Dirty Hands

Dirty Hands

every time we touch

the paranoia is too much



I washed my hands

then sanitized them

did you

do you have proof 

do I have to watch you


do we have to wash each others hands

before we touch 


wash after every time 


we now prioritize 

what we put on hands on

is it worth the risk

do I want to waste

my clean hands on that

Another of the pandemic lockdown poems. Hand sanitizer dispensers were installed in every subway station, at store entrances, on restaurant tables, in washrooms. Many had been carrying small squeeze bottles since the SARS event some years ago. There was such a constant harping on washing hands properly it felt being nagged by a slightly deranged mother. 

When friends dropped by, or I visited, first thing was going to the bathroom to wash hands. Plastic gloves for shoppers was mandated for a time. Masks defended each other from breathing. There was the ‘threat’ of making breathing on another person as type of assault.

Sex without gloves & masks was a fetish. Masks quickly showed up in porn. Though I never did see any about hand washing lol. The pandemic did dampen on line the search for sex playmates, even when the vaccine was rolled out one would see ‘had my shot’ as part of profiles. 

It also made men choosier about who they were interested in. Age perimeters were clearer, then dick size, race, distance to travel, sex activities were all less negotiable. I’d see profiles that said things like ‘no facial hair’ etc. If we’re going to wash our hands it has to be worth it lol.

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City of Valleys 22

City of Valleys – 22



Yves rapped on the window and got Luke’s attention. A waiter let him in.

“Looks like I’m the first to arrive.”

“No prob. Invite?”

Luke came over. “Even if he didn’t have one, we’d let him in. Drink? A beer for our first arrival, Brad.”

Luke led him past the buffet to a table in the bar section. The tinted green glass partition that separated the bar from the rest of the restaurant cast a cooling underwater light over the table.

“Glad you could join us.” Luke referred to Lubba’s as if it were his home.

“Buffet looks tempting.” 

“Thanks. This is the first time I’ve sat down since getting here. The staff will thank you for taking me out of their hair.”

“My pleasure.” Yves sipped the beer Brad had brought. “Haven’t seen much of Steven.”

“Between his day shift here and the play at night, I haven’t seen much of him myself.”

“That’ll be over tonight.”

“Till the next one. The actor’s lover’s life for me.”

“You know Steven pretty well?”

“You know something I don’t?”

“No. Not about Steven. You remember Jake?”

“Jake the Snake. Of course. Why?”

“Turns out his real name was Mitchell Winter Robson. This man I’ve been known for years has changed into someone I never met.”

“Why would Jake hide his name? It’s a good one.”

“The queer son disowned and disgraced. Just a guess, though.”

“Sad. Not to have a history.”

“Not to trust someone with that history is sadder.”

There was a tap at the window. Luke stood, nodded to Brad to let in whoever it was.

“Lisa! Join us for a quiet drink before the swarm arrives.” Luke called across the room. “She’s Tim McGuinn’s wife.”

Before he had finished, Lisa was at their table. 

Black hair, the right touch of red lipstick, gold earrings, gold beads around her neck, black dress under a light fall coat. Intense. Tim had good taste in women.

“We have to talk, in private, Luke,” she pleaded. “We are always the last to find out.”

“Oh… okay. Let’s go down to my office.” Luke took her to the stairs that led to the washrooms and his office. As they descended he glanced at Yves with puzzled exasperation.


At each blackout, Kevin tensed to dash to the lobby. Actors came on stage and talked, some shouted, some argued, some died, some told their version of the truth. There was a dance around the gurneys, one with the gurneys, corpses appeared and disappeared, abrupt light changes, gun shots, fear. He saw no story, couldn’t recall who had said what.

After a long hour he settled down enough to watch and not wait for things to end. The two characters who had been at odds with each other were alone on stage.

They kissed. Kevin didn’t believe his eyes. Men kissed on stage, in front of him, in front of everyone as if no one were there. Kissed and undressed each other. As the lights dimmed, he  leaned to see. To his amazement all was revealed. 

Not that he hadn’t seen cock before, but it never felt right to stare. With porn, it was possible to look and the guy wouldn’t glare back, get mad or anything. But these were real live bodies, and he could stare.

“Fuck, he is packing a piece!” Paul whispered.

The lights went to black. The audience applauded in the dark then the house lights came on. 

“Intermission,” Paul told him.

“At last.” Kevin darted out to a table piled with newspapers and flyers. He pushed these aside and there he was. It was a shot of him at Big E’s. Under him the banner proclaimed: “Big E’s Rocks.”

Inside there was another photo of him, followed by a brief article.

‘Robert Ing has the perfect antidote for those suffering from overdoses of liquid eyeliner, in the form of Kevin McLeod. Kevin hails from the East Coast and brings with him not only a fresh sound but is a performer easy on the eye. 

Over the past several weeks, this east coaster has enlivened Sunday afternoons at Big E’s with his manly take on 60’s pop, as well as some of his original numbers. From the Supremes to Megadeath, Kevin sings with ease and confidence. If his following picks up, we hope he’ll drop the canned music and get a live band.

It’s time for Miss Ing to spend less on his Thing and more on Kevin’s.’

“A puff piece.” Paul read over his shoulder. “Says nothing but promos Big E’s.”

“Says nothing? It says I have a fresh sound.”

“Waki is so fond of a ‘fresh’ sound.”

“What are you saying?”

“Kevin, I’ve been around. His models usually give a little to get a lot. To get a cover you certainly must have been easier on more than more his eye.”

“So what if I was.” Kevin wanted to deny Paul’s insinuation but couldn’t. “He didn’t fuck me if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Bet you can’t wait to send it to the folks?”

Kevin was brought to a cold reality. As one side of his life got bigger, the other side got tighter.

“Send it to them and get it over with.” 

“Not till I have something more than a photo to back me up.”

“You know how I ended up here. I took a leap when I was fifteen. Right out of the nest and into this life. I was scared like you, but I did it.”

“I’m not ready. I don’t want to lose my folks, Shep and all. Coming out will slam that door shut.”

“If it does, it does. You can survive that. If they love you, they’ll accept you.”

“Like your folks did?”

“Kevin, I was a fuck-up. What they can’t forgive is how I screwed them around. The fact that I’m a queer is coincidental.”

The lobby lights flicked on and off.

“Show’s going to start again.”

“I know, Paul. Stop treating me like a child.”

On their way to their seats, David stopped Kevin.

“Enjoying the show?”

“Great stuff.”

“I see you’ve made the cover of Queer Plus.”

“Yes.” Kevin blushed.

“Sign it for me?”

“Autograph it? For you?” 

“Get used to it.”

“What should I write?” Kevin fumbled with a pen.

“David …. Thanks for being my first …. love Kevin McLeod.”

“Cute,” Evan remarked. “Though I doubt if you are his first.”

Kevin scribbled what David had suggested. The theater went to black as he sat down. When the stage lights came up, it was as if they shone on him.


Yves swirled the foam in his glass. It had been about half an hour since Luke had disappeared into his office with Lisa McGuinn. There was another hour or more before the after-show crowd arrived. He wasn’t sure what to do with himself. 

“Time for another?” Brad poured him another beer. “Mind if I join you?” He sat opposite Yves.

Brad had a face that needed an extra couple of hours sleep. His almost blond hair wanted a quick comb.

“You live next door to those two don’t you?”

“You work with those two don’t you?”

“Steve has been weird since …”

“The bashing?”

“You see much of them?”

“Enough. What you are pumping me for?”

“Sorry. Just making conversation.”

Yves met Brad’s gaze. This was a come-on. 

“It’s all right.” Brad wasn’t his type. Not that Yves knew what that type was, but this wasn’t it. He’d heard of Brad’s drugs and booze from Luke, and wasn’t interested.

“You write for TV don’t you?”

“Not for a couple of years, but yes.”

“I want to write ‘The Waiter Confessor.’”

“Good working title.”

“Anything you’d like to confess to me.”

“I should have a book out for Christmas.”

“Oh! What?” Brad asked with genuine interest.

“A book about cock?”


“Yes, men talking about how they feel about their cocks, size, shape, that sort of thing. Our Cocks Our Selves.”

“Great title.”

“Actually it’s going out as ‘The Cock Book.’ I wanted ‘Dick All’ but the publisher through that was misleading. Very few men think of their privates as jokes.”

“I’ve laughed at a few in my time.”

“I’m sure you have.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a size queen. It ain’t the meat, it’s the motion.”

“You hate size queens but you love their boyfriends.”

“Let me tell you,” Brad dropped his voice, “a certain restaurateur has a nice piece for his private consumption. Though since this play, that’s no secret.”

“It takes more than that to keep people together.”

“I suppose, but it helps. Though what Steve sees in Luke I couldn’t tell you.”

“Anything stuck together with come falls apart in the wash.”

Brad couldn’t control his laughter. “That’s a good one. True. So true. I love it.”

“What do you do when you are out of uniform?”

“Get buzzed with my friends mostly and sleep when I can.”

“You aren’t a waiter slash anything. Actor, model, writer?”

“Please. There are enough of those around. I do all the acting, modelling and writing I want here. Acting like the special is extra special, posing at the side of your table with the pepper grinder, and writing my name on the back of your bill.”

“Much of a future in that?”

“Who needs a future when you’ve got the now? How many of the people in an airplane that drops into the ocean had a future? Where did their big plans get them? The here and now is enough for me.”

Yves had met many in his survey like Brad. The here and now, the quick pleasure with no real sense of the future.

“Look at the time. Nice talking to you Yves. Sometime we might do more than talk?”


“You! A chicken hawk?” Evan tittered as David watched Kevin return to his seat.

“Evan, you’re jealous.”

“Of what?”

“Of youth.”


The theatre darkened. David’s eyes wandered to Kevin’s head. He relished any movement of that head as it followed the action on stage.

That Evan noticed his interest in Kevin didn’t bother David. Not that he wanted to end things with Evan, but there was no reason to deepen their relationship either. There was an intellectual bond between them, and David appreciated what Evan could teach him about the stage. But David felt no excitement around Evan. It was if he and Evan had been a couple for years and not months. Too comfortable! Is that grounds for separation?

He glanced at Evan, at the action on stage, and at Kevin. What it was it about Kevin? His youth? His whiteness? His ability to tongue-tie David whenever they were together? His talent?

When David went to hear Kevin at Big E’s, he longed to lure him away, but fear had kept him silent. His confidence as a designer waned too. After all, if he couldn’t tell some kid he wanted him, how could he do anything? How could he design anything?

Evan’s show had been a relief in its simplicity. Safe little lab smocks, a couple of simple, drab dresses, nothing that stretched his imagination. Since his design for Tisu Trauma had won the Best Outfit on Pride Day, Robert Ing hadn’t been in touch with him, so his skills there weren’t taxed.

He’d avoided other design opportunities with the claim the show needed all his time. Until he blasted this block with Kevin, he couldn’t think of anything else. With that boy by his side, a rapid flutter of new garments would fly out of his sewing machine.

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On The Road To Stratford

These are along the New Dundee Road on the last leg of our recent day trip to see Spamalot in Stratford.

New Dundee Road
fenced in or out?
we prefer Tim Ho’s
endless highway
garden patch in Stratford
cloudless sky over Stratford
our last stop before heading back to Toronto
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The Holy Coconuts


Our first Stratford Festival production of this season was the pandemic delayed Spamalot. We took in one of the last preview matinees & it proved to a solid, energetic & well-paced musical that had fun with the original film, Broadway conventions & Pythonisms. The packed house was enthusiastic in their laughter & applause.

The cast headed by Jonathan Goad as King Arthur & Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Lady of the Lake with Eddie Glen as Patsy danced their asses off & sang  with emotion & clopped their coconuts with conviction. The book mostly followed the Holy Grail script with a few additions. The songs were fun, some more parodies than anything else. There were many comic bits about singing, plotting & chronology. There were cute nods to The Phantom, West Side Story, even A Chorus Line. 

Jesse Robb’s choreography was energetic, to say the least, varied from Rockette kick lines to dynamic tap, with one ‘ballet’ moment. I couldn’t help admire the chorus eagerly dancing in suits of chainmail. There was a sense that the performers were enjoying themselves as opposed to getting it over with so they could hit the showers.

The drive there & back was sped along by the recent finish of the 401 expansion. Though getting back into Toronto make the return an hour longer than the getting there. We made out usual stops on the way – its always nice to see the some of the same Tim Ho’s staff year after year for decades. Lunch at Features as yummy as always. Even picked up a couple of t-shirts at the gift shop. 

Spamalot a great production highly recommend as pure entertainment.

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Recap May 2023

City of Valleys  21 sections, about 43,000 words posted so far with  88,000 approx yet to be edited then posted. 

Among the movies I watched in May are: All About My Mother (1999) Pedro Almodóvar’s glossy, soap-opera tribute to All About Eve & A Street Car Named Desire. Colourful, soulful & I was happy to see it again. One of those movies in which no one has just one problem – she’s a nun, she’s pregnant, she is HIV+.

Simu Liu heads up the cast in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I’m not a fan of cgi  battles so the ones here were perfect for fast forward. I enjoyed the the cultural mix of legend & super hero. Simu is a perfect photogenic hero though a bit banal as a performer. Moves so fat you don’t really care about the plot. Is his Dad really dead?

red turns to green after a few weeks of sun

Man of LaMancha was flop way back 1972. I may have seen it then but I had no memory of it so watching it recently I rather enjoyed it though it did go on & on. The music is passable. The performances are okay, Sophia Loren was the best of the lot. 

Read Gerald Hannon’s memoir “Immoral, Indecent, and Scurrilous: The Making of an Unrepentant Sex Radical.” I remember his ‘troublesome’ article & the fuss it created. The book is an easy, almost chatty read, that takes one through the Toronto lgbt scene from the 70’s to the 2000’s. He is frank, direct & funny. Highly recommended.

into the wind

Finished La Terre (The Earth) another in Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. Detailed, emotionally over-wrought & great fun. Zola is Charles Dickens with sex. I loved it & was amazed that I could easily follow the lives of over 100 characters & their farm life struggles.

Re-read Gordon Merrick’s The Lord Won’t Mind (1970). I first read in back in the early 70’s & my recollection of it was limited, to say the least. It is unapologetically & frankly gay/queer. Not overly complex & clearly a romantic fiction. A gay male Harlequin romance with explicit sex. I have an edition of the three novels & this is a fun start to it. Gay life before disco or even cell phones – how did they manage!

nicely pink on white

Garden annuals planted, perennials all doing well & the recent heat wave has sped things along. All we need is rain to turn it into tropical forest. Health remains good – the meds have the hypertension under control, plus some dietary changes have helped keep it down. 

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Frank Sinatra


I’m not sure when I became a Frank Sinatra fan. For many years I couldn’t listen to him then sometime in the 80’s I bought a cassette box set of his 50’s recordings offered by Reader’s Digest. There were 6 or 8 cassettes in the set & I quite enjoyed them. But over time the cassettes fell apart. I also had an multi lp boxset of his earlier Tommy Dorsey recordings. For decades he was one of the most popular singers in the USA & around the world. His movies made him the emoji for ‘cool.’ By the end of the 60’s he was a old-fashioned cliche.

I now have these on 6 mp3 cds. The Song Is You is the Tommy Dorsey work. The other is The MFSL Sinatra Box: 16 lps from 1954 to 1959 54: Swing Easy/In The Wee Small Hours/A Swingin’ Affair/ 56: Songs For Swingin’ Lovers/Close To You/ Where Are You?/Come Fly With Me/ Songs For Only The Lonely/Come Dance With Me/ 59-65: Look To Your Heart/No One Cares Nice’n’Easy/ Sinatra’s Swinin’ Session/All The Way/Come Swing With Me!/Sinatra Sings of Love & Things/September of My Years. Also his 1980 Trilogy: Past Present Future. 

You want the Great American Songbook? All the classics are here, all nicely done by the master. Sinatra created the singing idol & his live shows were often near riots that paved the way for arena rock today. The sound is sexy mellow but his stage presence then was undeniable & his selection of material was excellent. 

Rounding out the cds is work by Harry Belafonte: Calypso, My Lord What A Mornin’: sexy calypso & ethereal hymns: a perfect pairing 😉 Ella & Louis: self-titled, & Again. More classic songbook & a great combination of superstars. Two 50’s idols hit collections: Perry Como: Gold; Elvis Presley: The Top Ten Hits. Perry the smooth, family friendly crooner. Elvis who took over the Sinatra pop idol mantle. Sinatra’s sound influenced singers around the world including Belgium’s Jacques Brel: Chansons Ou versions Inedites is a compilation of studio outtakes & live versions across his career. Unlike Sinatra Brel wrote & performed mainly his own songs.

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you didn’t hear it

from my lips

that’s not what I said

even if I said it

you didn’t hear it

no one heard it

or read it

that didn’t come from my fingers


I never thought

anything remotely like that

I was misquoted

that isn’t my voice

on the video

it’s out of context

you’re taking

the words out of mouth

& making something

different out of them

to suit your own ends

Thanks to deep ghost AI manipulation politicians can now say that what we’ve heard them say is not them & they can hence say & do anything, right? Those old clips of them can be denied outright. This wasn’t the case when I first wrote this from one of the Rules as prompt. The losing politician was refusing to accept the vote & encouraging his followers to let the world know they weren’t going to let his right to rule be stolen.

Everyone, including his followers, misunderstood his call to demonstrate – he meant peacefully not as a drunken riotous mob. This ex-president is still ranting about the stolen election & please donate to his retirement, I mean, his campaign fund in return for a pardon, I mean, a baseball cap. When returned his first act will be an honest investigation of the stolen election.

Nearly all news media is entertainment. It’s pre-digested, scripted (even when ‘live’)’ given soundtrack music & sometimes staged for the viewers reactions, as a result I take it as fiction-flavoured fact. Will the current leader get a new season, will his show be renewed, recast or dropped by the network – it all depends on the sponsors.

The piece is a list poem as it moves from one over-used excuse to another. Denial has taken the place of apology, victim blaming works better than accepting responsibility – if you hadn’t been walking down the street I wouldn’t have hit you with my car. If you quote me on that I’ll blame it on deep ghost spell-check.

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