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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Attention Span

The smaller the font the faster your eyes will tire & the faster you’ll fall asleep, even if you don’t want to fall asleep. This is one of my Kindle lessons after dozing off & reading the same passage three times before I realized I was dozing off & reading the same passage again (did you just nod off reading this 🙂 )

I’ve found that over the years my attention span for certain things has changed. An hour of TV, at one time, is more than enough passive participation for me – I can manage that hour a few times scattered through the day. Sit down for longer than that to watch something & I’m up after first half-hour for a snack 🙂 Seeing theatric productions can be torture – trapped in the dark & I can’t even check my cell phone! Yikes.

Even household tasks are broken down into ‘bites.’ I could have cleared out my basement in three days of work – a few hours in the morning, another couple after a lunch break. But I opted to do it over a month or so, of a little over an hour sessions, a couple of mornings a week. Make that 90 minutes to include getting the vacuum out, etc. I did it piecemeal & got it done. I can’t imagine going to a day job, wether in an office or working at home, for six or seven hours at a stretch. 

When working on editing, or writing new material I find a focused hour, twice a day is all I can manage for the physical part, the mind never takes a break. Movies get watched in 50 minute bites. The only time I see a film from start to finish is with my Saturday movie guy – recently we’ve been watching the Tudors – two episodes at a time. 

The one thing I do for the longest stretch of uninterrupted time is sleep 🙂

Kentic (March 2008)

the faster I move

the less I weigh

the faster I talk

the more I get to say

squeezing out not taking in

the less I take in

the less there is to carry

the less I carry 

the faster I can move

<>

stay in motion

moving targets

get shot at more

but they get hit less

I avoid straight lines

darting back & forth

spinning out into controlled curves

tumbling when necessary

moving too fast

for moisture to stay 

for sweat to bead

drier than dry

<>

l becomes like a wake 

when I am not awake

I don’t move in my sleep

I am like death

so still 

not even my breath can be seen

sleep is for the weak

and I am weak

it is my frailty 

the need to keep moving is 

fuelled by the sleep of righteousness

<>

only the pure of art

can move as fast as I do

can slip the sling of gratification

to be like a sun beam 

faster than the speed of 

found you this time

no one finds me

no one holds me

<>

I’m not slippery 

just too fast to be caught

too nimble to be confined

free of all encumbrances 

except the envy of those 

who want to be free

who feel that to trap this flash

is the only way they can bottle 

their own timid energy 

their own fragile pleasures

the resolution of not catching me

isn’t enough to satisfy them

that’s all they’ll ever get

<>

words of understanding 

aren’t enough to slow me down

I don’t need to be understood to be free

I don’t need permission to disappear

before your very eyes

into a mist of mystery

who was that unasked man

I don’t need an invitation

don’t have to wait for opportunity

don’t make them for myself 

don’t stay long enough

<>

the flame flicker wind 

darting around me

singes then gone

out like a light

out the window

out out out

washed clean 

not a trace of me

not even in memory 

<>

the secret of my success

to be so fast I am not memorized

not recalled

not even a vague discomfort

beyond the spark of envy

for the moment of realization

the faster I move

the less you care 

let’s keep it that way


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Past of the Future

In my pandemic purging I came across unused paper for dot-matrix printers. Also in my writing archives were pieces I semi-dated because they were in dot-matrix print. In telling more than one friend about this I was a little surprised to find out they had no idea of what dot-matrix was! They had never seen anything printed in it, nor had they seen that printer paper. I showed it to them & one asked me, seriously, if it had any collector value!

If you are one of those to whom dot-matrix is a mystery – it was the computer printer method before ink-jet became the standard. Wiki says: “A dot matrix printer is an impact printer that prints using a fixed number of pins or wires. The pins strike an ink-coated ribbon and contact between the the paper, so that each pin makes a small dot on the paper. The combination of these dots forms a dot matrix image.”

At that time many publishers refused submissions that were printed in dot-matrix as the print itself can be a challenge to read after a couple of pages. The ribbon ink wasn’t that consistent. I have some things that have pretty much faded, some where the ink has matured to blue, some where it looks as good as the day I printed it out. Much like typewriter ribbons it would wear out but quicker. We got rid of our printed when we moved up to ink jet. Ink jet is faster & not as noisy:-)

When someone doesn’t know who a classic rock group, such as Procol Harum, is, I’m not that surprised but these days there people who don’t even know what a desktop computer is, thanks to their cell-phones. Guys I know with iPads or such don’t even have printers anymore. I show them my flip phone & they are like ‘wow! that’s so retro.’ I wish I had a rotary dial phone to scare them with 🙂

speaking of retro – here’s a poem from the archives – 

August 1962 (Broad Cove, Cape Breton)

even though it had rained all night

I didn’t stop to think

just how quickly

I’d be soaked by still dripping fir

as I clambered unsteadily

through the campgrounds’ pine thicket

juggling binoculars in one hand

my life in the other

<>

I was out to hunt spies

to search the ocean for pirates

from my evergreen look out

inconspicuous in a yellow rain-slicker

I exploded stealthily

through the trees

suddenly falling

head-over-heels

ten feet down in terror

of the deadly rocks beneath

that turned out to be

a new york family

spreading their towels

on the beach

<>

their peach-fuzzed son

a few months older than me

was quick to show off

the benefits

of his American education

He’d always felt sorry for King Kong

<>

the very next day

between furtive cigarettes

and timid first wrestling

I tried my best to be monstrous

growling & leaping about

<>

his mother found me a show-off

his father found us fondling

they left that night

<>

at fourteen

he was too old for me

anyhow

September 1973

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Mummy Wrappings

In the continuing pandemic lockdown I’ve been using some mornings to clean up & clean out the basement, which has become as cluttered with relics as an Egyptian tomb, only no mummies (yet). A repository of what is essentially junk saved for a rainy day. So donning a set of sweats dedicated to housework, & for the basement, a face mask to deal with the dust, I’ve been venturing down for an hour or two at a time.

Here are choice items that have been holding their own (as well as dust & cobwebs) for some time. These first are laundry room decor. This portrait of  H M Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) is by Salomon van Abbé. Yes, I did a bit of research. It was in the basement when we moved into the house over forty years ago. It was in the remains of frame & already water stained. There is probably a companion portrait of the King. These were found in nearly every school across Canada at the time. I remember a similar one of the current Queen in Sydney schools. Every class room had one.

Beside her is a paint-by-number I picked up, framed, at a yard sale. Paris? in the rain. At least Chez TonTon suggests Paris, as does the shape of the kiosk with the posters on it. I’m not sure of the horse-drawn cart in front of TonTon – it does suggest a time before autos. Where they getting a delivery of bread?

Under Paris is this marvellous velvet painting that I found on the street in Montreal in the late 90’s. I used to visit Montreal a week or so every summer for a bilingual AA round-up. Even though the painting is signed ‘Ramon’ (I think) it is clearly out of a painting sweatshop where ‘artists’ would go from one canvas to the next – one artist specialized in clouds, another in water ripples etc.

Finally, for this visit to the underbelly, I found this placemat. It was wrapped around some plumbing fixture & held in place with an elastic. I guess there was a mummy after all 🙂 I unwrapped the fixture & was happy I did. I love this prime example of late sixties graphics. Coarse fabric, no makers tags, & it washed up a treat. I had never seen it before but my partner had a very vague memory of it. The mummy was tossed but its wrappings were resurrected.

resurrected from the vaults – from October 1978 – I moved to Toronto in May 1978 – I was living in an apartment on Sherbourne near Isabella.

The Pause

the pause


not to reflect

but to hesitate

even here

where the cards are on the table

where it’s all below the belt

we use

the pause

for eyes to flash away

for eyes to consent 

even

after the rite of second glancing

after the facts of being here

there is

the pause

the fear

the guilt the frustration the fury

fury that descends to depression

depression that fears

the pause

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Kindle Garden

Before I get to the Kindle here the ‘real’ books I’m currently reading: brother to brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men ed Essex Hemphill (1988). I bought this re-issue as it is the only Hemphill in print. I did attempt to get his out-of-print poetry collection but it got lost in the mail & I had no way to prove that & so lost the $ I paid for it 😦 Anyway this is an excellent collection. Sadly some of the racism that black gay men experienced then is still happening. The chapters on HIV are heartbreaking & brought back memories of may work in palliative care.

I’m working this the box in Brick Books 50 books for $30.00 offer. I alternate one of those with the Whitman on my Kindle. I now reading monkey ranch – Julie Bruck. Excellent contemporary poetry. I loved this deal but at the same time it reveals the financial rewards of being a published poet. 

My kindle presently has Escape From Baghdad! – Saad Z. Hassain Set in Baghdad during the US invasion. It feature religious fanatics, mercenaries, occultists, soldiers & an ancient watch that doesn’t tell time. Gritty, no one can be trusted. The ‘science’ around the watch is more compelling than the ‘war’ elements. I enjoy the setting but so many shifting characters, shifting allegiances it gets a bit confusing.

Looming Low Vol. 1 – ed Justin Steele & Sam Cowan. This is an amazing collection of eerie short stories. Atmosphere over gore can’t be beat. Simple off-kilter setups lead through multilayered stories. The old Twilight Zone influence only adds to the power of these stories. Highly recommend. 

Complete Poems – Walt Whitman. Who knew Walt wrote so much! I was somewhat familiar with Leaves of Grass – but that about 10% of what he produced. I try to read a certain % of it then alternate it with something else. 

I also am working though: 12 Books – Steven Leacock; Complete Fiction – H.P. Lovecraft & 120 Bonus Poe stories; Slavery: Not Forgiven, Never Forgotten; Complete Works: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Works of Hall Caine; Complete Works: Emile Zola; The Ultimate Collection: novels & essays Mary Shelly; 51 Classic Works: Mark Twain; The Complete Works of Bram Stoker.

The Leacock & Twain are delight. Lovecraft good in limited doses. Slavery is a massive set of writing by early Black writers: poetry, novels, biographies. Doyle gets a bit dry with his historic romances. I read about Hall Caine in a biography of Bram Stoker. Hall was, at one time, the best selling novelist in the British Isles & a known homosexual, so I had to read him – very much of the period. As is Stoker’s fiction which gets a bit dry one the blood sucking stops. Zola is a writing God & one of my inspirations. Mary Shelly is interesting enough but is also caught up by literary styles conventions of her time.

Collections from Story Bundle one of World SciFi novels & anthologies & one of horror/ghost novels & anthologies. Seeing the future by non-North Americanized eyes is worth the effort. Some of these are the closest I get to reading contemporary fiction, as well, other than the occasional novel I’ve downloaded written by friends.

cerise

Your Eyes

what color are your eyes

really 

you know that’s my favorite color

honestly

well not really

I guess my favorite color is 

a sort of cerise

<>

you know the red of sherry 

when you spill it on an off white rug

just as it soaks in a little

I love that red

can’t get enough of it

<>

though I do really like the contrast 

of a suddenly spurt of blood 

on newly fallen snow

blood warm enough to melt sink

clotted crimson in a thin gleam of ice

that is a sweet color too

<>

or the tinge of a bruise after the third day

when the blue black is ebbing out

to that green blush along the edges

till finally it becomes as faint 

as a finger print on a knife hilt

or a the kiss of a rose 

trodden underfoot in a muddy field

after the police have searched for days

looking for clues

the dark deep brown of fresh dug earth

or ground recently patted down

to a sort of smooth quality

like skin untouched for a year or so

dried in the corner of a basement

who knew Aunt Sally was down there

we thought she had gone back to Florida]

<>

I love the color of her eyes

what was left of them anyway

a beige blackened

with whites jellied dried pink rose petals

<>

so I love the color of your eyes

yes that has to be nearly 

my favorite color in the whole wide world

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Fear Walks In

Fear Walks In

some people

bring fear into a room

ideologies that I am expected

to accomodate

without knowing

<>

they prejudge me

for prejudging them

merely because of who I am

of who I appear to be to them

<>

I am an enemy on first sight

without having to say a word

or take any action

other than being there

of being unlike them

they feel unsafe

because I am not invisible

and it is my fault

<>

all my fault

for not understanding

what they haven’t told me

At a recovery meeting, when we could meet face to face, after a step had been read aloud – going from person to person around the room – a member shared on their difficulty with the hetero male normative language. When they read their section they de-gendered the language & as did some of the others who read. They implied that those of us who did not, lacked sensitivity to important gender issues. 

I gave an inner shrug – I’ve been around recovery rooms long enough that I am not unsympathetic to this but at the same time I’m in recovery to recover not to deal with linguistics or how to do the gender appropriate reading aloud of the literature. 

Referring to God as a him is off putting to some people, referring God at all is off putting to some people – if I don’t take pains to make the proper substitutions I make them feel unsafe. What can one do. Stop reading aloud? Ask for a show of hands, before reading starts, of people who feel unsafe because there are cismales in the room who don’t mind being called he? Online some people are including their pronouns as part of their names. (By the way my pronouns are it or that.)

After reading at an lgbtqia open stage an audience member spoke to me about enjoying my pieces but wondered if such sexually explicit material was appropriate because many in the community were triggered by such material. I had introduced one of pieces as being explicit but I guess I hadn’t allowed people enough time to leave the room. I’ve spent enough energy in saying my ‘partner’ & avoiding gender specific pronouns so as not to offended delicate hetero sensibilities that I’m not going spare lgbtqia by suppressing myself. I’d rather not perform than get trapped by self-censorship.

The fact is I’m not all that sensitive.

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Nine

Nine

O when I was nine

I was still a child

there was no instant communication

news travelled slow

on the radio TV newspapers

that provided an innocence

I knew about war

because my Dad had fought in one

he was a man

my mother was a woman

I was a boy child

who only knew what the culture 

of the time

expected of my gender 

<>

O when I was nine

I did know I wasn’t like other boys

I played backlot baseball

I played with dolls

I  wasn’t the boy my dad expected

I didn’t like to fight

like other boys

I never understood 

why physical violence was required

to be accepted

<>

O when I was nine

I learned to swim

looking at the differences

between boys and girls

anatomy I didn’t understand

the boys where more interesting

I knew shame

when we were caught

I had fear

but no closet

sex was dirty regardless

of the gender of the object

<>

O when I was nine

I don’t that I was making waves

as I waded from nine to nineteen

by the time I left nineteen

I knew

these were dangerous waters

at nine there was only

the fear of getting caught

not the fear

of my culture drowning me

like an unwanted litter of kittens

I heard on a TV documentary about children that our sense of self was basically formed by the time we are ten years old. By then we have absorbed the ‘teachings’ of TV behaviours that inform our subconscious. So, back in the day, I was aware of what the culture of the time expected of my gender. I was also aware that it wasn’t the right fit but I hadn’t developed the language for that beyond feeling it was the wrong fit. Today thanks to instant communication children have a greater knowledge of gender variations. I doubt that at the age of five I would have understood what a faggot was, children today do know what it means. 

Where was I when I was nine? We had just settled in Sydney, Cape Breton after moving across Canada for a couple years. My mother & I had spent some time with her family in Wales during this time as well. I remember ‘living’ in Moncton, Stellerton or was it Truro for short periods of time & going to schools there, briefly. Finally in Sydney, were we lived in three different neighbourhoods before my dad bought a house in Ashby.

One result was that I spent those formative years as a displaced person – someone who was different. My Dad prodded me into things that could show me how to ‘fit in’: cub scouts, YMCA. I did the best I could but felt like an outsider &, as I recall, was fine with that. I did get these weird mixed messages ‘why can’t you be like other kids’ then when I wanted some fad item ‘why can’t you think for yourself.’

I survived partially by hiding in booze & partially by writing & painting as I gradually found language for what I was. Though then that language was loaded – an abomination unto the Lord – sort of stuff. Today I know the tragic flaw wasn’t my sexuality but the way culture regarded not only lgbtq but sexuality itself.


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Genius

Genius 

if you won’t trust

someone who won’t drink

with you

then you’ll never trust me

<>

if all your close friends

smoke up with you

we’ll never be close friends

<>

if you only respect 

someone who’ll do a line with you

shoot up with you

share a bowl with you

then I have no role in your life 

we’ll never bond

over self-destruction

<>

if only self-destructive writers

are real writers

then I’ll always be a fake

a wanna be

who really doesn’t warrant

your attention

<>

I’m just one of those shallow dilettantes

a hanger-on

without the guts

the stamina

the creative genius

to deal with life through

a haze of booze 

drugs

<>

you are clearly better off with me

I’ve heard variations of this more than once: ‘I’ll never trust someone who won’t drink’ or sometimes to the effect ‘someone who won’t take a drink with me.’ You can replace ‘drink’ with ‘toke’ ‘line’ or any other substance. There are men & women who will only party-and-play – if there’s no drug involved they aren’t interested.

The history of destructive addiction & creativity is deep. Considering Dostoyevsky’s alcoholism, gambling habits & writing by hand I’m amazed he got so much written 🙂 For many writer’s i.e Hemingway, Dylan Thomas their drinking is seen as an unfortunate flaw that somehow enhances their reputation. They didn’t have rehabs in those days.

I’ve been involved with workshops, readings etc where there has been a very clear division that occurs when I decline a drink of excellent triple malt scotch. It seems I say ‘no thanks’ without sufficient apology. Ditto for declining to slip out for a toke or do a line. 

Then again that division may come from the fact that I’m not super-social in most situations to being with – by super-social I mean I don’t share stories about my medical condition, children, recent escapades – I’m just there to write, maybe read on the one mike. Nothing to prove, nothing to lose. This piece is more an observation than a complaint though. I am more amused by this equating of a drink with trust. Though I’d rather be judged by my work than the quality of the scotch I decline. 

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A CanCon Christmas

I’ve been reading some great CanCon that is worth adding to your Christmas shopping or reading lists. 

 ‘The Dame Was Trouble’ is a collection of ‘the best female crime writers in Canada.’ This is a fun, culturally diverse collection, that spans genres: noir, supernatural, interplanetary & hard-core crime – edited for an excellent flow of styles & lengths.  Some read like perfect 30’s noir movies & some deserve to become star of their own novels; Kelly Armstrong’s Indispensable Ivy for one, & M.H. Callway’s hard-driving Grace is another.

Rosemary McCracken’s ‘Uncharted Waters’  continues the saga of Pat Tierney: Financial Planner. Much like Jessica Fletcher, murder & deceit follow Pat wherever she goes 🙂 This time she is opening her business in Toronto’s Annex & is confronted with … well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. Nicely plotted, it moves quickly with some humour & lots of Toronto. 

Peter Unwin’s ‘Written on Stone’ is also humorous, Parkdale is one of its Toronto location but the bulk of it happens in buses out of the city & in the wilds of Northern Ontario. One element of the plot is the nature of ‘authentic voice’ as perceptions are spun by various characters to support their view point. The language is richly imagistic, the characters tend to blend into each other & events flow in a non-linear way. Unlike ‘Unchartered Waters’ this is not a murder mystery and leaves the reader with unanswered questions.

I’d be remiss not to mention Heather Babcock’s “Dirty Sugar.’ Read all about it here:  Dames – Wiggles and Bates https://topoet.ca/2020/09/13/dames—wiggles-and-bates/ . All of these can be found on Amazon.

Finally a non-book recommendation. The song ‘Toronto’ by Bloodstone surfaced in my Tumblr feed. From the 60s it was well-produced with a semi- Chicago sound. I did a bit of a search & found it & the flip side on band camp. Apparently this was the only release by the band lead by Dee Long. The lp is a sweet collection of his song, some are polished, some are demo. If you treasure Canadian pop history you’ll love this set. https://deelong.bandcamp.com/album/1235

Do You Breathe

do you hear what I hear 

even when I’m not listening 

when I walk unawares 

through the streets

through the crowds

through the malls 

do you hear the infinite variations 

of footsteps clothing rustle whispers

cellphone chatter

do you hear something in that burble 

people being people

something that gives you reassurance 

life is worth while 

<>

or do you hear

dispirited distracted unfocused clatter

people looking for a way out of

something they don’t fully understand

yet feel they have no other option

than consuming depleting the bounty of the planet

<>

bounty of the planet

who do I think I am

drivelling out such a tired reflection

do I hear myself 

when I say such things

do I find it profound silly 

I’m not expecting to change any minds here

another shopping opportunity

another listening experience 

where I’m not fully attuned to anything

except the sounds of

cars slipping through slush dogs barking

glass breaking doors opening closing

coffee being poured

masks lifted for a smoke

<>

do you see what I see

when I look around 

dimly aware there are people around

the focus is on not bumping one another

but avoiding at the right distance

finding a safe place to look

that isn’t already an advertising nook

wrapped in earbuds mask

magazine on the subway

fearful someone might think

that casual glance at their shoes

is a violation of their person

stick to what is safe see nothing hear nothing

except what one can control

<>

if you hear what I hear

see what I see

you are too close

I don’t want to breathe

what you breathe

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