Archives for the month of: July, 2013

I love it when an event transports me – to a time & place I’ve never been to like when a guy or gal plucking a guitar takes to the Riverboat 1963; or, as happened this past Sunday night at Lizzie Violet’s open-stage birthday bash at the Central. This time I was whisked into my own east coast past to kitchen parties where guitars and fiddles were mixing and melding – including someone with baby rattle maracas.

eBooks in the flesh

eBooks in the flesh

The second floor at the Central had a great feeling, even with strangers accidentally wandering in as the fun spilled out into the street. We were treated to great sets by various combinations of the circle of jerks: I Hate Todd, Big Name Actors’ Hugh Wilson, Melting Pot’s Nelson Sobral & non-jerk Natasha Jolly. All kicked off by Cate McKim’s excellent tuxedoed drag king turn.

black dance e vent

black dance e.vent

Todd did a high energy three-song set that had unexpected elements of Talking Heads mixed into their uplifting songs. With a drummer using a guitar case for percussion (no drums allowed on the Central’s second floor) their sound had, as I said, a great down-east kitchen party feel. Rock violin is way under used, as far as I’m concerned.

fallen

fallen

I closed the first set with a couple of pieces. People love bitterness, even at a birthday, so I gave that to them as only I can with Mixed Messages. Then, with an assist by Nelson on guitar I tore the house down with Oogie Inferno – I had my tattoo tee on under my shirt & did a big reveal as I started. Nelson supplied hot disco riffs & by the end of the piece we had the room dancing.

on stage July 28, 2013

on stage July 28, 2013

All of this by 9:30. Sadly, for me, I made my exit after the break. Once was a time I didn’t mind staying to the end of things but these days I find my back  can only take two hours of any club seating.

my coming attractions

my coming attractions

August 8 – Thursday – attending – The Beautiful and the Damned

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August 11 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir

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August 18 – Sunday – attending – Plasticine Poetry

August 21 – Wednesday – attending – Blithe Spirit

August 22-25 – attending – FanExpo 2013

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September 18 – Wednesday – attending – Guys and Dolls

September 25 – Wednesday – attending – Measure For Measure

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October 11-13 – attending Gratitude Roundup

tombstone

June 6-8, 2014 – attending – Bloody Words

writing sample

writing sample

Oogie Inferno

if you’re thinkin’ I’m too cool to boogie

boy oh boy have I got news for you

I love the sweaty potential of the dance floor

the solid mass of men mobile   shifting

eagerly crammed    crowded by the bass line

the righteous revival fever of a contralto

everybody here tonight must boogie

let me tell ya’ I was no exception to the rule

the heat was on (burnin’), rising to the top, huh!

eyes closed   hands open

shirtless strutters in sweat soaked satin shorts

muscles    bloated bellies   no one cares

as flesh wound around  pulled by the driving

boogie oogie oogie

an endless moment of contact high

thigh to thigh contact

the heat was on, rising to the top

where the keyboard was underfoot

put your feet to the beat

peak after peak of solid state sweat

turn this beat around

no voice heard that wasn’t amplified

no time to waste, let’s get this show on the road

listen to the music and let our bodies flow

yowsa yowsa yowsa    dance dance dance

shame shame shame

we were shimmering glittering

ready to take on the future    beep beep toot toot

I love the moment of stepping into the mass

the sooner I begin the longer I’ve got to groove

listen to the music and let bodies move

make a space for myself

get approving once overs

then not care who’s lookin’

but when my spark got hot

I heard somebody say

Burn baby burnin’ the house down

gonna boogie oogie oogie

till you just can’t boogie no more

I love the blur as I am transported

out the body   out of the mind

satisfaction (uhu hu hu) in the chain reaction

released from all sense of self

except for the one caught     immersed

push push in the bush bush

lost for hours

boogie oogie oogie

taking a breather wet glistening

asked what are you on

having my answer of nothing disbelieved

as if the music and testosterone

aren’t enough for me to

burn that cocksucker down

because have I got news for you

this could be the last dance

everybody here tonight must

boogie oogie oogie

…….

My friend Peter Unwin’s new book is excellent:

 peter

Life Without Death

…..

58 WordPress.com followers and 232 Twitter followers.

58 WordPress.com followers and 232 Twitter followers.

Took myself over to Bazaar of the Bizarre’s Sunburn edition. Let me tell you, for someone who rarely takes TTC, the Saturday crowd put me in the right frame of mind – that and Sinatra on the iPod & slogging though ‘The Fountainhead’ – who knew that Rand wrote soap operas.

tattered pride

tattered pride

There weren’t as many exhibitors as the last Bazaar, so shopping temptations were greatly diminished. I did get to actually talk with a few of people as I bought things. Picked up some of Laurel Dewan’s exquisite, hand-made greeting cards – all with various gems, buttons etc added to mask-like images. Of course I bought a tee-shirt (from Bohemian Daemon), look for it at my next feature (as opposed to open stage). Also a fun Dog-Ear print & few Xmas gifts. Had a great chat with ChiZine about buying ebooks at this retail level. There has to be a way to buy eBooks without a credit card.

ready or not here I come

ready or not here I come

Didn’t find what I was really in the market for – a carry case for my Kindle – sure I can get something from Amazon but get tired of sending them my hard earned dollars. When I buy something directly from the makers it’s almost like I did the work myself :-)

no more worries

no more worries

I find that most of the fashion, accessories, jewelry etc are clearly targeted for women. Men just aren’t bazaar enough? What mens’ wear there was, other than tee’s, was bulky & sort of ugly. Where’s that line of nipple rings with fangs? Cock rings with claws? Or does male fan dollars go into cosplay at FanExpo?

my coming attractions

my coming attractions

August 8 – Thursday – attending – The Beautiful and the Damned

August 11 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir

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August 18 – Sunday – attending – Plasticine Poetry

August 21 – Wednesday – attending – Blithe Spirit

August 22-25 – attending – FanExpo 2013

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September 18 – Wednesday – attending – Guys and Dolls

September 25 – Wednesday – attending – Measure For Measure

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October 11-13 – attending Gratitude Roundup

tombstone

June 6-8, 2014 – attending – Bloody Words

writing sample

writing sample

The Compound part 2

I asked him why he needed stamps. Who did he have to write to. He replied that that wasn’t the point, he was just using that as an example of the things he and others were tired of. His eyes were hurting from the scans. Did anyone know what the long terms effects might be of that repeated scanning. Would we end up a nation of blind people waging a war that no one saw the reason for anyway.

His eyes were rimmed with red.

My only answer was to take him in arms. Kiss his eyes as gently as I could, rocking him till he fell asleep. I knew the war was necessary but didn’t know how to explain that to him. My thoughts couldn’t find the combination of words that might justify it to him. I didn’t feel it needed to be explained. Everyone knew we didn’t want this to go on, that we didn’t want hostages or the responsibility of living under such circumstances but if we didn’t we would become their hostages. That wasn’t an option I would consider. The thought of being confined in a dusty dirty compound made me cry. Tears fell from my eyes and onto my lover’s face.

This woke him.

He touched my face. We kissed long, hungry to comfort each other and plunge our bodies into a rapture of sweet forgetfulness. This was how I escaped the war, the glazed gaze of hostages, all that fell away for a brief time. We returned to the table and finished our dinner in contented peace.

There was no place in our make-shift barracks for the prisoner I had taken from the hostages. We didn’t have a medical unit as such or even a cell for solitary confinement. It was felt that if one of the hostages was that much of danger to the others they would have to deal with that themselves. Separating one of them was not in the plan.

My second-in-command was reluctant to make contact with this prisoner at all. It was the duty of the Leader to talk to the prisoners not us. She was fearful that even bending the regulations would result in losing status if it was found out. I had to take the full responsibility for this situation.

The hostage was placed in a small room once used to house school books from when this part of the compound was a girls’ collegiate institute run by the state.

I opened the door and he was sitting on the floor, back against the wall, facing the door. Eyes alert but body inert. Dirty rags clung to his thin body. He stank. I shut the door on him. I went to my barrack room and got clean clothes for him.

There had been some water delivered. Not enough for all the prisoners but enough for the garrison guard. I took one of the bottles, some soap and returned to the book room.

The hostage hadn’t moved. I helped him stand and removed his clothing. Then with a clean rag washed him as best I could. There were sores along his side, between his legs. He grimaced as I cleaned them. I allowed him to wash his private parts.

My old clothes hung on him loosely.

He spoke to me but I didn’t understand his language. Finally he said “Thank You.”

Had they been listening to us? Learning our language?. Had they known it all along? I peppered him with questions. His eyes glazed over and he fell asleep. Falling from the wall and into my arms. He smelled of my soap. In my clothes. Was I holding my future or my past?

Over the next few days I was able to have a few stumbling conversations with the hostage. He knew very few of our words. I could tell by his fear that he was not pretending to understand less than he did. Once he was sure I was not going to torture him in any way he relaxed a little. I allowed him to shave. His eyes were blue. High cheek bones that were as much a matter of lack of food as genetics that gave him a handsome face.

We would sit facing each other for several minutes before conversation could start. I would offer him a bottle of water once he had began to talk haltingly. “Thank you for … kindness … we fear …. greatly … ”

I told him I understood his fear, that I would be as fearful if the positions were reversed. I didn’t tell him I knew that this  reversed I would be dead now. There was no way his country would allow any of us to live, it was in their sacred writings that those who didn’t follow the teachings of their prophets were to be put to death.

Yet I felt compassion for him. There was something in his face that spoke to me when he was silent. A recognition of something in my own life. Could he be a cousin. Asking for his name was unproductive. He didn’t comprehend enough of our language to rely expect to say,

“Thank you for … water .. others need … help them … ”

Once he began to cry  I reached out to touch his tears and he flinched away from me, from my touch. There was shame and revulsion in his look. Was it because I was a man whose lover was a man that caused him to back away. But he didn’t know anything about me me beyond these moments. That couldn’t be the cause.

His face softened a moment as he saw my distress.

“I’m sorry. Please … do what … ” He unbuttoned his shirt, which was once mine. His pale flesh didn’t appeal to me.

In a flash I knew what it was I saw in his face. It was the face of my lover. I took out my cellphone and photographed him.

When I got home I showed the pictures to my lover. He didn’t see the resemblance. But it was there. Something in the eyes, the way they searched mine for information I couldn’t give, the way his clouded when I spoke to him of the compound and things he didn’t want to hear or understand.

The following week a peace accord was signed. The hostages didn’t believe the war was over. That our glorious leaders had sat down and come to an agreement where no one lost or won much but all were satisfied. We opened the gates of the compound so they could leave. Gave them cell phones to call their loved ones at any time.

The hostages backed away from us. Threw the cell phones in the dust. Their eyes more fearful and distrusting than when we had first confined them. They huddled in the farther corners of the compound. Hunched over and glancing at us when they thought we weren’t looking.

We brought fresh clothes and food for them and left it in their sleep quarters. We gave them information packages from their county. It told them of the convoy that would arrive to take them home.

Once again disbelief washed over their faces. Some tore the information to shreds, threw it in our faces in an act of defiance, almost challenging us to do our worst. There was no way to convince them that the worse was over.

My second-in-command thought we should force them from the compound. Even shoot one or two of them to convince them that they were free to go.

I suggested that perhaps they were free to stay if they choose. Maybe this was better than what they had to return to. That our hostage camp was an improvement on the ultra-commercialized world they had once lived it. Simplicity is a drug not to be taken lightly I joked with her.

But the faces of the hostages told us they weren’t slipping into the peace of simplicity. They still feared for their lives. They didn’t trust us even though we had done nothing to cause them to fear.

At home I tried to explain all this to my lover. He had no sympathy for anyone anymore. The war had drained him of hope. Even though we hadn’t conceded anything to our enemy he was sure the cost to the economy was more than it could bear. He didn’t believe that war was good for anyone even though we won. The streets still needed to be paved, the bomb craters had to be filled. Who was going to that he would shout. Your fucking hostages. Let’s fill our wreckage with their Goddamn bones. That would be victory.

His political anger aroused me. I couldn’t help myself . I forced him to the bed with my kisses as I tore his clothes off. He resisted but I didn’t care each resistance made me even more determined to demonstrate the power of love. The compulsion to dominate was out of my control. Once we had both been satiated I rolled away from him.

The war had been over for nearly three months. The hostages remained in the compound glaring expectantly at the cameras waiting for us to do more than we had already done. Their country had demanded their return and didn’t accept our informing them that we no longer held any hostages. Their nation was convinced we had killed them all in revenge for what their army had done to us the the past.

I couldn’t convince my prisoner  to tell his fellows to leave, or to contact his embassy to let them know the situation. He feared he would be treated as a traitor. That there was no way for him to get back into their good graces or to stay in ours.

I didn’t trust him. I feared the hostages as well. I discussed with my second-in-command my fear that they were never actually hostages but spies we were allowed to take captive so they could keep an eye on us, so that once the war was over they could infiltrate the country to create havoc and ruin amongst the various levels of government and different classes of people.

My second-in-command agreed with me. We wrote up a report of this situation, sent the appropriate files, videos, and even a live web cam feed so the hostages could be observed by the Leader.

After a week of observation the order came from the Leader to kill all the hostages. They served no purpose. Their country men thought they were dead already. Elaborate funerals had been held for them. They weren’t expected back from the dead. We didn’t have the resources to maintain them. With the order came my first floret and a special medal of honor for my outstanding service during this war.

I gave them one last chance to take the offer of freedom. I explained that if they were willing to work on rebuilding our roads, schools, hospitals they could be come citizens of our great land.

The hostages started at us dumbly, uncomprehendingly. I didn’t know how to make it any clearer to them. Yet nothing could remove the distrust and fear they had become accustomed to, that they seemed to prefer to any offer of freedom.

So I had them brought to what was once the shower room of the girls’ institute. One every half hour. I shot each of them in the back of the head, turned on the shower to wash the blood away.

It took many days to free them all this way. The final one was my hostage. The one who looked so much like my lover that I didn’t know which of them I was now sleeping.

I shot him between the eyes.

empty

…………….

My friend Peter Unwin’s new book is excellent:

peter

 Life Without Death

When I set out to upload my novel, City of Valleys, I didn’t realize it would take 70 excerpts and seven months to do the job. It certainly filled up my blogs pages and the number of ‘actual’ hits I got has steadily increased, even some new followers, and subscribers. Some get email copy of each post which only count as hits if they click through the blog (as opposed to just reading the email).

FanExpo2012

FanExpo2012

The next step will be a proof-read edit. Then I’ll contract it out for the final preparation for smashwords. I’ve read the style guide and could probably do it myself but I’m lazy. If it were as simple as uploading my present Pages version I’d do it, but it has to be formatting in some non-Mac program with all the Mac coding stripped out – too much work for me

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Plan is to get it ready for October. I’ll have to delete all the excerpt first though because Amazon price point always equals the cheapest on line – so if I have it free here they’ll automatically price it free as well.

Last Friday I got out to my first writer’s group meeting – most of whom are writers I know from Loyalist. Felt good to be with such an attentive, tough bunch of fiction writers. I’ve tried to get into a couple of groups before only be told there’s waiting list in such a way that it was  clear they didn’t think I was worth their effort – ditto for some of the poetry workshops around – by invite only apparently & no one thinks I’m worth inviting. Such is life :-)

Tim's Tanked

Tim’s Tanked

The writing sample, rough draft, is first part of the piece ‘Compound’ I submitted to the writer’s group. Part 2 Monday.

writing sample

writing sample

The Compound

The hostages were unhappy. Even I could see that but what was I to do? Overseeing captives was new to me, a promotion in fact. It had come quite unexpectedly. I’d been in the security branch of the service corps for several years. Kept my nose clean. Did my job, did what was asked without question.

I was proud of this advancement, more responsibility meant more respect, more money. The day I got notified I was Overseer, I couldn’t wait to tell my lover. He merely nodded. He never really approved of the corps, even though he found the uniform erotic. It was dark red with blue piping in the pants – blue stripes on the arms for each small advancement, then gold florets that equaled five stripes. I had five stripes but wouldn’t get my first floret till I had a sixth.

I flourished my arm with the the five stripes. Good things were bound to follow. That finally I was a son any father could be proud of.

My lover, as I said, wasn’t as pleased as I was. He said only war could follow. Did I want war, people to die, so I could get gold florets.

When we made love that night he was distant and mechanical.  I didn’t tell him he’d regret this coldness if I died in war. Guilt never leads to passion.

The hostages were sullen. Grim faced they walked the perimeter of the exercise field, scowling up at the cameras as they passed them.

My second-in-command suggested we try talking with them again. The hostages refused speak our language and acted as if they did not to understand us. Each time I had tried to talk with them had ended up with them slouching into the dark corners. Even when our linguistics experts spoke to them in their language they acted as if they didn’t understand. There was no way to reason with them.

There were nearly two hundred captives in our compound. Each bore a random number. No names were to be used.  I had a troop of twenty-four under my command plus my second-in-command. All good men and women. None of whom could communicate with the hostages. We had tried everything – mime, writing in the ground, pictographs, hieroglyphics.

Each attempt made the hostages more fearful. Blame was clear in their eyes, as if it was our fault for not trying hard enough. As if communicating with them was our job but it wasn’t nor was it our job to make them happy or comfortable.

We merely had to keep them alive till their nation met our demands.

My lover snickered at my frustrations. The fact that the war wasn’t my idea didn’t soften his attitude. Not that I cared, in fact, his indifference challenged me when we made love. I strove with a new found passion that left him limp and gasping when I was satisfied.

The hostages were restless. They paced their compound fast for a few laps, then slow, then they would stand huddled in groups of two or three in each of the corners. One of them in each group looking sullen at the cameras that followed their every move. We used sound sensors to pick up their conversations, to find out what, if anything they were plotting but I didn’t feel any threat. Well, I did sense a threat but knew that anything they tried to do would be an exercise in futility. But they never spoke, not even to each other. Even though my orders were to confine and protect them – to see that no harm came to them I wouldn’t hesitate to kill to one keep the others in line. Besides, after two weeks, they still hadn’t spoken.

We had had no word from Capital City for several days now. Communications lines were staticy and even when they worked would stop in mid-transmission. Our enemy had damaged our communications system with their bombs and their ultra high frequency jamming devices. Some days even the Internet wasn’t working.

I would go home after my day at the compound and look for some sympathy from my lover. He would snort and tell me that I shouldn’t act so dismayed, this is what life with captives is like. Both keepers and captives pay a price. My price was to be drained. I asked him why he was so bitter, told him it wasn’t my fault we were at war, that we had to do what was necessary to protect our fragile economy. After making sweet love he rolled away from me in the bed with barely hidden disdain because they hadn’t drained me of everything.

I lay in the bed beside him looking at the moonlight on the wall as it moved, dimmed and brought in the morning while I counted his breaths, my ears snuggled into his quiet sighs as he rolled unaware that I was wanting his touch once more. A touch that would make this war all worth while. What difference did it make to me if it didn’t make any difference to the ones I loved. The ones we were supposedly protecting yet who felt only a sense of discomfort when we tried to tell them what this war was like.

There had been no supplies from Capital City for over a week now. We were running short on water and food for the hostages. We had taken to rationing. I could tell they were unhappy. They stood in doleful clumps in view of the security cameras. Their eyes wide and glaring up at the lenses, through the lenses at us, pleading for something but unable to tell us what it was.

Perhaps they are thirsty my second-in-command suggested. I cursed at her that there was nothing I could do. We had barely enough water for the troops. I was taking water home to my lover to keep him happy too. The village’s water supply had been tainted in the last uprising and this war had come so fast on its heels we hadn’t had time to set it right. It wasn’t my fault. It had happened before we were stationed here. I explained this to my second-in-command who was no more understanding and sympathetic than my lover.

My second-in-command had children to worry about. Her babies, she told me. I knew this but chose to ignore it. I told her that she shouldn’t act so dismayed, that is what life of captives is like. Both keeper and captives pay a price. She toyed with the handle of her pistol and glared at the monitors as the hostages loomed at the security cameras.

Some of the hostages began to hover in front of the security cameras blocking our view of the compound. The operator was forced to swivel the cameras gently which caused the images to break up, smear across the monitors. We knew they were up to something.

I stationed guards along the perimeter of the chain-link fence to keep human eyes on them. The hostages would gather and stare. Hatred and frustration glinted from their dusty, dirty faces. This was the first time we had come face-to-face for several weeks. Even when food and water was delivered we merely put it in the eating room of their compound while they were in the open air yard.

The smell was so unpleasant when we did this that our sympathy for them was diminished. Who could  feel compassion for people who didn’t wash themselves. Even with limited water it was possible for them to keep clean.

Once again I attempted to communicate with them. I stood at the gate and called out a solemn hello. At first they paid little heed to me. Then two of them walked warily over to the gate.

With crusted eyes and dry voices they made noises at me. I explained slowly that there was a problem with the supply route, that even my own men were suffering from the same lack as they were. That I had to decide between water for them and and water for my men. It was unfair to all.

They looked at me blankly. They didn’t understand. Or they refused to understand. One of them spat at me and turned away. The other stepped closer with an apologetic shrug. He was unshaved. Unwashed. There was something familiar about his eyes.

He smiled weakly. Blood ringed his teeth. He fell to his knees with with a sob. One hand reaching out to me palm up for something. What could I give him when I didn’t understand what he wanted.

I had the gate opened and two of my men picked him up and brought him out. His eyes were rimmed with red.

The hostages shuffled quickly to the gate as it was locked shut again. Fear and dread in their eyes. I assured them that we wouldn’t hurt this man. But perhaps I was lying. I didn’t know. They wandered off.

…………..

structural.04

structural.04

Exhausted is one of the April 2013 pieces. I read it at the recent Plasticine Poetry, along with The Gate of The Kiss, and I Don’t Count. Unlike many of my poems ‘I’ is me in this one. Often ‘I’ is not me. Or to be more obscure: “Je est un autre. (I is someone else).” Arthur Rimbaud

lost in the waves

lost in the waves

It can be a hard distinction for people in an age when we assume poetry is confessional, that the opinions or experiences expressed here are those of the speaker. That need to identify content with the package is one of the reasons I don’t write about certain things that have never happened to me – i.e.: childhood sexual abuse; anorexia – big issues that I have insight into but steer away from.

lost in the clouds

lost in the clouds

Exhausted was a prompt word that opened up the first image – I rarely write about writing – that sort of meta doesn’t appeal to me – poetry about poetry is not for me. Could be one of the reasons it is so short. It has had some editing and I do like the final verse – with the admission that the face you see in the mirror my writing may hold up is not mine or yours but merely a meaning we want that face to imply; and I dig the echo of the escape tunnel from the first verse.

lost in the dunes

lost in the dunes

The three line verse was a structure imposed when the piece was finished. My first draft was a single spew of lines, sometimes not even with line breaks or spaces skipped between words – and with such seriously bad typing I had to guess what I was getting at.

my coming attractions

my coming attractions

July 27 – Saturday – attending – Bazaar of the Bizarre

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July 28 – Sunday – attending – Birthday blood-bash

how not to grow old

how not to grow old

August 8 – Thursday – attending – The Beautiful and the Damned

1012375_10153045738935725_754657345_n

August 11 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir

408524_145425715616278_394357398_n

August 21 – Wednesday – attending – Blithe Spirit

August 22-25 – attending – FanExpo 2013

logo-trans

September 18 – Wednesday – attending – Guys and Dolls

September 25 – Wednesday – attending – Measure For Measure

……

writing sample

writing sample

Exhausted

have I been writing

a grave

or an escape tunnel

I’ve held a pen so long

I don’t remember picking it up

I don’t know if I can put it down

it’s worse than a gun

because no one is safe

no memory goes undisturbed

I never know what incident

will be dug up again again again

or buried forever

no ghost is safe

no memory is reliable

no lover is sacred

the mirror reflects a metaphor

not a face

not a light at the end of anything

……..

My friend Peter Unwin’s new book is excellent:

peter

Life Without Death

pedestal for rent

pedestal for rent

Another strong, eclectic line up of fine writers at Plasticine Poetry last night. After a the initial open stagers (including myself) the first feature was Julia Zarankin. She read her short story The Chestnut Roast -an amusing, insightful tale of displacement and fitting in. Finding a slow cooking festival our heroine is lost, driving through Missouri back roads looking for a landscape that reminds her of home. Fine attention to clothing, food, & people met along the way made for rich and tender story – I loved ‘buying directly from farmers makes me feel like I’ve done manual labor.’

purple

purple

Next up was Margot Lettner who read from her project about Elizabeth Simcoe (1790’s). The pieces were excerpts from Simoce’s writing combined seamlessly with Margot’s. ‘then being a love of little things.’ She read in a slow carefully paced way giving each word attention – a nice change from readers who flood you with rapid images too fast to form even a mental image. ‘If we had tea/what would we talk about?’ Probably the royal baby.

red

red

After the break the second set was started by Lisa Young with a Ray Carver cover piece. Some new pieces with her fine sense of image ‘drink the night on a shadowy cup.’ Her poetry is very narrative, telling stories of life in everyday language then suddenly unfolds into powerful moments – ‘I listen to the rapids/ all those wants and needs gather there/ saying: Pick me! Pick me!’

pink

pink

Richard Glen Lett (aka Optimus Rhyme) closed the night with a great, energetic set that made is clear why he is a slam champion. ‘if you want to disappear without a trace: Canadian entertainment,’ telling a bill collector ‘when all the birds die who pays for it’ His piece about Tom Waits ‘Tom’s Angels’ about getting sober & still creating, name checks all of my own drunken heroes and ends ‘Tom’s angels did not leave him once his piano stopped drinking.’ A great rollicking set.

As always Cathy Petch hosted with the right cleavage, enthusiasm, sass & a helpful hint to how oral sex gets you good slam scores.

City of Valleys now removed for prepublication work.

seems like yesterday

seems like yesterday

pippi come home

pippi come home

I did the open stage at Noir Sunday without my trusty Kindle (now replaced.)  I have to confess that I took to using it without compunction. I thought, somehow, that’d I’d be missing the feel of paper, of speaking out on behalf of the higher aesthetics of the book, but frankly I don’t miss ‘the book’ at all. Having, as I do, the entire Zola to read but without the shelf space needed to contain I’m more that happy.

Using it on stage has been a blessing as well. Small, light & black it doesn’t pull focus the way white paper does. I can bump font up for easy reading & not feel like I’m depleting the rain forest.

snow mask

snow mask

Here’s one of the pieces I read at Noir. A recent one, it started with the first line kicking around in my head for a day or so. First draft was a fast ten minute dash. Early versions were more of a list poem

Lines that I cut, reluctantly, were ‘I no longer know/ how many holes it takes to fill/ a display case at Tim Ho’s.’ It’s a great line, right, but I felt it didn’t add to the flow of the piece, it was way too funny (to me) plus I wasn’t sure how many might get the Beatles reference – a reference that didn’t add to the flow of the poem either. Then there was the whole Tim Ho’s product placement thing. If Timmie’s sends me a gift card & I’ll put it back in :-)

red in white

red in white

I Don’t Count

I don’t count anymore

I used to know how many steps

there were up  down every subway

from platform to exit

then I read that counting is

a sign of deep emotional problems

the need to hold on to numbers

was the need to hold on to a fragmented mind

that the awareness of the sum

of the numerical values of the letters of a name

was a way to avoid personal interaction

so I don’t count

and when I catch myself

I turn up my iPod

do whatever it takes

I don’t retain numbers anymore

I don’t know which subway station

has the most steps to which exit

yet I still know the number of steps

from your bed to the bathroom

but

I don’t remember your phone number

I am so over you

you don’t count anymore

……

City of Valleys now removed for prepublication work.

snow shoes

snow shoes

A hot sweltering night didn’t keep Noir fans from packing the house. I kept hoping the ice-cream truck would show up during the breaks in the show. There must be an app for that :-)

they breed in the sewer

they breed in the sewer

First up was Trasharella who give an reading of Philip Cairns’ ‘Why I’m Not A Star’ to be featured at Gay Play Day this fall. An affectionate reflection on Philip’s acting experiences starting with being told, at age 11, he was too effeminate by a casting director, to getting cast as a gay duck in last years Fringe ‘quack quack, darlings.’ Comic, ironic, sometime bitter, biting & always honest he left us wanting more.

one brown shoe

one brown shoe

Music feature Marcus Walker was up next. Accompanied by Nelson Sobral & a fine sax player (whose name I didn’t get) he did a set of songs whose sensual rhythms rode the pulse of a hot summer night. The soaring sax slithered sweetly over the Marcus’s well-crafted songs of romance and taxi rides. This what adult contemporary should be.

hop along

hop along

Final feature was Greg “Ritallin” Frankson – whom I have heard a few times. He opened with ‘My Home Is Here’ his response to being asked, frequently, ‘where are you from?’ As if being black means you are from somewhere else even when one’s family is tenth generation Canadian.

In my coal mine research I found traces of a ‘lost’ history of the black community in Cape Breton – men brought up from the Caribbean in the mid-1800’s to work in the mines, families that have never moved, yet who, I’m sure, still get asked ‘where are you from?’

I ducked out in time to catch the 10 p.m. street car to Bathurst so didn’t stick it out to the hot & sticky end for a great night.

City of Valleys now removed for prepublication work.

……..

on stage Noir July 2013

on stage Noir July 2013

The Damned launched their move to Q Space with another stellar line up – Philip Cairns hosted, his bejeweled emerald outfit brought out the Irish in him for sure. A jam packed open stage ran the gamut of 15-year -olds getting on stage for the first time to tired old bald guys, like myself. It’s good to see so many new, to us, faces on the open stage.

leg less

leg less

First feature Shawna Dimitry give us a set of emotional and romantic pieces some dealing with mental health – ‘the pills are dissolving, so am I’ ‘handcuffs and stomach pumps aren’t the luxuries we wished for.’ Her powerful, direct images connected with us all. She mixed in some tender love poems – ‘you cracked my fear with a kiss.’ A strong set delivered with a sense of humor and acceptance of the issues many deal with ‘I’m sorry I didn’t live up to your expectations/ stop looking at me as if I were dead.’

a growing up green

a growing up green

It’s been a few years since I last heard second feature Phlip Arima. His set was polished and emotionally complex. Reading from ‘Breath Now’, and from his new collection ‘Pin Pricks’ – I enjoyed the multi-layer images that sometime seem random but with theme and variation new resonances are set off as images contrast, collide then add up. His narrative piece Be Quiet ‘there’s something different about the house,’ captures a child’s fear and need to understand and yet be protected from that understanding. He summed up the paradox of Facebook: ‘why do we play alone when our list of friends gets longer.’

the red pillow

the red pillow

Music feature Matt Gerber was a delight. Accompanying himself on ukulele, tin can ukulele, kazoo he channeled the fun and politics of Pete Seeger, Jim Kweskin – made the 60’s folk style fresh for this decade. His spelling song about the difference between US & Canadian spelling was hilarious ‘there is no flavour without u.’ Even if he is Mr Furious he brought us a set of bright summer-perfect music.

……

City of Valleys now removed for prepublication work.

cracked porcelain

cracked porcelain

I let myself get caught up in recent TV coverage of the ‘flood’ in Toronto & the train explosion in Lac-Megantic. I was quickly reminded why I don’t watch the news: too much blather & not enough facts – how many times did I see the same woman taken from the GO Train before I realized it was the same woman? The second time I thought – she went back into get her blackberry? After the third, within the same 90 seconds, I realized it was the same clip repeated.

pedestal for rent

pedestal for rent

I get dismayed by the lack of privacy in the face of the same inane questions: how did it make you feel? It seems the greater the catastrophe the more the news feels they have a right to get in there.

Then I remind myself that the news is an unreliable narrator attempting to give a story a sense of dramatic flow for optimum entertainment. The news is just show biz not reality, even when it purports to show us reality.

fine porcelain?

fine porcelain?

Stages of Grief a piece I wrote a few years ago after some event had swallowed the airwaves for a day or two. I can’t remember what it was, but it might have been yesterday – one of the reasons I stopped watching TV news, or even reading the papers, as it was the same news in different places. The lip-licking eagerness of reporters to get at the ‘victims’ made me sick. I can turn the news off! That’s much better.

writing sample

writing sample

Stages of Grief

I’m not sure

what dismays me the most

the rape of a child

or the rape of grief

the microphonic penetration

of anguish for our entertainment

the refusal to allow one’s grief be televised

becomes a refusal

to participate in national healing

our right to a private reflection

becomes a crime as dangerous

as the original rape itself

the interview is now

one of the stages of grief

grief is no longer a feeling

but a process

we each must be pushed through

whether we want to or not

we have to face the theme music

or be denied any sympathy

not wanting to speak out

becomes shame

that creates a backlash

oh you turned down that interview

then you really didn’t suffer

our suffering is only real

when it hits the airwaves

the private stuff

is mere self indulgent fantasy

the tears for public consumption

are the true and noble emotions

the greater the anguish

the closer the the close up

the more agony shared

the better your ratings

the closer to God

the longer the camera stays with you

the faster grief fades away

……

City of Valleys now removed for prepublication work.

message from above on sidewalk by my house

message from above on sidewalk by my house

I first heard Robert Shearman last October and when I saw that ChiZine had him back for workshop on July 7, I was eager to sign on – four hours of short-story structure with him, plus a copy of his latest collection. My only apprehension was that the ‘workshop’ would get hijacked by rabid Dr. Who-ites & turned into a fan-gazim Who-fest about who the new Doctor should be. Thankfully this was not the case.

wicker dappled

wicker dappled

His presentation was focused, funny & constructive. There was about a dozen of us there, many from the ChiZine family, it appears. Robert made it clear that he sees the short story as a satisfying form in itself – not merely a prelude or training ground for someone who really wants to write novels.

rip in the sky

rip in the sky

He spoke about structure; some about pov; about how the narrative isn’t always what the story is telling us; how trivial moments become revealing moments; often short stories are about the wrong thing at the wrong time creating the right story – which to me translated into Wrong+Wrong=Right.

We did a couple of simple writing exercises, and some of us shared what we dashed off. I made sure I did just in case Robert still falls asleep with credits of the day rolling – credits that only include those who had speaking roles.

masts reflecting

masts reflecting

The basement room of Bakka Phoenix Books was an excellent – if a bit over air-conditioned – space for the workshop. Washroom near at hand, some choice cookies too. Time well spent.

serious root canal work

serious root canal work

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