No Picketers :-( That’s Poetry For You

no need for Gas Masks at BuDa

The Beautiful and The Damned’s (BuDa) night of Queer Dissident Voices sponsored by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, was a Pride Toronto Affiliated Event. That gets the official nods out of the way.

To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to a night of strident, cry-baby activists and was very surprised to get swept up in a night of energetic, passionate and articulate writers hosted by DM Moore.

floating alley art

Ghadeer Malek was a bit caught up in classic political syntax but was personally & emotionally invested in it which gave it great power that transcended, for me, the stridency of images such as ‘pillars of democracy built on exploitation and land grabs’ – images such as ‘parents create children with death in their eyes’ allowed me to share the family tragedy of war. The memory of once listening to the Beatles with her grandmother but ‘it hasn’t been quiet enough to hear the Beatles sing’ was/is for me a dynamic expression of what we lose as our personal context is destroyed by war.

Second feature Hamid Parnian, was in some ways hampered by his limited English – he read his pieces first in Farsi then in English. There was great charm and emotion in his native language – his English translations made it clear his political drive was more personal – being queer was political enough – “we morphed into that which has no names in social morality” – the pieces were sensual and touched with longing, ‘… your bed sheets, the smell of your bed sheets.’

He mentioned that the Quran was an erotic text. I offered to help him with his English so perhaps he can explain that to me more fully.

With QAIA once again getting press we were expecting some picketers, which has happened at past QAIA events – but, hardly a surprise, poetry readings are so below the radar there was nothing beyond our own spoken-word smokers blocking the sidewalk on Yonge street.

I left before the music act, too pooped to listen and absorb anymore. Talked with some old friends, new friends, had yet another long talk about ePub, plus one of my Art Bar fans was there to encourage me to expand Brown Betty into a full volume of verse –

writing sample
writing sample


Here’s are the pieces I read –

More or Less

heavy print said

gay accountant killed by straight steelworker

efficiently establishing

accountant = less of a man

steelworker = more of a man


both blind drunk

less of a man brings more of a man

back to his place

more of a man comes out of a blackout

in the midst of oral sex

experiences homosexual panic reflex

flings off less of a man

less of a man hits his head bleeds a lot



bi-curious turned into straight furious

doesn’t deny what happened

but has no cogent memory

thanks to the blessed absolution of blackout

less of a man had a bad heart

coroner can’t specify an exact cause

too much booze    heart    head trauma



more of a man goes free

due to lack of conclusive evidence

his shame and disgust are deemed

punishment enough

the embarrassment to his wife and child

is paid in full by the life of less of a man

less of a man apparently

having no one of note in his life to embarrass

the death of this predatory queer

being more or less the fair price

for daring to give a blow job

for the stunning audacity of touching

and innocent heterosexual’s sacred dick



he is a man without a context

Brampton landed stranded

with the family of a sister-in-law

a brother in one nation a sister in another

home a room in a basement


learning English

to give him the structure of classes

companionship with others     lost

looking to anchor

skin   dark brown black smooth

arms eager to hold

hungry for more than mere contact

needing the relief of physical acceptance


shy yet fierce

kissing as if he’d been drowning

he tells me of growing up in war

brothers     uncles slaughtered

before his very eyes

I’m not sure if it is genocide

or merely being the losing minority

the politics of killing

for property    religion escapes me


its hard to understand straights killing queers

and still getting away with it

because proving the crime

might embarrass someone’s wife

that’s the closest to war I ever want to be


and he   this stranded man

is looking for a solid ground under his feet

as he seeks a new life here

a man in an already suppressed tribe

where liking men is even more suppressed

I take him in my arms

let him hold on as tight as he needs

I’m learning what it’s like

to sleep with someone’s enemy

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