Bad Bad Spirit Pie in Your Hair

Next on the shelf is a mp3 cd collection of radio fodder male singer/songwriters of the 70’s, with one exception. Here is Don McLean’s American Pie, Don McLean, Homeless Brother. Pie & Vincent are era defining songs that are used in countless movies for instant period ambiance – in fact all it takes is the ‘buy buy’ oops, I mean ‘bye bye’ & you know where your are in time. I loved that song. Vincent less so – too gentle & greeting card for me. McLean never matched this early success but continued to record. The self-named album sees him as a pop version of Noel Coward with fun songs two of which are worth tracking down: Narcisissma, On The Amazon. He’s sort of the US answer to Gordon Lightfoot 🙂 

I loved Jim Croce. On this cd I have You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, I Got A Name, Life & Times. As a stand alone Photographs & Memories; Greatest Hits. His writing & music was emotionally accessible, unpretentious & catchy. He wrote about ordinary men & women with lived-in affection. Looking for the track listings for his lps I want to name check every song as they are each classics. The emotional directness of some of the songs can make me almost tearful. His unexpected death in 1973 at 30 ended an amazing career.

Also inescapable was Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky. The album is sweet folksy, slightly psychedelic & fun with of course his big hit. Canned Ham his second ‘hit’ was good. He recorded a few more stepped lps then back – the music industry wasn’t for him.  The same is true for Scott McKenzie: The Voice Of … smash hit with If You’re Going – that road the crest of flower power sweetness – the album is a tad bit darker but those flowers lost their petals, as it were. Thanks to Papa John Phillips he (& Barry McGuire) fill blanks in the Mamas & Papas catalogue nicely. In fact Scott became a member of that group for awhile.

Lastly in this compilation is Elmore James: The Final Sessions. I wanted something to balance out the flower power weight of the other performers & this set. James is a true blues slide guitar magician. Only one album by him was released during his lifetime. This set collects his final two sessions from February 1963 in New York City, and he would be dead within three months of a heart attack at the age of 45. Timeless music.

The Kick Outside

On the subway the little girl kicked me in the ankle. She was about six but at that size and age who can really tell except a parent. I’m no parent. She was one of the prime reasons I wasn’t interested in being a parent.

I said, “Stop.”

She laughed and kicked me again.

I looked for a parent. Across the aisle was a woman beaming at her cute little girl, smiling at me to indulge the little sweet thing.

The little sweet thing had on patent leather shoes. Black shiny hard. As she was about to kick me again I gently pushed her back.

“Stop that.” I said.

The mother glared me.

‘“How dare you touch my child. Keep your hands to yourself.”

“Tell your child to keep her feet to herself.”

“You perverted slime ball.” The mother stood. “Touching my child. Don’t think you’re going to get away with that.”

Grinning, the child kicked me harder. People looked at us. The little girl began to cry.

‘“Look what you’ve done! Hold him there while I get the police.”

Two large men appeared and held me by the shoulders.

“The child was kicking me and I pushed her away.” I explained as they pulled me off at the next stop.

“She musta had a reason to kick you, you asshole. Your type makes me sick.” One of the men grunted.

They held me there for about ten minutes until the subway police showed up to see what the fuss was. The woman and child where gone. The guys holding me admitted they saw nothing.

When I got home there was a bruise on my ankle.

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



The Furnace of Art

I’m going through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way again – this is definitely the 2nd time with someone else. First was, alone, was way back in the mid 90’s, then a few years later with a friend in recovery. I’m going through it again with the same friend. I may have done some of the exercises that first time because I starting doing morning pages in the mid-90’s as I result of that first reading.

The next time we worked through everything. Now some 20 years later it’s time for this version of me to give it another go. I found it productive then & hope to again. In recovery meeting soften go through the same text, a step at a time, endlessly because repetition is the mother of learning. No one is too well to get better 😉

I still have my paperback of the book but opted to download a Kindle copy for reading in transit. I’ll went to Indigo & bought the workbook – that’s right I went into a book store ! & bought a book ! I did check a couple small indie stores first but they didn’t have the workbook. I discovered that there is now a ‘Creativity’ section full of books to free the mind – a step up from New Age, I suppose.

So far I’ve read through the introductions. Cameron makes no secret of her recovery & the role that it played in her ability to explore creativity. I remember when I got sober I was afraid that without booze to fuel the furnace of art that I’d never play the piano again 🙂 I thought I wrote better after a few drinks – I still have some of notebooks & can read my handwriting for the most part. I was certainly in touch with melodrama & self-pity after a few doubles.

Evanescent Extra

it didn’t last long

the look

beguiling inviting

for a brief moment

passing him on a subway platform

me getting on 

him getting off

eyes catch

not long enough to snag

our heads turn 

but the doors close

am whisked away

 

the moment memory 

has a hold of me

a face that needed a shave

sloppy quick half smile

eyes I think I remember 

moment too short to get color

dark hair dark eye browns

skin coffee 

or was that just subway lighting

or memory dimming already

 

I carried that glance 

as long as I could

I didn’t check my phone 

didn’t look for other faces

savoured that intimation

or am I reading

something into those eye

maybe he was glad

I was the only body 

between him and getting off

a half smile of thanks 

to the transit gods

that allowed for his easy exit

but no 

he did turn a bit towards me

as the doors closed 

he did follow me 

as I was ripped out of his arms

did he have arms

 I’m pretty sure he did 

but all I have is that face 

the unshaved line of his jaw

half a smile

short hair

yes I think he had short hair

or was he wearing a tight toque

 

funny how a glance

can take in so much and so little

would I recognize him 

will it be one of those faces

one can’t quite place

like extras in movies

in a subway scene

just out of view

out of focus

filling in a background

so my life 

doesn’t feel so empty 

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

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

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Shell of a Man

Shell of a Man

a woman got up 

stood at the subway exit door

I got up

stood behind her

she glanced briefly 

over her shoulder

she exited

I followed

up the stairs

outside the station

we both turned to the left

both crossed in the same direction

turned down the same side street

then another

 

I walked faster

to pass her

she walked faster

to escape me

we crossed at the same point 

she was practically running

 

I slowed 

saddened by what had happened

saddened

by merely being a man

she felt threatened

because my house

was along her route

 

this gender

this skin

is a shell that shouldn’t crack

a bowl to carry me through life

that doesn’t get questioned

doesn’t get handled roughly

directly

thanks

to my entitlement

of not having to worry

to apologize

for what isn’t my direct doing

 

I didn’t create this cultural context

in which women

fear men

yet I feel guilt

should I have taken a different way home

when I saw us walk 

in the same direction 

is her fear 

her insecurity

now my fault

 

how different from her

am I

I get the same anxiety 

when my sense of security 

is confronted 

by my assumptions of strangers

do young men alarm me

simply because they are young

how did age become weaponized

how did skin colour become weaponized

 

the world is on alert

trust no one

justify that lack of trust

by falling back on distorted news

by a history 

that suppresses facts in favour of controllers

by not acknowledging any complicity

in making them look pure 

not driven by greed

by the need to control

 

I just wanted to walk home

take my shoes off and relax

not feel the fragility of this shell

This was prompted by an actual event, or rather events, because this isn’t the first time this has happened – me and a random lone female getting on then off the subway train at the same time, walking in the same direction, as the same time. I’m always paranoid that as we walk she’ll stop, unknowingly at the sidewalk to my house, and confront me, mace me, kick me in the balls. 

So far no such confrontation has occurred. I don’t know of a way of reassuring anyone, of making myself appear non-threatening when this happens. At times I have not crossed where I usually cross but the defiance to my house is less than 5 minutes so there’s no real way to not go in the same direction. This reaction to her paranoia – I say her, as I’ve never happens when such accidentally-in-the-direction occurs with men.

I have female friends who tell me they have felt unsafe when a man walks behind them at night on the street. It saddens me. It one of the memento when I confront the this cultural context of fear. I feel very safe on the street at night, alone, but that is because I’m a man – not because I am necessarily safe – there have been shootings & stabbings all along the Danforth.

I have to admit though that I am less inclined go out at night unless I have a destination I want to get to. Even less inclined in the winter – icy, snowy, sidewalks can be treacherous enough in daylight – if slip and fall I want someone to see me asap. But the war on pedestrians is another issue.

In the piece I also look at this culture of paranoia regarding race & age. I have a black friend who still, in 2019, gets watched when he goes into a corner store. There’s a couple of corner shops in this area with signs that say ‘one student at a time.’ We have a US president who wants to build a wall to further the demonization of Mexicans (rather than rebalance the profit driven economy) – now that blacks have become a less sensational target.

Yeah a lot of that actually through my head when I’m accidentally going in the same direction as a woman. Sometimes I rather stay home at night than confront all that.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

Have A Seat

Have A Seat

she struggled

snuggled

into the subway seat

next to me

gave me an irritated glance

 

my knees were tight together

my shoulder bag on my lap

my elbows pressed to my waist

my ebook open and balanced

on top of my shoulder bag

taking up as little space as I could

 

‘do you mind’ she muttered

I pulled my feet closer

‘I said do you mind!’ she was angry

I chose to ignore her

I couldn’t take up less space

she elbowed me sharply

knocking the ebook askew

 

it wasn’t my fault

the seats were so small

that there no way I could take up less space

 

‘what an asshole’ she said loudly

‘keep your hands off me’

 

someone looked down at us

I shrugged

my hands were clearly

clutching my ebook & my shoulder bag

in place

 

more people got on

the now over-crowded car

the a/c wasn’t working

it was hot stinky

I had ten more stops to go

and she was muttering

‘fucking asshole men

think they can get away

with pawing women

when ever they want’

 

I didn’t need this aggravation

put my ebook into my shoulder bag

pulled myself out of the seat

and indicated it as empty

to a woman much bigger than me

then watched the face

of the angry woman

as she was squeezed even tighter

and

for some strange reason

it felt good

when the large lady said

‘move a little. do you mind’

I prefer to walk an hour to get anywhere rather than take public transit. When I do take the subway I always have my earbuds in & my Kindle to protect me. If I could I’d wear gloves too. Usually, if there’s space, I’ll stand – sometimes I sit just to get out of the way. I never quite get it when other passengers feel it’s their right to blame you for crowding them when someone is crowding you too.

This piece is a composite of various personal or witnessed experiences of mine in transit, on the subway, bus or streetcar. I’ve heard people muttering things like ‘asshole men’ or ‘fucking bitch’ because there wasn’t room for them to look at their cellphones.

I’ve sat on empty three seat rows that quickly filled within stops & have been crushed into the corner while the chrusher acted as if I wasn’t there or as if it was my fault for not ceding the entire seat to them. In winter it’s impossible to make a parka take up less space.

Most people try to maintain some decorum in transit but others are quite eager to take advantage of the captive audience to call attention to their discomfort. I have seen men take quick advantage of the proximity & felt helpless to do anything or even know what to do. Stop everyone rushing to get up stairs?

I have been told to take up less space. I have, as in this piece moved to distance myself from a muttering seat mate. Engaging is never a solution – I don’t know who has a knife. I have done exactly what happens here. Given my spot to someone else to deal with the mutterer. I didn’t feel victimized just grateful.I have more important things to worry about than sitting in transit – like,  where’s my hand sanitizer 🙂

coming soon:

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet