Host DM Moore’s great trivia questions brought Jane Johnston Schoolcraft to life to make us aware that there we have a rich history of Canadian poetry that pre-dates Atwood and Cohen at the November Damned.
First feature Shawn Syms presented two finely-tuned pieces. His first ‘Deep Inside Rob Ford’ suggested that if Rob Ford would ‘spread his cheeks it might help him to spread his wings.’ Political commentary & no-holes-barred satire – ‘taking it up the asshole isn’t as bad as being an asshole.’ Reminding us all the ‘change starts from within.’ He also read from a short-story of the modern family: gay father, pansexual daughter & a basement boarder with a baby fetish. Delightful.
Next up was Mark Martyre. He falls into that unnamable style that is acoustic but not pop, blues, folk or jazz. Sharp lyrics ‘away from the sound of photocopied music,’ ‘all that’s left of my heart in this song.’ Vocally he reminded me of Leon Redbone, Tom Waits & even, if your memory goes that far back, Barry McGuire. His was accompanied on a few songs by the polished guitar playing of Myke Mazzie.
Last up was Lillian Allen with a great set. She brings a great history of spoken word with her and remains as contemporary as any poet today.‘Billie’s lips give color and sound to my own,’ ‘the boy is broken on the sidewalk/ the side walk is broken.’ Her How To Become A Writer is funny, to the point and encouraging: ‘you take care of the quantity/ God takes care of the quality,’ ‘write for yourself/ edit for your reader.’
final NaNo rough draft sample for this year:
Birk hid in a shadow and his eyes adjusted to the dark. He saw Clancy stop to peer around for him. He skirted behind two houses till he was at his own. Peeking out from around the corner he gave a little whistle to let Clancy know where he was.
“Got you, my slippery one.” Clancy grabbed him from behind. “Two can duck around in the dark you know.”
Birk elbowed Clancy into letting loose his grip. He scrambled to the back of the house and out into the field behind it. He stopped by the tree where he did his thinking.
The sky was clear.
“You out here?” Clancy said quietly.
Birk gave another little whistle. Clancy made his way over to the tree.
“Nice view of things from here.” He sipped from his flask.
“Yeah.” Birk took the flask and took the last swallow it. “There’s that empty.”
They leaned against each other shoulder to shoulder.
“We should go fishin’ again soon.” Clancy slurred. He grabbed Birk in another headlock.
Birk grabbed Clancy around the waist to break free and they fell to the ground. Even when Birk broke free of the headlock neither was willing to let go their hold. They rolled in the grass attempting to get the other to submit.
“Say uncle.” Birk grunted as his pinned Clancy beneath him.
“Not until you do.” Clancy heaved and pushed till he was on top once again.
“You may not want to,” Birk wrapped his leg around Clancy and held him between them. “But it sure feels like your little fella is ready to give up the battle.”
“Yours too.” Clancy muttered.
“Not as much as yours by the feel of things.” Birk stopped squeezing with his legs.
He sagged limply on top of Clancy enjoying the closeness, the feel of their hardness trapped in their pants.
“Quick.” Clancy pushed him off, kicked off his shoes and yanked off his trousers. “Don’t want to muss these up anymore than need be!”
Birk did the same, tossing his overalls and shoes in opposite directions. “Ma’s got enough washing up to do with me adding these to the pile.”
Flesh to flesh. Face to face. Clancy spit on his hand and slicked their members as he pulled Birk to press on him.
In a few moments it was over.
They rolled away from each. Clancy’s hand rested on Birk’s hip.
“What do you think of?” Birk asked
“Yeah. When we were … rubbing?”
“Can’t say as I think of anything ‘cept what we’re doing. How good it feels and that I want it to last longer.”
“The … spark at the end you mean? I try to hold off but I just can’t.”
“Not just that but all of it. The wrestling, the holding, the …. the closeness of us. Even when you needs a good wash up I don’t mind.”
“You saying I stink?”
“When was the last time you were in the tubs at Mrs. Baxter’s?”
“Last time we was there.” Birk stared up at the stars. It was as if he could count them individually.
He dozed off till Clancy’s snores woke him. His back ached from where he had fallen asleep in the grass. It was still night. He wiped himself as clean as he could with a handful of grass and put his clothes back on while he watched Clancy sleep on the ground. Clancy’s shirt was open and his nearly naked body seemed to glow in the darkness.
“Clancy?” He whispered then repeated louder. “Clancy.” He gently toed him in the soft of his belly. “Clancy.”
Clancy woke with a start. “Wha!”
“It’s Birk, you drunken fool. Get yer pants on afore it rains and washes your little fella away.”
“You taking advantage of me in my sleep.” Clancy joked as he reached for his clothes.
“No more ‘an you do when I’m awake.”
“Were are m’boots?” Clancy pulled on his pants.
“I think I heard one of them hit the tree over there. Don’t know where t’other one ended up though.”
“You’r ma mind if I kip over tonight.” Clancy put on the shoe he had and hopped over to find the other one by the tree.
“Nah. She’ll be happy to see yer smiling face in the morning.”
The next day Birk and his father went to the poll to cast their ballot.
“You comin’ Ma?” Birk asked his mother.
“No. It’s not fittin’ a woman should cast her vote.”
“But it’s allowed. Mrs McD.” Clancy said.
“What’s allowed and what fitting are two different things Clancy Sinclair. I was not one of those who wants women to be able to do everything and anything a man can do. Politics is no place for a woman. No place.”
“Can’t say as I blame you.” Clancy said. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be a fitting place for men either.”
Outside the polling station miners were gathered, smoking and talking about who they were going to vote for.
“Even if I wasn’t going to vote for O’Dowell I sure wouldn’t say so in front of these guys,” Birk said to Clancy.
“You can read which one he is on the ballot?” Clancy joked. “Oh right, his soon-to-be missus must have taught you to read that much.”
Birk and Mac went in and came out ten minutes later.
“Pretty simple Clancy. There I was thinking I’d have to write me name down somewhere at least or even O’Dowell’s but all I had to do was mark an X and out it in the box.”
“Just hope that X makes a difference.” His dad said. “Sometimes out with the old doesn’t mean much if the new broom can’t sweep what the old broom couldn’t sweep.”
The next afternoon word was out that it had been a clean sweep of the old government. Birk hoped the new broom would do some good.
Four days later the new premiere was there, in their riding, facing off with Coal Co.