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



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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/


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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

Give Me An ‘L’

Adam Lambert almost won some TV singing contest a few years ago. The show traded on the fact that he was an out gay guy who sang pop rock, not disco or emotionally tender, sensitive romantic ballads. Sort of a male version of Pink. I have stand-alone: For Your Entertainment, which I bought at HMV for the track ‘Whataya Want From Me’ which is a perfect pop song. As mp3 I have The Original High (Deluxe Version), solid music but to be honest I can’t recall a song from it.

He was packaged as a gay glam-rock icon – mascara & such but that ran out of steam fast. It felt like his label didn’t know what to do with him & he resisted attempts to re-fashion him as anything but a rocker. He apparently refused to do an lp of disco covers just to capitalize on his ‘fame.’ He has stepped into Freddie Mercury’s sequins perform with Queen. Plus he can sing.

 

Keeping with the queers I have stand-alone k.d. lang and The Reclines: absolute torch & twang. I found this in a box of cast off cds a few years ago. I selected several from the box including this oen. I’ve always loved ‘pullin’ back the reins’ for her emotional openness. A transitional cd as she moved more to pop from country. What ever happened to her?

 

 

Another stand-alone Bettye LaVette’s Interpretations – The British Rock Songbook. I kept reading raves about this ‘come back’ lp & after listening (via YouTube) to her amazing take on The Who’s ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ picked it up at HMV. She has a fine emotive voice & the covers are reverential but she makes them her own as well. I also loved this ‘songbook’ concept as many of the songs she covers are classic 60’s/70’s pop.

another very rough draft from the, so far, unfinished Isle St. Nuit

The return to Halifax wasn’t as jarring as he’d expected. In fact the routine allowed him quickly to forget Montreal. The events there become more like one of the movies he would have seen at the festival. Dreamlike memory replaced his real experiences. That couldn’t have been him on his knees in a store door way sucking a cock while people walked past only a few feet away. That wasn’t something he would ever do. 

Who would want to do that with someone who looked like he did, anyway. There was a sense of something gone, though part of him knew there wouldn’t be any more phone calls, emails from Kevin, no more flying off to rendezvous in various places around the country for furtive hotel sex between screenings, he would miss that. But even that Mike became less and less like him as well.

His past was turning into a dull film with random spots of uncomfortable porn. Kevin must have felt sorry for him to let it go so long. 

Mike couldn’t recall if Kevin every really seemed to enjoy their sex as much he had been with his new partner that day in the woods. Had Kevin ever shivered like that, even taken him with such relish, pumped his ass so joyously. 

Mike once again found himself feeling that men only allowed him to touch them for their own gratification. They probably weren’t even queer, just needing to get off, get taken care of and any one would do, in the dark. Yes, in the very dark dark.

Well Mike wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore. It was time to go back to being celibate. that wouldn’t be so hard. Kevin was his only sex contact since they first met. One was all he needed. All he deserved; not that he even deserved that. An opportunity given and then taken away. Never to be offered again, by anyone.

Xavier was more dream not meant to last. Those few days were a blur. The empty hotel room. On his hands and knees with Pierre scouring the fibres of the carpet like a queer CSI team. 

What a scene that would make  in some comedy. the Bumbling homos hunting down the man who ate and ran. Such a tried pattern. Yet he fell for it.

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

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

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

Gaga Plus

As an almost card-carrying queer I do have some music bought solely to maintain my queer status, which is why I have Kylie Minogue’s Fever on the shelf. The music is well produced dance music. Nothing with real personality & good as background sex music. One cd was enough for me. She is quite popular though & her live shows get raves.

Near by on the shelf is another card-carrying queer qualifier: Lady Gaga. I have stand-alones The Fame; Monster; The Remixes. Tucked away on various mp3 collections is Born This Way; Joanne. This is dance music of a different order (than Kylie) – stunning production & engineering, astonishing videos & politically challenging (something dance music isn’t supposed to be.) Plus I have her excellent duets with Tony Bennet. Also the soundtrack from ‘A Star is Born.’

Much like Madonna, Lady Gaga’s persona is very fluid always with a strong awareness of audience. Each collection has standout tracks, plus cds of remixes to spread the magic. Like many she gets more respect when she sticks to the dance music. Her more personal & more subdued Joanne was not as warmly received by the market. Then came the Academy Award. Lady Gaga can sing as she proved with Tony Bennett.

Joanne leads a mp3 collection that includes some old school dance by LTD: Hits, Classics (Boogie Wonderland); Bizarre Inc.: Energique (I’m Gonna Get You).  I remember these two groups from my disco days. I’m not sure if Bizarre Inc. was nothing more than a studio production. Some prog-soul by The Undisputed Truth: The Best of, Face To Face. This is in the Sly Stone vein of soul but more experimental – they do an amazing Ball of Confusion.

Too add some modern I have Solange: A Seat at the Table – which is also experimental soul/pop – the lp title should tip you off there is some political underpinnings 🙂  Frank Ocean is a rapper/soul singer who came out & I figured I should have at least something by him – Blonde: well produced but vocals get buried & after several listening I can’t name a song. Finally another by an out singer: Jordan Smith’s Something Beautiful – he has one of those angelic, slightly hurt voices that makes everything sound wistful & emotionally compelling.

from Isle de Nuit

“What do you mean – you’re leaving?”

“Jacques there’s nothing more I can do. The Montreal police don’t need me for their investigation. I have a job in Halifax to get back to. I can’t afford to be here.”

“Don’t you need to know what happened to Xavier?”

“Yeah sure but we’ve done what we can, right. Who to question? Xavier made sure his trail was cold before he left. He must have known that all along. He had it planned so he could make this clean get away. I hope it was worth what this must have cost him.” Mark picked up his suitcase. Not much heavier than when he had arrived. He’d decided not to bring much of the film crap with him. He’d been tempted to get rid of the tee he’d been wearing when he met V but after a few washing it wouldn’t hold any memory. 

“I’ll keep in touch.’ He reached out to shake hands with Jacques. 

Jacques pulled him into a bear hug. He squirmed remembering what had happened between them at the hotel the other day. At a glance he could tell that Jacques was remembering it too.

“I didn’t mind.”’ Jacques half smiled.

“I know.’ He avoided Jacques’ kiss. “But this isn’t what I need. Another long distance relationship.”

Jacques sighed. “I know.”

“Maybe under other circumstances.”

“Right! When you aren’t still pining for the invisible man. Now that’s truly a long distance relationship.”

“I will keep in touch though. If you ever want to come to Halifax I have a spare room you can use.”

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

January

Thursday 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

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

 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

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Completion

Unsubstantiated

each day of silence

creates impatience

people want to know

families loved ones

want to know

reporters want to know

completion impossible

until we know

yet even when we know

the details are shocking

 

speculation remains unsubstantiated 

though the layers of facts

builds up

for two to three to eight

fragments found buried deep

in planters

under the noses

of even the lookers

of even the ignorers

 

each day of silence

is remembered with longing

the silence of unknowing

offered a solace

that the noise of facts

can never provide

Another piece that was written when the alleged serial killer of gay men was finally making the news. ‘Alleged’ is one of those words that allows media to distance itself – it doesn’t make a commitment to concrete fact – much like the notion of the serial killer that was deemed circumstantial & unsubstantiated for a few years.

The dots connected the many missing men were not connected but considered merely coincidental – after all, homeless and/or immigrant men were disappearing all the time – in some cases this disappearances went unreported or weren’t seen as connected to the gay missing.

This piece is as much about the media’s use of language as it is about the search, which by this time had finally turned up remains in planters. No names were associated with those remains while forensics determined if they were even human.

The alleged killer was identified as ‘a person of interest’. I rarely write about ‘current events’ but this one resonated deeply with me or many reasons – the prime being that I casually met one of the victims some time before he went missing. Many of the victims were a physical type I find attractive, the ‘alleged’ killer was not.

 

‘the silence of unknowing’ includes the not knowing the details of how these men were murdered. For some just knowing their loved one was involved in gay activities was already too much but the nature of the sexual activities involved was more than they needed to find out. I’m not sure what ‘sense of completion’ resulted for anyone.

 


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Bill and Ben

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Flower Pot Men

Bill and Ben

were the Flower Pot Men

a show I watched as a child

they would talk to each other

in gibberish

listening for the gardener 

when their friend the weed 

heard him coming

it would squeal 

weeeeed weeeeeeed

then become still and silent

as the flower pot men

sank back into their pots

curled up at the bottom

safe sound and hidden 

 

nameless men

curled up at the bottom of flower pots

didn’t remain hidden long enough

their photos bloomed

on telephone poles

bulletin boards

the corners of store windows

but not in flower pots

 

have you seen these flowers

from strange lands

with strange names 

no one knew 

let alone could pronounce

the authorities said

these aren’t real flowers

they aren’t connected

to the same soil

or to a known gardener

don’t worry

no one is stealing flowers

from your garden

 

then someone knocks over a flower pot

out falls not Bill or Ben

but

nameless men

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Blood of the Lamb

Unreliable 

 

your story changes

each time you tell it

so is it no wonder

no one is sure just what happened

 

not that you cry wolf

but the wolf mutates 

first it didn’t snarl

then you weren’t afraid of the snarl

subtle elaborations

 

no one doubts

that you met the wolf

but it’s no longer clear

what happened next

except that you survived

without even a bite mark on you

 

though perhaps 

the next time you tell the story

you will reveal the scar

from the bite 

that you said didn’t happen 

because you couldn’t tell everything

you didn’t expect it to be believed

you needed to trust us

before going any deeper

into what really happened

 

so it went from seeing the wolf

in the general area

to meeting said wolf

and declining further contact

to never having been in touch

with the wolf before you saw him

to having sex with the wolf

but not enjoying it enough

 

or 

 

well we’re not sure

except we don’t doubt

you met the wolf

or that the wolf

was caught with the blood of lambs

in his fur

none of blood was yours

but you knew some of those lambs

 

what will come next

as your story changes

that you escaped is clear

but what are you hiding

from yourself

This is another piece partly triggered by the serial killer coverage, in particular the number of gay men who came forward before, during & after the hunt. Those who tried to bring police attention to the notion of a serial killer were not taken seriously by the authorities – they were merely paranoid alarmists.

When it became clear these men weren’t being paranoid alarmists the press was quickly on the scent of witnesses. The killer, as it turns out, was known as a randy daddy in the community. Several had had first-hand experience & were eager to tell their stories. The press, as usual, took them at their word. Surely no one would claim to have slept with the killer just to get some TV time?

One man ended up interviewed at different times during the investigation. Interviewed by different networks & various media. His story became more revealing as more was revealed about the killer. He was, to me, literally the fictional unreliable narrator. He was caught in a paradox of wanting to talk yet not wanting to be judged at the same time. He was no ‘innocent’ victim.

 

It’s unfortunate we live in a media culture where the disposable are so eager for acknowledgment they jump at any opportunity for being seen. Because the early whistleblowers were marginalized they weren’t seen as credible but as attention seekers. Even now with some time between the conviction & today there are some who feel those faggots got what they deserved. What are they hiding from themselves?

 


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Cadaver Dogs

DNA Traces

did he live here

there

he tended gardens

the cadaver dogs

are nosing the rose bushes

the lilacs

he planted here

there

 

each was his place

refuge or hideaway

haven or grave

the men who know

will only talk

if their bones are found

traces of their dna

say

we were here

there

 

we now live in a digital world

symbols

of the discarded

the disappeared

never to be reported

not missed until

their remains were found

 

men with hidden sexuality

now with hidden bones

senses of self

some homeless 

before they were lifeless 

 

cadaver dogs are on the trail

some families still deny

their complicity

in a culture

denies its complicity

shaming sexuality into hiding 

long before those bones

were stripped of flesh

before being hidden 

perhaps

never to be found here

there

This is one of several pieces I wrote in response to the search & capture of the serial killer of gay men. Other pieces looked at the media response to the search, others to the denial that there was even a serial killer. Part of that inability/unwillingness was due the the social status of many of the victims. By social status I mean homelessness or immigrant. If you are homeless no notices you are gone.

As the piece says some weren’t missing until their remains were found. Some remains were of men reported missing but whose closeted culture didn’t include their sexuality. The murderer was found when he killed a white male who had people who missed him immediately. They were unafraid of immigration policies, weren’t so imitated by police, that they reported him missing.

Their insistence & persistence – putting up posters, searching themselves – lead to the eventual capture of the murderer. The murderer preyed not only on these’s men sexuality but also the shame that kept, for some of them, their sexuality a secret from families & friends. They were murdered a much by that culture of shame as they were by the actual hands of the killer.

The vicitms: Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam

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