The Soft Slip of Hot-Sauced Flesh

It was with anticipation & gratitude that I went to the Supermarket Grill to co-feature at the March – World Poetry Day edition of Hot-Sauced Words. I arrived at the grill with time to have a meal – excellent mango salad & a great burger. I glanced over my set – made some mental edits – with the Kindle it’s impossible to make actual edits. I was ready.

After greeting the warm, receptive audience host James Dewar set the poetry challenge for the night – a poem about the weather from the weatherman’s point of view. The show started with several strong open-stagers. Here’s a smattering of lines: silence as passing, the silence of keeping your mouth shut for once, text message silence, sounds like gunshots under the ground, bundled like ghosts, a wafer of desire dissolves, attention subway passengers there is a delay at Royal York – the operator has forgotten how to drive a subway, of the strangers one or two may be insane, an odourless glass office sits in it’s place, pale blue coat, pretty girls are often seen but seldom found. (this line gave me chills), I am the things thrown away, I’ll cover you with death, I’ll drain you when I’m good & ready, I’ve killed enough for one night, contented murmur of Friday evening diners, standing all the home with heavy bags, Hank who stank, murdered the piano musically to pieces, shivering from sun poisoning.

After a break, in which I sold enough chapbooks to cover the cost of supper – I was first up. I like starting with Almost Dead – it gives me a real emotional text to get my performance juice flowing, hits the audience with, what I hope is, a sharp social punch. Each piece worked well, for me, I could feel reactions to my endings. Chalk & Hard On got the expected laughs. Breaking in Grief is a bitter sweet emotional tone to end a set on – emotive in a way none of the other pieces try to be. I did what I call my ‘stand and deliver set’ – little talk about the pieces with just a dash of ‘in your pants raunch.’

After another break Brenda Crews took the stage. She is a dance & deliver performer – costume changes, wigs, a Martha Grahamesque piece – she was the opposite of me. The audience sure gots its money’s worth. Some lines: blanket of black feathers, she held the tide line in her hands, crazy old woman at the edge of time, she who turns life into art with her gaze, sunset spilling out of her eyes, seeking a freedom that is terrifying, the way we enslave ourselves, serpents of protection or do I hallucinate, the soft slip of flesh etched in stone, written in the night blindly.

This was followed by the weather writing challenge: who can say where the tornado’s toe will touch down, what was I thinking – I was think about the money, dark ruminations until spring, it was very cloudy outside the day we started to over throw the government, today we are in for a real shit storm. The winner was Zak with the amazing stach.

It was a great night. Heather Babcock and I created a glamour zone at our table. Brenda Clews was kind enough to video my set, which is probably on Facebook by now. It’s always good to have real proof one actually performed. Chap books were sold, even some paypal orders the next day. My next performance: if the prevailing pattern continues it’ll be another 3 years before any series will come knocking.

the video: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-2hm

Breaking In Grief

he talks of wearing

his dead son’s sneakers

bought a month before the son’s

step off into oblivion

new shoes a sign of hope

of a future planned for

not of a life too soon to be ended

they found the sneakers

still in their box

in the cupboard

worn once to try them on

designer expensive

too nice to toss or donate

so he’ll wear them

it gives me the creeps

practicality in the face of catastrophe

 

I visited home

the summer after my dad died

his death was sudden

it was the body that gave out

he didn’t go out of his way

to find that oblivion

I go through his clothes

to help my sister winnow out

throw out donate

to share some memories

I end up keeping a couple of jackets

that actually fit me

 

the shirt and pants

were easy to part with

most of the shoes too

my Dad was all business

when it came to shoes

his idea of comfort wear was

hard onyx red oxfords

there was a new onyx pair

only worn to try them on

they sort of fit me

very stiff and inflexible

never being broken in

expensive

I take them

 

I wear them a few times

then drop them in a clothing box

they don’t fit

right size but wrong shape

maybe that’s why my Dad never

wore them either

 

the life my Dad hoped I would fit into

was also the right size

but the wrong shape

I was unwilling to do the work

that would break me in

so it would be a comfortable fit

 

I meet my friend one day

he’s sporting wildly neon runners

these were his son’s

a year after the suicide

he wears them

knowing he’ll never leave that grief behind

but ready

to walk forward with it

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Loose Cannons & Landmines

The Hot Damn! last chance slam filled the Supermarket to SRO! As the show persists (we’re queer, we’re here & we’re not going away) the range of work has become wider & the writing/performances stronger. The pieces tackled rape, physical abuse, racial expectations, pan sexuality, binary constrictions, family disfunction & food. Despite the complex emotional issues presented Cathy Petch kept the mood from descending into a pity slam with her positive and fun introductions, with the wild assortment of prizes. Who isn’t cheered up by ceramic poodles?5pink1A flurry of lines from the first open stagers & slammers: more glimpsed than looked at – it’s just a compliment – whistle while you work-out – harassment is not a compliment – when she looks at me all she sees is him – the way to be heard is to be lighter (skinned) – how do you fix someone who doesn’t know they’re broken – bodies we didn’t want to be, lying beside each other – try to hide the fact they were ever broken – neither wants our hands to turn into his hands – moans that taste like wine – the tender of my lover’s nakedness – I am more than what you see – I am not a doctor, I am amused.5pink2Main feature ‘The Ragdolls’ did an emotionally compelling, relaxed and well thought-out set that flowed from stark confrontational to warm supportive political commentary. Starting with patty-cake handclap game rhythm they traded the spot light with each other & shared it too. I particularly enjoyed the Toronto Pride piece that ruthless & humorously laid bare the corporate assimilation of queer identity.5pink3A dash of lines from the Ragdolls: Ken & Barbie scraped clean – dried blood on the swing set – revlon porcupine – trauma isn’t our only history – alcohol is a thumb that blurs all the lines in your head – can’t excuse the facts while I’m still filling in the blanks – grindr is a safe place for racists – gay flags in banks that ask for gender verification – do we want justice or want same sex couples in McDonalds ads – I have to remind myself why others do this – trying to get you to let me off with a warning again – you are a loose cannon & I am a landmine – pre-bred to please adults – the white I was raised to be to the brown I grow up to be – we spend more time with therapists than with friends. (This post’s title is from a piece by Londzo Drury)5tanA flurry of lines from the second set of open stagers & slammers: midnight texts that said ‘You wanted this’ – students you added to your kill list – if your pussy is intact so is your consent – a cold dark shadow that consumes me – we were were the only ones who could figure out who we were – a candle above your grave so you could find your way while I lost mine – studying history hoping that learning the past would change mine – basing my happiness on others’ presentations – putting the pan in pan sexual – polyamory creates culinary masterpieces – still a war raging inside – lover is just another scar I have to disguise – a man who has to break me just to get me is not worth me – are you lactose intolerant because you can’t handle all this chocolate – loath your fingers for calling him after he’s gone – more his daughter than your sister – bruises like a favourite sweater than can’t keep you warm.5eagleA winner was declared. Who? Well, you’ll have check out the Hot Damn! page for that info 🙂 The season 2 finale, at Buddies in Bad Times, on April 19 will feature Siaara Freeman and T. Miller. The winner of this slam gets (amongst other things) a trip to Washington DC to compete at Capturing Fire in June.samples

Different Men

one day in grade school

sunshine on the blackboard

reflected rosy on

Graham’s sudden bare belly

scratched absent minded

before my wide eyes

he pulls up his striped t-shirt

rubs that belly

firm round more pink than white

more flesh than boy

more glimpsed than looked at

 

erasers chalk dust clapped clouds

furnace rooms boilers

pieces of jumbled recollection

the heavy books of knowledge

that were better to sit on than to read

easier to refer to than to study

that didn’t show much

that wasn’t to be seen

their images of the future

30’s stream lined

50’s under lined

60’s dismissed

we never did get cars that fly

anti-gravity boots

I never got to see more of Graham

than that scratch of belly one day

while we waited for Mrs Melinosh

to handed out tests

she reminded me

to pay attention young man

yes ma’am

 

I was certainly paying attention

but I didn’t understand what that attention was

what was it that belly told me then

[between the shadows falls the foreskin?]

 

that school was at the bottom of the hill

too steep to climb in winter

too icy

my Dad would be there sometimes

to drive me home

 

happy to have him

pick me and take me home

up that hard slippery slope

that my memory is quick to slide down

I would rattle on about things

I told about arithmetic spelling

my lack of attention

but not about that belly

still seeing that t-shirt ride up

that freckle face smile

red haired boy

 

the drive was because we had moved

a new school was to start soon

closer

with newer problems for me

lack of attention

my eyes would wander out the window

at the squeak of chalk

my mind would get fuzzy

as division got longer and longer

the days got colder and colder

the boys got meaner and meaner

 

I find myself now decades later

still as unsure of those lessons

but positive about the image

the belly’s inexpressible tease

I knew wasn’t for my Dad’s ears

that told me for the first time

my Dad and I were different men

soon1

April 19: judging: Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Season 2 finale: 8 p.m. : Buddies In Bad Times Theatre – 12 Alexander St., Toronto, Ontario

hot

Hot Damn!

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

nufire

https://www.facebook.com/capturingfire/

June 11 – attending: The Toronto Poetry Talks – 10 AM – Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C6

poetrytalk

https://www.facebook.com/events/147955055574679/

July 4-8: attending: Chasing  your Tale – Loyalist – Belleville

loy16

I’ve already registered

https://www.facebook.com/events/1511340829175762/

loyalistfocus.com

September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016 (I’ve already registered)expo16

https://www.facebook.com/fanexpocanada/?fref=ts

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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http://nanowrimo.org/

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Hot Damn! Hep #Cats

Dominic Berry opened his set by calling the audience ‘cats’ as in the 50’s beat  term – because ‘cat’ is gender free but still sensual. The cats at Hot Damn this month at the Supermarket frolicked through a show of strong open-stagers, strong slammers – including two new tabbies to the Hot Damn! stage.

dc01

Cathy Petch set the tone with her saw rending of the gay national anthem (What is it? You’ll have to attend a show to find out.) I hit the open stage with three pieces inducing the one below.

Some lines from the artist slam round: ‘on some chunks of this world I deserve to die’ ‘my breath claws for freedom’ ‘too fucked to fuck’ ‘people ask me when I knew I was trans, I ask them hen they one they were straight’ ‘my name is silence’ ‘Vanessa’s not my name – it doesn’t fit.’ dc02

I met feature Dominic Berry (http://dominicberry.net) at Capturing Fire in Washington DC. He wowed there with his energetic, funny & at times deeply touching poetry. It’s always good to see a poet do a set that isn’t under the influence of the pressure for judges’ points. Dominic stretches out, takes his time to make his piece breath fully as they come alive and draw us in.

His first piece capture the cadence and physicality of a deeply troubled man ‘silence sits so clammy beside me’ ‘my confidence is getting hungry’ ‘at night it feels like that day is getting further away.’ In his Coming Out Vegan’ he is loud & proud about being a ‘celery munching queen’ who ‘ravishes radishes.’

His series of gaming poems, set to funky music, was full of fun rhymes ‘splatter me with flattery’. It made me think of a gay The Streets. Even though I don’t know the gaming world I certainly understand sexual desire for unreal men 🙂

A dynamic set performed with theatrical gusto and verbal inventiveness that I enjoyed. If you missed him here you can catch him at Capturing Fire this June. (photos in this post are all from Washington DC)

dc03

After the break we were treated a fine singing cat -who didn’t sing memories. The energy was raised for the final slam round. Some lines: ‘a rumour mill of revolution’ ‘a one way ticket that’s not even in my name’ ‘post card from a high functioning borderline kid’ ‘our knees touching under the table of the diner’ ‘going from playing dress up to putting something resembling armour’ ‘I don’t need you to like me.’

dc04

Oodles of prizes (including poodles) were give. Kay Kessirer won the evening’s round & is now in the running for the trip to DC in June. The next TO Hot Damn! will be at the Supermarket March 16 and the second season grand finale will be at Buddies in Bad Times on April 21. All the hep cats will be there.

sample

Moment of F**king Silence

a moment of silence

to respect

those who have been silenced

to offer a dignity

a solemnity

all that’s missing

is the hashtag

a #moment of #silence

that’s better

showing support

without doing #anything

because those who have been silenced

and by silence

I don’t mean marginalized

I don’t mean neutralized

I mean murdered

killed by others

by their own hand

by neglect

by #silence by the face of shame

where is the moment of retaliation

oh no we can’t do that

because doing that

will sink us down to their level

getting even isn’t justice

it doesn’t get good press

#victimization

gets all the good press

a moment of violence

of striking back is tut tut not adult

we must have silence

so the healing can begin

why not a moment of vanity

in which we all pull out a mirror

to contemplate our own faces

to see where we fit in

to see what healing means

while the screaming is still going on

to figure out why

forgiveness is more fulfilling

that taking the victimizers to task

for their behaviour

where was their forgiveness

so I don’t forgive

that’s my flaw

I’m called out for being bitter

not understanding enough

unwilling to make a social context

that rationalizes actions

that spring from a troubled childhood

from a drug addled brain

from a books of words holy pages

that approves

making victims of others

in the name of righteousness

a moment of silence

to prove that I am emotionally more mature

I can take it

I can rise above

the blood soaked streets

an angel of mercy

fuck that

fuck fuck fuck that

I don’t care about

perpetrators’ apologies

how they feel remorse

I don’t want revenge

I want it to stop

I want an eon of silence

not a moment of silence

hot

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Hot Damn! is a neon Hallelujah

Hot Damn! filled the Supermarket for the November slam slug-fest. Even the sudden, heavy rain after 6 didn’t dampen the energy of the crowd. After host Cathy Petch lead a moment of noise for Trans Remembrance the show kicked off with open stagers Nicki Ward Nicki Ward , TOpoet.ca & musician -C- of imbrown. Six vibrant, energized slammers stomped their way through round one of the slam with some raw, some funny & some political pieces.

snow

‘desire becomes a hunger in and of itself’ ‘sing like nobody hears anything but the voice’ ‘if I can’t see the eyes attached to the fingers’ ‘lesbian donut autumn fresh and maple frosted’ ‘baked our bodies caffeine thin’ ‘when straight men marched gay people ran’ ‘you want straight pride go to the gay pride parade’ ‘I am living in a  system where I’m set up to fail’ ‘it’s not some trick of the light I am here’ ‘my gender is not something I picked up in a thrift shop’ ‘Houdini-ing my life out of a straight jacket’ ‘shine like a neon Hallelujah’

redrag

After a break to catch our breath we lost it again to the amazing performance by Mahlika Awe:ri Enml’ga’t Saqama’sgw and Red Slam Collective – in Indian Barbie: her moccasins mocking the trail of invaders, her dream long house; first nations but first class citizen, manifestations and femifestations, two halves made whole in the two spirit ones, I can hear their screams in my dreams.

Mahlika’s First Nations anger was emotionally resonant and modulated to build and invite us in. The collective – two percussionists and a guitarist – supplied simple, sustained rhythms from various cultures – African, South American & Native that propelled, supported the songs and worked their way into the beat of hearts. I loved the flute in the sensual ‘From Osha to Osha’ ‘kiss me with your mouth so we can see Babylon burn.’

drawer

The final round of slammers kept up the energy – ‘if you’re running scared you must be a thief’ ‘my heart will only know the stillness of your passing’ ‘yellow is the colour of hope’ ‘burning pages doesn’t undo my history’ ‘crucifix paint brushes’ ‘I text my friends to let them know I’m still alive’ ‘I’ve been riding busses all day just to get out of the house’ ‘you never really know until you try it’ ‘I want you to fuck me’ ‘I don’t want to fuck you it’s too much work.’

soup

Next TO edition of Hot Damn! is January 20 with the sensationally talented & good-looking Dominic Berry from Manchester England England (a Hair reference for you to google).

samp02

Frank Talk

semantics

separates sex from gender

gender from

culturally imposed roles

biology from appearances

entitlement from race

skin from colour

labels become cures

or become excuses

you think that way

because you’re not

black

white

gender specific appropriate

 

semantics

make each of us

unacceptable to someone

not deserving of respect

even of self respect

like Frankenstein’s monster

assorted  bits and pieces

reaching out for ‘friend’

while not knowing

what friend means

 

a stumbling

awkward monster

an abomination

with no semantic context

the doctor suffered

for his scientific arrogance

his entitlement

that forced him to play god

like any good doctor

 

I am a monster

put together by myself

I think by myself

unless those

culturally imposed roles

were the doctor

with me attempting to adapt to them

in a stumbling gay clumsy cismale way

gay a cultural context

I was presented with

like the monster’s criminal brain

the body is fine

the brain is at fault

the right body

the wrong brain    the wrong label

 

now I have this body

it is intact whole

none of the invisible stitching

that holds my sexuality together

tells my brain anything

a body that tells me

encourages me

to be dissatisfied

by an ablest culture

that once hid the blind

institutionalized the deaf the dumb

insisted they be cured

of perceived defects

denied them the the right

the intelligence to say no

 

awkward monsters like myself

were given shock treatments

lobotomies chemical castrations

behavior modification

imprisoned

to restore the brain to normal

heteronormal that is

those days are supposedly past

same sex marriage

our right to be absorbed

by those cultural norms

yet

suicide is still seen

as an acceptable alternative

to growing up

syntactically semantically  suspect

monsters

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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http://nanowrimo.org/

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‘our almost is unbearable’

Another full house cheered on the Hot Damn! slammers in the last Toronto battle before the season 1 Grand Finale May 7 at Buddies in Bad Times (tickets are limited so call Buddies and get yours now.) Cathy Petch kept the house laughing and the show moving without tripping over her moustache (not as easy as it sounds.)

rink

ripe for rink

I kicked thing off with a quick open stage set that included a glimpse of my April set, which is all about queer sex, drugs & rock & roll. After the blood sacrifice came the first round of slammers: ‘the sky is a landfill/& we are the ones who polluted it,’ ‘our almost is unbearable,’ ‘just like my mother taught me,’ ‘my sexuality was not picked up at a trendy thrift shop,’ ‘playing connect the dots with my freckles and a sharp object.’ Lines I heard during the two rounds.

stairs

winter walk in the woods

Dressed in a eye-catching gold lame houndstooth pencil skirt Catherine Hernandez did a polished and warm set. An admitted Asian melting pot her pieces flowed with accents, phrases in Filipino, Japanese & was that French? Hard to tell.

Her pieces were fragments of longer works about, amongst other things, the emotional & cultural stresses of being a ‘hard-working’ Asian in the North American world. A nanny using her children’s ‘emails & pictures/sown together to make your shadow,’ ‘crying into my pillow knowing the pillow was not my children.’ Some of the pieces were sexy ‘this table is the perfect size for my naked body.’ Funny, without the need for punch lines, emotional without being, to me, maudlin and frank about her sexuality Katherine was the perfect size for the stage.

tree

tickled by trees

Another great night of slammers, open stagers and fine food at The Supermarket. Check the Hot Damn! FB page to find out who the night’s winner was.

I’ve decided to start awarding ‘The Hot Snap’ for my favourite line of the night. It goes to Tanya Neumeyer for the line that became the title of this blog post.

sample

Besides the Born to be Blown teaser I read:

Death in Paris

there’s been death in Paris

fervour for revenge

young men caught

in the need

to teach a lesson

to set people right

to affirm a price must be paid

for not listening

for not respecting

the young men are aberrations

their personal faith is the fault

not the faith itself

did they come from broken homes

is this another crime

caused by cultural neglect

now shifted to religious cant

or does it matter

as long as there is room

for the camera man

the probing host

and his teleprompter

we need the right pundit to explain all this

to make it even more compelling

to assign the right blame

all I know

is that it’s not my fault

I don’t even want to watch it unfold

I can’t blank out my TV screen

can’t chase away

the bottom of the screen scroll

can’t keep the cell-cam images

from spattering

the edges of my FB page

it’s everywhere

the issue of respect

who has the right to demand it

what is freedom of speech

I’m afraid to start conversations

there is death in the news

again

that it happened

is the truth

the evidence is in front of my eyes

the damage done

I heard the the words said

but I can’t account for why

why it happened

why what was said

even though I see the video footage

I don’t know what I’m seeing

one side interprets it

the other refutes

each equally self-serving

but what cannot be denied

is someone died

you can’t lie about that

you ask me what I saw

what I heard

then question my veracity

my truth becomes a matter of perception

slanted by my own personal queer judgments

I become someone incapable of telling the truth

why bother telling it ever

it’s so much more practical to lie

to spin reality

to become a compulsive liar

no one is listening anyway

they ask how do you feel

while all they care about

is how short your answer is

that you answer in a way

that doesn’t draw them any further

into your life

than the moment it takes to ask

then get the fuck out of there

before too much information gets revealed

they don’t want to be witnesses

they don’t want to rationalize away

your reality

I’ve learn to say the same thing back

how are you doing

rather than answer their question

because no one cares

there isn’t enough time

before the commercial break

not enough language

too many ways to spin the facts

and the facts seem to be these

there is no truth

there is death in the news

again

and that’s

no lie

soon

June 21-26 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Workshop: The Novelist’s Selfie – Loyalist – Belleville https://www.facebook.com/events/965611026782246/

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

loyrocket

register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info

https://www.loyalistbanner.com/ceweb/doc/LoyalistSummerArts2015.pdf

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

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https://www.facebook.com/events/630930370341697/

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

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https://www.facebook.com/events/550898671715666/

September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo

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( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

http://fanexpocanada.com

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

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night