Recap March 2021

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 487! The only stat WP doesn’t give is where the followers are located but WP map does show my hits have come from 30 countries around the world. That USA tops the list is no surprise but that India & Bangladesh are in the top 4 is interesting. Ireland, Japan in the top 10!  Most popular post for March was Attention Span (https://topoet.ca/2021/03/28/attention-span/). My Tumblr is at 311. It would be higher but this past month I‘ve blocking a flood of banal anime sex sites. Twitter 231 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along with 61 sections, nearly 90,000 words, posted so far, with 95,000 words approx to be edited, then posted. Yes finally at the half-way point & know there are major cuts yet to be made. That the joy of writing without worry I know I can chase a subplot knowing if it doesn’t pan out it can be chopped.

I continued working through the archived files of short-stories, poetry, even plays. Some date back to the mid-seventies. My typing & handwriting haven’t improved much over the decades. I’m enjoying the array of paper, scrap paper, that I used. It helps to date some of the work, as does the typewriter used, the colour of ink, & of course dot-matrix printouts – some of which hadn’t been separated.

I watched lots of great movies this past month including two wildly different movies about witches. The first is a version of Susperia – based on the original Dario Argenta movie but not a remake. I love the original despite the distracting loud soundtrack. Both are set in a dance school. I enjoyed this fresh take in which dance took a major role. The music & choreography & even the theory of dance were spot on. The music was moody, never intrusive. Performances were great – Tilda Swinton was fine. The bloodbath scene was gory but then …. sadly they added an endless, pointless coda that turned an A movie into a C.

The other witch move was ‘The Juniper Tree’ from 1990. It could have been a lost Bergman film with its stark Iceland setting, shot in stunning black & white. Mystical, poetic & magical without any special effects & solid compelling performances. Ethereal music & a realistic ending. Well worth searching out. 

As break from the macabre I watched, for at least the 3rd time, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This was the fully restored print with stunning colour & a pristine soundtrack. This is a masterpiece of film making. The set decor is breathtaking, stunning & a feast for the eyes. The cast is good, Deneuve is stunning too. The men are tasty Gallic eye candy. The music is lush & the singing is perfect. All the voices are dubbed – so this is a live-action animated feature 🙂 They sing like ordinary people – I’m so used to the over-singing of songs in which every one has to have a heart-rending emotional climax. 

Another truly amazing film was Diamonds In The Night – Czech black & white – follows two young men, escapees from transport to concentration camp during WWII. A touch surreal, intense, compelling & rewarding. 

We’re finally watching The Crown, season 2. The Aberfan episode is one of the most amazing chapters of a serial I’ve ever seen, right up there with The Queen episode of Castle Rock. An emotional tour de force that left me tearful. Heart-rending without being cloying or over-the-top.

from the archives – sometime 1985

‘let’s swim to the moon’

Jim Morrison

last night I dreamed of the dead

they weren’t looking very well

the endlessness of the past

was worrying them

as there was more past every day

their worries were constantly growing

at this point as expected

things got a little confusing

the cafe of experience

was flooded by Symbolists

our meals became metaphors

which left us hungering for reality

an allusion of symbiotics

were looking for a new quantifier

they wanted pride

by lions had already cornered that one

they asked to join us for coffee

but no one had a measuring spoon

mystic sixties retro music on the juke box

left us even more unsatisfied

reminding us of old frustrations

we had matured out of long long ago

we were speechless with despair 

none willing to swim anymore

there was no room for miles

the stars repeated their menu

soup song of sorrows in the heartbreak hotel

pulling up to the gas pump

in an early model Chevrolet 

revved up the effortless drive of love

to fuel the furnace of art

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Recap February 2021

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 463! The WordPress map shows my hits in February have come from 91 countries around the world. Mainly USA & Canada with South Africa in 3rd spot! Bangladesh & Malawi remain in the top 10. The most viewed (non-photo essay) was The Thieving Slut, https://topoet.ca/2021/02/15/the-thieving-slut/, with F**k Gratitude, https://topoet.ca/2021/02/11/fk-gratitude/ close behind. Both are personal faves.

My Tumblr following is at 304. Twitter 229 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along with 56 sections, about 84,500 words, posted so far, with 101,000 words approx to be edited, then posted. This month I was at the point where I got sidetracked in the rough draft so I did major cut of about 5000 words. The cut removed a scene I didn’t need but a character I did need so re-invented him keep the flow. A fun challenge.

I watched some interesting movies including O Ébrio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Ébrio_(film)). Out of Brazil,1946, starring popular singer Vicente Celestino – who co-wrote it with Gilda de Abreu, who was also his wife. Imagine an Elvis film set in 1946 – fame & faithless women & songs & redemption. Eye-catching costumes for the women. A fascinating look at the culture of the time. The music & lyrics are idealized romantic, religious & dripping with sincerity. Performances are good to adequate, with some sweet silent-movie nods.

Another, an even wilder musical, is the Polish film The Lure (2015) directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska. One critic calls it “the best goth musical about man-eating mermaids ever made.” I wouldn’t call 80’s EuroDisco Goth but … the music is sublime, the visuals at times are stunning & performances good. Plotting uneven but well worth watching. I saw both of these as part of TCM series of women directors.

A couple of books I’m currently reading. Paper: Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Bérubé about gay men and women in the U.S. military between 1941 and 1945. This quote ‘ … being a homosexual, I had that constant compelling need to prove how virile I was.’ still remains one of the male gender identity struggles. The book is stunning – easy to read, easy to understand & at time heartbreaking & frustrating.  Read it asap.

Kindle: Fairs’ Point: A Novel of Astreiant by Melissa Scott book 4 in the series. I read the first in this series a few years ago. It was part of a StoryBundle of 10 lgbtq fantasy/horror novels & I loved it. I’ve read the pervious in the series. Amazing world building, sweet male lovers & understated sex scenes. Set in a magic Mediaeval land. Only one more in the series after this one though 😦

in clearing out an archive of old writing in a file cabinet I found this piece from the early 80’s. It is about HIV fears but some of the lines about ‘a virus more virulent than love’ echo the current covid19 pandemic where a stranger’s breath could be deadly. Replace roses with masks & it’s ready for today

war/mist

1

i’m pressing the mirror

to my face

not looking for contact

not seeking any content

needing any slight

sign of mist

to reassure me

i’m still alive

i’m still breathing

<>

hey! it’s alright everybody

i’m still breathing

there’s nothing breeding in me

hey! you guys

don’t you hear me

I’m still breathing

2

something in the blood of lovers

has brought this war

to my attention

to my very front door

to my one & only bedroom

sullen pillow whispers

imploring an unwilling caution

for this angry end to innocence 

<>

‘so, we don’t meet again’

a thought

in the corner of my eye

catching you

wandering through the throng

of sights unseen

untouched

a man missed again by me

a stranger in your mist

<>

a kiss is no longer a kiss

it’s an affront to our political awareness

it’s flirting with a virus

more virulent than love

a disease befuddled by language

leaving us

untouching

unflinching

imploding

& afraid

<>

so i’ll send you roses

yellow green black

olive drab camoflage

for our war of wait & see

our war of hide

then die

<>

a lift of the hand

a nod of the head

a thin smile of acknowledgement

i practice the arts

of indifferent recognition

so i can cast them upon

unobtainable flights of obsession

‘is this the wave of the future?

or just an unobservable mannerism

by this stranger in your mist

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Recap January 2021

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 455! The WordPress map shows my hits in January have come from 91 countries around the world. Mainly USA & Canada with Bangladesh (হ্যালো) & Malawi (Moni) in the top 10. The most viewed was my post on board Games, https://topoet.ca/2021/01/15/games/ with Ghost of a Chance https://topoet.ca/2021/01/02/ghost-of-a-chance/  close behind. My persona fave is Burned At The Stake https://topoet.ca/2021/01/25/burned-at-the-stake/.

My Tumblr following is at 300. Twitter 230 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along with 52 sections, about 78,800 words posted so far, with 111,000  approx to be edited, then posted. I generally try to keep the sections at about 1500 words.

I found another cache of old short stories & starts on others. They were in the file cabinet that I use to store Bushwack posters, photographs & articles I had cut from magazines. I haven’t really gone through these files in the 2000’s beyond searching out the posters I designed for my theatrical productions. 

I remember writing some of these stories but in some cases have forgotten the contents. I also neglected to date many of them but there are clues that place them in decades, as opposed to actual years. Some are in dot-matrix printout – we stopped using that in late 80’s – early 90’s – which puts them back into the early 80’s Some are typed or carbon copies – which puts them back into the 70’s, 80’s. Lack of technology dates them – no cell phones, computers or even answer machines. I’ll be serializing them for including them with my music collection post – the music collection is essential an archive too, so it is a fitting pairing.

Stay-at-home covid19 lockdown has ‘forced’ me to start clearing out our basement. When you have a house stuff collects in the basement. Stuff that is now finding the light of garbage pickup 🙂 The shop vac is getting workout. Bye-bye cobwebs. It is so gratifying to see things carted away, sometimes taken by scavengers before garbage guys can pick up them. There’s enough to keep me bust for another couple weeks. The best way to spend a couple of morning hours indoors when the wind chill drops to -20C. 

Day and Night

day never holds me 

as fully as the night

in light there is always

a part that doesn’t get revealed

doesn’t get illuminated

turn as fast as I can

part of me is always in shadow

<>

light is not the total lover

it always leaves one part untouched

night covers all

holds me in toto

comforting tender complete

caressing even where I cannot see

I was submerged and protected

no night burn for me 

for being too long naked in its glance

<>

if I had to make choice 

between night and day

as to which would be the better lover

I couldn’t decide

day brings flowers

night brings stars

both return despite 

my placid display of cliches

tender is the night

bright is the day

as one retreats 

to make way for the other

I am saddened

I want to hold them both

straddle those slippery moments

when one gracefully steps aside

<>

they do not fight 

to see who will be next

there is no resentment

that I have taken each 

in their own time

that I give myself equally to them

give myself without question 

without doubt

so do not make me choice

<>

when I die

will I go into the light

or merely roll over 

into the comforting dark

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2020 Umbrella Blues

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 363 to 445! That’s over 80 new followers without me going out of my way beyond blogging regularly. The WordPress map show my hits have come from some 85 countries around the world. India still tops the list is interest but that Italy & Japan are in the top 10 is a surprise. Kenya still in the top 20 – but Malawi! Still no hits from North Korea 😦

The 2020 post that got the most hits was https://topoet.ca/2020/06/10/catholic-girls/ but a post from 2014 made a surprise showing too https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/. The post with the most all-time hits is also from 2014: https://topoet.ca/2014/06/06/there-was-the-word/. My Tumblr is at 295. It would be much higher but I frequently block follows for buxom babes, porn slam (shooting up crystal meth) sites. Twitter 229 followers.

Picture Perfect is moving along nicely with 48 sections, just over 73,000 words posted so far with about 116,000 words to be edited & then posted. Editing it is fun &though I recollect most of the plot I am getting to expand somethings & fill in others. I need a cheat sheet of names at all times though.

In this has been the year of the pandemic, I never expected to be living in a scifi movie. The threat is real but the stress comes from not knowing when or if it might strike me. I take all the precautions, masks, hand washing & social distancing – which have all proved to be enough so far. Zoom has become one of my best friends 🙂

Getting to AA meetings is simple & no having to deal with winter wear has been an additional plus. Members there frequently mention how they miss all the face-to-face contact but you know I’m indifferent to it. I have never been one for social gathering , of any sort, of more than four or five people. Another bonus is this lack of social contact has resulted in no colds or flu, so far, this winter. I’ve quickly embraced face masks & have amassed a nice collection with fun patterns. a few solid colours, that allow me to feel less medical when I put one on. One way of making masks work is to make them fashion. But I’m not enjoying the realization that going to the store for a loaf of bread is actually playing Russian roulette without knowing who is holding the gun.

My 2020 plans for Capturing Fire in Washington never materialized & I doubt if I’ll be visiting the US, or anywhere else, even in Canada, until 2022. With the travel industry decimated even in country travel will be a challenge. No boats, trains, buses or airplanes to the Maritimes  might bring back the car 🙂 It isn’t clear what will happen with the Stratford Festive, they have planned a season but social distancing requirements may scuttle it even if the vaccine roll out goes well. Maybe one will need a proof of vaccine to get in to see a show? Maybe a return to classical Greek theatre style where all the performers wore masks?

Umbrella Blues

that rain is wet

comes as no surprise

it’s just that sometimes

I’m bored of the rain

tired of its endless fall

the sound of the drop

the feel of it on my skin 

by rain

I mean life

<>

not that life is wet

but it’s just that sometimes

I’m weary of it all

even more so these covid days

<>

so far

I’ve dodged that bullet 

as the numbers of infected

go up & up 

I’m not yet in that number

I say a prayer of gratitude

but I’m tired of dodging that bullet

to go the the store

to walk down the street

<>

peeved by walking into on coming traffic

to create social distance

between me and others

on sidewalks narrowed by patios

I’m weary of the worry

of the avoidance

of the feel survivor’s guilt

<>

have you seen my umbrella

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Stratford photos taken a day trip earlier in 2020.

November 2020 Recap

Over the month my TOpoet.ca blog following grew to 410! The December WP map show my hits have come from around the world. That the USA tops the list is a sign of election fatigue :-). Bangladesh (একটি উষ্ণ স্বাগত) & Italy (Un caldo benvenuto) are now in the top 10! My Tumblr is at 294. Twitter is at 229 followers.

Picture Perfect: 43 sections, about 66,000 words posted so far with 120,000 approx remaining to be edited then posted. I got a little tripped up in sequence & had to double back, as it were, to get the flow back in order. My rough drafts aren’t all done in chronological sequence so when I started this draft I put the individual drafts in order but messed up a bit. Such is life.

everyone’s a critic

TV viewing: Brave New World & War of the Worlds both came to an end. Brave certainly had the look with, for the men, smart costume design – I could believe those futurist business suits & overcoats; but the women suffered from standard illogical, uncomfortable, super-tight dreck. The plot was a bit of a mess & it’s too bad they based it so loosely on its source material. Final episode was clearly open for a season two (which isn’t going to happen.)

At least the Brave wasn’t saddled with the trite backstory family-turmoil that War of the Worlds drowned in. Again very loosely based on the source material but I am enjoying the diversity of the cast, the diversity of locations. Apparently it has been renewed for a second season which I’ll probably keep an eye out for, despite the disappointing reveal in the last minutes. 

Watched an amazing movie: Madeinusa – Spanish, set in Peru. A stranger is stranded in a small mountain village in the midst of one of their religious festivals. The festival reflects the Latino mash up of their ancient beliefs & Catholicism & is stunning. The ritual cutting of the neckties took my breath away. Exceptional & worth searching out.

November was relatively uneventful. Lockdown reduced my outside social distancing even more. The only ripple was an unexpected flare of psoriases – of which I have no previous experience. One morning a trip to emerg to get a rash looked at- they told me what it wasn’t but did know what it was. Referral to dermatology clinic that I went to the next day. The Dr. there took one look & knew what it was. Whew, I guess. It appears as spots not flakes. Anyone want to rub lotion on my back?

Nothing

nothing tastes as good as 

being thin feels

the first glance of anticipation

the sweetest kisses

all lose flavour

in favour of the cling tight snuggle 

skin shrink-wrapped around 

cheeks hipbones

smooth taut as drum

counting ribs more fun

than pulling the petals off a flower

he loves me   thin

<>

the skinny love 

slips between the sheets

cool and light  sheer as linen

that carves the shape of me

pale in the heavy thick night

I waver 

a glimpse of smoke

reach out to stroke

the breathing body beside me

corpulent sighs of pleasure’s resignation

the ghost of a glance come to roost 

for a few chancing movements

not heavy enough to dent the bed

perfection

<>

the weight of sunlight

makes it hard to walk

even buoyed by the adoring glances

of those who envy 

the soundless touch of these feet

on the mass of the earth

my blessed opportunity

to dust dance on mother earth

to float shadowless under father sky 

leave no carbon footprint

<>

my clothes weigh more than I do

wearing next to nothing

next to nothing

who could ask for more

boniness is next to adoration

now to get rid of these bones

become shapeless formless

<>

oh to be free of the body

the encumbrance of personality 

that is invested in this skin

deep in bone density

to lose the self

become the nothing

that tastes better than thin

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Amends

An acquaintance in recovery, someone whom at one time I guided through step work & some life decisions, called me recently. I haven’t heard from them in three or four years. They called to make an amend for their overly intellectual stance on sexual issues.

I wasn’t sure what to say. At the time I knew them, I never felt one way or the other about their stances on anything. I certainly was never offended or hurt by anything they said. An amend is to address damage done, offences given. When we went our separate ways it was with no rancour on my part. 

Part of the process of recovery is to grow & change & to move on when one feels it is time to do so. I didn’t see any need then, or now, for them to apologize for moving on with their growth. I listened while they went though their amend & didn’t feel the need to ask for any more information than they gave me. I said I accepted the amend. We joked a little about covid & keeping safe & that was that.

It did remind of the last time a member made an amend to me earlier in my recovery & I accepted it. A month later he accused me of not even being able to accept an amend – apparently I was supposed to say how much I appreciated their humility & how hard it must have been for them to make the amend to begin with. But much like this most recent amend I had felt nothing much about the incident he was being humble about.

I also kept that to myself – why diminish what was important to them by saying it was nothing to me. I did look back on our interaction -nothing that transpired stood out for me. I listened, they talked, I made supportive comments & when directly asked gave opinions. Life goes on. There’s no need to make amends for that.

Honesty

look I’m going to honest here

I like people to think

I’m one of those guys 

drawn to the inner light of a person

someone who has that unique gift 

to sense the tender spiritual values

the hesitant sweet flicker 

of the ethereal in a soul

and once I have that flicker

my heart is the candle lit by your flame

I fall in righteous burning love

<>

but let me tell you 

that is not the case here

I dig that way you look in those jeans

the hug of denim on your calves

that brush of hairy wrist

when your each across the table

is what gets me burning

I don’t give a fig for spiritual values

for all I care you could be 

a callow insufferable arrogant prick

really

I just want to get naked with you

I want to run my tongue over you

feel you do the same to me

<>

take you 

without the weight of personality 

don’t tell me your political views

your favorite sport team is irrelevant

the last book you read 

screw that

forget all pretences 

of being intellectual thinking creatures

and be the animals 

we are ashamed to be

<>

I don’t even have to see you again

I won’t give you a phone number

don’t want yours

I just want you

head to toe

mouth to mouth 

<>

wipe that shocked look 

off your face

it only comes from 

all those years of inculcation 

that to act like barn yard animals

is somehow less that honourable

that to give in even once

to the rutting gut busting urge

is demeaning  isn’t right

who wants to be right

when it feel so right

<>

come on

I’m ready to drop my pretences

as fast as you can drop your pants

look I’m being honest with you

I know how rare that may be

when we have to commodify desire

to mask lust as art or apologize for it 

but I’m not into apologies

unless its to say I’ll be sorry

if we let this chance go by

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Distant Music Coda

It has been fascinating to go back into my past by reading & writing about this chapbook. Memories of writing the pieces have been fragmentary, to say the least. Motivation, inspiration & locations are more nostalgic than revealing. 

Many old the first drafts were written by hand run little note books, many on my clunky typewriter in my basement room in the family home – that room is still there though I think it’s had new floor & walls since I left. The walls were covered with my paintings, shelves of books, lps, my stereo system & my little desk.

Some in my first apartment in Sydney. I shared a workroom with my roommate. He made pottery & I made poetry. I remember renting an electric typewriter to do the final drafts of Distant Music. That  second-story apartment had a huge front balcony where I would sit & write in notebooks & drink. This was the first time I had a room for sleeping & one for writing.

Some of the poems are solid, some reflect the pop music of the time, the striving to be deep, poetic rather than … I’m not sure what ‘than’ … I wanted to impress as much as I wanted to express something about myself. I was in the process of coming out, letting go of the pretence that I was bi so the sexuality that appears in the work is very suppressed.

The sequence of the pieces was mine & the flow, in general is pretty good. Today I would probably have not started with the Dance but with something less abstract such as Woodsman – which would invite readers to search for the chainsaw wielder. 

a piece that didn’t make it into the chapbook

Having Lost

having lost that moment

when we stood side by side

I wander down some well-worn path

looking neither way

without stumbling over unseen stones

I wonder of it’s possible that

I might have been wrong

if I should have given in this time

& said what you wanted to hear

I wonder off it’s possible that

I might have been wrong

having lost that moment

I wonder if I was wrong

<>

having lost that letter

she sent me the next day

I wonder where she is

perhaps I’ll see her tomorrow

perhaps she’s hiding in yesterday

maybe she too thinks she was wrong

maybe she’ll soon come along 

then again yesterday 

may hold her too well

I could never her again

not know where to look

having lost the letter

she sent the next day

<>

old men wearing

white hats pass me by 

nodding & asking why

I sit so young 

yet am so alone

<>

having lost all sense of time 

I find that question still unanswered

was I wrong? was i right?

either way i lost that fight

now I stand & watch her pass by

a memory of my yesterday

me a memory of her yesterday

our lives going on, apart

complete but not the same

having lost that moment

I wonder who was wrong

August 69

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 

I Did It

I Did It

because 

I wasn’t a star pupil 

I lost to a cheater

I was mocked for being fat

I wasn’t good enough

I saw what I shouldn’t

I was put in a closet under the stairs

I was always picked last

I was misunderstood

I was shamed

I was bored

I was the wrong colour

I wanted to see if I could get away with it

they were vulnerable

they deserved it

it was their fault

they were sinful

I had to punish them

the Bible told me to

voices in my head said it was right

I had the opportunity so took it

I was forced to

I just felt like it

I was entitled 

they disagreed with me

I did it to get even

to get famous

to teach them a lesson

to make a statement

to find out what it felt like

to be President

I did it

to have something confess

so I could say

I did something

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Distant Music

Distant Music

<>

1

<>

hush … can you hear the cat music

playing on flaying pigeon wings?

it brings out the hidden claws

of the once delicate lap warmer

now leaping wildly off the thinnest edge

to the beat of singing sounds

stirring safely behind glass

<>

2

<>

wittingly filling the room

with clicky busy city sounds

a thousand tiny tappers

rapping rhythms into the air

faster faster faster still

yet never flying to pieces

as I feel like doing

while lazily scrawling

symmetrical patterns

from my random pressures

wondering if the jazz flow

sounds as smooth to others

as it does to me

<>

3

<>

sometime I cannot make the energy

to go back over the old wrinkles

to make them smooth & clean

for the defining eyes of pryers;

I end up in some big armed chair

where I sit & stare so long

that I become a pile of creaking bones

yellowing skin & longing songs

<>

beside me now are empty chairs,

in front, beyond naked window.

crawls the night city sparkling

like a cluster of earth-bound stars

the wind whistles in dance

up & down the barren streets;

someone must be out there

to turn off & on all the stars;

but I cannot move

beyond these empty chairs

<>

while the dark & sullen moon

turns the stars aside to guide me

into letting the oars slip from my craft

so I can drift at last into my lover

<>

4

<>

changed are the ways of this Welsh lad

the days of longing are upon him now

with the first hint of cornfed comfort

making the long-by-gones seem so fine

here in the middle of my toss-up time

<>

I keep getting the feeling one gets

on dark, rain-spun, cloud-thick days

while looking out great bay windows

knees resting on velvet window seat

watching the mist nest in the elms

dawdling lazy-grey over the endless fields

of early morning English country side;

we discuss cricket or the government –

“frightfully so …

“rather, shall we say, common …

hey! hey!

stop the wheels before we go out of control

I’ve never been this close to that home

till now, & I hope, maybe, somehow

the clouds will have lifted by the time

I step, spanking-new, over-night, into there

<>

5

<>

hush … can you feel the man sounds

sailing on wailing baby cries 

it tries out the reveal cause

of the never ready bed charmer

now pacing softly the thickest floors

to the hum of distant music

floating unsure from Welsh hill

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Oct73

1 – I was visiting a friend in Halifax when I wrote this first section. I went there to see him & also to buy music that didn’t exist in the Sydney record store. One of the albums was of electronic/experimental music by the likes of Pauline Oliveros – yes even then I was pretentious enough to like the real thing 🙂 The music pulsed like wings flapping. My friend’s cat jumped up to the window ledge to confront the pigeons in the balcony but there were none there.

‘the thinnest edge’ is how one can leap to the wrong conclusion & get caught trying to figure out how to get back to solid ground. I’ve always had a ‘fear’ of balconies.

2 – I always write to music. These were the days of manual typewriters, when working on a manuscript could be retyping a whole page to correct a single typo. I was an okay typist & loved the sound in my workroom of the click of keys, the tempo of the pounding. Then I could never type fast enough to capture what I was thinking. 

I think the music I was more fascinated by was Santana’s Abraxas – chasing a thousand tiny percussionists with my keyboard. I was also digging Weather Report, Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. Writing as fast I could before I flew to pieces.

3 – The old wrinkles are typos, edits, rewriting, re-sequencing the verses in a poem. I was also writing a novel at the time so energy was flowing in several directions. ‘creaking bones’ echoes ‘skin & bones’ from an earlier poem. The final verse is a direct reference to Dylan Thomas’s “In my Craft or Sullen Art.” Though at this time I had no lover to drift into.

4 – The Welsh connection continues in this section. This sense of of my heritage doesn’t appear in the chapbook until now. There is a feeling of the east coast, of Cape Breton, that is present in some of the pieces but here I am relishing, or it is wallowing, in my own roots.

After traversing Egypt, Japan, Africa & am brought back to my ‘toss-up time’ & my own origins. The workshops at UNB were acknowledgements of me as a writer – the ‘toss-up’ was the decision of what to do with my expectations of being taken seriously. Was it to dream of this romantic ‘velvet window seat’ success or something more realistic?

5 – a reprise, with variations, of the first part of this poem. ‘cat music’ becomes ‘ man sounds.’ ‘bed charmer’ echoes ‘bed-ridden’ from The Last Waltz  to give the whole book as sense of completion. The first piece in the collection invites you to ‘set sail on my body’ – this last verse asks you to ‘hear the man sounds/ sailing off wailing baby cries.’ The book progresses from that boy to this man. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

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 

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