A Little Bent for Bentley Little

When I am asked who my favourite horror writer is I always say ‘Bentley Little’ & they go ‘Huh?’ For a writer who has produced nearly a novel year since his first published book in 1990, plus short story collections, his profile hasn’t skyrocketed. I first discovered him thanks to Stephen King who in some interview I read years ago said that Little was one of his favourite horror authors.

Like King Little’s writing style is conversational, rarely high-flown, or peppered with pseudo-scientific jargon. He plays on myth, legends & even reaches into American history – a ghost train constructed of & by the bones of the Chinese who built the railway – but always starts in the common place & makes the eerier & foreboding.

I have read dozens of Little’s books. I became, as I ma wont to do, a bit obsessed with hunting them all down, scouring 2nd hand bookstores for old ones & watching for new releases. The books are high on suspense, thrills & horror. He finds horror in ordinary things – that new box box store has sales that are to die for – literally.

I’ve kept two, so far, of them on my shelf: The Policy and His Father’s Son. In Son our hero discovers a society of letter-to-the-editor writers whose letters lead to change. It is one of the few novels about writers writing that catches the power of the word, what it means to the writer & then sends that concept into an amazing direction.

 

All the novels are highly cinematic but so far none aha been made into films. I suspect Little has resisted that thanks to what has happened to King film adaptations that have watered down the story to make it more commercial appealing. Bentley can be gory, funny & always scary. He catches human fears & paranoia & makes them into realities; what if the gates to your gated community are the gates to hell?  If you aren’t a fan, yet, I’d recommend The Policy as an excellent starter for this addictive writer.

Dead or Alive

one is already dead

one we don’t know

who knows this child

does anyone recognize 

his running shoes his hands his face

 

is he dead is he alive

we warned you 

not to go near the lake

late at night

first Brad now Jeff

each off on an adventure

 

is he dead

is he alive

what would have possessed him

we told him about the Denizen

we made sure

none of the boys

would go near the smoke shed

they never listen

they never listen

if only they were

content with the pancakes

flap jacks

waffles

maple syrup

we can’t seem to keep them 

sated in food stupors

they have to slip off

looking for adventure

don’t say boys will be boys

 

is he dead is he alive

Jeff Jeff speak to us

wake up 

the grey cold damp

isn’t holding you that strong

spit the cold grey lake water

out of your lungs

tell us did you find Brad

have you seen Olaf

which of you

went to the smoke shed

who stole the sausages

who wasn’t heeding 

the warning we posted

the tales we told

to keep you alive

 

is he dead is he alive

is he Jeff

feel for a pulse

feel for breath

is there a sign

anything

no this isn’t Jeff

it’s some other boy 

another lured to Pinebow Lake

another taken from us

 

if this isn’t Jeff

where is Jeff

where is Brad

where is little Olaf

all the good boys

the brightest and best

have taken their leave

or are they just hiding

peaking around the trees

to giggle and smirk

in some game of hide and seek

where the finders

stay with the hiders

till there is only one looker left

and that will be me

because I won’t go near the lake

late at night

I won’t slip out of my bunk

to look for sausages

I’d rather be hungry and found

 

we must continue our search

beat the bushes

leave no stone unturned

we must look till we find

we must discover

why boys will be boys

we must see if there are foot prints

we have to follow the scent

the deep decay 

of blackened tree stumps

 

something floats 

to the surface of the lake

a glistening slick

like oil red blood

it is moving to follow the moon

it is time for us to light the fires

to gather around

to be told again the warning signs

the things to do

to make sure we all remain here

 

who has seen Tim

he was here a moment ago

he had the matches for the fire

who has seen Garth

he had the marshmallows

come out come out

this game has gone to far

 

is he the next warning sign

the fourth sign

of what is to come

the gradual shift

that takes us each from the camp

to home

 

yes that must be it

the others have gone home

run back to their mommies

scared of the lake

scared of the dark

and never go to get their fill

of the good cook’s works

we can end the search

except to find out

who this boy is 

spewed upon the shore

who

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

Herman’s Hidden Cameras

As much as I enjoyed Herman’s Hermits as a teen I wasn’t encouraged to admit it. They were radio-fodder bubble-gum as opposed to real musicians like the Rolling Stone or even the Beatles. They were regarded as sweet, squeaky-clean and a band only girls could enjoy. Music hall songs like ‘Henry the VIII’ didn’t help their image either. I picked up stand-alone cd The Very Best of back in Dec 2006 to reclaim that part of my past.

Sure some of the songs suffer from ‘clean’ but many of them are solid, if not brilliant, pieces of pop music. The band wasn’t terribly original, creative or even were outstanding musicians. But their studio work is impeccable. It helps that Peter Noone’s voice is sweet & appealing. ‘No Milk Today’ is a breathtaking track – the production work is sublime & still amazes. The fact that it was written by Graham Gouldman (10CC) certainly helps. 

I picked up stand-alone Highs of the Sixties back in 1994. This is the complete opposite of the Hermits. A compilation of the sort psychedelic, garbage-band music that I could easily admit to enjoying. It includes tracks by Love, Count Five (one of the first latino bands to make it big), The Standells – many one-hit wonders but all fun. I’ve since tracked down collections by some these one-hitters like Blue Cheer, The Seeds, Count Five. I already had an extensive Love collection before I picked this cd up.

But what about the present you might ask? Next on the shelf are these stand-alones by The Hidden Cameras: The Smell of Our Own; Mississauga Goddam; AWoo. This a fun, queer, musically-diverse band that I really enjoy. With songs about water sports ‘Golden Steams,’ politics ‘Ban Marriage,’ love ‘Music is my Boyfriend’ & life ‘Learning the Lie’ performed with energy that invites all listeners into their world. Led by Joel Gibb  the band uses standard rock augmented by strings, wind instruments to create an often rollicking, sometimes folky, sweet romantic tapestry of music that often makes an ‘ironic’ counterpoint to the lyrics. Hidden Cameras take sound pictures of the world in a way I like to see it. 

Lucky Day

It felt good to sleep in. Something I didn’t allow myself to do that often. A warm, snug bed from which I could hear the cold wind outside. As I rolled over to try for another few winks the door to my room opened enough for a head to pop through. 

‘Good morning, sleepy head.’ Jim smiled at me.

‘What are you doing here?’ I sat up.

‘What do you think?’ he came into the room.

‘And why aren’t you dressed?’

‘Another dumb question.’ He slipped into the bed beside me. ‘Neither are you.’

Our bodies nestled together comfortably. 

‘I got the day off so I figured, why not drop over here and spend some of it with you.’  Jim gently bit my shoulder.

‘Great idea. That spare key was for emergencies.’

‘Yes, well this is an emergency.’

‘So I can feel.’

I rolled over on top of him. Just then my cell buzzed.

‘Don’t get it, or you won’t get it.’ He warned, twisting the ring in my left nipple.

The cell buzzed, and as programmed, the buzz got louder the longer it rang.

‘I have too.’

I reached over and picked it up. ‘Hello.’

‘Hi Dave.’

‘Steven is that you?”

‘Yep. Just arrived in town.’

‘You should have warned me.’ I covered the receiver, ‘It’s Steven, my agent from New York.’

‘Well, I was hoping to surprise you. I have the new contract. Bidding stopped at 2.5 mil.’

‘2.5 mil!! I’m amazed.’

Jim was biting my stomach under the covers. ‘Stop that for a minute will you.’

‘Sounds like I caught you at a bad time.’

‘Not at all. No wrong time for 2.5 mil.’

‘Free for lunch?’

‘Lunch? Sure. You staying at the same hotel.’

‘Same room is fact.’

‘Okay see you around noon.’

‘Frank wants you for lunch and I want you for breakfast.’ Jim came from under the covers to kiss me.

Just then the door bell rang. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my bathrobe and dashed down the stairs to the front door. A flower delivery man waited.

‘David Bradley?’

‘That’s me.’

‘Sign here.’

I signed for a box that opened to reveal two dozen red and white roses.

‘Looks like this is your day?’ Jim looked over my shoulder. ‘Who are they from?’

‘I haven’t checked yet. But find today’s paper. I should check my lottery numbers.’

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft is a master of both purple prose & terrifying visions. I remember reading him in my late teens & being drawn in totally to the out-of-kilter world he created (or was he merely describing an alternate reality that wasn’t fiction at all?) On my Kindle I now have his complete fiction: short stories, novels & even some poetry.

He took me to a disturbed Maine seaside long before Stephen King moved in 🙂 I was impressed by his writing style, though now I find it a bit florid, and was even more impressed by his decision to dispense with the happy ending. There is no escape from the tentacles in his Cthulhu Mythos.

His invented language, strange rituals & decaying churches enthralled me. One of my favourite short stories has the escapee struggle from captivity to find themselves in front of a mirror & being terrified by the monstrous creature they see. My other favourite is the room with weird angled corners that drives people mad. The Dunwich Horror is perfection (& the movie isn’t too bad either).

Re-reading many of these stories as an adult, on my Kindle, I am both transported & a little bored. How many decaying churches, or deep underground caverns full of malignant artifacts do I need to read about anyway. He has spawned an industry, though, of novels, short stories that are still being written to explore & expand his worlds. 

I was inspired by his use of language, his story telling and the ability to create & sustain a complex & compelling mythos so rich that some believe it is not fiction. I approach my Village Stories with some of this in mind – though I didn’t go for supernaturally scary but for a more emotionally culturally-scary mood.

Delete Delete Delete

I went for a walk

took my camera

to see the world as an observer

not a passer-by

I took shots of

stray shoes stray cats

a frozen smile

dirty gutters budding trees

windows that needed washing

people that needed washing

teens smoking

locked doors

cars too close to the curb

a small dribble of blood

bicycles that rotted all winter

posters pasted on closed shop windows

spray tags on mail boxes

an empty threat

cut flowers at a corner store

empty park benches

the distance between the aches

clumps of soggy newspaper

the mouth of a cave

hands holding empty air

three cellphones

a dog killing a rat

a birthday cake

a broken object that beeped faintly

green teeth

a missed opportunity

a wrong turn

a gathering of indifferent hoodies

an orange chain link fence

the last of the great ones

discarded bloody bandages

a farewell to arms

a Tim’s cup trapped in subway escalator

a dead fly in a camera shop window

a reason to go on

undergarments in a storm drain

an absent ache

dead batteries

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

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

“When A Fem Walks”

Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam kicked off it’s 5th season with international flare with Korean, Middle Eastern, Asian & native poets, singers, & even dancers bringing their creativity to the stage. All are Canadians but our queer roots go deeper than nationality.

Host Charlie Petch’s boundless energy kept the night moving along well after the land acknowledgement & our queer international anthem. The hot button issue of the night was hot buttons 🙂 Hot Damn! now has official Queer Slam Buttons in a range of colours & sizes. You’ll have to come to a show to get one.

Open stagers warmed things up for the first round of the slam. I read a few pieces from my recent chap book. “they were all dead” “don’t turn the light on – I’m less lonely with you here” “being my lover takes more than persistence” “the not-for-profit industrial complex” “lower that critical gaze” “so queer I sweat rainbows & glitter”

From the first slam round: “using binary sex computers” “put a fault line across your body” “years since you left the closet but you still smell of mothballs” “launched too soon & landed too late” “bar shot after shot – you turn into your brother” “talk big act small”

Feature janice jo lee (http://janicejolee.ca) did a resonant set of poems, songs, accompanying herself on a loop station which replaced the cismale boy band of yesterday. Over dubbing herself the songs were complex, compelling & inviting. “when a fem walks down the street – she or he or they are not meat” “if you can’t handle the truth – you can’t handle the revolution” “what’s my gender today.” 

For ‘Crumpled Heart Regrowing” she added a Korean drum to the vocal layering & was join by dancer Sze-Yang Ade-Lam for a remarkable mediation on boundaries & inner strength. Between them they hit the sort emotional notes that shows like So You Think You Can Dance? strive to imitate.

From the last slam round: “morning showers bring afternoon rainbows” “separate the has been from the never was” “I’m going to keep saying my name until it is not forgotten” “when worth is only measured by western standards” “the sound of motherhood is knocking on a cracked door” “why was I born with this ticking clock.”

Winners were declared, prizes were given, photos were taken & season 5 was launched into the stratosphere 🙂 Next Toronto Hot Damn will be at Buddies in Bad Times November 15. 

Spoilers

boy gets girl

dog lives

monster vanquished

boy buys right girl

man repents

eviler spirits arise

escape succeeds

money isn’t enough

love conquers all

she feels compete in marriage

success isn’t everything

he was a she

family is reunited

all is forgiven

things are never the same again

she knows better

he finds a purpose in self sacrifice

boy gets boy

dog learns a lesson

man rescued from loneliness by child

greed is punished

being pretty isn’t fulfilling

he didn’t really want her

the lame horse wins a race

he dies saving others

the truth remains hidden

it was all a dream

there is no escaping

they were ghosts

drugs were a bad choice

bad guy repents

she was a princess all along

the villain was his father

the castle blows up

the space ship blows up

the race is won

marriage means more than career

he is a genius

the plants were evil

Satan is foiled

he walks again

she forgives her rapist

he sees the errors of his ways

his heart is ten times bigger

everyone is dead

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

For Free

For Free

I decided to stop

giving it away for free

when the bar manager

made it clear my free

wasn’t bringing enough 

in drink sales

drink that cost more

than I could afford

because I was giving it away for free

 

every poet

was expected to give it away for free

that’s how it was done

our opportunity

to give it away for free

was paid for in what the bar earned

we were worth our weight in foam

which is ultimately worthless

because what given away for free

became valueless not priceless 

 

when I decided to stop

giving it away for free

it was as if

I priced myself out of the market

a market that went on

without me

 

giving it away for free

let me     forced me

to devalue myself

because people may be grateful

for free

but they only respect 

what they pay for

and I deserve at least

as much respect

as your next drink

I’ve been asked a few times why I stopped doing spoken word shows or even open stages. I told them that I was tried of seeing bartenders make more in tips than the features were getting. It wasn’t an even playing field with poets struggling to pay printing costs while others were struggling to get grant money. Struggling to be heard at the mic over the chatter of the next features friends didn’t seem worth the effort to me.

When I told one series (now defunct) organizers that I wanted to be paid I was told that so&so, who won such&such prize, featured there for free. It was as if I had an ego problem to be expected remuneration. I declined the honour. I know one performer who declined a ‘show’ where they was expected to give a % of any chapbooks sold to the organizers, after all they made it possible for them to even sell chapbooks.

There are worse horror stories of poets, singers who are expected to be grateful to perform without getting paid, or even getting a cut of the door, while being expected to do all the pr work for the event. 

The only open stage I perform on regularly is Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam mainly to make sure old white cismale queers get some representation 🙂 I turned down Pride as the person asking was sure the ‘exposure’ was enough for me – I said ‘Honey try getting Lavern Cox to appear just for exposure.’ I haven’t been approached since 🙂 I am as supportive of the ‘community’ as it is of me.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Paul Simon

Paul Simon – one of my non-literary inspirations recently released ‘In the Blue Light’ a new recording to celebrate his 77th birthday. He’s taken some of his older songs & reimagined them as pop jazz. I would have liked him to go even further back to his Simon & Garfunkle work. It is a fine set of songs all the same. Listening to it made it clear to me that some of my influences weren’t the dead poets I was forced to study in high school or even the literary poets that ‘real’ poets cite as inspirations so that can sound educated.

 

Simon’s lyrics weren’t necessarily that complex. I Am A Rock spoke to my teenage sense of isolation. Little did I realize ‘I am an island’ was a John Donne reference, nor did I need to know in order to be drawn into the words. It had alliteration, evocative imagery – things that became a part of my own early writing style. It was so simple & direct that it made poetry accessible & seemly easy to write.

So I wrote endless poems in imitation of Sounds of Silence, Old Friends, For Emily. I actually still have some of those high school explorations somewhere. His longing for love was never dark – like, say, Jim Morrison; nor was his search as wordy or complex as Bob Dylan. His music itself was sunny. Even my sexually explicit poetry maintains, I hope, the sense of innocence than runs through his lyrics.

Later Simon became more personal to him yet never felt forced, overly bitter or oblique. He used humour to express some of the difficulties he was going through as he got older, as his fame became less rewarding or as his reputation stood in the way of his just being a guy who wrote and sang. It’s only looking back now as I think about my inspirations do I see how much I owe him.

Why I Want To Be A Clown

the clowns enjoy 

making babies cry 

the highlight of their day 

is when they get a good scream 

out of a baby 

elated when they scare a child

say around 9 or 10 years old

into crapping his pants

 

oh they can’t get enough 

of the shame on a kid’s face

as bowels let loose

because of their crazy 

smeary greasy faces

they would plunge surge

surround an innocent kid

huge mouths agape

with broken teeth 

speared with reds and greens

from the make up they ate 

to get them geared up 

to charge into the ring

 

stumbling bumbling drunk

pretending to vomit in a bucket

throw confetti at one child

then real puke on the next

to the hilarious roar of the audience 

 

when they found the one 

preferably a boy 

because girls were no challenge

the older that boy the better in fact 

one who acted uninterested 

invite him into the centre ring

mock him with garish faces 

bray till he ran out crying

made that little fucker 

shit shit shit his pants

they slap each other on the back 

as they exit the ring

 

sniggering 

at the the lion tamer

who relied on whips

not on wigs

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

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

RomCom Rewrite

On Disability After Dark‘s podcast #101 Andrew Gurza rewrites a classic romcom with disability in mind. He picks ‘You’ve Got Mail’ & makes a good plot out of it, but some of the ‘issues’ he’d see addressed come across more as polemic than entertainment – i.e. banning straws. The struggle for accessibility may not play as comedic either – but it’s certainly worth finding out.

This sort of rewriting is something I’ve been doing for years. You know things like: fantasizing that Tarzan would have more fun with the hot Zulu King than that plain Jane he gets stuck with. What was really up with Tony Randall as the ‘straight’ best friend is so many 50’s, 60’s comedies? But of course gays didn’t exist then.

At one time heterocentric entertainment was literally the law. In Hollywood for decades the Hays Commission would force films to remove any mention of divergent sexuality from scripts or edit it out of already filmed footage. In books, queer characters were only acceptable as tragically flawed figures who inevitable had to die by the end of the book.

What if it was Greg Brady who had a crush on the football team captain? What if Bud, on Married With Children, was caught with a copy of Mandate (a gay men’s pin-up magazine) under his bed & not Playboy? Why couldn’t Buffy and Faith ever consummate their clearly sexual attraction? Pop music: why not, say, ‘For Emil wherever I may find him’. Or ‘Mark’s tee-shirt waved in the breeze as Roy Orbison sang.’ 

So when Andrew rewrites those heterocentric fantasy, wish-fulfillment, romcoms into a stories where real people can be a part of things I’m with him 100% ‘When Harry Wheeled Salvator’ ‘American Crip Pie.’ (I use ‘crip’ as Andrew uses it freely.) We need stories where disabled folk aren’t seen as brave but as sexy. 

I’d go further because queering romcom isn’t such a difficult step. There is already a mid-budget niche of good-looking gay gays & gals fumbling in their search for true love. I’d love to see big budget superheroes, or male action figures like James Bond or GI Joe – have a same-sex love interest. Why not Superman with Larry Lane; Iron Man with Pecker Potts. I say male because female-on-female is still more acceptable for general audiences. 

I”d love to see “You’ve Got Inspector Mobility Device.”

Born to be Blown

just wrap your lips ’round these velvet rims 

and strap your hands ‘cross my engines

‘cause Daddy

we were born to cum

 

do I have to tell you

I want to fuck you

in a song

or is that the sort of thing

you can’t say in a song

 

even with all the out singers

there’s still this smothering

hetero cloaking of

what queer pop performers

are willing to say

 

it’s fine to say

I miss you in the morning

never

I miss your woodie in the morning

the bed is so empty without you

is acceptable

but my mouth is so empty without you

will never make to the charts

she can sing

I long for the taste of you 

on my tongue

but

I long for the taste

of my pussy 

on your tongue

is just going to far

 

why are there no queer anthems like

‘Born to be Blown’

‘B-B-Bad to the Boner’

not that I want

to reduce being queer to body parts

but honey

taking the sex out of homosexual

to maintain assimilationist acceptability

gets to be boring

 

the empty space in the bed

isn’t as lonely

as the empty space between my legs

that you used to fill with your face

the smile I miss

is your smile when 

I look up at you 

with your dick in my mouth

 

where is the chart topper

that isn’t ashamed of desire

that doesn’t hide in coy cloying

allusion

let’s bring sex back to sexy

 

if I have to tell you

I want to fuck you

in a song

I guess i’m going

have to write that song myself

but ‘til I do

get your mouth a runnin’

get head on the highway

looking for adventure

in whoever comes my way

 

wrap your hips ’round these velvet lips 

strap your hands ‘cross my engines

‘cause Daddy 

we were born to cum

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

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

Socks

Socks

where did you get those socks

my mother dangled a pair of

argyle socks in her left hand

these aren’t yours

they certainly

don’t belong to your father

 

I didn’t want to tell her

I got them from a girl

in my class at school

we had swapped socks at recess

I had loved the way

the argyle socks looked

in her brightly polished penny loafers

she liked my ordinary red socks

that matched her tartan skirt

so we swapped

 

I saw them as socks

not as girls wear

yet at that moment

I was afraid

ashamed

to tell my mother

that I owned that pair of girls’ socks

 

I found them in your drawer

she said

looking for the mate to this one

she held up a black sock

 

going through my drawers

was something she often did

to make sure I hadn’t

just stuck my worn undies or socks

in there

which I did just so as not to have them

all over the floor

 

I found them

I finally blurted out

found them!

she exclaimed

you brought a dirty pair of socks

into my house

how did you know they didn’t have fleas

or something worse?

 

I washed them before I brought them home

I said

washed them? where!

         at school

then you cant take them back

to where you find them

and don’t let ever catch you

bringing home dirty clothes

you find in the street

ever

she tossed them on bed

 

they’re nice socks I said

 

what do think

people will think

that we can’t afford to buy socks

I nodded

I guess you’re right

 

she was lucky

I didn’t bring the skirt home too

Separating truth from fiction is never easy in this age of confessional poetry. Whose voice am I allowed to speak in? If this Socks story didn’t happen a, I allowed to assumed the voice of someone to whom it did happen? Can poetry be fiction? Does the piece capture true emotion even if doesn’t capture an actual moment. Authenticity doesn’t allow for fiction.

This piece wrote itself. It began with this sense of how some things get gendered to the point where there is no a boy could dare wear a girl’s socks. Clothing was segregated by colour & pattern when I was growing up. Lace was fine for females, males could never wear it. At one time if your belt buckle was on the left & not the right you weren’t wearing that belt in a gender appropriate way? So I created this scenario, that seems to me to be very movie like, though in the movie my hero might pull that skirt out of a more secret hiding place. 

My mother did go through my closet & drawers looking for dirty clothes – she did berate me for wearing dirty clothes because of what people would think. I also knew that I wasn’t like other boys but, as I have talked about in other posts, thought that being a fag – meant I wanted to be female too. A confusion that didn’t leave me until my later teens. I was too scared to try any sort of cross-dressing though. The closest I got to that was a couple of mens tuxedo short that did have lace fronts & cuffs. Needless to say I didn’t wear them to hockey practice 🙂

Once I started writing this piece I was easily drawn into my hero’s dilemma though. The things about myself that I hid from family & friends as I realizing my sexuality & cutting away the cultural suppositions I had accepted as facts but which proved to be myths. This piece worked so well I have performed it a few times. Do I have a skirt? To find out send donations to my paypal below 🙂

 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

September 2018 – Sneak Peek

If anything September will be cooler than August 🙂 but no less busy on the blog front. Two musicals I’ll be reviewing: ‘Grand Hotel’ at the Shaw Festival & ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ at the Stratford Festival. After the amazing production of Baskervilles I was willing to take a chance on another Shaw show & we also had gift certificates that reduced ticket cost considerably. (Hint: Shaw or Stratford gift certificates are always welcome.)

Biggest show by far though will the launch of Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam! Season 5. That’s right season 5 of a show that keeps getting stronger, reaching further & pushing the envelope by creating a safe space for lgbtq+ slammers, poets & other performers. The show has had mimes, stand-up & musicians – no ventriloquists yet though 😦 Come to Buddies on September 26 & experience it for yourself 🙂

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/ 

On the blog front I’ve come to the end of Village Stories on Wednesday so I’ll be going back to the 227 Rules for Monks. Music remains ensconced on Mondays; Tuesday is Coal Dusters; fresh 227 Rules for Thursdays; Fridays will see the continuation of me discussing my literary heroes & influences.

Speaking of Dusters I’ve blogged 22 chapters for 40,323 words so far. There’s still 75,000 words to go – these haven’t been broken into chapters yet. Each new ‘chapter’ gets a through editing before it goes up & the story is getting more detailed & certainly holds my interest more than I expected it to. The instant research has been productive. Some of it has come from finding new images for the chapter post. 

There’ll be no change in the photo rota thought Monday will lean more towards cars as the month progresses. Wednesdays will remain blue; Friday has lots of doors yet for me to open. I’ve started daily photo sets at Tumblr to work through my photo library. That has been fun, I love writing captions 🙂

Stats: I’ve hit 270 WordPress followers – so 280 by the end of the year isn’t out of the questions; Tumblr I’m at 200; at Twitter I have 212 followers: the bulk of the twitter seem to be entrepreneurs who have the secret to publishing success: needless to say I never follow them back. I follow 93 ‘people’ on Twitter but many of them are on mute anyway 🙂 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

Emily Dickinson

My east-coast high-school English literature poetry focused almost entirely on dead white British men. The exceptions, that I remember, are E. Pauline Johnson & Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886.) I have no recollection of what Johnson poems I was forced to parse or whatever it was we were supposed to do with them – explain somehow in a way that lined up with the teacher’s understanding, as opposed to our actual feeling about the poetry.

The one of Dickinson’s I remember starts “Hope” is the thing with feathers – but it is her life that I remember even more clearly – a recluse for much of her life who refused to see people – who stored her poems in a drawer. That fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime.

 

She wrote unlike any poet of her time – short lines, short poems, random Capitals – the Use of the dash – other than the Random capitals – her verse had the appearance of modern verse. Her use of images was/is very contemporary. The ‘meanings’ were easy enough to figure out as well. Which made them perfect for the limited attention span of teenagers. I can’t say that I liked her then but she was more approachable on the age than Shelly or Wordsworth.

I was fascinated by her decision for solitude. There was also a sort of mystery about her life – only one known photo of her exists. I have the complete poetry unedited. As well as “My Wars Are Laid Away In Books” a biography by Alfred Habegger – which is well worth reading.

Looking at her now as an influence she showed me the power of the simple image, she used direct language as well – not the endlessly florid style of Byron. She didn’t rely on classical references or biblical contexts to convey her thoughts. Plus she clearly wrote for the joy of writing not for the acclaim of publication.

That perhaps has been what inspires me most about her. As much as I’d enjoy being published I’m also quite content to write without that as my sub or even sur text. Instead of tucking my writing away in a drawer I hide it here on my blog. 

Lost Kiss

grief will become

a door you aren’t afraid to open

a shirt you can finally throw away

an aftershave you can’t stand on anyone else

a book you have no one to talk to about

a lawn you have to mow

a sunrise never seen before

an echo in someone else’s laugh

a song that is always him kissing you

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


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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