R2D2’s Glory Hole

The final day of Capturing Fire was yet another full of goodness, thunderstorms, sweat & tears days. It kicks doff with the brunch at Mulebone – good food, coffee, lots of conversation & my amazement that people had the time for such full make-up that early in the day – made be glad to be an ordinary guy 🙂 It was also a nice to connect with some of the other poets in a non-performance setting – but, honey, let me tell you we’re never off stage.CD0601I took a long break after brunch to relax, mediate & apply more 110 sunblock (which made this white guy even whiter) before going to the Keegan for the 3:30 pm Queer Asian Reading: hosted by Gowri K. Lots of vibrant strong work but a range of Asian writers: including Indian, Chinese, Philippine. Cultural diversity is no more ‘inclusion’ than the need for buttons on a shirt. I was deeply moved at time – not naming names though.

I stepped out for some stale air – hoping the rain had cleared the air but it hadn’t. I did notice that the boots I had take a picture off a few hours ago where now gone from the trash. I sat in on the tail end of Creating a Solo Play Reading and Panel which was followed at 6:00 pm by New Shit of the Queerest Kind Open Mic hosted Kay Kassirer. I had brought Six Feet Under – the version if it was new & as I read it I discovered the right ending for it. Thanks Capturing Fire.

DC0602Dashed back to the hotel to shower, fix my hair, pick my shirt (poodles again as it deserved a 2nd showing) & mer to Busboys for the 8:00 pm Sparkle DC Open Mic hosted by Danielle Evennou & Regie Cabico. Had a burger – after this weekend I needed real red meat (that was the only meat I got my hands on since arriving DC).DC0603Strong open stagers. Great sets by Jason Schneiderman (auto spell wants this last name to be Spiderman) ‘the moral of this poem is ‘fuck you’.’ Was he wearing his Thom Gunn leather jacket? Claudia Alick calling out films that ‘use our history as decoration.’ Cathy Petch did a main feature with precision, hilarity & emotional depth. Did CP3O ever find R2D2’s glory hole?

I, as usual, was the odd man out – with so much powerful political, gender, race material I opted to do something completely different – Oogie Inferno – my ode of old school disco, which nearly brought the crowd to its feet to dance. Some one said later that the me who performed was a complete shock to them. I don’t have hidden depth, I have hidden shallows 🙂

DC0604Hugs, tears, photographs- yes this year there will be actual photos of me at Fire other than the ones I’ve taken in various venue washroom mirrors (hey! I didn’t take any of those this year, yet). Another night I feel asleep back at the hotel while taking my socks off. Can’t wait until next year 361 days for when I wrote this post.samplethis is the piece I read on Friday night at Coffy Cafe

Hard To Believe

just because

I have a hard on

doesn’t mean I’m interested

it’s not like

we’re in high school

& I can hide it behind my books

or tie a jacket around my waist

yes I do have a hard on

that is an erection

yes it is very hard

like a rock

like a rocket ship

but

you aren’t the landing pad

I’m not interested

I’m not even pretending I am

what more can I say

to convince you

I’m not interested

no I don’t find you repulsive

but it’s not you

that’s making me so hard

when you kiss me

when you pinch my nipples

anyone can do that

and I would get erect

so it has nothing to do with you

you can ignore my hard on

in fact

I wish you would

just take your hands off my balls

stop licking the head of my dick

I’m not interested

I didn’t take my clothes off

for you to give me a blow job

I didn’t

take your clothes off

for that reason either

it was just something to do

honestly

I didn’t come here to have sex with you

that was the last thing on my mind

I’m not having sex with you

to make you fall in love me

I don’t want to be in love

I don’t have the time for that

neither do you

we are adults

we can control ourselves

we can ignore these erections

and get on with our conversation

nice weather isn’t it

dc02

Hot Damn! & the Siamese Twin Werewolves

22hot16

I had just finished watching 21 Centimetres before I headed out to Hot Damn’s! spectacular second season finale. 21 is a Spanish musical extravaganza about the harsh realities of trans life in 2004 – things haven’t changed much. So I was in the right frame of mind for judging the glittering array of slammers & features at Hot Damn!

Praise only goes to Cathy Petch’s head, so I’ll merely say she did an excellent job hosting the event & shepherding the performers & name checking the sponsors, prizes and pushing Capturing Fire (the big prize trip).22dc01

The slammers (Ziy Sah, Andre Prefontaine [thanks to Andre for the twins image in the title of this post], Kathleen Driscoll, Vanessa McGowan, Kay Kassirer, Transient) covered immigration, family violence, pan sexuality, poverty shaming, gay parenting, sexual healing, and of course broken/twisted relationships. A powerful demonstration that our concerns transcend gender, sexuality, body parts & which washroom to use.

Lines from the first round: ‘immigration is a frame of mind, is my home – what happened then doesn’t have to happen now – over-grown child soldier forced into a war he doesn’t understand – I just laid eyes on you at the hardware store – your firm solid bottom that evenly distributes heat – above all I can’t talk about it – covering up for poverty is exhausting -do you know how they make this cereal – why did Parker say boys can’t wear dresses – mama what’s binary – bodies we did not want to be living in beside each other – neither of us wanted our hands to turn into his hands – did we ever fall in love so fast – Siamese werewolves tearing at each other.’22dc02

Carolina Drown did an emotionally evocative set with dancer Xica “Dadiva” Ducharme. The audience was happily pulled into her well modulated reverb heavy guitar work, wordless chanting, and the resonant ‘I almost killed myself on Sunday … I’m glad I’m here to see you once again.’ At times Xica’s dancing was an ectoplasmic manifestation of Carolina’s voice. It brought to mind Japanese Butoh dance. 22dc03

After a break we were enthralled by a sample of Natasha “T” Miller, and Siaara Freeman’s Good Grief Tour with pieces about death, murder and relationship break ups (is there a difference?). Funny, politically sharp, emotionally open, the two poets played off each other with great affection and energy.  ‘No, I’m not bitter … I wish you bars that serve everything but what you want … strap-ons that won’t stay strapped on’  ‘they say a drug dealer died not who … they say say the drug dealer’s funeral is next week … they don’t say his name’ ‘I put on my father’s chalk outline’ ‘you only go before your time if you’ve never loved unconditionally’ ‘admitted my addiction to stalking’ ‘you know what you should wear for Halloween? Honesty – no one will recognize you’ ‘urban girl gets spoken down to … urban girl was asking for it – gets jumped more times than rope.’

With no time to catch our breath the final round of the slam took off. ‘my body hurts all the time especially when someone touches me – constantly cannibalizing your self-esteem – hands become crippled proxies – played his wrists like a violin – I text my friends to let them know I’m alive – to be fully touched you need 71 lovers – always asking if you like this – you’re not disabled enough – at least you’re not in a wheel chair – if the sight of my fatness makes you comfortable – GOOD’ ‘he thinks as he’s Adam … made from his rib give him the right to break hers – knife blades at my throat like a favourite perfume.’22dc04

The performances were tearful, funny and vulnerable in a space that allowed for full & fearless self-expression. Scores were added up, time deductions factored in and Kay Kassirer was the big winner this year. I hope Capturing Fire is ready for them 🙂

samp01

The Outshining

what’s the point being accomplished

if you have to always be mindful

of those who hold power over you

who become so defensive

that anyone else’s accomplishments

are threats

I didn’t know well enough

to to keep that to myself

I could have said

‘aw shucks

I’m still catching up to you’

or

‘I owe it all to you

gifted teachers

result in good students’

nope I had to say

‘thanks

I’m amazed at myself too’

I didn’t reflect light back on them

my bad

them resentful

wielding their influence

to keep me in my place

to teach

that no matter how good I am

I am nothing

until they say so

they’ll never say

I outshine them

soon1

cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

June 3-5: attending: Capturing Fire 2016

nufire

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx5KD1eDccdjdTdQ28kZRNg

June 11 – attending: The Toronto Poetry Talks – 10 AM – Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C6

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https://www.facebook.com/events/147955055574679/

September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016 (I’ve already registered)

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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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Pitch Perfect Petch

Charlie Petch brought us the Bum’s Rush at The Cameron House after a smash run in Peterborough. The inventive vaudeville show structure allows Charlie to wow us with their ability to play the saw, sing, dance, tell stories while deconstructing gender, identity expectations & home repair (when is a saw not a saw? when it’s a personal entertainment device). Smartly staged in the backroom at the Cameron House, the space was perfect for the vaudeville house feel. The SRO house also added to the feeling of a crammed, dusty old theatre.12cath01As their character Mel Malarkey says at one point ‘The body you’re born into may not reflect the person inside it.’ This vaudeville production you see reflects more than the acts perform. Text, subtext, meta-text all flow together seamlessly in CP’s MM. One need not know any of the subtext to enjoy the entraining structure of the show.12dclt02Mel hosts, talks between acts to a dressing room mirror (us as the audience are in the place of the mirror), fills in backstory. On stage Mel shifts between characters, accents & even interacts with the other ‘performers.’ I love the eye to eye moment with the Dancing Donkey. Mel sings, plays the saw, impersonates Dietrich at one point, revels in the opportunity to question our perception of gender, the struggle of being a woman dressed as a man who knows what a woman wants.12yellow08The show was well researched. I particularly liked the inclusion of The Dumbells: a WWI Canadian army entertainment troupe that specialized in female impersonators was a resonant choice for this show. It’s always heartening when lgbtq history is used this effectively & subtly as the same time. 12red04Charlie Petch performance was animated, touching and flush with the joy of being on stage. I am tickled when a performer clearly loves what they are doing. Em Glasspool, director and accompanist, was the perfect piano playing Greek chorus. This is a show that deserves to be seen by more SRO audiences and I hope it finds its way into the Fringe, or Summer Works and then gets expanded for a full blown Pantages run.

samplesend song

the float of cups spoons
moons leaves
wet midnights broken by laugher
left to reflect on the puddles
red sticky slicks that caress the stage
invite the applause of over-hanging gaspers
soon to be disgraced with apologies
wondering not aloud

what if this isn’t the moment

to leap up once and for all

get it over with
no beginnings only ends
only a bar counter to wipe ready
for weary prisoners to stop rest gripe
about the fairness of their sentence
how they deserve what they want
and they want it now piping hot
heaped dishes of freshly chopped
branches of moon strung stings
to replace the end of things

we all know that end is looming
bigger than that pole-dancer’s ass

that hovers over your out-stretched glass
another drop pretty pretty please
please squeeze harder we know you can do it
before the song changes
it has to be on that note
the universal choir
chasing clouds of notes around
looking for the car keys put down in a hurry
your car running in the garage

who is in the back seat drifting
as the red slick sends
reflection of spoons to the moon
each prisoner barely turning
in their stools asking
are we up to guessing what comes next

dancing donkeys

or the end of things

 

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Loose Cannons & Landmines

The Hot Damn! last chance slam filled the Supermarket to SRO! As the show persists (we’re queer, we’re here & we’re not going away) the range of work has become wider & the writing/performances stronger. The pieces tackled rape, physical abuse, racial expectations, pan sexuality, binary constrictions, family disfunction & food. Despite the complex emotional issues presented Cathy Petch kept the mood from descending into a pity slam with her positive and fun introductions, with the wild assortment of prizes. Who isn’t cheered up by ceramic poodles?5pink1A flurry of lines from the first open stagers & slammers: more glimpsed than looked at – it’s just a compliment – whistle while you work-out – harassment is not a compliment – when she looks at me all she sees is him – the way to be heard is to be lighter (skinned) – how do you fix someone who doesn’t know they’re broken – bodies we didn’t want to be, lying beside each other – try to hide the fact they were ever broken – neither wants our hands to turn into his hands – moans that taste like wine – the tender of my lover’s nakedness – I am more than what you see – I am not a doctor, I am amused.5pink2Main feature ‘The Ragdolls’ did an emotionally compelling, relaxed and well thought-out set that flowed from stark confrontational to warm supportive political commentary. Starting with patty-cake handclap game rhythm they traded the spot light with each other & shared it too. I particularly enjoyed the Toronto Pride piece that ruthless & humorously laid bare the corporate assimilation of queer identity.5pink3A dash of lines from the Ragdolls: Ken & Barbie scraped clean – dried blood on the swing set – revlon porcupine – trauma isn’t our only history – alcohol is a thumb that blurs all the lines in your head – can’t excuse the facts while I’m still filling in the blanks – grindr is a safe place for racists – gay flags in banks that ask for gender verification – do we want justice or want same sex couples in McDonalds ads – I have to remind myself why others do this – trying to get you to let me off with a warning again – you are a loose cannon & I am a landmine – pre-bred to please adults – the white I was raised to be to the brown I grow up to be – we spend more time with therapists than with friends. (This post’s title is from a piece by Londzo Drury)5tanA flurry of lines from the second set of open stagers & slammers: midnight texts that said ‘You wanted this’ – students you added to your kill list – if your pussy is intact so is your consent – a cold dark shadow that consumes me – we were were the only ones who could figure out who we were – a candle above your grave so you could find your way while I lost mine – studying history hoping that learning the past would change mine – basing my happiness on others’ presentations – putting the pan in pan sexual – polyamory creates culinary masterpieces – still a war raging inside – lover is just another scar I have to disguise – a man who has to break me just to get me is not worth me – are you lactose intolerant because you can’t handle all this chocolate – loath your fingers for calling him after he’s gone – more his daughter than your sister – bruises like a favourite sweater than can’t keep you warm.5eagleA winner was declared. Who? Well, you’ll have check out the Hot Damn! page for that info 🙂 The season 2 finale, at Buddies in Bad Times, on April 19 will feature Siaara Freeman and T. Miller. The winner of this slam gets (amongst other things) a trip to Washington DC to compete at Capturing Fire in June.samples

Different Men

one day in grade school

sunshine on the blackboard

reflected rosy on

Graham’s sudden bare belly

scratched absent minded

before my wide eyes

he pulls up his striped t-shirt

rubs that belly

firm round more pink than white

more flesh than boy

more glimpsed than looked at

 

erasers chalk dust clapped clouds

furnace rooms boilers

pieces of jumbled recollection

the heavy books of knowledge

that were better to sit on than to read

easier to refer to than to study

that didn’t show much

that wasn’t to be seen

their images of the future

30’s stream lined

50’s under lined

60’s dismissed

we never did get cars that fly

anti-gravity boots

I never got to see more of Graham

than that scratch of belly one day

while we waited for Mrs Melinosh

to handed out tests

she reminded me

to pay attention young man

yes ma’am

 

I was certainly paying attention

but I didn’t understand what that attention was

what was it that belly told me then

[between the shadows falls the foreskin?]

 

that school was at the bottom of the hill

too steep to climb in winter

too icy

my Dad would be there sometimes

to drive me home

 

happy to have him

pick me and take me home

up that hard slippery slope

that my memory is quick to slide down

I would rattle on about things

I told about arithmetic spelling

my lack of attention

but not about that belly

still seeing that t-shirt ride up

that freckle face smile

red haired boy

 

the drive was because we had moved

a new school was to start soon

closer

with newer problems for me

lack of attention

my eyes would wander out the window

at the squeak of chalk

my mind would get fuzzy

as division got longer and longer

the days got colder and colder

the boys got meaner and meaner

 

I find myself now decades later

still as unsure of those lessons

but positive about the image

the belly’s inexpressible tease

I knew wasn’t for my Dad’s ears

that told me for the first time

my Dad and I were different men

soon1

April 19: judging: Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Season 2 finale: 8 p.m. : Buddies In Bad Times Theatre – 12 Alexander St., Toronto, Ontario

hot

Hot Damn!

June 3-5: attending: Capturing Fire 2016 – The DC Centre – 2000 14th St NW, Suite 105 – Washington, DC

nufire

https://www.facebook.com/capturingfire/

June 11 – attending: The Toronto Poetry Talks – 10 AM – Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C6

poetrytalk

https://www.facebook.com/events/147955055574679/

July 4-8: attending: Chasing  your Tale – Loyalist – Belleville

loy16

I’ve already registered

https://www.facebook.com/events/1511340829175762/

loyalistfocus.com

September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016 (I’ve already registered)expo16

https://www.facebook.com/fanexpocanada/?fref=ts

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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http://nanowrimo.org/

money

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Hot Damn! is a neon Hallelujah

Hot Damn! filled the Supermarket for the November slam slug-fest. Even the sudden, heavy rain after 6 didn’t dampen the energy of the crowd. After host Cathy Petch lead a moment of noise for Trans Remembrance the show kicked off with open stagers Nicki Ward Nicki Ward , TOpoet.ca & musician -C- of imbrown. Six vibrant, energized slammers stomped their way through round one of the slam with some raw, some funny & some political pieces.

snow

‘desire becomes a hunger in and of itself’ ‘sing like nobody hears anything but the voice’ ‘if I can’t see the eyes attached to the fingers’ ‘lesbian donut autumn fresh and maple frosted’ ‘baked our bodies caffeine thin’ ‘when straight men marched gay people ran’ ‘you want straight pride go to the gay pride parade’ ‘I am living in a  system where I’m set up to fail’ ‘it’s not some trick of the light I am here’ ‘my gender is not something I picked up in a thrift shop’ ‘Houdini-ing my life out of a straight jacket’ ‘shine like a neon Hallelujah’

redrag

After a break to catch our breath we lost it again to the amazing performance by Mahlika Awe:ri Enml’ga’t Saqama’sgw and Red Slam Collective – in Indian Barbie: her moccasins mocking the trail of invaders, her dream long house; first nations but first class citizen, manifestations and femifestations, two halves made whole in the two spirit ones, I can hear their screams in my dreams.

Mahlika’s First Nations anger was emotionally resonant and modulated to build and invite us in. The collective – two percussionists and a guitarist – supplied simple, sustained rhythms from various cultures – African, South American & Native that propelled, supported the songs and worked their way into the beat of hearts. I loved the flute in the sensual ‘From Osha to Osha’ ‘kiss me with your mouth so we can see Babylon burn.’

drawer

The final round of slammers kept up the energy – ‘if you’re running scared you must be a thief’ ‘my heart will only know the stillness of your passing’ ‘yellow is the colour of hope’ ‘burning pages doesn’t undo my history’ ‘crucifix paint brushes’ ‘I text my friends to let them know I’m still alive’ ‘I’ve been riding busses all day just to get out of the house’ ‘you never really know until you try it’ ‘I want you to fuck me’ ‘I don’t want to fuck you it’s too much work.’

soup

Next TO edition of Hot Damn! is January 20 with the sensationally talented & good-looking Dominic Berry from Manchester England England (a Hair reference for you to google).

samp02

Frank Talk

semantics

separates sex from gender

gender from

culturally imposed roles

biology from appearances

entitlement from race

skin from colour

labels become cures

or become excuses

you think that way

because you’re not

black

white

gender specific appropriate

 

semantics

make each of us

unacceptable to someone

not deserving of respect

even of self respect

like Frankenstein’s monster

assorted  bits and pieces

reaching out for ‘friend’

while not knowing

what friend means

 

a stumbling

awkward monster

an abomination

with no semantic context

the doctor suffered

for his scientific arrogance

his entitlement

that forced him to play god

like any good doctor

 

I am a monster

put together by myself

I think by myself

unless those

culturally imposed roles

were the doctor

with me attempting to adapt to them

in a stumbling gay clumsy cismale way

gay a cultural context

I was presented with

like the monster’s criminal brain

the body is fine

the brain is at fault

the right body

the wrong brain    the wrong label

 

now I have this body

it is intact whole

none of the invisible stitching

that holds my sexuality together

tells my brain anything

a body that tells me

encourages me

to be dissatisfied

by an ablest culture

that once hid the blind

institutionalized the deaf the dumb

insisted they be cured

of perceived defects

denied them the the right

the intelligence to say no

 

awkward monsters like myself

were given shock treatments

lobotomies chemical castrations

behavior modification

imprisoned

to restore the brain to normal

heteronormal that is

those days are supposedly past

same sex marriage

our right to be absorbed

by those cultural norms

yet

suicide is still seen

as an acceptable alternative

to growing up

syntactically semantically  suspect

monsters

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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http://nanowrimo.org/

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money

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more music – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Chew My Bacca

Glad Day Books’ Naked Heart literary festival had so many events I needed a clone to take in all the ones I wanted to get to – three events at the same time – that calls for some sort of Skype, right? Maybe next year someone can be talked into doing recordings for podcasts.

On Saturday I took in IN:VERSE – Poetry & Tea: at DAVIDsTEA. I got there a little after 3 pm & the house as already packed – though it turns out some were just there to get a cup of tea. But it was a standing room event. I managed to wedge myself into table with good sight lines. I was eager to hear a line up of writers all, but one, of whom I had never heard. The host, whose name I never did find out, ran a tight ship, though a few of the readers had bios nearly as long as their sets – in future skip bios that are already in the guide, guys – that’ll give readers more time.

mirror01

Robert Steckling started the event with a short short story about the isolation of downtown apartment living: ‘eyes uninterrupted that seemed to look at nothing,’ ‘his breakfast was a taxi home,’ ‘stay with me as long as you don’t talk.’ Next up was Ralph Hamilton with emotionally resonant poems about loss: ‘I stepped in the dark just to breath his air,’ ‘duelling peeing over an open commode,’ ‘a voice called like a warm summer rain.’

mirror02

Then Lucas Crawford, a Cape Bretoner transplanted to Vancouver did an excellent piece about Rita MacNeil ‘you asked to have your ashes put into a tea pot, two if necessary, ‘a sea of capsized bass notes,’ ‘gravitas of a fat women who longs for the microphone,’ ‘a kilt is a portal to a new dimension.’ As a Cape Bretoner myself this set resonated with me. Lucas was followed by Keith Ribian (sp?) with his poetic looks at Frida Kahlo & Derek Jarman: ‘it’s all in the bite,’ ‘anything to return to old virginity’ ‘at the Museum of Modern Art I am deluged by stupidity.’ ‘the stated altitudes of sex.’mirror03

Jordaan Mason ‘having a body is weird,’ ‘I draw a map on my body of each of the times I said no, ‘I want to yell your name until we are surrounded by wild animals.’ Eric Wright: transplanted from Montreal with several short sexy imagist pieces: ‘a kiss never planted,’ ‘dead pan forged,’ ‘seeping in your ear & foaming around your sheets.’

Debra Anderson read first from her novel Code White: ‘we are racing against night & the meds,’ ‘some sort of promise passed between us.’ Then a piece about The Slow Dance ‘she looked like a watered down Joan Jett, ‘none of the people I held in my arms tonight were you.’

Cathy Petch closed the show: no one asks what volunteers rehiring from, ‘the feeling that my skin was drag.’ After some rousing haiku & saw playing she ended with her Ode To Chewbacca that came from her ‘star warring heart’ with a plea for him ‘to chew her bacca.’

saw

Each of the readers brought strong points of view, along with divergent literary approaches and performance styles for a very rich hour of queer vision, talent & dare I say it, community.

samples

Identity

you aren’t you

she shouted pointing at me

I don’t know who you are

you aren’t you

he’s you

she went on

pointing to a heavy set black man

who smiled and waved at me

 

great, I thought,

I’ll finally know what it feels

like to have a thick black cock

 

how long did you think

you could get away with it

she stepped closer

pretending to be yourself

some one you clearly are not

 

thanks, I got a word in edge wise,

now that I can stop being me

I can be who I really am

 

that’s not how it works

she glared at me

you can’t just become anyone else

because you aren’t you

 

what about me

the black guy came over

to shake my hand

pleased to meet me

 

he’s not you

she pushed us apart

neither of you are each other either

you are both not

who you are

can’t you get it through your heads

she was nearly screaming

 

but I’ve always wanted to a white dude

the black guy said

if I’m him

I’m not this big black guy anymore

 

no no no the woman was scornful

it’s not that simple

stop thinking you are who you think you are

because you aren’t you

he’s you

identity is in the eye of the beholder

don’t you get it

she was exasperated

as if we were children

how can I make it any simpler

you can’t change what you are

 

well, I tried

I’m not you, for starters

are you you

 

of course I am, she snapped

but trust me I know you aren’t you

he is you

and don’t you forget it

okay okay I get the picture

I tried to calm her down

it felt good not to be me

to let go of all that identity crap

I was finally free

I looked at the self

I was just introduced to

let’s get out of here

I said

it’s time we learned how to

play with myself

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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‘the edge of mending’

There’s nothing Hot Damn! hotter than a man who wears a bowtie like Johnny Trinh – add talent, humour, sharp cultural insights & this is the complete package. I’ve first heard Johnny last year at Hot Damn – where he presented his ‘feature’ face – then I caught him at the Capturing Fire slam in DC & saw his combat face as he went toe-to-toe with fierce competitors. I’m a fan (not a stalker.)

Thus Hot Damn! launched its second season at the Supermarket with his powerful set, vibrant slammers & amazing open mic-ers – when a open mic includes the likes of Shane L Koyczan & Will Lliw you know the series is built to blast.

silvercar

let me in!

Opening the show with the musical saw Charlie Petch kept the momentum going, crowing about the success of Hot Damners at Capturing Fire this past summer. Their porn ‘stash became a boob ‘stash quickly thanks to the heat of the crowd. The first open stagers set the mood: Emily (last name lost) with a sharp political piece: all my dreams are pipe dream but not Alaskan; you wash my mouth out till all that was left was your language; I was up next with Pie & Sermon On the Mount (two separate pieces though that would be a great title for a piece ‘Pie on the Mount’).

First round of slammers started with Kay Kassirer as sacrifice: ‘gay marriage is legal so the fight is over, right?’ Slammers Georgia Wilder, Vanessa McGowan &, Shawna Dimitry were on point with body image, gender issues & secrets: ‘the next thing I remember is three days later … I told no one for seventeen years,’ ‘in the place I am buried I am thin …. all I have is my words & they are as deep as my skin,’ ‘you’ve been spilling out for years … throwing yourself away by spoonfuls … misery loves over analysis.’

blueflow

cum shot

Johnny Trinh’s set was stunning. Some slammers don’t step out of that slam style to feature but Johnny presents a whole new persona. Two of his pieces incorporated sound – the first a sound collage he interacted with – repeated fragments ‘the edge of mending is breaking,’ ‘you cannot edit my heart’ expanded the nature of poetry. ‘our breath is our own personal soundtrack,’ ‘power is a performance of control,’ ‘star spangled idolatry,’ ‘having nothing is being nothing.’ His final piece, to a guitar & cello background, was about race & sexual attraction ‘I’ve been taught to love your skin.’ He repeats the phrase ‘I do good job for you’ in a ripe Asian accent that at first comes across as comic but as it gets repeated we are forced to consider the power of that stereotype & why we find it comic. Emotionally resonant, creatively adventurous & inspiring.

After a break to tip the bartender 🙂 & buy chapbooks, the open stage wound up with Shane L Koyczan: ‘we’re not scrabble squares to rearrange’ ‘beauty is designed to sell yourself back to yourself’ & the Will Lliw: his imagery slips so smoothly & quickly it becomes impossible for me listen & trap a line at the same time.

stripehat

cold ears to hear you with

Once again Kay Kassirer was sacrificed to start the final slam round ‘I am not a girl’ ‘gender is not a diagnosis.’ The slam order is reversed for this final round & the poets ramp up their attack: ‘straight causes so much bruising I don’t want to be part of it,’ ‘I’m straight because I never have to explain myself,’ ‘lips for double chocolate dipped,’ ‘a snatch all natural & sugar free,’ ‘double double like the spell of Shakespeare’s witches,’ ‘reverbs of her terror cross borders,’ ‘lose the light in their eyes & leave us,’ ‘being tolerated is not as easy at it looks’ ‘the female badge of perfection – you’re so thin.’

Vanessa McGowan wins the night in a tough race, so she’ll be in the running for the trip to Capturing Fire next year. Hot Damn! hits Hamilton next & returns to Toronto November 18 at the Supermarket. Cathy Petch closed the show with ‘the night we penetrated Gene Wilder’s nephew we lived the American dream.’

samp02

Sermon on the Mount

when I was a child

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

arms open to greet you

1959 Aug Forest Haven_03

my Dad was a sales manager

for Memorial Gardens

a cross Canada chain of cemeteries

I think he retired sometime in the mid-80’s

I grew up under that shadow

me – the grave-digger’s son

not that he dug graves

that shadow didn’t bother me

I was an odd child already

the occult added another layer of weird

 

the cemetery was divided into grottos

separated by low hedges

bronze plaques instead of tombstones

was the trademark Memorial Gardens look

that and the white marble

religious statues for each of the grottos

DaVinci’s Last Supper in the Gethsemane

greeting people

was Christ

arms out spread

for the Sermon on the Mount

 

for a first few years

while things were being put into green shape

the Gardens were my playground

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

the garden workers pushing Him

upright

arms open to greet you

arms that would never close

to hold you

 

I was drawn to his eyes

he had comma pupils

scarily unreal eyes

that told me nothing

 

I longed for His embrace

but at that time

I was too young to understand

why

it wasn’t for spiritual contact

but a carnal love

I had no language for

 

when I had a language

I still longed for men

who could never enfold me

men who’s eyes

told me nothing

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Howl Ashes

One of the things I enjoyed about Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam   & Capturing Fire was not being the only queer in the room – in particular the only out queer guy. In most of the readings, spoken-word shows I went to for years I was the only one, apart from some queer women who would show up. So I found it rather ironic that when I was on HOWL this past week to talk about the queer poetry scene in TO I was once again the only gay guy on the show 🙂

Valentino pulled us together to talk some about our experience at Capturing Fire, as well as our participation in the TO lgbt poetry scene. The show include Cathy Petch, Tanya Neumeyer, Barbara Erochina & myself, as the token gay guy.

bluejohn

Johnny off the spot

Cathy Petch was up first with Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam news – on the Pride North Stage June 28. She read a terrific new piece ‘two little boxes/ short coffins of gender/let us lay you in one.’ She has so much coming up there can’t be an event she isn’t going to be at plus she’s putting together Hot Damn! season two. I’ve a listen: https://soundcloud.com/mzmcgee23/matthew

reddevil

casting out the devil

After her was Tanya Neumeyer talking about her new chap book ‘What Breaks Me Open’ (which I bought a copy of) & her summer workshops. ‘I’m so gay … when I have children they will be called queer spawn.’ The segue from Tanya to her partner Barbara Erochina was no surpise 🙂 Barbara read a perfectly chosen, edited on the spot, section from her Wrestling Girls … ‘I imagine my rib cage torn open like a gate to let Jesus in.’ Both with so much happening this summer you better to their web pages to check it out.

When I got to the mic I addressed Val’s question about reading queer material before hetero audiences. There wasn’t enough time for me to explain why I was leaving TO during pride week (the Loyalist workshop changed it’s dates to the end of June – I wasn’t avoiding Pride.) I did get to do a super fast read of Born to be Blown.

redhat

where’s the fire?

Valentino runs a great show at HOWL, asks challenging questions and apologizes like it’s an addiction 🙂 If you missed the show you can stream the show: http://www.ciut.fm/shows-2/spoken-word/howl/ from the player at the bottom of the page, or download it to iTunes, and listen to it whenever you like. Enjoy!

sample

the other piece I had in case there was time:

Ashes

he smells of coal

I know its a conditioner

an after shower lotion

to keep his skin from drying

into ashy patches

he smells of coal

but has never been in a mine

has probably never burned coal

the smell takes me back

to my childhood

growing up in a coal town

sorting a freshly delivered load

in the basement bin

picking though for rocks

that would pop in the furnace

scare my mother

when we moved out of that house

to one with oil heating

I never missed the smell of coal

until I met him

a tar dark skinned man

who held me with a cautious tenderness

he’d come from a country

were men of his sort

were stoned in the street

where women who loved women

could be raped with impunity

here he was still unsure

he didn’t quite believe he was safe

he couldn’t free himself

of the fear he grew up with

I cannot free myself

from the smell of coal

I grew up with the same fears

as he did

so when we meet

we taste the ashes of our pasts

soon02

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

( I’ve registered already 🙂 I’m doing two presentations )

loyrocket

register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info

https://www.loyalistbanner.com/ceweb/doc/LoyalistSummerArts2015.pdf

June 26, Friday, 10:00 pm – feature – Pride 2015 Erotic Cabaret – Glad Day Bookstore, 598a Yonge St., Toronto

glad

https://www.facebook.com/events/630930370341697/

June 27, Saturday – 9:00-  Feature along with Alissa Vox Raw, Neil Traynor:  Hot Summer Nights at Hirut, Hirut Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave., Toronto

hirut

https://www.facebook.com/events/550898671715666/

September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo

Expo15

( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

http://fanexpocanada.com

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

noiroc

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pink

‘… not caged eagles’ in #DC

Capturing Fire kicked off with an exhausting energetic night of endless enthusiastic slammers, poet and bakers. Spoke performers from Manchester UK, Silver Springs, Regina, Toronto & more make this a truly international event. Bi, cis-male or  cis-female queer, trans, Asian, black, male, female & non-binary defined were all present.

DCC01 washington

DC colour blocking

The opening ceremony included as many at host Regie Cabico could fit in his mouth, I mean fit on stage. I was asked to rep TO & pulled out Moonbelly. First up started things off perfectly with ‘I have gone up in bright flames …I am the kind of fire you cannot put out.’ Here’s a smattering of lines from the rest who followed: ‘I cannot stand watching another body rot for the news – an understanding to transcend – I once forgot what happy was like – eye brows make me weak at the knees – you were left alone as a child … belly full & audienceless – a rose is a rose but a black teen’s slam complaint about life is not a poem – I always dreamed that I was going to conform but I drowned that dream – there is no day in which my gender is not a concern – help me figure out how not to fit in – am I destined to remain a nameless glass bottle – I swallowed the best 35 second of your life – These agencies aren’t for us … they merely hold us in place – tired of using social media to bury another #name in a blog post.

DCC02

you missed a spot

After a needed break for fresh air & for some, taking a leak, the Cookie Slam got under way – with cookies baked by Tyler French – we settled in for a sampling of the event slammers – scoring was tough & the work was often even tougher. Another smattering of lines: she took me to the soccer field on Salisbury Lane – what would Beethoven play if he could see us – thank the creator I’ve got a Mormon – this job application is a price on my head – please splatter me with flattery – I underestimated his cock … this feels good – I breath in the weight of him – telling me these bodies, these facts are female – I wear anonymity as my first skin – he is a country in my mouth – maybe its self-hatred disguised as a metaphor – I have a problem, so don’t give me anything, I’d rather feel my pain for a change – imagine if my dreams were written in chalk marks in a rain storm – my stories are not caged eagles – God why create the human if it is to die before it fulfills expectation – the only thing worse than the absence of you is the invisibility of me – nothing has been changed except the spelling – we don’t need a change of label but a change of mind – trying to prove that the sidewalk doesn’t belong to everyone – when a man you do not know calls you beautiful, do not open the door – if you could ejaculate anything what would it be – once upon a time I survived your absence – when you mix a Pisces with a poet it never stops running – my box needs no religion. Whew – we need a break after that.

DCC03

even the scoop was colour coordinated

The evening wrapped with Gush, host Cathy Petch was tolling down the slowest highways in the USA outdid arrived halfway through the show gamy & game. My gush was Sex With Men. Lines, please: sex … I’m not afraid to say it expect for the xxx – I want to say fuck like it’s a blessing – you mailman me orange … you picnic me watermelon – we are joined by the choppers at the junction of our bodies – jesus, mary & her baby daddy – I am jealous of the cat whose face I’m using to get sex – dear mary, here’s the rape hot-line, tell them God sent you – Babe, I will always worship your boner – I thought you were just going to kiss me – I’ll never wash this tongue again – to my future fuck friend, I know you’re in this room – she grips my shoulders as her creation comes to life – O is the centre of hope – aisles of pocket pussies & pina colada dental dams. Double whew. By the time the show wrapped it was past midnight. After this flood of powerful queer poetry starting at 7 we left the DC Centre punch drunk & energized.

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yellow snow

a pop of yellow in TO

#Washington #DC Comfort Zone

Waiting is an ordeal. But getting there is worth the wait. No matter how prepared I am I always forget something ‘vital’ behind. This time, even though they were right beside my suitcase as I packed, I forget to toss in my sleep duds. Even drove five minute to the airport when I realized I hadn’t packed my camera to computer cable – yikes. Now that is vital. In fact tin my carry on I had all those vital recharger cables for cell phone, camera, Kindle, AirMac, iPod -as well as those necessary things.

Was travel ever simple? Now I can’t leave the house for a walk without making sure I have my iPod, phone, camera – no just pulling a jacket to go for a walk. What do nudists do?

dcw01 washgington

view from my DC window

It’s been some years since I flown to the USA so some of the routine was new to me. US Airways staff was very helpful with the automated check in. $25 for each non-carry on bag though. Glad I had only one suitcase – that weighed in at 40lbs. All the theory stuff went smoothly, no come this way Sir as they made me explain my vitamins.

DCw02

do I want to ride or be ridden?

Flight was smooth, if cramped – a regional puddle jumper with very tight seats. But the flight was just over an hour, not even time for them to give us an energy bar. Finding my luggage at Reagan was a bit tricky – it would have helpful to know which of the carousels it was being unloaded to. SuperShuttle was easy to find, a bit of a wait. Man was I glad to get to the Churchill.

dcw03 washington

another window view

My room is huge, big as a one bedroom. Staff were helpful. I got out for a walk con I unpacked. Bought a few grocery items for breakfasting in my room. The one meal of the day I have to have by myself. Slept okay & am now ready for my first real day in Washington.

sample

Maybe I’ll read this at Gush Friday night:

Comfort Zone

this is pushing me

out of my comfort zone

past my bed time

out of my house

trying something new

and old

at the same time

the same old thing

with a new face

the same old action

with a new dick

to me

within walking distance

to him

too far to walk

phones numbers exchanged

not even sure it’s a working number

till I get near

give that ‘i’m near your corner’ call

he’s waiting on the porch

shushed to be quiet

as we go into the dim house

TV in another room flickering

street light

the only real light

so no real look at his face

cocks played with

as he gets his dogs settled down

poppers out & offered

but that’s not my scene

my scene is between his legs

freshly washed is always welcome

his dick hard cut

not long enough to gag on

by turns

we go down on each other

no place to lie down

he sits

directs with squeeze

doesn’t want to come too soon

wants to enjoy his poppers longer

we switch positions

but his need for poppers

distracts my dick

I’m not going to come

without consistent attention

we switch again

he shoots

I dress

resist saying ‘call me sometime’

this was too anon

for me care if there’s another time

on the street I delete his number

as I head into the night

back to my comfort zone

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