I Was A Teenage Coward

My sense of masculinity growing up was never up to the rough-and-tumble masculinity that was expected of me. I never lived up to those unquestioned imperatives. Some of this was because we moved east from Manitoba for a couple years making it difficult for me to establish ‘buddy’ friendships with other boys. When we did settle in Sydney, Cape Breton we changed neighbour hoods at least two times before settling in a third.

I did many ‘boy’ things mind you – rode my bicycle everywhere, played backyard baseball with a bunch of kids near by. But was never a fighter. I got into a couple of fistfights but it was easier to avoid them. So I never establish a position of respect amongst boys (or as I felt, with my father.)

Because I was never a fighter I was called ‘yellow,’ ‘coward’ long before I was called ‘gearbox,’ ‘queer.’ Being queer was to be less than a man, to be feminine – a girly-boy who would never be considered masculine & thus to be derided, ridiculed etc. There was no support system for ‘otherness’ other than becoming a butch fisted boxer to eat the shit out them – which wasn’t going to happen. I’m glad that I didn’t get the help that I needed then because sexually confused teens were given chemical castration, lobotomies to make them non-threats the fabric of wholesomeness.

That feeling of being a coward has never fully left me but I’ve just finished reading Mad Blood Stirring: The Inner Lives of Violent Men by Daemon Fairless. The book addresses the nature of violence as a means of defining masculinity. A definition that is culturally approved. The drag queen that beats the crap out of homophobes is respected, the one that minces away to avoid conformation is not respected.

Mad Blood Stirring is an excellent book, part case study, part interviews with ‘violent’ men, part the author’s own journey to discover the roots of his own violent nature. He recreates incidents of violent confrontations so vividly that I could feel the emotional rush that pushed him over the edge. As I said this is an excellent book well worth reading even if one isn’t a man or violent. 

That fact that I didn’t take the bait of confrontation wasn’t because I was a coward but because I was already stepping out the cultural imperative that manhood is only in the fist. Or maybe I had a testosterone imbalance 🙂

(one again WP does weird things to lines breaks)

The Killer In The Morning 

with a harsh shout 

the killer awoke from a dream
someone smothering him
a pillow over his face 

when heʼd killed 

he never used a pillow
or anything that hid the face

the best part of the kill
was in the eyes
that I canʼt believe you are doing this 

combined with the actual pain
as his hands crushed 

the wind pipe squeezing
hollow bones in his strong hands

he could crush an apple
the hardest granny smith
heʼd hold it up so juice 

splashed his face 

like a warm summer shower

cleaned and ready 

the killer sat at his kitchen table 

looked out at the sunny day
at people on their way to death 

death at his hands 

maybe not right now 

but soon sooner than they expect
at least one of them would die today

he knew that
the knowledge armed him
gave him power
gave him a reason to live
to be there amongst them
each of them ripe for his desires 

the headlines no longer cowed them 

they had little fear
a killing a day
the papers screamed 

who will be next 

the tv clatter box went on and on 

flashed from his latest victim 

to breakfast cereals
that would help you lose weight

ha he laughed to himself
I have a program
thatʼll give you a permanent weight loss 

donʼt bother calling
Iʼll find you today
it is a good day to die

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January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico

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every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

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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

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HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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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

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