Secret Set Building 2

Set building is progressing easily for my Secret feature. I stopped selecting pieces when I got to over 2000 words. I did a light edit as I chose them, then another when reading them out loud. At this point I’m merely interested in the sound & flow of each individual piece, though in the back of my mind is what the sequence of the pieces will be.

 

The next step was to print them out for a more hands-on edit. Editing on screen is one thing, having a hard-copy is more intense & productive. Once again I read the pieces aloud, cutting lines that don’t add to clarity, or make things too clear 🙂 I generally remove things that sound good but aren’t really a part of the piece. I also listen for verbal stumbling points.

 

This read is my first chance to get a sense of how long the reading will be. I’m also looking at the flow of the entire set – is there a theme that I wasn’t aware of? I decide which piece will open & which will close the set. I will keep it in two distinct sections though – the 2008 material will be kept together, then the fresher Rules of Monks.

I will not be going into explanations of which Rule prompted the various pieces. The pieces are not explorations or comments on the Rules themselves but a sort of lens though which I’ve filtered my thoughts. In this read through I also decide which pieces to cut so the set doesn’t seem endless to me as I perform it 🙂 Of course listeners always want more.

this is a piece that may end up in the set 

Snapped & Slapped

some people

are just asking for a slap

you know what I mean

so I snapped & slapped 

it was so fast

I hardly felt it

but it worked

it shut them up

for a few scant moments of bliss

of silence

there wasn’t even an echo

of the slap

my hand hardly felt it all

you know what I mean

if it doesn’t hurt me

it surely didn’t hurt them

other than a bit of humiliation

in front of the others

I know to be slapped

is a social thing

if we were alone

I doubt if a slap would have happened

but with an audience

what else could I do

boundaries have to be established

so I slapped

I would do it again

only harder the next time

you know what I mean

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

January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

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

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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

Ours Alone

Ours Alone

the tenderness here

must remain here

only for the two of us

to enjoy to cherish

 

the sight of it

in the open air

in a public space

would sully it

 

turn it into performance

it would cease to be sacred

it would be an assault

on common decency

 

for two men 

to hold hands in public

for them to kiss

in front of innocent children



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Squeeze Me

Squeeze

he was squeezing

something on his jaw line

near the left ear

he’d stop

then go back to it

an ingrown hair 

another time he was scratching

a dry patch on his back

scratched until it was raw

but not quite bleeding

sometimes gnawing at finger nail

another time biting at something

on the inside his cheek

not every time we were together

 

we get together every couple of weeks

for a movie & food

for making out

it took a few years

before this squeeze pattern emerged

one that I recognize

I was once caught up

in small acts of self harm 

the pinched pimple

the scratched spot 

I know the odd satisfaction 

that comes from inflicting

tiny persistent

pain

on myself

I have the scar tissue to show for it

 

I was never into big self-harm

burns to the hands

criss-cross slits on the arms

I was satisfied by my small

micro-aggressions against myself

against my body

I treasure the body

he harms

how do I call attention

his micro-aggressions

I’m not a professional

no one ever called my attention

to how I treated myself 

I kept it too hidden

no one would see

the spot I picked till it bled

eventually that need left

 

not that I’ve seen him bleed

not until he tells me something more

than let’s play

then I’ll know

he wants more than comfort

There’s a relationship theory that what appeals most to us is something of ourselves that we see in others – some commonality – not sure where ‘opposites attract’ fits into that theory 🙂 For me, sometimes, the reflection of me I see in someone else is more a red flag than a red cape. This piece is about a real person – a guy I’ve been seeing for a couple years now – so we are quite emotionally & sexually compatible. He is not my mirror though & comes from a very different cultural background.

 

Part of my history is cutting – which took many forms besides the ones mentioned here – nail biting, pimple squeezing – thought I doubt if his comes from the same emotional place. His turned out to be a reflection of work-place stress. I did offer moisturizer a few times in case the itch was dry skin – rather than say ‘stop doing that.’ 

 

When I’ve been tempted to say something, to him or anyone else, I think first about my motivation, about my own past – as the piece says no one ever ‘diagnosed’ my actions. Perhaps because I grew up at a time & place where children weren’t diagnosed for such habits – now-a-days nail-biters get medication to behave acceptably. Also I wasn’t much of listener.

Teachers would say stop biting & I’d think ‘bite me.’ As I got older the unwillingness to take heed increased, in some areas. You drink too much – only meant I had to find a better crowd to drink with 🙂 Knowing better I could ignore via rationalization whatever someone disapproved – after all culture was wrong wrong wrong about the sordid sickness of queer so it was wrong about everything else too.

I’ve become a grateful that my sweet friend is comfortable enough to be himself around me – his quirks aren’t mine to correct but his presence is for me to enjoy. Besides he squeezes me in the best ways 🙂


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

Secret Set Building 

Early this year I got the flyer for this month’s Secret Handshake Poetry Reading Series – even though, once again, I was incorrectly named, I decided to go ahead & altered the flyer with correct billing – which is why I’m in the pink 🙂 Things like this make the issue of misgendering very real to me.

It’s been some years since I’ve done a feature (& at the last I had similar name issues.) One host told me TOpoet.ca was too self-promoting! I’ve never seen this list of performers: readings by X, X, X etc. All readings are self-promotion, so fuck right off you sanctimonious dick head. If I sound like a diva, don’t act surprised 🙂

Now that the diva’s out of the way – I’ve started set building for the show. I’ve gone through the last couple of months of pieces prompted by the Rules For Monks. So there will be several very fresh pieces in the set. Some of these were also influenced by my stay in Sydney – my ho town, I mean, home town in Cape Breton. In particular the nature of the culturally instilled masculinity/femininity that children never question but struggle with fulfilling. Pieces that haven’t seen been featured on the blog yet.

 

Part of the set will be out of the 2008 archives that I’ve been shifting through to include in my Monday posts. The archaeological dig of the massive pile of piece that has been getting deeper & bigger & left to ferment. As I don’t write as often as I once did it was time to actually look at what I forgotten – once I get through the typos it I have to scour my memory to figure out ‘what the hell was I getting at.’ It is rewarding. Once 2008 is done I may go back to 1998 🙂

As usual the most demanding decision will be what to wear 🙂

this may show up in the set:

What To Wear

does this fit

does it look good on me

do I look sane in it

does it turn you on

do I look educated in this

does it suit the occasion

will it get me laid

can it open doors for me

will it need to be ironed

can I wear it in public

will it turn heads

does it make me look old

look desperate

does it come in other colours

maybe a size larger

does it make up for my lack of style

do I have the guts to wear it

does it wear me

will it last longer than a glance

is it why you want me

am I anything without it

can it be replaced

can it replace me

excuse me 

while I slip into something 

more comfortable

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

January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

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

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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

The Honeymoon Suite

The Honeymoon Suite

the last thing I expected 

was for this to last

beyond the first blush brush of heat

so when I found myself

looking around a room 

I didn’t know I’d entered

I was caught off guard

 

while you 

remained unaware 

as if this sort of thing

happened so often

it hadn’t drawn your attention

I wasn’t all that concerned

with finding a way out

but wanted one 

that would take me deeper



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Terra

Terra Cotta

he insisted

on terra cotta flower pots

not pots

planters

you know the kind big enough

for a …

oh you’ve heard this story

you know where it’s going

unlike the men

meeting him

they didn’t know where they were going

just that he promised

to take them somewhere 

offered –

well I’m not sure what he offered

it’s hard to call that something sex

I guess I’m old fashioned that way

 

terra cotta is better for the plants

for the roots

it breathes properly

allows water to filter through

plastic containers trap the water

traps insects

plastic absorbs heat

the soil doesn’t breathe

 

neither do the men

 

Selim Esen, 44

Abdulbasir Faizi, 44 

Majeed Kayhan, 58 

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37  

Andrew Kinsman, 49

Dean Lisowick, 47

Soroush Mahmudi, 50

Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40

Often current events get instilled to the prompts I’m using – the prompt becomes a direction for me to deal with real life events in a poetic, almost fictionalized way. The prompt allows for symbolism. In this case the serial killer of gay men was in the news – I was very careful of where I place ‘gay’ in that description as I’m not sure if the killer is self-identified but merely picked gay men as being vulnerable enough for him to victimize.

One of break-throughs was finding human remains in the giant terra cotta planters he was using in his gardening business. I’m a gardener & know a few things about terra cotta – it is preferable to plastic containers – plastic doesn’t ‘breath’ or cool properly so plants don’t grow as well in them. It was a simple association between roots buried in pots, to men buried in pots.

As more was revealed about the hunt for the killer some details were repeated over & over, the pots being one of them. All one had to do, in some situations, is say terra cotta & everyone knew the association. How long did it take for o.j. to get back to meaning orange juice?

 

I ‘enjoy’ performing this piece – the shifting use of language, the ironic parallel of plants & men plays well without being comic. I don’t enjoy the fact that I had to write this piece. I don’t mention the killer’s name, I won’t ever, but the names of his victims deserve to be heard so that these men, for a moment, get to breathe again as you read them. Try saying them out loud.

 

Sunday –  January 26, 2020 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 

Risk Management

For me there is little danger in walking down the street, in going to a coffee shop, in going to bar other than drunken drivers. It has been decades since I was verbally harassed for being a ‘fucking faggot.’ For some friends of mine there is always danger in walking down the street – many I know feel unsafe doing such simple tasks, in particular trans men & women. Marginalized in various ways.

I know many trans people who have come into recovery, some have stayed & others have found the gendered language of recovery texts too difficult to deal with & chose to continue using. Another area of safety for me – I can read such literature & not feel the need to constantly re-contextualize the language.

These thoughts come about as the result of a transwoman I knew in the recovery rooms being murdered just before Christmas. I didn’t know her well, but her violent death resonated with me (& more with others who knew her better). When using one’s ability to judge risk factors is impaired – that was true for me at one point before I came into recovery. I was doing things not because I really wanted to but because I was drunk enough not to care what I was doing. With recovery I started to care more about myself, stopped taking risks to be ‘liked’, stopped needing to reaffirm my sexuality to myself.

I can’t speak to the murdered woman’s level of risk or why she was taking them – I do know how easy it is to get caught in those cycles even with some recovery. I doubt if I would be alive today if I had continued as I was – sometimes what kills isn’t the substance but what it allows us to do or what we allow to happen to us.

 

I am deeply sadden by the cultural context that makes walking to the store dangerous for some. I play an active role in recovery to help reduce risk factors but there are limits. Also I have resisted mentioning the victim’s name – those who know know. I’m not one to coat tail just to get hits here. Maybe in a year I’ll add the name. Until then this is a woman who will be missed, even by someone who hardly knew her.

 


Law Breaker

when was the first time I broke the law

was it when I shoplifted

drank underage

had a few tokes

dropped pants with another man

did I bring something across the border

without declaring it

did I ever fudge my income tax 

to claw back another lousy 50 bucks

have I ever wanted to push someone 

in front of an on coming train

thought crimes

 

I’m not a good criminal 

petty at best through

that petty crime mindset

is eroding the very structure of our society

each small look away 

leads to people disappearing

without being noticed

dots of faces not joined

till they lead to a pig farm

or terra cotta flower pots

why bother even then

they were junkies users trans

not good god fearing coffee drinkers

 

when was the first time I broke a heart

well never 

as far as  know

I’m too petty in love for that to happen

my wounds never bleed enough

to attract healers

those people addicted 

to the hurt in others

my hurts are too minor

scrapes more than scars

 

if I were a better criminal 

perhaps I could attract

a more substantial class of healer

but I’m not into self-harm

or petty law breaking either

shop lifting – why bother

it isn’t worth the hassle

who give a shit about someone toking up

now it’s all medical marijuana

I don’t make enough money 

to worry about fudging my taxes

have to inflate not deflate

just to be credible

self-destruct mode turned off years ago

that save-me-please energy has been banked

 

I’d rather be as petty as I am

a minor offence

not a major attraction

the delightful surprise 

under a taupe surface

a surface very few penetrate

most slide along in favour

of the more clearly wounded

and I suppose 

there’s no law against that

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

January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

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

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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

Have It

You Can’t Have It

you can have it

it isn’t mine to give

but you can have it

I don’t know who it belongs to

so take it

 

the land rights

aren’t really protected

well enough

to balance the profits you offer

what is good for the most

is more important

than what is sacred for a few

you can have it

 

there’s no need for consultation

what do they know

about business anyway

superstitious paganism

is always pointless

in the face of cultural expediency

they only want to preserve their comforts

by denying us ours

so take it

 

do what you have to get it

just because it is theirs

doesn’t mean anything

to anybody

expect the press gawkers 

twitter won’t save anyone

you don’t have a reputation

worth protecting anyway

so take it

 

it’s not mine to give

but not theirs to keep either

yet they are keeping it 

no matter what the cost

to you


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Prize Wise

Prize Wise

I knew

just knew in my bones

Karen was getting the prize

that should be mine

because the teacher 

didn’t like me

just because Karen’s mother was sick

the whole class had voted

to give her the prize

not because she deserved it

but they felt sorry for her

 

I was eight or nine at the time

and decades later

I still feel that resentment

that became the message

‘no matter how well you do

someone else always deserves

the prize more

so why bother’

 

this message resonates

when I think

only the damaged

write with an authentic voice

only the disenfranchised

have a right to attention

only the six-pack seniors

have a right to sex

I should feel lucky

grateful for what I  get



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020- sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

 Queer Status: Suspended

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Queer Status: Suspended

I’ve lived with the same man

for over forty years

I don’t use poppers or party and play

so I’m not gay enough

 

I did hiv home care 

buried friends 

stepped away from the front lines

so I’m not queer enough for the room

I sleep around

sometime have unprotected sex

so I’m not a good example

I don’t like Celine Dion

which is enough to get my

gay card denied

 

I’m over several hills

hills that only survivors 

know how daunting it can be

shamed for not being young enough

to be in the room sells us

face lifts work out routines 

websites for grandpa devotees

 

gay marriage was a nudge

to make homosexually acceptable 

in heteronormative terms

was too conditional

I was amused by the need

for that sort of card carrying conformity

 

I can let myself out

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet