How The Damned End

The Beautiful and the Damned had a good run starting at Zelda’s, then Glad Day Books, Q Space & finally The Central. Over its few short years the series brought a rich variety of spoken-word & music to the stage. From James Ince to Spencer Butts to Marcia Rogers, to name-drop but a few. Musically diverse it introduced musicians from Kat Leonard to Rex Baunset to Nelson Sobral to spoken-word audiences.

fog03 mist in the Whispering Woods?

The final show of the series was hosted by Brenda Clews, with fun Poe trivia supplied by John Oughton. Spoken feature was the urbane, comic & tres gay J.P. Larocque. He did two powerful, insightful, funny & in your face queer pieces. Both combined explicit sex with the ironic counter-point of the mundaneness of daily life – in one piece he explores the mutual negianegationstions of a couple at a bathhouse – wanting to be sexually adventuresome while at the same time preoccupied with financial planning. ‘I am no longer the youngest one at the orgy’

His second piece took us to the under-lit confines of washroom sex – ‘… more hopeless that a men’s washroom on Friday afternoon.’ Again he easily mixes the erotic amidadmistst the ordinary. Sharp writing, that reminded me of Conner Habib’s clear eyed take on queerness.

fog02 what lies beneath the surface?

Music feature Amoeba Starfish has graced the Damned stage before & also featured with them at Pride a few years ago. Elegant, trippy, thoughful zen jazz that works effortlessly with spoken-word performers and stands equally engaging on its own. I might be biased as I do I have several of their recordings in my collection.

fog01 red eyes of the besat?

Although I’m saddened to see the Damned come to an end I’m not sorry to have it out of the Central – the wrong spot for a spoken-word show – at times it felt like listening to the performances while trapped in an MRI machine with earplugs on – loud house music, louder band downstairs – as volume was upped for readers, volume was upped else where to compete.

soon

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada http://www.fanexpocanada.com

expo hair

why so sad? No Buffy reunion panel at FanExpo 2014

October 19 – feature – Cabaret Noir – Pinebow pine2https://www.facebook.com/events/1651892755035275/

samples

I hit the open stage with another glimpse of my October set:

Pinebow 2

has anyone seen Brad?

he was here last night

remember how he screamed

when we told tales

around the campfire

last night

has anyone seen Brad

he shouted with fear and delight

said he wouldn’t be able to sleep without a light

has anyone seen him

I saw him go down to the lake

he took a canoe

rowed into the mist

now Jeff are you sure

that’s what you saw

because all the canoes are there now

not one’s missing

has anyone seen Brad

he has a talent for hiding

that’s for sure

he went missing last week

for two whole days

till we found him then

sleeping in the crook of an oak tree

as tidy and warm

as could be

up so high and deep

in the Whispering Woods

out near Pine Point

perhaps we should look

for him there

he could be pulling another of his stunts

just to teach us a lesson

to make sure we don’t scare with such tales

as you told last night

I saw him go to the smoke shed

he wanted a sausage 

he felt so hungry and weak

he needed a snack before he went to bed

now Olaf that can’t be so

we don’t use the smoke shed

for the summer

that’s for the fall

as you well know

or in the spring

when we run the maple syrup off

perhaps he’s gone there

looking for what is left 

there’s always some dribs and drabs

of that sweet sugar to be found

if you look hard enough

if you scrape under the ground

the black sweet blood of the earth

you don’t say

that’s news to the counsellors and I

so let’s go to the smoke shed

perhaps we’ll find what

we need to find there

as they approached

they saw a strange trail

footprints

small and dainty

hollow and round

with a smudge mark deep

between them

like a long sharp tail

we can’t go in there

the boys shouted as one

we can’t go in there

the Denizen is there

that’s what’s happened to Brad

the Denizen has gotten him

eaten him up

smoked with maple syrup

we know

we can tell

you warned us

the smell of death is in the air

they stood silent

in a circle around the smoke shed

none willing to to take a step forward

the door swung a little in the breeze

they all jumped back

a bell rang

six rapid clangs

ah there breakfast ready boys

we’ll leave this till later

Brad is bound to show up

he’s hoping to give us

another merry chase

another merry chase

which we won’t give into

as a whole

they rushed to the mess hall

hot steaming plates of food were ready

rice crispy squares

scrambled eggs

crisp bacon

pancakes

French toast

home made sausages

cornflakes

poached eggs

Belgian waffles

fresh milk

yellow butter

and ladles of maple syrup

syrup to wash everything down

to make the boys

fat and pump and round

as plump and fat and round

as Brad

river01 river of syrup?

wpjl14

‘a swarm of humming birds’

A packed house on a hot hot July night! Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir is doing something very right. The Central’s bartenders were happy to be rushed of their feet keeping up with the thirsty crowd (which is always good for the cash register.) Sadly Marcy Rogers, noted dyke about town, was not well enough to bring her wicked chops to Noir. So the open stagers had to work harder to fill her gap (in time, I mean).

bunny night of the lupin

I opted to do a glimpse of Pinebow on the open stage. The first time any of it has been aired aloud in public. This is the best way for me to get a sense of timing, of where it loses my attention. I found it too long, so cuts will be made.

First feature Brandon Pitts is an emotionally invested performer who makes his images come alive on stage. Too many fine turns of phrase to list: ‘legba presides over the cycle of reason,’ ‘it was dropping hail when I came to the crossroads of my life,’ ‘mouth marked by a swarm of humming birds.’ His pieces are rich with spiritual, Biblical and cultural resonances; often so rich one loses the context of the image as the image demands to be savoured.

lost look for the fatted cat

After the break the Four Winds Collective hits the stage. A female CSN&Y they are a songstorm of musical forces intertwined for the greater good. The diverse creative forces involved are: Arlene Paculan:  soulful jazzy pop; Heather Hill piano pop rock; Kat Leonard feisty comedic pop; & Meghan Morrison Celtic groove music.

skater elegy to a rodent

With a smart range of covers and original material each performer gets to show off their ‘brand’ while supporting each other. Emotional, comic, sexy and just plain good times – they fill the room without over-volume or forced emotionality. Maybe because I’m still experiencing this for a certain someone, I found Arleen’s lyric ‘my body is still craving for you’ particularly memorable. (mi cuerpo todavía está anhelando para usted 😦 )

samples

Here’s an edited version of what I read on the open mike. No major changes but lightened line & some sections moved to where they made more logical sense of the flow of the story.

Pinebow 1

come gather around the fire

gather close and snuggle

come gather around the fire

where we’ll be safe

from the flicker of things in the night

come gather around the fire

I’ll tell you a tale

you may not believe

but you’ll never forget

perhaps you’ve heard

of the Dark Denizen of Pinebow Lake

you haven’t

we’ll, guess you haven’t been

in these parts before

or if you have

maybe no one had the courage

to tell such a tale

to some as young as you

‘cause you know it isn’t fair

to place that sort fear

in someone whose

mind hasn’t grown enough

to learn when the truth

grabs you by the throat

squeezes the last breath

life out of you

so does everyone have their hot cocoa

any one want another smoked sausage

the fire will last a little while longer

I want to tell you the tale

while the warm embers

keep the chill of night

away from your tender young bones

so how many have been

to the shores of Pinebow

the water is cold isn’t it

it never warms up

no matter how hot the summer

the lake stays cool

gather closer

for the tale is about to be told

you want a tale don’t you

one that may cool you

as much as the fire warms you

it happened one summer

many many years ago

when we became aware of

the Dark Denizen of the lake

not that any have actually seen it

we sensed the Dark

you know

the way you can

feel something in room

when there isn’t supposed to be anything there

the way

a face is seen at the window

of an empty house

and is gone before

you can focus on it

that’s what the Denizen is like

we have the sense

of it being there

only when we aren’t looking

it’s foot prints are sometimes found

small and dainty they are

round and hollow as suction cups

but with a smudge mark

deep and long

between them

like a long sharp tooth

that it uses to takes its repasts

so if  you see that mark beware

first there is powerful smell

like a decayed log

pulled from the bottom of a deep well

that black brackish death smell

that makes it hard

to smell anything else

when that smell comes

from the lake

the Denizen is on the prowl

we’ll hear a calf

bawling for its mother

in the middle of night

the calf is never seen

scattered bones soon found

littered on the shore

over by Pine Point

along the rocks there

a few small wee ribs

bleached white

it was one of the feasts

of the Denizen

we grind the tender young bones

scatter them in the field

to warn the cattle

of what happens

if they feel too safe

me03 pearls in the afternoon

Quiero ser suspensorio de Johnny Depp

The February edition of The Damned hosted by Lizzie Violet (a woman who isn’t in the public eye nearly enough) was overflowing with wild, dynamic, free-flowing energy. The many who braved the sub-Arctic winds were rewarded with strong open stagers & sizzling features.

moonwinter moon

First feature Vanessa Smythe give a top-notch performance of polished, smooth and emotionally inviting pieces about sports bar fantasy meetings, break ups, making ups, and older sister realizations. ‘can’t we talk for a few minutes … about our favourite cereal boxes’, ‘I close the door like I’m closing our story book.’ She slips from character to another in a conversation without us losing track of who is speaking. A great performance.

glovewinter (g)love lost

The Four Winds Music Collective are Arlene Paculan, Heather Hill, Kat Leonard & Meghan Morrison. Four powerhouse solo performers who easily merge together for a Power Rangers super group. They opened with one of Kat’s ‘hits’ that went from English ti Spanish !! ‘Quiero ser suspensorio de Johnny Depp.’ Great songs from each of the winds with sharp, emotional writing: ‘I don’t need a man, but I don’t need dessert either.’ ‘maybe freedom isn’t just walking away,’ ‘Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.’

playhousewinter palace

By the end of their too short set I was wondering, much like I did after Blue Venus a few weeks ago: Why aren’t these women getting at least nominated for Juno’s or Polaris prizes?

 

samples

Desire

once upon a teenage time

I wanted someone  an ocean

to sweep me off my feet

tumble me naked into bed

or I wanted to be   tidal wave

find the right someone

to spray with the wet wildness

of my every hard-on’s desires

I became frustrated   disappointed

I thought sexual satisfaction

was the point of love

frustrated   disappointed when at

each attempt to smother love into my life

it escaped

that the sweet emotional context

didn’t fulfill enough

had to be my fault   your fault

we needed a better porn primed technique

a more flexible back to get the right arch

for the best possible penetration

in a way it was my fault

for expecting the perfect kiss

the slowest blow job

from an adoring lover

with just the right foreskin

muscles    body hair

to take this lonely pain from me

I didn’t realize

it would take more than one kiss

more than one adoring lover

in fact there weren’t enough kisses lovers

cocks balls asses tongues

money music sunshine rainbows

to take this separateness from me

bodies were designed to be enjoyed

not as a cure for anything

adding the weight of expectations

always left me frustrated   disappointed

when I expected a physical satisfaction

to rescue me from a spiritual ocean

100_2682shadow of the snake

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

#CabaretNoir: Sweeney Todd vs. Miss Clairol

A full, appreciative house was on hand for the launch of Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir. The show started well before the figurative curtain went up with Mullet the Zombie clown going table to table to warm up (or was that alarm) people coming to see the show.

mapplethorpe moment
mapplethorpe moment

Fate would have that I was the first performer for this first show – I started off the open stage with a couple of mythic pieces about growing in Cape Breton. a few more open stagers and then Jean-Paul Mullet did his zombie walk to the stage. Mullet is the whole package – excellent make-up right down to red contacts. More a story teller than a physical stick performer, Mullet held us spellbound with his eerie canoe tale – we could hear the ‘wings of a raven over head.’

Next up was David Bateman who captivated us with several ‘creative nonfiction short stories.’ The pieces contained vivid memories of doing hair styling in which realized he was more Sweeney Todd than Miss Clairol; of being warned not the rake the leaves too soon after a funeral lest one risks blowing their souls away with the dead. ‘Sometimes you just have to be love’ posed, amongst other things, the hope understanding by merely repeating the words.

my legs are cold
my legs are cold

Another break and we were wowed, (wobba wobba, ow ow wowed) by Kat Leonard. With her back up band on her iPod we didn’t have to worry about them getting drunk & falling off stage – though Kat did in fact fall off the stage as part of her song about being drunk and falling off stage. Her love songs were tender, sensuous, funny and emotionally invested. She took ‘the four corners of the world and wrapped it around our hearts like a blanket’ and we liked it.

brokeback snow bank
brokeback snow bank

A good time was had by all. Check out Lizzie’s photos and more pics on More Cowbell. Before the show I got to enjoy a cup of Q Space tea and excellent carrot cake. An expanded menu is being worked on – I can’t wait to give it a taste test. Q has quickly become an excellent spoken-word hot-spot. Good sound system, good sight lines, lots of windows make a great venue.

F**k Cancer

Got out to my first poetry cabaret since I went to The Beautiful and the Damned (BuDa) last month. I’ve been so in the thick of The Lazarus Kiss edits I haven’t been able to focus properly on poetry edits. The last few open stages I hit I used old material, so it was time to break out some new pieces. I have to be careful not to use prose edit attitude for poetry – even though story line is important in both – in poetry I try keep the language flow a little more playful.

I’ve been using my Kindle for readings to cut down on the amount of paper I have to deal with. Is the Kindle any better for the environment? Anyway – it is certainly easier to handle than loose pages at the mic. I bump up the font size, save it as a PDF & load what I’m going to read onto the Kindle. It’s kinda cool to see my name as authors.

comes a dark rider
comes a dark rider

The April BuDa was hosted by Nik Beat of CIUT’s Howl. He gives good host. Nik has an up coming book signing/talk for his collection of poems The Tyranny of Love.

Lizzie Violet, the first feature, rocked the stage in leopard skin with a fun set that was a mix of horror, childhood memories & relationship ironies. A love poem to a ghost asked it to ‘make the writing on the wall clearer.’ Like her I once buried a baby sibling in stuffed animals – learning, the hard way, the difference between affection and attempted asphyxiation. The set was well-pace and heartfelt. She’ll be hosting the BuDa’s October’s Day Of The Dead themed show.

traces of hair were found at the scene
traces of hair were found at the scene

Helen Posno was the second feature. Her pieces were introspective with strong nature imagery. Her stage presence was ‘a boat pulling at its tether’ (from one her pieces) that longed to break free. Peter Lynch delivered one of her monologues and really broke free with a stunning and moving performance.

Final musical feature was Kat Leonard with a fun and emotion set. Her Depp song was sweet, sexy and rocking. Fuck Cancer gave anger, grief & loss a rare combination of humor and pain. This woman can sing too. Great theatrical sense of stage and excellent use of the stripper pole.

Open stagers were all excellent. I hit the mic in the first set – my new pieces worked well – two still need better endings but that’ll come. My third piece was a real audience pleaser. You’ll have to come to my June Art Bar feature to hear it.

crows over cornfield
crows over cornfield

I’ll be hosting BuDa next month. For those who like to plan ahead I’ll be featuring at the BuDa October show with some of the darker piece.

writing sample
writing sample

Here’s one of the new pieces – still in search of an ending:

Whowie

my dad never gave me that talk

the one about the birds and the bees

about how the man sticks

his whowie into a woman’s wowie

I guess he expected me learn about sex

the way he did

from an older brother

too bad I didn’t have one

or maybe it was from his army buddies

in WWII

I never had army buddies

never fought in a war

we never had that sex talk

about whowie’s and wowie’s

the basics came from school yard smutty talk

technical information from playboy penthouse

found a book hidden in a drawer

color plates as exciting as a terrain map

I don’t recall any man-to-man talks with dad

where he explained how life works

about getting a job  making a family

by the time I had the information needed to breed

I was more interest in whowie’s that wowie’s

my dad never talked to me about sex

what might he have known about queers

when I came out

there was no conversation beyond

am I happy

he had no tips on increasing sexual pleasure

we never spoke about the emotional dance

between men and women

let alone between men

all that I learned from the joy of gay sex

the timid porn of the time

yet I was a quick learner

given the chance to explore

it was easier than riding a bike

yellowflowersand didn’t hurt as much when I fell

 

 

@TorPoet
@TorPoet