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The past few weeks have been productive – the cold weather keeping me in nights has helped some – plus reducing the amount of time I put into reading. Those books, ebooks will get read eventually – what’s the hurry. Reading is a sly way of avoidance as I’m doing research into facets queerdom, identity as well some fiction & even a few literary journals. I have to confess that I’ve let nearly all my lit journal subscriptions expire. They aren’t my market & often don’t speak to my interests – unless someone starts a Ginger Pubes Quarterly.

sweaternice green but needs some ginger

I’ve been clearing the blogged City of Valleys off WordPress – to publish there needs to be no ‘free’ versions of available. While I was doing that I also edited out those lists of my upcoming events – stale is stale. If you missed the show that boat ain’t coming back.

toquegingery rust

I’ve been getting material ready for three upcoming shows, as well. Winter Snow Ball (winter’s no ball); my guest spot at the Dildettes show, and my February feature at Racket at the Rocket. For the Racket show I also designed a flyer – one of my favourite things to do, plus created a Facebook invite for people to rsvp then ignore :-)

baghairy (not ginger) bag

Our Demands is the last in this current little flurry of list poems. In editing it, I did change the time sensitive cultural references to something more recent. I enjoyed the idea of these cold-blooded killers also being sort of whiney cry-babies at the same time; while the authorities are silent and mostly unresponsive.


January 22, Wednesday – featuring – Winter Snow Ball, 7 p.m. – urban gallery, 400 Queen East


January 30, Thursday – guest spot -The Dildettes, 8 p.m., Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander Street.

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

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


March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

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

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


Our Demands

1 p.m.

Here is a list of our demands.

You have exactly three hours to fulfill them

two large pepperoni pizza – thin crust

four 2 litre bottles of classic coke

an escort to the airport

where a plane will be waiting

the plane will take us to St Nities

no police will follow

there will be no charges laid against any of our family

we will be given political asylum at St Nities

there will be no reward placed on our heads

if these demands are not met we will start to kill the hostages

after each killing there will be further demands

4 p.m.

your three hours are up

we have killed the first of the hostages

here are are our new demands:

no punishment for killing the first of our hostages

freedom for two of our compadres currently incarcerated

two large pepperoni pizza

four 2 litre bottles of classic coke

bring our families to the Larry King show

send interviewers from CNN to us

give us more press and TV coverage

stop the helicopter’s flying overhead

re-run the Phoebe gives birth episode of Friends at 9

failure to comply will result in the death more of the the hostages

8 p.m.

thank you for the

two large pepperoni pizza

four 2 litre bottles of classic coke

the Larry King show was a lousy Princess Di repeat

you have another hour to comply

we will not speak with Joan Rivers

send credible press & tv representatives

have Obama sign the Kyoto accord

bring back Square Pegs

bring us the latest P Daddy CD & a sound system

stop blaring sirens

don’t think we won’t kill again

take this body

bring us fresh water

how much longer before the plane to St Nities is ready for us

1:00 a.m.

we are running out of patience people

how many of you have to die

before you capitulate to our simple demands

an escort to the airport

where a plane will be waiting

the plane will take us to St Nities

no police will follow

there will be no charges laid against any of our family

we will be given political asylum at St Nities

they will be no reward placed on our heads

a chance to bid farewell to our families on the Ellen Show

a direct phone line to the white house

more will die.

6 a.m.

okay so we’ve killed the last of the forty hostages

the bodies are beginning to stink

if you don’t give us

an escort to the airport

where a plane will be waiting

the plane will take us to St Nities

no police will follow

there will be no charges laid against any of our family

we will be given political asylum at St Nities

there will be no reward placed on our heads

if you don’t comply completely

we will go on a hunger strike

we will kill one another

we are willing to resort

to what it takes

to get the world to listen

we want an Oprah town hall meeting

we want this to be over as much as you do

so please please

give in to our demands

or our blood will be on your hands

 mannthe good went shopping


I’ve been presented with online summaries of the highlights of my 2013 by Facebook and WordPress that have missed the mark completely. WordPress gave me statistics and my numbers are so overwhelming for me to even bother reblogging, as they suggested. But I am satisfied with the slowly steady spread of my posts around the world. Facebook splashed lots of pics but missed the big moments as well.

trunksbeware of Cathy Petch

Some of those moments weren’t captured on line but a couple of them where. I did great features at Secret Handshake and Cabaret Noir but my performance highlight has to be Boogie Inferno at Lizzie Violet’s open stage birthday – with Nelson Sobral backing me I tore the roof off the Central and made people see me in a different light as a poet. Sometimes pulling your clothes off is a good thing.

lanewaybeware of speed bump

Getting my day of the dead look on for Cabaret Noir’s Hallowe’en show as also a game changer. Another opportunity to force people to see me in a different way.

bakyardbeware of falling branches

I also heard/saw some great performers and saw them differently now that I am reviewing and really paying attention. I was happy to meet and enjoy Nelson Sobral in his many band personas; also fine things out of Myke Mazzei – plus both of them are easy on the eye. Too many good poets to start picking & choosing though – it was a delight to hear Vanessa McGowen often, Tomy Bewick, Koom Kankesan, Cathy Petch sawing her way into our hearts, and … better stop here or I’ll miss someone in my name-checking.

 soon02June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


Lake Pinebow 1

come gather around the fire

gather close and snuggle

come gather around the fire

for here we’ll be safe

from the flicker of things in the night

come gather around the fire

I’ll tell you a tale

that you may not believe

but you’ll never forget

perhaps you’ve heard

of the Denizen of Pinebow Lake

you haven’t

we’ll, guess you haven’t been

in these parts before

or if you have

maybe no one had the courage

to tell such a tale

to some as young as you

cause you know it isn’t fair

to place that sort fear

in someone whose

mind hasn’t grown enough

to listen and learn

to know

when the truth

grabs you by the throat

squeezes the very life out of you

so does everyone have their hot cocoa

any one else want another hot dog

the fire will last a little while longer

so I want to tell you the tale

before it goes out

while the warm embers

keep the chill of night

away from your tender young bones

so how many have been

to the shores of Pinebow Lake?

water wasn’t too cold was it

often is this time of year

it never seems to warm up

no matter how hot the summer

this has been a pretty warm one

even I have to admit that

but still the lake stays cool

gather round the fire

for the tale is about to be told

you want a tale don’t you

one that may cool you

as much as the fire warms you

it happened one summer

many years ago

when we became aware of

the Denizen of the lake

not that any have actually seen the Denizen

we sensed it

you know

the way you can

feel something in room

when there isn’t supposed to be anything there

or the way

a face is seen at the window

of an empty house

and is gone before

you can focus on it

that’s what the Denizen is like

we just have the sense

the feeling of it being there

sometimes there is powerful smell

like a log

pulled out from the bottom of  a deep well

that black brackish decay smell

that makes it hard

to smell anything else

for the next day or so

when that smell comes up

from the lake

we know

the Denizen is on the prowl

we’ll hear a gasp

in the middle of night

a calf bawling for its mother

but the calf is never seen

lost a few myself that way

bones sometime sound

on the shore

over by Pine Point

litter along the rocks there

a few small wee bones

bleached white

and we know

it was one of the feasts

of the Denizen

we know

grind the bones

scatter them in the field

to warn the cattle

of what happens

if they feel too safe

now the Denizen has never been seen

foot prints are sometimes found

small and dainty they seem

but with a smudge mark

deep and long

between them

like a long sharp tail

or maybe its the long sharp tooth

that is uses to takes its repasts

so if  you see that mark beware

skybeware Lake Pinebow

Facebook urges me to look back at my biggest moments in 2013 and manages to miss most of them; which suits me fine – it means I have maintained a private life that FB, WordPress, twitter, tumblr has limited access to. More of my life is out there than ever before. I have had a total stranger stop me in the street to ask if I’m the guy in that video shot at Lizzie Violet’s birthday.

doll02where she fell

I still have people telling me how brave I am for being an out queer – in this day & age? I’m sick of straight actors being called ‘brave’ for taking a gay role in a movie – particularly when the role is of yet another queer dying of HIV. But I digress.

doll01there she fades away

It has been a productive year. Did two great features: Secret Handshake, & Cabaret Noir. Wrote some great short stories, great poetry & even finished a rough draft my romanic fantasy about coal miners in love.

Expanded my following on WordPress, Tumblr & even Twitter. Not that an electronic foot print leads to more people coming out to hear me. I’ve realized that on line energy in rarely equals  the same energy in return.

I’ve made my blog more regular, expanded it to 3 posts a week, with at least 3 photos taken by me in each. Structure has made it easier to do. The reviews have made me focus more on the words I hear – this is a prime case of energy in that seems to often go into a vacuum. I do have a couple of dedicated rebloggers but rarely do I hear anything from a performer I’ve reviewed, except to correct a quoted line (kids, I make notes by hand, in the dark & often on a wet, wobbly table – give me a break.)

doll03goodbye dolly

There will be some changes in 2014. Just because things are working doesn’t mean change is out of the question. How big? That’s another blog post but I will be redirecting some of my non-productive energy output into other directions. 


Dec 26 – Thursday – hosting – The Beautiful & The Damned


June 6-8, 2014 – attending – Bloody Words

samplesDishing It Out

“This just isn’t going to work.” Dish loomed over Spoon.

“What do you mean, my sweet?” Spoon tapped playfully on Dish’s edge.

“I mean exactly what I said.” Dish pulled back.

“You can’t mean that, my sweet. We were meant for each other.”

“So you say, but I’m beginning to doubt that.”

“But why?” Spoon attempted to cuddle into the deepest recess of Dish. “No on reaches you the way I do. Admit it?”

“There’s no denying that Spoon, but with you, it’s all take, take, take. You never bring me anything.”

“But, my darling that is the way nature intended us. The dish brings supply to the spoon. Not other way around.”

“So, you think its okay that I’m all give and never get.”

“But, you get frequent caresses from me, my sweet.” Once again Spoon attempted to nestle into the curved depth of Dish.

“No. No. No.” Dish heaved out, sending Spoon skittering across the counter top. “I will not allow myself to be used by you any longer. I cannot for my own sake.”

“There’s some else, isn’t there?” Spoon sparkled with distrust. “It’s that Ladle. He fills you. It’s him, isn’t it?”

“There is no one else. There never will be. No one. Ever. I will not allow myself to be used again a lowly piece of cutlery again. You hear me! Never.”

“Was the soup too hot last night, my sweet? Is that what is troubling you. Or was the milk too cold this morning? Was it something like that. Please tell me. I want to know. Let me share your pain.” Spoon approached again and laid his head on the trembling rim of Dish.

“Oh give me a break.” Dish heaved out once again, pushing Spoon back. “It was your idea we run away, and where has that gotten us? Where?”

‘We still have each other, my precious.’

“I want more than us. I want to be a part of a set. I want cups and saucers. A meat platter. I long for the company of my own kind.”

“But that can never be, now that you have turned your back on them they will never accept you back again. Need I remind you of this?” Spoon tapped a small crack in Dish’s rim.

“So what I am a little cracked. That’s not reason to turn me out. To force me into the company of cutlery. I said I’m leaving you and I will.” The dish rolled to the edge of the counter.

“Baby don’t go. Don’t leave me this way. We can work it out. I’m sure we can. Let me think. There has to be a solution.”

“There is a solution, you have to be less selfish. You have to learn to give, to bring me as much as I bring you.”

“But darling, I hold so little, while you hold so much. We cannot change our basic natures.”

“There’s always an excuse, isn’t there? We’ll no more excuses.” Dish tipped over the counter and crashed to the floor.


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.

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

bouquet in vase

bouquet in vase

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

bouquet in snow

bouquet in snow

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




I was taught

that knowledge equalled power

that once I knew enough

I could make the universe

give me what I wanted

with the right university degree

the right name of the right saint

would be the perfect magick

what I found was a room full of books

a head full of data   trivia

all vying to get

magick asks

can never feel satisfied

so I let the universe undo

what I was taught

I stepped from magick

with that illusion trick of asking

to a mystic of giving

I slid from hard edged disappointment

to corn-ball greeting-card

life on a calm shell

a shelf on gently undulating silk

graduating to a simple self

slack and supple

secure in white mist

mist that is all give

cozy bed at Loyalist

cozy bed at Loyalist

Lord of the Dolls

Lord of the Dolls

sandels no sand

sandels no sand

I jumped right into poetry month. I think last year I was in the thick of some prose diversions. I’m posting a new fresh piece every day on both my FB page & on Make Spoken Word Go Viral. Viral has also been offering a daily prompt. I like a good prompt even more than a nice … well anyway …

bag'em & tag'em

bag’em & tag’em

On my FB page I’ve also been pairing the piece off with a photo, usually of mine & usually one that sort of relates to the poem. The posts stay up about 24 hours & get deleted before I post the next. Catch’m while you can.

one free booted

one free booted

Here’s one from earlier this week:


I was ready

to meet you half-way

I stood a moment there

on the stairway

you were nowhere to be seen

I couldn’t deny

what my eyes told me

only your footsteps

in the snow

after the moment

I made my own tracks

I was too cold to waste

anymore time on you

I’m not the answer

to anyone’s prayers


nice drawers

nice drawers

Over the years I realized that Toronto really doesn’t have Spring. It’s damp and cold with flashes of sun then bam – hot and humid. I know summer is coming, and like nearly everyone I know, I can’t wait for these cold days to be over but I know putting away the long-johns isn’t going to hurry things at all.

dropped drawers

dropped drawers

So April is poetry month – something like cancer awareness month – only there ain’t no cure for poetry – no one is really fund raising to put an end to it – most people are just hoping it’ll die on of its own if they just stop paying attention to it -

snow drawers like your drawers

snow drawers like your drawers

I’m doing my bit to make things worse by posting a poem a day on my facebook site – each one will only be up till the next one gets posted – so get’em while you can. I’ve spent the last three months working on short story so getting back into the imagist space will be pleasant for me – and maybe for you too :-).

I suffer from a social medial disease that leads me to expect more than can be delivered. When I see fifty rsvp accepts to a FB invite I learned not to anticipate all fifty showing up but nor do I even expect any of them to show up. I don’t quite get this sort of people pleasing – afraid not to accept the invite but then not caring to show up at all?

above the clouds

above the clouds

Since bumping up to high-speed a couple of years ago I was able to increase my social media presence with FB, then WordPress, and Twitter. All on top of my various email accounts, YouTube, Yahoo Groups. Over 200 FB friends merely means more status updates than I can keep track of, endless invites to events I’ll never go to – but I do say no rather than  fake yes or maybe. That way if I show up it comes as a pleasant (I hope) surprise.

I have some 40 likes for my City of Valleys FB page, over 4o subscribers to my WP blog, 40 twitter followers – yet rarely do I get more than 20 hits for my WP page – except when I do a spoken-word review.

below the clouds

below the clouds

But I suppose that’s better than no on-line presence at all. No publisher will accept an author who does not have a web page of some sort – many publishing contracts now include that as a must. So I’ve done that and have learned how to comport myself. Unlike some I don’t pester my few twitter followers with constant reminders about my web pages or flood their feeds with a endless the same # anything that eventually covers everyone on my list as some do regularly. Keep simple.

lingering clouds

lingering clouds

My social medial disease immunity has built up some. I know that being on line is merely being on line – it isn’t a real connection with everyone on any given site. Many of us are only connected so we have numbers not friends, so that we have numbers and not even an audience, we have numbers not sales. Such is life.

Everything I said in my Facebook status before the show: “David Bateman more animated than Seth MacFarlane: Philip Cairns more glitter than the red carpet; Lizzie Violet more glam than any after Oscar party; Helen Posno more emotion than any acceptance speech; Duncan Armstrong – well, there’s always a sore loser.” Holds up the following day. Except, unlike the Oscars, there were no losers, sore or others wise, at the Secret Handshake Gallery.

o superman

o superman

The space is intimate, homey – well, being second floor of a townhouse gives it that homey feel. A poetry salon – with coffee, sandwiches available. Seating a random array of arm chairs, sofas & folding chairs. Always nice to give a reading at spot where people are there just for the reading – not for some bar to sell food & booze.

After getting my videographer in place I opened the show with the bulk of my Brown Betty set – I added two additional pieces and cut one as I was going through the set. Got laughs were expected but the set isn’t all that comic. Bullying isn’t all that funny.

can I get a menu

can I get a menu

Next up was Lizzie Violet. Not much to add since my last review of her – but she is always an engaging and warm performer. I enjoy her sharp relationship – non-bitter – poetry & the zombie p.o.v. She read a new piece about her Scottish roots – ancestors who fought with axe and sword – much like the heroine of Corpse Flower.

After a short break things resumed with Philip Cairns. I hear Philip regularly at BuDa but don’t recall hearing a full set of his material. He treated us to reflections on winter ‘today everyone looks like a fur trapper,’ changing relationships ‘someone I once had the hots for but now hate the fact that he needs a shave.’ His pieces about New Orleans & Jewelry Box are image heavy and rich with his pleasure of both. He recognizes that  jewelry can be ‘substituting for love.’

coco chillnell

coco chillness

Helen Posno closed the show with a series of untitled reflections – ‘if I loved you would the snow be whiter’ – repeated use of water, the sea, sun linked the pieces. I enjoyed the coffee passage: ‘I drink my coffee black – I don’t soften my life’  Ending with ‘underneath this punishing ice spring yawns.’

Host David Bateman kept things lively between sets with give aways and fun trivia questions. I sold some chapbooks, got my set recorded for YouTube and also an audio recording for cd release.

tweety and friend

tweety and friend

Come Home Muffy

The first few days of NaNo have been a struggle to stay on top of things. One can clear the decks but someday they refuse to stay cleared. Thursday has always been a hectic day for me anyway but why can’t NaNo start on a Monday every year – much better.

I prepared for NaNo a little differently this year – I created 30 separate pages, one for each day of November. I also made a list of 30 story points/scenes I wanted to explore for the novel and put one each of those pages. Already day 1’s story point took two days and over 3400 words, so I have a spare story point already for next year :-)

east end wild life park

The story points are sort of in chronological order but that structuring can wait till I’m done. With the last novel I found the sequence changed once I was done. Writing out of sequence doesn’t bother me – if the point I have slated for day 23 fired up in my fevered brain on day 12 then I’m going to do it.

The word count I post on Facebook and on NaNo is never the actual count – I round it down and ‘bank’ the rest of the words. Once I build up a buffer of 3400 words I won’t feel so panicked if I miss a day.

Muffy Was here

Last year I mentored a couple of new to NaNo-ites. I enjoyed that a lot but this year I decided to try ‘hosting’ a writing session in my neighborhood. There was nothing in the east end last year nighttime or daytime. I picked the Red Rocket – five minutes from my house & even closer to Greenwood Subway station. I opted for Friday 1:30 – 3:30. Had to pull myself away from the keyboard to get there but was glad I did, got to meet some east end NaNo-ites. made a good start on my day 3 story point.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

andy one handy

November 8, Thursday – attending The Beautiful and the Damned

NaNo sample

Knowing his way Birk moved quickly over the uneven surface to the crease where he was working. He could hear Clancy stumbling behind him. that’d teach the big mouth who was the big man.

“Watch yer head here.” He muttered as they came to the final turn. He ducked down and then up avoiding the staving joist that was holding the ceiling.


“Y’d think y’d never been in the dark before.” Birk chuckled as he heard Clancy bump the rafter.

“Never so deep.” Clancy was trying to catch his breath.

“Better get used to it quick like, as yer going t’be spending most yer awake time in the dark, just like your sleep time. Day light’ll not be your pal again.” He stored his lunch can behind the upright paling that helped to support the weight of the ceiling.


Birk stopped and Clancy stumbled into him.

“Watch it.” Birk pushed him back. “Tight nuf in here ya know. Here’s yer rake. You know how to handle one.”
“Christ yeh. I rake, pile and when pile is big nuf we shovel in into the cart, when the cart is full we get it to the line to dump it into the shuttle.”

“Trick is to keep up wid me boy.”

Birk tied his face rag around his mouth and nose, tuned his headlamp on and starting hammering with his pick axe at his crease. As the shards and chunks of coal loosened he pushed them behind him for Clancy to rake away.

After a few minutes his shoulder muscles loosened and his mind stopped thinking about anything except what he was doing, how fast he was doing it. Steadily he deepened the vein as he followed it along. He could feel the change in vibration in his pick as hit different types of rock, sulfur, granite, different strata of the vein, even different harness of the coal itself. He had no sense of time but of quantity. Once he felt he had dislodged enough coal to fill the hopper he wriggled out to help Clancy push the cart to the main line. Before they dumped into the shuttle he relived himself on the coal.

Clancy was about to do the same. Birk took Clancy’s free hand and peered at in the light of his headlamp. The skin on the hand was rubbed raw, bleeding along the thumb.

“Just as I thought soft. Piss on it.”
“What?” Clancy tired to pull away.

“Yeh it’ll help toughen the skin faster. Took me a week before m’hands could take it.” He watched as Clancy rubbed his hands in his own urine.


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