Roadblocks

Will there be roadblocks in & out of the Golden Horseshoe while it remains in phase one as the rest of Ontario moves on to phase two? How else can the rest of the province be protect from possible contagion? If I go to, say Cambridge, will I have to spend 14 days in quarantine before I can even get out of the car? At least I’m not worried about getting a hair cut 🙂

I have used Zoom this past week more than usual by attending the launch for Heather Babcock’s Dirty Sugar. The launch was smoothly run & well-attended. I’ll wait for the eBook before ordering it though. (https://www.inanna.ca/product/filthy-sugar/) Purging books the past month has reinforced my desire for empty shelves & to simplify 🙂

I have been attending recovery meetings via Zoom & enjoy them more now that I’ve learned how to ‘control’ Zoom. At first I loved seeing all those faces but I quickly became distracted by people’s actions while they were listening to others share. Not that they were deliberately distracting but their eating, grooming, stretching etc isn’t what I’m there for. So I minimize Zoom to audio.

I also only turn my camera on if I’m participating, the same with sound. No one needs to hear the TV, the kids, the dogs in the other room while someone is sharing. Maybe I have control issues but the sounds of people shuffling pages, cutting fingernails or humming to themselves is annoying. Some groups only allow mikes on when participating – which does cut down on that extraneous sound. Zoom Etiquette ebooks on their way 🙂

I’ve been posting a photo series of Ghosts. Places that have closed but some trace of them remains, usually the outline of a store name. Walking along the Danforth I’ve been many ghosts of the future. Restaurants with new ‘for lease’ signs in the window. At least one that had started to change to a fast-food chain back in February now changing to different fast-food chain. I guess takeout hasn’t created sufficient cash flow – though only doing take-out between 4 – 7 may not be that profitable. I’m have my camera eye on you ghosts of the future.

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Joe Henderson

At one time Eve Arden was playing the gal pal in every other movie, then Joe Pesci was doing the same sort of pal thing for another generation. Sidekicks who were more than mere foils for the lead but brought an energy than enhanced even the palest material. There was time when it seemed Mary Clayton was singing backup on every pop recording out of Britain. 

Jazz also has famous side men & one of them is tenor sax player Joe Henderson, who over decades, starting in the 50’s, recorded with nearly everyone, including Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock & Miles Davis – to name a few. His style went from hard bop to jazz-funk fusion to not quite mellow explorations of music by Jobim, Gershwin. He was always tasteful, edgy when needed & inventive without calling attention to himself. 

As a group leader I have his early Mode for Joe tucked in a Jimmy Smith mp3 collection. As stand-alones I have Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn; So Near, So Far: Musings for Miles; Double Rainbow: Music of Jobim; Big Band; Porgy & Bess. Any of these is not only a good introduction to Henderson but also to the musicians he is exploring.

A word or two about Billy Strayhorn. He was writer, pianist, arranger for Duke Ellington for many years. He was totally out as a gay man from the get-go & survived behind the scenes on his talent. He never became a ‘headliner’ thanks to being out. Read ‘Lush Life’ the David Hajdu biography of Strayhorn for a look at an amazing life.

If you want to start a jazz exploration any Joe Henderson is a perfect place to start.

The Red Menace

“In light of recent events Mr. Razov will not be returning to the chess club this year.” Mr. Bannister 

shrugged.

There was a mutter of dismay.

“I know he has been a great teacher for you.”

“We wouldn’t have won the inter-provincials without him.” Harold slumped in his chair.

“I know we’ll miss him, but you won’t forget the strategies he showed you.”

There was only seven of us in the Davisville High-School Chess Club but we had done better than any of the sports teams in the school. But of course the sports teams got the most notice. Our first place trophies didn’t even end-up on display with their third place runner-up plaques.

“Let’s draw to see who’ll play who today.” Mr. Bannister forced a smile. 

The recent events where Mr. Razov being hospitalized. He’d been found badly beaten on the steps of his little house. No one knew why. The police had issued a ‘no information at this time’ statement to the paper a week ago with no follow up.

We suspected it had something to do with his being from the Russia. Some speculated that the Soviet Secret Police had come to make sure he didn’t spill state secrets or something like that. Maybe wanted to stop him from teaching us chess. He had been a Grand Master before he escaped to Canada.

“I know you are worried about Mr. Razov but you have to be able to focus on anything to be a champion. After all he won his world title while planning to escape, knowing full well they had his family back there.”

Voyeur’s Picnic

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Voyeur’s Picnic

I only close the blinds

to sun

to too much light

never to the eyes of others 

we’re on the 2nd story of my house

you can’t see in from the ground

from across street

not even from the 2nd story

of the house across the street

<>

they can’t see us

naked

on the bed

not that I’ve tried to look

into my house from their vantage point

but I certainly can see nothing

when I look across to theirs

besides

there is no one in their houses

I’d care to glimpse

taking off clothes

making out

<>

so I only close the blinds

to sun

I keep them open most of the time

if they can see in

they to be working at it

I’m rarely that close to the window

if they are working at it

they are welcome to see me

dry my ass after a shower

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Catholic Girls

Mary Teresa

Mary Teresa said

I can’t play with you anymore

her mother came out

get out of our yard

you aren’t welcome here

her brother Gerald

pushed me to the gate

you heard my mother

get lost

<>

Why

<>

Gerald shoved me again

punched me in the face

stop that his mother shouted

but Gerald hit me again

I could taste blood

<>

get going

you trouble maker

his mother pulled him away

you people are always trouble makers

now get going

don’t come back

don’t speak to Mary Teresa again

you hear me

she said

<>

Mary Teresa glared at me

from the top of the steps

stuck her tongue out at me

<>

I didn’t know what I had done

Mary Teresa was a year older than me

so I guess she was eleven

her bother maybe thirteen

they lived a block over from us

but neither went to my school

they had their own

Saint something or the other

where the Catholic kids went

I wasn’t Catholic

<>

we had lived in the neighbourhood

for about a year now

I knew the different schools 

there was taunting and chasing

that I avoided

<>

I didn’t understand how their God 

gave them the right to bully

told them who was good

who was bad

years later I still don’t

understand

Catholic Protestant whatever

caught in a match

of who’s piss is closest to the good book

<>

I never did speak to Mary Teresa again

<>

Here I have a sweet mash-up of real memory, somewhat fictionalized characters, and the real social context of Sydney, where I grew up. There were separate schools for the Catholics that remained separate for decades. Up to grade 10 – when some mix was allowed with catholic boys going to the multi-denominational high-schools. Catholic girls had their own high-school so keep them from being raped by heathen Protestant boys.

Depending on the Catholicism of the parents us kids weren’t allowed to mix. The incident here is based on more than one event. I did have some kids who we had played tag with tell me they couldn’t hang out anymore because we weren’t Catholic. Simple as that, as children we didn’t have the knowledge base to get into theological discussions. I did hear of kids told to get out of yards because they weren’t ‘micks.’

Even then the excuse of religion to justify bullying was acceptable. I say excuse because even today one can use ‘religion’ to justify any unreasonable fear rather than face that fear. The Bible says races shouldn’t mix so to prevent that lynching is logical. The Bible has relegated to a photo op prop anyway. I’m not anti-christian by any means but not particularly Christian either – so please, piss on someone else.

 

(I’m still getting use to the new WP editing program & can’t figure out how to put in poetry line breaks hence the use of <> to indicate were breaks would be if I could figure out how to get them there.)


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Picture Perfect 23

As Dan approached his house he saw the guest bedroom light was on. Maybe Sanjay had changed his mind? No, their home security system made sure lights would go on and off if there was no one home. He’d set the system for random times. No one would turn the same lights on and off at exactly the same times.

He was locking his bike in the garage when Sanjay pulled the car in.

“They let you out of the pie factory early?” He gave Sanjay a quick kiss.

“Time off for bad behaviour.” He pulled Dan close for a deeper kiss. He moved Dan so he was balanced on the hood of the car and continued to kiss him.

Dan tried to glance over his shoulder. “You aren’t going to shut the garage door?”

“Why bother? I thought you might like it like this.”

“There’s kids around here.” Dan squirmed off the car.

“I see, it is okay for you to start something but not for me?” Sanjay said and walked into the house.

Dan closed and locked the garage door.

Sanjay was preparing supper when he went into the kitchen. Dan hugged him from behind. Sanjay pried his hands away. “Not while I’m holding a knife.”

“The Unsolved people were by the Depot today. Camera crew and all that.”

“I’ve booked my tickets to Mumbai.” Sanjay said as he washed carrots. “I did not book anything for you, yet.”

“When do you leave.” 

“June 1.”

“When are you coming back?”

“It’s an open end return ticket.”

“Oh? You not planning to come back or something?”

“It is unclear as to how long I’ll be needed there. You know my father isn’t doing well. It could be my last chance to spend time with him.”

“I see. Don’t forget we have Kevin McLeod’s wedding announcement party this week-end. It’ll be a blast.”

“If I don’t have to work.”

“Don’t you know that now? It’s going to be fund raiser for the 519 Church Street Community Centre.”

“Yes. Sylvan has donated some food and of course pastries to the event.” Sanjay turned and leaned on the counter. “Look Dan, I might as well just say this now.”

“Say what?”
“I may not be coming back from India.”

“What! Because of last week?”

“No! I want to build a life for myself.”

“I thought that’s what we were doing here. Us. Isn’t that a life.”

“We’re more like fuck buddies than lovers. We share space not lives.”

“What do you mean? Fuck buddies! Sanjay, fuck buddies don’t meet one another’s families, travel together, own cars together. We might as well be a married couple for how together we are.”

“Exactly but we aren’t, are we.” Sanjay went to the fridge.

“Aren’t what?”
“Married. Dan. Married.”

“So that’s it – marry you or you’ll leave me. Where’s the love in that gun.” Dan watched as Sanjay chopped lettuce.

“Gun?” Sanja asked.

“Yeah, holding the gun of marriage to my head like that. I don’t get it. You were happy enough with the way things were when we couldn’t make it legal.

“Besides aren’t you the one who said there’d be Gay Divorce Court soon. Marriage doesn’t make anything more stable.” Dan lowered his voice. “I thought you cared for me, for us. But what you really wanted was security not a relationship. Right?”

“I do care for you but I just want …”

“What? To move to India?”

“That might be part of it. I hate the winters here. I can’t stand the way people treat me without realizing they are doing it. That I’m just some immigrant. Even though I was born here.”

“I didn’t know you felt that way. Have I ever treated you like that?”
“Not directly. But …” Sanjay paused.

“What!”

“It was with great pride I introduced you to my family. I wanted them to meet my lover. A man of property and substance. To show them that as a gay man I had a real future. But they never acknowledged us. If we were married they might.”

“I’m not going to do that just so you can please your parents.”

“I know that but kept hoping you might change.”

“Perhaps you are the one who needs to change. To stop needing your parents acceptance to be happy with who you are.”

“I was never sure …. you wouldn’t find someone else.”

“I wasn’t looking. What would make you think that?”

“Oh! What about the V-Files? You left your lap top on one night. I noticed and went to turn it off and it was still on that page. You are very popular there, it seems.”

Dan had been looking there the past few nights before going to bed to give a little surge for jacking off.

“That site isn’t for pickups. Or at least I’ve never used it for that.” How could he explain this in a way that made it seem like it wasn’t a threat.

“Then what about TTBurning. He has messaged you many times it seems, to film him again.”

“I’ve never met anyone on that site. That’s not the point of it. It’s for posting …. found footage …. TT thinks he was in some of the found footage that I posted a few months ago.”

“Found? Where do you find it.”

“Mine is from the security cameras around the Depot. The back alley. It often catches more than drunk pissers stumbling around. Sometimes it’s people making out. Hookers with tricks, that sort of thing.”

“People get off on watching that sort of thing?” Sanjay wiped his hands on a tea towel.

“Some do.”
“You?”
“Depends on how much dick I can see.” Dan wanted to stop, but this was the first time he’d hinted to anyone about his fascination with the lane way activities. His cellphone rang.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Sanjay snapped. “It might be TTBurning calling for his close up.”

“I told you I’ve never …”

The cell continued to ring.

“Answer it.”

“It can go to voice mail.”

“Answer it.”

“So you’ll know whose calling? Okay.”  He walked into the living room. “Hello? One second.” He took the phone from his ear. “It’s the guy from the TV show.” He put the phone back to his ear. “No I can’t talk now. Yes I’m sure it’s important but call me during business hours.”

Sanjay followed him into the room and sat on the couch. “The other night? Is that that what you wanted? To get us on the security camera so you could post it on the internet for the world to see. Is that what was on your mind?”

“No! I wanted to be spontaneous.” He knew couldn’t tell  Sanjay he was mostly right about wanting to get them on camera. But only for his own personal pleasure. Better no truth than half-truth.

Sanjay’s eyes widened as he looked around. “I suppose there are cameras hidden here too. A couch cam. We’ve made out here often enough for you know the best angle for all the action. In our bedroom?”

“No.”

“What about the one in garage? Is that why you didn’t want to make out there. You thought the angle was wrong?”

“We have a security camera out there, one on the patio, one at the front door. That’s it.”

“The patio?”

“That’s how you knew about the racoons. You pointed them out to me on the monitor. You thought they were so cute till they got into the roof somehow.”

“Too bad you didn’t catch them fucking.” 

“Whatever.” Dan went to the stairs. 

“What about dinner?” Sanjay asked.

“Later. I’m going to take a shower. If you care to join me. There’s no shower cam.”

In the shower he turned the water on full blast, flipped it between hot and cold to see if it would stop his racing mind. Sanjay couldn’t be serious. They’d been so comfortable with each other for so long. He guessed that comfortable wasn’t enough for Sanjay. Was it enough for him? Either way he wasn’t going to be argued into something to save a relationship. If you have to save a relationship then it’s probably not worth saving.

He went to the bedroom, sprawled naked on top of the bed to cool off from the shower. His skin tingled. He could hear Sanjay in the guest room. Drawers opening and closing. He wasn’t packing to leave that night was he? 

He pulled boxers and clean t-shirt on and went down to the kitchen. The unfinished salad was on the counter where Sanjay had left. Dan pushed it into a container and put it in the fridge. He had no appetite.

Upstairs he went to the guest room door. Sanjay was in bed, covers pulled over him. His back to the door.

“Sanj?” he said softly.

“I don’t want to talk anymore.”

“Okay.” Dan went back to his room. From a drawer in the side table he took out a box Sleep Ease and popped two of the pale blue pills out of the blister pack. What was the poem with ‘ends with a whimper’? Well, he wasn’t the one who’d be whimpering, just the one who slept well.

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Strength

Week Eight of The Artist’s Way supposedly is about sense of strength but I found it to be more about rationalizations not to be productive: things like: I’m too old or young or too lazy, too busy with important things etc. The tasks involved goals around unfulfilled dreams – where you you like to be in 5 years – what action can you take today to get there. I’d like to be alive in five years 🙂 My action today is to take supplements that strengthen my immune system & wearing a face mask as necessary in public.

More explorations of the past (what might you have been if you has perfect nurturing?). As I get older I see that I had ‘perfect nurturing’ – I wasn’t deprived emotionally, financially – there was no physical, sexual etc. abuse in my home. I had to stretch this to the ‘imperfect’ nurturing I experienced thanks to the cultural attitudes I grew up with – but perhaps without those attitudes I would not have the strengths I have today.

I fid  one cultural attitude remains unquestioned – the one that says productivity equal value, that productivity equals self-worth. Creativity for its own sake is self-indulgence, creativity for profit is real creativity not pointless daydreams. Consumer appeal is the ultimate sign of artistic accomplishment & authenticity. 

There is a look at ‘filling in the form’ – taking things step-by-step as opposed to looking at the finished project & thinking ‘that’s too much to do all at once.’ It’s easy to get caught up in instant gratification which is one reason take-out food is so popular – you ask for & get it usually right way. The Way recommends starting in practical ways – if you don’t start you never finish. 

If you don’t start you can fantasize about how great it’ll be when you do start 🙂 In my recent covid cleaning frenzy I set time limits for each day’s housework, rather than setting the area that had to be done. It was much more productive to do parts of room rather than look & think I have to do all this today. Doing as much as I did in ninety minutes was reasonable. No rush & more time to make purge decisions. 

My writing is done the same way – timed writing rather than I have to get this whole chapter/scene done today. With NaNo I pushed hard though to see if I could keep up that pace – 100,000 words in 30 days – doing that two years in a row was enough for me 🙂

 performed at Renaissance Conspiracy Jun13.07

Street Sale

selling off the old records

will buyers get infected 

with my recollections

will they hear 

what I heard on those lps

the youthful striving to grow up

that tore my heart out

as I poured over the album covers

seeking clues in grainy photos

of what rested in those too tight jeans

will they see the album covers 

as promises of a bold future

or as comic reflections 

of what was once considered hip

far out man

too groovy for words

when people see the array of my past

do they try to figure me out 

from the jumble of books

music movies a few bowls

some engage in conversation

others prim & dismissive

my old crap not good enough 

not inviting enough 

my past too paltry

for even the fifty cents I ask

not much for you a stranger 

to merge a bit into what was once me

that is if it was even mine

I resist the urge to leave my yard 

to see what you may have

old photo albums

wedding photos

now that would be a score

to confuse people with next year

oh yes my sister’s wedding pictures

the plane went down on the honeymoon

I didn’t need those memories

what fun

give them something for their interest

a whole new past for me

when not enough of what I don’t need

isn’t sold 

I drag the tired crap into the house

to a dark corner where it shudders

some year all that isn’t sold

will stay at the curb

never to return 

good bye past 

hello emptiness

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

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Birding Ontario

a pause of pigeons

 

a feeding of ducks & geese Stratford, Ontario

silver goose

ducks & swan Stratford, Ontario

a mist of pigeons

a waddle of geese Stratford, Ontario

unhappy in pink at Toronto zoo

a party of pigeons

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 

Postcards From The Covid Edge

Ontario’s State of Emergency has been extended to June 30 -m that gives me threes to finish my covid cleaning frenzy. Thanks to rainy mornings I’ve been fairly focused though I only manage ninety minutes each morning it is getting thing done. This past week it was the front porch. The space is long & not too wide so I have to move things to one end, do that area move things back, move more things move them back etc. 

As with other rooms discoveries are made as I sift the site for artifacts lost in the dust. Bags filled with stuff that hasn’t been used, or seen for decades. Rubic’s cube? You go to the curb. Sorting through my postcard collection & I find cards going back to 1966! Cards from around the world from people whose names mean nothing to me saying how much they wished I was with them.

Most will be kept. I may do another sort into countries, states, provinces & maybe year – if I can make out the post mark. I even found a Father’s Day  card that I gave my Dad! Must have something my sister found in his pile of things after he died. No, I don’t remember buying it but I do recognize my handwriting.

Next step in porch cleaning will be the windows on Friday. The we get back to the garden next week. Social isolation is working out is ways I didn’t anticipate so I may end up with a couple of new habits around the house. Though the next round of cleaning probably would result in as much purging. Are ashtrays now collectables I wonder?

No real news on the covid front. The number of new cases per day is dropping even with increased testing. More stores are opening but with new safety protocols. Masks & gloves become ordinary. More places are producing their branded wear so I expect to see happy meal masks by the end of June. No mask postcards, yet.

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Keep On Dancin’

This mp3 collection is a disco memory trip starting with Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real (Expanded Edition). She had a couple of hits in the early 80’s: Star Love & Got To Be Real – that burned up the dance floor & take me back to my early years in Toronto. This expanded edition includes the full length dj dance mixes.

Another group that burned up the dance floor Sister Sledge: We are Family – their anthem that became a an lgbtq anthem too, along with Lost in Music, He’s The Greatest Dancer. These are the things that disco celebrated: community & dance. So it wasn’t considered ‘real’ deep music. I’m glad I’m shallow to enjoy it 🙂 Best of Disco is a fun collection of covers, remixes of song by Sister Sledge, Gloria Gaynor etc. High BPM for high energy & great for typing to 🙂 Mixes done just for this collection so they are different from the lp versions. Songs one never knew they had recorded.

Carrie Lucas: Greatest Hits – Carrie had one hit I remember ‘I Gotta Keep Dancin’. But this is a nice collection all the same of well-produced material. As is Roger: The Many Facets of Roger. I never heard of this guy until someone posted his 10 min version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine on Tumblr – I can’t resist listenable obscurity. Nice voice, nice production but, let’s face it, very few men could compete with those female disco divas.

Dynasty: The Best Of. I love best of’s by groups I never heard of & whose hits I’ve never heard either. Another Tumblr find this is a solid disco soul band in the Instant Funk, Gary’s Gang mode but never had a real catchy dance-floor hit. Here too are a couple of 12” classics by Bohannon – he’s one of the legendary disco performers/producers who infused many from Talking Heads to Lady Gaga. Keep on Dancin’ 

Text Me

My cell pinged – text message ‘lv u’ I smiled. Kept on my way. The message was from B. I was in the elevator going down from his place. I thought it was sweet. He couldn’t wait five minutes to get in touch with me.

My cell pinged again. Another text message ‘c u ltr.’

I wasn’t a text maniac. I didn’t know what to text back so I sent a smily face. Hoped none of the other people on the elevator had noticed. They hadn’t. They were all too busy texting to pay attention to me. 

My cell pinged as I was stepping off the elevator. I didn’t want to check while I was walking. I found that sort of thing slowed me down. 

It pinged again and again,

I ignored it until I was in line at the coffee shop. They were all from B so I erased them all. sweet nothings.

I usually sent one reply to his ten messages.

There was yet another ping as I left the coffeeshop.

As I checked it I bumped into someone. It was B. He turned away from me embarrassed.

“Hey. You can talk to me face to face.’

“Uh, yeah.” He was thumbing something into his cell. 

Mine pinged. ‘nc 2 rn in2 u.’

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 

Ordinary Dress

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Ordinary Dress

I’m looking at dresses

skirts

something for me

but it’s all too fem

I wonder

why is fem a bad thing

there was a time when

nothing was too fem for a man to wear

all those portraits of men 

in wild oceans of lace

satin

brocaded jackets

did they dress like that

hanging around their homes

what did they wear

when they weren’t posing

do I want a dress

to pose

do I need something practical

utilitarian

genderless

I’m looking at vintage photos 

of men going fishing

they’re wearing shirts & ties

shirts & ties to the beach

on picnics with the family

working on the roof

I can’t remember 

the last time I wore

a shirt & tie

I’ve never worn a dress or a skirt

I don’t want to make a statement

but that is impossible

if I showed up

in acceptable formal

Henry VIII court wear

it would be a costume

how many times 

would I have to dress that way

for it to be as ordinary

as a shirt & tie

would a dress on me

ever be as ordinary

as a shirt & tie

is ordinary a bad thing

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