this is my eating food face

if you don’t like it

look the other way

yes I’ve always eaten like this

put food in my mouth

chew it


I have no control

if my lips look funny

I am not trying to

imitate a camel or a jellyfish

as you so sweetly put it



this is how I eat in private too

not that I eat in front of  mirror

not that I watch myself 

no I don’t want to see

your cell phone video

of me eating like an angry monkey


I’m not going to eat

another thing

until you put that phone down

if you don’t put that phone down

this’ll be our last meal

Candid Camera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candid_Camera) was a precursor to Funniest Video & TikTok – people on camera doing usually comic things, sometimes aware of the camera & often not. Now thanks to cellphones anyone & everyone can be a filmmaker, can be a photo journalist, can hide a camera so that it makes private acts public.

I’ve seen new reports about assaults that resulted from someone recording on their cell an event, seen footage of police warning people to stop recording as they arrested someone. Privacy has become a tightrope. When I take photos I avoid having people I don’t know in them, even then I have obscured the faces of people before I blog them. In fact a couple of my favorite workshop photos are of the hands of people around the lunch table. When I take photos that have cars or houses in them I obscure licence plates & house numbers. 

The piece is also about boundaries & how often those who feel what they are doing is harmless & lighthearted or truthful, should be allowed to cross any boundary: Don’t be a spoil sport – I was only kidding – You take yourself too seriously. It’s only tickling. It’s all fun. But you are fat. If you don’t like xxxx it’s your fault not mine for refusing to respect your boundary. Get over yourself.

It becomes victim blaming as opposed to taking responsibility for one’s actions. ‘You’ll ruin his life if you press sexual assault charges.’ ‘You shouldn’t have been walking home alone in dark.’ ‘Just because they couldn’t take a joke doesn’t make it hate speech.’ Language spins are endless. 


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

2021 Recap

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 445 to 468! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress. The WordPress map show my hits have come from over 70 countries around the world. USA still tops the list but that China & Bangladesh are in the top 10 is a surprise. Nigeria in the top 20 – but behind Malawi! Kazakhstan! Still no hits from North Korea 😦 My Tumblr is at 346 followers. 229 Twitter followers.

My top ten posts of the year include 2 out of the archives! Born To Be Blown – from 2014 – https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/; & Sydney Academy 2 from 2019 https://topoet.ca/2019/08/12/sydney-academy-2/.

I made a few changes in my blogging routine to give me more time for actual writing 🙂 At the start of the pandemic blogging daily was an excellent way to get through the lockdown. Then it became work I had to keep up with & was no longer fun, so I cut way back.

In 2020 I did 322 posts; in 2021 I only 260 blog posts – of course having no live poetry readings or Stratford show to review reduced the quantity. Though on of the highlights of 21 was seeing Three Tall Women on stage in Stratford. Martha Henry’s tour de force final production.

Picture Perfect: Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I’ve been enjoying the slow process of edits & have made some major cuts in the final set of rough drafts. As usual my biggest issue is keeping names straight – what did I call that rcmp constable a hundred pages ago? I’m really enjoying creating the weekly graphic for each section. I do have an endless supply of frame & paintings that people have thrown out.

Like many people I’m weary of the pandemic, of people’s reactions, of the roller-coaster of restrictions, & now the paranoia. Is it allergies? A cold or covid? How ‘sick’ does one have to be to get tested? Who pays for it? By the time you get tested, have the results, early onset treatment is too late. How long before neo-citron markets a neo-covid hot lemon drink?

Highlights of the year: contributing a forward to Philip Cairns book Hollywood Poems; having some pieces of mine included in Pandemic Poetry. Extensive work on my garden. Deep house cleaning in a lock-down pandemic purge of the house top to bottom, in particular a basement full of stuff – some not touched since we moved into the house some 40 years ago. 

I did get used to zoom recovery meetings & now seriously doubt if I’ll go back to face-to-face. I do meet up with fellow recoveries for face-to-face conversations & sharing. Going up to my room for a zoom is much easier than getting ready an hour or so in advance to get there with the hope the TTC hasn’t shut down. 

What am I looking forward to in 2022? Good question. Travel out of the country is out of the question. Even for travel within Canada testing rules can change while I am landing so I might never get off the plane or end up living in a tent on the runway until I can get an appointment for the right test. But I am considering another week or so in Cape Breton if pandemic travel rules loosen up enough. Stratford has a tentative season with a couple of shows we’re interested in seeing but will it end up a repeat of last season’s open air productions?

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to pay for travel covid tests – thanks? paypal.me/TOpoet 

My Editing Riot

So I’m editing this old short story, from the mid 80’s, so I can air it here on the blog & I get distracted by this show of force in the US capital. Do I want to see what they do or do I want to correctly punctuate a sentence? As they climb over barricades & breaking windows I’m breaking down paragraphs. Are they protestors or terrorists. A rampage of white entitlement that eventually fizzles out. No one even shit on the podium. Death by stress & no change in the results, the forgone conclusions.

In my story there is a change in names, a clarification of motivations but the same result. The story results as comedic as the clumsy crowd of echos lurching up & down the Capital building stairs, bumping into each other as they attempt to get the perfect backgrounds for selfies of their righteous bravery. Everyone seems disappointed at the lack of blood on the floor, that there isn’t any burning buildings for truly dramatic context to tweet.

Already that narrative is being rewritten so that every side is at fault as they insist they are upholding the fine principles of democracy, capitalism & freedom of selfie speech. My characters don’t have that much freedom, even as I change their size & shape they tell me what they should do in the situation I created for them. I allow them to be frail, vacillating & only threats to themselves. As much as they are under my control I end up surrendering them to spellcheck & word count – or should I say word re-count. Even when the story is finished it is not certifiable 🙂 but part 1 was posted here with my music blog on Thursday. https://topoet.ca/2021/01/06/jonesing-for-joplin/


in movies about a future

with few survivors 

that stumble across an abandoned store

with canned food on the shelves

not much

watching we think

how desperate they feel

how sad

so when i go into a supermarket


i think

even if what want isn’t there

there is still lots there

there is enough


at one time

thank you

wasn’t enough

there had to be praise


thank you

didn’t go far enough

i had to be grateful

that i was even allowed

to say thank you


i didn’t look

when the food was served

i kept my eyes unfocused

as i ate

i didn’t ask what was on the plate

i didn’t look to cut

i trusted

each morsel was what

i was supposed to have

i didn’t question

i ate 

taste was surpressed

pleasure was not the point

the point was to eat

whatever was served

not to judge

or comment

to eat silently


get the fuck out

so the next person could

be satisfied 

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

New Era Of Butch

I haven’t been totally socially isolated this past week. On Sunday I went for a social distant walk with a friend in recovery. We walked one of the routes I often take on Saturday going to our morning meeting. Zoom is good but even distant face to face is better. Tim’s was open too. Recovery with coffee is the best 🙂 

Rain makes social isolation much easier. So this week I remind housebound Mon Wed Fri mornings to do spring cleaning & tossing. You know those note pads, envelopes, rough drafts you thought would come in handy – out they go. If I haven’t looked at, used them over 10 years bye bye. Rough drafts of the novel’s I’ve blogged already aren’t worth the space they take. Those cables I don’t remember ever having seen for something I don’t own anymore bye bye.

The biggest release was of books I’ve read but have no one to pass them on to. Mailing them isn’t worth the expense. Carting them around hoping to find a ‘free library’ to stuff them into is more work than I’m willing to put. So into the recycle bin.

The Artist’s Way talks about letting go of things that hold us down. This stuff doesn’t have any emotional hold on me so why litter my spaces with it any more. Also I feel more focused without that layer of dust too. Cleaning & purging takes more time than just dusting 🙂 I do look through things & make quick keep or toss decisions. Donate isn’t fast enough for me. I’d rather have empty space.

Healthy wise both of us are not sneezing or coughing. I am wearing bandana or neck warmer masks when I go out, I pull them up when near people. I’ve started to give them a little squirt of cologne too just to make them a bit more e pleasant, for me. In fact I’ve scented whatever hankie I’m using for blowing my nose too. The new era of butch has arrived.

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

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Naked Truth

On a recent Disability After Dark podcast Andrew Gurza talks about his pursuit of hot pictures of himself. In an online world in which photos have become the lure for everything from ebook sales to dating getting that right shot is crucial. There are sites devoted to teaching you, for a modest fee, how to create an ebook cover that will make your book a best seller. With people judging a book cover by a thumb nail pic that cover better have enough eye appeal to get them to click for more.

I see many profiles on dating sites that say ‘no pic no response.’ Many, myself included, won’t click on a profile if there isn’t a picture. You can’t even register on some sites without a photo. So that photo lure has to have more than eye appeal. For me – it should also be in focus, with decent lighting. It should be of the one posting the profile. I have seen pics that I recognize that clearly aren’t of the poster. I have a friend who has found other men using his dick pics as their own.

I understand Andrew’s search & need for a great sexy pic & how hard it can be to pose for one & have it look natural (if it’s a face pic). Body parts aren’t as difficult but even there one hits limits. Getting decent ass selfie requires a fair bit of agility. To maximize a cock pic the best angle requires another photographer. Or, in both cases, an elaborate set up of mirrors.

I have over the years learned how to take decent selfies in mirrors. One trick is to make sure you are in the frame, look into the mirror & then snap your pic. Same holds true for cell phones, at least for my flip phone. Though my best ‘action’ shot was taken by the other guy – it is hard to hold a camera & take a selfie while you body is caught up in …. ahem …other activities.

Andrew also talks about photos & body image. For years I hated pictures of myself – I didn’t realize how unflattering the angle used in many of them were & they was possible to photos, taken by others, where I looked okay. Underwear selfies made me even more comfortable with my body. I’ve see nudes of Andrew & let me tell you his body is photogenic even when he doesn’t have a hard-on.

Life of An Unknown Poet

I was handing my debit card

to the Winners clerk

to pay for some new undies

when my camera crew 

got into shoving match 

with her camera crew


I didn’t see how out of hand things were

till I watched a podcast of 

The Making of The Life of An Unknown Poet

by the crew following my camera crew

my head camera man was asked

how did the poet feel

when he was accosted 


he pointed his camera at me

as I walked out of the store

I looked back

glad I was still the one on camera

I was tempted to go back

but didn’t want to interrupt

the entertainment food chain


I had my own life to be filmed

and what he thought I thought

about the shoving match

wasn’t all that vital to me

the world knew how shallow I was

for a poet


except for this show 

I remained unknown

even after six seasons

and this pissed me off

in fact my viewers

asked to see me pissing

but I had to draw the line somewhere

they could only watch me flush

I have some pride


later there was a news report 

about the shoving match

someone was injured

not one of my crew or my crew’s crew


it struck me how futile it was

that no matter what one did

someone was bound to suffer

that even allowing my personal angst

and new undies

to be the fodder of millions

it didn’t stop the circle of suffering


the camera crew applauded me 

as I wrote those lines about suffering

which made it all worth while once again

I can go living giving my all

even if there is no chance of sex 

unless that camera man 

from the clerk’s camera crew is available

he looked kind of hot

in the podcast of the shoving match 

needs a shave 

his bloody nose gave this unknown poet 

a spark of known reality



every Tuesday

September or October (maybe)  to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) capfireslam.org 

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

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Take A Picture

03.blueselfieI remember as a kid looking at a group of other kids who were making lots of noise when one of them called out ‘Why don’t you take a picture?’ If that happened today I might be tempted but who wants to get charged with invasion of privacy or worse being accused of being some sort of child perv. I don’t do long or second looks anymore, in public.02.mirrorselfieWhen I moved to Toronto one of the guys I met in recovery had decorated his house with pictures of nude men – paintings, charcoal sketches, photographs. Most were flaccid. He said he liked potential. I, being so fresh to the scene, as it were, preferred the proudly erect fulfillment, not the potential. This did change as I aged, as I saw enough images, engaged enough with the real thing. Porn no longer gets me hard but I enjoy it.01.redsocksRather I enjoy photos of the naked male. Note ‘photos’ not gifs or movies. I get bored with watching men engage in sex, even amateurs, on the screen. Live sex shows? Haven’t seen one, yet. Video creates an artificial expectation of sex – I’ve met too many guys who wanted to duplicate that action who felt our inability to do was a lack on a personal level. They didn’t like being told these were not instructional videos, that they were not done in single shot set-up.04.eastcoastslefieThere are some who shame those of us who like to look at ‘smut.’ I don’t pretend I look for spiritual reasons but I’m not going to be shamed either. I’ve come realize that part of reason for looking is that in the flesh, in person-to-person contact there is no distance. One can’t just stop to look for long before the other person says something like ‘what are you looking at?’ ‘is there some thing wrong?’ Live people get self-conscious. A photo lets you look as long as you want, doesn’t blush or even have the right to say ‘don’t look at me you old queen.’ One gets to look at men, who in the flesh, wouldn’t invite a first, let alone a second look.


The Golden Triangle

I wonder where they are

that background – what is it

why that wall paper

why those paintings

the men in the picture

naked sometimes hard

sometimes with fly open enough

to let their business out

or pants pulled down enough

to see pubic flourish

with that aching member arching

into the camera’s eye

my eye

wandering away from the pivotal point

the golden triangle not holding me

as I wonder

where did they get those curtains

where is the light coming from

how long have they squirmed on that couch

that weirdly colored rug

while someone

clicks and focusses

getting them to turn this way that

ooh that’s good

getting them to pout to smile

grimaces that only convey

how uneasy they are in front of a camera

with faces that reveal nothing

not even discomfort

sometimes a splash of stoned

the goofy far away look of someone

who has once again

retreated to some other moment

while someone with a camera

zeros in on the part of them

that tells viewers nothing

that may make mouths water

but it ends there

I wonder what next

did they go for drinks

was there money exchanged

paying their way through college


are they just hapless street boys

lost and being prayed upon

are they confident hustlers

aware of the power of their sweet grins

firm chins and eager eyes

is there pleasure there

more than a rote factory of okay

if you ran into one of them on the street

saw him sitting across from you on a bus

or serving you a coffee

what do you say

do you recognize that face

does it seem familiar

but you just can’t place it

without those curtains behind it

if you remember

then what can you say

‘I really dug your PornHub spread’

do they know there are men

out there who know

their photographic pixilated flat screen bodies

better than they know their own flesh

viewer and viewed

strangers in a circle

a lens

that captures them both

one in a moment that never changes

each time it is viewed it is the same

no new light no new angle

can fall on the image

no matter how often

I count the petals on the rose curtains

study the business

that is never put back in its pants

I can never taste it


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

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Dangly Bits

Dick – that’s right this post, in stereotypical gay male style, is about dick: cock, penis, balls, nuts, dangly bits. Dick on line to be more precise, or rather the amount of it. It’t about the willingness of men, many claiming to be straight, to post cock shots grinning into dusty mirrors. Quantity as opposed to size – because size is too easy to manipulate – if it doesn’t look real it is probably photoshopped.


If you don’t realize that porn created the internet retail, high-speed, hi-def, as we know it, then you are leading a very sheltered life. The need for secure credit card flow was vital for that industry – without that there would be no PayPal, no Amazon, no online banking. Porn proved there was a market for online shopping, that people longed to buy anonymously from the comfort of their homes. And that they wanted it fast & crisp.


Back to dick. Even when I was on dial up I was amazed at the ease of finding & downloading explicit pics of men – nearly all were, what I call, professional. Clearly posed, well lit & sort of banal but hot all the same. I knew there was amateur sites but who wants to pay? Plus dial up was slow. Then I bumped up to high speed & HD.

Wow! a whole new world of dick was presented to me. Tumblr floodgates were opened. I have learned to close them to control the quantity. But what really surprised me was the number of men willing to drop their pants for a camera – often in front of some mirror – in front of mirrors anywhere – change rooms, washrooms, bedrooms, car mirrors. Selfies galore – all ages, sizes, races, types.


There’s also instagram, vine, kik, snapchat, that are driven by dick pics – I don’t for a minute think these sites would grow if all we were getting were cute pics of kittens, babies or gramma’s birthday.

I suspect this endless stream of pics (of any sort) has created a new attention deficit culture – we remember only while we look but insist that each time we look it’s different or there’d be only be one tickled kitten gif. The endless streams allows for enjoyment of things we might not otherwise care for – race, size, get washed away in the flicker of dick pics.


One last word about size – big ones photograph better but thanks to photoshop everyone can become larger. I’ve seen the pics of the same guy only with his dick shopped larger, shopped thicker only, hairier, no hair, cut, uncut, even successful transplants. I stop believing what I’m seeing – it’s just like reality TV – edited for viewer fantasy not physical reality or often possibility.


Safety First

I pack the salmon salad

into a recycled plastic container

to preserve the earth

for a nanosecond each time I use it

is this the biggest risk I’ll take today

whether it will fit

into snug reusable confines

so that I am safe secure

comfortable protected


will I cross a street in the middle

will I try a new brand of tooth paste

minty gel tooth resurrecting fresh

will I go into a coffee shop

order everyone to the floor

screaming sweating swearing

life isn’t fair

everyone here will pay the over price

will I drink too much and pass out in a dumpster

get tossed into a compacter


will I dare God

to protect me from myself

from others

will I fly with knives hidden on my person

try to set fire to my tennis shoes –

will the fridge be be cold enough

to keep my salad from turning to poison

will I sit here and wait

for a mosquito bite to send me to the grave

do I dare

roll down my pant legs

tumble with an unprotected dick


is this what it has all come down to

these years of being mild in the street

leaving me here safe secure

not puzzled by it all any more

in salmon salad complacency

I don’t feel I came to the peak

I sense I finished something

that I don’t remember starting


why does it seem so much bother

to don my disco duds

hustle on down to the dance floor

when at one time

I couldn’t wait

show off my feverish moves

darting and hipping around

shake it baby shake it one more . . .


I don’t even feel a sense of loss

for the grab gut bust muscle

of music and indifference

I’m sure the stoic disinterest

men show each other

hasn’t changed over the years

then again maybe that’s what I need

someone else’s indifference

to butt my butt against

could that be the risk

or is it easier to make my salmon salad

tamp it into the container

and the container is the right size

praise be to God


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more music – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr



Aliens Anonymous

This title came to me while I was at a meeting recently. With my recovery anniversary near the start of July I’ve been thinking a little about when I arrived in the rooms, as it were. By the end of my drinking I was caught in a shame spiral that made death by alcohol seem deserving.


can you see the real me?

I was unable to be openly honest about my sexuality, except, of course, after a few drinks & oops things did happen with a ‘straight’ drinking buddy. So I was queer, a compulsive liar (because if I couldn’t be honest about myself why tell the truth about anything anyway, right); I was a thief. As a child I messed around with other children so I was a child molester anyway. There were no role models for me & like many closeted queer, I thought I was supposed to be a cross-dresser too.

On top of which I was (& still am) intensely creative, imaginative, & driven to express myself. Creativity is only respected if it makes lots of money – poetry is not butch enough – though no one ever quibbled about Leonard Cohen’s manliness.


am I’m in the kitchen or the bath?

I felt like I was from another planet – an alien – alienated from the culture I was living in on the east coast – there was an artsy crowd but I wasn’t considered their intellectual peer so never felt invited into it – coming into recovery was, for a time, finding myself with guys who were in many ways like me – queers who drank to get through the identity struggle.


there’s a whole person somewhere in there

In the recovery literature there’s a passage to the effect that ‘the old pangs of anxious apartness would disappear.’ Well, let me tell you that after over 37 years this hasn’t happened to me – I still feel that apartness, but today I’d rather feel it that numb myself to it. The apartness is a part of being human, I’d rather be human than an alien.


another of the rough rough drafts of my canto-by-canto rewrite of Dante’s Purgatory. By ‘rough’ I mean this is the first time I’ve looked at this canto since I first wrote it several years ago.

canto 6

Verlaine urged me

toward the exit

on to the next stage of our journey

when the denizens of the terrace

turned nearly as one to me

and various of them

began to plead with me


‘Duncan please

you are the one who can bring us rescue

tell us what to do

or better yet intercede on our behalf

make the gates opens

let new light flood through to us here

let the steamer work

so we can get better espresso

call a repair man

we’ll pay you back later

you have the juice we need

to get all of us back on line

plug us in

line us up with the right wifi provider

bigger tetra-bytes of memory

please we trust you

you know deep in your own creative soul

that this is what you are intended for

don’t you don’t you

you many ever reach the heights

we have reached

but you can give us the boost we need


take a few moments

write a little affirmation for us

an ode to our creative souls

that will release us

from this endless unproductive waiting

you have to

you must

please pretty please

think what it will mean to you

you can become

a foot note

in our great biographies

in each of them

there are so many here

each of us is counting on you now

now bring the light to bear upon us

to get the beans ground properly

to get the waiters

to bring us the right orders

so what if we weren’t sure of what we want

you can straighten that out

get them to go to the Barista

the big steamer in the sky

to perk us the proper brew



only you can do that now

when you return from that trek

get all your friends to do the same

the more who wish us the well

the sooner we can get on with

whatever their is for us to get on with

do you understand

are you willing’


The misery and desperation

on their faces touched me

and sickened me at the same time


‘Get the fuck away from me

you bunch of lazy bums

so what if you had the spark

and let expectations dull it

shine your own shoes

that is the only way to do it

stop moaning and groaning

and counting on things

outside your own volition

to get you anywhere

the glimpse of purity you have had

can continue

but not though my eyes

only through your own

so stop looking to critics



to give you light

but look instead to your own inner soul

to your own creative need

to do and keep doing

don’t blame me

if that light flickers

even if that light doesn’t appeal to me

so get the fuck out of my way

I have better things to do

than intercede on behalf of any of you.’


‘Oh yeah

what is Verlaine doing

is he not interceding for you.’


‘He is my guide nothing more.’


‘Then be our guide too Duncan

you have to lead us

through to the next level of consciousness

to the great transformation

you must

you can do it.’


‘Look I have enough trouble

doing that for myself

I’m not to be followed

in any way

I don’t even like Verlaine’s verse

I hate to admit that

I can’t even think of a line

but he has been sent to me


so perhaps someone will be sent to you.

so now get lost

because it was in being lost

that I was sent this guide

lost and powerless

not knowing there anyway out

you think there is a way out

until you lose that thread of hope

there is no way out’


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


( I’ve registered already 🙂 )


October 18, Sunday – feature: Cabaret Noir: Inner Child Sacrifice


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr



shelf reflection