Out With The Bathwater

Out With The Bathwater

he wanted to drink

my bathwater

or so he said

I never did take him up on it

 

if he had said that

after a few dates

I might have found it

appealing  almost flattering

but to start with that

was a bit much

 

it was the sort of

coming on too strong

I called ‘a red flag’

similar to sending a phone number

as the first message

not even a call me

or I liked your profile

I’m not going to call that number

 

he wanted to drink

my bathwater

when I asked him why

he said that it was pretty obvious

the water

was something that had touched

every inch of my body

the way he wished he could

I was amused

intrigued

 

all his pics were blurry

closeups of his nipples

I think

no face pic

 

I asked for a face photo

never heard back from him

I was going to take a bath

anyway


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When I Was A Young Boy

For the summer I’m looking at my Brown Betty chapbook. All the pieces dealt with growing up in Cape Breton. As usual WordPress imposes its own line breaks 😦

When I Was A Young Boy

when I was a young boy 

I kissed a girl 

when I was a young boy

about 11 

I kissed a girl 

she was about 11
it was at a birthday party
not hers 

she was wore a frilly rose-yellow dress 

I wore a white shirt and tie 

so maybe it wasn’t a birthday party 

maybe a wedding

 

there were about a dozen of us
kids from various families 

kids that sort of knew each other 

made to dress like little adults 

 

we watched adults kissing greeting 

and like little adults we kissed 

I don’t remember her name 

but I kissed her
she didn’t seem to mind 

then we chased each other 

sneaking kisses 

till we were caught 

someone’s mother
gave a little shocked shriek 

‘oh you naughty kids’ 

 

the other kids picked that up
and ran around 

calling me ‘naughty boy’

‘naughty boy’
while the little girl I kissed 

blushed then joined in with them 

as if it was all my fault
all my idea

 

the adults got in on it after awhile 

‘oh look there’s the naughty boy 

watch out or he’ll kiss you’ 

 

when I was a young boy
I kissed a girl
I learned my lesson
I never a kissed another girl

This piece starts as a traditional English ballad. There are many variations on this beginning – when I was a young …. is the start of many a story, almost like ‘once upon a time.’ Even the ‘I kissed’ come out of the old school tradition. Though there is also a nod some recent pop songs. The party setting is also very tradition – the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner starts with the mariner talking to a wedding guest.

The piece plays on the nature of memory, of place, circumstances. Growing up I ended up at similar events, wearing a shirt & tie with kids I didn’t know, some of whom I never saw again either. The story unfolds in a sweet logically way, much as the traditional ballad would tell the story, adding layer so detail as it progressed. In ballad the hero always faced some sort of ‘conflict.’

I’ve always found it puzzling when young children are asked if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend while the idea of children’s sexuality is so fought with fear & shame at once. Their lack of sexual knowledge is praised, almost encouraged & shamed all at the same time.

This piece was written for a class I took Make-A-Scene on performative story telling. https://wp.me/p1RtxU-7V, https://wp.me/p1RtxU-83,  When I performed it I wore shorts, a white shirt & a playful tie. The girl was played by a helium balloon with a string that put it at about about shoulder height to me. I found one with a girl’s face on it. My class mates did the ‘naughty boy’ shaming. At the end of the piece I cut the string and it floated away. 


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School’s Out – Colby Days 1

When my father settled down in was in Sydney. Our first house was on the corner of Rigby Road & Centre St. It was like a giant playhouse too big for the three of us – Mom, Dad & me. Living-room, dining room, kitchen & a parlour on the first floor, another four rooms on the 2nd floor. So I had my own bedroom plus a play room. Attic, basement with a sprawling hot-air coal furnace. Barn-size garage too.

 

It was a mid-income neighbourhood. Lots of families. I remember being friends with a girl who lived across the street, whose name may have been Wendy. There was a boy I hung around with but I don’t remove this name at all. We lived there for about a year.

 

I was enrolled in Colby School (now Brookland Elementary) at corner of Royal Ave. & Cottage Road. I can’t recall if I was there for the start of the school term or not. I do recall my Dad walking to school along Center St the first few days to make sure I knew my way. It was about a 5min walk. The first time I walk home along I ended up walking along Cottage Road & getting lost.

 

This past week I did some research on Colby Elementary (there is a FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/colbyschool/). That research brought back lots of memories but none of my first year there. Colby went up to Grade VI. So I was there for IV & V. There was a special ed class in the basement. My memories of some teachers names have stuck with me though – Miss Greenwell, Mrs. Butterworth, Mrs. McLeod.

The building was essentially a box with windows. Two floors, two entrances one for boys, one for girls. Big school yard in back for recess where we would play baseball, hopscotch – nothing organized. at the end of the school yard was Wash Brook – which ran through the city. It was forbidden territory during school hours.

Summer of that year I went to Wales with my mother & when we returned my father had moved us into a smaller house on Cottage Road. More about that & some actual school moments next week 🙂

 Sing

as a child I liked to sing

used to do it a lot

around the house 

on my way to school

with my dad when we went fishing

with my sisters when they got old enough 

we would sing bits of songs off the radio

sing along with records of my mother

Mario Lanza 

drink drink drink

each trying to out sing the other

 

then there was 

hey you with the stars in your eyes

that would become

hey there

you with sausages in your eyes

don’t fry my heart

it always broke us up 

hey there 

you with the bananas in your eyes

don’t monkey with my heart

hey there

you with the beans in your ears

can’t you hear I love you

 

the children choir at the United Church 

was looking for new members

my mom suggested 

it would be great opportunity

I could learn to sing for real

learn how to carry a tune 

instead of burying it under volume

 

a bunch kids at the church hall

were lined up according to height

mostly girls and some boys

mostly around my age 10 to 12

we where given a song sheet

words between dangling fangs of music

I didn’t know notes rests 

 

we where told 

just worry about the words

a woman played a few notes on the piano

we started in with a din

a few tries and we worked through it

then girls only  boys only 

individually

some got a nod from her

yes you’ll do fine

my turn she played a few notes

I started

no no no this note

finally she gave up

thank you but you really can’t …

 

blood rushed to my face ears

the other kids gawked at me

I ran out ran home

told my mother 

I never wanted to sing

never ever ever

and really haven’t

except for the occasional

hey there 

you with the fingers in your ears

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


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September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Death By Proxy

Death By Proxy

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

does 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

but that jellyfish like shimmer

darting around other shimmers

as if 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

put to bed without any supper

or better yet

shot


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Man With A Past 1

For the summer I’m looking at my Brown Betty chapbook. All the pieces dealt duh growing up in Cape Breton. Sadly WordPress had imposed line breaks that I can’t figure out how to fix.

Man With A Past 1

I am from a cup of King Cole black tea

steeping in a Brown Betty pot
flat fried scones
burned pancakes on Sunday mornings

born in Manitoba
moved to Cape Breton before I was ten
the Cape is an island of cousins aunts uncles 

I had none
only good parents

who couldn’t protect me

from a context they wanted to fit 

I am from the rusted rain
seeded by steel plant exhaust
black pearl gritted snow
that fell in layers of grey white grey white 

my mother a Welsh war bride
a family of eleven brothers and sisters 

lots of cousins aunts uncles in-laws 

oceans too far away
to coax me into this island world 

told that not fitting in was my fault
why didn’t I try harder 

be more like other kids 

so I hid    but that’s not the point
because we all hide 

I am from an east coast pollution pulsation 

I still call home
where paying the rent and feeding the kids

was worth the cold damp steel poison price 

while the blast furnace
spewed the air
to pepper the food we ate
at night no one saw it
flood our dreams

I am from Swedes who changed
the last name of their first born to Armstrong 

a name I could never live up to
never defend in school yard brawls
would come home
with a bloodied nose   bruises
that disappointed my dad
who didn’t understand
why I couldn’t stand up for myself 

stranded on the molehill of 

growing up queer
no role models to offer hope
in a culture of judgement and fear 

so I hid   but that’s not the point 

because we all hide 

I am diverted from
the history I have
by a history that is denied to me 

when researchers into
the lives of gay men and women 

in WWII fighting forces
are asked 

why sully the memory 

of our brave men and women 

I am from an unrecorded past 

where there was no name
till what I am became labelled 

by incomprehensible fear 

the point is – I survived what past I had
by creating a self 

out of the fear and shame 

hidden in my past
but today
no longer hiding from it

I suppose from the context you know that King Cole is a black tea 🙂 It is blended for the Maritime market & first sold in 1910. It is a strong, black tea found, at one time, in nearly every Cape Breton home. Brown Betty is a common tea pot also found in many east coast homes. Traditional, functional & not ornamental. Solid. I’ve had mine for so long I don’t remember when I got it.

My mother preferred Red Rose. She was the maker of the flat, fried scones – they were almost cookies. She added raisins & pressed the thick dough with an egg flipped onto the frying pan to brown each side. Yummy with butter. My Dad was the pancake man. He would make them nearly every Sunday for us kids.

As you might conclude by now this piece is autobiographic. Full of real details & understanding. Though the understanding came years later. I don’t think my Dad realized how interconnected the families were when he settled us in Sydney. All my cousins were in Wales. I couldn’t visit them after school, or stay with an aunt for a weekend. Fitting in was my problem not theirs.

The main industry in Sydney was the steel plant. As the piece says it belched clouds of smoke regularly. Sometime white, sometimes black, sometimes grey. In school we were taught how steel was made but it was never explained to us what this smoke was made up of – clearly it wasn’t just steam. Years later, when the Steel Plant closed it was revealed how dangerous this was & how poised even the soil in areas closest to the plant were.

But that’s not the point of this piece – except that it was merely one of the secrets hidden like the the secrets I kept hidden. Looking back I see how isolated I was in this culture – on that molehill – knowing my queer secret & the shame that forced me to keep it. 

 

The WWII book is Paul Jackson’s excellent One Of The Boys. He had to deal with this attitude of ‘why sully’ while doing is research. The ‘why sully’ still exists when it comes to allowing queer representation to be part of my history. It was only recently that Tchaikovsky’s love letters were allowed to be published. That they weren’t destroyed at the time – which happened to many ‘creatives’ though history – is a surprise. My ‘love letters’ will live forever thanks to the Internet 🙂 There is no hiding here.


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Out In The Open

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Out In The Open

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

emotional 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

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Sacred

Nothing Is Sacred

it’s not that I don’t know

but what I know isn’t relevant

to you

 

I’m not an explainer

what you want to understand about me

isn’t going to make any difference

 

what I don’t tell you

isn’t even a secret

it’s merely a boundary 

of how willing I am to trust you

 

I won’t even confirm

what you think you know

I have nothing more to tell you

not even why

 

each thing I say

makes it appear I’m open

for negotiation

that if you keep me talking

I‘ll tell you what you want to know

tell you some amazing realization 

that let’s you feel ah ah

now I have him

he’s in my control 

or he’s not so special after all

 

you were expecting something deeper

more profound

instead you are getting nothing

 

don’t forget

nothing is sacred
What is the difference been data & information, between truth & facts? Even data can be ignored if it doesn’t fit one’s deeply held religious beliefs. Accepting this has made it easier for me to keep my big mouth shut in many situations. When people ask for my option I know they ultimately want me to confirm what they already believe.

The theme of identity appears frequently in my poetry – what we think we know about each other, about the political scene, about greenhouse gas – issues we become invested in that give us a sense of definition in our own minds & in the eyes of each other. We are judged a much by our opinions as by our appearance, or our actions. Guilty even when proved innocent.

As I grow older life gets simpler the less I have to say. I have my opinions on religion – how easy it is to justify homophobia by using cherry-picked Bible quotes by people who brag about known g their Bible history – usually when they don’t know the history of the bible itself. But I choose not to wade into that morass – people who don’t want to listen are a waste of my time. I have more important things   to worry about – like what tee-shirt am I going to wear.

 

This piece is also about people who want to make sure you know just how more they know than you do. I do have a rather extensive file of trivia trapped in my brain than I can access quickly – ask me what I watched on TV yesterday & I may not know though 🙂 But I do know what tee-shirt I’m probably going to wear tomorrow. I’d rather be defined by what I wear anyway.


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Age in Play

One of the men I see frequently recently celebrated his birthday. He is much younger than me. As are most of the men I am intimate with – part of that is the aging process, part of that is that many men around my age won’t have sex with men around my age. I’m not that concerned with age, though I do find over-30 is a reasonable boundary – but younger is fine if they fit some of my preferences 🙂

I’m only thinking about the age gap because the hosts of Gayish podcast, on an earlier podcast, tangent-talked about what the youngest & oldest person they’ve been intimate with & another time talked about when was too old to go clubbing (apparently 30 is the cut off age for clubbing). Both of them concluded that more than 10 year older or younger, was the limit for  either of them. What they don’t realize is that the older you get the less restricted the age limit will become.

 

In North American culture ageism is unavoidable – often the notion of an older person with some clearly involved someone younger is seen as a joke, ‘no fool like an old fool,’ ‘I hope the money is good.’ Even I find it creepy in movies to see the older male star become the romantic object of a much younger female star. Is she looking for a daddy figure, a sugar daddy, or merely a more sexually experienced partner? Or is some writer indulging his own sex fantasy?

 

I’ve blogged about some of this before – the way sexually active seniors are viewed as perverts of some sort or denied any right to be sexual – at your age you should be over all that. Though I’m not sure what age is ‘your age.’ Not that I see myself as a senior either 🙂

This is a piece I’ve performed many times. The gap represents a pause I take when I do the piece & nearly every time there has been an audible gasp from someone in the audience.

Boyfriend

I’m so excited   

I have a new boy friend

he’s barely fifteen

 

 

 

 

years younger than me

 

did that pause catch you off guard 

were you sure I was going to say 

he was only fifteen years old

 

was it hard enough to think of a man

having a boyfriend at all

then add to it 

the shudder that it was

an innocent 

emotionally underdeveloped

fifteen year old child

 

though I can remember me at fifteen

jacking off to visions of rock star cock

Jimi Hendrix        Bruce Springsteen

that I wished there in my bed

telling you too much am I

get used to it

I’ve heard enough straight poets go on 

sparing no intimate details

about blissful raspberry nipples

moist peach fuzzed mounds 

 

so I’ll talk about man on man action

even if it makes some of you restless

a bit bored     a bit threatened

girl on girl would make you more comfortable

I usually try to make the nestling 

of men’s bodies into each other

sound sort of sweet and tender

pulling myself away 

from the gasp   grasp of sweat    pubic hair

 

so I’m excited 

about my new boyfriend

though I hate ‘boyfriend’

boy carries that too young taint

man friend isn’t close

lover is more complex 

than it is at this point

bed buddy     yeah I like that 

 

I have a new bed buddy

he’s nearly fifteen 

years younger than me

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Bored

Bored

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

some I had tried a few times

decided no thanks

to exploring them again

 

we chatted a awhile

he liked my dick pic

he wanted an older guide

one who was opened minded

as it became clear

I had boundaries

he became bitter

judgemental

 

not wanting to do

what he wanted to do

made me an ‘uptight old queen’

I wished him well

hoped he’d enjoy his explorations

added there were lots of men

ready to teach a nineteen year old

the ropes

but I wasn’t one of them

I signed off

 

his age wasn’t a big factor to me

but the index was

he’d have to learn

that just because 

there was some common ground

that didn’t mean all ground

was was common

 

he texted me a day later

he felt

because I wasn’t so eager

that I was someone he could trust

wouldn’t take advantage of him

I mentioned a few of the

items in his index

that would never happen with me

and he once again

tried to bargain

 

he asked why didn’t I trust him

after all he trusted me

I said it had nothing to do with trust

but lack of interest

the more insistent he became

the the more bored I became

 

so I texted

‘okay okay

let’s meet 

when and where’

he signed off

 

I haven’t from him since


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The Name Game

The Name Game

this is not my real name

in fact

I use my given name so infrequently

no one is sure what it is

I’m not sure of what it is

 

I won’t tell you what you want to know

not that it’s a secret

there is no deep shame

that I am hiding

 

names that I use

change from time to time

location to location

in fact

we may have met before

when I was someone else

that’s why I sometimes

seem so familiar

 

I don’t go out of the way

to disguise myself

to cover my trail

only who I might be

so that when you say

you understand me

I know 

you don’t even know who are talking to

 

everything you know

is about another person

someone with a name you know

that’s not my name

it wasn’t then

and it never will be again

I’ve met guys on line who. for privacy, I guess, have more than one name. In fact nearly all people on line do – a handle, a nickname, an email address that doesn’t reveal who they are. On dating sites guys have names like Toppugood43 or flexlexy – that may hint on what they want to do. Some have given one name in chat, then another one shows up as part of their email response & when they text another name & when we meet maybe their real name.

 

Some never give a name at all, really. ‘Hi it’s Toppu.’ Or not even that much, as if their phone number will tell me who it is. Names are one of the way we define people, so I can accept people needing to self-define by choosing their own name & using it as a sort of mask. Would John Wayne have made it big with his birth name Marion Morrison?

One of the reasons for ‘branding’ myself as TOpoet, was to remove immediate information about myself. All I want you to know is there – where I am located & what I do. No gender, sexuality, race or even age is alluded to. The only preconceived notion one may have is about poets, not about me as a person – unless it is to conclude that anyone labeling themselves as a poet is a pretentious fop. Guilty.

So this piece is about the ambiguity of names, of what we think we know about people & how insubstantial image is. It is easy to be someone else on line. I’m never sure if who I may be chatting with for the first time is actually the person in the picture (if they have a picture). I don’t know until I meet them face to face & it is the face in their photos. I don’t even fully believe what they’ve said in our chats, or in their profile. It is easy to flirt, overstate interests in text. Meeting moves things to the next level of negotiation. Which may require proof of identity 🙂 


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