… by association

… by association

the owner of the cafe

had called someone

an inappropriate name

it was a twitter thing

of a video 

posted of the 

owner saying that offensive word

<>

now no one can go

to the cafe

without being considered guilty

of saying those things themselves

<>

now

to be honest

I haven’t heard

what the owner said

I haven’t watched the video

this is all the context I know

and now

I can’t go to that cafe

I can’t even mention the name

of the cafe

I can’t even admit 

that I’ve been there

in the past

<>

I’d like to blame someone

for this

but I don’t know who

him

the reactionary people

the social context 

where every action we do

every word we say

attracts scrutiny

I live in a time

where

we are all guilty 

by association

Locations, retail establishments & maybe genders has been changed int rioting hit apiece so as not to cast shade – I read a version of this on a pre-pandemic open-stage (remember those?) & two different people approached me after to say they knew the situation I had written about – they each identified a different situation, neither of which was the one that sparked the piece.

That ordinary people say stupid things comes as no surprise to me but sometimes I think reactions are anger deflected from when people in power say stupid things & laugh off consequences as coming from haters (i.e Trump). We are powerless to get ‘even’ with his kind but that guy that runs the corner store is a more accessible target. Let’s take it out on them.

We can’t fire the president but we can get that waitress fired for saying something we disagree with that made us uncomfortable. That ordinary people say offensive things comes as no surprise to me but I do try to put it in context & try to put their ‘power’ in context as well. 

The irony is that we react to situation & people who take us uncomfortable & expect them to adjust to accommodate us but when we make someone uncomfortable we have no intention of adjusting to accommodate them. Then again I am an entitled, white, male so don’t really have a standing in any of this anyway, expect standing in line to get a coffee. 


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Into the Van

Continuing to listen to the heartbeat of Van Morrison I have Wavelength 78, Into The Music 80, Beautiful Vision 82, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart 83, A Brand New Sense of Wonder 85, No Guru, No Method, No Teacher 86, Poetic Champions Compose 87, Irish Heartbeat 88, Avalon Sunset 89, Enlightenment 90, Hymns To The Silence 91, Too Long in Exile 93, Days Like These 95, Duets: Re-working the Catalogue 2015. 

So you could say I’m a fan 🙂 Some these I had as lps, some as cassettes & now some are stand-clones & others mp3. Wavelength was Van going out his period of transition & into what I consider his prime with a series of spiritually complex &  musically compelling albums with often astonishing lyrics. He accomplished the sort of mystic poetics that band like Moody Blues failed at.

The albums from 78 up to 91 follow an increasing Zen sense of being with assessable lyrics & sweet music. There are some tracks full of memories of his Irish childhood that become universal – who doesn’t remember listening to the radio late at night, who doesn’t remember poets who raved on to open them to new thoughts. Van plays his sax in some deceptively simple instrumentals on some of these lps. He fully embraces his Celtic roots on Irish Heartbeat. 

The later albums are more reflective of his musical career & he is clearly aware of his legacy, which he continues to add to. He always followed his own muse, there is never a sense that he is out to create hit songs. This is adult pop – like Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne – to name a couple – who make music they want to make not what the market demands. 

This is a piece I wrote in the early 80’s.

Down The Drain

1

“It’s time we talked.”

“About what?”

“What do you think. About us. About what is going on & what’s to come of it.”

“About life & the superficial way so many people deal with it?”

“Don’t make fun. For once let’s be serious. Or does that make an unbearable demand on you?”

“I’m listening.”

We’d had this conversation once before. Then I’d only known Jim for almost four months, for me a remarkably long time. More than amazing was that nearly a year had passed since then & for the past few months I’d been expecting him to start another ‘serious’ talk.

Sitting on the sofa I pulled him close to me. 

“I’m listening.” I brush this moustache with mine, quickly darting my tongue along his lips. “Sex is all I can seriously think about when I’m with you.”

“I’m not complaining about that.” He pushed me away from him.

A vague tiredness came over me then, a sort of dismaying boredom, this time I knew he would corner me. I was used to slipping away. It wasn’t going be easy on either of us.

“Neither am I. Shoot.”

Jim seemed a bit surprised to find me receptive. He knew I preferred to avoid, or at least to cloud, emotional issues between us.

“Do you know where to begin?” I asked.

He shook his head. 

“Well, what it is? Does it something to do with me flip fucking you last night?”

“No.” He took a deep breath. “Weekends aren’t enough. You know I’d move in, we could …”

I silenced him with a finger on his lips. “Impossible. I couldn’t do anything with you around all day.”

“Fuck impossible! Do you know what it’s like for me when you aren’t around. You & your privacy. Selfish fucker you are.” He went to the window. “Sometimes I feel that what I want & what I feel aren’t really important to you, that this is all you want from me.” He gestured to his crotch.

“Okay, I’m selfish. I admit it. I want my own way, my own time & space. I can’t …”

“Jesus, Donald.” He punched the window frame.”You know how difficult it is for anyone of us to … You should understand …” Futility fused with a trace of tears challenged his usually placid composure. “I …I’m not blind. It’s not as if …”

He moved quickly, suddenly. My eyes blinked for the moment the back of his hand cracked against my cheek. I thudded heavily into the couch, my shoulders twisting as my head rebounded from his blow. I bounced a little into the next, slammed into the full force of his fist. I could taste blood.

The inside of my mouth was bleeding.

Silence.

I heard my breath.

Lungs bursting I inhaled blood & anger. Jim was crying, staring at his hands.

I wanted to talk, to say I understood his anguish, to explain how I invited this fury but I couldn’t. Words disappeared even before they could be conceived. I wanted to make a joke of this but I couldn’t.

Touching my nose I was relieved to find it wasn’t broken, merely bleeding. My left eye was numb, vision fuzzy, my bottom lip felt inches thick. Blood was dripping onto my t-shirt.

I tried to talk but gagged, spewing a self-swallowed mouthful of blood. Dazed I stood slowly. Jim backed away shocked & frightened.

(part 2 next week)

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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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Paper Ghosts

Thanks to the pandemic I’ve been purging my past. Papers, first drafts, photographs & memories. A basement full of lumber, bricks, paint, nut & bolts saved, salvaged, kept for another day now gone, with out regret. Stage set pieces from Bushwack Theatre finally seeing the light of day in the back of a junk removal truck 🙂 

I have seeing my history in the paper I used for writing on. Scrap paper recycled from Famous Players old daily multi-coloured sales report forms – pads of which became redundant as they were updated. Colour coded for filing & mailing purposes. Flyers for movies, for theatrical productions. Lined or blank loose leaf, pages torn out of scribblers, note book of various sizes & even shapes. Notes, poems, fiction typed on various typewriters, hand written in various inks & pens, dot-matrix print outs that had never been separated. https://topoet.ca/2021/03/16/past-of-the-future/

The ‘See Europe’ was one of several road show productions that travelled around the maritimes with special presentations – this was Travel, another was Alpine Skiing – the most popular was the in person show by Raveen – a hypnotist, magician – I wish I had some of those flyers. The travel shows weren’t big draws mind you but they were rentals – in this case Tony Smith was in charge of his ticket sales. We got the rental fee plus sold lots of popcorn 🙂

The various papers help date when some of these pieces were written as many of them were undated. The Famous pages are before I moved to Toronto in 1978. Days Of Heaven is from my first year here. The Famous Players form bring back memories beyond what I had written on the blank sides. One of my jobs there was to type details onto them. There was carbon paper between the pages that were 4 form thick so one had to hit hard to make sure the bottom one was legible. A mistake meant whiteout on all copies before re-entering. A total pain. Life before computers & data entry. 

This piece was typed on the blank side of a ‘Days Of Heaven’ flyer

My Left Hand

he gives me a call

a peace offering

an invitation

an offer

to nail my left hand

to the floor

but he has no camera

<>

he calls

on days

when his memory

is fading

the echo of the moon

in an old well

he speak

French threats

innuendos

of vague violence

I cannot resist

<>

I cannot confront

direct violence

I have a fear of pain

pain as in death

facts to face

I am afraid

I’ll enjoy the nail

relish each thud of the hammer

<>

I remember

the bite of his teeth

even when I cannot

recall the feel

of his lips

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Astral Van

I have been a Van Morrison fan since Moondance. Over the decades I have built a fairly complete collection, so large that I’m splitting it into two posts.  The first song of his I was familiar with was Gloria – though at the time I didn’t connect it with him. It was a cut on The Blues Magoos’ Electric Comic Book. 

His music journey has from from Irish garage-band rock with Them, to his early searching solo years after Astral Weeks, then Moondance, a return to traditional Irish, a transcendental mystic time of great spiritual discovery, to his present sense of looking back – even re-recording some of his early work. Each period has great work by this restless musical spirit.  

There are several books about him. I have read Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 which is an excellent look at the pop scene of the time & his formative US years. Many of the songs it discusses are found on Bang Masters (67). I picked this up in February 1993. Brown Eyed Girl was his solo break-though. Mostly good solid soulful rock. The Bob Dylan inference shows on some tracks.

I have as mp3: Astral Weeks Expanded Edition 68 – which has extended versions a few tracks. The jazzy/chamber music setting is sweet &, at the time, quite revolutionary so radio stations didn’t know what to do with – musically a clear influence on the chamber rock of groups like Antony & the Johnsons. 

A stand-alones I have Moondance 70, His Band and The Street Choir 70, Tupelo Honey 71, St Dominic’s Preview 72, Hard Nose The Highway 73. At one time I had them as cassettes & upgraded to cd. Moondance remains a classic, timeless album. A more commercial recording than Astra Weeks. The music is celebratory, romantic & fun. The next ones are less hit-song driven, his sound changes from one to the next, choirs on one, more horns on another. I had most of these as cassettes at one time. Also mp3’s of Veedon Fleece 74, A Period of Transition 77.

Listening one can sense how his real life is reflected in his music. The end of his marriage, the wrestle with booze & drugs, his spiritual longings & his search for ways to express though lyrics & music his need to balance his expectations, fame & friends. In some ways a male version of Joni Mitchell but with a more rock sensibility. All of these are great albums but if you are unfamiliar start with Moondance & then Astral Weeks. 

More Van next week.

Anticipation 4

It was as he said ‘I want to know’ that he realized he did, in fact, accept The Book. It didn’t matter what he did, he couldn’t avoid his fate so he might as well start living to enjoy it. It didn’t matter what he did as long as he did something. The idea of making a decision that was not escape frightened him. That was also in The Book – ‘Martin will make the fearful choice after death.’ He regretted that it was someone else’s death.

So, this was the day. Overcast & slushy. No Michelangelo skies. As he dressed he wondered exactly what he would be doing at the moment of impact, the fulcrum of healing? Saving a drowning child? Taking a good shit? ‘What becomes the healing the world the most?’ he inhaled ‘God’, held it; breathed out, ‘Thank you.’ Then reversed the order.

Recently he had been pre-occupied by what would become of him after that moment. The Book ended with ‘On that February 14 Martin will begin the healing of the world.’ Nothing followed. Not that The Book had even been helpful in any important way. He had frequently wished it had said things like ‘Martin will become a doctor, or ‘wear those blue shorts to the beach.’ It only commented ‘… will then no longer feel lost.’ The horoscope in the newspaper was more helpful.

He hoped that once he got the healing started he could begin to live his own life for himself.

A list of To Do Today on the fridge had only one item on it – ‘Replace plug on corner lamp.’ That meant a trip to the hardware store, people, uniformed sales clerks. All the things he’d rather avoid.

The elevator in his building wasn’t working, again. Luckily he only had a six flight walk. In the carpark he discovered his arial had been snapped off, again. At least this time they hadn’t scratched a map of the world on his roof.

He went the hardware store in the mall. Found what he wanted quickly then went over to Finest Burgers in the food court. Ordered one with works & found a quiet spot that faced the dining area.

He looked at the hamburger & the fries. Fries overcooked to just the brownness he liked. The first bite was perfection. He knew it wasn’t the most healthy food but the combination of salt, ketchup & grease exploded in his mouth in the most satisfying way. A way he knew alfalfa sprouts couldn’t come near.

The molecular structure of the grease changed & the cholesterol deposits in Martin’s arteries began to dissolve. 

Brenda’s doctor looked at the test results. “Gone! Completely in remission.”

Charles put the gun down.

Brian decided he could look after the kids without her.

The blood sample on the slide mutated, the helper cells began to win.

Sylvia decided not to have that last donut.

Martin glanced up & saw that it was just after one. The healing had begun! He looked around expecting to see transformation. All he saw was people eating. He bit into his hamburger, Perfection again. And so it should be, after all wasn’t this a perfect day. The first perfect day ever.

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You First

You First

I was hiding

my feelings from him

not hiding exactly

but not declaring them

not putting them into words

what was communicated in my touch

was that enough

did he

could he

read between the kisses

between my legs

was there enough

emotionally import

in my smile

my eagerness

to convey 

what I was afraid 

to put into words

as I waited

for him to put into words

what I felt in his touch

Have you ever heard this in movies – ‘You never say you love me.’ or ‘Say it like you mean it?’ Have you thought who needs this needy person? There is a theory of power dynamics in a relationships that the power is with the person who loves the least. The difference could be .001% but it is there. 

Early in ‘romantic’ relationships there are these points where both parties are tentative about expressing their emotions. ‘I like you’ is so much less vulnerable than ‘I love you.’ I’ve known people who back out of relationships if the other party jumps the affection gun. Going for ‘love’ comes across as a red flag not an invitation to deepen things.

We get consistent mixed message about what ‘true’ love is vs. codependency. There is also this, to me, illogical linking of sexual fidelity with love. If you love  strawberry ice cream, to even look at another flavour is a betrayal of trust. But that’s a subject for another post.

This state of tentative love is called, I think, limerence, were so much hinge son the feel of falling, the feel of being fallen for – a feel where there is constant edge of ‘when will be together again’ permeates dreams, where texting a smile can change a mood. But if you text that smile & wait for it to be trend then get pissed if it isn’t returned fast enough – that isn’t love it’s control.

I don’t hide my affections but I also don’t go over board with them either. I do text a smile (or other body parts) then get on with my day. The pleasure is as much in the opportunity to send affection as it is to get it. 


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Apocalypse Postponed

The covid pandemic hasn’t been like the post-apocalypse movies – you know, those end-of-the-world scenarios where panicked mobs take the streets to pillage stores & hunt down one another in the struggle for survival. At least not yet. People have gotten steamed up, some reactionary noisiness about masks, vaccines with finger-pointing blame & some calling out profit mongering. Let’s face it if the pandemic wasn’t making someone lots of $ it would be ignored.

People are confused by science. One day one of the vaccines isn’t safe for over sixty, then another day it is safe but not safe for under 50’s, or at least not safe if you female between the ages of 30-40, but now safe for over over 60’s regardless of gender. Were safety protocols rushed to get it on the market? No, that would never happen.

Here in Ontario the numbers are confusing & ultimately ignored. The number of vaccines given hasn’t brought the numbers of infected down, in fact it has gone up. The biggest jump has been in schools but we can’t close them because parents need to work now that more businesses are being reopened because we have to get the economy moving so the tax base is large enough to pay for the vaccines, or something like that.

The economy has to recover so politicians can be re-elected with enough of a majority that can protect the profit margins of those already making $ off the pandemic. You know those banks who get a fee every time you use your debit/credit card because most retailers no longer accept cash because cash is riddled with potential disease. You pay a fee & the merchant pays a fee – win/win for the banking industry. How much do they pay into the tax base?

I did get my vaccine as soon as my age bracket was allowed. Booked it on line but first entering my postal code, it directed me to the nearest temporary clinic where I continued the process with birth date, health card number & it was done. Took about fifteen minutes. I did that on a Saturday & appointment booked for Tuesday, 10:20 a.m. Got there on the Tuesday by 10, lineups moving fairly quickly. More registration confirmations etc. Got the shot by 10:30.

I was given the vaccine info after the shot. I got the Pfizer – apparently the #1 rated, so far. Sat for 15 minutes, was given a receipt for the shot, next one booked for July. No side effects not even the sore arm many have experienced. I’m not sure whose profit margin I have helped but at least I didn’t have to use my credit card 🙂

Puppet Theatre Time (2008)

the theory is that

our leaders are all puppets 

figureheads

who are invested

in the illusion of power

unaware they are hollow images

taking the heat for the real powers

a hidden consortium 

who make the real decisions

they exert the right squeeze

so little leaders slump out 

to take the blame 

because leaders are just frail men

with no will power to wield

no clout to get the job done

not even attractive to look at

so they are more believable

<>

politics is now 

a form of entertainment

media fodder

to hide the real holders of power

we are amused  numbed

by the constant barrage 

of sound bite cell cam videos

of presidents getting photo ops

when they should be 

getting our boys out of 

wherever the hell they are 

because even where they are

isn’t the real war zone

but a more elaborate movie set

with real lives being lost

to keep our attention away from

what is really going on

<>

no one is sure what is really going on

it isn’t what we accept as the truth

there is no money in truth

only diverting statics

from the struggle for freedom

from Tibet to Kensington market 

upscale name branded 

divisive tactics

sometimes I believe this 

sometimes I don’t care

where do we place our faith

what is worth the energy to change

if it can be changed

revolution has been copyrighted 

by este lauder

the latest scent 

a mix of blood oil jasmine

with woody undertones

<>

if it isn’t making someone money 

it isn’t going to happen

war happens because it is big business

cancer continues to make a profit

going green isn’t happening 

the profit margins are too low

most people don’t earn

enough to save the planet

from who holds 

the reins of the illusion power

or so the theory goes

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Egg Trees

Egg trees have been sprouting all around the east end. This is a growing spring holiday decorating that I love to see. This is another pagan festival that the Christian church hasn’t been able to obliterate. As far I know there were no hard-boiled eggs or rabbit pie at the Last Supper 🙂

festive hedge
hot magenta
happy dangle day
let’s get sticky
more danglers
bejewelled
egg-flation
someone left an egg out in the rain


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