A Little Bent for Bentley Little

When I am asked who my favourite horror writer is I always say ‘Bentley Little’ & they go ‘Huh?’ For a writer who has produced nearly a novel year since his first published book in 1990, plus short story collections, his profile hasn’t skyrocketed. I first discovered him thanks to Stephen King who in some interview I read years ago said that Little was one of his favourite horror authors.

Like King Little’s writing style is conversational, rarely high-flown, or peppered with pseudo-scientific jargon. He plays on myth, legends & even reaches into American history – a ghost train constructed of & by the bones of the Chinese who built the railway – but always starts in the common place & makes the eerier & foreboding.

I have read dozens of Little’s books. I became, as I ma wont to do, a bit obsessed with hunting them all down, scouring 2nd hand bookstores for old ones & watching for new releases. The books are high on suspense, thrills & horror. He finds horror in ordinary things – that new box box store has sales that are to die for – literally.

I’ve kept two, so far, of them on my shelf: The Policy and His Father’s Son. In Son our hero discovers a society of letter-to-the-editor writers whose letters lead to change. It is one of the few novels about writers writing that catches the power of the word, what it means to the writer & then sends that concept into an amazing direction.

 

All the novels are highly cinematic but so far none aha been made into films. I suspect Little has resisted that thanks to what has happened to King film adaptations that have watered down the story to make it more commercial appealing. Bentley can be gory, funny & always scary. He catches human fears & paranoia & makes them into realities; what if the gates to your gated community are the gates to hell?  If you aren’t a fan, yet, I’d recommend The Policy as an excellent starter for this addictive writer.

Dead or Alive

one is already dead

one we don’t know

who knows this child

does anyone recognize 

his running shoes his hands his face

 

is he dead is he alive

we warned you 

not to go near the lake

late at night

first Brad now Jeff

each off on an adventure

 

is he dead

is he alive

what would have possessed him

we told him about the Denizen

we made sure

none of the boys

would go near the smoke shed

they never listen

they never listen

if only they were

content with the pancakes

flap jacks

waffles

maple syrup

we can’t seem to keep them 

sated in food stupors

they have to slip off

looking for adventure

don’t say boys will be boys

 

is he dead is he alive

Jeff Jeff speak to us

wake up 

the grey cold damp

isn’t holding you that strong

spit the cold grey lake water

out of your lungs

tell us did you find Brad

have you seen Olaf

which of you

went to the smoke shed

who stole the sausages

who wasn’t heeding 

the warning we posted

the tales we told

to keep you alive

 

is he dead is he alive

is he Jeff

feel for a pulse

feel for breath

is there a sign

anything

no this isn’t Jeff

it’s some other boy 

another lured to Pinebow Lake

another taken from us

 

if this isn’t Jeff

where is Jeff

where is Brad

where is little Olaf

all the good boys

the brightest and best

have taken their leave

or are they just hiding

peaking around the trees

to giggle and smirk

in some game of hide and seek

where the finders

stay with the hiders

till there is only one looker left

and that will be me

because I won’t go near the lake

late at night

I won’t slip out of my bunk

to look for sausages

I’d rather be hungry and found

 

we must continue our search

beat the bushes

leave no stone unturned

we must look till we find

we must discover

why boys will be boys

we must see if there are foot prints

we have to follow the scent

the deep decay 

of blackened tree stumps

 

something floats 

to the surface of the lake

a glistening slick

like oil red blood

it is moving to follow the moon

it is time for us to light the fires

to gather around

to be told again the warning signs

the things to do

to make sure we all remain here

 

who has seen Tim

he was here a moment ago

he had the matches for the fire

who has seen Garth

he had the marshmallows

come out come out

this game has gone to far

 

is he the next warning sign

the fourth sign

of what is to come

the gradual shift

that takes us each from the camp

to home

 

yes that must be it

the others have gone home

run back to their mommies

scared of the lake

scared of the dark

and never go to get their fill

of the good cook’s works

we can end the search

except to find out

who this boy is 

spewed upon the shore

who

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Shelly Stoker

Two ‘horror’ novels that have inspired me are Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ Though I did not read them until after I had seen various movies based on them both. In fact I didn’t realize they were adaptations of novels until my late-teens. 

I presently have collections of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker on my Kindle. Getting compete works appeals to me as both of these writers have been reduced to their single hit – so reduced that often people don’t think they wrote anything else. Needless to say they did but nothing else captured the public eye the way their big hits did.

I have read the big hits a few times now, both recently, and also read some of their other fiction. I have to say I was both elated and disappointed. Brilliant plots, interesting characters but writing styles have changed so much I find myself slogging through the prose.

I found it hard to divest myself of the movies as well. The Frankenstein novel is structured as memory, as opposed to a action, we get telling. The language is often highflown romantic intellectually purple prose. There is no real Igor in the novel 😦 Plus the creature is rather articulate. It is the plot that holds together, where as the writing is annoying. Her other fiction, that I’ve read, continues this intellectually purple prose of the finest feelings of truest love.

Some of the same holds true for Stoker – Dracula is told as letters & journal entries – very much the style of the time. But every letter writer sounds like the same person. The grand chase scene is endless with a series of delays, snow storms etc to the final confrontation. Much of the vampire mythos is set out: garlic, wooden stakes, sleeping in coffins, & bats. Again too much telling. 

Movie versions have done well by both these basic plots and getting back to the original source material  to see where it all came from has been fun. Seeing how these big successes affected the lives of the writers has also been informative. Today we have the same high concept writing/ movie making where often the concept is frittered away by the telling. 

What inspires me is that the fantastic can be made real with the right world-building & consistency of concept. The authors were invested the reality of their creatures even if they failed to fully develop the character. If you haven’t read either of these it is time you did 🙂

Fiends

when we were fiends

there was nothing that didn’t excite us

the sacred hunger for the better blast

the color unseen

the uncommon lunge from fire to fire 

clumsily lurching from profane to evil

ugly became true beauty 

the more confrontational the surface

the deeper the meaning had to be

 

we would laugh giggle sneer

at those lunching on luncheon meats

not realizing we were the fiends

who made mockery of striving

up some corporate ladder

we would sweep past that boundary

we were going to create substance

that would last longer than the Beatles

have more cruelty than war

drink more blood than Dracula

we were the righteous vanguard

to take fiends into the next level 

 

we would stay up all night 

smoking toking stroking 

our eyes marbles in sand 

rolling our way through 

begrudging sunrise light 

to diners thick with fusty cozy fish smell

for crack of morning eggs 

swimming in blessed grease 

swearing we were bound 

heart to heart in our struggle 

against this culture that wanted 

to deny fiends proper place at any table

 

we tripped off to university

jumping courses in midterm

anthropology to comparative religions

seeking a way to alter 

the substrata of this messed up 

over commercialized culture

 

fiends forced to deal with

the mundane march of shoes to job

we wore the sheen of clock time

kept our fiendishness to ourselves

letting it out in mosh pits 

letters to the editor rages open stages

to keep the brain dancing

while we saw others melt into safety

 

we sit just out of the afternoon sun

don’t want skin cancer

no one wants aging fiends with lesions

waiting for our green tea to steep

looking with longing at sweets

at sweet young things

everyone is younger than yesterday

striving to be fiend of the moment

pierced bleached mohawked

wearing the sneer we invented

looking at us with the disdain

we copyrighted so long ago

even if they don’t recognize it

in their sacred lunge for the new

we are still fiends

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Herman’s Hidden Cameras

As much as I enjoyed Herman’s Hermits as a teen I wasn’t encouraged to admit it. They were radio-fodder bubble-gum as opposed to real musicians like the Rolling Stone or even the Beatles. They were regarded as sweet, squeaky-clean and a band only girls could enjoy. Music hall songs like ‘Henry the VIII’ didn’t help their image either. I picked up stand-alone cd The Very Best of back in Dec 2006 to reclaim that part of my past.

Sure some of the songs suffer from ‘clean’ but many of them are solid, if not brilliant, pieces of pop music. The band wasn’t terribly original, creative or even were outstanding musicians. But their studio work is impeccable. It helps that Peter Noone’s voice is sweet & appealing. ‘No Milk Today’ is a breathtaking track – the production work is sublime & still amazes. The fact that it was written by Graham Gouldman (10CC) certainly helps. 

I picked up stand-alone Highs of the Sixties back in 1994. This is the complete opposite of the Hermits. A compilation of the sort psychedelic, garbage-band music that I could easily admit to enjoying. It includes tracks by Love, Count Five (one of the first latino bands to make it big), The Standells – many one-hit wonders but all fun. I’ve since tracked down collections by some these one-hitters like Blue Cheer, The Seeds, Count Five. I already had an extensive Love collection before I picked this cd up.

But what about the present you might ask? Next on the shelf are these stand-alones by The Hidden Cameras: The Smell of Our Own; Mississauga Goddam; AWoo. This a fun, queer, musically-diverse band that I really enjoy. With songs about water sports ‘Golden Steams,’ politics ‘Ban Marriage,’ love ‘Music is my Boyfriend’ & life ‘Learning the Lie’ performed with energy that invites all listeners into their world. Led by Joel Gibb  the band uses standard rock augmented by strings, wind instruments to create an often rollicking, sometimes folky, sweet romantic tapestry of music that often makes an ‘ironic’ counterpoint to the lyrics. Hidden Cameras take sound pictures of the world in a way I like to see it. 

Lucky Day

It felt good to sleep in. Something I didn’t allow myself to do that often. A warm, snug bed from which I could hear the cold wind outside. As I rolled over to try for another few winks the door to my room opened enough for a head to pop through. 

‘Good morning, sleepy head.’ Jim smiled at me.

‘What are you doing here?’ I sat up.

‘What do you think?’ he came into the room.

‘And why aren’t you dressed?’

‘Another dumb question.’ He slipped into the bed beside me. ‘Neither are you.’

Our bodies nestled together comfortably. 

‘I got the day off so I figured, why not drop over here and spend some of it with you.’  Jim gently bit my shoulder.

‘Great idea. That spare key was for emergencies.’

‘Yes, well this is an emergency.’

‘So I can feel.’

I rolled over on top of him. Just then my cell buzzed.

‘Don’t get it, or you won’t get it.’ He warned, twisting the ring in my left nipple.

The cell buzzed, and as programmed, the buzz got louder the longer it rang.

‘I have too.’

I reached over and picked it up. ‘Hello.’

‘Hi Dave.’

‘Steven is that you?”

‘Yep. Just arrived in town.’

‘You should have warned me.’ I covered the receiver, ‘It’s Steven, my agent from New York.’

‘Well, I was hoping to surprise you. I have the new contract. Bidding stopped at 2.5 mil.’

‘2.5 mil!! I’m amazed.’

Jim was biting my stomach under the covers. ‘Stop that for a minute will you.’

‘Sounds like I caught you at a bad time.’

‘Not at all. No wrong time for 2.5 mil.’

‘Free for lunch?’

‘Lunch? Sure. You staying at the same hotel.’

‘Same room is fact.’

‘Okay see you around noon.’

‘Frank wants you for lunch and I want you for breakfast.’ Jim came from under the covers to kiss me.

Just then the door bell rang. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my bathrobe and dashed down the stairs to the front door. A flower delivery man waited.

‘David Bradley?’

‘That’s me.’

‘Sign here.’

I signed for a box that opened to reveal two dozen red and white roses.

‘Looks like this is your day?’ Jim looked over my shoulder. ‘Who are they from?’

‘I haven’t checked yet. But find today’s paper. I should check my lottery numbers.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft is a master of both purple prose & terrifying visions. I remember reading him in my late teens & being drawn in totally to the out-of-kilter world he created (or was he merely describing an alternate reality that wasn’t fiction at all?) On my Kindle I now have his complete fiction: short stories, novels & even some poetry.

He took me to a disturbed Maine seaside long before Stephen King moved in 🙂 I was impressed by his writing style, though now I find it a bit florid, and was even more impressed by his decision to dispense with the happy ending. There is no escape from the tentacles in his Cthulhu Mythos.

His invented language, strange rituals & decaying churches enthralled me. One of my favourite short stories has the escapee struggle from captivity to find themselves in front of a mirror & being terrified by the monstrous creature they see. My other favourite is the room with weird angled corners that drives people mad. The Dunwich Horror is perfection (& the movie isn’t too bad either).

Re-reading many of these stories as an adult, on my Kindle, I am both transported & a little bored. How many decaying churches, or deep underground caverns full of malignant artifacts do I need to read about anyway. He has spawned an industry, though, of novels, short stories that are still being written to explore & expand his worlds. 

I was inspired by his use of language, his story telling and the ability to create & sustain a complex & compelling mythos so rich that some believe it is not fiction. I approach my Village Stories with some of this in mind – though I didn’t go for supernaturally scary but for a more emotionally culturally-scary mood.

Delete Delete Delete

I went for a walk

took my camera

to see the world as an observer

not a passer-by

I took shots of

stray shoes stray cats

a frozen smile

dirty gutters budding trees

windows that needed washing

people that needed washing

teens smoking

locked doors

cars too close to the curb

a small dribble of blood

bicycles that rotted all winter

posters pasted on closed shop windows

spray tags on mail boxes

an empty threat

cut flowers at a corner store

empty park benches

the distance between the aches

clumps of soggy newspaper

the mouth of a cave

hands holding empty air

three cellphones

a dog killing a rat

a birthday cake

a broken object that beeped faintly

green teeth

a missed opportunity

a wrong turn

a gathering of indifferent hoodies

an orange chain link fence

the last of the great ones

discarded bloody bandages

a farewell to arms

a Tim’s cup trapped in subway escalator

a dead fly in a camera shop window

a reason to go on

undergarments in a storm drain

an absent ache

dead batteries

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

“When A Fem Walks”

Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam kicked off it’s 5th season with international flare with Korean, Middle Eastern, Asian & native poets, singers, & even dancers bringing their creativity to the stage. All are Canadians but our queer roots go deeper than nationality.

Host Charlie Petch’s boundless energy kept the night moving along well after the land acknowledgement & our queer international anthem. The hot button issue of the night was hot buttons 🙂 Hot Damn! now has official Queer Slam Buttons in a range of colours & sizes. You’ll have to come to a show to get one.

Open stagers warmed things up for the first round of the slam. I read a few pieces from my recent chap book. “they were all dead” “don’t turn the light on – I’m less lonely with you here” “being my lover takes more than persistence” “the not-for-profit industrial complex” “lower that critical gaze” “so queer I sweat rainbows & glitter”

From the first slam round: “using binary sex computers” “put a fault line across your body” “years since you left the closet but you still smell of mothballs” “launched too soon & landed too late” “bar shot after shot – you turn into your brother” “talk big act small”

Feature janice jo lee (http://janicejolee.ca) did a resonant set of poems, songs, accompanying herself on a loop station which replaced the cismale boy band of yesterday. Over dubbing herself the songs were complex, compelling & inviting. “when a fem walks down the street – she or he or they are not meat” “if you can’t handle the truth – you can’t handle the revolution” “what’s my gender today.” 

For ‘Crumpled Heart Regrowing” she added a Korean drum to the vocal layering & was join by dancer Sze-Yang Ade-Lam for a remarkable mediation on boundaries & inner strength. Between them they hit the sort emotional notes that shows like So You Think You Can Dance? strive to imitate.

From the last slam round: “morning showers bring afternoon rainbows” “separate the has been from the never was” “I’m going to keep saying my name until it is not forgotten” “when worth is only measured by western standards” “the sound of motherhood is knocking on a cracked door” “why was I born with this ticking clock.”

Winners were declared, prizes were given, photos were taken & season 5 was launched into the stratosphere 🙂 Next Toronto Hot Damn will be at Buddies in Bad Times November 15. 

Spoilers

boy gets girl

dog lives

monster vanquished

boy buys right girl

man repents

eviler spirits arise

escape succeeds

money isn’t enough

love conquers all

she feels compete in marriage

success isn’t everything

he was a she

family is reunited

all is forgiven

things are never the same again

she knows better

he finds a purpose in self sacrifice

boy gets boy

dog learns a lesson

man rescued from loneliness by child

greed is punished

being pretty isn’t fulfilling

he didn’t really want her

the lame horse wins a race

he dies saving others

the truth remains hidden

it was all a dream

there is no escaping

they were ghosts

drugs were a bad choice

bad guy repents

she was a princess all along

the villain was his father

the castle blows up

the space ship blows up

the race is won

marriage means more than career

he is a genius

the plants were evil

Satan is foiled

he walks again

she forgives her rapist

he sees the errors of his ways

his heart is ten times bigger

everyone is dead

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

For Free

For Free

I decided to stop

giving it away for free

when the bar manager

made it clear my free

wasn’t bringing enough 

in drink sales

drink that cost more

than I could afford

because I was giving it away for free

 

every poet

was expected to give it away for free

that’s how it was done

our opportunity

to give it away for free

was paid for in what the bar earned

we were worth our weight in foam

which is ultimately worthless

because what given away for free

became valueless not priceless 

 

when I decided to stop

giving it away for free

it was as if

I priced myself out of the market

a market that went on

without me

 

giving it away for free

let me     forced me

to devalue myself

because people may be grateful

for free

but they only respect 

what they pay for

and I deserve at least

as much respect

as your next drink

I’ve been asked a few times why I stopped doing spoken word shows or even open stages. I told them that I was tried of seeing bartenders make more in tips than the features were getting. It wasn’t an even playing field with poets struggling to pay printing costs while others were struggling to get grant money. Struggling to be heard at the mic over the chatter of the next features friends didn’t seem worth the effort to me.

When I told one series (now defunct) organizers that I wanted to be paid I was told that so&so, who won such&such prize, featured there for free. It was as if I had an ego problem to be expected remuneration. I declined the honour. I know one performer who declined a ‘show’ where they was expected to give a % of any chapbooks sold to the organizers, after all they made it possible for them to even sell chapbooks.

There are worse horror stories of poets, singers who are expected to be grateful to perform without getting paid, or even getting a cut of the door, while being expected to do all the pr work for the event. 

The only open stage I perform on regularly is Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam mainly to make sure old white cismale queers get some representation 🙂 I turned down Pride as the person asking was sure the ‘exposure’ was enough for me – I said ‘Honey try getting Lavern Cox to appear just for exposure.’ I haven’t been approached since 🙂 I am as supportive of the ‘community’ as it is of me.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

I Feel Sexy

I’ve seen Rocky Horror a few times now – both on stage & of course the movie. I remember a photo of Tim Curry in Time magazine, when the film was being made. He was in the classic corset costume & I was amazed & aroused. I’ve never been fan of lingerie on a man except for this one. Panty Papi isn’t for me. 

I was working for Famous Players in Sydney, Cape Breton (not Australia) when the film was released & the opening lips mesmerized me. The plot had everything I was already into: spooky houses, crazed scientists, goth butlers, bisexuality, silly scifi plots & hilarious songs. Tim Curry was amazing too. The man could sing. His drag was not fem, a bit campy &  still remains cutting edge.

The stage productions I have seen have all been good fun but director Donna Feore’s Stratford take is the best I’ve seen. Dan Chameroy as Frank N. Furter is a powerhouse. He makes this role his own without initiating Curry at any point. Totally committed & he makes this imaginary character feel like a real person.

The show doesn’t let up for a minute from when one sits down to face the distressed velvet curtain to when that curtain reluctantly falls as the end after encores of Time Warp. The band was amazing & I love the sax playing of Ian Harper. The ensemble cast is like clockwork – they all sing & dance with energy plus it was clear that they really really loved these songs & the various bits of stage business they had to deal with.

Steve Ross as the narrator handled audience hecklers with aplomb without stepping of of character – plus his singing was excellent – too and he never got a song of his own. Sayer Roberts as Brad was great as well – it’s too easy to down play Brad as a minor player but Sayer holds his own, in undies for much of the play, & when he gets his song, Once in a While proves he can sing as well as looking good in fishnets & heels.

The women in the show are good but the sound mix resulted in them sounding like shrill Betty Boops. In fact the sound mix often made the lyrics indistinguishable to my friends who came to see the show with me. Regardless this is a dynamic production of a musical that remains edgy in its sexuality. Five out of five. It has been extended to the end of November so see it while you can.

My last show of the season will be Paradise Lost in October.

Other recent reviews:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f 

Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K 

The King and I: “The King and My Memories” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31Y

Julius Caesar: “Honourable Women” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-33T

The Hound of the Baskervilles: “Entertainment Afoot”  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-34I

The Tempest: “Brave Spirits Indeed” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-35S

Grand Hotel https://wp.me/p1RtxU-37e 

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Jessie Mae Hemphill

Four or five years ago I watched a documentary on Christmas music – obscure Christmas music, not the mainstream albums pumped out by big pop stars. It focused on a couple of obsessive collectors – which I identify with – looking for lost treasures. One of the songs was ‘Merry Christmas, Pretty Baby’ by Jessie Mae Hemphill. The song was rollicking, sexy fun & the sound was sort of rustic & homemade – clanky tambourine, slide blues guitar with her vocals on top of it all.

I found her on iTunes & have Feelin’ Good; She-Wolf; Get Right Blues on this mp3 collection. The sound quality is excellent. Her guitar playing is strong. The material is a mix of originals, blues classics & some spirituals. Mostly uptempo & all fun. Levon Helm won grammies for Americana but Jessie Mae is an even more rootsy Americana.

One of the other Christmas songs “Christmas in Veitnam” by Private Charles Bowens & Gentlemen From Tigerland – lead me to the The Rojac Story. The only collection where I could get this track. “Founded in 1963 Rojac Records was Jack Taylor’s attempt to capture the musical pulse of Harlem. Throughout the 60s (and into the 80s) the imprint released a steady stream of releases. Whether they were hits or near hits they’re all exceptional in quality.”

The Rojac Story is some 44 tracks from their catalogue including cuts by Big Maybelle, Damn Sam The Miracle Man & The Soul Con’ & many more. Raunchy, funky music that I was never exposed to growing up on the east coast. Some it novelty or one-cut wonders like Private Charles Bowens. This is a compilation worth tracking down.

Clarence Reid is so well represented in this Rojac collection I picked up his Funky Party – the title alone tells you what to expect. A funky version of Otis Redding – Clarance has a fine voice, lots of fun & charm in his music. He may want ‘A Real Woman’ but is open to fun until she comes along. His ‘Winter Man’ deserves to be rediscovered. Love finding these hidden treasures – at least hidden from me – things that round out my musical knowledge. I never know where I’m going to find something new. 

That first time I watched Jingle Bell Rocks! twice just to jot down the names of songs & performers. Since 2014 it shows up on TV every year in December and I watch it every year.

Visionary 

What do I see for 2001 – the news will not change, different names and better coverage but the same events – senseless killing sprees, innocent people shot at their desks, fire bombed in jungles, cults of capitalist doom consuming the energies of people. 

Money made and lost on the stock market, more lost than made made, dives and dips that will send more people screaming in front of TV cameras with opinions but no solutions.

Bad movies about teenagers with no sense of value that will get rave reviews. Music that no one understands, not even the people who make it. Books of pointless dissections of lives, past recriminations of parents for being human and not gods when bringing up those children, with the microphones hidden in their heads, tape recorders for brains that will spew out entire dinner conversations to reveal just how human parents are.

TV shows about people losing their way in big cities where they don’t even speak the language. Sad American tourists blindfolded and taken by air to unknown destinations and just let free – no money, no guides, just that damn camera crew trailing behind their every step.

The American legal system with tear right down the middle with a nation more divided than ever. Greater civic unrest for minorities who are actually majorities. Whites will wake up to the fact that there are more Asians and blacks than anglos in the the land of the free and those people will demand to be free once and for all from the oppression of financial expectations, religious intolerance and body shame. They will rise slowly but surely before anyone realizes what is going on and the tide of change will not be controlled by any national guard or petty sex scandal.

Water will slowly disappear. People will wake up and find there isn’t enough to go around, not enough water, not enough power. Waste will become a crime. No watering of lawns, recycling of bath water, all controlled to eke out each last drop, but still there will not be enough for some. Only the rich will have lawns, the rest of us will have wild flowers (yeah).

The hungry will get more hungry, the homeless will increase as people lose the longing for home. 

The nature of family will continue to change. The Rockwell image will be replaced with the reality of today. Nostalgia will no longer rule and the those who wish we were back to yesterday will be sent there once and for all, leaving the rest of here to enjoy progress and appreciate and flexible future. For without flex there is no future.

The war between the sexes will continue as men stay stuck till they find the gal still stuck in that past. Men will marry each other, women will marry each other and God will smile while churches that perform such services will be burnt to the ground by worshippers of nostalgia.

2001 will be a year of great spiritual shifts in all who flex and one of deep fear and a distrust to those who refuse to open to the future. 

The future cannot be halted and it is my fault.

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Paul Simon

Paul Simon – one of my non-literary inspirations recently released ‘In the Blue Light’ a new recording to celebrate his 77th birthday. He’s taken some of his older songs & reimagined them as pop jazz. I would have liked him to go even further back to his Simon & Garfunkle work. It is a fine set of songs all the same. Listening to it made it clear to me that some of my influences weren’t the dead poets I was forced to study in high school or even the literary poets that ‘real’ poets cite as inspirations so that can sound educated.

 

Simon’s lyrics weren’t necessarily that complex. I Am A Rock spoke to my teenage sense of isolation. Little did I realize ‘I am an island’ was a John Donne reference, nor did I need to know in order to be drawn into the words. It had alliteration, evocative imagery – things that became a part of my own early writing style. It was so simple & direct that it made poetry accessible & seemly easy to write.

So I wrote endless poems in imitation of Sounds of Silence, Old Friends, For Emily. I actually still have some of those high school explorations somewhere. His longing for love was never dark – like, say, Jim Morrison; nor was his search as wordy or complex as Bob Dylan. His music itself was sunny. Even my sexually explicit poetry maintains, I hope, the sense of innocence than runs through his lyrics.

Later Simon became more personal to him yet never felt forced, overly bitter or oblique. He used humour to express some of the difficulties he was going through as he got older, as his fame became less rewarding or as his reputation stood in the way of his just being a guy who wrote and sang. It’s only looking back now as I think about my inspirations do I see how much I owe him.

Why I Want To Be A Clown

the clowns enjoy 

making babies cry 

the highlight of their day 

is when they get a good scream 

out of a baby 

elated when they scare a child

say around 9 or 10 years old

into crapping his pants

 

oh they can’t get enough 

of the shame on a kid’s face

as bowels let loose

because of their crazy 

smeary greasy faces

they would plunge surge

surround an innocent kid

huge mouths agape

with broken teeth 

speared with reds and greens

from the make up they ate 

to get them geared up 

to charge into the ring

 

stumbling bumbling drunk

pretending to vomit in a bucket

throw confetti at one child

then real puke on the next

to the hilarious roar of the audience 

 

when they found the one 

preferably a boy 

because girls were no challenge

the older that boy the better in fact 

one who acted uninterested 

invite him into the centre ring

mock him with garish faces 

bray till he ran out crying

made that little fucker 

shit shit shit his pants

they slap each other on the back 

as they exit the ring

 

sniggering 

at the the lion tamer

who relied on whips

not on wigs

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Every Man Wants

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Every Man Wants

when I said

I’d had enough

I meant I needed no more

not wanting more

isn’t a sign 

that I don’t like what you offer

so don’t take it personally

no I’m not trying to lose weight

why

do you think I’m fat

or that I’m afraid of putting

the pounds on

I’m happy with the way I look

sure

like everyone I know

I’d like to loose five pounds

okay maybe ten

when I look in the mirror

I like what I see

I’m content with my body

yeah sure

I’d like a six pack

every man wants a bigger dick

but you know

what I have is what I have

no one has complained

so no

I don’t need any more

no matter how tempting 

I may want it

but no thanks

there are others more hungry 

who need another helping

all I need

is to enjoy the empty plate

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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