re-reading Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. I have read this book several times over the years. It served as the template for City of Valleys. I love this book. Sure it is soap but it captures real psychology with humour & over-the-top emotionalism. I’ll have to watch the movie again when I’m finished.

a piece I performed at Cryptic Chatter June 2007

Try to Remember

there is a moment when 

what I remember 

what I dream

become fused

is this my childhood moment

falling down gashing my knee

the scar is there

but is the picture of me doing it

how it happened

was it a fall off a swing

was I ever on that swing

on the playground 

or was it some other moment

tipping my bike over the curb

was it an accident on purpose

was I seeking attention

or was I careless

not looking where I was going

did I get pushed or just drop

did I cry

the scar tells me it happened

the mind doesn’t tell me anything

was my mother upset or disappointed

I had come home crying once again

did I cry

was I brave little soldier

was I 10 11 15

did I limp around the house

wanly acting as if 

I was and wasn’t in pain

was the trip stumble and scrape

another of my attempts

to be like other boys

playing ball

acting out tough kid stuff

or was I running away from someone

who wanted to beat me up

was I at the play ground

because there was some boy nearby

who sometimes hung out there

did I like boys then

I seem to think I did

memory doesn’t fill in those gaps

doesn’t give me the connections 

I need to make a net 

that’ll explain today

I see the scar

not a pretty one

not an ugly one either

not like my appendix incision

that looks like 

it was made with a can opener

I sort of recollect that

the pain in school

then the hospital for a week or so

in a ward with four others

they were all men

I was a kid in junior high

I liked boys then

I tried to catch glimpses of cock

as the men walked around in pjs

dressing gowns untied

girl friends dropping in 

 rubbing their backs

I would have done that 

how long was it 

before I went back to school

did have my homework brought to me

all that is gone

all that remains is a dim image

untied bathrobes hairy chests

laughing nurses

the scars aren’t talking

only tells me that it happened

don’t even remember going home from there

like the scar on my knee

doesn’t tell me any more

when will my body forgive

what I’ve forgotten

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

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Wrestling With Connection

Week 7 on The Artist’s Way is about connection to creativity – as opposed to our connection with others. One of things that hampers that creative connection is perfectionism. I have a writing friend who has been perfecting the same thirty page opening to his novel for some ten years now. It has to be perfect so he can send it to an agent etc. He no longer asks me for advice 🙂 I stopped that by telling him it would cost $100 an hour for a minimum of three hours before I would be willing to look at his work-in-progress.

There is a section on risk – the willingness to try & not succeed as we envisioned. For me this is part of the process of letting go of expectations, of control. In recovery they say you plan the plans but the results are in the universe’s hands. I’ve painted rooms one colour only to have the paint dry in a different one 🙂

As with the Ways chapters so far there some sifting through the past for missed opportunities & for good turning points. In my covid house-cleaning frenzy I’ve unearthed old note books, old rough drafts, old photographs. Those photos reconnected me with where I was in my early 20’s, long before I moved to Toronto. I’ve also been reading Old Trout Funnies – an excellent book about a comic book series by Paul  ‘Moose’ MacKinnon that was first issued while I was living in Cape Breton. (https://www.facebook.com/OldTroutFunnies).

Moose was one of my drinking crowd & he included real people (some of whom I knew) in the comics & calendars. In one issue there is even a plug (page 70) for my poetry book ‘Distant Music’ which had been published at the time. So there was actual creative support for me in that community at that time.

 

One of the tasks was to wear a favourite item of clothing for no special reason. All my clothes are favourites, so what I did was to pick some things I rarely wear but save for intimate encounters 🙂 Namely some wrestling singlets & some revealing undies I bought a few years ago. Very snug but also very sexy. Photos “fansonly” 🙂

My Underwear

it seems the best way 

to put out the fire

in your heart

was to run over to a bar

drink till there was 

only a stumble of drunks 

to deal with

there was no way out of it

except to break the windows

push your grandma down the stairs

so what if there weren’t 

any stairs in our apartment

you still get the picture

 

yeah I know

drawing it in crayons

all over the hall to our place

wasn’t a great idea

but you have to admit

it caught the lighting of the fire

without using up all the reds

only the blues

the blues you give everyone

who is lucky enough

to catch you on your balcony

ready to jump

don’t do it

or if you have to 

wait till I get back with coffee

I have to be careful 

the contents may be hot

but wet will always 

put out the flame

it makes no difference to me 

what burns you out of my system

hot coffee or direct flame

 

maybe tossing all your undies 

in the shredder was a bit much

but it seems the only way 

to keep you out of them

to keep you fresh

ready and pliant

not that you wore them 

that often anyway

going commando

wasn’t a rare event

bare-assed at McDonalds

where did you park those buns

yeah not so funny

does it look like I’m laughing

all the way home

to the shadowed moment 

when there once was a dart of hope

now just a bunch 

of empty coat hangers

in a clump 

I can’t pull apart

hangers that once held

everything you ever wore

around the house

out in the street

 

yeah I’m a total liar

I never picked up a drink 

because of you

that isn’t going to happen

wasn’t even tempted

you took something out of my life 

but you left behind 

more that you took

I don’t need to breath 

it’s all up to you now

as if it alway wasn’t

 

I can’t get over

the number of times

I wanted to paint the hall way

that I wanted to use 

your tooth brush to clean 

the coffee machine

so I wouldn’t have to go out 

for a fresh cup to dump 

in your laugh

because I’m sure 

that behind closed eyes

you are smirking like a tried urinal

knowing that you pissed 

me off one too many times

 

you know

if you were here now

I’d probably take you back

but still wouldn’t trust you 

as far as you could throw 

my underwear

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

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Cape Breton (Liberation Army) Day 7

Such a busy day yesterday I didn’t have time for a recap 🙂 The morning was a nice long 45 minute walk from my hotel to St. Theresa’s Church in Ashby for a recovery meeting. I did a stop at Dillan’s for a coffee & muffin on my way. Also stopped for a few photos. Temple Sons of Israel was the synagog near where I lived on Cottage Rd. Then the United Church – now being repurposed, I hope. I went there for Sunday school as a child.

Meeting was good. Walked back to hotel – if I could have hailed a cab I would have but Sydney isn’t a hailer’s city. Got back intimate for a delivery at my room. Rested. Showered, shaved & dressed for theatre with my sister. She picked me up at 5. Great supper at the Olde Triangle – excellent seafood chowder, good lamb shank. Show was at 8 so we had time to walk off some of the meal. 

The show ‘The Return of the Cape Breton Liberation Army’, in the repurposed St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, is part of the Highland Arts Theatre‘s summer season. Inspired by ‘Old Trout Funnies’ the show is full of local, topical humour full of references to South Bar, a second docking port for Sydney Harbour & immigration. I have the original ‘Old Trout’ comics & was happy to see this is an update that kept their playful, anarchical sensibility intact.

Fun songs, great performances – I particularly enjoyed Diana MacKinn-Furlong as General Dixie MacVicar. I also loved the joke about the pronunciation difference between Mac and Mc. A great use of video & slides helped move the show along. It did have the flavour of past show such as the Rise & Follies, which is a good thing. It is clearly a show for the local as I suspect anyone unfamiliar with the Capri Club would fully get the humour. A great show well worth seeing. Check the website for dates, call your travel agent for airfares if you aren’t a local:-) It’ll be worth the trip.