Ghosts and Haunted Stumps Toronto

Pan on the Danforth – good Greek/Mediterranean food

tile entrance to Pan which is still there

Seduction on Yonge – sex no longer sells

Greek City on the Danforth – moved then vanished

corner of Sherbourne & Bloor – soon to be a covid ghost – Timothy’s gone & Starbucks took over – then pandemic

Danforth & Logan – the Tim’s stain refuses to be gone

tree on lawn of house next door

haunted stump & bones of tree professionals came later in the year to remove the stump

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No vs. Low 

How many days? Where does the count start? With patient zero? Or when they realized there was a patient zero? When community centres closed March 13? Yeah, I’ll pick March 13 when the city realized this was a real danger & started to act in proactive way. If it weren’t for time & date on my computer I’d lose track of what actual day it. My routines were hinged around certain weekly meetings that fell on Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday.

 

 

Shopping panic was dismaying but not surprising. The disappearance of thing off shelves, & apparently not replaced yet, is more amusing than anything. Gradually Toronto has closed down. What no shoe stores! What only plastic no cash? This does bug me as it is clear banks aren’t going to waive any additional fees they collect as we are forced to use credit or debit cards. Fuckers.

I take my daily morning walks, each day a different direction & with minor variations in routes as well. a couple fo them let me see what is happening along the Danforth from Greenwood to Broadview, of Greenwood To Main. Take-out only signs went up fairly quickly, some of them became pick-up only – you have to order in advance. All Danforth Starbucks closed, most Tim Horton’s closed. Some of them depended on school traffic which is nonexistent.

 

Personal health worries haven’t taken over my thinking but they can’t be ignored. My partner is in 80’s, with pacemaker – so if he contracts it odds aren’t in his favour. He’s sure they’ll be directing resources to people with longer life expectancy (as they did in Italy). But our exposure risks are very low. But ‘no’ risk is better than ‘low’ risk.

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Cape Breton Day 4

Today was a day of seeing people not places. In the morning I met up with one of the few friends I had during my last 10 years or so of living in Sydney – a guy I drank with, played lps with & kept in touch with too. He picked me up in his car & we did a bit of driving around Coxheath & Westmount.

Crossed back to the city & ended up at the Starbucks (yes, Sydney is a city with only 1 Starbucks!) where we talked some about present day health concerns & memories of the bars of yesteryear – the names of which I’d forgotten (was that suppressed?). One was The Shingle – a narrow stairway up & also one in back. Just hearing the name brought back memories of stumbling down those back stairs into the parking lot.

Another was The Venetian Gardens part of which jutted out over the harbour – an one time that watery underside was used for rum running. It had a bit of history as a ‘night club’ where big bands once played such at Duke Ellington. I hear local, almost famous Matt Minglewood, Sam Moon there. Near by was a real waterfront bar called The Helm, it was too butch for to ever have been in 🙂 The posh hotel The Isle Royal had a sophisticated basement cocktail lounge ‘The Celeigh Room.’ Too adult swanky for the boozy times I preferred. It did have a whiff of queer about it.

After that I popped in on my niece the master horror writer Betty Rocksteady where we talked about writing, plotting, character & also some about my growing up & surviving the toxic masculinity of the times. I walked from her place to my sister’s on Royal Ave. Took pics on the way. One of the milkshake with the flags of all the provinces sticking out of it.

 

Finalized Fortress visit plans. Ordered another memory – a pizza from Napoli Pizzeria. Napoli was possibly the first pizzeria that opened in Sydney. I remember the excitement that Sydney was prosperous enough for the latest food craze. We felt the same way when KFC finally opened in Sydney. It is still in the same family. The pizza itself is just as good as I recall. In fact I’m ending now to have another piece 🙂

 

Gift Guide

The Giver Not The Gift

why yes thank you

it’s wonderful

I can’t get over it

you made it yourself

you made it just for me

I’m amazed

not that you made it

I know you are capable of making things

don’t take the wrong way

it’s just that I never expected you

to make anything for me

let alone something like this

 

I’m sure I’ll find

the right place to put it

not that it won’t fit in anywhere

one might chose to put it

something so unified

that uses only the purest

that uses every possible part

nothing is wasted

but it needs to be the right place

after all the work you put into it

I can’t just stick where

no one else will see

 

(though I’m tempted

to to do just that

how long before I can regift it

perhaps drop it into some

donation box

share the abundance

but get it out of my sight)

 

thank you

Over the years I have been given gifts that made me think ‘who the fuck do you think I am?’ who mistaken bright for garish. I have had & passed along gifts that aren’t quite right for – if asked – you ever wearer did you read – it’s easy for me to say I met someone who really loved it so it ent to a better home. 

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of the same though – giving someone something that they felt obliged to say ‘oh how lovely’ or some-such other Canadian politeness response. Now I’m more inclined to let someone dip into my music collection rather than presuppose I have the perfect music for them. Be warned, if you want something similar to Kenny G out of my jazz collection – that’s not going to happen 🙂 

The home-made, hand-made gifts I appreciate are cookies, jam – things that don’t need size & the only taste level is the flavour of the yummy goodies. So. yes, this piece is based on some actual experiences of being given travel purchased t-shirts that I knew I would never wear from people who should have known better. and yes I admit I can be hard to shop for if you think of stuff but if you think of the unemotionally of gift cards then my gratitude is real. iTunes, Starbucks, Tim Horton’s even Swiss Chalet – these are things I use.

As I get older I have less compunction about passing things on. Some gifts have turned up as amazing prizes at Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam. Who knows that what you give may not end up making somebody else day. I am grateful for anything anyone takes the time to give me though – I may not appreciate the gift but am always appreciative of the giver.

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The Coffee Queen

The Coffee Queen

I walked out

yeah I know I’m nobody to them

not selling me a cup of coffee

isn’t going to affect

their salary

their bottom line

five bucks less in the register

it’s not as if

it’s the only coffee shop on the street

I’m even willing to wait in line

as long as the line is moving

but if there are three sales associates

behind the counter

& I’m the only customer

waiting to be served

one of you should at least acknowledge me

not roll your eyes at each other

or chat

backs turned

or see me

then go to do something else

 

I walked out without a word

 

I do this often

being the invisible man

has its drawbacks

I’m a nobody

no influence

merely a person who expects service

someone who has experienced

can I help you sir

oh yes let me show you where that is

is there anything else

in an ordinary drug store chain

or

sorry to keep you waiting

this one’s on the house

 

now I don’t want those servers

to lose their jobs

or even apologize

for being understaffed

or having to work to a clock

I walk out

wondering if there’s

a camera monitoring

that some manager will see

them so busy

see me walking out

and they’ll watch it together

shake their heads

saying some people have no patience

or

who does he think he is

the Queen of England

This take on Law 34 is more a reflection on my impatience than on my regal demeanour. On my morning walks I usually stop after about 30 minutes for a sugary snack & some days for a coffee or a hot chocolate. I have an array of different coffee shops that I’ll stop at. If I like one I’ll hit it regularly. SA good one is enough – usually depending on what cupcakes or scones they offer &, of course, the service.

I am more patient with the indie spots but if the line up is too long I may not even go in – I don’t want a cookie that bad that I’ll wait more then five minutes for service. As the piece says there are lots of coffee shops, at least in Toronto there are. I have left Tim Ho’s, Starbucks, even McD’s if the service is slow. Why people wait until they are asked to pay before looking for their money puzzles me – you know that money is going to be at the bottom of shoulder bag that takes ages to find. I don’t blame the server for that but I’m not waiting either while someone checks on their cell phone exactly what their co-workers want or finds a card that works.

But when, as all too often in the case, there are four servers on duty, one customer ahead of me & once they’ve done with that one they wander off as if I wasn’t there – I’m gone. Or they banter too much & don’t hear my order or the cafe music is so sound they ask twice what I want – I’m gone. Or there are seven people ahead of me & only one server on active duty while two other servers are gabbing with each other. I’m out of there.

I know my five bucks isn’t that vital to them anyway and there is always another cookie nearby. Just don’t keep me waiting too long for it.

 

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Monster

Monster

Under the bed

In the closet

Behind the wheel

Across the counter

Smiling grinning laughing

Pouring a coffee

Inviting me to enjoy

dust bunnies

old shoes

road kill

Or a Danish

How about a home made cookie?

Telling me how well I look

So firm so ripe

Ready to pluck

But too late for the daily special

Which wasn’t so hot even though

 

It was my favourite

Long lost sock

Prom dress

Stop light to run

To barrel through a

Group of nuns

[or is that a wimple of sisters?]

Mowed down by that

Monster behind the wheel

That unthinking laughing cruel God

Who spared the drunk

To doom the brides of Christ

Without them

Who’ll perk the coffee?

 

Little Sisters of the Drip

Bakers of cookies

Wives of the Lord

Lord only knows

But only we suffer

The wonderment the mystery the puzzle

The answer that seems clearer

After the right penance

First the confession

Wrung out drop by drop

Yes I’m the one

The fragments

Black rags flapping on the bumper

Blood on the tires

 

Yes I’m the one

That’s me hiding the last crusty habit under the bed

In the closet

One in the trunk of my car

One that wouldn’t come clean

Couldn’t wash out the blood of the lamb

The wafer the donut

The blood the coffee

Dunk, we drink together,

We share our passion

For the coffee jockey

We choose the best raisin oatmeal

More cleansing

More roughage

To face this rough age

The age of carnage

Traffic stops and

Sacred relic coffee shops.

redbow02

November being Remembrance month I’m stepping into the past with some very old pieces that I vaguely remember writing in 1999 when I was getting back into poetry after spewing out City of Valleys, a 600 pages novel.

redrib01

Monster I picked for this time of year. Sort of a list poem it jumps around oddly concrete abstractions – the notion of monsters under the bed is giving the abstraction notion of fear a concrete image – moving from imagination – under the bed – to the real presence of someone behind the wheel of a car. Fear becomes a tempter, seducer – you can eat another cookie & not get out of shape.

There’s a comic driving game where one get points for running down pedestrians – the points go up when you run down nuns. How nuns ended up in this poem I’m mot sure but there they are. The notion of the cruel God comes from the need to blame what we don’t understand on spiritual forces we don’t understand.

In re-reading this I’m enjoying the shift into the sacred coffee shop – baristas as Sister of the Drip – I’m still struck how quickly coffee shops have become must institutions in most neighbourhoods – once this was a city of churches – even some of them have been converted into Starbucks. It isn’t a far leap from the communion wine & wafer – the body & blood of Christ – to the donut & double double.

redrib03

The placement of words was worked on when I did my edits at the time i.e. sacred ‘relic’ coffee shops. Many churches in Europe built congregations around a scared relic – the finger of St. Paul sort of thing. At one time there were enough relic bones of some saints to give them dozens of hands.

I haven’t seen a coffee shop go so far as to have the Grail Christ had his expresso from – St. Anthony’s coffee cup, or The Filter of Turin, would be a powerful draw I’m sure. There’s a coffee shop near me that does have action figures & comic books though – action figures being our modern day relics. I wonder if place called The Coffee Golgotha would attract or offended.

redrib02

By the end I have lost the beginning tread of monsters – the inner fears, the outer threats & end up trying to tie things together & almost succeeding. I see my use of patterning, echoes of reference to things earlier in the piece get expanded so that there almost seems to a logical image flow going on. Though perhaps the sacredness of coffee shops has become a modern monster.soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
nano15

http://nanowrimo.org/

November 18, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9

hot

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godzilla-christmas-tree-top10

money

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wrestredshorts

May Day DC

According to my Oxfam calendar May is ‘Leave a Legacy Month’ and also that May 1 is May Day. I’m more inclined to dance around the maypole than sit down add codicils to my last will and testament. Thanks to the everlasting clutch of the Internet this blog will probably be my real legacy. I’ll always be backed up on some hard-drive somewhere as long as there is power for search engines I’ll live on. Life everlasting.

100_2643.JPG

in the garden of earthly debris

Today is approximately 32 days before I head to Washington DC – so this is my May Day countdown to that departure. To be frank I have been preparing since I made my flight & hotel reservations on December 26. Not that I’ve started making but I have been plotting what to wear. I have a couple of tee’s reserved for the Fire weekend, it’s been hard not to wear them before then. Very hard.

I want to travel light but also have lots of change of clothes at the same time plus have room in my luggage for what I may buy while I’m there. Teleportation for luggage would be the answer to a prayer. I may do what I’ve done in the past – mail my dirty clothes home – they don’t count as hazardous waste, do they?

PC070014.JPG

white apple white roses

I’ve also printed out a couple of google maps. One that shows coffee shops in the area I’m staying at & The DC Center where the Fire is going to be. The DC Center  is within walking distance of the hotel. There’s more than enough Starbucks alone. I hope my Starbucks gold card is good in the USA. (addendum after the fact-: it was.)

bluehankie

wild blue, yonder

I also know where the nearest grocery store is, where the nearest AA Club house is. I checked out the best hamburger joints. What more do I need to know? Maybe the best cd store because there are somethings I’ve been longing for that aren’t available on iTunes or even Amazon.

I’m now accepting donations of American cash – so if anyone wants to buy me a coffee I’ll be happy to let you. Your legacy will be my gratitude 🙂

samples

Acumen

I’ve never figured out why

I prefer hairy to smooth

why what I want rarely wants me

and when it does

I wonder what the hell is going on

I can’t  deal with this

it can’t last

I’m better at longing not getting

there must be some mistake

like those lottery numbers

I never really believe will line up for me

if they did would I believe my tired eyes

well I guess I would but

I’m not holding my breath

I don’t understand how

one day he’s all smiles

and the next is at death’s door

how a slap can mean true love

why rescue is the only way to be compassionate

how money can’t buy me

but you can make an offer I might not refuse

what does he see in her

what does she see in him

why does the moon shine

when there is no one to make love under it

I don’t get why

the subway is always full when I need to sit down

why that cd skips on my favourite song

why I never got past the credits on Friends

I don’t comprehend

a media so fascinated with

droopy-eyed doped up babes

that it takes an assassination of a world leader

to get those haggard pop stars

off the front page for a few hours

when did news turn into entertainment

why is hockey a drug free for all

blood on the ice

more interesting than goals

I don’t understand weather

why one day there is ice

the next day swarms of cuddly nuzzling winds

what happened to the good old days

which actually never existed

every era has its ticklish underbelly

of people like me

who just don’t understand

who find it hard enough to decide

which designer knockoff  to wear

without feeling like I’m exploiting someone

why does the world keep on turning

when there is nothing

but diseased air to turn in

I don’t understand

but luckily I don’t have to

in order to be blissful

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horses

#Cosplay Alley @ #FanExpoCanada

Found it – bought it – spotted it – snapped it. The FanExpo story in 8 words. Day two was sweet and satisfying (like good sex but with less washing up). As planned I walked down from St Andrew – a much much pleasanter route that Union Station. Stopped for a grande latte with an extra shot at Starbucks to get me through the rest of the day.

wp203 before the crowds arrived

Loved seeing the stream of cosplayers – lots of archers this year, everywhere, even on the subway. I hit the north end first in my search for Tartan Asia. This year they’ve spit the HorrorExpo to this area to give it more room. A wise decision. There is now a Cosplay Alley – to spare your mom from duct taping a costume for you 🙂 Dr. Who was everywhere, in every race & gender – maybe it is time for a black female Dr Who. At least I’m assuming that all those players in tweedy jackets, white shirts & bow ties are doing the Dr.

wp202 suitable for stir-fry

Picked up a couple of sweet t-shirts. Not sure what I’ll do with the super large Dr. Who bag. Chatted with the ChiZine people, then headed south – took some pics from the bridge way. Made a more exhaustive search for American Vampire and the elusive Tartan Asia. No luck for either. Seems HMV & Suspect were the only two DVD retailers on site. HMV focused on Walking Dead etc. 😦 Looks like Amazon for me. I arrived around 10:30 & by 1 the crowd had doubled in size, so getting around became a challenge. Memo to people with baby carriage – stop ramming me because the group in front me has stopped to take pictures of cosplayers. I’d get out of your way if I could. (But that Chuckie make up on the baby is stunning – oh, it’s not make up. sorry.)

wp201 The Old Rugged Cross meets Dr Van Gogh

Line-ups already for panels was I mildly interested in. That sort of floor camping is great when you’re 25 but I feel a bit past that need. Stopped at the CSIS booth (!) for a few lanyards (are they bugged) then made my way home. More subway chat with people who recognized my Expo bag. Might go back on Sunday for one last session of push and shove & foto ops. more day 2 pictures soon

November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo 2014 –nano02 http://nanowrimo.org

samples

The Killer Dappled by Sun the killer flexed his hands warm playful sunshine wrapped around his fingers he squeezed but couldnʼt grasp the light couldnʼt hold it   stop it   control it   harm it the light was safe from him he found comfort that something was safe from him he couldnʼt murder the light there was a limit to his power he was human    he had frailty he looked around shadows light danced on faces chattering mindless anyone of whom he could kill one of whom he would kill soon with hands that basked in the gentle caress of the sun they would find a throat they would take the light out of those eyes of people who were slaves to a system of comfort for comfortʼs sake well heʼd put an end to someoneʼs comfort the killer was a liberator and he would liberate one by one until he was free it would be good to be free free of the need to liberate the need to kill once he had quenched that thirst he would be free to enjoy this life this world this moment in the sun

warbox lunch boxed

Compulsive Liar

I was going to title this blog post: Slow Service = I Walk Out but realized that ‘Compulsive Liar’ was a much sexier title. More about that compulsion later but first why I walk out of coffee shops.

As I get older my levels of patience have changed for certain things. I can deal patiently with line-ups at banks, FanExpo – I come prepared with my iPod & something to read on my Kindle. If I’m lucky there is enough eye-candy, or questionable footwear, to amuse me as well.

fence fence me in

But there certain places I won’t wait more than, say, 90 seconds when I get to the counter for service. I don’t mind a line up at Tim Ho’s or Starbucks but if I’ve waited long enough to get to the front of line & there’s no counter service promptly enough I’m out of there.

I know my few bucks doesn’t mean much to their bottom line, I don’t even think my time is all that valuable but customer service is – especially when the joint in question is supposedly fast food.

shade shade in the shade

In one local cafe (down on Gerrard) there was food prep behind the counter but she wasn’t authorized to take orders or even knew where the service person was. She went to check but I didn’t hang around while she looked. If you want loyal customers offer more than good coffee.

In fact there’s a Starbucks on the Danforth (at Jones) I won’t go into again because of crappy counter service – once, when I did get service, I ordered a breakfast sandwich, waited & waited till they realized they had forgotten my order – an apology was all I got, plus the sandwich. Two other times there’s been at least four behind the counter busy at something, no customers, and no service after my 90 second rule & I was out of there. After a third time of the same I decided never again.

spoon the dish ran over the spoon

Call me cranky but if you are going wait on the person behind me because you think your co-server has waited on me I’m walking. I used to get pissed but my attitude now is more of indifference. You don’t want my dollars why should I care? I now see it as a sign of how much I want something as opposed to needing it – not that anyone really needs coffee & a bagel but … if my want isn’t fulfilled I think a bit more and it’s gone – the universe has worked through bad service to spare me yet another unnecessary self-indulgence and saved me a couple of bucks at the same time.

Besides, in TO, there’s a coffee shop on every corner, so the walk to good service isn’t that far.

samples

Compulsive Liar

I am a compulsive liar

I don’t think twice about it

anymore

compulsive and automatic

the brunt of my dishonesty

is always felt by telephone solicitors

I don’t think twice about telling them

they have the wrong number

if I hear that boiler room chatter

in the background

I wonder if they can hear me

the lie comes from my lips

with such ease

before I hang up

I used to try to annoy them back

ask them to repeat themselves

because of their accents

say I can’t hear you clearly

also lies

because I didn’t care

what they were saying or selling

I merely hoped the call

was being recorded

for quality purposes

that someone would hear my gripe about

accents or volume

and heads would roll

now I say wrong number

I keep my voice polite

maybe with a note of apology in it

and hang up as fast as I can

before they can respond in anyway

the less I engage

the less I lie

and that’s the truth

dish spoon’s revenge

 

Day Two of Bloody Words 2014

Fire alarm had me up just after midnight but I still got enough r.e.m to enjoy the morning panels, with a help from Starbucks. First one I hit was at 10 a.m. ‘You Are What You Write … or AreYou?’ A fireman writes about firemen but how much of himself is reflected in the characters – we write from our experience but often from what wish we had experienced. When good people do bad things it’s more compelling than when evil people do bad things.

bed the bed I was awoken from

I followed that at 11 a.m. ‘Reinventing History’ – how not to let historical accuracy stand in the way of a good story. Research needs are fine but I would have liked more on how not to impose today’s morals on the historical period one is writing in. There was some discussion of period use of language. Informative & encouraging.

dusty dusty reflections

Gout out of the hotel for lunch at Burger Bratz (or something like that). Ordinary done well at a good price. Back for 1:30 -‘Pssst, Wanna Be a Professional Author’ – a look at getting in front of an audience to present – something I have some experience in – I wanted to see how a professional coach approached this topic. He was focused and to the point. But missed a few key points, for me, mainly dress as if you mean to be there, pick material suitable for your audience, & be interested in what you read.

After that at 2:30 was ‘Old Sins Cast Long Shadows’ – who does the crime affect besides the ‘doer,’ the ‘victim’ & the ‘hero’ – i.e. what about the schoolmate of the child whose father went on a killing spree? How to tell backstory without an info dump, & other structural concerns were talked about.

dinner banquet bonanza

I opted to skip the 3:30 panels – two in a row is my limit & I might have opted out for the 4:30 panels as well just to really relax but I had signed on to be time keeper for: 4:30 ‘The Evil Men Do.’ I was expecting something like ‘how do you write about evil’ but it became a discussion about ‘what is evil’ as opposed to how do you use cultural ills – racism, poverty – to propel your story. In some ways it echoed the first panel: When good people do bad things it’s more compelling than when evil people do bad things.

The banquet was as expected – blandly good food, great table conversation & amusing speechifying & giving out of various prizes. A full day that left me both drained & invigorated.

dessert dessert deserted