Archives for category: reviews

How do I review myself without being subjective, objective or egotistical. Or does that even matter? Poets either idealize or objectify in one way or the other, and sometimes we are capable of a certain cynical detachment that passes for brave honesty.

tracks field of cold dreams

This was my first (& possibly last) time at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club. It is big room – more upscale & corporate than the name implies. Plush banquettes, ornate stained-glass, imposing bar – it has more of a night club feel than I’m used to, say, from the Central or Paupers. Lots of good sight line, good kitchen (loved the Italian sausage & spaghetti.) Good acoustics, too.

cupboard the cupboard is bare

The show started with a range of open-stagers. Lizzie Violet herself kicking things off with poems to resurrect spring; Supertash, with a copy of the SCUM manifesto (I want it) reminding us that everyone is fucked (up); Same Difference: noted slam man, ‘listened to the weather/ not on the radio/ but to the sound of it on his body’; Myke Mazzei did a couple of sweet songs (he also recorded my set); Cate McKim offered note from her notebook: ‘the human race is unsafe at any speed’ & a fine Noel Coward song; Jeff Cottrill did some fun comic monologues; ending with the Crow with some sharp urban street poems.

I hit the stage after a short break. I started with Godzilla – a piece that gets my energy up quick &, I hope, pulls the audience in faster, too. I did a mix of pieces from my last two sets plus some very new things. More romantic than usual but also as out as I am usually without getting too ‘balls in your face’ about it. Ended with two of the more high energy pieces Identity & Born to be Blown.

ruined yet another couch ruined

There was good response to all the pieces, some snaps here & there, laughs where expected. Thank God for the Kindle to keep things moving forward, though I did skip one piece. Nice bit of $ tossed in the pwyc bin. Even sold a couple of chap books. So I actually have a profit (of about $5.) to show once I deduct transportation, meal & paying my sound guy.


April 27, Sunday – attending – Julie Czerndea Workshop 


June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words


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

hardcore hard core work at Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


One of the new pieces from my set




he wanted to try


sprawled over the back of a couch

something he’d seen

in a porn movie

when it wasn’t as hot

or as easy as it looked

I had to tell him

porn movies aren’t instructional videos

he looked a bit miffed

as if it was our fault

that neither of us could duplicate

the endurance   flexibility

of those performers

I told him

they don’t do single take session

just like real movies

they stop for snacks

to have their testicular make up adjusted

which is even more important

now with everything in HD

I showed him one sequence

where the stunt dick steps in

to fuck the stunt ass hole

that the two actors

he had been so intense upon

had been replaced

for those all important close ups

unless between camera set ups

one of them grew a foreskin

and the other had his ass shaved

he wasn’t assuaged

by these revelations

and once again

porn has ruined my sex life

and my couch

shovel the couch couldn’t take it

Cannonball Adderley is one of those sax players who made a name in the 50’s playing with his own groups or with his brother plus had an active recording career as side man to many others at that time & through the 60’s, including Miles Davis. A solid if not adventurous player but held his own when giving the challenge.

cheese big cheese

I have Sophisticated Swing a double cd set of his quintet sessions. A sweet set of originals and some standards: A Foggy Day, What’s New? – engaging and timeless. I picked it up at HMV in February 1999, probably on sale. The set includes in the foldouts all the original cover, which hasn’t dared that much either. These could be new recordings by a new quintet & sound & look as fresh.

nook cozy nook at Loyalist

The reason I have Cannonball is because he did a session with John Coltrane in Feb 1959. In 1959 35 minutes was considered a full Lp, now it’s a ep. I have to play it twice to feel I heard enough of it. Coltrane was coming into his own & had extensive work on his own. I picked it up in 1998 when I was on my Coltrane completest mission.

glory spring is around the corner?

It’s a mix of originals & covers. All are solid but not overly challenging. A much as I love Coltrane – I’ve blogged about him a couple of times – my favourite cut on this CD (& one of my all-time favourite jazz cuts) is one Coltrane doesn’t play on. Adderley does a ravishing job on ‘Stars Fell On Alabama’ – that took my breath away the first (& every time) I heard it. Warm, evocative and soaring this is why I love jazz. Some performances are a blessing & with this one Adderley blesses us all. 


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

nomarching keeping the order on campus at Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


another of the Viral prompts – ‘swimming’ – cannonball is jumping off a diving board in a tight ball to splash everyone – which doesn’t happen in this -

Blue Towel Blues

I don’t swim

don’t ask me

that’s a song reference

I don’t dance

don’t ask me

I do dance though

not as much as I once did

it gets boring dancing alone

but even with the buddy system

I never got into swimming

I did try to learn

as a kid I was enrolled

at the YMCA

one of those standard issue

‘things done to make young men

into healthy sporty go-getters’

to train them for manhood

I learned

I hated the dusty smell of wood floors

the rough sweaty feel of the hemp rope

that I couldn’t climb

the cold of wet shower floors

gave me chills in summer

and I was terrified

of someone seeing

my skinny pale nakedness

I didn’t have any ideas of queerness then

though I knew

what otherness meant

because I was not a fitter in

the YMCA was a way

my folks hoped I would learn

to play well like others boys

what I did learn

was that boys who wore their towels

around their waists

coming or going to the shower

were called maid marian

we had to shower before and after

the swim lessons

we weren’t allowed to arrive

then depart with bathing suits on

or under our clothes

showers were mandatory

I can’t remember a face

or a hairy leg

only the feeling of that cold wet tile underfoot

the struggle to clasp that blue towel

around my shivering waist

being called maid marian

when trying to keep it

from being pulled off me

I wasn’t the only one teased this way

which didn’t help me learn to swim

funny though

I did end up going to Y Camp

two summers in a row

having a crush on one of the counsellors

tipping my canoe to get his attention

but never learning to swim

I don’t swim

don’t ask me

but you don’t need permission

to pull off my towel

avon not suitable for swimming


Birthday girl Sandra Cardinal gifted us with a stellar line up for the April Makin’ a Racket. A full house appreciated the features (as well a slew of tasty birthday muffins gratis from the chefs at The Red Rocket Cafe).


they grow like weeds

Dan Curtis Thomson was first up with a nice section of his one man show about breaking up. Structured around music he did a sweet, almost plaintive song (very Don McLean with its fluttering, falling  notes) ‘falling falling falling out of love.’ He explained that the song ended with a C major 7th chord, an unresolved chord, much like this ended relationship which leaves him unresolved. A nice hint of the larger piece. Dan has a warm stage presence I enjoyed.

Next up was Vanessa McGowan who clearly has no unresolved emotions. Fresh from a poetry intensive in Banff she had some new pieces & old pieces. ‘wear you like a wind blanket’ ‘when my body became my voice I forgot now to speak.’ I’ve reviewed her many times – search will pull up those reviews.

mac McLitter

Then Niki Koulouris read some section from ‘the sea with no one in it’ her recent book. ‘once it had been half man, half sea.’ I recently reviewed her – search will pull up that review.

After the cup-cake break Myna Wallin (whom I have reviewed before), on crutches after an ankle & wrist break, read some new pieces about her recuperation: ‘a lethal dose of ‘this too shall pass.’ ’ Then a tasty chapter from Confession of a Wounded Reluctant Cougar that reminded us that sex without guilt isn’t really bad sex.

oldpink out-grown

She was followed by Sage Tyrtle (whom I have reviewed before), with a rich, funny & romantic story about internet dating back in the early days when people counted on chat rooms, facing the fears of the unknown & actually, for this story, having a happy ending (in which she wasn’t murdered & buried in basement). Sage is a gifted story teller slipping between characters and situations with great ease.

Last up was Eufemia Fantetti (whom I have never reviewed before) reading a portion of her personal essay Alphabet Autobiographia. A look at language, particularly Italian & the role it’s played in her family history. She explains how applying Italian pronunciation to English words can have hilarious repercussions – i.e. traipsing becomes trapezing.

A handful of great open stagers, many of whom were past features where scattered throughout the show. Mike Sauve’s piece about orange juice was excellent – also had a great talk with him about double-sided nature of politically correctness (for a later blog I think). A great spring show that even with 6 features was wrapped by 9:30.


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



from a Viral prompt – this is one of the piece read on the Racket open stage

Daddy’s Boy

I have this photo of my dad

when he was a boy of

about fourteen

shown it to friends   lovers

who said that I was handsome

even as a boy

used it as my profile pic once

a photo of my dad

that looks so much like me

at his age

we could be twins

yet there were years

when I was sure I was adopted

I’d go through the papers

in his desk

seeking that document

I felt so not a part of that family

of this species

I was sure there was some legal proof

of that fact

I never found that evidence

when I first saw that pic of my Dad

I thought it was me

his genetic string so strong

I am tied to it without a doubt

last time I visited my home town

a stranger stopped me in the street

to ask if was his son

one was a bit shaken

it was as if my Dad’s ghost has appeared

he’d been dead for five or six years by then

so perhaps their memory

had played some tricks on them


I am my father’s son

I’m proud to say

there’s no denying that now

cake cake left out in the rain


Noir’s spring show was a veritable shower of talent that was barely contained by the Central stage – in fact at points it wasn’t. Feature Regina Dentata, did three teasing burlesque routines at 3 different points during the evening – making sure the audience temperature stayed high. The first two were in her modern dance style – sinuous and expansive – pulling us in with opened-eyed teasing, exiting through the audience on the first. The second had black ribbons magically appear to add a hint of bondage. Her finale was a traditional reveal – cape, stunning gold gown, a laced up corset that had to be unlaced to be removed. The traditional reveal could have gone a little longer for my liking.

bag punching bag out cold

Next was Jezebel Beelzebub Bells, a persona piece by Adam Abbas. Bells is the archetypical beat poet with sunglasses, beret & mock black turtle next, all that was missing was someone on bongos. Adam captures the pretentiousness & arrogance of a self-satisfied poet who knows how to dis better than he can write. Though Adam is too good a poet to write verse as bad as he thinks Bells would write. It was a fun Andy Kauffmanesque performance piece.

looted Unlooted mitten

Last up was Nelson Sobral aka Melting Pot. I’ve seen & reviewed him many time before. A member of too many bands to list, he always gives an emotionally appealing performance. In fact he didn’t wait – singing & playing off stage during the breaks. A true spot-light slut he a sweet stage presence. His crisp quitar playing is deceptively simple and his vocals are strong, direct while never over-singing to sell a song. Loved his cover of Little Feat’s Roll’em Easy.

barrel snow crystal ball

There was a stellar set of open stagers through out the show. Great sound assistance from the Central staff. Next month’s Noir features Nik Beat, Giraffe & Vicki Laufer. Photos of the show:


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

room bed of dreams at Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


from the Make Spoken Word Go Viral prompt -  ‘a favourite quote.’

‘the brawl of the kiss’

Dylan Thomas

I can’t say what I mean

because if I say what I mean

 you might not understand it

because said and understood

are two different things

I might say

I want to see you

you might hear

I want to own you

or I think of you sometimes


why don’t you think me all the time

our language is at odds with our intents

I want to talk you

into telling me what I want to hear

in a way that is totally clear

unalterable and fulfilling

so when we are together

I can’t say what I mean

because all I want

is the brawl of the kiss

to end this fight of the mind

which it always does

I let my fears surrender

to the delight of the body

out bodies

as they struggle to reach through

the fight of the mind

to embrace each other

we wrestle each other

in the cauldron of his bed

where we understand exactly

what each other means needs wants

out of this brawl of the kiss

river02 Belleville reflections

Next on the pop shelf is another of of my mp3 collections – 102 songs in 6 hr 6 min of the Animals (8 lps) with a dash of Joe Cocker (Little Help) and pinch of Grand Funk (Inside Looking Out). Most early lps: The Animals, The Animals on Tour (US), Animal Tracks (UK), Animalism (UK), Animalization, Eric is Here, The Animals With Sonny Boy Williamson and one later career: Every One Of Us.

bread casting bread on the bushes

The Animals are one of those British bands that never garnered the reputation of groups like The Kinks or Pink Floyd. Sure they had some monumental early hits, Rising Sun, Misunderstood, Away From This Place – but never seemed to transcend being more than a better than average bar band. Eric Burdon has a great bluesy voice but their material too often fell in good blues, r’n’b & rock.

soul sole under ice

Alan Price is a fine keyboard player, and never forget that their bass player Chas Chandler created the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Animals had a fascinating personal & direction change when Eric did LSD (more about those lp’s soon). Everyone One of Us is one those post-LSD recordings with White Houses & Year of The Guru leading them back to their blues roots.

Cocker’s Little Help From My Friends was a smash hit. His gravel voice was irresistible, the arraignments tight and the band even tighter. More blues than pop – Cocker did travel into pop in later years.

dogs the dogs of winter

byw Eric Burdon is still alive, performing & recording & released a fine cd last year ’Til Your River Runs Dry. The voice is intact. Listening to it was like meeting a old friend you haven’t seen in decades.


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

nomarching Loyalist control issues

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


New New New


I don’t know how this happened


but at some point

certain things lost their


their purpose in the scheme of life

in the daily need

to get through what was to be gotten through

so there would be another day

and in that grind

some things

lost their importance

what can I say

I’m certainly not going to apologize

for that fact

but there it is it

I’m proud to say

this shirt has lasted several years

soon to been on the antiques road show

along with my shoes

the overcoat is years old

not looking to bad for wear

not the same buttons

it would be nice

if the buttons matched

but there you are

I found one of them on the street

‘find a button and never come undone’

was one of my mother’s mottos

so I’m always looking buttons

found a lamp tossed it out

looks like new   works

so why look a gift horse in the mouth

unless you want to clean its teeth



I was once like so many

eager for the new sofa

for the new spring line

anxious for the smell of new clothes

now there are more important things

things that make me feel

I’m not part of that use  waste set

not that I wouldn’t like to be

that if i won that big jack pot

if I’d be right back there

buying  adding

new new new

upgrading my stove

new hard drive

I admit it might be nice

not to go through the thrift shop

but at the same time

there’s nothing like finding

what you need

at a price you can’t believe

that never happens at Holt’s now does it

so no

I think

if those ships came in

I wouldn’t change my wardrobe that much

no new watches or expensive shoes

those things

only those who can also afford them

would recognize the price of

nearly said the value of

but they end up

worth the same

when you throw them out

when they lose that glimmer

that glisten

that satisfaction

when I find them at Goodwill

they get a new life

I imagine

it must come as a bit of a shock

for you

to see me wearing

those things you cast off

almost like

finding out I was really your son

and worse yet

I’ll be happy with them for years

while they only lasted a few months

till you were ready to move on

and thanks


yeah that takes on a new importance for me


for what I have

for making things last

for really getting the most out of them

not just a few appearances

then into a closet because

everyone has seen them

if you get tired of seeing me

in the same old things

tough  get used to it

or start emptying more closets

there must be scads of stuff

you bought & never got around to wearing

sales items you couldn’t resist

that t-shirt you bought on vacation

but can’t bare to look at now

what were you thinking


so spring is about sprung

empty your closet

throw out the old

so the new new new can flow in

100_2919 Loyalist willow not weeping for me



An Emotional Fish is one of those Irish bands that got washed away by the tide of U2, even though they even opened for U2 and were under that corporate umbrella. They made no real North American break through. Another Irish band that got washed away was Hothouse Flowers (more about them when I get to the H’s).

shatter01 shattered & scattered

Released in 1990, I picked up this cd in May 1993 – mainly because of the band’s name so it must have been cheap enough that I was willing to take a gamble.

silver breaking the ice

The music is solid rock, sometimes pretty & always propulsive. I really liked a couple of the tracks: Grey Matter, Lace Virginia & can conjure them up in my head without having to put the cd on.

shatter02 shattered close up

Strong vocals, excellent production values and Irish without being overtly Celtic or too mystic a la Van Morrison (more about my Morrison collection when we get to the M’s). I did pick up another CD of their years later but nothing on it grabbed me enough to keep it.


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

mural plot points at Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



neither of us could say it  mean it

or could somehow make it stick

though we both knew it was in the air

we didn’t want to face the full implication

the only way

it could be come real

was for one of us to die

to move away

to vanish


the moment the word

might stray into the air between us

we knew that it would

never be uttered with conviction

with willingness

or with an intention

that it become a fact


it became an unspoken threat

if you don’t do x

then it’s goodbye

but when x wasn’t done

nothing much changed

some flicker of spite

then on to the next development


another word

is removed from the vocabulary

to be replace with the nod

the I’ll-be-seeing-you eyebrow

the till-tomorrow squeeze

the I-can’t-wait-till-you-call email

the tender animated gif


this the way of separation

the never dearly departed

the closeness one wishes for

that may never occur

hasn’t been enough

to make your goodbye take


I say that

because the same has been true for me

I’ve been ready to utter

but not prepared for the follow through

for the consequences

the door is too easy open

and comfort too simple

not to be real

to be lasting


it does have room to spare

time to allow change

though the change

seems to consume you more than me


the other side of farewell

is too dark and bleak

to consider

we both know that what lies there

isn’t the unknown

but a return to what was there

before the first glance   first hello

that tumbled us to bed

heart first

lips locked

too locked to mumble anything deeper


yes oh yes


what I might miss

is the sound of you sleeping

beside me or in a room nearby

a room I can peak in to watch

the rise  fall

the wriggle of a bare foot

out of the cover

the slip off of a too warm blanket

to reveal the the true moon


the impending goodbye

is kept at a distance

gives you the room to make a move

to bring you other opportunities

chances to explore

fears you never had to face with me

the fears of meeting someone with whom

goodbye would mean goodbye

here your goodbye won’t stand

it’ll merely meant

let’s try this way for now

bdoor very blue door

Next up on the pop shelf comes a pair of Allman Brothers CD’s – Beginnings – a double Lp I transferred to cd. At some point Atlantic started to move their back catalogue by offering special deals on 2 lps by some bands. I bought the original vinyl at Sam’s. The other CD is The Best of ….

mirror Alice is that you?

In my drinking days on the east coast I drank with guys who were big fans of the Allman’s so I heard this stuff a lot. Some of the cuts carry some of that memory. Every Hungry Woman, Whipping Post were jam faves of musicians in the group. I also dimly recall that the band I did lights & sometimes percussion for, tackled Midnight Rider.

tunnel vision of a tunnel

The music is blues infused with rock, a touch of jazz and driving relentless guitars, that in some tracks they work themselves into a monumental torrent – Whipping Post. Check out Duane Allman’s playing on Herbie Mann’s Push Push – sublime.

I didn’t follow them. Even now I can’t say they are amongst my faves but, thanks to high-speed, I did download their discography, for a good price, a couple of years ago. As I’ve gotten older I enjoy the blues more.

scarf Pashmina come home

Another, somewhat more recent memory, if the mid-90’s is recent, is having some guy I brought home for the night, looking through my Lp collection and pulling out that double set and saying ‘You can’t be queer, honey, listening to stuff like this.’ I said, if one of them was butch enough for Cher they were alright by me.


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

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words


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

room My iBook is gone but the beds are still the same at Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



getting head

I’m getting ahead

moving up

soon to be top of the heap

for that breathtaking view


I can see forever

I can see my next condo from here

the view

the expanse

the cold bracing air

the first and second

the one and only


I made it finally

not quite king of the world

too much responsibility

but here I am am

at the peak of my form

top of my game

no further to go

made it

reached it

dreamed it

imagined it and made it


all the little bitty details

into the crowning moment

the crown of creation

yes that’s me

the bright boy

the blazing pinnacle

of everything I’ve learned

& breathed for

everything my parents prayed for

all the pieces falling into place

if they didn’t

I made sure they did

carved banged cut sliced

dispatched tromped punched forced

made each moment count

climbed up by my boot straps

over anything that was in my way

took every opportunity

to better myself

to look better than anyone else

out shone all the others

cast them in a bad light

made sure

all the mistakes were their’s

never mine

I never made a mistake

not me

didn’t need to learn that way

learned from the mistakes of others

profited from the mistakes of others

took no credit for their work

no not me

did it all on my own

made my mark

made every minute count

made all the right moves

took the steps

that brought me to here

didn’t rely on anyone

but my self

my own sweat blood and tears

well not so many tears

it was easier than I expected

in fact it was a piece of cake

a walk in the a park

simple as pie

easy as putting on a shoe

and here I am

the tops

the gleaming summation

of all that has gone on before me

now life stops

oh you didn’t know that

now that I’ve achieved perfection

there’s nowhere

for life to go

why bother

no need to experience

the great experience is over

and it was my success

a stunning success

I am the proof of the pudding

the taste of excellent

the one true leader

there’s no need

for life to continue now

is there?

I am the one  the only

and all that ever needs to be

so just pack up all your expectations


give up   give in

there’s nothing to fight

nothing to prove

nothing left at all

expect perhaps to thank me

I’ve saved you

all of  you

from ever having to do anything ever again

from the whipping post of more futile gestures

no need to pretend to any sort

of creative vision  of spiritual purity

none of those are needed

so climb down from moral superiority

there isn’t anyone more moral

ethical  kind   considerate

so just relax

take one last breath

the dream is over

don’t wake  don’t sleep

just enjoy the vision

of this ultimate climax

this endless moment of true

fulfilling perfection

you can let go

let go of everything

because I am shining

I have made the grade

made the most of everything you offered

avoided all the pitfalls

that kept you from success

that kept you mired

in your human frailties

in your mind numbing emotional morass

in the fetid pit of sexuality

in the endless striving

to get out of what you couldn’t escape

but you did give me traction

you did give me the final toe hold

boost up and over

that brought me here

to the pure vista of forever

I am all that I am thanks you


now go away

so I can enjoy

the clean air

the superior view

the fruits of my hard work

let me put my feet up

take my own deep breath

and see

what there is to conquer next

there is always more

or is there

stairs2 you spot it you got it

Racket’s March show kicked winter in the butt with a fine set of features & open-stagers. Sandra Cardinal, back in the hosting spotlight, put together another great line up of spoken performers. Starting with playwright Nina Kaye, who mixed some of her poetry in with some strong, well-performed monologues. Teen-age girls who relish the fact that ‘cab drivers will do anything if your flash them your tits’; a male hustler who admits that ‘it just feels good to know someone wants you.’ Her piece about teen-age infatuation perfectly captured that cloying adolescent idealism ‘seeing his face was like seeing the sun after a long winter.’

moon moon at noon

Next up was Rob Ellis with a fun set of poems of political bite and rhyme – ‘Welcome to the Hotel North Korea’ ‘I asked Obama how can this be/he said, we haven’t a conflict since 1953.’ Of work life he says, ‘now employees are associates,’ ‘when things go bad as always it’s the staff that pays.’

dresser get into my loose drawers

After the break Norm Cristofoli delivered a well-structured. polished set of spiritually grounded, at the same time sensually seeking, poems. Of religions he say, ‘the greatest mistake mankind made/ was to turn the messengers into the message.’ His homage to film noir offered us ‘a liquid jewel to help me forget’ ‘sixes in his eyes, sevens on his tongue.’ Of love ‘you move me like a dream’s first kiss.’ A great set that was over too soon.

chairget out from under my legs

Too many open-stagers to name but new-to-the-scene Matthew Carmichael is gaining in confidence. Susan Helwig did a brief monolgue about visiting an artist’s studio that brought the house down -‘Why are all the men in your paintings asleep?’

As always The Red Rocket Cafe is a great spot for an intimate night of spoken-word. Good coffee, great desserts and a staff that enjoys the artists as much as they enjoy the tips. In some spots it seems the staff only puts up with ‘art’ as long as they are getting tips.


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

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

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

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



when it was over

it was over

that part was pretty simple

fairly painless

the grief was in the waiting

looking for a right moment

to admit to one another

that over was over

that we didn’t need

to spend any more time

in trying to make things work

in looking for some

little thing to do or say

that would make things new

that would return us to

what we had at the start

even if we could

I was never sure

if either of us would

have set the way back machine

to reclaim those early months

of frisky free falling fun

even now

if we are clear headed

that free fall

wasn’t all peaches and cream

but it was good

wasn’t it?


it’s hard to learn

to avoid the rough patch

that comes before

it’s over

that patch

is what seems to cause the most pain

the ending is nearly always a relief

when we both admit

it’s time for a change

thanks for the memories

except that patch

why do we get so caught

in that patch

it sticks to the feet

slows us down

makes us both blind & super sensitive

at the same time

makes us both wander aimless

afraid of saying the wrong thing

or the right thing

that will bring the inevitable to light

to reveal to the other

that over has to be soon

that over is better than this

whatever this is

that hovers over our heads

the fear of being alone

the rest of our lives

isn’t as bad as being together

admitting that isn’t what love is all about

isn’t what we wanted

out of this relationship


why do we let it fester so long

so long there is no clear break

just more fester

and fester can’t hold a couple together

any better that come does

so what gain is there in that patch

because I’ve known people

who spend more time in the patch

than they did in loving one another

that patch

begins the moment one or the other says

we have to work on this relationship

if we expect it to work


what sort of work

hammer and nails

I know enough not to give up

when the first hormone blush has faded

but I also know

that work isn’t the solution

making me or him change

isn’t going to lead to any real affection

that merely allows one another

to trot our little  power games

that please appease for a short time

but rarely improve

we end up improving one another

for the next relationship

for the better one

that hovers in a cloud

in a dream around the corner

the one we weren’t ready for when we met each other

but the one that will truly last

the one that will be a longer

free fall fondle

though the gates of paradise

up the stairs

of the local gym

to pack on or take off

to shape   reshape

to avoid and dangle

to take us into the next one

it gives us no respite

for no matter how happy

a couple seems

at any given moment

one of them is

looking for the one that will do

when over is over

gull uncaged

gull uncaged


‘The Witchdoctor’s Bones’ is the latest from Lisa de Nikolits. I’ve heard Lisa present sections of her novels at various reading nights over the past couple of years. She always manages to present tidy snippets of complex novels, that stand alone but invite us to want to read the whole novel.

blue lonely blue

Witchdoctor follows the well-establish structure of strangers on a journey revealing their lives, secrets and fears as they travel. ‘From Canterbury Tales’ to ‘Then There Were None’ this story telling framework gives writers a strong form to work with.

shrug day of the dead tree

In Witchdoctor we join a disparate group of travellers on a bus tour from Cape Town, South Africa to Fort Namutoni, Nambia. As they travel tempers and passions flair. Death follows them with increasing tension as the novels progresses.

Lisa handles a large cast well, each of the tourists has a clear personalty, motives become clear then vague as more layers of their lives are peeled back. She also conveys a real sense of place, the heat, the dust, the humor and the endlessness of the bus ride itself.

red didn’t make it to the lights

In conveying so much details about the tour the book verges on a travel guide but the information is parcelled out in digestible portions and never overwhelms the story as it unfolds. With so many characters I did get a bit lost and some didn’t really propel the story forward.

If romance, suspense and serial killers under the African sun are your cup of tea this book is for you.

soon02 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

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words


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

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada

samples Door

I shut you out

with a smile  a little joke  a judgment

about the small minor little trivial things

the way you sit

the way you clack the giant spoon

against the coffee cup

that small gesture

shakes the foundations

I shut you out

by deciding

this isn’t exactly perfect

in my dream

you aren’t so tall  so thin so willing

so ready wanting  needy  omnipresent

you are so right

in the dream

I have shut you out so effectively

you aren’t even present

so effectively that no one is present

the room is plain empty white

silent self illuminating

I shut you out

buy sneering at your taste

in music in friends

those dope smoker idiots

who never come around

unless you use the lure of diversion

whilst I am there


you don’t have to entertain me

I shut you out

by not giving you that chance

force you to just be

to just sit and not move

so I can look and enjoy the vision of you

silent  sullen  in a quiet room

no loud cranky aggressive music

only a faint echo

from across the street

a piano tinkle  a snore

I shut you out

by acting as if I don’t care

that you are so busy

that you have made a life

that allows you

to enjoy life without me


like an over eager parent

with milk and cookies

for you and your sleazy little

druggie buddies

oh oh there I’ve gone and done it again

like I always seem to do

brought in a judgement

that shuts you out

that lowers you

that raises me

how silly I can be sometimes

I can use that guilt to shut you out

I’m too judgmental for you

I don’t really care what you do

is the lie I use

to shut myself out

from myself

I don’t say a thing

that is the hardest slam

I know

the silent nudge

the ponderous heavy superiority

I don’t want to maintain

but want to blame it on


my upbringing

my righteous path to the glory of god


to keep that smudge

away from my little clean corner of the world

I come back to you

because you are the human one

so sweet angry tender  hurt

looking for something

but not sure what

while I am here nose up turned

distrustful of your search

not allow it to just be

I have to judge it rate it

oh well

what’s a man to do

there is love in the air

when someone on the other side of the door

knocks to be let in

scratches at a window

plays in the sun

I know I have to let myself out

before I can let anyone in

and that means  open the door

come in  come out  move about

as I try not to shut you out

SAM_1020tip 1: toss what you don’t need

Hosting boosts the immune system – at least that’s my theory – so when I was asked to host the march Plasticine Poetry I was happy to accept to fight off a cold. I ended up co-hosting with the poised Susie Berg – it takes two to sub for usual host Cathy Petch. We split the duties with me looking after the first set of open-stagers.

yellow spring is just around the corner

Susie introduced first feature Suzanne Alyssa Andrew. She opened with a lyric ‘ever felt something look over your shoulder,’ ‘your fear fuels his power.’ The she read a well-chosen excerpt from her soon to be published novel ‘Circle of Stones.’ A scene set in bed of two lovers teasing and playing. Tarot cards come out ‘the cards smell like the inside of her dance bag – feet, sweaty tights and rosin.’ A real sense of the people was drawn with precise images and realistic dialogue.

As I had taken a UofT Master Poetry class with Niki Koulouris, I was happy to introduce her. She read from her recently-launched book ‘The sea with no one in it.’ Her pieces dealt in one way or the other with the sea & with painters: Philip Guston, Jasper Johns, Anselm Kiefer. The poems flow with strong images ‘rosewater that smells or sardines,’ ‘watching the rain is like watching a foreign movie’ ‘as many stars as there are targets.’

glory morning glory tells a story

Susie conducted the next parade of open stagers to start the second set. Then I introduced Sheila Stewart, who, in green, brought more than the flavour of St. Patrick’s Day to the stage. Her engaging poetry took us directly to the twisty roads of Ireland and then to High Park. A strong sense of place kept us from being lost even when we ‘emerged on a road you thought was elsewhere.’ Many of her vivid turns of phrase ‘word leapt from the body and never returned,’ ‘alone for the weekend I forgot to put my skin on’ resonated with me.

purple how much longer

Michael took a rare step on stage to introduce Molly Peacock. She easily lived up to his effusive words with a simple set with a couple of sections for her forthcoming book Alpabetique (sp?) – in which each letter has it’s own life. In P we appreciate the ‘the smell before rain,’ in B with feel the struggle to be B in the fractious world of fonts. Her poem ‘The Flaw’ reminded us that ‘though the flaw I am alive.’


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

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words


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

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



how did I turn out

the way I turned out

no one held a gun to my head


you do this

you become that

unless the force of peer pressure

can be called that gun

what force is it that makes

one of us heterosexual

and another homosexual

who would chose either


the drawbacks

better to be nonsexual

to avoid all the pressures

of meeting mating so-called morality

working out

raising children

avoid stds

doesn’t seem

that either side

of the life style equation

really gets such good press

the sexual grilling of congressmen

the boredom of those who

never seem to stray

the envy for those who do

the energy wasted on judgment

who would chose either

yet there is some force

beyond the ken

of the mind heart peer pressure

the dna string spinning around in our blood

a force that makes

all the variations flux and flow

those people caught up in it

are trying to find

some way to make sense of it

that allows

for a space for each

well, not all people

as some have this dna string

that doesn’t allow for any variation

where any variation

must be destroyed


that very fact

makes me wonder

what force brings anyone into

the fold of the shunned

something happens

that pushes against the tide

of the commercial world around us

breaks them free

of the rigid accepted standard

it happens

like sun spots

and like any invisible force

it becomes easier

to go with the tide

that to fight against it

the greater the resistance

the greater the pain

the hidden becomes less hidden

when the pain of hiding is too great

what was once such a scandal

doesn’t seem to have the weight

it once had

no force behind the fear

to sustain that pressure as it once did

it stopped being seen as revolution

and was accepted as a part of evolution

we can’t draw a line

that keeps the races apart

when hearts are involved

the sky is the same over all heads

the earth is the same beneath all feet

the feet of the judgmental strike with the same force

are held by the same gravity

as the feet of those who are judged

as the feet of those

who know nothing about anything

the messy melting pot

that gives all the opportunity

to be

none has the right to deny

that right to another

and even though some don’t

they find themselves

eventually drowned

in the ever rising tide of the past

of history

and the rest of us

make our way as best we can

not looking to disrupt anything

but merely to be

city02street without snow!! 


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