Colby Days 2


Our Cottage Road house, between Park St & Whitney Ave by a laneway, was a compact two-story home belonging to Miss Kelly who lived in the house next door. Her house was huge. She had boarders on the second & third floors & she lived alone on the first floor. Her house was the model for the boarding house in my novel Coal Dusters. She deserves a post of her own, so this is all I’ll say about her now 🙂

This was a more upperclass neighbourhood. Larger houses, doctors & lawyers & sport celebrities abounded. Larger houses too – many 3 story, single family dwellings. Colby remained within walking distance & I would trudge Cottage Rd. in the morning, home for lunch, back for the afternoon. I’d walk home along central with the guys.

I was at Colby for grades IV & V. I have a class photos of me in Grade VI at Ashby school. I don’t recall if that was another summer move though. I do remember some of my Colby teachers though. The principle Miss Greenwood, Mrs. Butterworth & Mrs. McLeod. There were others but even seeing the list of teachers on the Colby School page didn’t ring any lunch bells. https://www.facebook.com/groups/colbyschool/

I do remember the hand bell that rang to get us into the school. I was a middling student even then. I had attention issues 🙂 I was also aware that I didn’t have the same feelings about girls as the boys claimed to have. I was, in fact, a sissy who preferred hopscotch to baseball. I don’t recall having any real pals or playmates of either sex.

I did get into a couple of fist fights though & lost. It was hard to keep punching when everyone around you was encouraging the other guy to teach me a lesson. I became a coward because proving my masculinity with violence was beyond me. Shame & fear were the biggest lessons I learned at Colby School.

It was here that I had to spend a summer writing out  words from a speller. I did page after page of writing each word out twenty times. Then had to retake the spelling exam at the start of the new term before I could go on. I did pass but again, the real lesson learned was shame, not how to spell.

The other thing I remember from then was the birth of my brother. Now that my Dad was settled in Sydney, his job was going well, may parents felt secure enough to raise a family. I felt I was a disappointment & now they wanted to get it right this time. My brother was about a year old when my mother was pregnant again, & we moved again, this time to the Ashby area.

Fully Human

I’m not enjoying this

so it must be good for me

the less I like it

the better what I am getting

the more I suffer

the more fully human I am

what I enjoy is to be avoid

it is merely a diversion 

from suffering

because life is suffering

 

any attempt to diminish suffering

diminishes all life

we a cannot afford pleasure

to admit to liking something 

someone

is to admit to weakness

is to admit to being 

a shallow fun-loving 

corrupter of basic human dignity

dignity requires suffering 

and sacrifice

 

those who aren’t willing to suffer

aren’t worth the breath 

they take to live

they should be face 

the error of their ways 

or be shunned

 

if you are having a good time

do it in another room

quietly

we don’t want reality 

sullied by gasps 

of sexual indulgences

we don’t want to hear laugher 

behind our backs

take to another room

another city if possible

 

here we are on the righteous trail

suffering to fulfill our real 

authenticity as humans

as a parade of weeping assholes

(poem prompted by one of Montaigne’s essays)


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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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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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School’s Out 1

My house in Toronto’s east end is surrounded by schools. There are at least 5 within 5 minutes walking distance, plus another 5 within 15 minutes. A couple of the buildings remind me of the schools I went to in Sydney. 1920’s functional with a bit of actual design work around entrances & windows.

The end of the school year always being back memories of anticipating summer. Sitting in class rooms fidgeting with nothing to do – final exams were over, no more lessons to be taught, waiting for reports cards to be filled in the given out. I don’t even know if report cards exist anymore. Back int he day we had to take them home for parents sign during the year. I may have one of my old ones hidden somewhere in my archives.

I was always an average student. Fairly obedient, rarely got into trouble, so deportment was good. But I had attention problems. Also I had spelling issues, which in looking back was a mild dyslexia. One summer I had to spend an hour or so every day writing out words – spelling them each ten times – so I could take that spelling exams once more to see if I could pass into the next grade. 

 

I went to four schools – Colby Elementary, Ashby Middle School, Woodhill Junior High, Sydney Academy High-School. Only the Academy is still standing. Colby was replaced with a big tin box, Ashby burned down mysteriously & was replaced by a big tin box; Woodhill became a community centre for decades & was finally torn down for a housing complex.

 

As much as I was eager for summer I dreaded that final report card – would my marks be good enough to get my reward: a new bicycle, cash. One year they weren’t & I was so demoralized I was afraid to go home & not get my reward. One year I did get that bicycle but not the one I wanted 🙂

Out of Control 

in control or out of control

which gives the better result

which can lead to where 

control is too hard to relinquish

expectations drive dreams goals

 

can someone with control issues

get out of control

with the need to control

hold on too tight

or drop everything too suddenly

relax into a puddle

even a puddle is controlled 

by gravity

free fall isn’t free

free form still has form

 

is the goal to be shapeless 

uncontainable

is that destruction 

anarchy

aimless directionlessness

still has points of reference

that pull to the norm

can the norm be out of control

 

who imposes that structure

who gets to be responsible 

while the rest

are wild and free 

is there actual energy 

in being out of control

doing nothing takes no energy 

realize float down stream

the stream has the control

the surrender is to another’s control

even when out of control

someone does the doing 

 

what is ‘out’

what is ‘control’

who is the object of these definitions

of these structures

even light need dark to exist

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 


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

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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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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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The Right Entrance

The Right Entrance

the girls

had their own school

a Catholic separate school

we’re talking 60’s – 70’s

Cape Breton

 

I don’t know if there was one

for Catholic boys

but the girls had their own

to protect them 

from the unruly attentions of boys

 

schools I went to were mixed

but there was

boys’ manual training

girls’ domestic science

separate entrances for boys for girls

mixed classes

but boys’ gym

girls’ gym

 

the best way to control

those masculine urges

was segregation

guys who got laid were men

girls who got laid were easy

girls who didn’t were teases

guys who didn’t 

bragged about doing it

or salivated endless about pussy

boobs

because they were men

 

never once

never

was there a sense

that the guys were in the wrong

it was only the girls 

who need to be protected

guys weren’t taught

to think differently

in fact

we were encouraged

to get a little

get laid

get into her panties

 

find’em

feel’em

fuck’em

forget’em

 

this was masculine prerogative

entitlement

a natural urge

that resented any attempt

to curb it

do you want your sons

to grow up to be fags

yeah sure

free and easy access

to pussy

is the cure for queer

 

yet I grew up

gay queer a fag

full of fear

yet sure of who I was

& who I wanted to have sex with

 

I tried dating

getting a little

getting a little wasn’t enough

to cure me of anything

so I forgot’em 

but I did learn 

which entrance

was right for me

This piece is a documentary. All of it is my high-school experience though some of the facts go back even further in my history. When my family moved to Cape Breton I was enrolled in a nearby school with a mixed gender & to a degree religious population. Entirely white as well I might add. Protestant with a scattering of Jewish students – who we knew were Jewish because of the many holidays they had.

It wasn’t until I got to high-school that I realized there was a separate school system for Catholics, particularly girls. Rather it was a high-school run by a teaching order of Catholic nuns. It wasn’t limited to Catholic’s as I think one of my sisters went there because it offered better secretarial training. A class that was never offered to boys – we did get an introduction to basic accounting though.

Beyond this religious segregation there was a gender divide in the rest of the school system for sports, non-academic vocational options – boys got manual training & shop; girls got domestic science & shopping. Most of the academic classes were mixed but there was separate entrances for grades & genders. 

Sydney did have a sizeable black community, as well as a large Native community – but we only saw them if our teams were playing against them. As best as I can remember there was no racial mix in my high school except for one, lone Japanese girl.

 

The four f’s ‘find’em’ was a real mantra usually used by ‘guys who didn’t but bragged about doing it’ The piece also reflects how gender doesn’t equate sexuality – that even though I had all this male behaviour example I turned out queer, having no queer male behaviour example to lure me into the unnatural side. 

The ‘entrance’ that was right for me? I’ll leave that to your imagination 🙂


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Not Relevant

Not Relevant

why I lost interest

wasn’t relevant 

neither of us was that invested

or at least I wasn’t

he was a good technical fuck

he made it clear how much he enjoyed

the time we spent together

but as much as he filled me up

he never fulfilled me

he was chatty enough

but conversations went his way

he listened to his voice

his point of view

would ask me the same questions

give his answer

talk over mine

so I lost interest

 

I blocked him on dating sights

rather than go into why 

I lost interest

why I found his paranoia

around identity theft 

made me distrustful of him

he knew too much for the innocent

his racism couldn’t be confronted

as he’d merely repeat his view

as if I had said nothing

to call him out

meant that I was the racist

 

that was a few years ago

I heard nothing from him

then one day there he was

on my door step

having changed his online identity

he’d made contact with me

never let on who he was

did a few things differently

gave me his email

which he’d never done before

though I still didn’t know his real name

the date was set

and there he was

with a slightly smug smile

 

I wasn’t flattered

but was amused

he was still a good technical fuck

friendly enough

not a listener

talked over my replies

to questions he’d asked 

when he left

I blocked him again

somethings don’t change

and he was one of them


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

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