Live on Stage

Finally got my Hot- Sauced Words set up loaded to YouTube – enjoy & hit the link button 🙂

Chapbooks available:


kiss314257567_1162384753819933_3271661288579707843_oon going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

June 9-10: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 – flight & hotel booked already

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh?

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The Soft Slip of Hot-Sauced Flesh

It was with anticipation & gratitude that I went to the Supermarket Grill to co-feature at the March – World Poetry Day edition of Hot-Sauced Words. I arrived at the grill with time to have a meal – excellent mango salad & a great burger. I glanced over my set – made some mental edits – with the Kindle it’s impossible to make actual edits. I was ready.

After greeting the warm, receptive audience host James Dewar set the poetry challenge for the night – a poem about the weather from the weatherman’s point of view. The show started with several strong open-stagers. Here’s a smattering of lines: silence as passing, the silence of keeping your mouth shut for once, text message silence, sounds like gunshots under the ground, bundled like ghosts, a wafer of desire dissolves, attention subway passengers there is a delay at Royal York – the operator has forgotten how to drive a subway, of the strangers one or two may be insane, an odourless glass office sits in it’s place, pale blue coat, pretty girls are often seen but seldom found. (this line gave me chills), I am the things thrown away, I’ll cover you with death, I’ll drain you when I’m good & ready, I’ve killed enough for one night, contented murmur of Friday evening diners, standing all the home with heavy bags, Hank who stank, murdered the piano musically to pieces, shivering from sun poisoning.

After a break, in which I sold enough chapbooks to cover the cost of supper – I was first up. I like starting with Almost Dead – it gives me a real emotional text to get my performance juice flowing, hits the audience with, what I hope is, a sharp social punch. Each piece worked well, for me, I could feel reactions to my endings. Chalk & Hard On got the expected laughs. Breaking in Grief is a bitter sweet emotional tone to end a set on – emotive in a way none of the other pieces try to be. I did what I call my ‘stand and deliver set’ – little talk about the pieces with just a dash of ‘in your pants raunch.’

After another break Brenda Crews took the stage. She is a dance & deliver performer – costume changes, wigs, a Martha Grahamesque piece – she was the opposite of me. The audience sure gots its money’s worth. Some lines: blanket of black feathers, she held the tide line in her hands, crazy old woman at the edge of time, she who turns life into art with her gaze, sunset spilling out of her eyes, seeking a freedom that is terrifying, the way we enslave ourselves, serpents of protection or do I hallucinate, the soft slip of flesh etched in stone, written in the night blindly.

This was followed by the weather writing challenge: who can say where the tornado’s toe will touch down, what was I thinking – I was think about the money, dark ruminations until spring, it was very cloudy outside the day we started to over throw the government, today we are in for a real shit storm. The winner was Zak with the amazing stach.

It was a great night. Heather Babcock and I created a glamour zone at our table. Brenda Clews was kind enough to video my set, which is probably on Facebook by now. It’s always good to have real proof one actually performed. Chap books were sold, even some paypal orders the next day. My next performance: if the prevailing pattern continues it’ll be another 3 years before any series will come knocking.

the video:

Breaking In Grief

he talks of wearing

his dead son’s sneakers

bought a month before the son’s

step off into oblivion

new shoes a sign of hope

of a future planned for

not of a life too soon to be ended

they found the sneakers

still in their box

in the cupboard

worn once to try them on

designer expensive

too nice to toss or donate

so he’ll wear them

it gives me the creeps

practicality in the face of catastrophe


I visited home

the summer after my dad died

his death was sudden

it was the body that gave out

he didn’t go out of his way

to find that oblivion

I go through his clothes

to help my sister winnow out

throw out donate

to share some memories

I end up keeping a couple of jackets

that actually fit me


the shirt and pants

were easy to part with

most of the shoes too

my Dad was all business

when it came to shoes

his idea of comfort wear was

hard onyx red oxfords

there was a new onyx pair

only worn to try them on

they sort of fit me

very stiff and inflexible

never being broken in


I take them


I wear them a few times

then drop them in a clothing box

they don’t fit

right size but wrong shape

maybe that’s why my Dad never

wore them either


the life my Dad hoped I would fit into

was also the right size

but the wrong shape

I was unwilling to do the work

that would break me in

so it would be a comfortable fit


I meet my friend one day

he’s sporting wildly neon runners

these were his son’s

a year after the suicide

he wears them

knowing he’ll never leave that grief behind

but ready

to walk forward with it

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Hot-Sauced Sermon

Putting together the Hot-Sauced set I’ve started with the bones of my Hot Damn! set. I’m keeping some of the pieces, cutting some to create a different flow feeling. The bulk will come from the new chapbook but I’m including a different pieces & even adding a Laws piece that isn’t in the chapbook.

Pieces, at this point will be: Dead Already, Give Generously, Chalk It Up To Experience, Square Root, Win/Win, Re-Creation, Spoilers, After The Falling, Hard On, Sermon on the Mount, Breaking in Grief.

I cut my favorite ‘Man in the Moon’ to make this set less ‘in your pants’ sexually. Sometimes even I like to hold back a little. I will start the same way & end the same way though. The added pieces echo off the ones I’ve kept. Square Root, like Chalk, is about a math teacher. Sermon, like Breaking, is a piece about my Dad.

In going over the pieces I’ve stepped back from the angry old coot to give the ‘no holds barred’ pieces more space to be heard. When every other piece is pitched at the same intensity all people hear is the intensity & not the words.

Sermon on the Mount

when I was a child

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

arms open to greet you

my Dad was a sales manager

for Memorial Gardens

a cross Canada chain of cemeteries

I grew up under that shadow

the grave-digger’s son

not that he dug graves

that shadow didn’t bother me

I was an odd child already

the occult merely added a distracting layer

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 at the entrance

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


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


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


I Get Sauced

Hot-Sauced Words that is. Thank to Facebook’s ‘on this day’ feature I’ve been clearing out old posts – who goes into the past on anyone’s Facebook page? Except deranged ex’s? So I delete things over a year old – old Word Press posts, pics – things that I already have on line & backed up at either Word Press of Tumblr. I like to keep things sort of simple. But I have been keeping video evidence of past performances.

By past I mean in the last decade. I’m lucky enough now these days if I get someone taking blurry cell-phone pics of me on stage, let alone actual performance footage. So I repost them when they come up just to reassure my followers that I actually do perform given the opportunity.

One these was me at Hot-Sauced. I’m not sure if was from a feature or just hitting the open stage back in the day when I was hitting that, & other open stages regularly. A habit I eventually broke when I realized it was costing me more $ to be there than it worth being there. But I digress.

James Dewar saw the old video & figured it was time to have me back t Hot-Sauced again. Once a decade is clearly the limit for most spoken shows to consider having me perform a feature. Coming so soon after my Hot Damn! set it presented a good opportunity for me to sell more chap books & pull out some the pieces in it that I didn’t do at Damn! Tuesday, March 21: 7:30 p.m. Hot-Sauced Words –

Don’t worry it’ll be a fairly different set – some pieces reworked, sequence changed, new things added & some old faves added to buffer the raw political push of the Damn! set. Not that I care that audiences will find the political hard to take but frankly I get bored of doing it. This way you won’t get bored of hearing me.

Chapbooks available:


Snow Global Warming

My final scheduled show and feature of the year brought me back to Hot-Sauced Words at The Black Swan. It’s been over a year since I’ve gotten out to Hot-Sauced. I find taking in one show every ten days enough – two in less than that and the second one usually palls for me. A change from when I jumped into the spoken scene a decade ago when I did my first open stage at the Renaissance Cafe (RIP). I was getting to five or six shows a month. Now two a month is more than enough.

festive balls

The Swan had undergone renovations – gone are the stinking carpets, slick and stained with a history spilled beer, stubbed out cigarettes and other slimy substances. Comfy barrel chairs around tables change the aura considerably. Plus a new sound system. sweet.

The Anti-Christmas Pageant had a full house, raised over $300 for the food drive – if only audiences were that generous to starving poets :-). It was good to reconnect with writers I haven’t seen for some time too. Not that I’m Mr Social mind you. One asked what I was working on then proceeded to tell me what he was working on before I could finish my answer.

more festive balls

The show structure was a stripped-down version of the usual H-S – some open stagers, two short features, a set by Kirsten Sandwich, break, then the other two features & a final Sandwich set.

By short features I mean maybe six minutes each. We all managed to be seasonal but not festive. Sue Reynolds, first featurette, did a couple of sweet cover poems and one original. Loved ‘the black dog of sleeplessness gnawing the rind of daybreak.’ She was followed by Kate Marshall Flaherty – her pieces were aromatic (garlic, cheese, wine), about the kindness of strangers, birth in ‘sweet hay and warm cow smells.’ Her final piece called for audience participation as we made chilly wind sounds as he performed a fun piece about Cold Air.

festive red balls

Sandwich’s first set opened with an obscure Latin carol that gave me chills – love those harmonies. This was their serious piece. They did a carol as written by Leonard Cohen ‘Santa smells of whisky and despair.’ They showed how the lyrics to Gilligan’s Island could be sung to nearly any carol followed by the reverse – how those carol lyrics could be sung to the melody of Gilligan’s Island.

After the break I started the final set. Shopping Trippy still works it’s linguistic magic. Snow Global Warming has just the right touch of queer raunch – I skipped my slutty Santa piece & closed with my Grinch List. I skipped my real raunch to allow Charlie Petch the opportunity to shine in that department -which they did in the set that followed mine, ‘finger banged next to the snapple machine.’ Their ‘Don’t They Know’ re/de construction is getting tighter: ‘Who doesn’t want what North America has?’ – but I think theiy’re holding back a little 🙂 The smugness behind those lyrics calls for more.

By this point in the night it was 10:15. Reluctantly I shrugged into my winter layers and left as Sandwich was starting their final set. I like to be home and to bed by 11. Gone are the days of disco dancing till 1:30 a.m. and taking the night bus home. And to all a good night.


Snow Global Warming

his eyes were the color of sky

a sky on the verge of snow

snow that is eagerly awaited

so that we have a white christmas

not a lot of snow mind you

a dusting of it

enough to turn the world

into a Christmas card of trees and houses

houses with warm lights in windows

fireplace blazing

as snow falls   tossed in a snow globe


us naked in front of that fireplace

a blizzard of affection blankets us together

under thick waves of heat

hearth logs crackling

our stockings well hung

a vision of sugar plums

between his legs

the wind howling around the house

we tumble around each other

toasted   tossed in a snow globe

of swiftly changing lusts emotions


spinning transient melting

breathless and mumbling

naughty nice naughty nice

mostly unwrapped and crumpled

eager for another shake of the snow globe

golden balls

Kissing Stations

Got out to Plasticine Poetry Sunday night. I haven’t been to the series for two months now – busy with NaNoWriMo – so I was eager to get back there. Even more eager because of the dynamic line up. As usual I made sure I got onto the open stage in the first set. It’s always easier for me to listen when I get my own piece out of the way.

ants out of my pants

By 6:25 there was full house, I had a tasty chicken wrap and …. I get asked to host the show. Let’s be honest give me a street light over head & two drunks watching me from across the street and I’m ready to do some spokenword. I was happy to step up and take on the task. But I did insist on keep my open stage spot all the same. I read a brand new piece (see below) which recent events in the USA made even more poignant.

Lisa De Nikolits read from passages from her novels in which the characters either read or write poems – the poetry captures the nature of the p.o.v. strongly and reflects the character and not the author trying to be poetic: ‘I may be a loser/but I’ve always dreamed of someone to hold’ ‘dance on the morals of doctors and madman.’ After a too brief set she was brought back to read more – this time a prose section of West of WaWa – which pulled her in emotionally as she read and pulled us in at the same time.

un jccool

Next up was Lizzie Violet – she started with ironic pieces about relationship: “I cannot confirm or deny my feelings for you” “I speak the truth/ you speak innuendoes.” She did some horror/zombie pieces – I got so caught up in her vampire poem I couldn’t make note. A strong set.

During the break Michael served us cake to celebrate the season. Let them eat cake, if they don’t like the features 🙂


Second set opened with Charlie Petch who gave us a zit-popping good time. Romantic in ‘I whisper I love you as softly as pollen.’ Imagist in “holds cigarettes as if they might float away.” Tender and tough in their piece about Myke Tyson “when you give up on language your dreams narrow.” They closed with a fearless deconstruction (with some  help from their saw) of “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”

June 23, 2013

Final feature was David Clink. He gave us hilarious sections of his recent book “Hidden Emu.” Then led us in a sing-a-long of christmas song parodies “Santa Claus is Tapping Your Phone,” “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Wino” and too all a good night.

After the show I walked along Bloor W to Spadina station to check out the tinsel installations someone had told me about. They are some sort of kissing stations – streetlights trimmed in tinsel with mistletoe in the middle. Odd notion that invites, even encourages inappropriate behavior with strangers. The rapist’s defense – “the lights gave me permission.”

writing sample

Panic in the Streets

I left the house once

without my water bottle

how would I save

the dwindling environment

could I use my hands

to cup water from some grundy washroom tap

would I dehydrate within blocks

the city spread out around me

parched and dusty


I left the house once

without my credit cards my atm card

what would I do

if I had to buy a cup of coffee

a bottle of water

what would I do

if I had to prove to that I was of some value

without proof of my credit-ability


I left the house once

without my cell phone

out of touch with reality

who would think I was worth

talking to without it

what would I do

if I had to tell the time

would you believe me

if I told you I missed your call

because I left my cell at home

would you forgive me


I left the house once

without my digital camera

I didn’t know where to look

my eyes had to see things as they were

not as compositions to be captured

what if I saw the defining moment

of the collapse of our civilization

or a cat sneezing

I might as well be blind


I left the house once

without my gun

I didn’t feel safe

there was a threat in every glance

how could I defend myself

how could I define myself

without at a spray of bullets

to protect  project me

I felt naked vulnerable defeated


Festively Damned

Fountain of light 2004
Danforth Fountain of light 2004

It felt good to be back on stage hosting the recent Beautiful & Damned show at Glad Day. A warm and receptive audience enjoyed great open stagers, excellent feature and a musical surprise. And we wrapped by 9:30 too.

To keep the showing running at about 2 hours the committee decided to made a few simple cuts – only six open stagers instead of 9 – that reduced the running time by at least 20 minutes. I also cut the trivia questions down to six as well – saving at least another five minutes.

blue diamond
blue diamond

First feature, Melissa Benner, despite fighting off a cold, did a confident, warm and emotional set. She open with a piece about growing up queer in a small town – something many of us identified with – wanting to ‘beat it out of town, before the town beat it out of them’ – one line mentioned a wish for a gay pride parade down the main street. On a recent visit to my small town: Sydney, Cape Breton – I watch a gay pride parade down the main street! Only a couple of vintage cars and some marchers mind you – some guys twirling batons & even a bag pipers (supply your own puns).

Small town life has changed over the years – but gay teens are still being bullied into suicide. Her work is full clear images: ‘the sickle of your anger,’ ‘pull of sunsets in your tree line,’ ‘grass-stained and waiting for me to show up.’ Her love of the farm, the land never fell into the stock Canadian nature trap. A fine set. Read more about the show at cowbell!!

slip me some tongue
slip me some tongue

Rocco de Giacomo presented an engaging, emotional and humorous set. Starting with a ‘slightly opened door is a question’ he shared pieces about aging (since when is hitting 40 aging?), fatherhood and manhood – ‘good men sleep deeply and never dream.’ I enjoyed his Toronto poem – was it an ode? – ‘Toronto is the realm of the half-asleep’ ‘Toronto is the way a vinyl record feels.’

Due to missed communication with the, as it turns out not booked, music feature we enjoyed an impromptu set by Rex Baunsit and Carlin Belof. Without guitars, piano or music to hide behind we had a rare opportunity to enjoy them raw and more vulnerable than usual.

crystal iced
crystal iced

Here’s a link a free download of my favorite recording of A Christmas Carol. There are so many screen, TV versions but this is the entire text beautifully read.

Here are the Sir Alec trivia questions:

1 Sir Alec  won an Academy Award for: a: Bridge Over the River Kwai; b: The Lavender Hill Mob; c: The Horse’s Mouth

2 In The Bridge over the River Kwai Alec gets to blow: a: out candles on a surprise birthday cake; b: the second set director; c: up the Bridge on the River Kwai

3 In Star Wars his character was named: a: Obehave; b: Obendover; c: Obi-Wan Kenobi

4 In Star Wars he says: a: Hans you’re hung like a horse!; b: You can get batteries for light sabers at the Source; c: May The Force be with you

5 In Kind Hearts and Coronets he plays: a: Ascoyne D’Ascoyne; b: Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne; c: Reverend D’Ascoyne

6 In Star Wars he is killed by: a: Han Solo’s horse cock; b: Princess Leia’s dildo; c: Darth Vader’s lightsaber


Cabaret Noir October 2014 – TOpoet & Officer Vice

Shape-Shifting Reptile

James Dewar is not a shape-shifting reptile from outer-space but his Hot-Sauced Words is a reading series that is not afraid of shape-shifting – sometimes offering us a night of all female poets, or a poetry book launch, or his anti-Christmas show the series always has something distinct to offer –


On September 15 the series returned from summer hiatus with a juicy, high-energy show by the Toronto Slam Team – each of whom brought their distinctive spoken attack – starting with David Delisca’s sweetly crooning – almost shy set, followed by Cathy Petch’s brash fun sexy & definitely not shy, porn-o-ramic set – after which we took a much need chill out break – Electric Jon – (subbing for LipBalm) gave us a sprawling shark-a-delic workout – ending with Eytan Crouton’s swag-a-licious  throw-down – well not quite ending, as he & Jon brought what was left of the roof down with Reptiles – Eytan’s final lizard tongue lashing is sure to please the ladies (& some laddies given the chance).

the patio is very open

I haven’t been the the Black Swan for a few months and was dismayed to see that the tables (as usual) hadn’t been wiped from the last show that had been there. Atmosphere is one thing but beer and booze sticky tables make me question the cleanliness of their glassware.