Is Allen Ginsberg taught on any Canadian high-school English course? The most daring poet I remember readings at that time was T.S. Eliot, some Dylan Thomas (more about them later.) Then the rock bomb went off with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon & the like. My first exposure to Ginsburg was via pop music. Only at the time I didn’t know it.


It wasn’t until years later when I picked up the City Lights edition of Howl that I realized where Bob Dylan had sprung from. Reviewers mentioned the Kerouac influence but not the Ginsburg. Was it to avoid tainting the new rock God with Ginsburg’s deviant sexuality? No that couldn’t be there was no homophobia is that scene.

I have the massive Collected Poems, Barry Miles’s biography, “Howl” Fifty Years Later, edited by Jason Shinder, plus cds of Ginsberg performing his work. I have read Ginsberg’s direct influence as well: Walt Whitman (more about him later). I am a fan.

I was lead to him via the beatnik connection & reading a Kerouac biography. I knew the famous opening ‘I have seen the best minds’ but was unfamiliar with anything else of his poetry. The Collected Works is a challenging read solely for the quantity but it is worth working through. Not that everything he wrote is a work of genius but it is compelling, emotionally real & his imagery is frequently stunning.

What inspires me about him is that he was only queer though the hippie era at a time when ‘free love’ merely meant men getting as much sex from women as they could. Where there any gay people at Woodstock? At the love-ins? Much of his work is of the moment & about himself in a gentle yet revealing way, frequently very conversational. Some of it is also timeless & reflects things in today’s world that remain true – I have seen the best minds of our times lost to drugs, street violence & cultural genocide. 

end song 

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

what if this isn’t the moment 

to leap up once and for all 

get it over with

no beginnings only ends
only a bar counter to wipe ready
for weary prisoners to stop   rest   gripe
about the fairness of their sentence
how they deserve what they want

and they want it now 

piping hot
heaped dishes of freshly chopped
branches of moon strung stings
to replace the end of things

we all know that end is looming
bigger than 

a pole-dancer’s ass 

that hovers over 

your out-stretched glass

another drop pretty pretty please
please squeeze harder 

we know you can do it
before the song changes
it has to be on that note
the universal choir
chasing clouds of chords around
looking for the car keys put down in a hurry

your car running in the garage
who is in the back seat drifting
as the red slick sends
reflection of spoons to the moon

each prisoner barely turning
in their stools asking
are we up to guessing what comes next

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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Howl Ashes

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

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


Johnny off the spot

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


casting out the devil

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

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


where’s the fire?

Valentino runs a great show at HOWL, asks challenging questions and apologizes like it’s an addiction 🙂 If you missed the show you can stream the show: from the player at the bottom of the page, or download it to iTunes, and listen to it whenever you like. Enjoy!


the other piece I had in case there was time:


he smells of coal

I know its a conditioner

an after shower lotion

to keep his skin from drying

into ashy patches

he smells of coal

but has never been in a mine

has probably never burned coal

the smell takes me back

to my childhood

growing up in a coal town

sorting a freshly delivered load

in the basement bin

picking though for rocks

that would pop in the furnace

scare my mother

when we moved out of that house

to one with oil heating

I never missed the smell of coal

until I met him

a tar dark skinned man

who held me with a cautious tenderness

he’d come from a country

were men of his sort

were stoned in the street

where women who loved women

could be raped with impunity

here he was still unsure

he didn’t quite believe he was safe

he couldn’t free himself

of the fear he grew up with

I cannot free myself

from the smell of coal

I grew up with the same fears

as he did

so when we meet

we taste the ashes of our pasts


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

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


register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info

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


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


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

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


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Energetically Adorned Meets Corporate Ladders

Got out to Nik Beat’s Howl at Q Space for great night of diverse, compelling readers & musicians & sketch artists. Not that Nik’s show is at all sketchy but there were at least four artists in the crowd wielding pencils & sketch pads.  First feature was Gabrielle Bowen. She read a relaxing series of poems that were about the power of self-healing, tapping into one’s inner light to become ‘energetically adorned’ and ‘no longer holographically blind.’ Her confident and direct delivery left us at a point where ‘no words can be heard only knowing.’

getting the boot snowbank
getting the boot snowbank


getting the cold boot
getting the cold boot

She was followed by Patrick Connors with a set of pieces that were uncomplicated and direct from the heart, messages that weren’t cluttered up with over-polished images but full of raw realizations: ‘up all day climbing the corporate ladder/up all night killing the pain.’

getting the two boots
getting the two boots

After a brief break Joani Paige open her set of songs with ‘The Cigarette Song’ which was perfect for her warm husky alto. ‘you got too many holes in your body.’ Her bluesy folk strumming perfectly supported her great singing.

A quick round of open stagers and the show wrapped by 9.

#Serial Killers and #Suitcase Sam

The weather relented enough for me to get out to Nik Beat’s Howl show at Q Space Sunday night. I’ve been looking forward to to checking this new space out since it opened last year. A great space for spoken-word & unplugged music. A simple kitchen set up offers various teas, coffee, juices, assorted alcohol libations; snacks – salads, sandwiches, desserts. Lots of outlets to plug in a laptop. Comfortable seating and an excellent sound system.

Come Home Muffy

Nik hosted a typically eclectic line-up that opened with Tim Masterson – who read a chapter for him novel ‘Far From Kind and Pretty,’ as well as an ‘essay’ – both were filled with allusions to 70’s/80’s TV shows, pop music, clowns, bunnies as his character dealt with mother issues; ‘none of the pens work in Mom’s House.’ He was followed by Lizzie Violet, whose mother feared Lizzie would grow up to be a serial killer. Now that’s a mother issue 🙂 Lizzie’s pieces ranged from  relationship foibles ‘I speak the truth/you whisper innuendos‘ – to chilling zombie narratives. She also took some great show pics.

guitars bagged

After a short break we were treated with musical feature Suitcase Sam. I was popped into a time machine and transported back to San Francisco 1969 by this modern Leon Redbone channeler. Sam did a fine set of covers: Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wild Horses and some sweet original pieces. A great guitarist and solid singer who did songs by Fred Neil, Bruce Springsteen and beyond.

cool cat house

Final feature David Clink read comic pieces from his recent book ‘Crouching Yak, Hidden Emu’ (or is it the other way round?). I love Toxic Girl with her pretty ‘button down cholera.’ After David there were a few open stagers, including myself, and the show wrapped. A good time was had by all.