Transcendence 

Transcendence 

one rainy afternoon I was struck

with an inexplicable fever 

of home sickness

I Googled my village

thousands of possibilities 

were there is less than five seconds

I glanced down the list 

to my surprise they were all linked 

to the same site

hoaxxbusters.org

 

I looked at the next page of possibilities

they were all linked to the same site

there was nothing from our local tourist board

the cathedral reconstruction foundation

nothing that originated from my village

so I clicked on the hoaxxbusters link

to my surprise

there was post after post

exposing my village as a hoax

 

it was a place that didn’t exist

I went to Google Maps and sure enough

my village didn’t come up 

on any satellite photos

try as I might for that county

it wasn’t there

 

I typed the word moose into wikipedia

and all that appeared was a single sentence

‘a nonsense syllable meaning nothing’

my heart was racing 

as I checked other information

to see what I might be able to find

and came up with nothing real

it was all fabrication

 

not that I believed those tales 

of how the moose came from the moon

but I certainly believed that moose existed

yet according all reliable sources they were a myth

started by one Mikke Nordstrom 

some 300 years ago

when he came to this continent

even his appearance was in doubt

he was legendary figure not a  real person

 

everything I had come to accept 

as quaint truths about my past

my village 

was washed away by a few clicks of a mouse

I sat dumbfounded in front of my monitor 

wondering what to do

 

I typed in my own name into 411.ca 

to see if I was actually living here in the big city

and was questioned for more details

was the name spelt correctly 

even the street my condo was on couldn’t be found

my employer didn’t exist

 

when I went to the firm’s web page 

that site couldn’t be found

a connection couldn’t be established

with the grand academy 

where I was taking creative writing

I called my sister

and got a pre-recorded message

that the area code didn’t exist

 

my feet were rapidly disappearing

and I was just a stifled gasp

from my cubical

that was empty

when the coffee guy came by 

to see who ordered a no foam latte

Some of this was sparked by a friend of mine who did what my hero does. She used Google maps & then street view to go back home. She found the school, which apparently, had changed over the decades, found her old house, she even took a street view walk to school, except she couldn’t take the short-cut through the laneway – it was gone. She said it was better than physically going there & cheaper.

When I’ve visited, Sydney, where I grew up, I have taken those walks that I used to take to the various schools I went to. But Sydney is still there, as is the high-school I went to.

I’ve also had that search engine experience of typing in something & getting millions of possibilities & giving after three pages of them when what I was searching for exactly wasn’t really there. It seems every word in the English language is part of some porn site 😦 

The piece takes, I hope, an unexpected science-fiction/horror turn. I’ve seen/read stories about people driving in a fog & finding a town not on the map so pushed that to the town that vanished. I know some places have become so unpopulated they are no longer large enough to be considered villages. I’ve seen towns for sale. Here I have the town that never was or perhaps it was just a figment of someone’s over-heated imagination. hoaxxbusters.org is a fabrication, though the link will lead you somewhere fun (& non-pornographic). 

So in the end my hero transcends. Reluctantly this brings an end not only my hero but also to the Village Stories series. Editing, rewriting & even creating some new stories has been fun & productive. Next step is to gather them all together, with my discussion of them, into some sort of eBook. My attempts at real ‘publishing’ them have been futile mainly because they were too whimsical & hence aren’t literary enough for the real poetry world.

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Childhood’s Swirl


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

Childhood’s Swirl 

my childhood was such a swirl 

of legends superstitions and secrets

I was never sure what was real

and what was allegory

like sifting through the red bible

to find out if there was a truth 

or merely a moral

 

the village thrived on these stories

on things that would shift from fact to fancy

as if that sift was to teach 

us children something valuable

mostly it taught us fear and anxiety

 

the leaping men of the Whistling Woods

the hiding places of the traitor robins

how the moose came from the moon

all these things would haunt us as children

then amuse us as adults

 

even what we experienced

would be called in to doubt so quickly

we couldn’t trust our senses

the Bishop would try to teach us

what he was taught

when he could remember it

the choir would sing without knowing the notes

 

it did teach me

that with the grace of the moose

one could experience doubt and survive

one could sing without knowing the notes

and become a multimillionaire pop star

just because some talk show host

saw your video on line

and thought your hair looked terrific

When you realized Santa Claus wasn’t real did you think: I’m growing up – or: what else have my parents been lying to me about? This the sort of swirl my hero is reflecting on as he reflects on his village past. The secret of Santa was that this legend oils the wheels of commerce. One of those secrets that some people never realize. It was also a way of manipulating children with guilt.

Fairy tales that were to entertain us as children were ways of teaching us that all old women were witches and not to trusted. That gallant men would always save us if, in the case of girls, they were pretty enough. Those tales showed boys that only through over coming the giant could we be victorious. Winning was proof of masculinity, being rescued was proof of being femininity.

“even what we experienced/would be called in to doubt.”  I can’t imagine the uncertainty children grow up in today when a politician can blithely deny saying something that he said in an interview. People with ‘truth’ are accused of being unfair for insisting on that truth. Making someone accountable  for their actions turns them into victims. To correct someone’s spelling is now elitist.

 

It ends with our hero being more than a little bitter about the nature of fame and how to acquire it. In a world were working hard is supposed to be the road to success it often is merely the road to working hard. In reality there are no multimillionaire pop star who can’t sing, who rely on their great hair to as the ladder to success. A sly nod to yet another myth – Rapunzel. 

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Graduation Secrets

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

Graduation Secrets

at my highschool graduation

in my village

I was sworn to secrecy

to never reveal the names

of those men & boys

whom I learned to undress

some whose names I never did know

 

many had faces I had never seen

doing my sacred ceremony

in garages with no lights

even the windows were blocked

not to permit any glimpse

as with the strip clubs

the men were allowed pleasure

without identity

there were times

when all that was allowed

was the undressing

there could be no kissing

fondling

my hands were allowed

to close enough

for the over heated warmth 

of our bodies to be felt

the rest was only for the imagination

to fuel our dreams of what could be

but would never be

 

we sacrificed the joy of actual confirmation

to the will of the moose

not to give in

was a testimony to our belief

 

yet there were times

when the darkness was dispelled

faces were clear in the street light

that shone on the back seats

of abandoned cars

were I would sometimes meet

those whose need was great 

to be undressed by me

they would send me notes

tied to a robin’s leg

requesting my services

even then visual contact

was kept to a minimum

 

with the seal of the moose

burned into the instep of my left foot

I was always to remember the vow I took

to respect the sanctity

of other men’s fear

In high school I became a member of DeMolay, as sort of Jr. Free Masons group. The ceremonies associated it with were secrets we were sworn to keep as part of the induction process. The ceremonies were banal to the extreme & I can’t remember any of them, not even the secret handshake. So some of the ‘secret’ here comes from that memory.

There was also this secret knowledge that I supposed I would learn when I left high school. The key to being an adult – like the secret to success. As if finally being old enough to buy booze without a permit would uncork adulthood. There is also the secret of ‘don’t tell anyone.’ Then there’s the sexual secret of being queer with no one to tell it too.


This piece looks as some of the myths of secrets & the power they hold over our futures. What sex I had before coming out was always cloaked in being hidden, sometimes under the excuse of ‘we were so drunk’ Here my hero indulges in sex-capades in which anonymity is part of the ceremony, because in the village sex is a ceremony performed in the dark. If neither party sees the other the sacred is maintained, as well as the secrecy. Those secrets often scar us, a brand on the foot, in ways that are often near seen by others, or even ourselves.

It ends with a respect for secrets – no not respect buy for a willingness to keep them without judgement. I’ve seen & see married men who have this secret life. Yes, even today there are active gay/bi men who are in the closet – who for their own reasons don’t want to be out or outed. I don’t think it is a positive thing but I don’t judge them either. The sanctity of their fear is up to them to break.

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The Great Fire

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Great Fire

we were awakened

but the resonant howl

of the harbour foghorn

deep endless 

blasts so rapid they overlapped 

 

away to the window I flew like a flash

the black of night was blacker

than the print in the red bible

no stars or moon to be seen

then

at the edge of my vision

I saw the flames

scatter sparks like leaves

into the sky

‘fire fire’

someone below was shouting

‘the great cathedral is aflame’

 

my father dashed out of house  

men from other houses followed suit

‘fire fire

we must save the relics’

I had this terrifying image

of the Moose at the foot of the cross

melting into a golden puddle

at the feet of the blessed one

everyone in our village

gathered to watch and pray

as the firemen did their job

the choir spontaneously burst into song

singing ‘The Moose and The Saviour’ 

 

the hoses were attached to the hydrants

only a trickle of water appeared

this was also the hour

the fission plant

was flushing out the their flow valves

when contacted

they refused to stop

because if the flow valves

were not flushed 

there would be hell to pay

 

we stood and watched

as our beloved

centuries old cathedral 

paid the price of prosperity

while the acolytes 

darted in and out of the flames

rescuing all they could

up and down the 10001 steps

like an army of ants

 

then from out of the smoke

the men from the Whistling Wood appeared

they danced around the fire

chanting

arms linked

the flames flickering & illuminating

their private parts

as a group they coiled up the steps

stopped

faced the flames

holding their flame framed privates 

began to piss on the fire

 

the stench of their burning urine

made many vomit

the naked men

began to pelt the fire

with moose dung

the stench of the burning shit

made many vomit

the flames began to die down 

in the steaming smother

of piss and moose shit

that oozed down the 10001 steps

 

the fire stopped

the naked men 

vanished into the mist

 

the next day

when the water pressure returned

the fire department

hosed down the ashes 

to wash it clean of the shit and piss

to reveal

no scorch marks

only glistening golden surfaces 

 

the cathedral

was whole again 

In Sydney we lived one street away from a fire station. We were occasionally awakened by sirens. There were a few big fires but none that we ever saw, unlike my hero. The worse, which happened after I left, was when Moxham Castle burned down – actually it was gutted by flame & then the brick shell collapsed. My experience of fires comes from movies. 

This entry in the Village Stories pulls on many threads of the mythology: the choir, the moose, the 10001 steps. I recently saw a documentary on the Windsor Castle fire in which people were rushing in & out of galleries saving the art. They weren’t regarded as reckless but as heroes. Oh no not the Faberge egg collection! 

I also had to take another poke at the fission plant and water. I have read of cases where, in some cities, the water pressure was so low thanks to ‘industry,’ fires couldn’t be put out – hence the invention flame suppressant foam. Yes I know fire engine pumpers supply the pressure but if there’s not enough water they are useless.

The praying & singing villagers make me think of those politicians who sent their thoughts & prayers at a time of crisis but that’s it until they tell people to be strong: i.e. don’t moan & bitch about your losses because we’ve done all we can by praying for you. Cheer up because your unhappy faces won’t make things better, neither will we.

I was happy to see a reappearance by the naked men of the Whistling Wood. They present a facet of male magic that isn’t destructive while at the same time isn’t pleasant. Often the things that rescue us have a cost one doesn’t expect. Like the dentist’s freezing – slurring & drooling for an hour is a cost. I also couldn’t resist that image of male private parts illuminated by the fire.

I love the way this ends with a miracle. The Villagers prayers were answered by the outcasts of the Whistling Wood. These men pissing on the cathedral have magically restored it. 

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The Maple Mantras


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Maple Mantras

Juck Jackson

the greatest living Canadian poet

came to our village

as part of his mission

to use his reputation

to close down fission plants

everywhere in the world 

he wanted world peace

he dreamed of golden sunsets 

unlike the ones we now had 

of mustard smeared ketchup 

suns sinking down in shame

as he said in one of his poems

in his collection ‘The Maple Mantras’

that had won more prizes

than you could wrap around a strip pole

Booker, Griffin, Governor General

Lambda, Nobel

 

Juck Jackson

the greatest living Canadian poet

arrived on a rainy day

he refused to step into the rain

lest the chemicals it has absorbed

for the fission plant

sullied his skin

as he wrote

the rain is the carrier

of progress’s pernicious poison

 

when he appeared to the public

the following day exactly at 12:15

he was wearing

the golden hazmat suit embroidered 

with red gulls and beaded maple leaves

his shimmered like an apparition

in the relentless afternoon sun

from one of his pockets

he took an actual maple leaf

he held it over his head

this is not a maple leaf’

he declared

‘this is our nation

 

I was shaken to my core

the use of image and language

changed how I saw the world

how I saw myself

 

‘when ever you see

a mottled maple leaf

when ever you see the moose

you will be not be seeing 

a leaf or a moose

you will be seeing yourself

these are Gaia mirrors of your soul

 

I looked around me

at the crowd filled stadium

these were longer people to me

familiar faces ceased to be memory 

they became chains

to hold me here

that kept me from

flying on the wind like a leaf

it was then I decided

it was time to leave my village 

to leave the island of isolation

 

in the dark of a strip club

I cornered Juck Jackson

freed him from his hazmat suit

to thank him for the revelation 

of his maple mantras

‘yes fly young man’

he said once he had confirmed 

by touch that I was a man

‘you can find a way

but I cannot help you

my funds are limited 

I only have a tiny apartment 

in the big city

too many people want 

what I cannot afford to give

I hope you have purchased 

a copy of my Maple Mantras

for an extra $5 I will autograph 

it with my blood’

 

I left him there

feeling his hands

still on my body

his kisses on my lips

knowing they were the taste

of the future

There is no Juck Jackson ‘any resemblance to any person, poet living or dead is not intended or should be inferred’ 🙂 But he does represent an archetype. The name is unreal as well but I wanted something sounded ultra-Canadian yet slightly pretentious – I think Juck does that, it sounds like Jack & joke at the same time. 

Growing up in the east coast I don’t think we were ever visited by a great Canadian poet though. If we were they confined themselves to higher academies of learning than high school. We did get visits by Don Gillies – who would choreograph Rotary shows. (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0319174/) Though when I attended some writer’s workshops at UNB I did get to meet some literary stars, the most notable being Alden Nowlan. 

His mission to create change via his reputation is real enough as so many ‘noted’ writer, movie stars, use their fame to bring attention to noble causes. I’m commenting sardonically about the real lack of power poets have regardless of their awards. Awards that rarely result in profit, but maybe the opportunity to teach courses in creativity. The poetry quotes are fiction but reflect a type of Canadian many find worthy of awards. I love his hazmat dash of glamour.

Juck’s visit to the village is chance to sell more of his books while protesting the fission plant. Like my hero my decision to leave was based on freeing myself from my growing isolation in Cape Breton. My example was more of other’s who had left to pursue opportunity, to capitalize on their village success. I’m thinking of a man who won a play festival, went to Toronto & sort of vanished. I did run into him & he was plugging away in the theatre scene & living in a tiny apartment. 

 

Nearly every work of fiction I have read about writers visiting small towns had included their sexual dalliances with locals – cis-hetero conquerers so I had to have Juck get lucky with my hero but I wanted to keep than within the odd naive point of view of my hero. A hero, like me, knowing that kisses were the taste of a future worth pursuing.

 

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The Smart Girl

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Smart Girl

Magdalena Moore

was the smartest girl

in our village

her father Patrick Moore 

was the county comptroller

so we figured she got her brains from him

and his wife Haldora Thorsen

who was in charge of the DNA splicing lab

at the fission plant

it was Haldora who labelled us

as monochromatic bores

who only cared about or health

when the villagers complained

about run off from the plant

 

Magdalena had copper hair

that glittered with flecks 

of purple blue in the sunset 

it was impossible not to be mesmerized

when she shook it loose

to cascade over her shoulders

 

all the boys

had a crush on her

they would pester her with small gifts

carved moose bones

robin spoons

all of which she accepted

with her bird-like laugh

all of which would show up

 

at the choir’s annual garage sale

no one cared 

that she was wheel-chair bound

it added to her allure

for she had been born

with her legs fused together

from her crotch to her ankles

she did have feet

but the toes were also fused together

she made no secret of this

 

her mother claimed

there was no relation to Magdalena’s

fusion and the fission plan

or the genetic alterations in the moose

her work in genetics

proved that these things happened

with no prior cause

things change

 

Magdalena did change

as she grew older

she became bored of being

the smartest girl in the village

she longed to be an ordinary person

 

she became abusive

with anyone who said

I see you as a whole person

not as someone with fused legs

your real person is so much more

than that

besides you have such a pretty smile

 

she replied

if you don’t see them

you don’t see the real me

transcending my body

denies the full real me

 

when she got like this

people would pat her head

touch her hands to sooth her

or her mother would medicate her

it didn’t matter 

how smart she was

as long as she was compliant

 

one summer her parents

entered her in the  

Village Queen Beauty Contest

along with several other virgins

her talent was yodelling

because she was so brave

the judges were willing

to give her a pass on the swim suit

part of the contest

but she refused to take it

she rolled on the stage

at the end of the docks

wearing a bikini top

of two maple leaves

a beach towel to cover her

then she pulled the towel away

flaunting her fused legs

for all the world to see

 

at first people were too shocked

to look away

before they could react

she threw herself into the water

her parents sat

on the edge of the pier

weeping

hoping their tears

could lure her back

 

when they found her body

two days later

her legs were no longer fused

This a brand new Village Story. I wrote some fresh ones to have enough to post this summer. I wanted to see if I could return to the voice of my narrator and also challenge myself with more contemporary issues. In this case disability. It is also an echo of one of the earlier pieces: Consumption https://wp.me/p1RtxU-1gr.

Followers of my blog will also see the influence of Andrew Gurza‘s Disability After Dark podcast. He talks clearly about representation & acceptance. I wanted write about those issues while working them into the fabric of this mythology. I hope I’ve struck a balance between irony & compassion & humour.  

I revisit the unwillingness of commerce to be accountable for their actions: i.e. the fission plant’s genetic damage to the villagers. A denial that continues even when one of the victim’s is their own children. It makes me think of the Flint water crisis clearly caused by industry but no one has offered a solution merely blame.

I touch on that ablism that happens when people think they are being sensitive – ‘you have such a pretty smile’ – Implying that the smile is some sort of compensation for the damaged body, so cheer up. The medicating is another of those avoidances. When the disabled try to bring attention to their needs they are often considered uncooperative & truculent. It’s easier to medicate them than listen to them. 

The ending is harsh but I wanted to push out of my comfort zone. Andrew has been told, more than once, by an abled person that if they were as disabled as he they would probably kill themselves and that he was so brave. I also wanted to avoid the obvious ending – she turns into a mermaid & swims away. So went for that harsh ending.

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#Threesomes

On a recent Disability After Dark Andrew Gurza talks about his first threesome – about his fantasy, his anticipation, what actually happened & what he learned as a result. His fantasy, much like most sex fantasy, was informed by porn – which always removes the negotiation – you know the meeting, the decisions of where, when, who. Consent is frequently done by mental telepathy.

My experience with such sexplay has been limited, not as limited as Andrew’s mind you. But my expectations were as unrealistic as his. It was hard enough to create the opportunity for one-on-one that arranging seemed was impossible. The first was with a couple I met while out of town – there was sufficient attraction between the three of us but I was more into one of them than the other. In fact this attraction unbalance is unavoidable. It was fun but not at all as wild as I expected. They had been a couple for many years & things were rather sedate.

It was some years before another opportunity presented itself. The same attraction unbalance was present but this time I didn’t mind it at all.

I been approached on line a few times, invites to orgies, sex parties but decline when I see things like 420 friendly or p’n’p. Not that I care what other people do but they certainly are aware when one of the crowd is clean & sober – that one usually has firm boundaries. This I found in the one 4some I was invited to. It was okay until it became clear one or two of them were slipping away to use – when it devolved into a fashion show in which the host tried on every leather garment he owned I left. Too much booze as well.

The most recent time, a year or so ago, was perhaps the best time. One of my regulars invited me over & while we were warming up he kept checking his cell phone – he said he was expecting a call from his sister as their mother was unwell. He went to the washroom & came back with another guy – whom he had invited over to surprise me. A good time was had by all.

What did I learn from these experiences? I only play well with others under the right circumstances 🙂

Dangerous Science

one winter

scientists descended on our village

to study our brains

to see why we insisted on going to strip bars

when there as no light at night

why would average men women boys girls

sit around a dark room

while strippers worked the sacred pole

with alarming spills of ritual water

with cascades of tumbling moose bones

what seemed like an aberration to them

we had come to accept as normal

 

they wanted to see which hemispheres

of the brain were stimulated

by erotic simulations in the dark of winter

they attached electrodes to our skulls

capacitor cuff measurers to penises

women were forced to wear

vaginal quake seismographs

that took hours to implant correctly

 

all of which had to done before night fall

in the brief time after washing clothes

gutting fresh moose

and applying fish scale to eyelids

 

they weren’t paying us anything either

or we might have allowed

the rectal probe sensors

and calf implant durameters

there are somethings so shameful

no person will do them for free

 

the scientists stayed almost two weeks

making endless charts

that they would force us to see

every day at lunch time in the cathedral

to prepare us for the work that night

 

and when they were done

they didn’t have any conclusion

they didn’t find out there was comfort

in sitting in the dark

not seeing the spectacle

of undressing going on around us

that we were happy the way we were

 

once they were gone

there was unrest

with the way things always had been

some became angry at the night

they struck out with fists and feet

at the pitchy dark

to teach it a lesson

they refused to go the strip bars

they felt it was now just any empty sham

the village had been stuck in for thousands of years

 

nothing could be done to assuage

their crushing loss of direction

their beliefs had been questioned

 

I was a mere boy

and didn’t have as much to believe in yet

so I continued to go to unlit strip bars

with my sisters

waiting for them to finish

and walking them home

ignoring the weeping of the men

in Whistling Woods

men who were now lost

thanks to dangerous science

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Blood Bath Water

I watch a lot of movies – things recorded off the TV or DVD’s. I essential like sci-fi, horror crap pre-2000. I also enjoy musicals, noir, some comedy – but spare me romcom, emotional self-realizations, mafia, drug dealing or bullying. I have friends who rave about certain films or TV shows that have enthralled them with the unflinching depictions of social struggles – my reaction is honey why would I pay money to see what I can see on the subway. I get enough stories or real emotional recovery & redemption from people in AA why would I want to see a movie about it.

I enjoy swearing less & less, ditto for violence – which certainly limits what there is to see, right. All too often I feel people are more interested in, say, exploiting & relishing the suffering of the bullied than they are in the fighting back of the victim. I suspect sometimes the savage rapes in movies are enjoyed more than the victim’s survival.

 

As much as I’m happy, if happy is the right word, to see the violence in films & on TV become more realistic – this improvement in f/x often looks like an end unto itself & adds little to moving a story forward or creating character depth. Accurate blood spatter is fine but if the blood is spurting solely to show off how accurate the blood spatter is I’m bored.

Much like novels where violence is fetishized, film makers give us hyper real violence with a lack of emotional context. When it comes to dialogue, or interaction between characters there is no realism beyond snappy one-liners. Throwing out plot with the blood bath water. Emotional connections are so fragile as to be fantasy fulfillment, just like the violence. Not my fantasy, anymore.

Belief Without Knowledge

for a term project I decided

to explore the legend

of how the moose came from the moon

I went to the cathedral to interview the bishop

he would know

after all there was the golden statue

of the moose at the foot of the cross

but the bishop was not forthcoming

it was considered a secret church doctrine

not to be shared

with those who weren’t of the cloth

those sacred secrets were the heart of faith

one had to accept mystery to experience

the full depth of belief

I would be better off

putting my energy into something more productive

the history of darkness in strip bars

I wasn’t going to be put off that easily

everything he told me

made me more curious

what secrets was the church hiding

 

I went to the Bureau of Game and Fisheries

to see what information I could get

all I could find in the files

were instructions for hunting

on gutting and persevering the moose

I asked the agent in charge of the office

if there was more information

on the how the moose

came here from the moon

he stared at me stunned

and asked ‘why what have you heard?’

pale fear crossed his face

‘whatever it is, it isn’t true

those are all false rumours

there is nothing to that story

there was no ufo landings in this area

to take them back to the moon

there has been no attempt to cover that fact up

nothing was found in Atkins’ Lot

to back up those allegations

you better run along son

try to think of something more

appropriate for your term paper

like the history of gutting smelt’

he pushed me out of his office

locked the door

 

puzzled I went home

I asked my Dad about Atkins’ Lot

my Dad paled

‘No son there is nothing to that old story

why do you want to know’

I  explained about my term paper

that it could earn me a scholarship

to study at the Grand Academy

in the big city

‘better ask you mother

what she thinks of that

much as we’d like to see you get ahead

you’ve picked a most dangerous topic

why not do a term paper

on the magic properties of moose blood?’

 

thus started my journey to balance

belief with knowledge

faith without mystery

http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1gS

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

November 1-30

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

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So Arrest Me

On this recent Disability After Dark (apple.co/2cph4fw) Andrew Gurza talks about the legalities of being disabled. The last of the ‘ugly laws’ didn’t get repealed until the 1970’s. Ugly laws deemed it illegal for persons who were “unsightly” or “unseemly” to appear in public. Being disabled was considered ugly. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugly_law for a more detailed article. Criminalizing harmless behaviour is a great way of diverting attention from things that do need to be dealt with. (Footballers kneeling will soon be criminalized.)

I was unaware of this ‘law’ until hearing about it on the podcast. It does, in some way, explain why families often ended up keeping their disabled hidden – I thought it was solely out of shame – which no doubt it was – but didn’t know that shame had been ‘legalized’ by such laws. At one time it would have been impossible for Stephen Hawkins to have a TV show.

Andrew also talks about the forced sterilization of the ‘handicapped’ – whom it was assumed didn’t have either the mental capacity to consent to sex or the moral ability to control their sexual urges. Letting ‘them’ reproduce was terrifying. It brought to mind the chemical castration of Alan Turing: state control of expressing sexuality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing. In fact the whole notion of hiding disability is similar to the hiding of one’s illegal sexuality in the closet – well even now that it is ‘legal’ many still choose to hide it.

I know that when I was in my teens & aware that I was gay part of my fear of being out was the fear of being criminalized. It was illegal for men to dance together in bars etc etc. In some US states & even countries conversion therapy is legal (& can be forced upon a teen without that teen’s consent).

Things have changed over the decades, if you live in the right place, at the right time, have enough money & entitlement it isn’t as stressful being queer. Good thing the ‘ugly laws’ never extended to hair styles or footwear because there are days when most people wouldn’t be allowed on the streets.

Consumption http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1gr

there was a rumour

that the fission plant

effected the heath of families

who lived near its run off

children who played in the water

became consumptive

 

the scientists at the plant

claimed that was because of poor nutrition

bad genetic make up in breeding

too much moose pie not enough fish cakes

those doctors had a list of reasons

why the fission plant was not responsible

even though there had not been one case

of consumption or ocular degeneration

till it had opened

 

the doctors said that was because

we didn’t have the diagnostic ability

to find these things out

till there was fission plant

to bring the economy here to life

 

besides what was the big deal

a few coughing children

or work for lots and lots of people

something to keep everyone happy

the plant was not the reason

the  moose were no longer breeding

there was nothing in their waste run off

that would interrupt

the gestation cycle of any species

besides how can you stop the moose

from drinking in the streams

that were now radiant roiling

with purple blue in the sunset

thanks to the discharge from the plant

 

such pretty colors

why didn’t we like the pretty colors

what did we have against purple and blue

were we selfish monochromatic bores

who only cared about our health

we had to get with the program

come into the present

stop living in the past

suck it up pay the price

of stepping into the glorious

purple and blue future

think of all the good they were doing

soon we might even have light at night

 

the villagers were unimpressed

by these impassioned denials

the village didn’t want to retreat into the past

yet didn’t know if the price

we had to pay

to stay in the present was worth it

 

the parents of the consumptives

sat by the glittering purple blue stream

and began to weep

hoping their tears could undo the damage

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

November 1-30

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

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Circles Within Circles

The past week I engaged in a couple of the social sides of Toronto’s poetry world. Monday I attended a TSP workshop lead by Ebony Stewart. Tuesday I was one of three features at the Art Bar show. Two very different groups of writers & performers. Although I felt quite comfortable in both it was also clear that I was an anomaly. I only have a place at these tables because I make myself take a place at these tables.

At one time I was the only out queer male in the poetry room – thankfully that has changed but the issues of gender, race & age haven’t really changed that much. One of the exercises at the workshop was circles within circles, with self in the middle circle, then each circle out one put names of people starting with the friend(s) one would go to for support in crisis, then working out.

This was challenging because thanks to AA I have many people I might easily go to for emotional support but they aren’t necessarily that close to me. Who do I talk to that listens to me? My partner of over 30 years? My friends in recovery? In the writing world? I’ve found most people, even those who are closest to me, aren’t such good listeners. So my inner circle was pretty empty.

At the Art Bar there was many familiar faces from my Renaissance Conspiracy days. Yet I had more conversation with one of the co-features than I did with the familiar faces. In the break after each feature to performer had several people eager to chat with them. After my set it was as if people were more interested in avoiding me – really. I guess my set was pretty bad & lacked the poetic gravitas of the real poets who went before me. 🙂

This is more observation than complaint. You know I really don’t give a shit. I write because it is what I do. Over the years I’ve become more politic & less in your face sexual. I’m not looking for approval or gushy flattery. I may not have a place in this milieu but, honey, I’m taking one anyway.

‘By the Moose of Moses’ http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1gg

‘by the enflamed dick of the moose of Moses’

my Dad was shouting

we knew he was really really angry

the more words he used

when he stared to swear

the angrier he was

none of wanted to know why he was angry

 

my mother would bundle the clothes

and head down to the river

my sisters would go to their rooms

to start preparing for their shifts at the strip bars

my brothers

if they were around

would be suddenly very very busy

with the gutting of moose

helping one another bloody their hair

 

I was often the only one left

for him to vent his wrath upon

that wrath was always words

never directed at me

but someone had to bare witness to his anger

or it got worse and worse

till one of the neighbours would come over

eyes darting around fearfully

to see what the commotion was

 

‘by the scraped udders of mother moose’

my Dad kicked at the bench in his workshop

I peeped around the corner

‘come in here now you little smelt fornicator’

‘yes Dad.’

I would inch into the room

‘have you been in here?’

‘no Dad’

 

I hunched my shoulders to hide my guilt

because I had been there

enjoying the play of sunlight on his tools

that hung in neat rows on the wall

or playing with boys

in the bone dust on the floor

 

‘why’

‘just take a look around’

I couldn’t see anything amiss

the skidoo he was rebuilding stood

where it had for years

except on the two days

when it was working properly

the outboard motor he had salvaged swung overhead

 

‘i … i don’t see anything’

‘then open your eyes boy’

 

night had fallen

it was now so dark

I could barely make out his eyes

 

‘when I find out who did

this there’ll be hell to pay’

 

he struck match

in that brief flare of light I was aghast

he had dared to break the prohibition

even a glimpse of light

after nightfall was punishable

I knew whatever this was it was serious

 

‘you sure you weren’t in here’

 

‘no dad. i swear it wasn’t me’

taking my first step

to becoming

a guilt ridden adult

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

November 1-30

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