Distant Valentine

A Valentine

forced to love, 

now that’s a tear-jerker,

having heard no man

is self-contained & complete

I am forced to love

made to search 

through warm & folding bodies

for isolated responses

for unsure coincidences of desire

sparked by demand

structured into relationships

for the perpetuation of the structure

desperation in every meeting

(will this be the one?)

the eternal lunging crush

prisoners of seduction

fixed positions

bayonets of loving thoughts

tender traps

looked for only the fall into

forced to love

to rationalize tenderness

politicized into affections

scandalized by survival

it’s all one to one

paired by demand

one alone becomes distrusted

forced to love

forced to love

Feb14/76

Of the pieces in the chapbook this is one of the ‘newest’ & reflects a definite stage in my growth philosophically & emotionally. I’m actually directly questioning cultural norms around romance, sexuality & indirectly probing the nature of gender. Clearly I am ‘questioning’ not yet coming out but opening that door 🙂

‘Paired by demand’ hasn’t changed all that much though. We live in a culture where being ‘single’ is seen as an an unhappy choice, a sign of emotional immaturity. Being trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship is for some reason healthier than being single. Getting out of one is merely making one ready for the right relationship to come along. If you wonder how we are ‘structured’ think of how impossible it is to afford to live alone. Most restaurants are at least two seats per table. Bars stools are about the only single seating offered. Drinking alone, yea.

At the time I wrote this I wasn’t as articulate about this squeeze of the cultural imperative to mate bond. Being queer & somewhat closeted at the time I was conflicted by trying to fit the heterocentric romance module I was presented with. The sacredness of fidelity, the sinful cost of pleasure. Folding bodies like folding chairs that only the right person could unfold. You’re nobody until somebody unfolds you.

Looking back I see how the exploration of the cultural mating imperative has become one of my running themes. Like masculinity, it is something that goes unquestioned. Marriage for love & not politic – i.e. merge alliances between nations, merging financial concerns – is a somewhat recent development – maybe 150 years old. The nature of ‘forced’ is one of convenience & control that is accepted & goes unrecognized. The deepest loves of my life have never been forced.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Lee-ping Lounge Lizards

The lee side starts with Brenda Lee: The Definitive Collection – maybe not all the hits but enough for me. ‘I’m Sorry’ is a classic, melodramatic, over-the-top song as she sings her codependent heart out. Her gumbo rock is fine & she survived being a child star quite well too. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is a season fav too. Her life was no ‘normal’ there’s been no movie bio 🙂

Now to the cocktail lounge with an mp3 collection that includes. Julia Lee: And Her Boyfriends. This is an lp to cd transfer. I bought the lp based on the sweet cover – a portrait of her in a mink. The songs are ‘suggestive’ i.e. My Man Stands Out. Her voice is sexy & she knows an innuendo where she sings one. With her is Risky Blues – an lp compilation of even more suggestive songs ‘Big Ten Inch (record).’

Here too are a couple of lps by Blossom Dearie: Once Upon A Summer Time, Cafe-apres Midi. Blossom is on the less raunchy side of nightclub singers. A sweet, light, playful voice she is worshiped by jazz singers. her material pulls mainly from Broadway with some jazz standards thrown in. You can almost hear the cocktail shaker in the back ground.

The opposite is a pair by Mable Mercer: Sings Cole Porter, Merely Marvellous. I first heard her on a jazz magazine sampler singing Ballad of all the Sad Young Men. Mable has a nice alto range & is relaxing & fun. She doesn’t push jazz boundaries. Emotional without showing off. her material is similar to Blossom’s with a dash of more modern stuff – ie 59th Street Bridge Song.

More show-offish is Jane Morgan. I have the wonderfully over-produced Jane In Spain, & Time. Jane has a classic clear night-club voice. Spain is a delight with its hitch Latino flourishes of castanets & some of the songs, Granada, are ‘Spanish’ sung in English. Time is more diverse & ‘modern’ with songs like Moon River, Tammy given the nightclub treatment.

Final Lee is Peggy Lee – an inspiration for all the above – she started as a big band torch singer whose career changed with the times. I have in various mp3 collections: Beauty and the Beat (w: George Shearing), Latin Lee, Ole Lee, Fever, Christmas Carousel, Is That All There Is – her  Some are standard issue lie Latin Lee but all are elevated by her delivery. Her Christmas Carousel is one of my seasonal favourites.

Chocolates

this is the week

when the universal currency is

hearts & flowers 

chocolates & regrets

traded with eager expectations

I’ll give you a glimpse of this

if you give me a glimpse of that

I’ll put up with your doing that 

if you allow me to do do this

I’ll treat you like crap 

love you & put up with your crap

because you love me

 

we exchange these representations

of our willingness to continue 

our little patterns of regret dispute 

in the name of tender loving 

compassionate cooperation

because our relationship is perfect

bouquet trade-offs

of explanations for reality

how far we compromised 

our teenage ideals 

for our forty-year-old realities

 

so many of us

are still ruled by bitter teenagers

who didn’t get the pretty girl 

or great guy we idolized in high school

we still cart that fractured dream

around as a measure of what we want

as if we’d stop some teenager 

in the street today and ask 

‘is this the one for me’

not that a stranger 

can actually to talk 

to a teenager in the street today

without getting charged for something

but that’s another story

another compromise

to protect us from one another

so where was I

 

ah yes

the new universal currency

of regrets fears retribution 

being more satisfying than love

who wants to see things flow 

without the elegant 

encumbrance of expectations 

without the sunny 

undercurrent of resentment

mental telepathy doesn’t work

and it is your fault

I should not have to tell you 

what I want

you should just know

from the way I wear my hat

oh right I don’t wear hats

well that should tell you something

 

it tells you I love you

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

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Winter Whisky – Part 4

Scott was bigger than me so I wasn’t sure if I had much that might fit him. My one piece long-johns would do the trick for now. I had pyjamas for myself. I pulled on bottoms too as I usual slept with just the top. 

Donnie came up, bumping along the sides of the stairwell as he tried to warm himself by roughly rubbing a towel on his head.

“Stand still. You can’t dry your feet while you’re walking, you know.” I said to keep him from falling back down the stairs.

“I know. Jus’ fix us a good drink, m’son, and we’ll be fine.”

He slumped into the living room and sat heavily in an arm chair.

Scott came up. He had taken a bit more time getting dried off and was pushing a comb through his matted hair. My long-johns weren’t as long or baggy on him as they were on me.

“I feel a little strangulated in these.” He adjusted his balls.

He sat in the other armchair and dropped the towel on his lap.

I brought out a bottle of whisky with three glasses. “Have a quick one.”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

Scott twisted the top off and drank a huge gulp from the bottle. He shuddered a little as it went down. “That’s almost worth getting here. Takes the chill off.”

Donnie did the same before he handed the bottle back to me. He slumped back in his chair, took a few ragged breaths and passed out.

“Some guys can’t take the snow,” Scott laughed.

We sat in silence for a few minutes, Donnie’s snores the only sound in the room. The warmth of the house made me feel sleepy too. After the cold, the longing for sleep was hard to resist.

“So what’s your secret?” Scott threw his damp towel at me.

“Secret? What d’you mean?” There was only one secret and I had made damn sure no one suspected.

“You never seem to get caught up like I do with some bitch.”

“ ’Cause I don’t think of ’em as bitches.”

“Don’t hand me that.”

“You have better luck than I do.”

“Luck! When Suze and I broke up, I wanted to kill myself. Fuck, we’d been together for two years. I even bought the rings. And how long has it been? Three years, now? And I’m still not over her. You know? Yet when you and Cindy broke up after four, it was if she was never there. Know what I mean? She really dug you. Still does.”

I shook my head to clear it. Scott was talking and I drifted out of consciousness.

“Sorry, I must have dropped off a bit there.”

How long had I been out? The room was dim. Scott was talking, but I couldn’t make out what he said. I focused on him in hopes that would keep the room from spinning. His head and face were sort of twisting too.

“What were we talking about?’ I asked.

“Why you and Cindy split.”

“Oh, she wanted kids. I told you guys all this before anyway, didn’t I? I’m not ready to settle down. You . . . ” I reached for my drink. The coffee table was suddenly closer than I expected. The drink darted away from my hand.

“You sure that was why?”

“You mean that other guy? Of course that too.”

“Or was this is what you really wanted?”

He had something in his lap. At first I thought it was his drink. He stood up. Through the haze I realized it was his cock. The foreskin was so tight, the head of it seemed to be bursting through and being choked at the same time.

I fell back into my chair. It was what I wanted, but not from him. I didn’t know what to say. The truth was as always out of the question.

“Fuck no!” I pushed myself up, shoved him away and went to the bathroom. I had to hold myself up along the walls to keep from falling.

I recalled a guy, Greg, at university, and how I had to be this drunk before letting him know I was interested. I knew it was safe because Greg made the first move. We were both pissed but after that first drunken fumble, we were able to meet sober as well. But we had to be careful. Rumour had it that known homos could be denied their teaching license.

Greg was safe because I knew once I left there I probably wouldn’t have to see him again. He was going to teach in Africa or was it China. It was easier to be honest with someone under those circumstances. But that was nearly three years ago and I hadn’t had a man since then. I’d even started seeing Cindy that last year to convince myself that I really wasn’t that way after all. She was the cure for what was just a phase. Only it wasn’t a phase and I was merely pickled not cured.

“You’re pickled not cured.” I sang as I pissed. “Pickled not cured.”

I flushed the toilet and went to my room. The house felt empty as I sat on the edge of my bed. Empty again. What was so right once now seemed miles away and so wrong. To let people know I was queer would change everything. This comfortable life would cease to exist. It wouldn’t matter if I was pickled or cured. I never did hear from Greg after he went to China.

I felt a draft. The guys would be cold in the living room. Even with the heat turned up, that wind always found some way into the house. I got a couple of spare blankets and went back to the living room. Scott was gone. Donnie was still slumped in the armchair.

“Scott?” I looked in the bathroom. “Scott? You dumb fuck you passed out somewhere?”

When I got to the kitchen, the back door was open. I pushed it shut agains the wind.

“You down here?” I went into the basement and his clothes where gone. He had left.

I tossed a blanket over Donnie. Back in my bed I finished off the whiskey. I knew exactly where to put the bottle in the dark so I wouldn’t knock it over in the night.

I woke around eleven the next morning to the smell of bacon frying. My head throbbing, I made my way to the kitchen.

“Have a seat, m’son, and dig in.” Donnie put a plate of bacon and eggs on the kitchen table. “Where’s Scott?”

“Not sure. He was . . . uh . . . here when I went to bed to pass out.” I didn’t know what to tell Donnie. I pick dup a piece of the bacon with my fingers and tried to eat it. “Maybe he went to pull your car out.”

“Fuck. I forgot all about that! I should be there helping them. My coat in the basement?”

“He’d’ve called if he needed your help.” I chewed another piece of the bacon and swallowed it. “Perfect for a hangover.”

It was the end of February and I hadn’t heard from Donnie about a good drink for a couple of months. That wasn’t unusual for us, but I had that thirst myself. I missed the guys but wasn’t sure why.

I saw in the paper that Scott’s band, Pals Of Mine, was at Stoners that night for the pub’s Survived Valentine Blast. Rather than call Donnie, I decided to drop down to surprise them and see how things were.

There were bristle board hearts on the outside windows. They were drooping and the red was dripping thanks to the melting snow. Over the door was a sign that said “Lover’s Leap.” Someone had written ‘on each other’ under it.

The place was full when I arrived. I was sorry I hadn’t taken a few more belts before I left home. That always made me feel more relaxed when I went anywhere. The tinsel tree was still in the corner only now it had hearts dangling from the branches.  Donnie and Trish were at a table near the front with another pretty girl. I walked over.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Good, Dave. How’s by you?” Trish turned and smiled at me. “We haven’t heard much of you of late.” She nodded to the empty spot at the table. “I was asking Donnie if you’d show up to join us for a good drink. You can make up for the ones I can’t have.” She patted her stomach. “Any day now.”

“Work, you know.”

“Yeah, right.” Donnie scowled at me and glanced up at Scott on stage. Scott scowled back.

“Let’s go over to the bar. I’ll buy you a double.” Donnie got up from the table. “Excuse us, ladies.”

Donnie walked me past the bar to the front door and stopped there. 

“Look, Dave, why don’t you do yourself a favour just fuck right off. I know what you tried with Scott. Fuck only knows what you did to me in my sleep. We don’t want no fairies hanging ’round with us. You get that?” He poked me in the chest with a finger. “That kind of shit makes me sick.”

My face burned. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. “What the fuck are you going on about?”

“Something happened between you and Scott. That much he’s sure of.”

“I don’t know what he thinks happened. Fuck, I don’t think there was anything.”

I didn’t know how to make my story convincing. Scott’s cock had become the tip of an iceberg, the iceberg being all the things in my life that I was trying to avoid and hoped would disappear somehow or stay beneath the surface forever. I didn’t know which way to turn without sinking myself.

“Maybe I should talk to him.” I glanced to the table at Scott’s back. He had his arm around the other girl and was nuzzling her neck.

“He’ll kill you. It took me all I could do to keep him from torching your place. Just get the fuck out of here and this’ll go no further. Got it?”

There was enough truth to what he said that I didn’t know how to let him know what wasn’t true. And now I wasn’t sure myself. Maybe something more had happened with Scott. I could remember his hand on his cock and him asking me if that’s what I wanted. I was sure I didn’t do anything.

But maybe I had.

  What were my choices? To brave it out? My thirst had left me. There weren’t enough drinks in the bar. There was nothing to tell Donnie that would fix anything. Cindy was right. Who needed those assholes? If that’s what he wanted to believe, then he could go right ahead and believe it.

“I thought we were friends.” I said as he walked away.

I stood in Stoners doorway. It wasn’t as if this was the only place in town where I could have a good drink. I could feel the cool night air behind me, as I watched Jen bring a tray of draft over to their table. Scott’s laugh echoed over the din of the bar.

I glanced at the other tables. Similar groups of couples or solitary guys sat. Arms pulled hordes of glistening glasses towards them, doses of fortifying alcohol that would allow them to float from one moment to the next. That’s what I had been doing, wasn’t it? An iceberg floating from one moment to the next, hoping the surface would remain calm enough for easy drifting.

I walked over to the bar. Hec brought me a double without being asked. Donnie and Scott glared over at me but didn’t move.

“What’s with those two?” Hec asked.

“Pour me another and I’ll tell you.”

Tonight I would drink myself to the truth.

-the end-

Winter Whisky – Part One: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-39y

Winter Whisky – Part Two: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3fR

Winter Whisky – Part Three: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3gz

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

‘a crown of kisses’

sample

The Coronation

a crown of kisses

flickers like fire flies

dangling in the leafy branches

lip smacking wet

lures me along the sidewalk

after the rain

late night empty streets

we had a fraction of a second

to complete the next connection

an inking of an idea

leads me through the rain drops

through the candy buttons

on a glowing shirt

leafy green wet slippery

caught up in the branch

the turn of the creek

the bend of the elbow

a touch of lips on cheek

lingers and lunges

water in a rush sudden flood

rain pent up for days

in a humid cloud embrace

release refreshed

dangerously liberated

but not wet enough

to put out the fire

in this crown of kisses

this inside kicky swing

the next morning

yellow butterflies sip

in the fallen broken branches

of the nutmeg tree

beg for more sugar nectar

a chance to touch your neck

for the opportunity to be next

when there are new clouds to gather

to fumble the many shiny buttons

at the bottom of a drawer

that rattle like coins in a piggy bank

flutter in the stomach

as nervous as I was when I wanted

to give you a crown of kisses

know that even misses the mark

the mark of try again

in the folds of your charms

in the scratch at the door

to be let out

to howl once more

the moon the stars

sky stuck strapped forever

into that firmament

too far to escape

too late to apologize

and in a faction of a second

to dart from house to house

telling everyone who would listen

that we had finally worn

the crown of kisses

moon03 full moon

For February I’m dipping into some older, romantic pieces. This one clearly shows the influences of both Dylan Thomas & Alan Ginsburg. Reading after not seeing it for many years I get the sweet bounce of ‘the fuse that drives the flower green’ – Thomas’s complex use of nature imagery, color and emotion. Mine isn’t as complex, I think, and nature quickly gives way to flesh.

I structure it with theme and variation – images appear then re-appear in slightly different forms – water, rain, leaves, kisses mutate from fire flies to butterflies – butterflies real then symbolic. Lots of smell and taste gets played with too, touch, sensations – the wet of leaves, the taste & smell of nutmeg – ways of giving the reader a sensory experience.

moon02

shine on

There is also a sense of youth, of hormones kicking in – the silent imperative of those early stirrings, the need to experience something one may not even know what it is – the dog scratching at the door of adulthood.

moon01 where I saw you dancing

Of course kisses pushes this urge into a clearly, for me, sexual self-discovery. The first kiss, the first base, the first shooting off, like shooting stars – scary and spectacular at the same time. It was a fun piece to write, edit & perform. It’s good have pieces about the sensual without feeling the need to be explicit or that I’m hiding the explicit with pretty images.

moon

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