Archives for category: I get paid for this

Started the month with my annual CAHM brain rental for a study I’ve been in for 6 years now. I’m a healthy control subject in a couple of studies looking at memory, decision making & dexterity and aging.The study is spread over three days, first day was March 24, then April 1 & 2 to finish. It’s conducted, for the most part, at the CAHM Queen W. location. The first, unofficial, task is actually getting there in the morning. I’m a morning person but rarely a morning transit person. I’m so grateful for my iPod, Kindle & cell phone. Plus 1001 Queen W is the middle of a Starbucks vortex – five to ten minute walk in any direction for a Pikes.

doll dolly in the gutter

The study ‘tasks’ include pattern recognition, mazes, reciting back lists of numbers, plus tedious & sometime hypnotic computer works (guess where the red square is etc). I do pretty well on most of them but hate one that calls for me count backward by 7s starting at 119 or sorting into correct sequence a mix of numbers and letters.

For Tuesday I had to fast overnight, collect my urine in a massive container & transport that to Queen W – then blood work (so many tubes, they needed to use veins in both arms), eeg, ecg, then more pen & paper ‘tasks.’ Highlight of that day was the ecg technician remembering me from another study a few years ago in which the reading he got from my brain was so good he uses when teaching. I did not ask for royalties.

red festive body bag

Wednesday was more of the same, various on a theme as it were, in the morning. Then an MRI in the afternoon. Laying still for sometimes up two hour while that happens is draining – my shoulders & chest get so sore. Being inside the MRI machine is like being trapped under the stage at bad techno performance, whirrs, buzzes, clicks, knocks and shakes and the MRI scanners moves for back & forth to up & down. Think of being trapped in a laser pistol beep contest for up to two hours. This session was over an hour.

goggles google goggles

The research staff are friendly & eager to talk about the actual research without, of course, giving away the ‘secret’ behind some of the testing.

I wrote Bradbury at lunch on Wednesday. I escaped the vortex and hit The Swan a little from Shaw on queen. I’ve eaten in past years as a treat – excellent burger.


April 21, Monday – featuring – Lizzie Violet’s Poetry Open Mic at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club – 7:30 – doors and open mic sign up, 8:00 – start – 54 The Esplanade, Toronto

amflyerjpg copy

April 27, Sunday – attending – Julie Czerndea Workshop

judy Julie Czerndea

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words


June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville, Ont

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


This sprung from a poetry month prompt on Make Spoken Word Go Viral on Facebook




he held

the palm of my hand open

traced a line

with his untattooed index finger

his touch light


my fingers began to curl

as did my toes

the hair stood up on the back of neck

as if he had caressed me there


he pushed my fingers back

looked me in the eye

you have a wet life line

wet is good

you live in a world of rain

puedes verlo

he slipped into his native tongue

can you see it


his eyes held mine

they were the shadow brown

of a seaside sunset

he leaned closer

his lips brushing mine

he smelled of

a freshly sanded maple toy box

and New year’s Day

I like this wetness I witness

quieres saber más

do you want to know more


he leaned back

raised the palm of my hand

to his mouth  his lips

he bit the flesh below my thumb

then looked to me

what do you see


      I see rain

     I walk naked in its warmth

    the ground is rough

    the grass is green


yes yes he said

I want to be in you

in your wet

he folded my hand

and let rest on the table

you like your future

Le gusta su futuro


    seems to me

    you read your own future

    in the palm of my hand


he smiled wide

then showered me

with his happy laughter

doll01 another fallen dolly


Michael Fraser puts together great line-ups for Plasticine Poetry and once again there was wild variety. Even the open stagers ranged from first-timers, covers of Victor Hugo, Lou Reed and fresh funny dating advice. Hosted by David Bateman, the audience loved his wry ‘romantic’ and ‘warm’ family comments.

books03old snow face

First up was Dominique Russell – who opened her set with an ee cummings cover, followed that with a series of short, numbered pieces inspired by Sylvia Plath. Her pieces were full of strong images: ‘my landscape in a hand,’ ‘there’s no getting up to it with the words we know.’ Emotional without being overwrought the audience was drawn into her Toronto.

books01ya can’t give’m away

Next up was me – as usual my set was changed even as I read, pieces & lines cut for clairity. The full house responded the identity pieces, drinks were spit through noses as a few points as well – Born to Blown is this year’s signature piece. During the break I was told the set was dynamic and one never knew what would come next. I hope it was dynamic enough to get me a feature in April – I’ve never featured during poetry month.

books02after the party

After the break Allan Briesmaster started the second set with pieces from his recent book ‘Against The Flight Of Spring’ and some newer writing. Invoking his muse ‘Open, oh pen, open’ he presented a set of image strong nature poems: ‘who can hear a single note sung by a stone.’ Of trees lost in the ice storm ‘we thought they’d outlive us.’ He stepped a bit out of comfort zone with a sexy sports piece.

Final feature was Ann Shin, who read from her book ‘Family China.’ The text has hyper-text links to definitions that are in themselves poems. Emotionally compelling I was too intent listening to make notes, one good line was pushed aside by another, ‘our velocity defines our most precious commodity’ and perhaps one of the most romanic lines I’ve heard in some time ‘I’ll enter your heart like a breeze’


February 21, Friday – featuring – Racket at the Rocket: 7 p.m., Red Rocket Cafe, 1364 Danforth Ave.

smrkt March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium


June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville, Ont

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


one of pieces I read:

what passes in silence

recently I mentioned to a guy

that I was going to a queer event

he was surprised

after knowing me for several months

he was unaware that I was queer

I’ve been out so long

I forgot what it feels like to come out

to someone like this

you can’t see who I am

just by looking at me

unless I go out of my way

to make you hear

it’s like a black passing for white

you don’t look Jewish at all

what there is most fundamental about me

passes in silence

and many want it to remain that way

tolerance of the silent is much easier

than acceptance of the real

the visual means of definition

aren’t close to who I am

because I could wear lipstick a wig perhaps

oh that guy’s a faggot for sure

or a leather harness to the beach

I could grab those clear cut symbolizers

tee-shirts that call for gay rights

rainbow tattoo on the back of my neck

a bear paw on the back of my hand

but I’m too lazy to make

what I think is obvious clearer

or maybe what I am

has become so irrelevant

in today’s world

it’s time I got over myself

and got on with life

bookslost poetry 

Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir December show was yet another packed house for the Central and an unnecessary confirmation of Lizzie’s ability to put together a dynamic show, though being a part of the evening’s line-up I may not be impartial.

benchno one will see us under here

Open stagers were many and diverse with an odd connecting image of drowning and the sea working through them – John Oughton, being drawn into a carpet pattern; Heather Babcock with a section from her novel whose heroine teasing invites drowning between her legs; Philip Cairns longs to drown in summer warmth; Cate McKim singing of the Dark End of Street where lover drown in shadows; Meagan Morison with her song about rising from the waters of difficult times. And that was just the first set of open stagers.

scarfthe scarf tree

I was the first feature and felt that my set went over well. Even if it didn’t my shirt did (shirt Atilio by bought at ). Because one of the features was unable to make the show I had a few extra minutes to fill so I started with covers of two Anne Sexton pieces. I had careful built my set around bitter-sweet memory pieces and then took it briefly to my brand of in-your-pants raunch. Candy cane and cock is festively naughty.

teewinter cast-offs

After the break the slate of open stagers started with Arlene Peculan’s tsunami song; Neil Tenant paid tribute to John Lennon & also sang about rain (keeping up that water motif); Myke Mazzei reeled in a lost track from After The Gold Rush; Rex Havoc wanted to drown in Xmas hit song royalties; Brenda Fricker was drying out from a flood in her apartment; Vanessa ? swimming in the memory of why she loves poetry; George with a sailor memory; Evan ? with a section of his novel – a seaside dream sequence; finally open stager was Nelson Sobral with a chilly winter song but no one can feel a chill with him heating up the stage. (sorry about any mispellings of half-heard names. see below for list of open stagers supplied by Lizzie)

blueput your toys away

Final feature was Matt Gerber whose ukuele and kazoo combo makes me think of seaside boardwalk buskers. I first heard Matt Gerber in August of this year (see review) and was looking forward to hearing him again. There wis no flavoUr without U, neither is there msic without U.



one of the pieces from my set

Wooden Soldiers

I always wondered what happened

to those presents the magi brought

gold frankincense & myrrh

were they accepted refused lost

put away for a rainy day

because I don’t recall

Joe & Mary having a life of ease

while Jesus was growing up

did he ever ask about those presents

did he remember the magi

did he look at the myrrh

and think what the heck

how much gold

was there    a few ingots

a darling little ankle bracelet

did he drum on

the frankincense & myrrh jars

till they broke

and another thing

what happened to lazarus

after he was risen from the dead

is he still wandering around

cursing the miracle

eager to sleep

to dream of being able to die

but mostly I wonder about the magi’s gifts

I don’t have any of my first xmas gifts

my first toy car

my earliest gift recollection

is of wooden soldiers

I must have been about four

I’d found them hidden away in a closet

under some towels

I wanted plastic ones & was disappointed

but I have no memory

of unwrapping them on Xmas morning

did my folks decide to teach me lesson

and not give them to me after all

did Jesus have a memory

the smell of barns

did the sight of camels

make him wonder

where is my gold mom

is lazarus playing with my wooden soldiers

seatthe ice throne


Set 1
John Oughton
Heather Babcock
Philip Cairns
Cate McKim
Meghan Morrison
Set 2
Arlene Paculan
Neil Trayor
Myke Mazzei
Rex Havoc
Brenda Clews
Vanessa Smythe
Evan LeBlanc
George Deagle
Nelson Sobral

Another day of renting my brain. This time my second session for a study that looks at ‘Neuroanatomical, neurofunctional and neurobehavioral sequelae of mild hypoxia following cardiac arrest’ or in other words ‘aims to co-relate risk factors for Cardiovascular disease with Cognitive abilities in cardiac arrest patients. In order to establish a baseline of results, we are currently testing with healthy adults who would serve as a control.’

train to where

train to where

Basically how much memory loss does cardiac arrest cause. It’s a four part study. The first session, which I’ve already done, was at Sunnybrook – where after explanation and an initial memory test – in which I sorted items in two groups into subgroups – then had to recall which went where when looking at a random set of those items with items I’d never seen mixed in.

stairs to where

stairs to where

The next stage was doing a similar task while getting an MRI scan – this part lasted about 70 minutes, of which part was spend on that task and rest then taking various scans – an MRI is like being stuck inside Aphex Twin or Squarepusher’s turntable as he looks for ‘beats’ & find a single four second sample that is then repeated, unaltered for seven minutes. Only the MRI sounds are never that interesting. Oh, yes, and you have to keep as still as possible while it’s going on. Even though ‘trance’ sets in easily for me I was so glad to get up from that table.

driver where

driver where

This second session (& the others) will be at Baycrest – somewhat easier to get to than Sunnybrook. The second session, today, was desk work – paper, pencil, then some computer stuff. All around memory & layers of memory i.e. remember assigned, random, three letters while counting backward by 3’s – for each backward count different letters & different number starting point – much harder than it sounds.

blue bottle flies

blue bottle flies

crane in the mist

crane in the mist

Productive/unproductive week – dues to a research study I got to participate in at Baycrest. Unlike some, I haven’t mastered the ability to work on my laptop when in transit, standing up or sitting down. Door-to-door is well-over an hour each way – if I make the right connections its fine. I take subway to Lawrence, bus across to Bathurst & walk up to Baycrest. The walk lets me get into the only coffee shop in the area – a Second Cup. After that length of time trapped in public transit germ capsules I need a coffee.

This was a two-day study: “Decision-Making in Hippocampal Amnesia” – I’m in the healthy, control group. It was a sweet experience (despite the transit). It’s a relief to do a study where they aren’t sticking electrodes all over one’s head, pushing you into MRI, cat scan, or even taking blood.

tree trapped fog

tree trapped fog

The bulk of it was me talking about me – hey, I can do that & get paid for it!! We looked at specific events over the last month, over the past year, three years, ten years ago. Then looked to how they might re-occur in a month, one year, three years, ten years. I was to describe them in specific detail for five minutes each.

There were computer tasks and some neuro-psych tests as well. What I really enjoyed was talking about these, especially future ‘wish’ events – trips to Sweden, a visit to the San Francisco Zoo, publishing on Amazon – that sort of thing. Most of my conversations with people are more one sided – they talk I listen. Plus speculating about future events isn’t the way I live my daily life – sure I have day dreams but I rarely develop them in such detail as I did for the study.

different crane same mist

different crane same mist

First day of the study was that wonderful foggy day. The fog was even thicker when I got of the bus in the morning and was still there went I was heading home. Do I took some pics. Enjoy.

Doing the study was productive but using all that brain power and all the public transportation drained me so I did little writing or editing so it was also unproductive.

foggy signs of life

foggy signs of life



Keeping on top of my Nano project has called for sacrifice but one of things I wasn’t willing to cut was The Beautiful and The Damned on Thursday night.

David Bateman hosted the show. As always he brought humor, opinions and a wealth of information – this time about our dead celeb of the month Andy Warhol. Great trivia questions but sadly none of which were answered correctly by me shouting out JoeDallesandro for every one.

cold kitten one

First feature, Lara Bozabalian, is a writer I always enjoy immensely. Her set consisted of pieces from her up coming book Tourist. As the title implies we travelled from elephant riots in India to hunting wildlife in British Columbia, to Michigan teens to Beethoven out for a walk. Vivid nature imagery was balanced by strong emotional moments “a telephone wire of nervousness ran between us’ and sensuousness: “at the piano my shoulder learned by rote the smell of your skin.” Speaking of skin her first book of verse ‘The Cartographer’s Skin’ has now sold out two print runs.

cold kitten two

Second feature Cathy Petch, hot from her recent slam victories, gave us an energized set that went from vulgar raunch “like leather cocks in classic porn” to deeply personal reflections on Mike Tyson. Funny, touching and always compelling Cathy gives good poetry saw, “solid gold dancing all the while.” I love the shift of emotional tugs in her Tyson piece, we go from admiring his struggles with lisping, being manipulated by coaches and finally we are distanced by his violence towards those weaker than him.

cold kitten three

Unfortunately I had to scoot before hearing this month’s music feature – the damned NaNo had me on the run. I had a session with first year med students at Women’s College Friday morning which meant early rising to be there and no time for writing in the morning.

As much as I love being a part of making future doctors and getting paid for the opportunity I really wanted to be stacking up those words. Sure I could write in transit but it’s hard enough to read standing up on the TTC let along flip open a keyboard and type :-)

I made up for lost time at the writing session at the Red Rocket Friday afternoon – piling up over 2200 words.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo


NaNo sample


Even though the chill of spring was over Lillian shivered under the heavy woolen cover. It wasn’t even a blanket as far as she was concerned. It kept the heat in but she felt cold. The sheets between her and the wool wasn’t thick enough to keep the coarse fiber from chafing her feet.  The cover was like everything in her uncle’s house. Coarse. Homemade. She tried to picture the paritoner who had made this and brought it as gift to her uncle. It was meant to be a rug. Under it she tugged her mother’s shawl tighter around her shoulder. It smelled of comfort, of the life she had left behind to come here to this clumsy backwater coal mining town.

Lillian pushed the stiff cover off her and swung her feet to the floor. They recoiled from the cold. She should have left the rug where it was but pulling it over her in the night was the only way she could think of to keep warm. Her uncle had offered one of the quilts but she had refused. The tattered rag patterned comforters looked even more home made than the rug.

Lillian put on her slippers and wrapped her dressing gown around her. The dark blue silk was embroider with small pink flowers along the hem with larger ones on the pockets and lapels. It was one of the few things her uncle had let her keep when she arrived. He felt her Boston clothes were too good, too indulgent for someone living his house. He didn’t want anything to be a distraction for his parishioners.

“Such gaudy goods are a sign of a lack of faith. The Lord wants us plain when we stand before him not gussied up like a peacock.” He had said as he went through her trunk shoving all her pretty clothes into a burlap sack. “They’ll be in the attic till you are fit to leave us. Your father thinks he’s made a man of himself but he never knew the meaning of decorum.”

Her tears only made him impatient with her. Now here she was dressing in rough, colorless, shapeless pinafores, coarse linen shifts that gave her no shape. She wondered if he was more concerned with her being a temptation to him than a lure of satan to his parishioners.

Her room didn’t even have a mirror. She hadn’t seen her face clearly since she arrived three months ago. There were no mirrors in the priest’s house and certainly none in the small church.

She splashed cold water on her face. Her hands were red and chafed from the housework she was now responsible for. Learning here what her uncle said her father and mother had failed to teach her. How to be a woman who could serve others, not a wonton who only served her own pleasures.

She sat at her dressing table to brush her hair staring at the space on the wall where a mirror had once been. She knew that by the discolored, and water-mottled rose wallpaper around a clean rectangle of red roses.

paper backspace writer

The October BuDa was a chilling event. With horror poems from wicked host Lizzie Violet, vampire fiction from Monica S Kuebler, to my chainsaw patricide all the bases were cover plus a hot set from L’rock to take some of that eerie chill off before sending people out in the cool of the evening.

After fine open stagers I was up first with my Go Bump set. I find that when I don’t stick to what people have come to expect of me – out-there-queer, sexual, funny they aren’t sure how to react. So my darkish set met with a luke-warm response – without punchlines or tender endings, audiences aren’t satisfied. I did sell some chapette books & made enough to cover my basic costs. The set was recorded by Myke Mazzei for a future cd.

christmas shopping before halloween

Second set feature was Monica S Kuebler who read a choice section from her online serial novel Bleeder. A seasoned spoken-word performer she picked the right scene from Chapter 6, one the right length to hold our interest. ‘blood crusted tank-top and bird’s nest hair’ quickly sketched in the heroine – ‘gristly clean-up in aisle twelve’ offered a bit humour in what was a very tense as the heroine realizes ‘this was a blood farm and she was the prey.’

gutter (g)love

Music feature was Laura L’Rock who did a great set of radio friendly rock – a nice change from the Mitchellesque folkies who often hit non-electric stages. The catchy songs were built on strong melodies, lyrics and sweet, yet rocking, acoustic backing supplied by Nik Beat & well, to be honest, I didn’t catch the other guitarist’s name. “I feel you choke me through the telephone line.”

writing sample

writing sample

a piece that almost made it into Go Bump

Give Me A Little Sign

a bluejay feather dances over snow

the first full moon of the new year

a silent wrap of smoke

forms the letters of a name

whose name   mine   yours

our hopes for the future

a dangling curtain moving at dawn

a pale   handless shape

peers out into the fog

before the fire burns pure ashes

to scatter sooty on the snow

for the next fitful omen

a bus pulling up at the right moment

an old friend alive

where you least expected to see them

the number nine keeps popping up

how many times before it has meaning

like that bluejay feather

it has to have a meaning

a good moment to do something

but I don’t know where to begin

play the lottery  submit that manuscript

make that phone call I’ve been putting off

should I act blindly

or bide my time for a better opportunity

a voice in an empty room

a phone call that goes unanswered

was that wrong number the right one

where are my lucky shoes

what do the stars have to say

entrails of run over squirrel tell me

it isn’t wise to dash across a busy street

grounds in the bottom of my Tim’s cup

tell me it’s time they cleaned that damn machine

that look in your eyes tells me

it’s time to drop my guard

will our clothes piled on the floor

the fold of pants legs and t-shirts

twined accidentally in the dark

be a sign of more than pleasure to be had

is there a message in the goosebumps on your back

in the fevered breath on my thigh

can I let a kiss be a kiss

not the next fitful omen



Lauren Carter opened the Art Bar show with new pieces about ‘a family uprooted’ more than once, full of details from her family tree research and strong visuals “buds like tight white purses” – “a wing written into the rock” – she read from her new book ‘Lichen Bright.’ Her work has a strong sense of family, history and rural life. I especially liked “their smiles spread like suspicious curtains” – from Witches.

I miss the miracle

I was up second and the feature went very well, if I do say so myself, though people were a little disappointed that it wasn’t a set of my funny, over-sexed pieces – but every now and then it’s good to change things up. As I always do for a feature, I put together a set with a sense of flow – one that covers a bit of history as well – in this case east-coast life from moving there, local industry in motion, some growing up stuff, touch down in high school, early 70’s sexual fumblings, a quick trip underground & finally an echo of the first piece. Sold lots of chapette books & even a few PDF’s.

During the break I was approached by one local small press to get in touch. Another small press asked if I was ready to do a full length book of poetry. Plus one of my Bloody Words pals talked about a consortium of several writers pooling to create an ePub venture. On top of which I did a little pitch to do a feature in the new year at one of the shows I haven’t performed at for some year. So a better experience for publishing opportunities than Bloody Words & I even got  paid quite well for being there.

floating alley art

Final feature was Ian Hanna whom I met Hot-Sauced a few years ago during the pre-show writing. He almost had to be forced to read a bit of what he had written but now look at him! His set was funny, tender, comfortable and even romantic. Many of his pieces were short, almost punch line – “in the past they used antiques for everything.” “I wandered forth days and nights and came home lost”

Alana Cook hosted with warmth and efficiently so the evening moved along pretty quickly. The open stagers were a great mix – with as many woman as men. Pauper’s  a/c was working a bit too well – if I had know I would have worn a sweater and not just a t-shirt. So I hope those you took notice of my perky nips realized it was the chill and nothing else.

I do have a few chapette books left – $3.00. Also a PDF version suitable for eReaders for a buck. For Pride I’ll be doing a couple of dance pieces. My Plasticine set will be totally different from my Art Bar set – possibly giving the people what they want – hot, sexy & funny.

a place to see delight

a place to see delight

Here’s one of the pieces from my set -

Dad’s Pockets

as a kid

I would go through the pockets

of my Dad’s suit coats sport jackets

as they hung in the closet

I would find quarters which I’d take

sometimes fifty-cent pieces which I’d leave

I’d slip the over-sized jackets

off their hangers

wear them in the dark of the closet

in the smell of his things

his shoes miles too big for me

trying to steal into adulthood

I’d skulk out

from my secret foray

a little daring thief

sneaky   guilty

fearful of being found out

when he’d miss the pocket change

I’d be confronted

say too quick I don’t know what he meant

blurt out I didn’t do that

which he never believed

if only I’d hung those coats back the right way

he’d let me go with warning

that I never heeded

I’d be back there in a week or so

go through those pockets

try on those sport jackets

grow much too slow into adulthood

much too quick into guilt




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