Apocalypse Postponed

The covid pandemic hasn’t been like the post-apocalypse movies – you know, those end-of-the-world scenarios where panicked mobs take the streets to pillage stores & hunt down one another in the struggle for survival. At least not yet. People have gotten steamed up, some reactionary noisiness about masks, vaccines with finger-pointing blame & some calling out profit mongering. Let’s face it if the pandemic wasn’t making someone lots of $ it would be ignored.

People are confused by science. One day one of the vaccines isn’t safe for over sixty, then another day it is safe but not safe for under 50’s, or at least not safe if you female between the ages of 30-40, but now safe for over over 60’s regardless of gender. Were safety protocols rushed to get it on the market? No, that would never happen.

Here in Ontario the numbers are confusing & ultimately ignored. The number of vaccines given hasn’t brought the numbers of infected down, in fact it has gone up. The biggest jump has been in schools but we can’t close them because parents need to work now that more businesses are being reopened because we have to get the economy moving so the tax base is large enough to pay for the vaccines, or something like that.

The economy has to recover so politicians can be re-elected with enough of a majority that can protect the profit margins of those already making $ off the pandemic. You know those banks who get a fee every time you use your debit/credit card because most retailers no longer accept cash because cash is riddled with potential disease. You pay a fee & the merchant pays a fee – win/win for the banking industry. How much do they pay into the tax base?

I did get my vaccine as soon as my age bracket was allowed. Booked it on line but first entering my postal code, it directed me to the nearest temporary clinic where I continued the process with birth date, health card number & it was done. Took about fifteen minutes. I did that on a Saturday & appointment booked for Tuesday, 10:20 a.m. Got there on the Tuesday by 10, lineups moving fairly quickly. More registration confirmations etc. Got the shot by 10:30.

I was given the vaccine info after the shot. I got the Pfizer – apparently the #1 rated, so far. Sat for 15 minutes, was given a receipt for the shot, next one booked for July. No side effects not even the sore arm many have experienced. I’m not sure whose profit margin I have helped but at least I didn’t have to use my credit card 🙂

Puppet Theatre Time (2008)

the theory is that

our leaders are all puppets 

figureheads

who are invested

in the illusion of power

unaware they are hollow images

taking the heat for the real powers

a hidden consortium 

who make the real decisions

they exert the right squeeze

so little leaders slump out 

to take the blame 

because leaders are just frail men

with no will power to wield

no clout to get the job done

not even attractive to look at

so they are more believable

<>

politics is now 

a form of entertainment

media fodder

to hide the real holders of power

we are amused  numbed

by the constant barrage 

of sound bite cell cam videos

of presidents getting photo ops

when they should be 

getting our boys out of 

wherever the hell they are 

because even where they are

isn’t the real war zone

but a more elaborate movie set

with real lives being lost

to keep our attention away from

what is really going on

<>

no one is sure what is really going on

it isn’t what we accept as the truth

there is no money in truth

only diverting statics

from the struggle for freedom

from Tibet to Kensington market 

upscale name branded 

divisive tactics

sometimes I believe this 

sometimes I don’t care

where do we place our faith

what is worth the energy to change

if it can be changed

revolution has been copyrighted 

by este lauder

the latest scent 

a mix of blood oil jasmine

with woody undertones

<>

if it isn’t making someone money 

it isn’t going to happen

war happens because it is big business

cancer continues to make a profit

going green isn’t happening 

the profit margins are too low

most people don’t earn

enough to save the planet

from who holds 

the reins of the illusion power

or so the theory goes

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Nine

Nine

O when I was nine

I was still a child

there was no instant communication

news travelled slow

on the radio TV newspapers

that provided an innocence

I knew about war

because my Dad had fought in one

he was a man

my mother was a woman

I was a boy child

who only knew what the culture 

of the time

expected of my gender 

<>

O when I was nine

I did know I wasn’t like other boys

I played backlot baseball

I played with dolls

I  wasn’t the boy my dad expected

I didn’t like to fight

like other boys

I never understood 

why physical violence was required

to be accepted

<>

O when I was nine

I learned to swim

looking at the differences

between boys and girls

anatomy I didn’t understand

the boys where more interesting

I knew shame

when we were caught

I had fear

but no closet

sex was dirty regardless

of the gender of the object

<>

O when I was nine

I don’t that I was making waves

as I waded from nine to nineteen

by the time I left nineteen

I knew

these were dangerous waters

at nine there was only

the fear of getting caught

not the fear

of my culture drowning me

like an unwanted litter of kittens

I heard on a TV documentary about children that our sense of self was basically formed by the time we are ten years old. By then we have absorbed the ‘teachings’ of TV behaviours that inform our subconscious. So, back in the day, I was aware of what the culture of the time expected of my gender. I was also aware that it wasn’t the right fit but I hadn’t developed the language for that beyond feeling it was the wrong fit. Today thanks to instant communication children have a greater knowledge of gender variations. I doubt that at the age of five I would have understood what a faggot was, children today do know what it means. 

Where was I when I was nine? We had just settled in Sydney, Cape Breton after moving across Canada for a couple years. My mother & I had spent some time with her family in Wales during this time as well. I remember ‘living’ in Moncton, Stellerton or was it Truro for short periods of time & going to schools there, briefly. Finally in Sydney, were we lived in three different neighbourhoods before my dad bought a house in Ashby.

One result was that I spent those formative years as a displaced person – someone who was different. My Dad prodded me into things that could show me how to ‘fit in’: cub scouts, YMCA. I did the best I could but felt like an outsider &, as I recall, was fine with that. I did get these weird mixed messages ‘why can’t you be like other kids’ then when I wanted some fad item ‘why can’t you think for yourself.’

I survived partially by hiding in booze & partially by writing & painting as I gradually found language for what I was. Though then that language was loaded – an abomination unto the Lord – sort of stuff. Today I know the tragic flaw wasn’t my sexuality but the way culture regarded not only lgbtq but sexuality itself.


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Patriotism

Patriotism 

it wasn’t a war

of ideology 

or for our defence 

it was a battle

for the sake of the economy

manufacturing jobs for profit

selecting the undesirable 

sending them off to die

to thin the population

to spare those who could

afford not to go to war


so they could stay at home

reap the financial rewards

of others’ sacrifice

<>

it wasn’t a war

to prove what a patriot you were

but to keep fat wallets

from thinning

On one of my trips to Washington DC I made a point of visiting Arlington National Cemetery. It was a standard hot & humid day so I was spared the ambiance of those overcast or just after the rain photos. I was moved all the same by the rippling shifting patterns of the endless rows of crosses as I walked through. Some had roses tucked to the tops, or wreaths, even one with photos left at the base. I experienced a sense of a loss that spans centuries. 

https://topoet.ca/2016/06/02/arlington/

I also knew a bit about the racial nature of demographics the draft in the USA. War is big business – military production pulled Canada & USA out of the depression. Wars have been declared solely to bolster the reputations of national leaders & divert attention from domestic issues (which in the USA haven’t been successfully addressed since the Civil War).

I find it dismaying when a head of state praises the patriotism of the services from the comfortable security of his million dollar office while those in the services struggle with the physical & psychological damage of war. If they choose not to be exploited they are unpatriotic.

The fact of war, being a soldier is something I can imagine but most of my imagination has been fed by films, by the rhetoric of brave men & women fighting for my freedom. I had considered, at the end of high school, enlisting but being a little queer boy knew it was ultimately not the place for me. I had no examples of lgbt serving in the forces to encourage me either. I’ve read enough about the history of lgbt in both the US & Canadian services to know we did exist there, but just like all minorities, we were okay as long we served a purpose then we could be drummed out for our sexuality without pensions etc.

What wallets did that pension money end up in?


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O Patriot

O Patriot

it wasn’t a war

of ideology our defence 

it was a battle

for the sake of the economy

manufacturing jobs for profit

selecting the undesirable 

sending them off to die

to reduce the surplus population

to spare those that could

afford not to go to war

so they could stay at home

reap the financial rewards

of others’ sacrifices

 

if you were a true patriot

you wouldn’t resent their sneers

real men die

to improve the lot of others

whose lot

is already better than theirs

and are grateful for the opportunity

to prove they are good for something

 

it wasn’t a war

to prove what a patriot you were

or to make a man of you

all the thanks you’ll get

are divisive sneers

for your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

stop being a cry-baby

it makes them feel guilty

about their profit margins


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Sleeping With Losers

Sleeping With Losers

no I do not want

to sleep with your sons

or your daughters

for that matter

at least I don’t want to sleep with them

as a result winning this battle

in fact

if we hadn’t engaged in this conflict

I might well have desired them

but that was not the object

I don’t want to burn your crops

destroy your cities

I only want to win

I want you to acknowledge my superiority

in battle

that’s it

my superiority in bed

is another matter

one that I don’t need to prove to anyone one

my tanks are the biggest

the best

what I am in bed

isn’t relevant

I won’t want your wives

your homes

won’t loot

your ancient treasures

I’m not going to change

your government

that’s up to you

because clearly

you were capable

of taking care of yourselves

you are conquered

not rescued

you have to save yourselves

so instead of offering me

sexual solace

in hopes that I’ll do

what you have to do for yourselves

get busy

but

if your sons

are so sexually attracted

by the power of my determination

I might be willing to give them a tumble

The Laws prompts forced me to look at things I don’t ordinary think about & to think about them in a different way. I’ve written more politically charged material than ever before & also some anti-war pieces. But to say war is bad or war greases the wheels of the economy with the blood of the disenfranchised seems simplistic.

One of the tools of cultural genocide is sexual morality – when the Spanish discovered South America they were indignant that natives lived unmarried & didn’t mate for life. So they proceeded to force Christianity on them while using the female population for their sexual pleasures. Mass insemination of conquered women still continues.

Even things like greed have causes – i.e. the need for wealth to bolster a sense of worth. The need to win to prove who has the biggest … tank. Power for the sake of power not for the sake of improving anyone’s lot but for proving one has power. Most political or religious war has some petty emotional underlying cause. It’s a matter of principle.

Another ‘thing’ about war is that it is portrayed as a cismale heterosexual field of combat. Trump’s attempt to force trans people out of the US services was, in part, his attempt to maintain that macho, tough US facade. Never mind the fact that the US medical system is so skewed the only way for many trans can afford to get the medical attention they need is to enlist. You don’t have to bake wedding cakes for queers etc.

The title is new. It was called ‘Your Sons’ but as I was re-reading it this now one came to me. Much groovier. It was fun to create this narrative voice – so reasonable a victor who presents this ambiguous, almost passive-aggressive, stance. All he wants is to win. And emasculate your nation by having sex with your sons.

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Reaping Victory

Reaping Victory

the crops were good

in the years after the war

the fields were rich

with the fallen

buried deep

very deep

that was the secret

to avoid pestilence

disease

the fallen were buried deep

so deep

no one knows their names

no one remembers the war

or how many years it took

before the decay

enriched the soil

recreated the world we live in

the earth we walk on

 

they will be remembered and forgotten

at the same time

the way it should be

to all challengers of decency

they become our history

dust

our world

is built on this dust

this decay

of what has fallen

crushed under the weight of time

forgotten

by the piling up of more

by the importance of now

all those wasted products of the past

slowly dissolved

first to be discarded

then names to be erased

with so much recorded

there is no one with the time to recall

to read out those names

to dig for these bones

not while

so much more needs to be planted

needs to be grown

reinventing is easier

than resurrection

the enemy changes

but it is never us

we’re too busy burying

04-elecblack01Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

When I wrote this I had recently seen a documentary about genocide in the middle east that happened pre-WW1. Some of it was ‘alleged’ – facts were produced and denied – the same old story of information being spun to suit each side. Much like what Trump is doing (did) about election results. What a sore winner he turned out to be. But I digress.

04-elec02With this documentary I became aware of how winners win not by subjectification of the other side but by obliterating it – cultural genocide – by removing all traces of the losing side. Destroying museums, churches, libraries. When Pol Pot invaded Cambodia  their targets for execution included the country’s pop stars.

Sad to say I cannot recall which middle east nation this particular genocide happened in even after watching the documentary. Success of sorts as they aren’t in my memory. I do know they were buried in vast fields that are now parklands. There is a memorial marker but the facts are still under contention.04-elecblack03

 

But this also about what we forget or what we are never told. How history gets re-written to reflect the current times & even locations. American history books that turn slave trade into ‘creating employment opportunities’ for Africans. In fact most written history comes across as a record of heterosexual white male entitlement. But that’s another blog post.04-elecblack04

 

All too often when the oppressed get the power they use it to oppress so there is no such thing as victory.

 

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#Burdon’s Burden

brownlp

Next on the shelf are two massive mp3 collections grouped around Eric Burdon. This started when I blogged about the Animals last year. I discovered that Eric was still recording & had recently released a new lp ’Til Your River Runs Dry – he remains in fine vocal form & it’s worth checking out. It’s on the first cd along with his work with War and Soldedad Blues w Jimmy Witherspoon: post Animals & fun strong stuff. Eric was always eager to try new things & his work with War is solid if unexceptional.brown

On this one I threw in some Sister Rosetta Tharpe: great female r’n’b thumper. Ginger Baker: one his many post Cream Africa projects: clunky but fun. Osibisa, Mandrill: two Santana inspired bands with strong African roots – these are both later career recordings. Eek-a-mouse: Black Cowboy: every collection needs some obscure reggie  The Congas: more of those African rhythms.

greyice

The second collection has Love Is: Eric & the Animals do their double lp of indulgent yet endearing songs. I enjoy their take on Ring Of Fire. River Deep is hilarious though with the echoed Tina Tina at points – was he having it off with her? The Black-Man’s Burdon – how he got away with title is beyond me, more of his work with War. Plus their live tracks & other performers at Monterey Pop. Monterey was where he fell in love with Jimi Hendrix & that changed his musical direction for several years.blackcouch

I counted this off with a slew of Lonnie Donegan: Lonnie was one of those British hitmakers who never crossed the ocean – his influence on British pop is substantial though – his rockabilly recording of House of the Rising Sun, Mule Train & others clearly influenced the Animals, The Stones, the Beatles, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton.

sample

Journey

When I was turning twenty-three life was a lost treasure that I no map for, futility seemed a nice, kind way of looking at it – why bother – but I was driven at the same time to bother. A Doors song was my theme ‘music is your only friend’ and I believed that – I was a little town queer who felt isolated and threatened.

Lucky I wrote a lot – driven to expresses something. though I never knew exactly what is was I wanted to say – I kept trying to say it. I had some booze buddies, musicians and poets. Smoked a few joints with them and hung out in my family’s basement. I had a room there decorated with Beatles posters, my paintings – more getting the inner out some how.

Drunken, near blackout fits of sex. Oops, what did we do last night sort of stuff. Seeking and just not connecting with anything other than the shame of being what I was with no one to share that with.

I became more eccentric as years went on but the patterns were really set then. The things that I held closest to me music, books, painting all around me. My writing and some friends who were more extensions of my fears & wants than companions.

Got a job at Famous Players thanks to the mother of my best friend Howard. Flo was box-office there & that was to be my position, I quickly became assistant manager & candy boy. Made lots of pop corn.

Gave me a steady income and some sense of being functional. Added at the same time to my sense of not fitting in. I think that was a big thing for me then. wanting to be like the others yet not wanting to be like the others. Wanting acceptance without wanting to conform to some pattern.

The past year hadn’t been that bad or good, aimless and pretending I was looking for some job to steady my Dad’s need to see me working and out of the house.

The folks were never that approving of my writing or painting – like many, they figured that stuff was only good if it made one lots and lots of money. Sex wasn’t discussed at all and I didn’t know how to go about telling them that anyway. It wasn’t till I was ready to leave the Cape many years later that I told them. Not that it was such a shock mind you.

Looking back I really didn’t know how to establish myself as a man, as an adult. Booze was one of those adult things but I felt I had to hide how much I drank & how often. Sad, but true. All those secret nooks and crannies.

Some of which had no real outlet then and there. Little was I to no what the journey of my future was to hold. But I survived wanting to wake up dead, wanting to end the confusion and pain and made it past 23 and even past 24 and finally here I am.

 

 

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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November 18, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – The Supermarket., Toronto

hot

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#War concludes with #Prayer

hate01

5 – pray for peace

I pray for peace

for no more cameras

in the face of bloodied children

clawing out of fragmented buses

no more pained leaders

griping about the lack of fair media coverage

it’s more important to be righteous

that it is to be right

 

I pray for peace

and wonder what will come next –

no that’s a lie

I don’t wonder

because what will come next

has already happened

the same war in different places

the same inflexible jargon

this land is our land not your land

they march forth

with the word of god on one side

and the sword of god on the other

 

I pray for peace

for the righteous and the right

to get on the same talk show

to get Oprah over there

but no side is ready

for that close up

until there is enough sand kicked

so the rich stain of trickling

sweat blood and adidas

in the the frame for the camera

 

I pray for the camera men

for freedom of the press

how dare you shoot reporters

journalist don’t want your land

they just want to reduce it to

quick clips flashes of bombs

parents wailing – please help

no no no

get over there

for the background of this shot

great

we have to keep the cameras rolling

risk our lives for higher ratings

now there’s a cause worth fighting for

this scrap of land for my camera man

my sound guy and the line feed grip

if you dare not let

our preproduction teams in

you’ll get no sponsors for your war

this dismemberment moment from

the makers of daisy fresh panty liners

 

I pray for peace

but not too sincerely

because I don’t want to upset

the world economy

too much peace means higher inflation

when the death rate is lower

there are more starving to feed

 

I pray for peace

so I can watch TV in peace

so I can get back to reality escapism

sitcom movie stars in crisis

no war to worry about

only the daily grind to occupy me

with a future of safe routes

because that’s what peace is all about

right

red01

The concluding Section 5 is more theme and variation. As the piece progressed I increased the level of cynicism in the face of what never changes yet pretends to wants to change. The media coverage, or is it obscurage, of events has been the same for as long as I can recall. I’ve looked at press from WWI, read about the Spanish Civil war & nothing has changed except the speed at which we get the image.

red02

Locations, names, weapons may change but causes remain the same. Media has become very protective of its right to ‘report’ without taking sides. Now we get security camera footage & handheld cell video so everyone is a reporter and everyone is showing the truth of the moment. 

red03

‘daisy fresh panty liners’ is a reference to the Daisy Cutter bomb. It seemed a fitting, if cruel, interpolation of what happens with this bomb and a product used to absorb blood. ‘What if they gave a war and nobody came’ a 60’s slogan runs through the subtext of this whole series. Even CNN breaks for commercials & some sponsors have specified they don’t want their ads run during certain types of new coverage.

tree

Like so many things we ordinary folk want the actually ramifications are deeper than we realize. Ending war could cripple the world economy. A cure for the common could would cripple the pharmaceutical industry. So the peace we pray for often isn’t world peace but for peace of mind in a world that is driven by profit.

 

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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Photos of the War

sample rough draft sample

Photos of the War

 

my older brothers prepared for war

by learning the intricacies of languages

and lingerie of foreign places

no one explained what they fought for

I was told the children in our village

didn’t need to know till they were older

I didn’t think my brothers were so old

they were still learning to shave and swear

 

there was talk of death

that I didn’t quite understand

death was a place from where people never returned

in the cathedral the bishop

called it the long sleep of righteousness

I wanted my brothers to be awake

so I could watch them gut the moose

so they could show me

how to get more than shoulders touched

in the strip bars

 

but they were determined to go to war

all the young men in the village

were hungry for danger

some so hungry

they started in on each other

tore each other’s flesh

ripped clothes to such shreds

even the women couldn’t repair them

these bruised men would roam

the Whistling Wood naked

chant loudly while the choir practiced

 

I didn’t understand war

but the hungry men in the woods

would haunt my sleep

their bruised naked bodies

danced erratically around a fire

private parts painted by flames

I wanted to join in their howling

but I was too young

I was still playing with boys

learning how to howl and dance naked

smeared with smelt guts and birch bark

we started our own boys’ army

by stomping on ants

 

my brothers went to war

they emailed short notes every day

“marched to Majorca”

“wet dirty sox”

“send powdered moose milk”

they sent photos of themselves

bright lights in the background

tall buildings that reached the clouds

in one of them by an airplane

they glared at us in defiance

pointed their guns at the camera

then one of them naked on a lawn

their bodies bandaged unrecognizable

these weren’t my brothers

they didn’t look human

as cracked grins of satisfaction

played across what remained of their faces

war after the war

Here’s another of the mythology series. I rarely write directly ‘political’ stuff because I’m more of a story teller than a social commentator. Lapsing into didacticism or hectoring is too easy and drowns all, to me, any real emotional response other than self-righteous anger.

The voice of Mythology is of this innocent boy and I try to see real world events though the eyes of someone without an adult knowledge base. War is one of those things that even adults find hard to fully grasp. War and death.

shoes shoes to be filled after the war

Here I work with elements of the mythos I’ve built into this island world – the moose, strip bars, the Whistling Woods – introduced some modern elements as well – i.e. email. With a gentle hint of sexuality – private parts painted by flame – I develop this voice and this place into, what I hope, is a real comment on how war affects the rush to manhood, soldiers, the ones left behind.

rubble bombed out

There is no actual war in my mind – all wars are the same (the struggle to support the US economy – but I didn’t go into that cynical aspect here). I’ve seen these photographs though. Some were of my Dad in uniform when he fought in WW II. Others from a Viet Nam documentary. Or maybe from the movies, because many of our fondest memories are really from the movies not from our real life.

soon

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada http://www.fanexpocanada.com expo spider atingle at expo 2014

October 19 – feature – Cabaret Noir – Welcome to Lake Pinebow pineocthttps://www.facebook.com/events/1651892755035275/

 

tree02 lost in the Whistling Woods