‘molten at the core’

Hot Damn! nears the end of its 5th spectacular season of slams and the hunger of the competitors is increasing – who wouldn’t want a trip to Washington DC to participate in Capturing Fire? The cabaret space at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre filled up quickly & the show got started nearly on time 🙂 Charlie Petch opened the show with a land acknowledgement, followed by a Welcome song by Kammy Alexson & friends. Of course Charlie’s sawed ‘Over The Rainbow’ took us into a queer wonderland of music, poetry, and slam blood, sweat & tears.

Lines from the open stagers and Round 1: a voice like wind chimes; a hole in my heart where you made me feel whole; they said my medicine was a fire hazard; a world of solo not soulless; nothing to hold on to but the hook; twist & shout all around penny lane; turning a person into a poem will not bring them back; none of this has cut you open to spill out the way it has me; I want not to miss you; we all felt we deserved it; thoughts like nesting Russian dolls; or do you mean your ally-ship is unnecessary; gotta break down to break through; playing games we didn’t create.

Feature: Inali Barger‘s set, was full of music, warmth and so many languages including sign. ‘I don’t want a translated interpretation of you;  reading your hands; the difference between boredom & passive aggression; some lost boys never get found; some parts of you only exist in private; the smell of place that hasn’t seen light in years; I’ve known so little about safety; soft as ashes but molten at the core. 

After a grief break things got started with more ppen stagers and right into Round Two: ancient fabric celebrates loses; I don’t know where I went wrong; remind me why we need community; ban the politicians; anxiety & I had it pretty good; they party on a tectonic plate; I want love without a lover; not all little girls are little boys all the same; cis-white boys shooting up schools; handshakes enough to feed us all; my dearest nightmare changed to a hallowed dream.

I’ve been to many, many shows and can tell when a performer is going to be on fire after the first two words of a piece and the night’s winner Fira Astrali’s piece about the addictive allure of toxic relationships nearly set off the sprinkler system. 

The final show of this season will be April 5. Mark it on your calendar & get to Buddies early if you want a decent seat.

for the open stage I resurrected an old piece

(line breaks imposed by WordPress):

Lament for Anna Nicole 

in the beginning was the word 

and the word was blond 

a blond who came striding
out of the sweet morning light
assured radiant reaching out
past the flock of photographers
to bring tender mercies to the world
a blond who hid fears frustration
in the twinkling wink of an eye
ready and ripe
to be a distraction for the world

here is the blond
the unattainable firm force of nature
on every tv magazine cover front page
all pondering the ways and wiles
of the soft hearted blond
who will be next
who was the last tail twist
in the trail of broken hearts

we follow 

our noses nailed to her scent
this glowing example
of what the ordinary can rise to
billionaires reality shows
who cares about cancer
when we have the blond
a rare creature of fine design
who can invade dreams
wrap legs around broken hearts

lead us out of loneliness 

by taking on all our loneliness
in a single furtive glance
away from the camera
a single shunning 

of the lime light 

for a moment 

that blesses us all 

the blond reeling and recoiling 

teetering on stilettos 

from the press of press
the lurch of bully boy interviewers
who want to expose 

the gold digger the drug addled bimbo
to show the world that the blond
is no saint 

merely another floozy chunky 

top heavy flabby doll
lucky to be in our sanctifying gaze
the blond gratefully accepts 

each slight 

by each slight she is elevated 

what comes next
what can be sacrificed now
there is no reputation left
the first born has been cut down
the blond has been shuffled off
in a shapeless body bag
leaving the newborn
a wash in a sea of whoʼs your daddy 

our father ?
is this the way the world ends 

not with a bang
but a paternity test

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http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


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

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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Prometheus at Hot Damn

Hot Damn! started 2019 with a packed room workshop at Glad Day and a SRO house at Buddies in Bad Times – both driven by feature Regie Cabico. The participants at the workshop wrote & shared some excellent work on the spot – the level of trust among people who had never met before was encouraging, as was the diversity of the participants.

When I got to Buddies to help Charlie set up there were people already clambering to get in 🙂 so the house opened fifteen minutes earlier than usual, I did front of house & it was full enough to start the show a little after 8 (nearly on time for a poetry show). Standing room only by 8:15. Also a full sign-up sheet for slammers – 11 – a Hot Damn! record.

After some opener stagers the first round got underway with a series of politically & emotionally pieces that held nothing back on gender, indigenous, & local political issues. Round two had fewer slammers (lowest scores didn’t get to move forward) and the tone of the pieces became more reflective, personal but equally as direct and powerful.

Lines from the first part of the show: my tongue was not enough’ ‘the swish of sari silk’ ‘I could taste blood’ ‘I fell in love with a crack dealer’ ‘you are the art work of past lives’ ‘our medicine made illegal’ ‘give up your cottages and give us back our land’ ‘what he really should have admitted to you before you married’ ‘I only knew how to see you as a moving disaster’ ‘nobody giving me room to make mistakes in’ ‘betrayal tastes like fennel and sage’ ‘my neighbourhood becomes a trigger warning’ ‘you ask me if I’ll forgive you’ ‘I pray you get your forgiveness but it will never come from me’ ‘I say to them – it’s not your table’ ‘you still here with me like a cloud in my mind’ ‘as if money could regenerate our roots’ ‘I’m not sure how to tell your dad that you’re gay’

Feature Regie Cabico did a strong set drawing from his recent chapbook ‘Sticky Stars & Sheets.’ Funny, deeply personal, very sensual & inspiring. ‘jack-off in the name of leukaemia research’ ‘the warehouses are lit by flames of vodka’ ‘you will not pluck my pancreas like Prometheus’ ‘you hold me like an oar directing my past’ ‘we run like suitcases on wheels’ ‘two lonely Tony’s from West Side Story’ ‘his calf … stretched out before me like Florida’

This is not my first review of Regie though: Spoonful of Beautiful https://wp.me/p1RtxU-d2. We’ve enjoyed each other’s performances in the past so I may not be impartial – but the audience was so enthused so my review isn’t exaggerating his set. 

After a much needed break the show resumed with a few more open stagers & the final round of the slam; ‘I need a place to sit to get perspective’ ‘they’re asking me if I have a gender identity’ ‘never more than genetic coding’ ‘baby shoes take me back to memory like a phantom limb’ ‘too many of us seeking help’ ‘this body is not a temple you are invited to’ ‘my mess you speak to’ ‘oozo ozone’ ‘even my now voice is too heavy to raise’ ‘confuse tenderness with love’ ‘saying gay people should die while getting off on lesbian porn’ ‘it just isn’t about sex anymore’ ‘hidden by ink and time’ ‘the space between fingertips & footsteps.’

Scores were tabulated, prizes were given. Yes, there was a winner, who gets to compete in April for the grand prize: the trip to participate in Capturing Fire (dates tba, soon) but the real winner was the audience. Next Toronto Hot Damn! is March 7. 

(above blog pics are of construction by Buddies)

the piece I wrote at the workshop – rough draft –

Resume

Henry texted me

he was told to stay home

he’s afraid

he’ll lose his job

Henry is one of my lovers

we have been seeing other

every week or so

for over three years

 

I want him to feel

cared for

but I have no solution

for his situation

other than acknowledging his stress

 

I like Henry

but I do not love him

he wants job security

not love

 

it is hard to breathe 

in the workshop

so many perfumes

I’m glad I have no

environment allergies

 

the tenderness of

Henry’s slow kisses

is what I love

 

the tentative tongue start

draws us

into each other’s bodies

 

I love his tongue

but can’t pronounce his last name

Mwawasi

unless it is in front of me

 

in Cape Breton this summer

I will visit

my parents graves

I wasn’t there when they died

they won’t be here

when I die

they will never see my grave

 

Henry texts

he is going to bed

I hope he sleeps well

that he dreams of our kisses

not of rewriting his resume 

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“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

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Bricks to Banksy 

Somehow I lost the notes I took at the Hot Damn! Showcase as part of Unit2’s Bricks & Glitter queer festival 😦 https://www.facebook.com/bricksandglitter/ So what I may quote from the show come entirely from my memory. One thing burned in my memory from the night is the actual getting to the west-end location on Stirling Road. Google was helpful to a degree, it got me in the right direction 🙂 The heat was intense, which wasn’t helped by a text message from a FB wanting to play that night. 

I gave myself time to get lost, which I did but I quickly got back on the right track. I have never been in this area, near Lansdowne. It is a simmering art warehouse district. One was dedicated to a Banksy show, a parking lot was set up as a sit-down outdoor movie theatre. A Museum Of Contemporary Art is being built. The House of Anansi  is nestled beside a craft brewery.

I found Unit2 easily & stepped back into my Cape Breton past. In Sydney friends of mine had gotten a grant to set up a store front children’s theatre for the summer. They made puppets, did show there & in playgrounds. Unit2 had that feeling of repurposed space, not finished or polished, of people working together for change, as opposed to profits. I felt more at home than I expected. In some ways it was like being in a large rec room to watch friends perform.

The showcase was excellent. Charlie Petch opened, as they do the ‘real’ show, with acknowledging the stolen land we are on & then played the Damn! anthem, on the saw. First feature was D’Scribe: ‘I pretended my parents loved me.’ I’ve seen him perform many times now & each time I have been caught up in his vision & struggles.

Charlie did the second set in which they gave us samples of Mel Malarkey, & Daughter Of Geppetto. They also did an amazing grief piece with live multilayered vocals, sound fx that invited the audience in to experience their own feeling of personal grief & loss after the recent Danforth mass shooting. It was a performance that transcended language & took us into pure emotion.

Sadly it was getting too late for me so I left before seeing Truth Is … I wanted to be home by 11 & to bed by midnight. It was a fine show & makes me eager for the start of Hot Damn!’s season 5 this fall at Buddies in Bad Times.

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Glitter Reflections at #CapFire18

Friday I opted to do nothing – no tourist jaunts to conserve my energy for the Fire start later in the day. After hitting the DuPont club I went over to Ted’s Bulletin on 14th for their big breakfast. After a 10 to 15 minute wait for a table turned into 25 I left – clearly Friday is not a good day for someone wanting a single booth. Busboys & Poets was near by so I had a great burger there.

Rested at hotel. Selected the right shirt for the show. Left around 4:30 to give myself time to get lost finding the venue. Metro was simple enough as I get used to it. I got off at Chinatown/Gallery & even found the right direction on 7th. The maps all made Woolly Mammoth appear to close to 6th & D corner – where in fact it was nearly on the corner for 7th. A bit of walking in circles & I found it 🙂

Got my copy of the Stoked Words anthology. Lots of restaurants to choose from as this was centre of the theatre district. Chicken caesar & back to Woolly. Lots of familiar faces & the same old story. People starting conversations while looking over your shoulder for someone more compelling to talk to. I didn’t even bother trying to respond tho ‘how are you’ knowing full well they wouldn’t stay long enough to hear my response.

One poet asked what pronoun I preferred – which I think is great – but they were offended when I said ‘it.’ Rather than engage they rushed off to hug & chat with fiends who where less ‘challenging.’ It was great to see the Toronto crew though Charlie – in the demanding role of Slam Coordinator; D’Scribe in the demanding role of themself 🙂

The book launch was a true lesson in diversity, voice, style and world-view. With nearly 30 poets – or was it more, I lost count – I felt washed, baptized, sanctified & blessed. I also was reminded that the deeper the suffering the greater the authenticity. I don’t suffer enough, in my writing, to be considered authentic.

 

By the time all the poets had read I was exhausted to the point where I couldn’t hear anymore. Not that I was deaf but I wasn’t able to absorb any more poetry. I made my weary way back to the Fairfax. slipped more than my shoes. Checked my email. Laid down & fell asleep instantly. My sleep was deep and authentic.

on of my pieces in the anthology – not quite as it appears there as I tweaked it while waiting to perform 🙂

Oogie Inferno

if you’re thinkin’ I’m too cool to boogie

boy oh boy have I got news for you

I love the sweaty potential of the dance floor

the solid mass of men mobile  shifting

eagerly crammed     crowded by the bass line

the righteous revival fever of a contralto

everybody here tonight must boogie

let me tell ya’ I was no exception to the rule

the heat was on (burnin’),

rising to the top, huh!

eyes closed    hands open

 

shirtless strutters in sweat soaked satin shorts

muscles      bloated bellies

a guy spinning in circles in his wheelchair

no one cares

as flesh wound around   pulled by the driving

boogie oogie oogie

 

an endless moment of contact high

thigh to thigh contact

the heat was on, rising to the top

where the keyboard was underfoot

put your feet to the beat

peak after peak of solid state sweat

turn this beat around

no voice heard that wasn’t amplified

no time to waste

let’s get this show on the road

listen to the music and let our bodies flow

yowsa yowsa yowsa      dance dance dance

shame shame shame

we were shimmering glittering

ready to take on the future

beep beep toot toot

 

I love the moment of stepping into the mass

the sooner I begin the longer I’ve got to groove

listen to the music and let bodies move

make a space for myself

get approving once overs

then not care who’s lookin’

but when my spark got hot

I heard somebody say

Burn baby burnin’ the house down

gonna boogie oogie oogie

till you just can’t boogie no more

 

I love the blur as I am transported

out the body    out of the mind

satisfaction (uhu hu hu) in the chain reaction

released from all sense of self

except for the one caught       immersed

push push in the bush bush

lost for hours

boogie oogie oogie

 

taking a breather wet glistening

asked what are you on

having my answer of nothing disbelieved

as if the music and testosterone

aren’t enough for me to

burn that cocksucker down

because have I got news for you

this could be the last dance

everybody here tonight must

boogie oogie oogie

“gun shots in the night”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tingler

as a kid

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

not that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth

but

No buts. Now go, you lying loser

 

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to a movie I saw

where a sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

 

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

 

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth

made no fucking difference

 

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now

was their lie

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The Malarkey Elixir 

The launch of Charlie C Petch‘s Mel Malarkey album was a glittering (for the east end) gala event. The full house event was held at the Artisans At Work venue on the Danforth (at Woodbine). I’ve seen a previous production of Mel Malarky: Pitch Perfect Petch https://wp.me/p1RtxU-1IA – & seeing it again after several months I was still drawn into this Canadian vaudeville cabaret world that Charlie captures brilliantly in their one-person show.

Now truly a one-person show Charlie gets to show off their prowess with not only the musical saw, but also the squeeze box, ukulele & well, there is a surprise musical moment as well. Accents galore British, German, uncertain :-). The performance space was intimate & acoustics were perfect. The show is portable & adapted to this space easily, with the added bonus of a dressing room door.

The piece has grown since I first saw it at the Cameron house & Charlie finds greater emotional depth in character of Mel, as well as great comedy. The elixir takes on greater flavour each time it is drank & becomes a character of its own. The music is sweet. The costume & character changes are smooth. The show is perfect for, if nothing else, an NFB production.

There is a cd of the show plus a cleverly designed book as well. Both are available at Artisans At Work on the Danforth (at Woodbine). Artisans has fostered an atmosphere of urban change in the stretch of the Danforth between Woodbine & East Lynn. Since it opened as a retail & work space for artists, Nooks have sprung up with several separate  gallery style shops that are worth checking out. You can also drop into Cake Town Cafe for their excellent scones & coffee, or try Zev’s equally good coffee.

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Myths And Realities

I went to Glad Day on Thursday Oct 19 to take in the ‘Myths And Realities Of Artists’ Health Panel Discussion’ by Mahlikah Awe:ri, Charlie C Petch and Dr. Chase McMurren. The event was co-produced by akinprojects.org & artistshealth.com. It was to start at 7 but by the time I arrived at 6:30 there was already a full house. Each of the panelists presented different myths & realities. 

The first myth was our expectation of social media – allowing ourselves to be caught up constantly comparing our progress with the posted progress of others & feeling we never measure up. Personally I think the real myth of social media is that it is a platform for selling yourself & if it isn’t then you are the problem not the medium.

I suspect the only people who make a million selling stuff on the internet are people selling books about how to make a million dollars selling stuff omg the internet. On-line life can be distracting though & somewhat addictive: what so-&-so is faint can be much more compelling that re-writing that poem or working on that painting.

Another myth – the one I really related to – is the yearning to fulfill the expectation of ones passions – if we aren’t always consumed by passion then we aren’t creating – the reality is that passion is the spark, the fuel – not the fire – passion needs to be contained to be productive or it consumes itself & the artist leaving them drained & unproductive. An affirmation that I use is: writers write, not wait, for inspiration.

One of the realities discussed was finding time to create, make a living, & having an opportunity to just be. The myth creatives are constantly productive leaves little opportunity to be still – being still leads to stress one isn’t doing or fulfilling their passion. Stress leads to …. well we all know what stress leads to.

The focus was more on the mental & psychological than the physical health of creative people. With only an hour for the panel & some discussion it was rewarding but it could have gone on for two hours easily & covered these few issues in greater detail. Check out the resources at akin & the Artists’ Health Network – one step towards better health & greater creativity is to step out of isolation.

 

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My Talented Friends

With the festive season rapidly approaching it is a good time for me to recommend great gift options produced by many talented friends. Starting with some sweet sounds from SoulFistikato  the head nod. I met SoulF at Valentino Assenza’s Cryptic Chatter back in the day (time for a reunion show Val?). He (& frequent collaborated Dane Swan: whose excellent new book “He Doesn’t Hurt People Anymore” can be found on Amazon) are out of the slam scene. the head nod is a set of sampled, remixed & original instrumentals that are easy on the ear & uplifting to the spirit.

Charlie C Petch’s  Mel Malarkey Odes & Acts is a studio recording of their one-person Cabaret. I say Cabaret in reference to the musical as this is out of that vaudeville tradition – even the instrumental numbers have that Kurt Weill lilt. Charlie is another artist I first encountered at Valentino Assenza’s Cryptic Chatter back in the day (time for a reunion show Val?).

Carolina Brown’s Carolina Brown is a richly textured set of their songs. Compelling guitar work with raw & sometimes playful lyrics. Carolina confronts gender & transphobia directly & connects emotionally to the listener. I’ve heard Carolina several times & have enjoyed the fearless energy they use in creative expression in such a directly honest way that invites rather than challenges. Not that some of music isn’t challenging but it is a challenge one is willing to face.

Kris Gebhard’s Fairy Feather Files is another collection that confronts gender & transphobia directly & connects emotionally to the listener. Spoken-word with gentle marimba interludes that refresh the spirit. Kris presents difficult realizations with a tenderness that lets the listener hear the experience. I first heard Kris at Capturing Fire (produced by Regie Cabico) in Washington DC. Challenging in content at times but done in way affected way that draws you in emotionally.

So much for the audio portion of this post. Andre Prefontaine’s Freshwater Genteel & Saltwater Rage chapbook is full of fun, difficult, angry, not-so-fun but always honest poetry. Their writing is sharp, thoughtful, penetrating & human. I’ve seen Andre perform several times & each time am amazed & inspired. Contract him via Facebook to find out how to buy this book.

Finally Goddess X’s Blk Grl Sick: Tales from the Library Burned. I met X at Capturing Fire a few years ago & was stunned by their writing & their performance. The writing is powerful, raw, honest & clear. I always read poetry out-loud – this allows me to feel the words as opposed to slipping over them with eyes. In reading this book aloud I was caught up in the frustration & fears of being a black trans woman in the USA in way I didn’t expect. This is a fearless, challenging, fierce book.

Maybe these sound too challenging for Christmas gifts? Sure a pair comfy slippers would be nice but challenging someone to see the world around them in a different by giving them chance to leave their comfort zone is infinitely more rewarding. Take up the challenge it could also help change the way you see the world.

The Good Old Days

when I was a boy things were different

we’ve come a long way from those days

when there wasn’t anything to do

till the sun had come up

as there was no light allowed at night

stumbling in the dark

from one strip joint to the other

to listen to dancers in the dark

fleshly moist parts

pressed against your shoulder

the only part of the body

they were allowed contact with in the dark

now that we have light at night

it’s like going to the dentist

antiseptic and numbing

ah yes we all remember

those days when the only music

came from the slap of thighs

when the village women did the wash

as they whacked the dirt out of clothes

 

we didn’t have the worries we do today

then we worried about

how many smelt or moose

would the men catch

would there be enough

so that even a lad of ten

would have a fiver

to take to unlit strip bars

so the men could afford a soothing drink

to make up for the time it took

to wash the blood out of their hair

while the village women

whacked their clothes on moist rocks

to get the stain of smelt or the stink of moose

out of those rubbed-soft loose-fitting pants

that held the private parts

of the men they loved

those were the days when people loved

 

we had such pie in those days

small pans

so carefully tended in wood stoves

wood that we children had to find

we had to scour empty condo complexes

break off chair legs or hat racks

so we could be a part of things

so we could prove

we were good for more

than homework and giggling

because we loved to giggle

especially at the women

who spent so much time getting ready

for their shifts at the unlit strip bars

putting on sparkling fish scales

that no one would ever see

and the men hot and hollowed

would stagger home to fall asleep

on piles of wet laundry

licking their lips

waiting for the sun to rise

 

those were the days

when things were different

unlike now

when different

is just another brand name

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

November 1-30

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

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‘silence is manslaughter’

Hot Damn! launched it’s 4th season (may the 4th be with you) at  Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Thursday night with rainbow-high-energy, out-to-win slammers, fearless open stagers & a wildly enthusiastic full house. Charlie Petch was in fine form keeping things flowing & the energy somewhere over the rainbow.

First set of open stagers & slammers: by the time you are able to read this, you may not remember me – I was told I could pave the way for women, why can’t I pave the way for all mankind – teens decomposing their own songs – this place smell of chance & lost dreams – less that nothing is still something – if it all means nothing, why not have fun – I dream of things I never want to see again – I wake to fear walking above ground – pour smoke over my heart – Wendy’s pigtails never fit the little boy that worse the – you wanna say best & breast comes out – I say I’m sorry more than I say I love you.

Andre Prefontaine’s feature set was amazing – emotionally resonant, overflowing with rich images, vibrant precise anger, & sassy theatricality. Honey, he was tougher than any nail they used to stab you – my Dad uses your homosexuality like a pair of scissors that cuts you out of his picture – worry about the future is a tragic waste of your imagination – I’m so calm it’s almost like disassociating – don’t you know how difficult it is to blow someone and do origami at the same time – hold the bible like brass knuckles – silence is manslaughter – people killing people for killing people.

After a much needed break – during which I got to hand out flyers for my feature (see below) – I picked up a couple of copies of Andre Prefontaine’s new chap book & got caught up with Vanessa McGowan. (when is her Hot Damn! feature?) I started out the second set of open stagers with my hair piece (see below).

From the rest of the night: that little crack makes you so human – I’ve never been struck by lightning – my body tells the truth when it shows the scars that anchor me to the reality of what happened – biting is cool, bite marks are not – we can’t use my name as a safety word – you left tiny blades my throat where you name used to be – the art of drowning in perfect make up – the rest of you is still living – never explain lost battles for your recovery – somehow your pain is never about you – being gay is more than whatever gender you choose – anatomy trump compassion – that word holds a power I cannot overcome – do you know where you are – chill of frosting in my bones – I smell like a Wes Craven movie –

Scores were added up & an array of prizes were handed out. Teddy Syrette took the Queirdo Prize for funnest bingo poem. Ezra Stewart took first spot in a tight race for a chance to win the big big prize: a trip to Washington DC (if Canadians are still allowed into the USA next summer) to attend Capturing Fire.

Next Hot Damn! is Gueph! Sept 30th. Hot Damn! returns to Toronto at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre on November 30.

Don’t Touch (My Hair)

she was a stranger

who felt no compunction

in reaching out to touch my hair

I must have been in my mid-twenties

at the time

my hair was freshly washed

shoulder length

‘it’s like baby hair,’ she said

I was a natural blond

even blonder

after a month of summer sun

‘I would kill to have hair like yours’

she smiled

‘thanks’ I replied

not adding

that I hate my hair

I hate it being so smooth

hate being asked

are you a boy or are you girl

being called fruit

by guys because of my hair

not that I was mr masculine

to begin with

shortly after that

I dyed my hair for the first time

I wanted a change

I bought a home kit

to make it permanent jet black

the look was striking

my mother said

‘what were you thinking’

I went to work

raised a few eye brows

but no comments

the black faded after the first wash

so much for permanent

in a week it was ash

in three weeks

back to baby fine blond

my hair

was like my sexuality

something I couldn’t disguise

no matter what women

I flirted with

no matter what I tried to call it

bi questioning pan

no matter what I drank to blot it out

it would always be

like my hair

something I was powerless over

something I hadn’t constructed

something I had to live with

I remember my first perm

a head of tight blond curls

they bounced in the light

it was my face

but a different me

the stylist conferred with a colourist

both agreed

that my hair was too fine

to hold colour for long

that it would be a shame

to tamper with it anyway

the permanent curls

would flatten within a week

I wasn’t willing

to go to bed with hairpins

so I’d get that perm

every month or so

I loved my hair for the first week

then a week of doing what I could

to keep the curl in

it was too much work

too much time checking in mirrors

I had a friend who was

what he referred to as a hair burner

he touched my freshly washed

uncurled hair one day

‘you have baby hair

I have clients

who would kill to have hair like that’

I said

‘I hate my hair

it’s too much work’

he said

‘do you trust me’

I let him do what he wanted

it took a couple of hours

that first time

to cut it short short short

then incise with electric razor

patterns into the hair

sometimes a maze

other times circle or triangles

always different

then he died

murdered by HIV meds

I shaved my head for his funeral

no one would ever touch my hair

again

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