Hollywood Poems

In September 2020 Philip Cairns asked me to write an introduction to Hollywood Poems – a collection of his writing. He sent me an advance reading copy & here is what I wrote:

“Philip’s Disney sweetheart was Annette Funicello, mine was Haley Mills. He exalts in Anita Ekbert, I was enthralled by Brigette Bardot. You might ask – what’s with gay guys & obscure female film stars? In his Hollywood Poems Philip explores that question in a series of tender odes which reveal as much about him as it does about the objects of his fandom. The Bedbug Blues pieces are funny & bitingly true.

The poems are like quilts stitched together with contrasting swatches of the fabric of his life, patterns get repeated, images emerge & a person appears. They are like meeting up with a chatty friend who tells charming stories with tangents that sometimes connect to each other but always connect to life. The style is Frank O’Hara meets Walt Whitman – amiable, comfortable, inviting & emotionally resonant.”


I met Philip way back in 1990 when he was cast in Bushwack Theatre’s production of T-Shirts. One of his lines, that I still remember, was ‘I was never a cute kid.’ Which really summed up the way many gay men felt about themselves. He delivered it with sincerity. He became a valuable member of the Bushwack company of performers, & was featured in many of its productions over the nine years that the company lasted. 

After Bushwack ended we sort of lost touch for several years. I retuned to full force to my own writing & became involved in the Toronto spoken-word world, in which the out gay male perspective was seriously under-represented. I encouraged Philip to hit some of the many open stages. He found them somewhat homophobic but persisted.

Eventually he, along with myself, Lizzie Violet & others formed The Beautiful and Damned collective which ran a monthly performance series for two years at various venues. We rotated hosting, lined up features & musicians. It was great fun while it lasted.

I heard many of the pieces in Hollywood Poems when they were first performed at various readings, when of course, one could go to readings. You can get the book on Amazon. Check out his web page. 

HOLLYWOOD POEMS , www.philipcairns.com 

For more about him, The Beautiful and Damned, & Lizzie Violet take a search stroll through the TOpoet archives.

from may 2008


the ignored alarm

the heeded bladder

the rotation of cereals

kiwi a radical change


blueberries grapes bananas

different yet consistent

rotation from what is there 

to what is there now

the ritual with water 

the seasonal changes of view

but still the same view

the email check 

the rotation of  shoes undies

the clack of spoons

ring of phones

expected voices

expected scatter of opportunities

land in the same places

different days

yet the same days

this on the first Friday

this on the second Monday

a trusted structure

to give balance to the routine

never identical 

but always the same

does it need variation

can the little books be left out one day

consistency and variation

brief departures

make routine so welcome

enjoy more and more

what doesn’t happen every day

if it did 

pleasure would be gone

opportunity isn’t the aphrodisiac

or  is it

time memory fluctuations 


picture of the innocent lie

the flavour of oranges

the melt of chocolate

the squirm of recognition

the long to muss hair

how can the hands keep reaching

each morning out of the bed

follow the slopes of the day

that rolls back to the same bed

to the same sleeping moments

dreams lost to bladder

secure consistent 

ready to ignore the alarm

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The Violet Moon

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Violet Moon

see how the full moon 

is wrapped by red cloud

in our village 

we call that the Violet Moon

this the one night

when the one beast

which the Denizen fears

walks the earth

a shape shifter

that usually lives as human

as you or I

humans who forget 

what rests coiled inside

till the violet moon appears

to nudge a latent beast to wakefulness

none who have this curse

can resist its call

can remember what has happened

those who have met the beast

have been struck dumb

speechless with fear


I mean the weremoose

don’t laugh

because your derision is the one thing

that can invite it to occupy your body

you will awake

feeling cold breath shivering

your feet   your hands

toes will start to point

fingers will become stiff

your bones will crack

your neck will thicken

you will scream as your hips rent apart

backbone snapped reshaped

each moment of the change

is an agony

any who hear will fear

your family will hide

but you will hunt them down


there is no escape the weremoose

you can recognize one

if you have time

because the antlers seem slightly askew

like the roof of a house not quite right

or the colour of the fur

that never stays the same brown

when you try to focus on it

a mist of violet hue

flows behind it

scarring any tree that it caresses

the cloven hooves

can crush skulls

the jagged teeth

can rip a throat in one bite

the same teeth

can crack a man’s ribs

to pull out your heart

and eat it

while the last of your blood

spurts through your veins

you are alive

long enough to see your own blood 

oozing from the satisfied maw

of the weremoose

This is a ‘new’ village piece thatI  wrote specifically for Camp Pinebow. It harkens back to Moose-mare https://wp.me/p1RtxU-1Vv as I extend moose myth into a darker territory – this one even more cinematic. Moose-mare echoed Jacob wrestling the with angel – here we get sense that perhaps many men of the village have a beast within them that is affected by the moon – which is were according village legends the moose came from.

The piece clearly uses werewolf legend as well. One is powerless to stop the transformation or even it initiate it. I also call on that horror trope that disbelief invariably turns the scoffer into the next victim. I enjoy the description of the change. I was probably thinking of Seth Green as Oz on Buffy during his werewolf changes – though he looked like & moved more like an orangutang with a wolf’s head than a wolf.


I dwell on how the weremoose kills because this was originally meant as a scary campfire story. Those stories call for a certain amount of visceral gore to make them effective. Do moose have cloven hooves? I’m not sure but we do know who the Cloven One is, right 🙂

Some of details are invented – the acidic mist that scars tree bark is my own addition to the cannon. Violet comes up a few times as the host of the show where I first performed this was Lizzie Violet – it never hurts to pay tribute to your host in a way that isn’t too overt. Violet is also a nice change for the colourless mists that appear in horror most of time. They are either murky blacks or, for some reason, lime green.

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G  Whizzes

Henryk Gorecki is a composer caught in the ‘big hit’ category thanks to his powerful Symphony No. 3. Dawn Upshaw’s performance in the Cantabile section sent this piece to the top of the classical charts for decades. I love the deep lulling emotional resonance of this symphony – yet have not felt the need to seek out more by Gorecki. A must have for any classical fan or anyone who enjoys those emotionally compelling musical moments in motion picture funerals.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk: A Night in the Tropics. Here we have the opposite of Gorecki – a nearly forgotten AfroAmerican classical composer. Part of my personal mandate to widen my musical worldview to seek out what is rarely represented to the view of the world I get. This is rich, playful & pleasant program music. Impressionist with w strong Creole flavour. A clear inspiration for Scott Joplin.

So this wider world view moves from Polish, to AfroAmerican to Spanish with 3 cds of Enrique Granados’s piano music: Goyscas/Folk Songs; Piano Music 7; Piano Music 8. I first heard Segoiva playing guitar transcriptions & was fully expecting Granados to have written only for guitar & was amazed that in fact piano was his focus. The music is full of great for melody, subtle Spanish sadness & joy. Goyescas are his impressions of the famous & sometimes disturbing etchings of Goya.


Impressionistic, romantic at times to the point of florid this is classical music that welcomes new ears to the world of non-pop in a way that isn’t intimidating or emotionally dry. His Andaluza (Spanish dance no.5) may be one of the most popular & recognizable pieces of Spanish music you didn’t know he had written.


Daphne shook the parchment over the candle flame. Small burn marks appeared but she moved it so no more than a slight smoulder was seen. As she moved the paper I let a few splashes of the albino newt’s blood fall from the glass dropper. They simmered a moment as the heat drew them into the paper.

‘We’ll know in a moment, Syc, if …. ‘

The parchment burst into flame. Daphne let go and the blackened flakes drifted to the floor where I stepped on them to prevent singe marks on the carpet.

‘That’s a sure a sign as any.’ She brushed her hands clean.

‘It is?’

‘Oh yes. No sign is as powerful as any sign. It means you aren’t to know. That you are diverting valuable energy from where it needs to go to pursue this avenue of thought.’

‘It can’t be.’

‘That attitude won’t get you very far here. Anything can be.’

‘But … that’s why I am here. To learn to see, foretell. If I can’t see how well my studies will go what’s the point.’

‘The point is …’ came from the doorway behind us. We both spun around. ‘… until your studies have begun there is nothing to foretell.’

‘Cal how long have you been there.’

‘Long enough Daph. Long enough.’

He came into the room with Lear.

‘Did a good job on that PA system today. Why does it take two of you?’

‘It doesn’t.’ Lear sat on the edge of the window. ‘But it looks better when two of us do it. Makes it look harder than it is, so that on those rare times one of us does it alone people are even more impressed.’

‘Always something with you two.’

‘Yeah.’ Caliban looked at Lear and they laughed.

‘I know you aren’t here to line us up for a double date.’

‘And pray tell Daph why would you say that?’

‘Look guys, I may be new here but I’ve been around. You two are …’ she stopped.

‘Are what?’ I asked. ‘Are brothers?’

‘Sort of.’

‘Oh. Bounders?’

‘Amongst other things yes. Bonded is the word we chose though. Goes a step beyond Bounders. United in more than blood and bone.’

‘You mean,’ it sunk in. So much for my erotic fantasy about Caliban and those sturdy legs of his. ‘How long?’

‘About four years now.’


chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam


Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident


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Coming Out in DC

The final full day in Washington was lazy and productive. I aimed for two museum trips & such at Ted Bulletin. The over 35C cut things down to one museum: This Jewish Military on R Street – a fifteen minute walk from my hotel. I love these ‘modest’ collections that convey to me a different perspective. One two floors there was enough to see to feel how these soldiers were trying to a part of culture & prove their patriotism and manliness.


Most of the material focused on the two World Wars. I was touched by the trench art work refashioning bomb casings into vases. There was sense of the hands that made these items as they were eating to fight. I was suitably impressed by the array of medals some of these men had been awarded – arrays of over a dozen in some cases. I saw my first purple heart in the flesh. I bought a couple of camouflage Yarmulkes – perhaps the oddest souvenir I’ve ever purchased. (More Jewish museum pics: http://topoet.tumblr.com/post/161784459693)

Reluctantly I left the museum & headed to 14th Street to lunch at Ted’s Bulletin – one I figure out which way was north I found the diner without any trouble. I love the 30’s detail of this spot & I highly recommend to anyone visiting DC – weekdays are fine – weekend lines-up are too much for me. The food was great – I had a too large breakfast with both bacon & sausage – I still prefer link to patty though & those stringy home fries are weird.

While I was there I did some writing. My friend Lizzie Violet blogs (https://lizzieviolet.com) about writing in cafes – but this is something I rarely do. After hearing some pieces about coming out at Capturing Fire I wrote one about my coming out. It’s below & is a very rough draft transcribed directly from my note book. I had to restrain myself rom playing stoic as I wrote it. But I’m not stoic to deny that I’ll be a bit sorry to head home but also that I look fraud to sleeping my my own little bed & having my entire tee shirt collection to choose from 🙂

Past Washington posts http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1e3

Wrote this while at lunch at Ted’s Bulletin Tuesday June 13, 2017

When I Came Out

when I came out to my friends

I did it by stages

timid stages

like: I’m not queer but if

(name of handsome movie star)

wanted me

I’d be willing to explore

but the truth was

I’d jacked off

to a bathing suit photo of

(name of handsome movie star)

who decades later came out


when I came out to my friends

as 100% queer

some were like:

you know I’m not that way


never spoke to me again


got drunk with me to explore


when I came out to my mother

she said

don’t tell your father

when I came out to my father

he said

don’t tell your mother


when I came out

no one said



it’s about fucking time


engaged me in conversations

like conversations guys had

about girls they’d like to screw

those playboy bunnies

no one ever asked

are you seeing someone

no one said

oh I work with a gay guy

maybe you’d like to meet him


it was as if

being queer

I’d suck any male dick

without discrimination


no one said

you must feel incredibly alienated

in this small town hard drinking

red neck hetero culture


maybe I was too stoic

not wanting to let anyone in

being queer was bad enough

without presenting myself

as a weepy drama queen

I had to be man enough

masculine enough

so no one would suspect

how much emotion uncertainty

I was experiencing

thanks to that constant rasping

of faggot gear box


hearing that

so & so friend of someone

was gay

and had hung themselves

had stepped in front of a semi

on a dark highway

told that by friends

who never said

I hope you don’t do that


if you feel like that talk to us


when I came out

I was left to my own devices

and survived

and sometimes

I still jack off to the memory

of that bathing suit photo of

(name of handsome movie star)

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Christmas Itchmas

Festive greetings in keeping with your belief, or lack of belief, systems. I started writing this 10 days before Christmas Day – my life is so busy, right? I’ll be spending the day with chosen family. Friends in & out of recovery. We’ll exchange gifts, eat too much food, laugh, some will cry & we’ll all leave satisfied. Neither richer nor wise & still with life’s discontents to deal with.xmas01

The time of the year to look back. This time last year I was dealing with the stress of the stress of my friend whose apartment was destroyed by fire – he spent a few nights here before the insurance kicked in & he went to hotels. It wasn’t easy to detach as he dealt with this form of homelessness for some months.xmas02

It was a year of endings & beginnings. I got unofficially involved with Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam when the show was in Toronto. I became a permanent house judge & donated prizes to bring more than my jadedness to the proceedings. That lead me to going to Washington DC for Capturing Fire, which was dynamic & fun.xmas03

It was also the last year for two of my regular events. Rosemary Aubert brought her annual Loyalist workshops to an end. I looked forward this retreat & the company of the writers there for five intense days. There was some talk of me taking over to keep it going but I lack the paper (i.e M.A. in Creative Writing or a publishing record) credentials needed.xmas04

I also bid a sad farewell to Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir. The frequently full houses didn’t spend enough $ at the bar to satisfy management so rather than take an earlier time upstairs at the Central Lizzie decided to end the series. I’ll miss the show & the people but won’t miss the Central at all. As the tarot says the old must die for the new to arrive.


I’ll Scratch Yours

why is enough never enough

I can scratch an itch

then minutes later need to scratch again

to get what I want leads to wanting more

if one-on-one is great

a threesome has to be even better

I’m a guy who can say no

but when I deny myself

the smug satisfaction of drawing a line

and sticking to it isn’t as rewarding

as giving in one more time


could be it that scratch

is not the solution to itch

should I try that zen approach

when the itch is ready

the finger will appear

if only all it took was a finger


can I learn to live with the itch

for whiter teeth faster downloads

snappier sneakers flashier T-shirts

all calling scratch me now

or forever regret

all you will miss by resisting


those glittering beacons

floating out of reach

straining teasing demeaning

‘til I’m too weak to do anything

except beg for some relief


isn’t there a way to feel free

of the need to satisfy some urge

or is need to be free

just another in the long itch list

scratch my back


January 20, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – featuring  Dominic Berry Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9




March 12, Saturday: attending:



June 3-5: attending: Capturing Fire 2016 – The DC Centre – 2000 14th St NW, Suite 105 – Washington, DC



September 1-5: attending FanExpo 2016expo16


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo




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Noir Magick Finale

A chilly October night was made even chillier by Cabaret Noir’s Halloween show. At least we weren’t knocking the snow off our boots. A full house, some in costume, ‘enjoyed’ an evening of zombies, witches, vampires & Bela Lugosi. Lizzie Violet, with lips artful sown shut, started the show with a piece of her own: ‘I could still hear it breathing.’ Philip Cairns brought the Ghosts of the Past – a piece sparked by a film shoot in a place he had lived as a child – there’s a movie plot is that – apparently he’s still haunted by Annette Funicello’s breasts. He was followed by Shawn Sosnowski who did a fine acapella take on Bright Eye’s ‘You Will.’


First feature D. S. Campbell hit the stage with his inner child literally exploding out of his head. He read from his Zombie Manifesto. First a scene on an airport tarmac: ‘just enough breathing room, to consider the weather,’ ‘I saw them shuffle … eating as they themselves were dying.’ Tension was palpable & characters were sharply drawn. The other section was the nano-technological rational of the zombies – for once it makes sense but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is.


After a break Saraah October did a vampire piece: ‘She said I could come in, but I wasn’t sure.’ I followed with my much anticipated set – anticipated mainly by me 🙂 I’ve never read one of my short stories so I wasn’t sure if I had the energy, for one thing, or that the audience would follow & not get antsy after five minutes. Yes I had the energy & no they didn’t get antsy. Sex Magick cast its spell over them.


After a break Conflicting Plaid hit the stage – bass, lead & drummer in various zombie makeup – or were they just scary than usual mimes? As always their punk drive delivered a pile-driver set of propulsive fun. They added a few seasonal songs: ‘pieces of you keep turning up’ ‘she loves me for my brraains’ ‘you cut off my hand & shoved it up my ass.’ Great originals plus some covers include a great take on Bela Lugosi’s Dead. A set that left us both called & warmed up.pinkdoll

Sadly, & unknown at the time, this was the final of Cabaret Noir. The Central just isn’t making enough $ on sweet potato fries – most poets, performers don’t have enough cash to keep that show commercially viable enough. Rest assured this isn’t the end of Lizzie Violet.


For my set I read Sex Magical Quarterly – a stolen magazine has unexpected results on the thief – this is a excerpt from the story:

When Hogsy got home he stashed his magazines in a box under his bed. All through supper he itched to read whatever it was the Sex Magick had to say.

As Hogsy ate, he felt the witch’s eyes burning into him. They seemed to be everywhere he looked.


Back in his room, Hogsy propped open his history text. The Sex Magick pull-out fit perfectly under it so he could read it and hide it fast if someone came into his room

The witch’s glittering eyes danced on and off the page. They seemed to be in 3D. He held the cover at eye level and tilted it this way and that to see what sort of printing technique they had used. It had to be some sort of laser print. The eyes darted in a way that made him open the insert.

The first page was an introduction to the use of the spell. He skimmed it; the print got smaller toward the bottom of the page. It was stuff about getting the right implements, taking take to clear one’s mind. Stuff he didn’t care about.

The weird font and odd use of language made it difficult for him to understand what was being said. Then it became another language all together.

“Nam drim incagto Hogsy fridamo.” He was amazed to see his name right there in the spell. He looked away, rubbed his eyes and looked back. Yep, it said Hogsy all right!

There was whole paragraph which he felt compelled to say out loud. The words felt odd as he stumbled through them, but when he read it a second time, it flowed and he felt he actually understood what it said. His name only appeared in that one place. After the third time, his eyes became heavy and he fell asleep at his desk.

He woke out of a wild sex dream. He was with the witch on the cover making out in a huge, endless bed. The bed was like the beach. She kept touching his cock and balls with her tongue while talking to him. She was speaking in the same language as the spell. He was forced awake by the need to piss.

When he woke he was in bed. He didn’t remember leaving his desk. His cock throbbed with pee pressure, and he rushed to the bathroom.

He struggled with his fly on the way to the bathroom to get his cock out before he pissed his pants. It felt like his underwear had gotten twisted around and all bunched up around his nut sack.

He kicked the bathroom door shut behind him and pushed his jeans down. He couldn’t believe what he saw. His cock was big. He was dizzy looking at the size of it. He began to piss and the stream was dark yellow and he was missing the toilet. Pee was splashing off the rim, on to the floor and walls.

He was afraid to touch his cock, but had to keep it aimed. How could it grow that much overnight? What took one hand to aim now took two. Yesterday he could get his hand around the shaft; now it was like trying to get his hands around a … a football.


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‘pleasure in the school yard after Noir’

Lizzie Violet hosted the September Cabaret Noir at the Central to a a packed house of people eager to escape the tedium of Tiff red carpet events. A quick round of open-stagers got the show off to  great start. Sarrah October with a sneaky snaky piece about not fitting in: she grew up feeling it was ‘normal to excluded because kids are assholes,’ ‘… accept words at face because you don’t have  a choice.’  Wayne Neon did a fun song ‘She’s the girl in the transparent dress.’ I hit the stage with some creepy pieces to hint at my October set (which may include a lost Twilight Zone episode.)


steps to the school yard?

First feature was the ultra sparkly Melissa Nicole Mather: with some poems about love, family & growth through loss: ’I want to paint you a plane,’ ‘if only I had the courage to make a scene to prevent the obscene,’ ‘the fish felt the floor for pins,’ ‘if it weren’t for you (leaving me) I never would have found myself.’ She ended with a bouncy dream pop synth song that reminded me a lot of Book of Love.

After a break Dan Curtis Thompson with James King gave us a hint of their upcoming production of Scooter Thomas – this glimpse was of two 13-yr-old boys bragging about making sexual discoveries ‘they weren’t made of rubber they were real tits’ ‘you can stop crying & come out of the bushes’


school yard at noon

Next was feature Beth Murch – winner of the the 2015 HotDamn slam (https://www.facebook.com/queerslam?fref=ts) with a seemly effortless set of emotional, funny, articulate pieces about body conformity, religion, sex & city life. ‘you would be my friend if I were fit (not fat)’, ‘F.A.T. Fucking Amazing Tits,’ my body is more than a Wonderland, it’s a Bouncy Castle,’ ‘do I belive in God? do I believe in swimming lessons?’ ‘salvation is the last piece of cake & that’s given to my sister instead,’ ‘the halls smelt like bic pens & ammonia’ ‘he said he’d never leave – he was right because I still find bits of his lies around,’ ‘a language older that words,’ ‘I will give you oral pleasure in the school yard after dark.’ A perfectly structured set that left all wanting more.


school yard at night

After a another quick break for drinks, chapbook sales & smoke ceremonies the last open-stagers started the last set. Arlene Paculan with a new song: ‘you’re deep inside my fantasy.’ James King with a ballad of longing ‘I never knew I could love you – I guess there are some surprises left.’


school yard later at night

Then Myke Mazzei hit the stage. I have heard Myke many times over the years & his stage presence never fails to invite us into his gentle worldview. His deceptively simple guitar playing supports his strong singing. Some of the songs remind of the best of America or Poco. ‘here I am rambling in the dark again,’ ‘like a bruise you can cover it up but can’t take it back, ‘I was wrong to make you cry.’


besides Memory I also read Confirmation (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1le)


have you forgotten me

black bones in the cluttered attic

satin shoes in the dry basement

the tufts of red hair in the eucalyptus tree

fragments of me to be moved   assembled

each lift of the stain spotted blanket

each a dream in it’s fresh grave

a pinch of thou shalt remember

this bone dust sonata

gives shape each time it is deconstructed

rafters   sugar laces   broken diaries

scopes we scrape together

fleshless ginger ciliate coverings

teach each time we redecorate the dungeon’s view

of a Norwegian countryside cemetery

comfortless in warm midnight allure



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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


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Noir #Selfie

What better way to kick off the August Cabaret Noir open stage than with Sarrah October’s piece about erotic revenge: ‘even if you weren’t duct taped to the bed.’ Next Kayla Forrest with an emotional piece about homelessness: ‘take someone by the hand to show them a better day.’ Then I hit the stage with pie to the face.


my travel mug

First feature, Alexandra Innes (https://twitter.com/YummyQuotes) arrived a little late but after a shot of tequila did a strong set of her clear-eyed, sexy, romantic, realistic poems: ‘she drinks & drinks as long as someone pays,’ ‘numb myself through another day,’ ‘still he keeps on running, the best rat in the race,’ ‘talk is cheap until you have to pay the price,’ ‘opted for the fantasy of him changing.’ She ended with her powerful piece about rape: ‘a chill calm cloaks my terror as I chose rape over death.’

Without a break Kat Leonard (http://katleonard.com) bounced on stage with a sample of her show ‘My Selfie.’ Songs & stories about her various body parts: ‘Vagina opened wide … I’m giving birth to myself.’ Songs sung to her band The iPod were funny, suggestive, direct & honest. As a Volvo she has ‘one-touch, built in entertainment, ‘adjustable seating for many positions.’ Her singing is spot-on & her dancing is ready for So You Think You Can Dance?


my selfie with NaNoWriMo travel mug

After a well deserved beak the open stage continued with Teige Reid – who did a one-man two-man piece that gave us two faces of dealing with death – serious  ‘tears are the storming rage that shakes the foundation,’ & drunken ‘there’s nothing that beats shagging the widow at the wake.’ Supertash reminded us all why it’s fun to love a serial killer. Dee Sparling gave us a history lesson: ‘we’ve become collective headless horsemen in various Sleepy Hollows.’ Next Jennifer Hosein with an evocative piece about her mother ‘my mother’s heat begins to drift away.’


my empty glass

Final feature Jack Dani (http://jackdani.com) did a great set of originals & covers. Originals went from sweetly romantic:’When I with you it feels so good … so right’ (very The Beach Boys); to playful, almost childlike in their sing-song structure, sexy, raunchy Ron Jeremy ‘he’s seen his share/of vagina hair’ to longing for ‘a boogie tree with boobies that’ll knock me off my feet’. He has an appealing voice, warm stage presence & left me wondering if Ron Jeremy had seen Kat Leonard’s vagina hair?

Another packed house for Noir – seems even Taste of the Danforth can’t keep people away from the Cabaret. Lot of photos here and here. September 13’s line up: Beth Murch, Melissa Nicole Mather, Myke Mazzei.


Besides Matty (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1ht ) I read:


another innocent man has been pied

he demands righteous revenge

how dare anyone sully the dignity

of powerful people

they have to be taught a lesson

so under the new Pie Prohibition Act

pie throwers will not be allowed to marry

they will not be allowed to breed

you may fire a pie thrower at any time

deny them housing

no equal protection under the law

for if they chose to flout the law

they get what they deserve

if  you as a citizen suffer from pie-phobia

you may kill anyone carrying a pie

or even if you think they have a pie

or may have one in the future

that might assail traditional values

further more

the word pie now enters

the codex of unmentionables

it is the dessert

that dares not speak its name

you cannot have

that unmentionable dessert in a public place

only the privacy of your home

only if you are a registered eater

you cannot display that obscenity

on the Internet

works of fiction that deal with the

making of or consumption of

the aforesaid unmentionable pastry

will be seized and burned

one must not display

such an item before the face of God

pastries were denied a place at the last supper

it is all there in the scriptures

beware the crust uncircumcised

beware the fluffy flaky graham cracker shell

damnation and everlasting suffering

is in store for those who countenance

the unnamable pastry

all desserts are suspect

anyone who might enjoy a cookie

could be led down the path of degradation

to the unnamable pastry

that must never happen

the Pie Prohibition Act

is the only way to maintain control

so the very fabric of our culture

won’t collapse under such a threat


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#Hawaiian Noir Eye

Who has time for the PanAm when Lizzie Violet, with co-host Romeo Satin, sizzle us with a night at a Luau! Luau! Luau! Romeo, channelling both Jack Lord & Don Ho – not as easy or as confusing as it sounds, was the umbrella in our cocoanut drinks as he & Lizzie surfed the laughs of an audience decked out in more Hawaiian togs than you would see on Surfside 6, or even Hawaiian Eye.


not my luau costume

Yes, it was great to see the audience get leid as it embraced the Luau theme – lots of great Hawaiian shirts, Tiki buttons, leis, sarongs but sadly (for me) no shirtless Hawaiians. Romeo Satin & the Satinets (Tessa Stone, Cynthia Gould) started the night off with the classic ‘Little Grass Shack.’

The first set of open stagers quickly raised the heat of the room. Brenda Clews with some pimp-mobile, cybersex raunch; Philip Cairns with apples in the vortex – is this the madness Snow White dreamed of until the Prince awoke her? Bonnie Bonser raged about the distant illusion of satisfaction; Jeff Cottrill was delayed in transit 🙂 with a sharp new piece that everyone identified with.

I’ve heard The Rando Bando a few times & was hau’oli to hear them again, but circumstances forced them to cancel 😦 So I got a last minute call to step in & do a mini-set :-). To keep it simple I chose some of the recent Village pieces I’ve blogged: How I Learned to Play With Boys, In The Workshop, Founders Day, By the Moose of Moses: which came together as a nice suite. I must have hit the right notes, as during the break more than one stranger was effusive about my writing (too bad they were merely effusive & not asking to buy chap books).


cool thoughts from Hell

During the break The Satinets worked the crowd for tequila while checking for Hawaiian shirts, sarongs & the best beach wear for the contest. Kensington Market must have been stripped bare to the walls. Speaking of strip, burlesque temptress Lilla Koi: Hawaii’s own Forbidden Fruit – started a heatwave when she let more than her seat wave in an all too short set after the break.

She did a polished, sweet sexy routine to I Wanna Be Like You – Disney for burlesque, why not? Her tropical costume was strategically placed green sequinned leaves & fronds. She balanced sexiness with humour without getting kitchy. Gloves were peeled & leaves fell to reveal glittering lotus blossom tassels. Out of 5 she gets an Hawaii 5 Oh Oh Oh.


got my eye on you

The Satinettes worked the crowd again checking out Tiki buttons, yacht pants & hula hips for the contest before doing another number with Romeo – Blue Hawaii – that lead to the final round of open stagers – great music by Michelle Lecce-Hewitt (check out her upcoming benefit); Anastace & finally poetry from Shawn Sosnowski – ‘she gave me a racing stripe … then stole the car’ Winning the prize for best Hawaiian shirt he won’t missing that car so much.

Jeff Alan Greenway closed the night with a great set of piano driven pop. He has an appealing stage presence, a great voice & singing style that lets the lyric carry the emotion. His piano playing is deceptively simple, much like his singing, filling the melody without underlining the emotions or showboating to say ‘what a great Keith Emerson I am.’ He allows his songs to breathe & the crowd loved him & the songs & even sang along.


overdressed for the luau

A great night, sweltering heat, fantastic Fringe shows & dynamical PanAm games didn’t keep the Luau Noir from filling the Central & giving the people what they want – grass skirts & real entertainment 🙂


Besides the Village pieces I did two new, non-Village pieces. Here’s one of them – summer escapism:

Hoop Dreams

second story back window

Venetian blinds open

sunny noontime

shirtless guys in the laneway

play bball without a hoop

deke dodge around each other

winter pale skin eager for the sun

as eager as my eyes are

for their pale winter skin


they can’t see me

as aware of my look

as they are of the sun

their pant legs rolled up

hairy calves revealed

am I looking too long

looking too close

would I look if they were


than their twenties thirties

if they were in their fifties sixties

yeah sure but not for as long

if they were younger


I wouldn’t bother


from this window

I have the opportunity to stare

not feel their response for

my old queer guy gaze

age isn’t the factor

the opportunity is

so here I stand

an idle old man unseen

on a warm day

enjoying desultory male flesh

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Crisis of Faith @ Hirut

Summer Sizzle at Hirut was a jammed packed house & a jam packed show. The sizzle was spiced up by a large group of Ethiopians celebrating the call to the bar of a member of their community. Some congratulatory speeches were made that stressed their gratitude for Canada coming from a country were ‘after they throw stones at the police we had to be come immigrants – the dictators are still in power & are here.’

With Canada Day coming up out was powerful reminder what our country offers. Also in the midst of Pride it is clear how community creates safety.  We all appreciated how Hirut proved a safe, welcoming space for all on the cold rainy night. Co-hosts Arlene Peculan & Lizzie Violet kept the show rolling & our minds off the rain.


discards of eden?

I hit the stage first with a version of my Brown Betty set of east coast recollections. I had pulled the set together that afternoon, put the pieces in a flow & didn’t look at it until I open my Kindle to perform it. It worked well. The two new pieces flowed nicely – taking listeners to where they didn’t expect. I sold a raft of chap books too, which is always good.


pic by Lizzie Violet

After me was Neil Traynor http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/neiltraynor with a great set of originals & a couple of covers. ‘you deserve all the rain that falls on you’ ‘if I could do it all over again I would change everything’ ‘take time to notice what your worth’. He has a sweet slightly reedy voice but I longed to hear him drop a tone for more than a line or two as his voice is equally as appealing in its lower register. He is a one man Lovin’ Spoonful for the 2015s.


fallen from grace

Next up was Vanessa Smythe (www.mevanessaleigh.com) with a set of storytelling – she is an invested vulnerable perform with pieces bout love, loss, siblings the were perfected tuned, time that drew us into moments of tenderness & emotional reality. Her Gallipoli piece was unexpectedly compelling. ‘nothing here looks the sky in the eye’ ‘I tried to push my ear into the chest of the ground.’ She is the mistress of the awkward, slightly embarrassed pause.



After a brief break Alissa Vox Raw (www.alissavoxraw.com) closed the night with smooth emotive evocative set of one-man choral work – songs that built on the interplay of her self-recorded voice 7 guitar as it was lets on top of what she had just sang. Sublime do whop, some revival, some torch & all fun. She has elements of Laurie Anderson, Diamanda Galás & even Cathy Berberian in her manipulation of voice & music. I loved it.


one of the new (unfinished) pieces I read:

Within Belief

I wasn’t that naive a child

I didn’t believe in Santa Clause

or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy

my parents encouraged those fantasies

but didn’t do anything

to prevent my rational child mind

from finding out those truths

to see through those fictions

made me feel older

but didn’t keep me for my first

real crisis of faith


that came when I was around twelve

when I discovered that the actor

playing Tarzan

didn’t live in the jungle

maybe that was because

I wanted to live in the jungle

surrounded by this half-naked natives


I knew Tarzan wasn’t real person

that he was portrayed by an actor

my imagination hadn’t taken

the next rational step

I was also sure

that people really lived in the Brady bunch house

that the cast of the Partridge family

drove that bus around in their private lives


I was learning the difference

between fact and fiction

to be frank

I was disappointed

it was hard enough to accept what

I heard in church

that some power in the sky

would punish me

or disobeying my parents

but what as the difference between

sitting in a movie theatre

and sitting in church

to learn life lessons

if the movies lessons weren’t real

what was the truth

what did God do

when we weren’t sitting in that church

why were these songs so sad

not that I went to church a lot as a child

I went to the movies more often

the seats were more comfortable

the music was always better


but the lessons where just as distorting

indians wore war bonnets all the time

they killed without provocation

white people were innocent

blacks were usually half naked

would run at the first sign of trouble on safari

women were to be rescued

or were great singers

men beat each other up

kissed the women


movies were are as factual

as what I heard in church

fictions that filled my young head

with weird fears and notions

of what it meant to be a man

to be good

to be acceptable

the Bible seemed to be a sort of Aladdin’s lamp

if you rubbed God the right way

He would shoot off blessings for you


but if you rubbed yourself the wrong way

at the movies to shoot off

you’d go to Hell

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