#NikBeat Into The Mystic

The ‘farewell’ to Nik Beat at St. John of Norway Church, fell on the first day of autumn. It was warm and sunny, almost as if Nik had arranged it himself, to give us a warm goodbye.

church01 that’s a diet coke beside Nik’s guitar

When the celebration ended with the Beatles ‘In My Life’ combined with a touch of ‘Hello Goodbye’ I have to admit I teared up a bit. Both lyrics sum up a full life. The event, to me, was more of a bon voyage party – Nik was an explorer of the mystic; whether that was through angels, poetry, or music he was always seeking. The opening verse from Van Morrison’s ‘Into The Mystic’ played in my mind: ‘We were born before the wind/ Also younger than the sun/ Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic/ Hark, now hear the sailors cry/Smell the sea and feel the sky/ Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic’

church02 Nik’ll help this guy with his manuscript

The service was a deeply emotional journey held in the framework of a rather dry liturgy. The emotional chords of the music, poems and memories of Nik’s friends & family held, to me, much more spiritual resonance & relevance than the scriptural promise of an afterlife.

A sweet solo violin version of Danny Boy started things on a real emotional note. There were heartfelt poems, songs and even Nik himself, from his recently recorded cd, to remind us of what he was taking with him on his flow into the mystic.

church03 Nik’s new writing workshop group

Too many people present to name, besides this isn’t a performance or event review but a farewell note to Nik to take with him. He’s left a strong mark on the lives of many people with his generosity of spirit, time and talent. But he was always a seeker and now his seeking has taken him to the next amazing vista on his flow into the mystic.

(sorry that my church pictures are a bit out of focus. I tried to be unobtrusive and fast when taking them). My previous Nik Beat memory: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Te

sky

This is a piece I wrote after the service for Jackie Burroughs – seemed fitting for Nik Beat as well.

. . . walk through . . .

her casket unadorned pine

pale

unvarnished for burning

heavy even with three on each side

the gentle struggle

to get it up church steps winded me

all glad to let go

let it glide on the gurney

through the narrow granite arch

into

the vaulted cathedral

massive stained glass window

images promised resurrection

 

we followed the minister

a slow steady pace

he held aloft a silver cross

each a single hand on the casket

oppressive organ music

muffling the simple choir

I longed for unadorned chant

then wanted the droning reverential

minister’s voice smothered

too much scripted polished scripture talk

and none of the real in the casket

 

suddenly

silence

 

then her voice

previously recorded

“… I walk through … ”

all breaths held

to take in

her reading “ … I fear no … ”

sobs for this real presence

I looked to the casket

expect it to shake   giggle

 

next the rites

holy water sprinkled

dense incense wafted

I choked   gasped

air thick

smothered through the rest of the ritual

 

we walk the casket out

again the gentle clumsy struggle

out the narrow granite arch

the dead weight down the steps

to the hearse

where we all took a deep breath

 

it drove off into the sun

sky

into the mystic

#NikBeat 1956-2014

In 1999 I made the decision to get back to my poetry. Not that I had stopped writing but I sure did lots to avoid it – studied dance, ran a theatre company, wrote a novel. So I started really writing daily, joined a queer writer’s group at 519 and after a year of that wanted to get the word off the page.

nik

Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir May 2014

I found out that the Renaissance Cafe had a monthly event: Cryptic Chatter. In 2000 I started back on stage there, doing the open mike. That’s where I first met Nik Beat. I think he was in the house for that show and did a feature the next month. My first impression was of a washed-out, rock-a-billy, Brian Ferry wanna be.

tims no more Tim’s for Tina

I quickly learned he was integral part of the indie spoken scene, a man with his own radio show, his own spoken series, books, chap books, cds, exhibits of art work – a quiet dynamo.

Over the years I’ve co-featured with him, been on HOWL a few times, featured & did open mikes at his various spoken shows at the Renaissance Cafe, that dessert shop on Queen East, Q Space on College. I’ve had him feature, with Rahul Gupta (That Brown Bastard) for A Night of Killer ‘B’s: at a series I ran at Paddy’s Playhouse on Gerrard.

trunk hole in one

Warm, supportive & generous he was always a welcome face at any spoken event. His writing was mystical, funny, sometimes a bit too pop culture driven but he was an entertainer who wrote poetry well and was willing to give people what they would enjoy.

We never became more that mutual fans. I admired his dedication and willingness to support and promote spoken word & indie music in Toronto. He was an example to me of persistence for the creative cause as opposed persistence to gain acclaim or fame.

snowboots

no one can fill these shoes

He always arrived in a bit of a rush, a bit breathless, harried & looked as if he had just woken up in the back of a limo with a couple groupies, whom he left waiting impatiently in that back seat while he came in to perform.

Nik Beat – 1956-2014. He’ll be missed.

Nik’s service: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-TA

 

samples

This is a piece of mine Nik liked a lot. He even requested I read it at one of his many open stage events.

A Perfect Match

the first time

I was really with a woman

I ran my fingers through her dark hair

as she touched mine

you have such fine hair she told me

she kissed me  lips gentle

opened her mouth a little

my hand under her sweater

searched along her bra

we continue to kiss on the bed

I held her soft breasts

solid   light yet with weight   substance

circled blissful raspberry nipples

with my thumbs

I had read Penthouse   Playboy

I knew the mechanics of peach fuzzed mounds

she pulled off my pants

more kissing touching

you’re a sweet kisser she told me

she moved my hand to her thatch

splayed the fingers

pushed them in one by one

that feels good she whispered

the folds were sticky

she guided my cock

I rocked my hips in  out

it was warm moist frictionless

she clenched with her leg muscles

breathed heavily into my ear

then we rolled apart

I didn’t come   wasn’t even close

she smiled kissed me some more

I couldn’t wait to wash my  hands

the first time

I was really with a man

never read what to do

I knew exactly what to do

we yanked at each others’ clothes

tongues raced pulse pounding

so much friction

I came

like a match being struck

bed the singed bed

“I built a boat”

A warm May night – patios overflowing with winter-whitened people happy to be in the sun. Who wants to spend time indoors listening to mumbly poets, whiney singers or watching comic burlesque? Well, let me tell you, Cabaret Noir reached out and filled the house with an eager crowd.

bag c c cold c c c olors

First feature was Nik Beat who succeeds in evoking smoky basement jazz cafes in a time when no one smokes in doors. He started with some poetry about fallen idols – Janis Joplin with her ‘corn textured hair’; Marilyn Monroe: ‘dark angel food cake.’ Then he picked up his guitar, joined on bass by Mike Ratt, for some songs. In ‘I made a God out of my Girlfriend’ he tells us ‘I made a god out of the way she gave head.’ In another he warns us ‘love but don’t fall in love’ even though he wanted to ‘be famous for falling in love.’ A great set.

purple p p p purple

After a quick set up Dottie Dangerfield (the Dame who puts the D in danger) hit the stage with fun, frisky comic burlesque routine. From cupcakes to tassels in less than four minutes it was a sweet sample of traditional tease that certainly left us wanting more.

iron i i i rony deficiency

Last up was Giraffe (Lynne Rafter and Mike Copley) with a bouncy set of original songs, full of their off-kilter harmonies, wry (but not bitter) observations of relationships, stardom and work life. Lots of fine lines ‘you had it all figured out now you have to stand down loveless’, ‘I built a boat to sail away from you.’  Noir Photos

Lizzie, planning ahead, has booked me for Cabaret Noir’s extra Noir October show.

 

samples

Cute Rebels

 

look what they’ve done to the revolution

they’ve made it retro chic cute cunning

safety pins and tats for Barbie

there is no sting left in being a brat

saying fuck is just an attention getter

no one really reacts you say fuck the pope

or tell a bus drive to screw off asshole

verbal abuse is water off a duck’s back

no one give a shit

the revolution is old news old hat

been there done that

bought the designer rice fabric t-shirt

the special limited-edition running shoes

that got Oprah talking faster

that got mentioned in Jay’s opening monologue

saw a clip of the peak of the revolution

flash by in a Madonna video

who knew she was spokesperson for the revolution

because  we had so many high powered names

speaking out on our behalf

all those stars rockers politicians

were eager for a fresh start

time for a change

time to take down the wall of inequity

and replace them with transparency

that only the rich could afford

the poor had to keep hidden

they didn’t want revolution

any more than the rich did

but at least they were honest enough to admit it

in the end

 

once the mini series was over

we found the right blog to remind us

of what once could have been

the right sponsor to adopt some of the color scheme

we were safe again

not quite right back where we started

but comfortable happy

even a bit amused by the current revolution

those kids acting as if they’d invented the right way

to say fuck all this hypocrisy

we want change and we want it now

I know the feeling

but just like us

they don’t really know

what they want to change in to

if they knew

then we’d have a real revolution on our hands

polly p p p olly c c c old

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I Buy Drugs

Rumor has it that Nik Beat is a vampire. Easy to believe, as in the decade or so that I’ve know him he hasn’t aged visibly, and he talks about Poe as if he had just left Edgar having a few at Grossman’s. He turned the reins over to guest host, Jennifer Hosein, who did a great job with the April live HOWL show. Her job made easier by a dynamic line-up.

side yard Inukshuk
side yard Inukshuk

First feature Stedmond Pardy performed pieces from his chapbook ‘Drugs’ (I bought a copy, first time I’ve bought Drugs outside of a pharmacy in decades). His pieces are long cascades of pop, religious, and class images that convey the harried lives we live in with tenderness and frustration. ‘there is no chosen race in nature’ ‘the air reeked of a dolphin stampede.’ Moving and literate work that held us wanting more.

Windsor harbour Inukshuk
Windsor harbour Inukshuk

Next up was Nik Beat himself. He read pieces from ‘Amazing Secret Dreams.’ These are emotional, well-crafted crafty pieces that take you where you least expect with sonic puns and association: The World Is A Page starts ‘we are the pliers that twist and shape it.’ In Hurt Co-Pain he tells us ‘I mistook this mirror for me/ I mistook that girl for love.’ Strong stuff.

front yard Inukshuk
front yard Inukshuk

After the break was Laura L’Rock. I co-featured with Laura L’Rock last October and was eager to hear her again. With Nik on guitar she did a set that was barely contained by the Q Space stage, some of the songs are arena rockers scaled down to intimate size. She has a strong, direct voice that is emotionally sincere without resorting to big moment notes. Her lyrics are sharp, sweet and true ‘why lie when the truth is so much easier,’ ‘attract what you wanna be, not what you are.’

Final feature was the equally ageless Norman Allan, who put his sketch pad down long enough to treat us to his thoughtful writing. ‘Just because you think it so/ don’t make it true.’ He ended his set with Nik once again on guitar ‘you don’t bow down to love/ you just open your heart.’ Norman organizes the Renaissance Revival poetry workshop at Q Space on the 2nd Monday of the month.

o superman
o superman

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.

@TorPoet
@TorPoet

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