‘Rewriting the ten commandments’

Once again Sandra Cardinal has put together an excellent, eclectic ensemble of features for Racket at the Rocket. After a couple of open stagers she kicked off the show with true story filled with tasty details ‘roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, & trifle for dessert’ that was a reflection on her childhood & recently reconnecting with her Australian cousins. Family ‘secrets’ kept the sides so apart she didn’t even know she had an Australia branch until the death of her grandfather. Seems one of the family secrets was how ‘I love you,’ never got spoken.



All the ‘e’s’ in my opening is a nod to first feature Adam Abbas, whose work makes ample use of alliteration, sprung rhyme, & assonance to propel it along. His new pieces are fine ‘I can’t save you/if you have more problems than me.’ I have heard his older pieces from his book A State A Statue A Statute, but much like a Brugel painting reveals new moments, the rush of Adam’s images allow each listening to find new connections and meanings to keep them sounding fresh.

Next feature Merle Amodeo read from her book ‘After Love’ – a look at the various stages of love from the first rush ‘because of you/I asked my hairdresser/for copper highlights’; to uncertainty: ‘sorry about the call I made late last night.’ to misery & separation: ‘everything is disposable.’


double curves a head

She was followed by Norman Cristofoli who started his set as he walked through the audience to the stage. His writing is simple, direct, personal yet highly relatable. Vivid images abound ‘rewriting the ten commandments,’ ‘every snake leaves something behind,’ ‘drinking the tears of an ancient sorrow.’ He is clearly not someone who ‘fears the potential of his ideas.’


curve on ice

Final feature Vanessa Salazar brought us into the present day with her strong pieces about gender politics, images and age. ‘how to write a bio on a gender neutral page.’ The struggle against being judged solely based on one facet of your person: age, race, gender is one she articulated well.

Needless to say the Red Rocket Cafe is a great spot for this series – great carrot cake, great service & a freshly shorn John always add to the show.


Besides The Basement Tapes (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-18Y) I read this:


if I say what I mean

will you hear what I say

or what you want to hear me say

even I don’t say it

if you hear what I say

will it be what I want you to understand

or will you merely understand

what you want to understand

can I be so clear

there is no doubt about my intention

can you comprehend my intent

while you wonder when I’ll be done

so you can take that piss you’ve been

putting off   where is that waitress

who is that hottie over there

are they looking at you

why do I care if you listen  understand

I don’t even listen to myself

I wonder what’s going to be on TV

is my cell phone on off on vibrate

do I care that you don’t care

do I want to be understood

or are you going over your piece

so that all you care about

is me getting out of your way

so you can do what I didn’t do so well

hold the audience in the palm of your hand

for a few slippery minutes

or are you

inspired by what I said

about not wanting to be understood

a chain of images in your head

that you have to write down

mine flowing over your knuckles

as you search out something deeper that I missed

about the tautological connection

between want need getting forgetting

getting to the washroom

to find out some jack ass

has pissed all over the seat

now what do you do

you can’t blame me

when that happened I was up here

trying to hold your attention for a few slippery minutes

give you a glimpse of things

that I don’t quite grasp myself

because I’m not sure if I mean it

or merely want to say it


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Serial Killers @RedRocketCoffee

On a frosty Friday night Dan Curtis Thompson took over as host at Makin’ A Racket at the Rocket while regular host Sandra Cardinal enjoyed an escape to southern climes. Staff at the Rocket made sure we were well warmed up with hot chocolate and their great sweet treats.


snuggle up

Norman Allan lead off the open stage set with some pieces based his art (which he showed us): ‘sharing turns our pain to love.’ He was followed by Cate McKim with a standup set about drive-ins and this years Oscar swag bag. I closed the set with the last of this month’s bitter/sweet/sweaty love poems.


hunker down

Two of the features: Tracy Hamilton and Ariel Kagan I’ve seen (& reviewed) recently at the story telling show at The Free Times: (Once Upon: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-14M). I may have to do a google search for that rare music niche: South African metal bands to fill in Ariel’s history. Tracy’s recollections of recess games made me miss my days of mumblety-peg. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumblety-peg).

The other feature Lizzie Violet, is also a story storyteller but her stories are about zombies, serial killers and other sunny moments. I’ve heard & reviewed Lizzie many times (use the WordPress search feature). Her sets are always strong, thoughtfully constructed, and tingle with ‘bodies hitting the ground before the blood leaves the veins.’


crouched couch

Thanks to Dan I realize that cancer is not an STD. As I left I enjoyed the way the icy patterns on Rocket’s frost-swirled windows reflected, nearly dripped I might say, with blood red.


besides Star Trek Subtext (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-153) I read this:

The Big Hurt

he said

someone must have hurt you real bad

was that a line

or a real observation

was he hinting he was sensitive

that he saw more in me

than others did

or was that a stab in the dark

because we all carry some past hurt

that makes us defensive


when we meet new opportunities for fresh hurts

I didn’t want to tell him

he was wrong

I’ve never been hurt so bad

that I carry any scars with me now

not that I’ve been shallow in love

but kept my expectations in reality

I haven’t counted on someone’s love

to make me whole



unlike all those movies

where the right someone

comes along to rescue you

with great lighting

and that special song

so when he said

someone must have hurt you real bad

at first I’m at a loss for words

pushing him away

will confirm to him he’s right

pulling him in

will let him think

I’ve given in to his ruse

but because two can play

this game I reply

not as badly as someone hurt you

and if it’s not a game

may be we can get past square none


April 26 – Sunday – 2-5 – Featuring – The Secret Handshake Gallery – 170 Baldwin Ave., 2nd floor, Toronto.


June 5-7 – attending – Capturing Fire – Washington DC



(2015 registration posted but details not posted yet. I’ve registered already 🙂 )

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


Loyalist Workshop is the real deal

page 23 for details next page down for registration info


June 27, Saturday – 7:00-  Feature: Hot Summer Nights at Hirut, Hirut Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave., Toronto


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo



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


front yard violinist
front yard violinist

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The Unsatisfied Spoon

Racket returned to the Rocket with another eclectic lineup of strong spoken-word performers. Host Sandra Cardinal  started things off with a romantic prom about the durability of love. After another couple of open-stagers first feature Dan Curtis Thompson did a section of his one-man show Consonance about recovering for a toxic relationship – at 26 most of the house was old enough to be his parents – & even if some missed cultural references they certainly got the timeless emotional resonance of being afraid to fall in love like that again.


I will turn myself into a spoon

Next up was Deborah Kimmett. She quickly had an easy rapport with the audience. Her humour was direct, observational & highly relatable. From resisting that smile back in her doctor’s waiting room as it will lead to hearing all about someone else’s medical condition to her memories of growing up in the late 60’s. She read a few sections for her recent novel Outrunning Crazy.

After the break Dawna Wightman did a short monologue from her one-woman play in which a nervous actress auditions for the role of a Chicken MacNugget. Funny, tot he point & satisfying enough I want to see the whole piece someday.


it’s all under the surface

Last feature was Nina Kaye. A playwright trying out he reported chops with some good pieces about on line dating. Clear-eyed and not melodramatic work that reminded me that on-line dating plays out the same way regardless of age, gender or sexuality. Everyone seems to wait for the phone ring.


hats off to an early spring

A great start to the new year for Racket at the Rocket. Next month’s show will be hosted by Dan Curtis Thompson. Also congratulations to the Red Rocket for celebrating 3 years at this location. They’ve made a place for themselves in the lives of people in the neighbourhood by being more than a coffee shop.







I did hit the open stage with ‘pillow for your heart’ which is here http://wp.me/p1RtxU-11a  – here’s another spoon poem:

The Unsatisfied Spoon

that spoon

is looking at you

I tell by the gleam

in its bowl

it’s been looking at you

ever since we came into the room

since we sat at this table

you knew that

didn’t you

that’s why you picked this table

you were going to meet the spoon

weren’t you
you wanted it in your hand

in your mouth

the way you used to want me

in your hand

in your mouth

don’t deny it

that spoon wants you

it’s the only reason we are here

isn’t it

it doesn’t matter

everywhere we go

there’s something

that wants to be in your hands

in your mouth

and you

you let it happen

you invite it

I can’t sleep at night

thanks to you

thanks to the way

you let yourself be desired

by anyone who looks at you

even if they don’t look at you the way I do

the way that spoon does

I see your smile reflect in the bowl

even before you pick it up

before you stir your coffee

bring it to your lips

to sip a bit of the sweetness

giving it the sweetness of your mouth

you do it just to drive me crazy

you flaunt the spoon’s affection for you

you satisfy it again & again

before my very eyes

I hate the spoon

I hate the day it was die cast

it’s because of the spoon

that I can never let you out of my sight

never let you dine alone

I’m sleepless

to avoid dreams of you

seeing spoons behind my back

using them casually

then tossing them aside

to grab for the next one

they are never satisfied

to be in your hand

in your mouth

the way I would be


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 Razzo Cavalcata

The November edition of Makin’ A Racket at the Rocket was a warm respite from the chilly night. Even without Deborah Kimmett, who bowed out due to illness, there was more than enough talent on stage with excellent (& a couple of perfectly raunchy) open stages and features.

slush02 get me to the Rocket

First up was extreme east-ender Greg Santos (http://about.me/greg.santos) from Montreal who read from his recent book Rabbit Punch. After his train trip here where he was ‘motionless in my seat/I chase the moon’ he read a set of fun, sometimes tender pieces filled with pop culture references from the Green Lantern to Taylor Swift to Daffy Duck.

In Hansel and Gretel – the children aren’t cast out by evil parents but ‘lured by their own desires/we were ready to die for love.’ His final piece tagged movie title with ‘We’ – ‘We The Wild Bunch, We Walking Tall etc’ After his train poems I expected ‘We Trainspotting.’

ice the river of ice

Next up was Valentino Assenza (http://valentinoassenza.wordpress.com) . I’ve seen Val many times but it has been a couple years since hearing a full set. He stands and delivers, his set was almost a master class in how to take the stage without being overbearing. Confident and precise he had the audience following every mood of his pieces.

The poems were emotionally resonant and hight relatable. Strong images – in Archer: ‘a life time spent making a mark.’ In memories of childhood summers at his father’s tobacco shop in Italy: ‘the sign says we speak English/but they never do,’ ‘the echoes of smoke/that was once blown here.’ Memory pieces enriched by the use of Italian. His slam experience surfaces with a fine sonic word play ‘bebops of bliss bouncing off buildings.’

slush01froze the pants off him too

The night ended with a fun short play by host Sandra Cardinal. ‘Graveyard Shift’ in which a phone solicitor has the tables turned in an unnerving way. A neat effect very Twilight Zonesque piece to end a great night at Red Rocket.




i did not know that


this is the first time

anyone pointed

that out to me

weird eh

all these years

and this is the first time

anyone has taken the time

to explain that to me

i can’t imagine

how i got along all this time

without knowing

no i’m not being facetious

or saying that what you told me

was so trivial

it was never worth

my time finding out

it’s just

that it never dawned on me


things will be a lot easier

now that i know


i wasn’t in denial

i was merely never informed

you know

like a blind man

who never knows what color he is

it,s all about whats relevant


and I’m certainly grateful for you

pointing out to me


that it appears most people

already know

it’s not as if we get taught

what we really need to know in school

which is where i was taught

the ignorance is bliss

and now my bliss is over

sunny-side sunny side up

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The Devil’s Dimple

Racket returned to the Rocket for a third season of eclectic spoken word with a fine fall line-up of novelists & poets hosted by Sandra Cardinal. She opened the show with a couple of autumnal poems.

I know first feature Sharon Crawford (http://www.samcraw.com) from her excellent monthly writers workshop (checker her web page for more info). She gave a ready-for-audio-book reading of excerpt from her short stories & her novel (launched Oct 19.14). From the tribulations of getting a body into a car trunk ‘she should have removed the golf clubs first, to evidence of adultery ‘she dangled the leopard print bra as if the spots were anthrax.’ The humour of the stories was evident but not at the expense of the suspense.

pumpkin01 boo – Church Street pumpkin

Next up was poetry feature, Norman Allen. I’ve heard Norman countless times; as well as having heard some of the pieces he read many times but they are like welcome friends who reveal greater depth each time you meet them. ‘the deal God made the Devil’, ‘this side of Atlantis we put on flesh’, ‘you don’t bow down to love/ you open your heart.’ His work is warm and spiritually grounded & lifting at the same time. (http://www.normanallan.com/Lit/introLit.html)


you can’t rake me

Last feature Nick Pengelley (http://www.nicholaspengelley.com) discussed and read from his novel ‘Ryder’ that deals with the politics of the middle east (who knew that situation was caused by the film Lawrence of Arabia – just kidding – but his interest was partly inspired by the film). He read the first chapter which flowed easily while giving us back story, not only of the main character, but the climate of the times. It skillfully lead to a chapter ending that made me want to read the rest of the book, even though the politics don’t interest me at all.

wrapped nice costume

I did hit the open stage to plug my Noir feature & read one of the new pieces. It got a reaction exactly where I expected it to & turned the tables on the audience just as I hoped it would. A fine night, an appreciative house, a cup of peppermint tea & the Rocket’s excellent pumpkin loaf – who could ask for anything more.


The Devil’s Dimple


even the Devil started as a baby

sweet fresh innocent

everyone found his dimples so cute

‘whose the sweetest little baby

snookum I ever saw’

when he crushed the souls of millions

he found himself unfulfilled and empty

adulation and accomplishment

left him disappointed and bitter

unsure of himself

unable to figure out

what was wrong with him

after all

he had the cutest dimples

why wasn’t he content

with what everyone promised

would make him happy

things that made him feel cluttered

pushed having to accomplish

some new depth of evil

wasn’t it enough

that he was Evil itself

why did he have to keep on proving it

why couldn’t they leave him alone

he looked the mirror

‘I hate these fucking dimples

why was I ever born’

he took it out on the people

who pushed him

to be everything he could be

the greater the pain he felt in him

the greater the pain he had to inflict

he had no way of discarding his identity

no fresh start for Satan

no botox injections for Lucifer

to remove the source

of his eternal infernal damnation

his God given dimples

pumpkins eek

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The Art of Tent Pitching

Racket at the Rocket wrapped it’s second year with another fine show. Sandra Cardinal’s series always presents a great assortment of writers poets, novelists and even crazy playwrights. This last show, till October, was no exception.

1960 Summer_19 happy campers?

After some solid open stagers the first feature Adam Abbas took the stage for all too short set of his word play and language explorations. He opened with some of limericks – always too short to really absorb on one listening: ‘excelled in the art of tent pitching.’ He read some piece from his up coming book – the pieces flow with rich, bouncing alliterations, rhymes, assonance and dream logical connections. ‘barred by guards for stealing lard’, ‘obsessed over histrionics.’  His found poem of quotes about writing resonated with everyone.

table iced table

He was followed by Chuck Crabbe who read two well-selected sections of his novel As A Thief in the Night. One involved the cleaning of a wine vat give us a clear sense of of thoughts disintegrating as a mind is effected by gasses plus the endlessless cycle of cleaning what can’t be cleaned. The other of his hero’s sexual coming of age, was tender and rich. They gave a satisfying sense of the novel without feeling we needed more information.

constructionbeside under construction

Final feature was Nicholas Power with some recent pieces and some from his latest book Melancholy Scientist. His poems have a strong sense of place: Toronto, Amsterdam, Halifax. Images are vivid: ‘a curving street that dares you with it’s blind corners,’ ‘ancient trees catch sunlight in their rough bark,’ ‘she didn’t have enough money to keep her clothes on.’

Racket will be missed over the summer and returns October 17.

boats loyalist

masts reflecting in Belleville


Angel Falls

this is the torrent

where for a set time

I throw things up against the wall

to see what sticks

to see what drips

what shapes form

as the threads fly & flail

fingers find a rapid pulse

to follow   to try

not make sense

to flicker

for little scrap of information

what do men want

love that goatee

why can’t things last

how long will we be trapped by our dreams

why do expectations keep us

from seeing what is actually there

when often

what is actually there

surpasses our limited objectives

our self-serving demands

for comfort on demand

for obedience   the willingness to think for oneself

how long how often

each time

the torrent starts

the same things come up

the same darting furtive


where something equals something

but what that something is

isn’t as clear as hoped

it leads to the realization

that despite the torrent

the water doesn’t change

the water will always be water

the river flows

we are all in it

not many outside that envelope

the human humdrumness

of thrashing around at times

floating serenely at others

slipping over the waterfall

with grace

going over screaming one’s tits off

in desperate fear

hoping somehow

to swallow the river whole

be safe dry

never ever to get that wet again

which of course isn’t the point of life

isn’t the way of the world

we never get out of the river alive

we each make our own way down it

the same rocks buffet us all

the worries about the future

what is around that bend


another waterfall

a calm lagoon

why so shallow here

abruptly so deep there

learning the strokes

the rhythm


that each turn is a turn for the better

that each opportunity

to go against some current

makes the stroke stronger

makes the journey a little longer

sharing a stretch

going it alone on others

taking to the weather like ducks

taking to the air like geese

never straying far from the water

from the river

from the oceans lakes pools ponds streams rios rills

life the river

the tried trite image

dipped in the river for purification

merging with the river

for eternity

wearing the river like a loose wet garment

feeling the flow between the toes

around the calves  balls chins

nose just above the water

letting go

letting flow

under the water

the reflection of a millions points of sun

darting  dancing

dangerous  eternal

unavoidable   joyful

take me to the river

lead me to the water

float my briar on the Ganges

dip my heels in the Nile

bring me reeds from the Gauja

link each tributary

back to my heart

where all it started to pump

the little endless blue lines

the river is my blood

the veins the threads

that get pulled apart

woven together

the thread of worries   comforts

the wondering of

what do men want from each other

why do people act this way

why can’t they all strip

to the bare essentials

jump back into the river


jump frolic forgive

jump in all at once

so the water overflows the banks

to wash the world clean

1959 Gillis Lake Falls 3 Gillis Lake Falls – Cape Breton

‘I forgot how to speak’

Birthday girl Sandra Cardinal gifted us with a stellar line up for the April Makin’ a Racket. A full house appreciated the features (as well a slew of tasty birthday muffins gratis from the chefs at The Red Rocket Cafe).


they grow like weeds

Dan Curtis Thomson was first up with a nice section of his one man show about breaking up. Structured around music he did a sweet, almost plaintive song (very Don McLean with its fluttering, falling  notes) ‘falling falling falling out of love.’ He explained that the song ended with a C major 7th chord, an unresolved chord, much like this ended relationship which leaves him unresolved. A nice hint of the larger piece. Dan has a warm stage presence I enjoyed.

Next up was Vanessa McGowan who clearly has no unresolved emotions. Fresh from a poetry intensive in Banff she had some new pieces & old pieces. ‘wear you like a wind blanket’ ‘when my body became my voice I forgot now to speak.’ I’ve reviewed her many times – search will pull up those reviews.

mac McLitter

Then Niki Koulouris read some section from ‘the sea with no one in it’ her recent book. ‘once it had been half man, half sea.’ I recently reviewed her – search will pull up that review.

After the cup-cake break Myna Wallin (whom I have reviewed before), on crutches after an ankle & wrist break, read some new pieces about her recuperation: ‘a lethal dose of ‘this too shall pass.’ ’ Then a tasty chapter from Confession of a Wounded Reluctant Cougar that reminded us that sex without guilt isn’t really bad sex.

oldpink out-grown

She was followed by Sage Tyrtle (whom I have reviewed before), with a rich, funny & romantic story about internet dating back in the early days when people counted on chat rooms, facing the fears of the unknown & actually, for this story, having a happy ending (in which she wasn’t murdered & buried in basement). Sage is a gifted story teller slipping between characters and situations with great ease.

Last up was Eufemia Fantetti (whom I have never reviewed before) reading a portion of her personal essay Alphabet Autobiographia. A look at language, particularly Italian & the role it’s played in her family history. She explains how applying Italian pronunciation to English words can have hilarious repercussions – i.e. traipsing becomes trapezing.

A handful of great open stagers, many of whom were past features where scattered throughout the show. Mike Sauve’s piece about orange juice was excellent – also had a great talk with him about double-sided nature of politically correctness (for a later blog I think). A great spring show that even with 6 features was wrapped by 9:30.


from a Viral prompt – this is one of the piece read on the Racket open stage

Daddy’s Boy

I have this photo of my dad

when he was a boy of

about fourteen

shown it to friends   lovers

who said that I was handsome

even as a boy

used it as my profile pic once

a photo of my dad

that looks so much like me

at his age

we could be twins

yet there were years

when I was sure I was adopted

I’d go through the papers

in his desk

seeking that document

I felt so not a part of that family

of this species

I was sure there was some legal proof

of that fact

I never found that evidence

when I first saw that pic of my Dad

I thought it was me

his genetic string so strong

I am tied to it without a doubt

last time I visited my home town

a stranger stopped me in the street

to ask if was his son

one was a bit shaken

it was as if my Dad’s ghost has appeared

he’d been dead for five or six years by then

so perhaps their memory

had played some tricks on them


I am my father’s son

I’m proud to say

there’s no denying that now

cake cake left out in the rain


‘a dream’s first kiss’

Racket’s March show kicked winter in the butt with a fine set of features & open-stagers. Sandra Cardinal, back in the hosting spotlight, put together another great line up of spoken performers. Starting with playwright Nina Kaye, who mixed some of her poetry in with some strong, well-performed monologues. Teen-age girls who relish the fact that ‘cab drivers will do anything if your flash them your tits’; a male hustler who admits that ‘it just feels good to know someone wants you.’ Her piece about teen-age infatuation perfectly captured that cloying adolescent idealism ‘seeing his face was like seeing the sun after a long winter.’

moon moon at noon

Next up was Rob Ellis with a fun set of poems of political bite and rhyme – ‘Welcome to the Hotel North Korea’ ‘I asked Obama how can this be/he said, we haven’t a conflict since 1953.’ Of work life he says, ‘now employees are associates,’ ‘when things go bad as always it’s the staff that pays.’

dresser get into my loose drawers

After the break Norm Cristofoli delivered a well-structured. polished set of spiritually grounded, at the same time sensually seeking, poems. Of religions he say, ‘the greatest mistake mankind made/ was to turn the messengers into the message.’ His homage to film noir offered us ‘a liquid jewel to help me forget’ ‘sixes in his eyes, sevens on his tongue.’ Of love ‘you move me like a dream’s first kiss.’ A great set that was over too soon.

chairget out from under my legs

Too many open-stagers to name but new-to-the-scene Matthew Carmichael is gaining in confidence. Susan Helwig did a brief monolgue about visiting an artist’s studio that brought the house down -‘Why are all the men in your paintings asleep?’

As always The Red Rocket Cafe is a great spot for an intimate night of spoken-word. Good coffee, great desserts and a staff that enjoys the artists as much as they enjoy the tips. In some spots it seems the staff only puts up with ‘art’ as long as they are getting tips.


April 21, Monday – featuring – Lizzie Violet’s Poetry Open Mic at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club – 7:30 – doors and open mic sign up, 8:00 – start – 54 The Esplanade, Toronto https://www.facebook.com/events/1379693865637955/

amflyerjpg copy

April 27, Sunday – attending – Julie Czerndea Workshop http://chiseries.ticketleap.com/chiseriesworkshop-julie-czerneda/

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville, Ont https://www.facebook.com/events/589522924455695/

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



when it was over

it was over

that part was pretty simple

fairly painless

the grief was in the waiting

looking for a right moment

to admit to one another

that over was over

that we didn’t need

to spend any more time

in trying to make things work

in looking for some

little thing to do or say

that would make things new

that would return us to

what we had at the start

even if we could

I was never sure

if either of us would

have set the way back machine

to reclaim those early months

of frisky free falling fun

even now

if we are clear headed

that free fall

wasn’t all peaches and cream

but it was good

wasn’t it?


it’s hard to learn

to avoid the rough patch

that comes before

it’s over

that patch

is what seems to cause the most pain

the ending is nearly always a relief

when we both admit

it’s time for a change

thanks for the memories

except that patch

why do we get so caught

in that patch

it sticks to the feet

slows us down

makes us both blind & super sensitive

at the same time

makes us both wander aimless

afraid of saying the wrong thing

or the right thing

that will bring the inevitable to light

to reveal to the other

that over has to be soon

that over is better than this

whatever this is

that hovers over our heads

the fear of being alone

the rest of our lives

isn’t as bad as being together

admitting that isn’t what love is all about

isn’t what we wanted

out of this relationship


why do we let it fester so long

so long there is no clear break

just more fester

and fester can’t hold a couple together

any better that come does

so what gain is there in that patch

because I’ve known people

who spend more time in the patch

than they did in loving one another

that patch

begins the moment one or the other says

we have to work on this relationship

if we expect it to work


what sort of work

hammer and nails

I know enough not to give up

when the first hormone blush has faded

but I also know

that work isn’t the solution

making me or him change

isn’t going to lead to any real affection

that merely allows one another

to trot our little  power games

that please appease for a short time

but rarely improve

we end up improving one another

for the next relationship

for the better one

that hovers in a cloud

in a dream around the corner

the one we weren’t ready for when we met each other

but the one that will truly last

the one that will be a longer

free fall fondle

though the gates of paradise

up the stairs

of the local gym

to pack on or take off

to shape   reshape

to avoid and dangle

to take us into the next one

it gives us no respite

for no matter how happy

a couple seems

at any given moment

one of them is

looking for the one that will do

when over is over

gull uncaged

gull uncaged


#Toronto Desperado @redrocketcoffee

The October Racket at the Rocket was another fine line-up of diverse writers hosted by Sandra Cardinal. The Rocket was decked out in spooky cobwebs, skulls & rats. The pumpkin bar was excellent. Try one while there are on the menu. Also happy to see that management have built a small portable stage for the many music, comedy & spoken event that they are playing host to.

chrome skeleton at night
chrome skeleton at night

First feature was Jerry Levy who read a piece of one of the stories in his collection Urban Legend. He prefaced the section with a look at the Golem legend in literature. Although the story involved recreating the hero’s deceased fiancee the language was simple, direct & effectively drew us into the story without using, what I call the language of the eerie. Even in the short section he presented it was clear clinging to the past is responsibility not a solace.

day chairs
day chairs

Next up was Koom Kankesan with a section of one of his Rajapaksa Stories. A funny, sardonic take on the politics of Sri Lanka from someone who experienced it first-hand. The section showed how consumerism is gradually dominating culture – with a protagonist caught up in Chinese technology and fascinated with American ‘classic’ films. He made great use of the rat squeeze toys & had fun with the ‘you fucked my wife’ scene from Raging Bull. (my review of the book: https://topoet.ca/2013/10/28/the-rajapaksa-stories/)

flashed chrome skeleton at night
flashed chrome skeleton at night

After the break we heard poet Jean-Paul Bedard – he opened with a piece dealing with the bombing at Boston marathon he had run in. About the bombers he says ‘grasping out in desperation for the American Dream’. His rhymed pieces were filled with sharp observations: denizens of a coffee shop ‘they were broken in familiar places,’ after summer ‘all tanned and bruised.’ He successfully rhymed Toronto with desperado.

Final feature was Vanessa McGowan – who proved that great hair and cure shoes don’t detract from her emotionally compelling writing and performing. I’ve reviewed her several times now & am always happy to hear her again. Hard hitting lines: ‘you’re not disabled enough,’ a mother who ‘cut you so deep with her eyes,’ ‘the silence of sober made you feel small,’ & ‘ not in our family, playing like a loop,’ helped the audience acknowledging that she is ‘the miracle left to tell the story.’


On the open stage I read ‘Petition,’ ‘How Do I Fear Thee’ and

Harvest Moon

people told us

the Macintosh Manson

on Mapleview Road

was haunted

we kids didn’t believe them

so we went in there

to prove them wrong

at midnight on the harvest moon


were never seen again


Racket @redrocketcoffee

Got over to Make A Racket at the Red Rocket. I’ve been aiming to check out this new reading series & had a great time. Host Sandra Cardinal offered up an eclectic mix of non-fiction, spoken word, music, drama & story telling. As it was the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord Sandra opened the show with a look her research into Laura’s life.

side by side
side by side

First feature Teri Degler read and discussed a section of her book Divine Feminine Fire. This section dealt with the ‘Transmutation of Desire.’ Like myself, she’s found it odd that so many people believe that spirituality is meant to transcended sexuality rather than a way to experience it on deeper creative level.

Next up was a quick set of great open stagers me, Vanessa McGowan (her dad never learned how to laugh), Adam Abbas (tackling limericks to good effect & actually cracked a smile), & Joshua newly moved here from Montreal (multi-generation pieces, one about newly born niece, the other partly about how is grandparents met).

a Cathy Petch étude
a Cathy Petch étude

After the break Cathy Petch hit the stage. I’ve seen & reviewed Cathy many times but she is always a compelling performer. From her Mike Tyson piece -where we sympathize with him then are dismayed by his inability to escape the violence of his life – to her fan crush on Chewbacca – to a recent death ‘On the way to your memorial I discarded pieces of the wall you hit instead of me,’ I was not disappointed.

trashy cuddle buddies
trashy cuddle buddies

Next up was Teneile Warren a Jamaican playwright/poet – a strong set with some solid poetry  about the ‘cold war of adolescence’ and a short story of her coming out – cultures may be different but the fear of coming out remains the same – fearful at first & then how much do you tell once the basic truth is out there. Dancing with guys while eyeing the other girls dancing with guys – sort of the reverse of my high-school experience of dancing with some girl while watching the guys dance.

The night wrapped with Sage Tyrtle a ‘true’ storyteller with a great tale of growing up in California with her Dad, who meets a woman at T.M. who looks like a wicked step-mother – a wry, touching & laugh-out-loud funny story about the face verses the behind the doors reality of getting caught up in the Beach Boys extended families. Makes the Kardashians look like Quakers.

A great show, on hiatus for the summer. Kudos to Red Rocket for making itself a go-to destination in the east end with regular nights of comedy, live music and spoken words.

my legs are cold

my legs are cold