‘The gateway drug to gay’

The heat, the Fire & Pride were all impossible to avoid on Saturday – one had to experience the heat & Pride to get cozy with the Fire. Temperatures, with humidity, were in the 30s. iced coffee was a latte in microseconds. After the late night at Coffy I got nearly enough sleep to face the first workshop of the day at the Keegler, that is once I found the Keegler – it was closer than I realized but parallel to my hotel not north of it. I think the start of the Pride crowd in DuPont Circle got me slightly disorientated. Sweaty shirtless men can have effect on me before 9:30 in the morning.

The workshop with Sonya Renee Taylor dealt with body – not how we view out body image but how we relate to the body as writers. Where does something resonate outside of the intellect? A provocative workshop that was way too short to fully explore things beyond the intellectual level.

Next I took in the First Kiss reading – which wasn’t as sweet or even-bitter sweet as the title suggests. The pieces, for the most part, were emotionally direct, angry & disturbing. Mine was the anomaly – sweet & a little nostalgic. Those who were the most ‘troubled’ garnered the most appreciation – I clearly haven’t suffered enough to be an authentic poet.

mail came through the slot during the workshop

I followed the with Jillian Christmas’s workshop on Perspective – it looked at how we as poets need to find ways of writing from perspectives outside your own to enlarge out world view. How to do this without seeming cultural appropriation is part of the challenge. I enjoyed the conversation around this issues and the writing exercise as well. By now it was time to rest – I had misspelled ‘hand’ twice – first as ‘hard’, then as ‘herd’.

After a recharge, mediation, shower & change of clothes I was ready to face the SLAM part of the summit. Crowds at DuPont circle where even thicker so I took a different street to evade them, but they became inescapable as walked over to 14th Street. It was the largest blocks party that makes Toronto’s pride seem small & provincial. I learned later that a par tof this spread was due to anti-corporate sponsorship Pride posters who managed to stop he parade at one point. More about that in another blog post.

I got to Busboys & Poets by 6 pm – which amazed me considering the heat – maybe the fact that I didn’t get lost once helped. Ate sensible food, consumed fluids & got asked to be one of the judges for this portion of the semi-finals. I have had some experience 🙂 8 slammers, 2 rounds & the top 4 were to go on to the final slam.

Round 1: supper was a getting of grievances, I wish you wouldn’t yell was wish never granted, like the earth sounds when we are six feet under, love themselves with the lights off, remedy this by sleeping with anyone who will sleep with you, their lips sealed but open, I’m the gateway drug to gay, more mistake than man, it’s only real if it hurts, I can tell them anything as long as that anything isn’t the truth, without F’s A’s are meaningless, F won’t get a kid out of bed in the morning, the ring on her finger was a noose around her neck, holding hands makes me a target, own the words that burned us’

Round 2: punishing us with green bean casserole, you have to fall before you can fly, sometimes it’s better to shut up & pay the bills, one day you’ll be okay, shaping the idea of themselves in the air, jars of gas station wine, all I’m ready to do is cry, silence acts lie a step to one side, let unwanted visitors come inside, my memory creates an illusion, any more than a hurricane is a breeze, mental illness is a good scape goat it lets white entitlement off the hook, fuck the idea of blaming this on trauma’

I was drained by the end of this – multitasking isn’t my thing: so eating, listening, judging, make blog notes & looking fab in my tee took its toll. After the top 4 were announced I made the difficult choice of getting out of there. The Pride block party had spilled out over the areas blocked of traffic for it so there even more of those shirtless men to spot but by now they were stumbling and out-of-focus – clearly the heat had gotten to them not the booze, party favours and protest.

Past Washington posts http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1e3

Ghost Kiss

I was eight

Peter was ten

his grandmother

in tight plum slacks

was a million

the occasion

his hallowe’en party

I was dressed as a ghost

my mom’s easy-to-do costume

I didn’t want to wear that

old faded to pink red sheet

with uneven eye-holes

‘you’re the scary crimson ghost’

my mom smiled

with a nudge

I trudged off

anticipated mockery in my ears

Grandma greeted at the door

popping her teeth out

‘who wants a kiss’

she would purse her lips

if you wanted one

you’d get the wrapped kind

if you didn’t

she’d cackle

‘ha ha I’ll give you one

before the night is over’

pirates ballerinas

cowboys spacemen

kids in real costumes

Peter was dressed as a ghost too

only he had curtains

nylon and sort of transparent

they were really spooky


we slipped off

to a cool upstairs room

stripped off and reappeared

in each other’s costumes

to fool everyone

and when Grandma

caught sight of my naked little body

under those curtains she shrieked

‘you horrid horrid little boy

how could you do something like that’

and sent me home

no treats

except for the moment

when Peter and I


hugged kissed

then got into the ghost costumes

many of us still wear today

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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