‘pleasure in the school yard after Noir’

Lizzie Violet hosted the September Cabaret Noir at the Central to a a packed house of people eager to escape the tedium of Tiff red carpet events. A quick round of open-stagers got the show off to  great start. Sarrah October with a sneaky snaky piece about not fitting in: she grew up feeling it was ‘normal to excluded because kids are assholes,’ ‘… accept words at face because you don’t have  a choice.’  Wayne Neon did a fun song ‘She’s the girl in the transparent dress.’ I hit the stage with some creepy pieces to hint at my October set (which may include a lost Twilight Zone episode.)


steps to the school yard?

First feature was the ultra sparkly Melissa Nicole Mather: with some poems about love, family & growth through loss: ’I want to paint you a plane,’ ‘if only I had the courage to make a scene to prevent the obscene,’ ‘the fish felt the floor for pins,’ ‘if it weren’t for you (leaving me) I never would have found myself.’ She ended with a bouncy dream pop synth song that reminded me a lot of Book of Love.

After a break Dan Curtis Thompson with James King gave us a hint of their upcoming production of Scooter Thomas – this glimpse was of two 13-yr-old boys bragging about making sexual discoveries ‘they weren’t made of rubber they were real tits’ ‘you can stop crying & come out of the bushes’


school yard at noon

Next was feature Beth Murch – winner of the the 2015 HotDamn slam (https://www.facebook.com/queerslam?fref=ts) with a seemly effortless set of emotional, funny, articulate pieces about body conformity, religion, sex & city life. ‘you would be my friend if I were fit (not fat)’, ‘F.A.T. Fucking Amazing Tits,’ my body is more than a Wonderland, it’s a Bouncy Castle,’ ‘do I belive in God? do I believe in swimming lessons?’ ‘salvation is the last piece of cake & that’s given to my sister instead,’ ‘the halls smelt like bic pens & ammonia’ ‘he said he’d never leave – he was right because I still find bits of his lies around,’ ‘a language older that words,’ ‘I will give you oral pleasure in the school yard after dark.’ A perfectly structured set that left all wanting more.


school yard at night

After a another quick break for drinks, chapbook sales & smoke ceremonies the last open-stagers started the last set. Arlene Paculan with a new song: ‘you’re deep inside my fantasy.’ James King with a ballad of longing ‘I never knew I could love you – I guess there are some surprises left.’


school yard later at night

Then Myke Mazzei hit the stage. I have heard Myke many times over the years & his stage presence never fails to invite us into his gentle worldview. His deceptively simple guitar playing supports his strong singing. Some of the songs remind of the best of America or Poco. ‘here I am rambling in the dark again,’ ‘like a bruise you can cover it up but can’t take it back, ‘I was wrong to make you cry.’


besides Memory I also read Confirmation (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1le)


have you forgotten me

black bones in the cluttered attic

satin shoes in the dry basement

the tufts of red hair in the eucalyptus tree

fragments of me to be moved   assembled

each lift of the stain spotted blanket

each a dream in it’s fresh grave

a pinch of thou shalt remember

this bone dust sonata

gives shape each time it is deconstructed

rafters   sugar laces   broken diaries

scopes we scrape together

fleshless ginger ciliate coverings

teach each time we redecorate the dungeon’s view

of a Norwegian countryside cemetery

comfortless in warm midnight allure



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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


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Crisis of Faith @ Hirut

Summer Sizzle at Hirut was a jammed packed house & a jam packed show. The sizzle was spiced up by a large group of Ethiopians celebrating the call to the bar of a member of their community. Some congratulatory speeches were made that stressed their gratitude for Canada coming from a country were ‘after they throw stones at the police we had to be come immigrants – the dictators are still in power & are here.’

With Canada Day coming up out was powerful reminder what our country offers. Also in the midst of Pride it is clear how community creates safety.  We all appreciated how Hirut proved a safe, welcoming space for all on the cold rainy night. Co-hosts Arlene Peculan & Lizzie Violet kept the show rolling & our minds off the rain.


discards of eden?

I hit the stage first with a version of my Brown Betty set of east coast recollections. I had pulled the set together that afternoon, put the pieces in a flow & didn’t look at it until I open my Kindle to perform it. It worked well. The two new pieces flowed nicely – taking listeners to where they didn’t expect. I sold a raft of chap books too, which is always good.


pic by Lizzie Violet

After me was Neil Traynor http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/neiltraynor with a great set of originals & a couple of covers. ‘you deserve all the rain that falls on you’ ‘if I could do it all over again I would change everything’ ‘take time to notice what your worth’. He has a sweet slightly reedy voice but I longed to hear him drop a tone for more than a line or two as his voice is equally as appealing in its lower register. He is a one man Lovin’ Spoonful for the 2015s.


fallen from grace

Next up was Vanessa Smythe (www.mevanessaleigh.com) with a set of storytelling – she is an invested vulnerable perform with pieces bout love, loss, siblings the were perfected tuned, time that drew us into moments of tenderness & emotional reality. Her Gallipoli piece was unexpectedly compelling. ‘nothing here looks the sky in the eye’ ‘I tried to push my ear into the chest of the ground.’ She is the mistress of the awkward, slightly embarrassed pause.



After a brief break Alissa Vox Raw (www.alissavoxraw.com) closed the night with smooth emotive evocative set of one-man choral work – songs that built on the interplay of her self-recorded voice 7 guitar as it was lets on top of what she had just sang. Sublime do whop, some revival, some torch & all fun. She has elements of Laurie Anderson, Diamanda Galás & even Cathy Berberian in her manipulation of voice & music. I loved it.


one of the new (unfinished) pieces I read:

Within Belief

I wasn’t that naive a child

I didn’t believe in Santa Clause

or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy

my parents encouraged those fantasies

but didn’t do anything

to prevent my rational child mind

from finding out those truths

to see through those fictions

made me feel older

but didn’t keep me for my first

real crisis of faith


that came when I was around twelve

when I discovered that the actor

playing Tarzan

didn’t live in the jungle

maybe that was because

I wanted to live in the jungle

surrounded by this half-naked natives


I knew Tarzan wasn’t real person

that he was portrayed by an actor

my imagination hadn’t taken

the next rational step

I was also sure

that people really lived in the Brady bunch house

that the cast of the Partridge family

drove that bus around in their private lives


I was learning the difference

between fact and fiction

to be frank

I was disappointed

it was hard enough to accept what

I heard in church

that some power in the sky

would punish me

or disobeying my parents

but what as the difference between

sitting in a movie theatre

and sitting in church

to learn life lessons

if the movies lessons weren’t real

what was the truth

what did God do

when we weren’t sitting in that church

why were these songs so sad

not that I went to church a lot as a child

I went to the movies more often

the seats were more comfortable

the music was always better


but the lessons where just as distorting

indians wore war bonnets all the time

they killed without provocation

white people were innocent

blacks were usually half naked

would run at the first sign of trouble on safari

women were to be rescued

or were great singers

men beat each other up

kissed the women


movies were are as factual

as what I heard in church

fictions that filled my young head

with weird fears and notions

of what it meant to be a man

to be good

to be acceptable

the Bible seemed to be a sort of Aladdin’s lamp

if you rubbed God the right way

He would shoot off blessings for you


but if you rubbed yourself the wrong way

at the movies to shoot off

you’d go to Hell

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‘I’m some hole’

A sun thunder shower didn’t keep people away from the May Noir show at the Central Sunday night. The enthusiasm of capacity house wasn’t damped by the heavy rain as it stomped its approval for Lizzie Violet’s lineup for the night.


time machine?

Open stagers added more than their fair share to the night’s fun with some fine acappella singing, insightful poetry & even a healthy dash of tres gay raunch (I wonder who brought that to the stage?)

First feature Valentino Assenza open with a couple of well-detailed urban Toronto pieces, streetcars ‘echoes of rides past’  & street corner signers. His set was filled with ‘echoes,’ of the city, of his boyhood summers in Molica, of mentors. ‘the wash and posh,’ ‘business blur of buildings,’ ‘I need you to smother me some relief,’ ‘don’t follow the text book trail,’ ‘playing possum with Buddha.’


moving on

After a brief break Christina Walkinshaw (http://walkinsauce.tumblr.com) brought the house down with her comic tales of Tinder (‘a Pez dispenser for horny people’) life & being ‘happily single.’ ‘smiling at a child in Loblaw’s is as good as being a mother,’ ‘some girls are wholesome, I’m some hole.’ The story from her blog was wry & taught me, one again, how hard it is to edit while you read. A great fun set.


the noir throne

Arlene Paculan (http://www.arlenepaculan.com) closed the show with a sweet sampling of her well crafted pop songs. The great thing about a keyboard is that the musician doesn’t need ten minutes of tuneup before they can start 🙂 The songs she performed covered longing, love & survival. Catchy music and direct, emotional resonant lyrics – ‘I found that bad bad boy/ I trapped him in my broken heart,’ ‘lonely miles away from you,’ ‘I keep waking up to no one,’ ‘I’m stronger than you ever thought I could be.’ As usual she left us wanting more.

rough draft sample
rough draft sample

besides The Amazing (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-PE) I read this new piece:

Sex With Men

I have sex with men

I almost started this with

I sleep with men

opting for that gentler phrase

but the truth is

I don’t sleep with them

I can’t remember the last time

I spent the night with a man

I can’t sleep with someone beside me


I have sex with men

I like the kissing

but that isn’t a deal breaker

unless they want

to push on to more than



I almost said oral

opting for that gentler phrase

but the truth is cock sucking

plays a big part in what turns me on to more

the more mutual the sucking

the more that is possible


I said ‘more’

opting for that gentler phrase

because anal

I mean butting fucking

opting for that gentler phrase anal

is another way to distance you from what happens


I have sex with men

gay bi straight curious

single partnered married

with or without children

living alone

still living at home

as long as they are willing

I’m willing


willing up to a point that is

what I’m not into

I’m not into

I draw that line when I have to

I can say no

to what won’t get me off

I say no

because there is no gentler phrase


what works for you is fine

if you want to say ‘sleep with’

‘oral’ ‘more’

or sex suck fuck

it’s all the same to me

as long as you do it with me

because I have sex with men



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Come On Get Happy

After My Renaissance Teapot it seemed fitting that I had a chance to catch Michael Oesch perform at The Spring Fling at Hirut on the Danforth. Hirut is a block east of the old Ren when I first heard Michael over ten years ago. Host Arlene Paculan opened the show with a song & handed the stage over to Michael.


Michael did a vibrant set full of sweet, yet dirty, slide guitar work on mostly original songs. He recounted his long walks; one from TO to Labrador, the other TO to Vancouver. Needless to say he had one about The Walking Blues. He did a couple of covers as well: Come On Get Happy as an ode to Shirley Jones & a great take on Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground.


Next up was Lizzie Violet with a strong set pulling from her favourite genres: sex, zombies & her mother. It was great fun to see the audience taking Selfies with her in the background doing her piece Selfie that starts ‘I am not a selfie’ – meta audience participation.


Last up was Allen Rex with a fun, in your face, set of his queer songs – propelled by driving acoustic guitar his was in fine form. ‘Keep your shape/ so you can rape yourself.’ ‘In a city of outsiders/I’m a misfit.’ A dynamic set.

Hirut is a great spot for a night out – the Ethiopian food is spiced perfectly & served in the tradition way – no cutlery only a soft, rolled bread to pick it up. The food made me happy. To make me even happier vote for Arlene in there CBC Searchlight Contest: http://music.cbc.ca/artists/arlene-paculan



your dedication to work

takes priority over your personal life

in fact it is your escape from it

that job is your bottle

and like a drunk you can’t help yourself

it blots out everything outside of it

even when you are told not to be there

you are there to tie up loose ends

that tie you up for days on end

how can I unswear allegiance

to my heart and mind

to my body and hormones

when each time I think this is it

there’s another time

you swear you’ll change

that reform is possible

and while you hold your hand to my heart

my head tells me

you will never hold true to this vow

I smile knowing better and doing better

are such different things

and as much as I know better

doing you is better than not doing you

the paradox of that oath I never took never signed never swore to you

unconsciously I have pledged

to be accepting forgiving

not to make plans

I know you will never fulfill

even the simplest promise

of calling when you say you’ll call

I’m trying to swear off you

no more of this bullshit

while a part of me rather likes

getting caught up by this hurt slightly martyred feeling

it has a sweet reward all of its own

I can pine at a window

hope the passing car is yours

when I know very well it’ll never be

having someone to long for

has a tang of romance

of humanness

lets me feel less self-contained distant


I may not be holding my hand out

except to wave good bye


May 7 – Thursday – 8 pm – Judging – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Season 1 finals – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre – 12 Alexander St., Toronto –



June 5-7 – attending – Capturing Fire – Washington DC



( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

June 21-26 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Workshop: The Novelist’s Selfie – Loyalist – Belleville https://www.facebook.com/events/965611026782246/

( I’ve registered already 🙂 )


register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info


June 27, Saturday – 7:00-  Feature: Hot Summer Nights at Hirut, Hirut Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave., Toronto


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


( I’ve registered already 🙂 )


October 18, Sunday – feature: Cabaret Noir: Inner Child Sacrifice


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‘a swarm of humming birds’

A packed house on a hot hot July night! Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir is doing something very right. The Central’s bartenders were happy to be rushed of their feet keeping up with the thirsty crowd (which is always good for the cash register.) Sadly Marcy Rogers, noted dyke about town, was not well enough to bring her wicked chops to Noir. So the open stagers had to work harder to fill her gap (in time, I mean).

bunny night of the lupin

I opted to do a glimpse of Pinebow on the open stage. The first time any of it has been aired aloud in public. This is the best way for me to get a sense of timing, of where it loses my attention. I found it too long, so cuts will be made.

First feature Brandon Pitts is an emotionally invested performer who makes his images come alive on stage. Too many fine turns of phrase to list: ‘legba presides over the cycle of reason,’ ‘it was dropping hail when I came to the crossroads of my life,’ ‘mouth marked by a swarm of humming birds.’ His pieces are rich with spiritual, Biblical and cultural resonances; often so rich one loses the context of the image as the image demands to be savoured.

lost look for the fatted cat

After the break the Four Winds Collective hits the stage. A female CSN&Y they are a songstorm of musical forces intertwined for the greater good. The diverse creative forces involved are: Arlene Paculan:  soulful jazzy pop; Heather Hill piano pop rock; Kat Leonard feisty comedic pop; & Meghan Morrison Celtic groove music.

skater elegy to a rodent

With a smart range of covers and original material each performer gets to show off their ‘brand’ while supporting each other. Emotional, comic, sexy and just plain good times – they fill the room without over-volume or forced emotionality. Maybe because I’m still experiencing this for a certain someone, I found Arleen’s lyric ‘my body is still craving for you’ particularly memorable. (mi cuerpo todavía está anhelando para usted 😦 )


Here’s an edited version of what I read on the open mike. No major changes but lightened line & some sections moved to where they made more logical sense of the flow of the story.

Pinebow 1

come gather around the fire

gather close and snuggle

come gather around the fire

where we’ll be safe

from the flicker of things in the night

come gather around the fire

I’ll tell you a tale

you may not believe

but you’ll never forget

perhaps you’ve heard

of the Dark 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 learn when the truth

grabs you by the throat

squeezes the last breath

life out of you

so does everyone have their hot cocoa

any one want another smoked sausage

the fire will last a little while longer

I want to tell you the tale

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

the water is cold isn’t it

it never warms up

no matter how hot the summer

the lake stays cool

gather closer

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 many years ago

when we became aware of

the Dark Denizen of the lake

not that any have actually seen it

we sensed the Dark

you know

the way you can

feel something in room

when there isn’t supposed to be anything there

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 have the sense

of it being there

only when we aren’t looking

it’s foot prints are sometimes found

small and dainty they are

round and hollow as suction cups

but with a smudge mark

deep and long

between them

like a long sharp tooth

that it uses to takes its repasts

so if  you see that mark beware

first there is powerful smell

like a decayed log

pulled from the bottom of a deep well

that black brackish death smell

that makes it hard

to smell anything else

when that smell comes

from the lake

the Denizen is on the prowl

we’ll hear a calf

bawling for its mother

in the middle of night

the calf is never seen

scattered bones soon found

littered on the shore

over by Pine Point

along the rocks there

a few small wee ribs

bleached white

it was one of the feasts

of the Denizen

we grind the tender young bones

scatter them in the field

to warn the cattle

of what happens

if they feel too safe

me03 pearls in the afternoon

Quiero ser suspensorio de Johnny Depp

The February edition of The Damned hosted by Lizzie Violet (a woman who isn’t in the public eye nearly enough) was overflowing with wild, dynamic, free-flowing energy. The many who braved the sub-Arctic winds were rewarded with strong open stagers & sizzling features.

moonwinter moon

First feature Vanessa Smythe give a top-notch performance of polished, smooth and emotionally inviting pieces about sports bar fantasy meetings, break ups, making ups, and older sister realizations. ‘can’t we talk for a few minutes … about our favourite cereal boxes’, ‘I close the door like I’m closing our story book.’ She slips from character to another in a conversation without us losing track of who is speaking. A great performance.

glovewinter (g)love lost

The Four Winds Music Collective are Arlene Paculan, Heather Hill, Kat Leonard & Meghan Morrison. Four powerhouse solo performers who easily merge together for a Power Rangers super group. They opened with one of Kat’s ‘hits’ that went from English ti Spanish !! ‘Quiero ser suspensorio de Johnny Depp.’ Great songs from each of the winds with sharp, emotional writing: ‘I don’t need a man, but I don’t need dessert either.’ ‘maybe freedom isn’t just walking away,’ ‘Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.’

playhousewinter palace

By the end of their too short set I was wondering, much like I did after Blue Venus a few weeks ago: Why aren’t these women getting at least nominated for Juno’s or Polaris prizes?




once upon a teenage time

I wanted someone  an ocean

to sweep me off my feet

tumble me naked into bed

or I wanted to be   tidal wave

find the right someone

to spray with the wet wildness

of my every hard-on’s desires

I became frustrated   disappointed

I thought sexual satisfaction

was the point of love

frustrated   disappointed when at

each attempt to smother love into my life

it escaped

that the sweet emotional context

didn’t fulfill enough

had to be my fault   your fault

we needed a better porn primed technique

a more flexible back to get the right arch

for the best possible penetration

in a way it was my fault

for expecting the perfect kiss

the slowest blow job

from an adoring lover

with just the right foreskin

muscles    body hair

to take this lonely pain from me

I didn’t realize

it would take more than one kiss

more than one adoring lover

in fact there weren’t enough kisses lovers

cocks balls asses tongues

money music sunshine rainbows

to take this separateness from me

bodies were designed to be enjoyed

not as a cure for anything

adding the weight of expectations

always left me frustrated   disappointed

when I expected a physical satisfaction

to rescue me from a spiritual ocean

100_2682shadow of the snake

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