Archives for the month of: April, 2013

Rumor has it that Nik Beat is a vampire. Easy to believe, as in the decade or so that I’ve know him he hasn’t aged visibly, and he talks about Poe as if he had just left Edgar having a few at Grossman’s. He turned the reins over to guest host, Jennifer Hosein, who did a great job with the April live HOWL show. Her job made easier by a dynamic line-up.

side yard Inukshuk

side yard Inukshuk

First feature Stedmond Pardy performed pieces from his chapbook ‘Drugs’ (I bought a copy, first time I’ve bought Drugs outside of a pharmacy in decades). His pieces are long cascades of pop, religious, and class images that convey the harried lives we live in with tenderness and frustration. ‘there is no chosen race in nature’ ‘the air reeked of a dolphin stampede.’ Moving and literate work that held us wanting more.

Windsor harbour Inukshuk

Windsor harbour Inukshuk

Next up was Nik Beat himself. He read pieces from ‘Amazing Secret Dreams.’ These are emotional, well-crafted crafty pieces that take you where you least expect with sonic puns and association: The World Is A Page starts ‘we are the pliers that twist and shape it.’ In Hurt Co-Pain he tells us ‘I mistook this mirror for me/ I mistook that girl for love.’ Strong stuff.

front yard Inukshuk

front yard Inukshuk

After the break was Laura L’Rock. I co-featured with Laura L’Rock last October and was eager to hear her again. With Nik on guitar she did a set that was barely contained by the Q Space stage, some of the songs are arena rockers scaled down to intimate size. She has a strong, direct voice that is emotionally sincere without resorting to big moment notes. Her lyrics are sharp, sweet and true ‘why lie when the truth is so much easier,’ ‘attract what you wanna be, not what you are.’

Final feature was the equally ageless Norman Allan, who put his sketch pad down long enough to treat us to his thoughtful writing. ‘Just because you think it so/ don’t make it true.’ He ended his set with Nik once again on guitar ‘you don’t bow down to love/ you just open your heart.’ Norman organizes the Renaissance Revival poetry workshop at Q Space on the 2nd Monday of the month.

o superman

o superman

So far, of my poetry posts this month ‘Overcome’ has gotten the most FB ‘likes.’ It has been quite unpredictable what posts will get response but I guess this one hit a chord with lots of people. It still needs a bit more work but I’m too lazy right now to do it :-)

The photo is one I took my first year at Rosemary Aubert’s Loyalist workshop – I thought the broken slab was such a fitting symbol of how a workshop can push you past your lazy self. If you’ve never taken the Loyalist workshop I’d highly recommend it. Great price and a great leader/teacher in Rosemary. I’ve already registered for this year’s Fiction Writer’s How To.

broken barricades at Loyalist

broken barricades at Loyalist

Overcome

my greatest enemy is my lazy self

it once made me easy to discourage

let me claim that barricades held me back

when in fact

I was happy to be held back

happy to have something to blame

doing nothing was easier than striving

of having to maintain

any level of productivity   of quality

it took more persistence

to overcome my lazy self

than it did to develop the skills I have

turned out my fear of success

was a fear of putting in the effort

regardless of how it turned out

a corner was turned when I saw

opportunity as the pay off

not some transitory recognition

fall of the empire

fall of the empire

My personal favorite, so far, has to be ‘Nature – A Rant’ mainly for the sultry, surreal, slutty image that starts it: ‘dark as a wet question mark/ and hung like a hunch that paid off’ – I wrote this one at the new Starbucks at Queen W/Ossington  while having a morning snack before showing up at 1001 for one of the many brain rental studies I do.

Starbucks have been expanding like crazy – there are at least 4 now within a 10 min of 1001 Queen W. They also seem to be popping up near high-schools – Gerrard & Jones; Plains & Coxwell – hook ’em while they’re young. Even in Target.

honk if you love BJesus

honk if you love BJesus

Nature – A Rant

he was as dark as a wet question mark

and hung like a hunch that paid off

we let nature takes it course

some still say it’s unnatural

as if the car is natural

after all

Jesus pretty much walked everywhere

sure the scriptures say

he drove the money lenders from the temple

but by no stretch of convenient translation

or imaginative interpretation

can anyone claim he drove them

in a Lexus or a

’62 Dodge pick-up

and speaking of unnatural

that hair color sure ain’t found in nature

nor is that toilet paper

you’re so fond of

so the next time

my being unnatural

gives you sleepless nights

be comforted knowing

that I don’t drive a car

and oh yes

before I play that hunch

I don’t give a shit

jumpin' jive

jumpin’ jive

crows over cornfield

crows over cornfield

A friend of mine recently discovered Google street view & has been ‘visiting’ various houses, apartments, streets, schools she went to in the past. Some of which has triggered unhappy memories, some happy recollections. Soon there will be GooglePast, or an iPast app, where you can gaze into those old days – there must be a sci-fi story about this already – where one can see a brief glimpse of that first kiss, that first queer bashing.

the red guitar

the red guitar

A couple of recent Go Viral prompts sent me into my past. I went into my personal archives & unearthed several ‘paintings’ I did in the early 70’s. It’s been some years since I looked at them at all. I took pictures of them & have posted a couple as pics to go with my daily poem. A couple I couldn’t bring myself to to even photograph though – troubled memories with real razor blades incorporated. At least I was expressing my pain somehow – using the blades on the paper and not myself.

nice hat

nice hat

Critics (put those crayons down)

you call that colouring

if you can’t stay in the lines

why bother

why waste money on colouring books

you’ll never be an artist

till you can colour within the lines

you’ll never be a great writer

with handwriting like that

you have to write between the lines

not over them

not in slanting dribbles across the page

you’ll never be a writer

till you learn how to spell

you don’t smoke up

were never sexually abused as a child

don’t have a chemical imbalance of some sort

then you don’t have enough suffering

to be worth listening to

you’ll never be genius

you’re just too well-balanced

to be authentically creative

your too old too fat too queer

put those crayons down

it’s too late for you

no

my coming attractions

my coming attractions

April 28 – Sunday – attending – Howl @ Q Space

May 9 – Thursday – attending – The Beautiful and The Damned

May 12 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir

June 24-28 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Fiction Writer’s How To

writing sample

writing sample

City of Valleys will return Monday – we’re into the final stretch. till then here’s another of the April poems:

Pride

I did this

it was not what I set out to do

it got out of hand

took on a life of its own

made my life hell for a while

wishing I had better control

that my technique was more precise

needing it to get back on track

be what I dreamed it could be

I couldn’t get a handle on it

but I saw it though

even though I was disappointed in myself

and now

people tell me

it may be best thing I’ve ever done

how did I do it

I don’t explain

I accept the praise

they think my lack of boasting pride

is some sort of humility

but my silence is because

I don’t understand

how it came to be

yet I’m certainly glad it came to be

though me

tea time submarine

tea time submarine

My great night at Plasticine Poetry started with Pauper’s excellent beef stew. The open stage list filled before Cathy Petch got her coat unzipped. Those that didn’t brave the eager swarm and didn’t get on the list were more than miffed that they didn’t hear the ‘bitch’ announce ‘time to sign up.’ I made sure I was on the list, in the first set of open stagers & read four short April poems.

call the Ikea hotline, now

call the Ikea hotline, now

The show was mostly of poets I have heard more than once before & all of whom I was eager to hear again. First feature was Greg “Ritallin” Frankson. He performed at the Damned in March and it was good to hear some of those pieces again. I admire his steadfast social commentary. He is invested in poetry that can change – in some countries he’d be jailed, here his punishment is the struggle to make a living as a writer. ‘Untouchable’ his poetic declaration of independence addresses being black & defying the demand that he only write about the black experience & being accused of being a ‘traitor’ when he opts not to do so – something, as gay poet, I understand – if I don’t address my ‘issues’ my authenticity is questioned, when I do, I am accused of always writing about queer – you can’t win.

your room will be ready shortly

your room will be ready shortly

Dominique Russell – the second feature, was the one poet whom I’ve never heard. She read a series of sonnets that played with repeated motifs of snow, cold, nails, half-moons – in sharp domestic images ‘days crumpling like piles of laundry,’ ‘the freshly laundered day in a cage of snow.’ Clear snapshot moments that became a mural as opposed to a single linear story.

some assembly required

some assembly required

After the break Mike Lipsius – always dapper in a smart fedora – gave us a solid set of new work. Some with his wry images – Mississauga: ‘if you were welcome here there’d be a sidewalk’; lost off road in the county where, ‘it’s possible I’ll never see pavement again.’ His last pieces were more emotionally  intimate & I sometimes wonder if people who start relationships with poets are only interested what the poet will write when they break up.

Final feature Beatriz Hausner read from her amazing new collection ‘Enter The Raccoon.’ I heard several of these when they were in manuscript and was happy to finally have them in book form. Beatriz is a fabulist – she moves between factual into myth without losing the emotional reality of human relationships, even when one of the partners is a human sized raccoon. In one brief section she talks about bondage gear: ‘the banality of all that leather and metal’ then slipping on an outfit that will turn her into a praying mantis. Buy this book.

 

my coming attractions

my coming attractions

April 28 – Sunday – attending – Howl @ Q Space

May 9 – Thursday – attending – The Beautiful and The Damned

May 12 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir

June 24-28 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Fiction Writer’s How To

 

writing sample

writing sample

another little breather from City of Valleys – another short piece – this is in very rough shape but sharing a rough draft doesn’t count as publication when I choose to submit.

 

Condo

 

I followed the relator through the condo, half-listening as he listed the various selling point, all of which I already knew. The lay out was the same as the showroom suite. Without the soulless, stylish furniture it felt bigger, cleaner. It had been that artsy, we’re-not-generic-furniture furniture in the display suite that nearly put me off. If this was the type of person they were selling to then I was certainly not that type of person.

But he spotted me in the showroom suite looking. He must have mistook my look of chagrin for interest when he approached me. To be honest I was more interested in him than the condo. I was in the market though and saw not reason not to enjoy his verbal skills for an hour or so.

 

*

 

“As much as possible we have used, or rather, reused building materials from the structures that were torn down to make room for this structure.”
“Reused?”

“Yes, the builder were very deliberate in the demolition of the former apartment blocks and houses that were here. They more dismantled than demolished. Even the concert has been pulverized and reconstituted to make the kitchen counter tops, tiles in the bathroom. The hardwood flooring was as much as possible reused.’

“What was here originally?”

“That I don’t know.”

I was happy to get him off his pre-programmed info dump about the condo. I knew that re-cycled didn’t mean cheaper.

“I do. This is the third rebuilding of this area. Before what was torn down this time they had to raze some of the original settlement of the city. A couple of churches, hospitals, even a cemetery.”

“Wow!”

“I just hope they haven’t been reusing what was reused, as it were.”

 

*

 

We were just entering the kitchen when a loud slamming startling both of us.

“What the … ’

He dashed back to the living room and I followed. The coffee table, in the middle of what was an empty room, was split down the middle by a jagged crack. One the legs was twisted out from under it as well. It looked like one of the ones in the demo suite.

“Is there anyone there.” He called out. “I’m callings security.” He took out his cellphone and punched in the number. “Jake there’s something going on in the finished suite on the third floor. Get some one up … ”

He was drowned up by a slamming of doors from the kitchen.

 

*

 

The temperature in the living went up. Quickly. Ken was sweating. The air began to smell of earth, of wet leaves.

The relator pushed Ken toward the door “Come on let’s get out of here.” He shouted over the sound of the slamming doors.

The apartment door wouldn’t open. The handle abruptly came off in the relator’s hand. He fell off balance tumbling into Ken. They both lost their footing and were on the floor. Ken on the bottom. The floor seemed to ripple underneath him.

Ken tried to push the relator off him while at the same time the relator tried to get himself up.

Their heads rubbing together.

“What the fuck.” The relator said.

It felt as if something was holding them together.

The slamming stopped.

 

*

 

Ken strained harder to push the relator off of him but couldn’t.

“You okay.” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“Try pushing off me.”

The relator put his arms on either side of Ken as if doing push up and strained. He torso barely moved.

“I can’t.” He stopped. “It’s like an air current is pushing down. Holding me on you. Try of squirm out from under me while I hold myself up.” He braced himself and pushed up from the floor as best could.

Ken tried to shimmy. The floor slid under him slightly but he couldn’t move in either direction. “I can’t get any traction.”

He reached arms out as far as he could on either side and tried to spread his legs at the same time. The relator pushed up at the same time but there was no breaking lose of the force that was holding them.

“I’m not too heavy?” The realtor asked.

“No! I can feel you on me but you’re not pressing on me. It’s as if you have no weight.”

 

*

 

‘Can you move at all.” The realtor asked.

Ken wriggled his shoulders, hips like snake. The carpeted under him seemed frictionless.

“No. All I can feel is me rubbing against you.”

“Maybe if both moved in the same direction at the same time.’ he suggested.

“And go where?”

“Toward the door if we can.”

Using my fingers like claws I tried to drag myself, inch myself along the floor, while trying to get a grip on the carpet with my heels to do the same thing. The realtor on top of me was attempting to push with his hands.

We made no headway.

“Fuck. I can bench press my body weight.” he was exasperated. “But I can’t budge us.”

The door to the suite opened.

 

*

 

“This is one of the fished suites.” A female voice said. “We’ve kept this one unfurnished so you can image what you can do with it.”

“That Linda.” he said. “Over here Linda. Over here.” He was shouting in my ear.

“I loved that couch in the showroom suite downstairs.” Another female voice said.

“Yes,” chuckled Linda. “We wish we were getting a commission for selling those couches.”

“Over here.” the two of us shouted.

“First we’ll look at the kitchen.” their footsteps went down the hall away from us.

“Didn’t she hear us?” he said.

Then the banging of the kitchen cupboards began.

 

San Francisco joy

San Francisco joy

Cool Jerk of Joy 1: I put a little pot with a parsley plant in it on my kitchen window sill in the fall in hopes it would last the winter. It got browner & browner & I guess it didn’t make it – but a few morning glory seeds must have fallen into the soil & the vines began to grow – sort of pale green but they grew. Then quite unexpectedly it bloomed. The will to live can be astonishing.

April morning glory joy

April morning glory joy

Cool Jerk of Joy 2: One of the cool things for me about WordPress is the stats page – I never get enough hits to satisfy me but when I check the geography of hits I find that in the past 30 days my page has been looked at by people in Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Pakistan. Sri Lanka, India, Japan, Thailand, Republic of Korea, France, Germany, Turkey, Mexico & Australia! Now that’s encouraging.

One of the WP pages I was subscribed to closed – the blogger didn’t feel she was getting enough attention, so why bother. I know how she feels. When I check someone else’s page I usually hit the like button, often make a comment, just so that they’ll know someone, anyone, was there. For the ones I get email notice of, I always click through to the actual page so they at least get another hit.

San Francisco joy

San Francisco joy

The Cool Jerk of Joy

the baristas were doing the Latin boogaloo

steamed milk foam spraying the air

they didn’t care

any more than the

bulk barn clerks doing the Harlem shuffle

tossing cans of cat food

to the subway collector

doing the moonwalk in his booth

roger’s cable guys

tearing off a quick gavotte

around break-dancing skate boarders

jitter bugging news reporters

covering the story

of dirty dirty sliding short-order cooks

cha-cha-ing construction workers

dental hygienists doing the hula

bumping into Viennese waltzing roofers

poets a-pogo

obstetricians lost in a tango

and me entangled in the cool jerk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfFQQ01KbFk

getting the L out of Loyalist

getting the L out of Loyalist

orange you glad

orange you glad

Thanks for the great response to my daily poetry month FB posts. It’s always encouraging to know someone is reading them :-). The one I’m posting here today was partly inspired by a DisInfo podcast (#3) that, in part, talked about the difference been magick and mystic.

bouquet in vase

bouquet in vase

I’ve been listening to the same writing podcasts for sometime now – Writing Excuses, I Should Be Writing, Pendragon Variety, Poetry Lectures, & Poetry Off the Shelf. I was alerted to DisInfo when Connor Habib blogged that he being interviewed. I listened his interview (amazing), tried another & was hooked.

bouquet in snow

bouquet in snow

Hearing consistently about aspects of writing is fine but it was time to something outside the industry, as it were.

calm

calm

Calm

I was taught

that knowledge equalled power

that once I knew enough

I could make the universe

give me what I wanted

with the right university degree

the right name of the right saint

would be the perfect magick

what I found was a room full of books

a head full of data   trivia

all vying to get

magick asks

can never feel satisfied

so I let the universe undo

what I was taught

I stepped from magick

with that illusion trick of asking

to a mystic of giving

I slid from hard edged disappointment

to corn-ball greeting-card

life on a calm shell

a shelf on gently undulating silk

graduating to a simple self

slack and supple

secure in white mist

mist that is all give

cozy bed at Loyalist

cozy bed at Loyalist

Lord of the Dolls

Lord of the Dolls

Lizzie Violet hosted another Cabaret Noir packed house. Q Space has done a bit of spring renovating – shifting the books shelves into the back space which makes for a warmer sound for the performers and gives the shows more of salon feeling.

green bin

green bin

After some excellent open stagers (including me) first feature Brandon Pitts, did a dynamic set. He has a great physical sense of the stage – stepping on & off it, crouching, standing tall, reaching out – all fitted carefully but naturally into the flow of his words. His writing is verbally rich with religious and pop images that rush to give momentary pictures and scenes ‘the veil that touched your hand as you reached for the cross,’ ‘a number tattooed on his chest as an ISP,’ ‘the customized Bible delivered with a rifle.’

under visor ment

under visor ment

After a break we were treated to Canadian rock troubadour Nelson Sobral. His songs had a sweetly retro feel to them – dashes of Poco, Emitt Rhodes, even a dash of Led Zeppelin – a lot of bases for a solo performer to cover. He has a smooth, solid voice that hit the right emotional notes in his compelling songs. His guitar playing is masterful – very rhythmic, never show-offy & alway enhanced his song, rather than merely strummed behind them or over-whelmed them. Plus he was a delight for my eye.

hydrant hair is a curse

hydrant hair is a curse

Final feature was Bella Fox. A sassy, saucy burlesque performer who did a captivating turn – zipping & unzipping to Gypsy violin music then teasing and tormenting with fine fan dance work. Even a die hard homo like me would have enjoyed more than one number by her.

spring springing March 25, 2013

spring springing March 25, 2013

April brought The Damned a shower, – no a deluge, of dynamic features and open stagers. Hosting gave me the opportunity to read some of Thom Gunn’s emotionally rich poetry and spread the word about this under-appreciated gay poet.

cappy unhappy

cappy unhappy

Open stagers Marcia Rogers, then Philip Cairns kicked the show off with superb similar & diametrically opposed pieces: Marcia’s about female-to-male person who is proud to be them self, as opposed to being proud about being a trans or any other label. Philip’s homage to Annette Funicello was funny and emotional.

First feature SK Dyment read from Steel Animals – a rollicking, twisty plotted, funny & frequently poetic novel. An ‘On The Road’ meets ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ the plot defies summary with ATM hoisting masterminds, motorcycle maniacs & vivid lesbian, gay, straight & in between characters.  Even suffering a bad cold SK cuts a dapper figure.

I missed the miracle

I missed the miracle

The second was opened by DM Moore who read some pieces-  sort of in memory of the recently deceased Iron Lady – written while she was living in London under Thatcher’s rule. Second feature Clara Blackwood brought a well focused and confident set of pieces from her upcoming book Forecasts – the first piece was about unpredictable weather – which suited the day. Her travel pieces were evocative of Scotland and Ireland. Waiting at graveyard that was ‘thinner at three a.m.’ – or ‘traffic slows like a merry-go-round.’ Her direct, tender work made us reluctant to ‘wake up on the other side of desire.’

like a bow unto my feet

like a bow unto my feet

Final feature Natasha Jolly - aka Supertash, performed a set of relatable songs. She has a warm full voice, reminding me of a Deborah Harry. Her music is radio & TV theme ready. She was ‘not just for our relief’ but her engaging audience interaction was sweet relief from the cold outside. Her sense of humour kept her songs tender without being maudlin.

brokeback snow bank

brokeback snow bank

composition in blue and brown

composition in blue and brown

Despite distractions – brain rental Friday & Monday – I’ve been enjoying the April poem-a-day challenge. Sometimes I’ve written something before I get the ‘prompt.’ I allow the prompt to act as another layer of image. Then I look in my albums for a photo. I don’t have many food pics but the Alcatraz photo was perfect and added yet another layer to the piece when it ‘suggested’ I drop in ‘prison’ – which yanks the poem into a whole new direction.

speakers of the house

speakers of the house

I’ve been getting use out of notebooks & actually writing in public, at cafes, where I can be seen writing – by hand! “That man has his pen out mommy.” I suppose that using pen & paper may make me look homeless, or too poor to own a laptop – truth is the electronic burdens I carry now are more than enough – phone, iPod, Kindle – sure I could combine them all into one handy device, but if my iPod battery runs out I can still read my Kindle.

another of the daily poems for Poetry Month:

Breakfast at Alcatraz

Breakfast at Alcatraz

Taste

I know I’m on the right track

with that taste on the tip of your tongue

a delicate hint of fear and insolence

a simmer of

you can catch me like a cold

with bottom notes of

vanilla

up all night sweat

& slow pizza digestion

top notes of

ginger almond prison pubes

a dash of freshly washed

licorice-black Egyptian-cotton undies

you serve me so well

now prepare to pay the price

view from my windowLoyalist 2012

view from my window
Loyalist 2012

the patio is very open

the patio is very open

Started my Christmas shopping early by getting over to the Bazaar of the Bizarre Saturday at 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture etc. First off this is a great location, for me, so much easier to get to than the Convention Centre or the Gladstone.

the castle has fallen

the castle has fallen

I got there around noon with my buddy Kyle – he loves to take pictures more than I do, so I let him click away. Noon is a great time to arrive – before things get too busy. It was a great warm up for FanExpo at the end of August.

There was fun range of mainly handmade things: tee-shirts, jewelry, note books with old lps for covers, soaps, teas & more. All with a somewhat darker skew – instead of chocolate bunnies we got chocolate skulls. Instead of clown or cat face painting there was day of the dead skull face painting.

leave your shoes t the door

leave your shoes at the door

DJ music wasn’t over powering. The retailers, & crowd, was a mix of hippies & hipsters with a bit of cosplay thrown in. Some serious fashion was offered & even ChiZine had books for sale.

a game of shoes

a game of shoes

I made a few purchases – a super tee (what else) from Cachimbo, I got myself the yellow on red sun god,  & some fun things from BitchCraft & Pixiefashions. I’ll be back for the fall Bazaar & maybe line up the day of the dead face painter for the Damned’s October show.

Lunched at Hey Lucy! after but not impressed.

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