The Basement Tapes


The Basement Tapes

I’m in the basement with Dylan

creaking out of the stereo

wizened voice

tossing fantastic harsh visions

illusions half mumbled pictures

spin tumble rattle the thin speaker membrane

scratch at the back of the throat

the back of the brain  left side right side

pushing to a realization

that if he can

anyone can

the voice so plain

the words so jumbled

is there a meaning


no pretty harmony to hook on to

no lulling chorus to toe-tap

no bridge from one flash to the next

just the tumble rumble of words images

sights sounds to long for

to take me out of this basement

into a fluid flexing world

of Bobby notes croak under missing moons

on angry street corners

refusing to smile for the pretty girls

refusing to bend for the witty men

giving each some quick name

master of whores blaster of boots

so far from the safety of this room

mild haired boys stroking guitars

black cat girls swinging hips

inhaling looking me in the eye

is there something behind

the gates of their smoke screen

not caught in their net stocking

they finding me baited for a different catch


the needle hisses from one cut to the next

track after track a verbal attack

howling about a life I’ll never live

farms motor cycles

ironed hair millionaires

giving chase to to rumors of more

the highway up the stairs

past Ed Sullivan TV

into the summer street

trapped and tickled

with no way of getting from here to there

no hitch hiking get away

only the chance to get these early hints

of Ginsburg Thomas Whitman

filtered by this cranky harmonica player

caught like me

outside the gates of Eden


This month I am looking at some of the pieces I may be reading as part of Born To Be Blown. Bob Dylan is a suitable follow up to my Robert Johnson post last week. Early in his career he made use of those tradition blues forms then when he plugged in his career went crazy. ‘Outside’ was written for a tribute night – this one for, of all people, Bob Dylan.

I can’t say I was big fan but his language certainly inspired me – I later discovered what an influence Walt Whitman, Alan Ginsberg (two queers) & Dylan Thomas had been on Bob – but as a teen I found his lyrics as stunning flow of images and emotions.


He seemed so anti everything – later I find out that he was, thanks partly to Blowin’ In The Wind, a multi-millionaire. The rich rebel. I also remember the single of Like a Rolling Stone – such a long long song with the even longer Gates Of Eden on the flip side.


I’d listen to him in my basement – drinking with friends and soaking up the coffee house vibe & longing for what he represented. So this piece is pretty true my actual memories. No attempt has been made to capture his writing style but more to capture how I felt as a gay teen outside the gates of heterosexual Eden. No one I knew ever thought he was a good singer but man, even if you don’t know what he says, he could write.


June 9-10 – attending – Capturing Fire – Washington DC

fence02 vert

now that’s a gate

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red head anyone

‘the brawl of the kiss’


‘the brawl of the kiss’ Dylan Thomas

I can’t say what I mean

because if I say what I mean

you might not understand it

because said and understood

are two different things

I might say

I want to see you

you might hear

I want to own you

or I think of you sometimes


why don’t you think me all the time

our language is at odds with our intents

I want to talk you

into telling me what I want to hear

in a way that is totally clear

unalterable and fulfilling

so when we are together

I can’t say what I mean

because all I want

is the brawl of the kiss

to end this fight of the mind

which it always does

I let my fears surrender

to the delight of the body

our bodies

as they struggle to reach through

the fight of the mind

to embrace each other

we wrestle each other

in the cauldron of his bed

where we understand exactly

what each other means needs wants

out of this brawl of the kiss


snow de fender

This a piece from 2014 inspired as the title says by Dylan Thomas. The image come from his poem ‘Unluckily For A Death’ ( I have his complete poems & read it aloud, cover to cover every other year. He’s always been a major influence on me and each time read him I get a greater sense of his meaning. One thing he taught me is that understand isn’t as important as savouring an image.

Like my piece last week, *Beep*, this one is about the need to be heard even as one struggles to say the words. It’s also a meditation on the war between pleasure for the sake of pleasure with the need to be sincere, authentic.


snow de man

Some of the struggle here is the baggage of expectations ego brings in to play – of how the need to be appear more emotionally evolved/involved we ether say what we think will get what we want or fear to say it lest the other person takes it the wrong way. You know like pretending to be in political agreement just to get a bj then having to decline donating to their political party.


snow de China

Or thinking just excuse you have great chemistry in bed you’ll both like the same obscure Italian horror movies but you’ll put with Leo DiCaprio to humor them anyway. A little compromise always makes the brawl feel like the sacrifice is worth it. Right? Also never tell them you are a poet or you’ll end up having to proof read their unpublished novel – trust me, it’s better to say no than maybe.


March 26 – Thursday 8 pm – Judging – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam – Supermarket – 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto


April 26, 2015 – Sunday – 2-5 – Featuring – The Secret Handshake Gallery – 170 Baldwin Ave., 2nd floor, Toronto.


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


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


(2015 registration posted but details not posted yet. I’ve registered already 🙂 )

June 21-26 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Workshop: The Novelist’s Selfie – Loyalist – Belleville


register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info

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


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


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




snow de sota?

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‘a crown of kisses’


The Coronation

a crown of kisses

flickers like fire flies

dangling in the leafy branches

lip smacking wet

lures me along the sidewalk

after the rain

late night empty streets

we had a fraction of a second

to complete the next connection

an inking of an idea

leads me through the rain drops

through the candy buttons

on a glowing shirt

leafy green wet slippery

caught up in the branch

the turn of the creek

the bend of the elbow

a touch of lips on cheek

lingers and lunges

water in a rush sudden flood

rain pent up for days

in a humid cloud embrace

release refreshed

dangerously liberated

but not wet enough

to put out the fire

in this crown of kisses

this inside kicky swing

the next morning

yellow butterflies sip

in the fallen broken branches

of the nutmeg tree

beg for more sugar nectar

a chance to touch your neck

for the opportunity to be next

when there are new clouds to gather

to fumble the many shiny buttons

at the bottom of a drawer

that rattle like coins in a piggy bank

flutter in the stomach

as nervous as I was when I wanted

to give you a crown of kisses

know that even misses the mark

the mark of try again

in the folds of your charms

in the scratch at the door

to be let out

to howl once more

the moon the stars

sky stuck strapped forever

into that firmament

too far to escape

too late to apologize

and in a faction of a second

to dart from house to house

telling everyone who would listen

that we had finally worn

the crown of kisses

moon03 full moon

For February I’m dipping into some older, romantic pieces. This one clearly shows the influences of both Dylan Thomas & Alan Ginsburg. Reading after not seeing it for many years I get the sweet bounce of ‘the fuse that drives the flower green’ – Thomas’s complex use of nature imagery, color and emotion. Mine isn’t as complex, I think, and nature quickly gives way to flesh.

I structure it with theme and variation – images appear then re-appear in slightly different forms – water, rain, leaves, kisses mutate from fire flies to butterflies – butterflies real then symbolic. Lots of smell and taste gets played with too, touch, sensations – the wet of leaves, the taste & smell of nutmeg – ways of giving the reader a sensory experience.


shine on

There is also a sense of youth, of hormones kicking in – the silent imperative of those early stirrings, the need to experience something one may not even know what it is – the dog scratching at the door of adulthood.

moon01 where I saw you dancing

Of course kisses pushes this urge into a clearly, for me, sexual self-discovery. The first kiss, the first base, the first shooting off, like shooting stars – scary and spectacular at the same time. It was a fun piece to write, edit & perform. It’s good have pieces about the sensual without feeling the need to be explicit or that I’m hiding the explicit with pretty images.


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‘the brawl of the kiss’

Noir’s spring show was a veritable shower of talent that was barely contained by the Central stage – in fact at points it wasn’t. Feature Regina Dentata, did three teasing burlesque routines at 3 different points during the evening – making sure the audience temperature stayed high. The first two were in her modern dance style – sinuous and expansive – pulling us in with opened-eyed teasing, exiting through the audience on the first. The second had black ribbons magically appear to add a hint of bondage. Her finale was a traditional reveal – cape, stunning gold gown, a laced up corset that had to be unlaced to be removed. The traditional reveal could have gone a little longer for my liking.

bag punching bag out cold

Next was Jezebel Beelzebub Bells, a persona piece by Adam Abbas. Bells is the archetypical beat poet with sunglasses, beret & mock black turtle next, all that was missing was someone on bongos. Adam captures the pretentiousness & arrogance of a self-satisfied poet who knows how to dis better than he can write. Though Adam is too good a poet to write verse as bad as he thinks Bells would write. It was a fun Andy Kauffmanesque performance piece.

looted Unlooted mitten

Last up was Nelson Sobral aka Melting Pot. I’ve seen & reviewed him many time before. A member of too many bands to list, he always gives an emotionally appealing performance. In fact he didn’t wait – singing & playing off stage during the breaks. A true spot-light slut he a sweet stage presence. His crisp quitar playing is deceptively simple and his vocals are strong, direct while never over-singing to sell a song. Loved his cover of Little Feat’s Roll’em Easy.

barrel snow crystal ball

There was a stellar set of open stagers through out the show. Great sound assistance from the Central staff. Next month’s Noir features Nik Beat, Giraffe & Vicki Laufer. Photos of the show:


June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville, Ont

room bed of dreams at Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



from the Make Spoken Word Go Viral prompt –  ‘a favourite quote.’

‘the brawl of the kiss’

Dylan Thomas

I can’t say what I mean

because if I say what I mean

 you might not understand it

because said and understood

are two different things

I might say

I want to see you

you might hear

I want to own you

or I think of you sometimes


why don’t you think me all the time

our language is at odds with our intents

I want to talk you

into telling me what I want to hear

in a way that is totally clear

unalterable and fulfilling

so when we are together

I can’t say what I mean

because all I want

is the brawl of the kiss

to end this fight of the mind

which it always does

I let my fears surrender

to the delight of the body

out bodies

as they struggle to reach through

the fight of the mind

to embrace each other

we wrestle each other

in the cauldron of his bed

where we understand exactly

what each other means needs wants

out of this brawl of the kiss

river02 Belleville reflections

Pre-Boarding Dust @RedRocketcafe

Getting my pieces ready for my feature at Makin’ A Racket next week. It is so much easier to plan twenty minutes where flow becomes more important than hitting an open stage, where you need a single piece, or two if you are lucky, that has to grab an audience restless for the real features to come on. Flow allows for build up – not just that American Idol emotional note.

catcool cat

This will be another set in which I step back, a bit, from the in-your-pants raunch, for a more romantic, less bitter-sweet, set of pieces. Because it’s a week after Valentine’s I’m going to do more of lovey stuff than I usually present. Yeah, I may like sex but I’m not impervious to romance – I just don’t let one get in the way of the other or confuse one for the other either.

pollypolly’s c-c-cool

I’m going way back into my archives and pulling a piece from my 1978 Distant Music chapbook. Where it all began. I do have even older pieces but the roof of the cave collapsed closing off that part of the library 🙂

glovercool hand Lucy

I resisted editing Dust too much. Clearly pop influenced in the rhythm and repeated phrases – echoes of Paul Simon and Donovan are clear to me plus Dylan Thomas. I’m not sure if there was an actually ‘you’ who was the object of my affections – not that I didn’t have suppressed crushes but there was no one I hoped to impress with this soppy imagery. Who cares about the GG award, I just want to write a poem that will get me laid.


February 21, Friday – featuring – Racket at the Rocket: 7 p.m., Red Rocket Cafe, 1364 Danforth Ave.


March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium


June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville

the power of attaction

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



when I turn to diamonds

will you wear me in your hair

on your finger

or in your dusky ears

like stars in a black night

fondled forever my many eyes

wondering who your diamonds were

before they became diamonds for you

when I turn to night

will you bring me daybreak

bring me stars

or the moonlight

with its ever-greedy motion

across your endless eyes

wondering where this night was

become it became my dawn

when i=I turn to dust

will you blow me away

gather me in your hands

or a in a black onyx box

with your eyes the seal

its sides your tears

as you wonder who I was

to turn to dust for you

I ask, for you see

I shall become

dust fragile

night invisible

diamond clear

and I have to know

before I turn

before I turn

before I turn to your eyes

sinkfont blanc 

Do You Hear What I Hear

 How quickly do you get tired of festive music? Two minutes? Two days? Over the years I’ve built up a little collection of Christmas music that covers languages: Welsh, Russian, Swedish, French and even some Elvis. I dig them out once a year & give them their annual listenings.

lane02does it come in green

I do favour the campy/cheesy side of things with the Beach Boys, The Ventures; special favourites Booker T & The MG’s go hand in hand with Jimmy Smith. I even have one of my family’s Christmas lp’s: Eddie Fisher. I can’t say as I have an absolute favourite though. Brenda Lee’s Rocking ‘Round the Christmas Tree is pretty close to perfect though. Plus Silent Night sung by a choir of starving children on an ice flow (just kidding).

lane03lane way bargains

One thing I always enjoy is a A Christmas Carol beautifully read in complete – a free download – takes a couple of hours to listen to but it has spoiled me for any movie version. I have it burned to a cd along with Dylan Thomas reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales, plus the Million Dollar Man’s Christmas adventures, and (could it get any better?) Charles Laughton reading a Pickwick Christmas and (too much?) Ronald Coleman in a very abridged Christmas Carol.

lane01red daisies

Yeah I love Christmas but I’m always happy when its over.



another piece out of the archives:


it’s hard to resist the notions of patterns

how the repeated gets repeated

the notion

that if you go back to the same bed

you leave in the morning

you have really gone nowhere

start to finish

at the same point

doesn’t equal progress

yet   for many that is progress

to maintain the same pattern

to have the comfort

of ending back where they started from

I do not resist the comfort and ease

of repetition

that gives structure

funny though

how much quicker and smaller these

rituals become

the older one becomes

the aching years and summers of youth

are the all too fast and brief

flash from one winter to the next

winters coming too close together

and summers never long enough

flowers come go  come go

and the gardening continues

when will the circle be broken

things are done

to keep that break from happening

the right foods for the heart

exercise  avoid the sun

drinking lots of water

a few less morsels at every meal

to cut down on the burden of the waist

each a little ritual

in hopes of avoiding the break


to add a few morsels of days

the gift of the moment

the miracle of breath

and joy of experiencing

what there remains to be experienced

days are numbered

but no one knows what those numbers are

we don’t know

what they are going to add up to

what will remain

is rarely equalled to

what we may have done

the mark made disappears with time

I decided not to worry about the mark made

but to enjoy what there is to enjoy

to create sustain without concern

leaving a legacy

is the least of my intent

a few memories will linger

till the last of those

who remember me

are gone

that is enough for me

another of the aging details

I sometimes forget

is about what may remain

who gets what

maybe I’ll give it all way

before the break

shedding is a good stage

to prepare me for the transition

into the next one

shed all that I wouldn’t want to move with

pretend my life

is to be reduced to a single room

what would I want to keep

make it that simple

and see what

loses its hold on me

what is really wanted

and what is there merely

because I have a place for it

those things that are pleasant enough

but which it

may be time to live without

to move on

to clear and clear

make more empty shelves

and leave them empty

invite the emptiness

into the present day

to prepare me for

what may be the void

when the circle is broken


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more Christmas kitch– sweet,eh?


The Groin’s Endless Coil

I’m currently reading a biography of Charles Jackson author of Lost Weekend. He’s one of those forgotten mid-century writers. He’s also a writer caught in the crush of closetedness, booze and creativity. A cultural cage he never really broke out of.

There is this romantic connection between self-destruction, creativity and authentic voice. The notion that a great novel/poem/painting by an ex-junkie is more compelling than a great novel by someone whose never been a junkie/addict etc is almost endemic in our culture.

Having survived my own history of drunken self-abuse, plus the delight of growing up an ‘abomination unto the face of the Lord,’ I suppose I have my own bit of suffering to qualify me as deserving to be a credible artist. But I’ve never been one to make much of those ‘wrinkles.’ If I have to produce a history of suffering to get artistic repect I’ll pass on the respect.

shallow long grave

When some have found out I have over 35 years clean & sober it comes as a surprise. It’s not something I present in my writing & often seems irrelevant to my relationships with people outside the recovery community. But it is always the one of the factors in my writing. Same with being queer – whether the piece I’m writing even mentions sexuality it is there in the mix.

One of the things I faced, as do many highly creative types, when first getting clean & sober is where does creativity now come from. My sense of self, purpose had become so immeshed in being a drunk that it wasn’t clear who I was.

dark oak heart

So over the years I continued to write some but also explored painting, stand-up, dance plus a long stretch in theatre until I finally came back to the core ground of writing. I stepped back into the ‘scene’ at the Renaissance Cafe in January 2000 (or maybe it was 2001) and have kept coming back.


a piece I wrote early in recovery:

in the groin’s endless coil

a man is tangled

Dylan Thomas

O Dylan

I remember those

Guided by rockets in pockets days

When my Thomas caterpillar heart

Slowly crawled along

The bottle edge

I knew yours crawled along

I felt the same call

The evaporating sigh

And almost fell

Liquid slippery splendid

Siren pulled   tugged

Till I had been

Pulled   tugged apart

Dream by illusion

I walked   teased

Along the amber edge

The tightrope territory

Between head and heart



Off its red perfection

I flowed

When I could mirror long enough

I burned

I raced its bullet blue images

Rippling the insistent rage

Of whiskey-tangled youth

The without falling

Within awareness

I was untangled

In a bramble of healing hands   coffee grounds

Breathing but not


I needed a new tangle

When that slippery rage

Consumed itself

Its siren seemed to fuse me

With an angry flowering flame

Without which

I became a blank saint

Blank until I felt

A thorn in the tender loin

The groin’s endless coil

Shoving my heart and head

Kicking  screaming around

The bends of wanting   getting,

Of beating my clear head

Against the walls

Of my own unfocused expectations

I piously tried

To disregard thorny dreams

In favor of spiritual fantasy

They returned to haunt

To root

Warm   just out of reach

Like ghosts of a blossom

Ghosts I accepted as ghosts

That persist in taunting me

With their trite tired

Old romantic fear

That slam-dance  pity-party

Tired  tried   true lament

I know too damn well

Nobody can love me enough

Nobody can love you enough

A bramble barely concealing


I want more than enough

I want more than it all

I will always want more

Than there is to have

O Dylan

When I was unlearned

In my childwise

Little nearsighted world

Where books were real

And dreams were innocent

I believed something too pure

For even love to make possible

I still believe today

Not for the comfort it brings

But for the light it spills

Golden  glowing with faith

Between my head and the wall

I have a truth

The coil is human

I have a love

The tangle is healing

I have a bramble

The endless is being