Hot Damn! Hep #Cats

Dominic Berry opened his set by calling the audience ‘cats’ as in the 50’s beat  term – because ‘cat’ is gender free but still sensual. The cats at Hot Damn this month at the Supermarket frolicked through a show of strong open-stagers, strong slammers – including two new tabbies to the Hot Damn! stage.

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Cathy Petch set the tone with her saw rending of the gay national anthem (What is it? You’ll have to attend a show to find out.) I hit the open stage with three pieces inducing the one below.

Some lines from the artist slam round: ‘on some chunks of this world I deserve to die’ ‘my breath claws for freedom’ ‘too fucked to fuck’ ‘people ask me when I knew I was trans, I ask them hen they one they were straight’ ‘my name is silence’ ‘Vanessa’s not my name – it doesn’t fit.’ dc02

I met feature Dominic Berry (http://dominicberry.net) at Capturing Fire in Washington DC. He wowed there with his energetic, funny & at times deeply touching poetry. It’s always good to see a poet do a set that isn’t under the influence of the pressure for judges’ points. Dominic stretches out, takes his time to make his piece breath fully as they come alive and draw us in.

His first piece capture the cadence and physicality of a deeply troubled man ‘silence sits so clammy beside me’ ‘my confidence is getting hungry’ ‘at night it feels like that day is getting further away.’ In his Coming Out Vegan’ he is loud & proud about being a ‘celery munching queen’ who ‘ravishes radishes.’

His series of gaming poems, set to funky music, was full of fun rhymes ‘splatter me with flattery’. It made me think of a gay The Streets. Even though I don’t know the gaming world I certainly understand sexual desire for unreal men 🙂

A dynamic set performed with theatrical gusto and verbal inventiveness that I enjoyed. If you missed him here you can catch him at Capturing Fire this June. (photos in this post are all from Washington DC)

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After the break we were treated a fine singing cat -who didn’t sing memories. The energy was raised for the final slam round. Some lines: ‘a rumour mill of revolution’ ‘a one way ticket that’s not even in my name’ ‘post card from a high functioning borderline kid’ ‘our knees touching under the table of the diner’ ‘going from playing dress up to putting something resembling armour’ ‘I don’t need you to like me.’

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Oodles of prizes (including poodles) were give. Kay Kessirer won the evening’s round & is now in the running for the trip to DC in June. The next TO Hot Damn! will be at the Supermarket March 16 and the second season grand finale will be at Buddies in Bad Times on April 21. All the hep cats will be there.

sample

Moment of F**king Silence

a moment of silence

to respect

those who have been silenced

to offer a dignity

a solemnity

all that’s missing

is the hashtag

a #moment of #silence

that’s better

showing support

without doing #anything

because those who have been silenced

and by silence

I don’t mean marginalized

I don’t mean neutralized

I mean murdered

killed by others

by their own hand

by neglect

by #silence by the face of shame

where is the moment of retaliation

oh no we can’t do that

because doing that

will sink us down to their level

getting even isn’t justice

it doesn’t get good press

#victimization

gets all the good press

a moment of violence

of striking back is tut tut not adult

we must have silence

so the healing can begin

why not a moment of vanity

in which we all pull out a mirror

to contemplate our own faces

to see where we fit in

to see what healing means

while the screaming is still going on

to figure out why

forgiveness is more fulfilling

that taking the victimizers to task

for their behaviour

where was their forgiveness

so I don’t forgive

that’s my flaw

I’m called out for being bitter

not understanding enough

unwilling to make a social context

that rationalizes actions

that spring from a troubled childhood

from a drug addled brain

from a books of words holy pages

that approves

making victims of others

in the name of righteousness

a moment of silence

to prove that I am emotionally more mature

I can take it

I can rise above

the blood soaked streets

an angel of mercy

fuck that

fuck fuck fuck that

I don’t care about

perpetrators’ apologies

how they feel remorse

I don’t want revenge

I want it to stop

I want an eon of silence

not a moment of silence

hot

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#Carnival Planet #Calliope

Calliope

there is this circus of flesh

that moves faster

than the blood can pound

that over rides all cautions

lessons learned  go out the window

when that circus opens

cotton candy balls of fun

for the ones who surrender

to take give take give

rise and fall

expectation and delivery

the fierce red flush of ginger hair

that surrounds the heave and heft

of the the timid and free

fleeting and heavy

melt of the stars

into a mouth

into the sudden rise

shape fall

stomach churning moment

when a glance is returned

can it be for me

take this opportunity

to ride the ride

to strut the street

to be in the middle of the bed

sheet strewn masses

wrinkled rivers of shadows

dim corner

vibrant and frightened

tongue chasing twists

buttons popping

slow stroke of zipper

happy slide of pants

shirts

sweaters

shoes socks

fly through the air

merry go around

 

I know the promise

I take this opportunity

to chase the roller coaster

to sharper shocks

higher highs

all dips hips slips no splinters

only the rock solid rocket

twist and tumble

the grazed knees

the bruised knuckles

the wet dry hot cool

sweat sweet breath to catch

running faster lunge

the weight of one on the other

that pulls each to the earth

accepts and shares

separates and courses

through the veins

beat pulse

throb shudder

seek the chance to get back on the ride

I know the circus

will pitch another tent

but I am reluctant to leave this one

so sweetly pitched

so well enjoyed

employed spent and flaccid

dreamy and sleepy

cozy warm comforting

how did this come about

what was the momentum

what was the cause

of this gift satisfaction

of this mind cleaning eruption

this blank slate surrender

for a few blinding seconds

squeaky mattress and lost footing

of where is my …

…. are these yours

tomorrow soon again

as good as the last time

better than ever

comfortable and accomplished

 

yes so accomplished

we play each other

like a big rolly polly

steam calliope

that never runs out of steam

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This time of the year can be a carnival for the senses – all this commercial shouting about gifts, the perfect music, more people than usual looking for something, some one. Caught up in lights, seasonal smells of cooking, candy and too much aftershave on the subway (or not enough). A crush rush that exhausts but leaves little time savour it.browndresser02

This piece is about relishing but only if one surrenders to the momentum. I’m also working at writing about sex without being overt – aiming for a hormone level of response. The circus analogy for sex isn’t new but I wanted to see what I could do with it.

I like some of the phrasing and the way it slips for one half-image into another is an almost unnoticeable flow – ‘the melt of stars/ into a mouth.’ In edit I did work on pacing, on sequence, to have it flow up and down, as it were, to follow the flow of meeting, tentative, then hopping on the ride and ending with the need for the ride to continue. For me the thickness of calliope music was a nice symbol for the thickness of cock.blackchair01

This is an old piece, goes back to early 2000’s in fact, when I was getting back into poetry. I wanted to write about sex without saying ‘dick.’ That wasn’t such a difficult challenge though as I become more comfortable in front of audiences my sex writing become more direct. The need to distance from overt queer content seemed dishonest.

Not that I wanted to write directly pornographic explicit poetry but I wanted to stop trying to make some of my writing less universal – I think this piece is fairly genderless – it could opposites attract or same sex encounters. With no writer’s name attached it could be written by any sex. blackchair02

It is authentic but at the same time hiding something from the reader. That hiding came from my own residual fear of being too direct – what if audiences are offended by ‘dick’ – today I don’t care. If my being a white, entitled, cismale, over 50 who likes dick offends someone – such is life. Welcome to carnival planet earth.

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Capturing Fire Negotiation

Capturing Fire

the world is changing

faster faster faster

the bandwidth revolution

releases all voices

people won’t be silenced

stopping the blaze of words

won’t keep the world from changing

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lawn art in DC

Capturing Fire, for me, was being thrust into the ring of a prize fight in progress. As an earlier Fire post said the poets covered every faction of the LGBTQ rainbow, with a strong presence of the trans & non-binary, non-gendered. Articulate, angry about recent murders in the trans world & recent riots in Baltimore.

One poet said, visiting the day after the riots, that she saw no difference to that city – not that the sanitation department did such a good job but that the city was so decayed before the riots one couldn’t tell if they had happened. These are poets living in both a gender & a political war zone. Another said that poverty will never disappear as long there is money to made from appearing to make poverty disappear. Which make me thing of the pharmaceutical industry: treating disease makes more $ than curing it.

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Marilyn?

The event was well organized by Regie Cabico – who gave props to the DC Centre staff & all who helped but it still seemed a one man job. The pace was ideal – intimate & socially friendly to spoke word. Great dining, coffee & snacks  where steps away. I had excellent ribs at Eatonville, wonderful shrimp/chicken pasta at Busboys & Poets; & an interest sausage patty at St. Ex. The Starbucks isn’t as strong  as it is in Toronto; Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is okay but the donuts were crap.

I took in multiple events each of the three days of Fire. After two late (for me) nights I fell asleep in my room after supper & missed the wrap party. Sometime the body knows better than the mind.

Some of the poets were so hyper-charged they had to go barefoot to stay grounded. Too many fine performers to name-check everyone but: Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi was amazing – she slipped easily from saucy, romantic to unrestrained fire-hose anger – all in one piece. Authentic and precise, she was inspiring. Vita Elizabeth Cleveland at her first event of this nature was a natural & powerful. Her Caitlyn Jenner piece was daring & remorseless. The men from the UK, Toby Campion & Dominic Berry, were brash energetic spokenword hooligans with their so from the heart humour & struggles. Mental Health issues in the UK are no more advanced than ours. ‘Those pills are fucking you up – take these instead’ not ‘Let’s see if you get better without pills.’ What’s the difference between standing up for yourself and being non-cooperative.

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wouldn’t eye

I loved the city – maybe avoiding the tourist stuff helped me I was there not just visiting. My hotel (The Churchill, was excellent (tell them I sent you). It was the perfect distance – a twenty-five minute walk to the DC Centre. The staff were helpful & cheerful (& some were hot hot hot. I nearly asked the man who serviced the safe in my room, if he wanted slip on a safe & service me.)

I can’t say that I made any creative breakthroughs but my world view has certainly expanded. I felt welcome & comfortable, made some new FB friends & depend others with the great Ontario crew that held there now going toe-to-toe at the slam. They discovered what it was like to be really challenged by performers at their peak. If I can afford it, I’ll be back next year.

(written on the plane Tuesday June 9. Before I boarded I got a FB message from Valentino Assenza to talk about Fire on HOWL Tuesday 16.)

The links to all my Capturing Fire are on my Washington Roundup page here. http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1e3 

sample

Between workshops, open stage & walking I did write a few things in DC 🙂 here’s one:

Negotiate

I learned

there is a difference between

anal

and butt play

one involves

anal penetration by various body parts

tongue   finger/s   cock

the other involves

anal penetration by objects

vegetables carrots   cucumbers   corn on the cob

dildos – of various lengths  thickness

possible cast from someone favourite porn star

ass play can also involve

enemas  the fist  or even the foot

but which is which

anal or ass play

varies

because if you say yes to one

& find out the other was intended

it can be too late to say

‘no fucking way

I thought that was a floor lamp’

you have to do more

than read the fine print

on both sides of the negotiation

when yes means yes

but only up to a certain point

you gotta make sure

both parties know what that point it

because if a guy drops by

expecting you to be

fresh douched & eager

to be fisted

& that isn’t even on the bottom of your list

he can get quite hostile

as if it had been your fault

that language & mental telepathy

have let you both down

perceived rejection can quickly escalate

to active violence

forced compliance

by which time it’s too late for negotiation

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