Next Time

Next Time

the sex was good

but at this stage 

good wasn’t enough

I craved more than contact

<>

he certainly enjoyed 

the flesh on flesh

but not nearly as much

as he enjoyed the down low

the secret assignation

<> 

his exploration of excitement

of things his wife didn’t provide

I was his walk on the wild side

that made the cultural box

he felt he had no way of avoiding

bearable

<>

the sex was good

I was a non-threatening opportunity

that had nothing to do with me

as a person

as a spiritual entity

he only wanted the release

when he wanted it

<>

his travel here

often took longer

than we played together

play that was clearly more than good for him

but a vitally needed contact

<>

the sex was good

but for me

good wasn’t enough

I want desire

chemistry

there wasn’t enough chemistry 

for me to want more

not enough chemistry

to get an yen for him 

I knew enough about him

I didn’t care

<>

now to tell him

the next time he calls

and I know he will call

they always do

A guy I saw decades ago once joked ‘How long before I show up in one of your poems?’ He never did but he was aware that writers, poets in particular, often write about their lives – it is a way of processing our experiences & a way remembering them. I didn’t tell him that poetry is a fiction that reflects the truth without telling it – reflections are often distorted by the light, by time & the surface that sends back the reflection.

Some of my pieces are composites of real events that I’ve experienced or that friends had told me about. This is one of those composite pieces that reflects that balance between lust & opportunity. One would think with changes in cultural mores men (or women) wouldn’t feel so bound to fulfill the roles of husband or father but many still do.

Whether out of a sense of not letting down the folks, or maintaining their ethnic standards they find themselves in domestic relationship boxes – often though, as in the case of the married man here, he felt little conflict in maintaining two lives. He also enjoyed the ‘sneak’ of meeting up to spending time with me – overtime, going to the gym tonight, etc.

Things between us developed beyond this stage as we talked about our lives outside the bedroom. Not that he was going to leave the missus or anything stupid like that but a mutual fondness was strong. But fondness is no mask in these pandemic years. So I haven’t seen him in over year now; we email occasionally but, to be honest, if we never meet up again, life will go on. He’ll be a sweet memory not a heart ache. He texted that he’s had his vaccine so I know he’ll call.


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The Thrill is Gone

The Thrill is Gone

he was bored

& looking for sex

as if sex was a solution

so far

nothing had lived up

to his expectations

his profile listed

his interests

it was like the index

to a gay sex manual

<>

at nineteen

he wanted to try them all

while he was still young enough

to enjoy them all

before he was bored

by them all

<>

what I hadn’t tried

of his endless index

had never appealed to me 

at any age

many I had tried a few times

had no interest in exploring them again

even though

he wanted an older guide

who was opened-minded

<>

we chatted a awhile

because he liked my dick pic

when it became clear

I had boundaries

my disinterest in

repeating what bored me

made him bitter

judgemental

the less defensive I became

the more defensive he became

but at least

he was no longer bored

crushing boredom

This is based on real life events & in some ways is why I bother with any online gay cruising sites – I find things like this amusing & sometime a little puzzling. These sites are also a way of passing the time when I have ten minutes with little to do. Like this guy here I was bored, but not really looking for sex just a reminder that sex was possible 🙂

I saw his shopping list of sexual delights & thought, well there’s a few things I enjoy here but the rest isn’t on my menu plan. I wasn’t even curious enough to look at his pics but he contacted me via the site’s chat line. More info was exchanged & the more that was exchanged the less interested I was. I even asked him if he had actually read my profile – if he had he would have known what he was asking about me.

One of the ‘code’ words I watch for in profiles is ‘open-minded’ – which boils down to kink: diapers, chastity cages, that sort of thing. If one isn’t interested you become close-minded. Similar to saying ‘no’ to a drink, to say ‘no’ to kink can make some guys defensive – as if that ‘no’ is a judgment on their choices. 

Over the years I’ve learned that many men on line are looking for attention not contact. His laundry list was extensive enough that there was something for everyone there. It struck me as indecisive, which seemed natural at his age, too. My other caveat pops up here, the one that says: men lie on line. There is no way for me to verify his age, his profile pics, or his shopping list. The twenty or so minutes we chatted was enough role playing for me.

clutching at straws

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Down The Blame Drain

Down The Blame Drain

what I lead you to believe

isn’t necessarily true

you let yourself be lead on

now don’t get defensive

but it was your willingness 

to fill in the blanks 

with your own expectations

that resulted in this

misunderstanding

<>

I could have pointed that

but you were so sure of yourself

contradicting you

seemed pointless

you can’t blame me

for you making it so easy

to lead you on

<>

once I started

you made no pause for me to stop

you took the wrong hint

dashed on with it

before I could stop you

and when I did

you were dumbfounded

you thought I was joking

now you know I wasn’t

<>

so blame me

even if it wasn’t my fault

This is a variation on one of my frequent notions – how we use language to evade responsibility. ‘What did she expect, I’m a man.’ ‘There were unexpected casualties.’ ‘He was black – young – in drag – so I shot him.’ The sad thing about these evasions is how acceptable they are to many people. 

I once read about a drunk driver, whose out-of-control car killed people on the sidewalk at around 11 p.m. – he said ‘they shouldn’t have been walking that late at night’ – he got off with a fine because the dead weren’t wearing bright enough clothes & had to bare some of the responsibility. All too often it seems that confessing replaces facing consequences, or facing consequences is seen as unfair & that a lack of forgiveness is spiteful. 

This poem is about shifting responsibility in such a way one isn’t sure who is responsible. There is an undercurrent of a much used romcom trope of a mistaken identity that is allowed to go on until one of parties feels betrayed. ‘you only loved me because you thought I was rich’ – a mistake that could have cleared up with a simple statement like – I’m not who you think I am – but no it is allowed to go on & on. Or poor twin killing the rich one to assume that identity. 

There is also a sense that the costume we wear is often mistaken for who we are, for what class we belong in. Dressing the part of say, a doctor, when one isn’t a doctor. Wear a white lab coat in any hospital & people will assume you are staff. Walk around a store with a clipboard & you can get away with merchandise. Look like you know what you are doing & people will assume you know what you are doing & that you have the right to do it 🙂


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Zero Interest Rate

Zero Interest Rate

why I lost interest

wasn’t relevant to letting go

neither of us was that invested

or at least I wasn’t

he was a good technical fuck

made it clear how much he enjoyed

the time we spent together

but as much as he filled me up

he never fulfilled me

he was chatty enough

but conversations went his way

he listened to his voice

his point of view

would ask the same questions

give his answer

talk over mine

so I lost interest

<>

I blocked him on dating sites

rather than go into why 

I lost interest

why I found his paranoia

around identity theft 

made me distrustful of him

he knew too much for the innocent

because he was black

his racism couldn’t be confronted

he’d merely repeat his view

to call him out

meant that I was the racist

<>

it was a few years

since we’d had contact

then one day there he was

on my door step

having changed his online identity 

he’d made contact with me

never let on who he was

did a few things differently

gave me his email

which he’d never done before

though I still didn’t know his real name

the date was set

and there he was

with a slightly smug smile

<>

I wasn’t flattered

but was amused

he was still a good technical fuck

friendly enough

not a listener

talked over my replies

to questions he’d asked

<>

when he left

I blocked him again

somethings don’t change

and he was one of them

“I Can’t Quit Him” – actually ‘Her’ in the Blood, Sweat & Tears song, comes to mind when I think about this poem. If this basic ‘boyfriends past’ seems familiar, it is but is also a different occasion & a different guy too! Now if you are think – he’s bragging, or worse yet, he’s a slut. Get over it! If you are thinking – I hope I have as active a sex life when I’m his age – congratulations. Though those first two thoughts have some truth too.

Often guys who won’t take no for answer think they are demonstrating their persistence, their ardour for you. I see it either as, in one case, sex addiction – no thanks or even sadder desperation – no thanks. It’s not as if I have that active a sex life than I can ‘afford’ to turn down opportunity – but as I’ve said before – just because you’re interested doesn’t mean I have to be.

This is based on a true story! It did happen about two years ago. I have heard from him since mind you. He showed up once day, out of the blue, unmasked & expected me to be eager & grateful. I was neither, even when he did mask & he didn’t get past the porch. He was just in the neighbourhood wanted to drop by.

I didn’t say drop dead – not in the midst of a pandemic – but I was clear this was unacceptable. He was dismayed & claimed other guys have been less inflexible about lockdown restrictions. I told him I’m not like other guys & sent him on his way. I didn’t apologize or even say ‘try me when the pandemic is over’ – though that would have been a good delay, as covid19 will never be over. But better no hope than false hope.


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Ready For My Close-Up

Ready For My Close-Up

I let death happen

by proxy

if I didn’t eat the meat

wear the shoes

would their treatment

become more humane

<>

do I take a stand

no more meat

nothing with a face

search out alternatives

plants may have faces

that I don’t recognize

so that makes it fine

<>

the air that I breathe

is teaming with life

the water I drink

is alive with microorganisms 

that may have faces

my vision isn’t that good

<>

atomic microscopes

focus so finite 

I can’t recognize anything

maybe that squiggle shimmer

darting around other shimmers

is afraid of being seen

shamed by our look

not ready for their close-up

<>

they aren’t animals

are they

is my decision that they don’t count

relevant to anything

other than another brick

in a sense of superiority

the smug comfort

of valuing all life

<>

whereas people like me 

who still eat meat

will always be ethically

self-indulgent creeps

who should be shamed

denied our close-up

then shot

On one level what this piece is about is pretty clear. I have no animosity with vegans, their choices or even their motivations. Years ago a friend of mine once complained about how hard it was to source ‘vegan’ shoes on the internet. He wanted footwear that contained no leather or petroleum byproducts. He finally found hand-woven sandals made from reeds.

But he clearly had a computer or smart phone to a access the web to make his search. I was tempted to ask him if he’d ever tried to source electronics that were ethically produced. What petroleum by-products are in our smartphones? I haven’t seen wooden ones yet 🙂 Is anything we use ethical?

I occasionally go into ‘natural’ food stores for spices. I see signs that proclaim organically grown, ethically sourced etc then look at the prices. Clearly only the well-to-do can afford to save the planet with dietary change. Yes, I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to the motivations behind much of this pr. Coffee shops brag about their sustainable coffee growers but if that coffee isn’t selling with that label they’ll find another one for our hand-crafted beverages.

The piece also touches on the smarminess that some planet savers use in announcing their love for ‘natural’ while you are indulging in your unnatural lifestyle of range-free chicken. It is similar to non-smokers distain for smokers, or married homo’s who are examples of good queers. Give me a break & while you’re at it I’ll have hamburger with fries.

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The Toothbrush Isn’t Talking

The Toothbrush Isn’t Talking

all I am hiding

are my emotions

really

no I don’t have anything

in my hands

up my sleeve 

I didn’t put anything

where you couldn’t find it

everything is out in the open

<>

what good would it do

to hide your underwear

so you can’t get dressed

to hide your shoes so you can’t leave

hide the towels so

you have to 

dry off between the sheets

with me

me

who has nothing to hide

except my feelings

or rather my lack of them

<>

though you claim

my claim of lack of feelings

is actually hiding something

because my door is so open to you

I have made place

for you my life

you even have 

your own toothbrush here

it is out in the open too

<>

see nothing is hidden

really

except how I feel

which I can’t reveal

until you open up

to tell me what you have hidden

in your heart

The need for ‘transparency’ is getting to the point where if you don’t reveal you once looked at a naked person you could be taken to task for sexual harassment. I have a friend who refuses to appear & speak on any internet video feed lest what they say changes context as contexts change. What was harmless one decade becomes damning in the next. 

This piece isn’t directly about that 🙂 but looks at how & what we reveal of ourselves in our personal relationships. When does one reveal one’s sexual history, health issues? A buddy of mine started dating a guy & after a few dates realized they had potential he revealed a health issue & the other guy went ballistic. My buddy was devastated a she wasn’t hiding anything but waiting till there was some trust & a reason to reveal.

There are enough songs, books, movies about things that never get said. We, as humans, hope that our actions will convey our emotions, not merely our words. To say I love you & treat someone like shit as opposed to treating someone with kindness without saying saying I love you.

The underwear verse contains actual experiences of mine, slightly exaggerated. I didn’t really hide things just made them harder to find to delay departure. I’m more inclined to lack of expectation than I am to lack of feelings though. That is one of those things that goes unsaid. Things last as long as they do & I don’t build that much on expectations. But when I give one of my bed buddies undies as a birthday or Christmas gift I always say – I can’t wait to see them on you. So I guess that’s an expectation after all 🙂

I convey affection easily with words, but anything deeper not so readily – why is easier to say ‘I love those undies on you’ than it is to say ‘I love you’ ?

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The Thieving Slut

The Thieving Slut

who said

you could wear my things

because I certainly didn’t

maybe

if you had asked me

I might have consented 

but to take it on yourself

to figure I wouldn’t mind

is going too far

if you get my drift

you don’t want my grubby hands

all over your things

you’ve told me that often enough 

well I don’t want my clothes 

all over your slutty body

you heard me right

you thieving slut

that it looks better on you

than it ever did on me

is not justification 

it’s mine

now take it off right now

give it back to me

I don’t care who sees you here

the people in this mall

have seen uglier sights

than your skinny ass

so give me back my clothes

give me back my dignity

my privacy

my right to have something 

of my own

what did I do

to deserve a parent like you

Sometimes these poems are so obvious I don’t think they much explanation. I was older than my siblings & there was no way my clothes would fit them for many years so this scenario never happened to me. I’ve seen it in episodes of lots of sitcoms. You can almost hear this on the Brady Bunch.

I did get some of my dad’s hand-me-downs though. In fact I still have a leather jacket of his I sometimes wear. I also wore the hell out of a cream-coloured car coat of my mothers. My Dad had bought matching coats for him & her. Her’s wasn’t tailored quite right, maybe the buttons were on the wrong side, but it fit me perfectly. I wonder what became of that coat?

In writing this I didn’t want to mention an article of clothing to give your imagination room to play. I also wanted to make this gender free – how many of you thought it was females? Names of clothes tend to be gendered – blouse vs. shirt; panties vs. underwear. I know ‘slut’ tends toward female – is there a male equivalent? Nowadays it is applied to both male & female.

The title came well after the piece was written. It is a play on the name of a famous opera The Thieving Magpie by Rossini. Also magpie’s are noted for taking shiny objects and are one of only a few non-mammal species able to recognize itself in a mirror test. Which is appropriate for a clothing thief.


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Fear Walks In

Fear Walks In

some people

bring fear into a room

ideologies that I am expected

to accomodate

without knowing

<>

they prejudge me

for prejudging them

merely because of who I am

of who I appear to be to them

<>

I am an enemy on first sight

without having to say a word

or take any action

other than being there

of being unlike them

they feel unsafe

because I am not invisible

and it is my fault

<>

all my fault

for not understanding

what they haven’t told me

At a recovery meeting, when we could meet face to face, after a step had been read aloud – going from person to person around the room – a member shared on their difficulty with the hetero male normative language. When they read their section they de-gendered the language & as did some of the others who read. They implied that those of us who did not, lacked sensitivity to important gender issues. 

I gave an inner shrug – I’ve been around recovery rooms long enough that I am not unsympathetic to this but at the same time I’m in recovery to recover not to deal with linguistics or how to do the gender appropriate reading aloud of the literature. 

Referring to God as a him is off putting to some people, referring God at all is off putting to some people – if I don’t take pains to make the proper substitutions I make them feel unsafe. What can one do. Stop reading aloud? Ask for a show of hands, before reading starts, of people who feel unsafe because there are cismales in the room who don’t mind being called he? Online some people are including their pronouns as part of their names. (By the way my pronouns are it or that.)

After reading at an lgbtqia open stage an audience member spoke to me about enjoying my pieces but wondered if such sexually explicit material was appropriate because many in the community were triggered by such material. I had introduced one of pieces as being explicit but I guess I hadn’t allowed people enough time to leave the room. I’ve spent enough energy in saying my ‘partner’ & avoiding gender specific pronouns so as not to offended delicate hetero sensibilities that I’m not going spare lgbtqia by suppressing myself. I’d rather not perform than get trapped by self-censorship.

The fact is I’m not all that sensitive.

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Between The Lines

Between The Lines

so this is how it ends

no bang

no whimper

but with a snort

two lines of blow

careful spread 

on your cellphone screen

<>

that you did 

this sort of thing

didn’t bother me particularly

as long as you did it

without me as an audience

as long as you did it

outside of my residence

<>

when you aren’t here

it’s not a part of my life

not a part of our play

our play is best confined

to the two of us

<>

substances

are like a third party

one that quickly becomes the focus

it takes over

demands to be 

the only thing that counts

me being in the room

was a distraction

<>

you being in the room

was now a disappointment

and when you left

I was relieved to see you go

not wishing you could stay longer

those two lines

closed a door

that will never open to you again

This is a real life experience. I met this man on a site were younger men who prefer older men ‘meet.’ Most gay sites do have a range of ages but on many, older is horrifying, unseemly &, to be frank, discouraged. But agism is another post. I’m not an aggressive looker but if you want to win the lottery you at least have to buy a ticket 😉 Trust me online dating is a lottery.

He contacts me. Sends me a few sexy pics. Young, straight neither of which do that much for me but he was short, hairy, dark & eager. Number, texts get exchanged & eventually he shows up at my door &, gasp, is almost exactly as he presented himself to be. By almost I mean he looked younger than he claimed but he did show me his ID. By young I mean early 20’s, though emotionally he was just an over sexed 16 year old.

I saw him irregularly for a few years. My experience with guys in recovery kept me from taking him too seriously but I saw no reason to be parental with him either. He loved texting me on the sly when he was at clubs with his girlfriend. My lack of trust was justified. My availability decreased & we weren’t so attached I felt the need to tell him why.

He lost job. He got another one. He moved in with a girlfriend. He lost a girlfriend. He moved back in with his parents. He’s text at 6 in the morning wanting to see me asap – as if that could happen. I was more amused than anything else. This last time was after being ‘busy’ when he texted three or four times with a months between each text, I relented.

The occasion, two years ago now, went pretty much as the piece describes it. I may have heard from him since, I’m not sure, as I deleted his # from my phone, which I do often when I haven’t heard someone for a while or don’t care to hear from them. You know, some people will text expecting you to know who they without tell you who it is that is texting. This year I did get a few festive hellos from these unrecognized number strangers.

So guys keep this in mind – If I’m not the main attraction I’m not interested 🙂

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Nine

Nine

O when I was nine

I was still a child

there was no instant communication

news travelled slow

on the radio TV newspapers

that provided an innocence

I knew about war

because my Dad had fought in one

he was a man

my mother was a woman

I was a boy child

who only knew what the culture 

of the time

expected of my gender 

<>

O when I was nine

I did know I wasn’t like other boys

I played backlot baseball

I played with dolls

I  wasn’t the boy my dad expected

I didn’t like to fight

like other boys

I never understood 

why physical violence was required

to be accepted

<>

O when I was nine

I learned to swim

looking at the differences

between boys and girls

anatomy I didn’t understand

the boys where more interesting

I knew shame

when we were caught

I had fear

but no closet

sex was dirty regardless

of the gender of the object

<>

O when I was nine

I don’t that I was making waves

as I waded from nine to nineteen

by the time I left nineteen

I knew

these were dangerous waters

at nine there was only

the fear of getting caught

not the fear

of my culture drowning me

like an unwanted litter of kittens

I heard on a TV documentary about children that our sense of self was basically formed by the time we are ten years old. By then we have absorbed the ‘teachings’ of TV behaviours that inform our subconscious. So, back in the day, I was aware of what the culture of the time expected of my gender. I was also aware that it wasn’t the right fit but I hadn’t developed the language for that beyond feeling it was the wrong fit. Today thanks to instant communication children have a greater knowledge of gender variations. I doubt that at the age of five I would have understood what a faggot was, children today do know what it means. 

Where was I when I was nine? We had just settled in Sydney, Cape Breton after moving across Canada for a couple years. My mother & I had spent some time with her family in Wales during this time as well. I remember ‘living’ in Moncton, Stellerton or was it Truro for short periods of time & going to schools there, briefly. Finally in Sydney, were we lived in three different neighbourhoods before my dad bought a house in Ashby.

One result was that I spent those formative years as a displaced person – someone who was different. My Dad prodded me into things that could show me how to ‘fit in’: cub scouts, YMCA. I did the best I could but felt like an outsider &, as I recall, was fine with that. I did get these weird mixed messages ‘why can’t you be like other kids’ then when I wanted some fad item ‘why can’t you think for yourself.’

I survived partially by hiding in booze & partially by writing & painting as I gradually found language for what I was. Though then that language was loaded – an abomination unto the Lord – sort of stuff. Today I know the tragic flaw wasn’t my sexuality but the way culture regarded not only lgbtq but sexuality itself.


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