Star Trek Subtext (Feb 20.12)

Got out to Plasticine Poetry Sunday night. I haven’t been to a reading event for nearly two months. Not since I hosted Plasticine in December. I guess that’s part of the aging process – my unwillingness to bundle up warm and then drag myself out on cold wet nights to spots where there is barely room to sit at a table, let alone have a place to pile winter clothes. Paupers offers a bit of space for that in their booths so one doesn’t have to sit the entire night wearing the parka that you don’t want to throw on the floor.memole15

No mic cord for the first set of open stagers & feature. But the room was good for hearing without microphone – though first feature Lynn McClory did have to move to centre of the room. Her set was, for me, a bit dry. I’ve never been a fan of poetry about language – her works captures emotional distancing with abstractions, language play and broken phrases.  As much as I like phrases such as ‘deftly indifferent to the photographs’ I’m not sure how one is deftly indifferent. I did enjoy the irony of her closing piece about the Silent Majority.

During the break I connected with Adam Abbas – he did a great pean to Cathy Petch when he hit the open stage later. Also enjoyed running into and then sharing my booth with one of the Toronto Erotica guys. Thanks also to the organizers for cake to celebrate the recent launch of Cathy Petch’s book “Late Night Knife Fights” – which is already into it’s second printing.PC070014.JPG

Jim Nason started the second set – he read from his recent book “Narcissus Unfolding.” The pieces had a strong sense of place – the ocean, a back alley – that felt grounded and were emotionally inviting to me. Images like ‘the terrible flame of your father’s hand’ made sure I bought a copy of his book.

Final feature was Beatriz Hausner. When I featured with her at Plasticine a few years ago she read several surreal pieces about sewing the perfect man & that book  – “Sew Him Up” – is now in print, so I bought it. The pieces she read from it were infused with a warm Latino sensuality the reminded me of my favorites Lorca and Arenas. She read some pieces from ‘Raccoon’ that were rich with magic realism balanced with powerful emotional response to the life and death of Amy Winehouse – a book I can’t wait to get.

I managed to get into the first round of open stagers – read a couple of comfortable older pieces. As usual the open stagers run the gamut of pure Canadiana nature poetry to closing with a Serge Gainsbourgh song.

samples

Here’s one of the pieces I read:

Star Trek Subtext

an all day Star Trek marathon

the original series on Blue Ray

weird space plants

funky 60’s retro-futurist sets

Kirk Spock Bones Sulu

(Sulu who knew you were

the real queen of outer space)

we had nachos   salsa

bags of sea salt-n-pepper chips

Hawaiian pizza   fried chicken

diet coke   real dr pepper

a 90 inch plasma TV

Trek in all its never to fade glory

as each episode started

we did a soprano unearthly dance

every time Scotty said

‘I’m giving it everything we got captain’

we’d eat chips as fast as we could

when Uhura said

‘we are experiencing interference’

we saw who could burp the loudest

every time Kirk took off or tore his shirt

we removed an article of clothing

(Strip Trek)

every time the fate of a culture

was decided by a kiss from Kirk

we made moony eyes at each other

until someone said ‘phasers on stun’

each time human emotions

were a puzzle

we asked deep personal questions like

‘who has the bigger dick

Chekov or that guy

with his face painted black and white?’

when any alien said

‘what is this thing you earth people call kissing’

we gave each other alien tongue baths

every time Spock said ‘illogical’

we did the Vulcan grind meld

by the time the marathon was over

it didn’t matter

that neither of us really liked Star Trek

we’ll never forget this Star Date One

…..

When I got home there was Sulu – George Takei – on Celebrity Apprentice – though I don’t think I’d want of these contestants to make me a sandwich.

dish

Raccoon #Bondage

My great night at Plasticine Poetry started with Pauper’s excellent beef stew. The open stage list filled before Cathy Petch got her coat unzipped. Those that didn’t brave the eager swarm and didn’t get on the list were more than miffed that they didn’t hear the ‘bitch’ announce ‘time to sign up.’ I made sure I was on the list, in the first set of open stagers & read four short April poems.

call the Ikea hotline, now
call the Ikea hotline, now

The show was mostly of poets I have heard more than once before & all of whom I was eager to hear again. First feature was Greg “Ritallin” Frankson. He performed at the Damned in March and it was good to hear some of those pieces again. I admire his steadfast social commentary. He is invested in poetry that can change – in some countries he’d be jailed, here his punishment is the struggle to make a living as a writer. ‘Untouchable’ his poetic declaration of independence addresses being black & defying the demand that he only write about the black experience & being accused of being a ‘traitor’ when he opts not to do so – something, as gay poet, I understand – if I don’t address my ‘issues’ my authenticity is questioned, when I do, I am accused of always writing about queer – you can’t win.

your room will be ready shortly
your room will be ready shortly

Dominique Russell – the second feature, was the one poet whom I’ve never heard. She read a series of sonnets that played with repeated motifs of snow, cold, nails, half-moons – in sharp domestic images ‘days crumpling like piles of laundry,’ ‘the freshly laundered day in a cage of snow.’ Clear snapshot moments that became a mural as opposed to a single linear story.

some assembly required
some assembly required

After the break Mike Lipsius – always dapper in a smart fedora – gave us a solid set of new work. Some with his wry images – Mississauga: ‘if you were welcome here there’d be a sidewalk’; lost off road in the county where, ‘it’s possible I’ll never see pavement again.’ His last pieces were more emotionally  intimate & I sometimes wonder if people who start relationships with poets are only interested what the poet will write when they break up.

Final feature Beatriz Hausner read from her amazing new collection ‘Enter The Raccoon.’ I heard several of these when they were in manuscript and was happy to finally have them in book form. Beatriz is a fabulist – she moves between factual into myth without losing the emotional reality of human relationships, even when one of the partners is a human sized raccoon. In one brief section she talks about bondage gear: ‘the banality of all that leather and metal’ then slipping on an outfit that will turn her into a praying mantis. Buy this book.

 

my coming attractions
my coming attractions

April 28 – Sunday – attending – Howl @ Q Space

May 9 – Thursday – attending – The Beautiful and The Damned

May 12 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir

June 24-28 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Fiction Writer’s How To

 

writing sample
writing sample

another little breather from City of Valleys – another short piece – this is in very rough shape but sharing a rough draft doesn’t count as publication when I choose to submit.

 

Condo

 

I followed the relator through the condo, half-listening as he listed the various selling point, all of which I already knew. The lay out was the same as the showroom suite. Without the soulless, stylish furniture it felt bigger, cleaner. It had been that artsy, we’re-not-generic-furniture furniture in the display suite that nearly put me off. If this was the type of person they were selling to then I was certainly not that type of person.

But he spotted me in the showroom suite looking. He must have mistook my look of chagrin for interest when he approached me. To be honest I was more interested in him than the condo. I was in the market though and saw not reason not to enjoy his verbal skills for an hour or so.

 

*

 

“As much as possible we have used, or rather, reused building materials from the structures that were torn down to make room for this structure.”
“Reused?”

“Yes, the builder were very deliberate in the demolition of the former apartment blocks and houses that were here. They more dismantled than demolished. Even the concert has been pulverized and reconstituted to make the kitchen counter tops, tiles in the bathroom. The hardwood flooring was as much as possible reused.’

“What was here originally?”

“That I don’t know.”

I was happy to get him off his pre-programmed info dump about the condo. I knew that re-cycled didn’t mean cheaper.

“I do. This is the third rebuilding of this area. Before what was torn down this time they had to raze some of the original settlement of the city. A couple of churches, hospitals, even a cemetery.”

“Wow!”

“I just hope they haven’t been reusing what was reused, as it were.”

 

*

 

We were just entering the kitchen when a loud slamming startling both of us.

“What the … ’

He dashed back to the living room and I followed. The coffee table, in the middle of what was an empty room, was split down the middle by a jagged crack. One the legs was twisted out from under it as well. It looked like one of the ones in the demo suite.

“Is there anyone there.” He called out. “I’m callings security.” He took out his cellphone and punched in the number. “Jake there’s something going on in the finished suite on the third floor. Get some one up … ”

He was drowned up by a slamming of doors from the kitchen.

 

*

 

The temperature in the living went up. Quickly. Ken was sweating. The air began to smell of earth, of wet leaves.

The relator pushed Ken toward the door “Come on let’s get out of here.” He shouted over the sound of the slamming doors.

The apartment door wouldn’t open. The handle abruptly came off in the relator’s hand. He fell off balance tumbling into Ken. They both lost their footing and were on the floor. Ken on the bottom. The floor seemed to ripple underneath him.

Ken tried to push the relator off him while at the same time the relator tried to get himself up.

Their heads rubbing together.

“What the fuck.” The relator said.

It felt as if something was holding them together.

The slamming stopped.

 

*

 

Ken strained harder to push the relator off of him but couldn’t.

“You okay.” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“Try pushing off me.”

The relator put his arms on either side of Ken as if doing push up and strained. He torso barely moved.

“I can’t.” He stopped. “It’s like an air current is pushing down. Holding me on you. Try of squirm out from under me while I hold myself up.” He braced himself and pushed up from the floor as best could.

Ken tried to shimmy. The floor slid under him slightly but he couldn’t move in either direction. “I can’t get any traction.”

He reached arms out as far as he could on either side and tried to spread his legs at the same time. The relator pushed up at the same time but there was no breaking lose of the force that was holding them.

“I’m not too heavy?” The realtor asked.

“No! I can feel you on me but you’re not pressing on me. It’s as if you have no weight.”

 

*

 

‘Can you move at all.” The realtor asked.

Ken wriggled his shoulders, hips like snake. The carpeted under him seemed frictionless.

“No. All I can feel is me rubbing against you.”

“Maybe if both moved in the same direction at the same time.’ he suggested.

“And go where?”

“Toward the door if we can.”

Using my fingers like claws I tried to drag myself, inch myself along the floor, while trying to get a grip on the carpet with my heels to do the same thing. The realtor on top of me was attempting to push with his hands.

We made no headway.

“Fuck. I can bench press my body weight.” he was exasperated. “But I can’t budge us.”

The door to the suite opened.

 

*

 

“This is one of the fished suites.” A female voice said. “We’ve kept this one unfurnished so you can image what you can do with it.”

“That Linda.” he said. “Over here Linda. Over here.” He was shouting in my ear.

“I loved that couch in the showroom suite downstairs.” Another female voice said.

“Yes,” chuckled Linda. “We wish we were getting a commission for selling those couches.”

“Over here.” the two of us shouted.

“First we’ll look at the kitchen.” their footsteps went down the hall away from us.

“Didn’t she hear us?” he said.

Then the banging of the kitchen cupboards began.

 

San Francisco joy
San Francisco joy

Star Trek Subtext

Got out to Plasticine Poetry Sunday night. I haven’t been to a reading event for nearly two months. Not since I hosted Plasticine in December. I guess that’s part of the aging process – my unwillingness to bundle up warm and then drag myself out on cold wet nights to spots where there is barely room to sit at a table, let alone have a place to pile winter clothes. Paupers offers a bit of space for that in their booths so one doesn’t have to sit the entire night wearing the parka that you don’t want to throw on the floor.memole15

No mic cord for the first set of open stagers & feature. But the room was good for hearing without microphone – though first feature Lynn McClory did have to move to centre of the room. Her set was, for me, a bit dry. I’ve never been a fan of poetry about language – her works captures emotional distancing with abstractions, language play and broken phrases.  As much as I like phrases such as ‘deftly indifferent to the photographs’ I’m not sure how one is deftly indifferent. I did enjoy the irony of her closing piece about the Silent Majority.

During the break I connected with Adam Abbas – he did a great pean to Cathy Petch when he hit the open stage later. Also enjoyed running into and then sharing my booth with one of the Toronto Erotica guys. Thanks also to the organizers for cake to celebrate the recent launch of Cathy Petch’s book “Late Night Knife Fights” – which is already into it’s second printing.PC070014.JPG

Jim Nason started the second set – he read from his recent book “Narcissus Unfolding.” The pieces had a strong sense of place – the ocean, a back alley – that felt grounded and were emotionally inviting to me. Images like ‘the terrible flame of your father’s hand’ made sure I bought a copy of his book.

Final feature was Beatriz Hausner. When I featured with her at Plasticine a few years ago she read several surreal pieces about sewing the perfect man & that book  – “Sew Him Up” – is now in print, so I bought it. The pieces she read from it were infused with a warm Latino sensuality the reminded me of my favorites Lorca and Arenas. She read some pieces from ‘Raccoon’ that were rich with magic realism balanced with powerful emotional response to the life and death of Amy Winehouse – a book I can’t wait to get.

I managed to get into the first round of open stagers – read a couple of comfortable older pieces. As usual the open stagers run the gamut of pure Canadiana nature poetry to closing with a Serge Gainsbourgh song.

samples

Here’s one of the pieces I read:

Star Trek Subtext

an all day Star Trek marathon

the original series on Blue Ray

weird space plants

funky 60’s retro-futurist sets

Kirk Spock Bones Sulu

(Sulu who knew you were

the real queen of outer space)

we had nachos   salsa

bags of sea salt-n-pepper chips

Hawaiian pizza   fried chicken

diet coke   real dr pepper

a 90 inch plasma TV

Trek in all its never to fade glory

as each episode started

we did a soprano unearthly dance

every time Scotty said

‘I’m giving it everything we got captain’

we’d eat chips as fast as we could

when Uhura said

‘we are experiencing interference’

we saw who could burp the loudest

every time Kirk took off or tore his shirt

we removed an article of clothing

(Strip Trek)

every time the fate of a culture

was decided by a kiss from Kirk

we made moony eyes at each other

until someone said ‘phasers on stun’

each time human emotions

were a puzzle

we asked deep personal questions like

‘who has the bigger dick

Chekov or that guy

with his face painted black and white?’

when any alien said

‘what is this thing you earth people call kissing’

we gave each other alien tongue baths

every time Spock said ‘illogical’

we did the Vulcan grind meld

by the time the marathon was over

it didn’t matter

that neither of us really liked Star Trek

we’ll never forget this Star Date One

…..

When I got home there was Sulu – George Takei – on Celebrity Apprentice – though I don’t think I’d want of these contestants to make me a sandwich.

dish