Out and About in Sydney, Cape Breton

Cape Breton sunrise

where I had great ice cream on the Sydney Boardwalk

stone stairs to nowhere in Sydney

the welcome feet of Sydney

stone in the Park/Brookland/Hospital Sts triangle

close up of the stone

stained glass in the CB Regional Library

CB highland dancers on Charlotte St.

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Fortress of Louisbourg Photos

Model of original Fortress – area in pink is where most of reconstruction has been done so far

along the Quay – cloudy big sky

table set in guard room

things to play with: costumed guide, fiddle, cards, checkers

period water sprinkler system in Grandchamp Inn

pea soup, coffee & bread in Grandchamp Inn

children at play outside Grandchamp Inn

waitresses luring customers into the Grandchamp Inn

for more about my visit to the Fortress see:

Cape Breton Day 5 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3FU 

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Escape Plan

samp

Escape Plan

there was no one to talk to

no one to trust

bags were packed

the escape plan was ready

the secret was kept

because as long as

the bags were packed

it was bearable

never questioning why

 

why not just get out

why not tell

why stick around in a situation

where bags must be packed

when an escape plan is needed

where secrets must be kept

putting up with the suspicions

isn’t proof of character

isn’t a demonstration

of the depths of love and commitment

but of a need to suffer

or a need for approval

from someone

who only approves of blind obedience

as long as that secret is kept

like that packed bag

you can relish that isolation

an identity forged by forbearance

08-texture02Law 18: Isolation is Dangerous – This incident comes directly from my Al-Anon experience – someone shared at a meeting that they had an escape plan, a suitcase packed for instant departure. Over the years I’ve heard many versions of this way of coping with an abusive situation – as long they have an escape plan they can put up with it. I long to say ‘honey, an escape plan can rarely dodge a bullet.’ The ‘plan’ is the same trap as making rules like ‘if they hit me one more time I’ll leave.’

I’ve heard these things from both sexes, genders, from 08-texture01people involved in same-sex, or opposite sex relationship. They’ve put up with abusive behaviour by parents, by siblings, children who act out with abuse. The hope that things will change, or the next time will be different keeps them stuck, stranded & isolated – fearful of telling any one out of shame or out of fear of changing things. Some see the escape plan a step in the right direction.

08-texture04Some of this ‘stuck’ comes from a cultural imperative that relationships are sacred structures to be strived for & preserved at any cost. Singledom is seen as a type of failure. Not that I think relationships are disposable but they aren’t meant to be ‘work’ either. Mutual therapy isn’t a relationship. But there is a point at which comprise isn’t the solution either.

Too many measure ‘love’ by the willingness to put up with abuse – the more they suffer the deeper & authentic their love must be. I’ve met some who aren’t attracted to emotionally healthy people – give them someone damaged or they wallow in loneliness. The more broken, the more they are invested & turned on. They ask for ‘help’ but they aren’t listeners.08-texture03

I’ve come to the conclusion that many define who they are by this ‘escape plan,’ by this willingness to bear the turmoil – without it they are nothing. No crisis = no sense of identity. My most meaningful relationship require no escape plans so I guess I don’t have an identity. For that I’m grateful.

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01-tiletexture04

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Garages of the Hounds of Hell

One of my photo fans asked why garages? Many reasons – they present a Toronto that isn’t skyline or high-rise. It’s almost like stepping into a small town, a different time era when I walk along some of the lane ways in the east end. The structures are almost always wooden and frequently in a state of disrepair.

snowballs

snow ball alley

I like the rusted edge of metal doors, the flaking paint of wooden doors lucky enough to get painted, the various shades wood turns as it gets wet, frozen, bleached by the sun, love roofs that sag, some that have collapsed in on the garage. This isn’t the Toronto of well kept lawns and gardens. The laneways are public but private at the same time.

flagsnow

my interest is flagging

One can tell how much use the lane end of a garage gets by the amount litter or weeds or even vine growth there is around the door. If there is a door. Sometimes the ‘garage’ is actually a little house, storage shed in the back yard with door onto the alley. I do get see open garage doors often enough but what’s inside isn’t of great interest to me.

snowpicnic

s’no picnic

Garages also take me back to my youth in Cape Breton. Much of my first sexual playing around took place with other boys in garages. Bad lighting, dusty and furtive but protected from adult eyes. Pulling pants down and touching one another. Never more than that though. Did the same with some girls too, but it wasn’t the same.

sample

Hounds

Jake and I had climbed a fence

we had stolen peaches

she set the hounds on us

as we scampered away

the hounds of hell – she barked

are

nippy

nippy

on the prowl

for boys like you

who were satan’s imps

the hounds would sniff around

our backyards

they would be on the look out for us

pants full of peaches

that we let tumble out

in an abandoned garage

Jake naked to the knees

the gold peaches at his feet

I dropped mine

sunlight on a ripple of broken mirror

glanced over our bodies

I gasped

he had hair there

I had an peach leaf

we pulled up our jeans

laughed ate a peach

I took some home

the hounds of hell took the scent

sniffed me out

nippy

nippy

they found my dreams under my bed

they shook twitched slobbered

left their sticky white drool

thin crusty salty

I woke with that stinging shudder

where the peach leaf  grazed me

a warm smear on my belly

I was scared unsure

I asked Jake

he laughed and told me to stop kidding him

made me show him the bite marks

but there were none

the hounds of hell don’t have teeth

peach stealing sin

wasn’t serious enough for them

to draw more than the white blood

sleep became a time of fear

my bed an invitation to those

nippy

nippy

hounds

I would lie awake

watch the light of cars cross my ceiling

so the hounds wouldn’t catch me asleep

so I could catch them before

they drew my evil white blood again

before they drained me of my dreams

 

June 2018 TBA – attending – Capturing Fire – Washington DC

fire

https://capfireslam.org

laneway

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Pinebow Exposed

Lake Pinebow is a series of five pieces (so far) that harken back to my own dreary summer camp days – nothing this exciting ever happened to any of us. Each piece take a slightly different tack on the story as it develops with a string of various points of view.

snow02snow person in the snow

Writing it as verse allowed me to fracture the story into images and fragments that allows the reader put the story together as it unfolds. Poetry also eliminated the need for in-depth character development and I could let a line of dialogue develop a person without the distracting details of gender, race, age, height, etc. There is enough detail that, I hope, you can tell the ‘adults’ from the ‘campers.’

snow03magic carpet of snow ride

I also was experimenting with how much narrative is needed to tell a story. Much like the horror trope that what you don’t see is scarier I’m trusting that what I don’t tell you makes what you do know more complex and fulfilling.

snow01snow person in the snow

I also resisted sexualizing – my dreary summer camp days did have a few damp crushes that almost made the experience worth while. I aimed for a tone of detached innocence as well. I particularly enjoyed writing the camp fire songs that will show up in part 4 on Friday.
soon02

(in future my coming attractions will only list features or conferences but not reading events I’m merely attending)

January 22, Wednesday – featuring – Winter Snow Ball, 7 p.m. – urban gallery, 400 Queen East https://www.facebook.com/events/792356567447501/

snowsmall

January 30, Thursday – The Dildettes, 8 p.m., Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander Street. https://www.facebook.com/events/234979810009039/

February 21, Friday – featuring – Racket at the Rocket: 7 p.m., Red Rocket Cafe, 1364 Danforth Ave.

March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada

samples

Lake Pinebow 3

is he dead

is he alive

we warned you not to go near the lake

late at night

first Brad now Jeff

each off on an adventure

now they pay the price

is he dead

is he alive

what would have possessed him

he knew the dangers

we told him about the Denizen

we made sure

none of the boys

would go near the smoke shed

they never listen

they never listen

if only they were

content with the pan cakes

flap jacks

waffles

maple syrup

but no

they have to slip off

looking for adventure

we can’t seem to keep them all

sated in food stupors

they have to wonder off for some reason

don’t say boys will be boys

because when that happens

every one has regrets

is he dead

is he alive

Jeff Jeff speak to us

wake up

the grey cold damp

isn’t holding you that strong

spit the cold grey lake water

out of your lungs

tell us did you find Brad

have you seen Olaf

which of you

went to the smoke shed

who stole the sausages

who wasn’t heeding

the warning we posted

the tales we told

to chill you

to keep you alive

feel for a pulse

feel for breath

is there a sign

anything

is he dead

is he alive

is he Jeff

no this isn’t Jeff

it’s some other little boy

some other victim of the Denizen

another lad lured to Pinebow Lake

another taken from us

we have to find a solution

a way to let all know of this danger

but if this isn’t Jeff

where is Jeff

where is Brad

where is little Olaf

all the good boys

the brightest and best

have taken their leave

or are they just hiding

peaking around the tress

to giggle and smirk

is some game of hide and seek

where the finders

stay with the hiders

till there is only one looker left

and that will be me

because I won’t go near the lake

late at night

I won’t slip out of my bunk

to look for sausages

I’d rather be hungry and found

not me

I won’t

we must continue our search

beat the bushes

leave no stone unturned

we must look till we find

we must discover

why boys will be boys

we must see if there are foot prints

we have to follow the scent

you smell that scent

the deep decay of blackened tree stumps

something floats to the surface of the lake

a glistening slick

like oil red blood

it is moving to follow the moon

it is time for us to light the fires

to gather around

to be told again the warning signs

the things to do

to make sure we all remain here

who has seen Tim

he was here a moment ago

he had the matches for the fire

who has seen Garth

he had the marshmallows

you boys are going to be the death of me some day

come out come out

this game has gone to far

one is already dead

one we don’t know

who knows this child

does anyone recognize his running shoes

his face

his hands

where has he come from

the bottom of the lake

is he the next warning sign

the fourth sign

of what is to come

the gradual shift

that takes us each from the camp

to home

yes that must be it

the others have gone home

we must telephone

that’s where they are

safe and secure

run back to their mommies

scared of the lake

scared of the dark

and never go to get their fill

of the good cook’s works

we can end the search

once we find out

who this boy is

who has been spewed upon the shore

who

jccoolchwist it’s c-c-cold

#Aphrodisiac

The Go Lounge (1718 Queen W. at Roncesvalles) was the perfect place for a Master Class with Lillian Allen hosted by Andrea Thompson. As much as I enjoy an event with three or four poets and a handful of open stagers I often feel rushed & by the end ‘listened out.’ Features usually get twenty minutes tops, so time for their comments on individual poems is minimal.

puzzling evidence
puzzling evidence

The Master Class was an excellent opportunity to hear poetry and have the poet talk about, in this case, her writing process, her artistic vision. Lillian give us a concise, brief, explanation of dub poetry, which is where hip-hop sprouted from.

it fell from the sky
it fell from the sky

Her pieces were funny – ‘Moses and Steve Jobs were comparing tablets,’ rhythmically complex, emotionally compelling, politically fearless and presented with warmth and a real sense of her pleasure. By the end of the hour or so I felt that I had actually heard a poet, as opposed to merely listened to them. Sadly, with nearly an hour of transit to get home, I had to duck out before the second half were we to write and the present a piece prompted by the Master Poet of the night.

nice catch
nice catch

The Lounge itself is an intimate space with a friendly staff. A simple menu and what appears to be a nicely stocked bar. I had a great grilled cheese sandwich. I look forward to next month’s Master Class with Lishai Peel.

writing sample
writing sample

Aphrodisiac

I know you’re sore

after that gal you’d been hitting on

walked out on you after three drinks

how the last two chicks you dated

dumped you via text message

one of them still won’t return your calls

how they turn into such selfish bitches

but just because I’m a clean old queer

doesn’t mean I have any interest

in your macho macho meat

the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac

you may think I’m one of those

predatory homos you are sure

are always lurking around

hungry for any straight guy

to fall into my eager mouth

well honey you are in a dream world

the fact that I checked out our jeans

was because I was wondering where you got them

you know in this light

you are sort of cute

and kind of sweetly drunk

but I’m not drunk enough

so why don’t you find your buds

you aren’t getting anything here

‘cause if those nasty hos

you always seem to end up with

aren’t interested I’m certainly not

the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac mac

3501211-mirror-ball

#GetIntoMyDrawers

nice drawers
nice drawers

Over the years I realized that Toronto really doesn’t have Spring. It’s damp and cold with flashes of sun then bam – hot and humid. I know summer is coming, and like nearly everyone I know, I can’t wait for these cold days to be over but I know putting away the long-johns isn’t going to hurry things at all.

dropped drawers
dropped drawers

So April is poetry month – something like cancer awareness month – only there ain’t no cure for poetry – no one is really fund raising to put an end to it – most people are just hoping it’ll die on of its own if they just stop paying attention to it –

snow drawers like your drawers
snow drawers like your drawers

I’m doing my bit to make things worse by posting a poem a day on my facebook site – each one will only be up till the next one gets posted – so get’em while you can. I’ve spent the last three months working on short story so getting back into the imagist space will be pleasant for me – and maybe for you too :-).

I Am Not A #Camera

Napa ’04

I was gifted my first digital camera several years when I won a trip for four to Napa Valley – one of the people I took with me gave me the camera. It became a constant companion for a few years, always in my shoulder bag, just in case. Plus a must have for what travel I did. But it had limitations – hard to turn off flash, couldn’t get closer than 3 feet & stay in focus, and useless for night shots. Video had 10 second limit & no sound. So I pretty much stopped using it expect for special occasions.

golden gate ’04

Then I signed on to WordPress to raise my online profile. One of the hints for increasing an audience was to have pictures on your blog, so I dug the camera out and starting taking pictures again. But the focus limits bugged me. Once I got my income tax return this year I splurged on a new camera. More bells and whistles, sound for video etc. Plus a 12X lens, a memory card that’ll hold thousands of pictures.

At first I was taking pictures of anything – flowers, architectural details, amusing signs, sleeping cats and the sky. But I have friends who do similar things, and much better too, so I did some thinking. For travels some of those things are fine but even then my picture of a field of flowers in Cape Breton could be by anyone. Memories for me and a bit of color for my blog about the east coast.

(g)love in the shadow

I wanted to limit my range a bit as well or I’d be spending all my time taking pictures of people’s gardens, broken windows and abandoned furniture. Something that has always spoke to me is random shoes, pieces of clothing – there’s a story in how and why that one shoe is there on the street. What pleased me is that when I started in on my ‘cast-offs’ gallery, more often than not, there would be another and another and hence a focus was born.

going to the hop

I may not have a great eye, technique or bother with composition but I do have fun. I’m more an observer – reportage as opposed to an explorer or revealer. It’s up to the viewer to slip beneath the surface if a picture speaks to them. What I see and what you see looking at the same moment are often very different things.

sample

an older piece – sort of seasonal –

The Fright

here’s comes the fright

that belongs to lovers

that covers the sight front

we put on to keep others

from getting too close to the truth

if they know my deepest secret fears

they’ll use them

dismiss me dismay me measure me

who is this they

what is this hidden treasure

under cover of might maybe not now

under the radar

not even a blip beat

heart sneaks down and around

wanting to be caught taught a lesson

wanting to be fearless

creeping away instead

why is it we choose to reveal ourselves

only to the one we fear to lose the most

as if this revelation will become a glue

that can keep the fright

from pulling us apart

feeling no gain

wishing there was another way

to say what doesn’t make sense

except in the beat of the moment of suspense

between trust and fear of truth

push me closer to the think again buster

I’m not the one you want

I’m merely the one you need

and the bedroom isn’t a threat

but a motion of grace

a station of the come across

does that make sense build fences

or are you like me

another of the dearly parted

ready to depart from chances to changes

from dinnerware to underwear

losing sight of the fright

devising ways to make me sorry

don’t make me put down my ideals

just to reach something in you

so you feel safe enough

to put down your questionable attitude

your heart isn’t a noose isn’t bad news

someone might see me naked

catch sight of the short coming

the longing clinging shame

this fright is the same the world round

staggering subjected to the next opportunity

the expectation that  some sort of salvation

can only come through

the transcendent shattering of self

by shooting the biggest load

into the warmest trusting affectionate

accepting person

who will look you in the eyes in the morning

tell you everything is all right

they forgive you

for wanting more than enough

for not getting everything in a single gulp

knowing that they measured your treasure

and found it haunting

transitselfie