Good Looks

Good Looks

I wasn’t looking at you

I wasn’t looking at anyone

no one is looking at anyone


we don’t even look at ourselves

expect through a lens

of memory

of perception

of cultural filters

of digital accuracy


I don’t want to see anyone

not directly

so as not to give rise

to inaccurate expectations

to misinterpretation of the glance


we all just want

to find our place

without bumping into anyone

without having to look 

where we are sitting


look up

is to make unwanted contact

visual acknowledgements

are not to be allowed

they lead to


no one knows what they lead to

it is better not to take that chance


I’m not looking at anyone

at anything

no one looks at me

life is serene

Many years ago a discredited televangelist was accused of giving another man a ‘homosexual’ look in a spa locker room. Decades ago a man in Australia was found not-guilty of murderer because he experienced a ‘homosexual panic’ because of the way another man looked at him. The eyes have been weaponized.

Sexual harassments suits have cited the way other employees looked at the accuser – focused too long on legs, buttocks, chest. I’m not sure how long ‘too long’ is – the punch line ‘my eyes are up here’ underlines the need to direct our gaze anywhere but at the anatomy. Yet not looking someone in the eyes is seen as hiding something, of being shifty – looking them in the eye is being accusatory or invasive of their privacy. 

Hence the power of hand held devices to avoid those treacherous waters. Soon, like modern cars, they’ll have a proximity alert to let you know how close you are to bumping into someone, or something, because   they are in our blindspot. Maybe they’ll develop a way to give people who are too close a slight shock to alert them to ‘get back.’ 

As a kid I remember wishing I had Superman’s x-ray vision that allows him to look through things – though unlike x-rays he saw them as objects not outlines or ghosts. I always wanted to send away for x-ray glasses I saw in the back of comics that supposedly did the same thing so I could use them to see through clothing, or through walls to watch people undressing. Google tells me some were merely plastic glasses filled with cardboard that had a depiction of the things you could see if you had x-Ray vision 😦 (

I’m sure if I was wearing them in public my eyes would be covered so no one would accuse of giving them a homosexual look. I’ll stick to my wrap around sunglasses.

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Cold Sweat

Cold Sweat


I’m just sit there

I don’t say anything

I don’t even look in your direction

my eyes on my feet

on my travel mug

on my smart phone

like everyone else

in transit


not looking at anyone

pulling our bodies tight

lest we brush another person

lest we be accused

of staring

of invading another’s privacy


I don’t need restraints

to feel restrained

to feel the fear

of being too close

even when we are shoved

so close

in transit


so close

we break out into a cold sweat

fearful of enjoying the closeness

or that someone might

enjoy being this close to us


get back

don’t look at me

I’m here

but not here

This was written pre-pandemic so there no mention of masks. Even then I took the TTC as little as possible & only for destinations that were too far to walk to. When I did use transit  I was one of those who retreated behind the shield of an e.reader & for decades also my iPod. I stopped the iPod to hear all important announcements & also have one less thing to worry about when I was on the go. I still don’t hear those announcements though & when I can make them I’m not sure what they are telling me.

But that’s not what this piece is about. It’s about personal space & how we react to having it encroached upon & is there a polite way to ignore it. Travellers acting as if it’s your personal fault they can’t sit down, can’t get out fast enough when the doors open, can’t look up to see where they are going, can’t step out of the way when you are getting off while they have to get on. 

If one is indifferent to this snug sardine travel there is a hint that you are some sort of pervert – a subway masher using this context as an opportunity to be crushed into another person – maybe it’s your only real person-to-person contact in a world where we now are required, most of the time, to social distance – where we are often forced off the sidewalk into on-coming traffic, so as not to breathe on pack of mothers pushing baby carriages while walking their dogs. But that’s another blog 🙂

We spend spend so much energy on being focused enough to see where we are going while not seeing who else is around us we’ve become a culture in which we don’t see an assault, a robbery, we can’t be reliable witnesses. The cellphone, security camera has become our eyes. We only look closely in the privacy of our homes.

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Behind Closed Curtains

Behind Closed Curtains

he asked me

to close the curtains

before he would drop his pants


I only close the curtains

to daytime sun

to too much light

never to the eyes of others 

we’re on the 2nd story of my house

you can’t see in from the ground

from across street

not even from the 2nd story
of the house across the street

not that I’ve tried to look

at my house from their vantage point

I certainly can see nothing

when I look across to theirs

everyone has blinds




there no one in their houses

I’d care to glimpse

taking off clothes

making out


I only close the blinds

to direct sun

I keep them open most of the time

if anyone can see in

they have to be working at it

if they are working at it

they are welcome to see me

dry my balls after a shower

so why worry

at this distance

with this light

they can’t see us



This piece, like all the Rules prompted pieces, is a couple of years old now. It is based on a real life event in which a FWB was paranoid that people would see us & my reassurances didn’t help. I turned the lights down – even if people could see in our bodies would be too dimly lit to see clearly.

When I was a drunk, darkness was vital to me. I know in one apartment I ended up covering my bedroom window with a blanket so that there wasn’t even a bleed of light. I had a towel I would often roll up to put at the bottom of the bedroom door. I slept in the pitch dark. I don’t really know when all that changed.

I wonder if voyeurs have a fear of being watched? Because we have become a culture of fairly shameless ‘look at me’ with Facebook, youtube, instagram, TikTok, Fans Only & more. We like to look & at the same time like to control what gets seen. Admonishing same-sex couples for daring to hold hands where innocent, unsullied, children might see them.

I recently watched, out of curiosity, Big Brother – Celebrity Edition. A show where the contestants spend 24 hours a day with cameras on them – there is live feed somewhere on line if you have to see what happens when it isn’t being aired on TV. The only place there isn’t a camera, not even night vision, is the toilet. Or perhaps that is on Fans Only. The show is, apparently, immensely popular & I’m sure it is mainly because people like to look. There are unofficial sites devoted to Big Brother Boobs (breasts) & one to Big Bother Packages (for people who need to know who is cut or uncut).

At least my FWB doesn’t insist we do it in pitch dark 🙂

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