“gun shots in the night”

Hot Damn!  continues to evolve and now with a grant from Toronto Arts Council it will evolve even more and widen its performance potential and creative reach. The November edition at Buddies in Bad Times with dynamic feature Kai Cheng Thom brought many new faces to the stage. Some reading on the open mic for the first time and presenting challenging and emotionally raw work. It is a powerful reassurance that Hot Damn! proves a safe and welcoming space for writers to be so vulnerable and honest.

Charlie C Petch started the show off by honouring the stolen land we thrive on and with the Hot Damn! anthem, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, played on the musical saw.

Some moments from the first open stagers and slammers: ‘queer smokers unite,’ ‘my sister wouldn’t sell me a broken phone’ ‘I feel scared to be happy’ ‘happiness is the breath between anxiety attacks’ ‘this is so much more than friendship’ ‘happy is a farm house’ ‘in happy I have a life where I want to get out of bed’ ‘maybe I’m scared of seeing your face’

‘my body is a vessel – like the Millennium Falcon?’ ‘my body is not missing anything’ ‘the greatest gift is not to have a child’ ‘something I made when I had feelings’ ‘like that hope I used to save for Christianity’ ‘my parents really screwed up’ ‘nothing but gossip is truly sacred’ ‘I might have come out sooner if my sister hadn’t come out Christian’

Feature Kai Cheng Thom was vibrant, confident, laugh-out-loud funny, politically blunt & emotionally vulnerable. ‘donate my body to art not science’ ‘the dead are free to go where they want’ ‘you were a good child because you were silent’ ‘gun shots in the night that weren’t meant for you’ ‘it is really hard for you, I know, I took a workshop’ ‘seeing salvation in the blue of the flame’ ‘are you keeping me safe or keeping me trapped’

I loved the piece about the revolutionary leader’s lover that took me back to those 60’s icons of change who spouted about tearing down the corporate structure while counting on wives to do their cooking & laundry. Also really identified with the piece about being with a guy having sex with you who kept checking to see that his girlfriend was okay.

After a much need break Charlie got things rolling once again with more open stagers and the final round of the slam. ‘I ache for a sense of belonging’ ‘I cut deeper – when did this become a competition’ ‘I have a dance with death looking in the mirror’ ‘the murdered were all around my age, they died a violent death’ ‘the weight of my backpack still haunts me’ ‘I wear my red dress for you, sisters’ ‘my wrists tells my story better than my mouth’ ‘my gender in a party crasher’ ‘that information should be saved for the wedding’ ‘in my very own bedroom, in my very own house’ ‘what is indigenous pain without a white man’s honour’

Prizes were given, including the $50 cash prize for first place. Hugs, with consent, where exchanged and a good time was had by all. Next couple of Hot Damn! will be in Peterborough, then Hamilton, returning to Buddies on March 8. The Season Four  finale will be in April 6 when we see which winner will represent Hot Damn! at Capturing Fire in June.

On the open stage I read this newly edited version of one of my recent October poems:

The Tingler

as a kid

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

not that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth


No buts. Now go, you lying loser


to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to a movie I saw

where a sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called


a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes


so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth

made no fucking difference


at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now

was their lie

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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