Water

Swim

 

it’s not that I can’t swim

I don’t trust the water

what lies underneath it

in the silt 

until my foot feels it

even in a swimming pool

I cringe at the thought 

of all those other bodies

of those pieces of broken glass

invisible in the reflected light

 

the water is safe

the lake is pure

the seaweed is harmless

the chlorine protects me

none of which adds to my comfort

the bathtub is deep enough for me

but people drown in tubs

 

I minimize my risks

yes I can swim

I don’t go the the beach

I don’t sit by the side of the pool

I won’t expose my skin

to the sun

for longer than necessary

and never for pleasure

I won’t even wade

with bottoms of my trousers rolled

 

it’s not that I can’t swim

I’m not in love

The key to this fun piece is “I minimize my risks.” I’ve buried that line in the middle so that what this starts out as – a sort of display of paranoia – becomes about well, actually, it is pretty much about paranoia. It’s also a list poem – running through variations of what the ‘dangers’ might be – some quite real, others on the silly side.

Some come from my own past – I hated silt in lakes, wouldn’t go in the ocean if there was too much sea weed. I did see someone cut their foot on broken glass on the beach. Lake Ontario water is often deemed unsanitary for swimming. Even if they say is is ‘safe’ today I wouldn’t risk it on any day.

This is also about the paranoias in general – I have a friend who won’t take the subway alone, just in case it stall between stations. Thanks to the corona virus I am being smothered on line by ads for face masks. Costco runs out of toilet paper & bottled water as people prepare for the end of time. I’m pricing disposable plastic gloves for wearing in transit.

‘my trousers rolled’ is a reference to T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in which his narrator is walking along the beach, musing on the risks he has taken or avoided in his life. The nature of the risks we take today are often as banal as this. Skin cancer didn’t seem to excising when I was a boy frolicking in the sun – now I use a 110 sunscreen. 

The piece takes an even more sudden turn with that last line – drowning in a sea love.



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

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