‘the knife of shame’

Things change 🙂 the morning starts out a little overcast, the sidewalks are clear then an hour later one is caught in a winter wonderland of slush. Hot Damn!’s workshop facilitator and feature gets bogged down by the slush of chronic illness & things change. I end up facilitating the workshop: Vulnerability/Strength. It was productive enough, for me, at any rate. Too bad I wasn’t prepared to do more than to listen & write a little.

Charlie Petch was scrambling for a new feature while getting set for an interview before the show itself. Over supper I went though my note books to see if I had suitable pieces besides the two I had uploaded to my Kindle. It had a few things to present. I forgot what I had jotted down to work on later – some going back a few years.

Vanessa McGowan stepped up to feature, so all I had to worry about was being all judgemental for the slam. Even with slushy snow falling there was a decent house for the show at 8. Lots of great open stagers and some dynamic slammers made for a rewarding & cozy night. Plus good conversation with fellow judge Teddy Syrette.

The participants were the epitome of diversity with indigenous, trans, queers across the gender spectrum, coming from as far away as Ecuador (Hola) to share honest, emotionally raw and sometimes very funny material. This is the real power of Hot Damn!’s vision to create a safe space for queers to perform, mostly without judgement. I say mostly because part of a slam is being judged 🙂

Random lines from the open-stagers & slammers: ‘don’t tell your mother’ ‘children need parents who want to be parents’ ‘I practice reparation by topping settlers’ ‘he was masc looking but not masc looking for masc’ ‘my spirit name is isolate for safety’ ‘I want you all over mt skin’ ‘seeking wisdom in dreams’ ‘I am six minutes behind the world’ ‘nothing scares me – not even clowns’ ‘sometimes bullies look just like body guards’ ‘let me tell you where I left these bones’ ‘the attack from within is worse that the wound from without’ ‘I say to them it’s not your table’ ‘the blood I shed won’t tell me what I missed’

Vanessa’s set was emotionally charged, frank, sometime a little ironic humour slipped in – her social commentary is from within situations not from the p.o.v. of an observer. ‘we met beneath the water line’ ‘I still cannot say your name – my mouth is full of water’ ‘removing the knife of shame from throat so you can remove it from yours’ ‘covering up for poverty is exhausting’ ‘they praise me for being highly functioning’ 

Winner were declared, prizes were awarded (for those names: Hot Damn!) Next Hot Damn! is in St. Catherines in December. It returns to Buddies in Bad Time January 10, 2019.

On the open stage I read Cold Spot https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3ci & this old piece – if one considers September 2017 old – I dug out.

My Own Devices 

when I came out

to my friends

I did it by stages

like – I’m no queer

but if ‘hot movie star’

wanted to have sex with me

I’d be willing to explore

but truth to be told

I jerked off 

to a bathing suit picture

of that hot movie star

who

decades later came out

 

when I came out to my friends

as fully queer

some were 

‘You know I’m not that way’

or

some never spoke to me again

or

got drunk with me & explored

 

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

‘how do you feel’

‘what does it mean to you’

no one said

‘congratulations’

or

‘it’s about fucking time’

no one

at any point

engaged me in conversation

no one ever asked

‘are you seeing someone’

no one said

‘I work with a gay guy

maybe you’d like to meet him’

no one said

‘you must feel incredibly alienated

in this small-town hard-drinking

cis-hetero-red-neck culture’

 

maybe I was too stoic

not wanting to let anyone in

being queer was enough

without presenting

as weepy drama queen

I had to be man enough 

masculine enough

to keep up appearances

so no one would suspect

the emotional uncertainty

I was drowning in

 

I was told

that so & so

who was gay

had hung himself

or 

had stepped in front of semi

on a dark highway

told that by friends 

who never said

‘I hope you don’t do that’

who never said

‘if you feel like that

talk to us’

 

when I came out

I was left to my own devices

and survived

and sometimes

I jerk off 

to the memory 

of that bathing suit picture

of the hot movie star

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‘silence is manslaughter’

Hot Damn! launched it’s 4th season (may the 4th be with you) at  Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Thursday night with rainbow-high-energy, out-to-win slammers, fearless open stagers & a wildly enthusiastic full house. Charlie Petch was in fine form keeping things flowing & the energy somewhere over the rainbow.

First set of open stagers & slammers: by the time you are able to read this, you may not remember me – I was told I could pave the way for women, why can’t I pave the way for all mankind – teens decomposing their own songs – this place smell of chance & lost dreams – less that nothing is still something – if it all means nothing, why not have fun – I dream of things I never want to see again – I wake to fear walking above ground – pour smoke over my heart – Wendy’s pigtails never fit the little boy that worse the – you wanna say best & breast comes out – I say I’m sorry more than I say I love you.

Andre Prefontaine’s feature set was amazing – emotionally resonant, overflowing with rich images, vibrant precise anger, & sassy theatricality. Honey, he was tougher than any nail they used to stab you – my Dad uses your homosexuality like a pair of scissors that cuts you out of his picture – worry about the future is a tragic waste of your imagination – I’m so calm it’s almost like disassociating – don’t you know how difficult it is to blow someone and do origami at the same time – hold the bible like brass knuckles – silence is manslaughter – people killing people for killing people.

After a much needed break – during which I got to hand out flyers for my feature (see below) – I picked up a couple of copies of Andre Prefontaine’s new chap book & got caught up with Vanessa McGowan. (when is her Hot Damn! feature?) I started out the second set of open stagers with my hair piece (see below).

From the rest of the night: that little crack makes you so human – I’ve never been struck by lightning – my body tells the truth when it shows the scars that anchor me to the reality of what happened – biting is cool, bite marks are not – we can’t use my name as a safety word – you left tiny blades my throat where you name used to be – the art of drowning in perfect make up – the rest of you is still living – never explain lost battles for your recovery – somehow your pain is never about you – being gay is more than whatever gender you choose – anatomy trump compassion – that word holds a power I cannot overcome – do you know where you are – chill of frosting in my bones – I smell like a Wes Craven movie –

Scores were added up & an array of prizes were handed out. Teddy Syrette took the Queirdo Prize for funnest bingo poem. Ezra Stewart took first spot in a tight race for a chance to win the big big prize: a trip to Washington DC (if Canadians are still allowed into the USA next summer) to attend Capturing Fire.

Next Hot Damn! is Gueph! Sept 30th. Hot Damn! returns to Toronto at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre on November 30.

Don’t Touch (My Hair)

she was a stranger

who felt no compunction

in reaching out to touch my hair

I must have been in my mid-twenties

at the time

my hair was freshly washed

shoulder length

‘it’s like baby hair,’ she said

I was a natural blond

even blonder

after a month of summer sun

‘I would kill to have hair like yours’

she smiled

‘thanks’ I replied

not adding

that I hate my hair

I hate it being so smooth

hate being asked

are you a boy or are you girl

being called fruit

by guys because of my hair

not that I was mr masculine

to begin with

shortly after that

I dyed my hair for the first time

I wanted a change

I bought a home kit

to make it permanent jet black

the look was striking

my mother said

‘what were you thinking’

I went to work

raised a few eye brows

but no comments

the black faded after the first wash

so much for permanent

in a week it was ash

in three weeks

back to baby fine blond

my hair

was like my sexuality

something I couldn’t disguise

no matter what women

I flirted with

no matter what I tried to call it

bi questioning pan

no matter what I drank to blot it out

it would always be

like my hair

something I was powerless over

something I hadn’t constructed

something I had to live with

I remember my first perm

a head of tight blond curls

they bounced in the light

it was my face

but a different me

the stylist conferred with a colourist

both agreed

that my hair was too fine

to hold colour for long

that it would be a shame

to tamper with it anyway

the permanent curls

would flatten within a week

I wasn’t willing

to go to bed with hairpins

so I’d get that perm

every month or so

I loved my hair for the first week

then a week of doing what I could

to keep the curl in

it was too much work

too much time checking in mirrors

I had a friend who was

what he referred to as a hair burner

he touched my freshly washed

uncurled hair one day

‘you have baby hair

I have clients

who would kill to have hair like that’

I said

‘I hate my hair

it’s too much work’

he said

‘do you trust me’

I let him do what he wanted

it took a couple of hours

that first time

to cut it short short short

then incise with electric razor

patterns into the hair

sometimes a maze

other times circle or triangles

always different

then he died

murdered by HIV meds

I shaved my head for his funeral

no one would ever touch my hair

again

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‘the edge of mending’

There’s nothing Hot Damn! hotter than a man who wears a bowtie like Johnny Trinh – add talent, humour, sharp cultural insights & this is the complete package. I’ve first heard Johnny last year at Hot Damn – where he presented his ‘feature’ face – then I caught him at the Capturing Fire slam in DC & saw his combat face as he went toe-to-toe with fierce competitors. I’m a fan (not a stalker.)

Thus Hot Damn! launched its second season at the Supermarket with his powerful set, vibrant slammers & amazing open mic-ers – when a open mic includes the likes of Shane L Koyczan & Will Lliw you know the series is built to blast.

silvercar

let me in!

Opening the show with the musical saw Charlie Petch kept the momentum going, crowing about the success of Hot Damners at Capturing Fire this past summer. Their porn ‘stash became a boob ‘stash quickly thanks to the heat of the crowd. The first open stagers set the mood: Emily (last name lost) with a sharp political piece: all my dreams are pipe dream but not Alaskan; you wash my mouth out till all that was left was your language; I was up next with Pie & Sermon On the Mount (two separate pieces though that would be a great title for a piece ‘Pie on the Mount’).

First round of slammers started with Kay Kassirer as sacrifice: ‘gay marriage is legal so the fight is over, right?’ Slammers Georgia Wilder, Vanessa McGowan &, Shawna Dimitry were on point with body image, gender issues & secrets: ‘the next thing I remember is three days later … I told no one for seventeen years,’ ‘in the place I am buried I am thin …. all I have is my words & they are as deep as my skin,’ ‘you’ve been spilling out for years … throwing yourself away by spoonfuls … misery loves over analysis.’

blueflow

cum shot

Johnny Trinh’s set was stunning. Some slammers don’t step out of that slam style to feature but Johnny presents a whole new persona. Two of his pieces incorporated sound – the first a sound collage he interacted with – repeated fragments ‘the edge of mending is breaking,’ ‘you cannot edit my heart’ expanded the nature of poetry. ‘our breath is our own personal soundtrack,’ ‘power is a performance of control,’ ‘star spangled idolatry,’ ‘having nothing is being nothing.’ His final piece, to a guitar & cello background, was about race & sexual attraction ‘I’ve been taught to love your skin.’ He repeats the phrase ‘I do good job for you’ in a ripe Asian accent that at first comes across as comic but as it gets repeated we are forced to consider the power of that stereotype & why we find it comic. Emotionally resonant, creatively adventurous & inspiring.

After a break to tip the bartender 🙂 & buy chapbooks, the open stage wound up with Shane L Koyczan: ‘we’re not scrabble squares to rearrange’ ‘beauty is designed to sell yourself back to yourself’ & the Will Lliw: his imagery slips so smoothly & quickly it becomes impossible for me listen & trap a line at the same time.

stripehat

cold ears to hear you with

Once again Kay Kassirer was sacrificed to start the final slam round ‘I am not a girl’ ‘gender is not a diagnosis.’ The slam order is reversed for this final round & the poets ramp up their attack: ‘straight causes so much bruising I don’t want to be part of it,’ ‘I’m straight because I never have to explain myself,’ ‘lips for double chocolate dipped,’ ‘a snatch all natural & sugar free,’ ‘double double like the spell of Shakespeare’s witches,’ ‘reverbs of her terror cross borders,’ ‘lose the light in their eyes & leave us,’ ‘being tolerated is not as easy at it looks’ ‘the female badge of perfection – you’re so thin.’

Vanessa McGowan wins the night in a tough race, so she’ll be in the running for the trip to Capturing Fire next year. Hot Damn! hits Hamilton next & returns to Toronto November 18 at the Supermarket. Cathy Petch closed the show with ‘the night we penetrated Gene Wilder’s nephew we lived the American dream.’

samp02

Sermon on the Mount

when I was a child

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

arms open to greet you

1959 Aug Forest Haven_03

my Dad was a sales manager

for Memorial Gardens

a cross Canada chain of cemeteries

I think he retired sometime in the mid-80’s

I grew up under that shadow

me – the grave-digger’s son

not that he dug graves

that shadow didn’t bother me

I was an odd child already

the occult added another layer of weird

 

the cemetery was divided into grottos

separated by low hedges

bronze plaques instead of tombstones

was the trademark Memorial Gardens look

that and the white marble

religious statues for each of the grottos

DaVinci’s Last Supper in the Gethsemane

greeting people

was Christ

arms out spread

for the Sermon on the Mount

 

for a first few years

while things were being put into green shape

the Gardens were my playground

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

the garden workers pushing Him

upright

arms open to greet you

arms that would never close

to hold you

 

I was drawn to his eyes

he had comma pupils

scarily unreal eyes

that told me nothing

 

I longed for His embrace

but at that time

I was too young to understand

why

it wasn’t for spiritual contact

but a carnal love

I had no language for

 

when I had a language

I still longed for men

who could never enfold me

men who’s eyes

told me nothing

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‘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).

soxk

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.

samples

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

but

I am my father’s son

I’m proud to say

there’s no denying that now

cake cake left out in the rain

 

Winter’s No Ball

Philip Cairns put together an eclectic group of wild-card performers for the poetry salon at the urban gallery, as part of Brenda Clews’ exhibition. As hard as it was to compete with the amazing art on the walls, the line up did the best it could. Luckily we had a packed house to egg us on.

snowswetr

Philip kicked things off with Bed Bug Blues: ‘I’ve fallen into a Cronenburg movie.’ Next up was Brock Hessel with a fun, ironic set of sharply-honed queer social context pieces. Following him David Bateman, read from his Palindrome chapbook. I too like tanned men in white bathing suits. Then Lizzie Violet with Thirteen Nails In The Coffin – ‘Tomorrow is the day I die.’ The first set concluded with a compelling modern dance by wheel-chair dancer Frank Hull – he is more agile and emotional than many of us without wheels. With his effortlessly, evocotive movement his wheelchair was an extension of his body not merely a way to move.

snotwg

Second set opened with DM Moore, her deeply emotional pieces reached us all: ‘Drunk myself to sleep, or something like it.’  She was followed by me, TOpoet.ca, with a set of all new pieces that ranged from the paradox of identity to in-your-pants raunch that got laughs & also touched a few. Next up was Alec Butler with hot sex in a snowbank with Pussy Boy. Then Vanessa McGowan with a set of her raw and emotionally complex pieces ‘it took us thirty-five years to learn forgiveness.’ The evening wrapped with Allen Shugar with sweet song of yearning ‘take the sky, fly away, there’s nothing to hold me here.’

snowsho

We were all grateful for Brenda for the salon opportunity and to perform against backdrop of her eye-catching & pleasing poem paintings. The exhibit is up till March 1 – so get down to the urban gallery, 400 Queen E., Toronto to enjoy it.

samples

here’s one of the new pieces I did at the Snow Ball

Identity

you aren’t you

she shouted pointing at me

I don’t know who you are 

you aren’t you

he’s you

she went on

pointing to a heavy set black man

who smiled and waved at me

 

great, I thought,

I’ll finally know what it feels

like to have a thick black cock

 

how long did you think 

you could get away with it

she stepped closer

pretending to be yourself

some one you clearly are not

 

thanks, I finally got a word in edge wise,

now that I can stop being me

I can be who I really am

 

that’s not how it works

she glared at me

you can’t just become anyone else

because you aren’t you

 

what about me

the black guy came over

to shake my hand

pleased to meet me

 

he’s not you

she pushed us apart

neither of you are each other either

you are both not

who you are

can’t you get it through your heads

she was nearly screaming

 

but I’ve always wanted to a white dude

the black guy said

if I’m him

I’m not this big black guy anymore

 

no no no the woman was scornful

it’s not that simple

stop thinking you are who you think you are

because you aren’t you

he’s you

identity is in the eye of the beholder

don’t you get it 

she was exasperated

as if we were children

how can I make it any simpler

you can’t change what you are

 

well, I tried to calm her,

I’m not you, for starters

are you you

 

of course I am she snapped

but trust me I know you aren’t you

he is you

and don’t you forget it

 

okay okay I get the picture

I tried to calm her down

it felt good not to be me

to let go of all that identity crap

I was finally free

I looked at the self

I was just introduced to

let’s get out of here

I said

it’s time I learned how to 

play with myself

meurbanon stage for winter snow ball

Sleeping with a Beautiful Chainsaw

The Damed Boxing Day Blow Out show was hotter than July thanks to the amazing Tomy Bewick (http://burlingtonslam.wordpress.com/about-us/tomy-bewick/) and the equally amazing Distant Cousins, SoulFistikato & Dane Swan (https://www.facebook.com/DistantCousins2).

shoesdeserted shoes

Great open stagers warmed up the house: Adam Abbas with some saucy limericks, Philip Cairns longing for summer & to be the Sandpiper Elizabeth Taylor; and finally Vanessa McGowen with a great piece about her Dad, in which she demonstrates one of the good things about being a writer is that we can give people who have passed away a voice they lacked when they were alive.

snowcones snow cones

Then Tomy hit the stage (I couldn’t resist the Who echo) with an energetic set of emotionally raw, sometimes funny pieces. Charged with razor sharp observations ‘depends on which suicide of the bed you wake up on,’ fun turns of phrase ‘I’m only a beaver – you are what you eat’ it was a powerful set. His new work about the end of a relationship: him ‘sleeping next to the chainsaw’ or his watching his daughter ‘colour her way through the confusion’ – opened his heart to us without being maudlin or bitter.

dishdish and spoon

After a brief break Distant Cousins gave us a festive mix of music, spoken word & even improv with Tomy at one point. Dane ‘an expert at falling down’ always stands strong at the microphone. Direct lines like ‘you’ve never taken a hostage but you hold your own happiness at gunpoint,’ always make me listen closer. Soul’s singing was sweet and his verbal & performance interplay with Dane makes me jealous. Plus he slams in Italian, who could ask for more? (me)

snowbowthe bow makes the snow much easier to take

The next Damned is Thursday, January 29, 7 pm at the Central. Hosted by DM Moore with features: Jill Batteson, Brenda Clews, Neil Traynor.

soon02 

March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada

samples 

 Swim

“No! No! No! Spoon! No! No! No!” Dish dashed around the canisters with Spoon on her heels.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! My sweet.” Spoon found it hard to talk when he was so full of cream. “Let me cream you one more time. Please. You know how much you enjoy the rich cream rubbed all over you.”

“Oh, Spoon, no. It makes me feel so … so …dirty.”

“Yes, I know, and it makes me feel the same way. Let’s be dirty together.”

Spoon cornered  Dish and splattered her curved bottom with thick, rich cream.

“Oh! Spoon.” She seemed to melt before his very eyes. “That was good. I have to catch my breath.”

“It’s going to take another swim in the  pool to get us clean.”

“Oh, Spoon I don’t care if I ever get clean again. When you make me feel so dirty, I feel so good at the same time. Why is that?”

“Ha ha ha.” A harsh laugh interrupted their tryst.

“Who was that?” Spoon stood and look around.

“Ha ha ha.”

“Go look and see who it is.” Dish shook with fear.

Spoon went to the edge of the counter.

“Ha ha ha.” It was Ginger the Little family dog. “Ha ha ha.” The Little dog laughed, “I haven’t seen such fun for a long time.”

“Who is it Spoon?”

“It’s just that mutt.”

Ginger jumped up on a chair and then on to the counter. Dish tried to get away but was trapped. The little dog held her down with one paw and began to lick her.

“Oh! Oh!” Dish moaned. “He’s ….” she couldn’t speak any further as his tongue got wedged in her crack.

“Get away from her.” Spoon hit Ginger on the nose and tried to poke the dog’s belly.

“Ha ha ha.” Ginger let go of Dish. “That tickles. Now let’s see what you have to offer.” The dog give the spoon a couple of quick licks and when he was done jumped down from the counter.

“Oh my.” Spoon reeled unsteadily. “I haven’t felt like this since Little Boy Blue.”

“Same here.” Dish rolled over to Spoon. “He wasn’t too cruel to you was he?”

“No, my sweet. His nails didn’t scratch you? Did they.”

“I don’t think so.”

Dish turned around so Spoon could check all sides of her.

“You look fine. But your crack is now bigger than Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.”

taxiMother Hubbard’s cupboard?

Return of The Creature From the Porn Lagoon

Took a NaNo breather to perform at the Queer Ontario  Fundraiser & Milestone Birthday Bash for Chairperson Nick Mulé. Not a total breather as I did manage to push my NaNo count to 51000. Sadly I couldn’t resist talking about NaNo to one of my fellow poets at the event. Sadder, I think, is the total lack of interest my fellow writers there took in my progress.

clothes

The Vic Public house was a good location for the event, though that second floor room was chilly. Great drinks and snacks helped warm things up, a bit.

Hosted by Alana Boltwood the birthday event included raffles, silent auction (one item was a dinner date with Nick – I was easily outbid), & a trailer for their upcoming documentary ‘Queer Edge.’ Plus some fine eye-candy made it a nice night out.

shoe

The spoken line up was a fine selection of Damned  performers. David Bateman started off with a Tampex recollection; DM Moore with her emotionally charged AIDS piece; a great non-spoken turn by drag star Serenity; then Philip Cairns with a bitter cold piece about the snow and David Bowie; followed by Vanessa McGowan’s heartfelt piece about her dad & one about being a lesbian. All rounded out by my brand of in-your-pants raunch that puts the sex back in homosexual.

skates

A fun night and it was great to be included in a queer event that wasn’t Pride 🙂 It often feels like I’m the token queer poet at many readings I get to, so it was good to be one amongst many.

writing sample
writing sample

Unfinished

whisps of chin hair

glasses a la skater punk nerd

he laughed about starbuck’s coffee

even tossed out a latin phrase

which wasn’t what I wanted

tripping from his tongue

a frisky feel in the dark corner of the bar

made it clear he was packing more

than his uber baggy jeans reveled

when we got back to his place

he dropped his pants to release

the creature from the porn lagoon

thicker than the accents

of an entire Brazilian water polo team

balls

emu eggs in the palms of my hands

skin

was cozy tattooed flannel

his tongue

a whispering clock

tasted of unripe apples

his teeth

warm endlessly round ice crystals

melted drooling draining

each step of the ten thousand to the temple

his nipples

express train rush pressure

immersion into the gutteral swamp of gasps

arm pits

salt seasoned

licorice tampura teasing

stomach muscle

dunes

sahara but not parched for long

as we shifted camel humps

burdened with a growing growling treasure

an oasis of pubic eden cillia

savory basil black fresh crushed rushed

the creature from the porn lagoon

an already oozing fountain

watermelon baby power

his trembling tip lip touch

tumble choices chances escaping grasps

pushing back for more torrent torment

his laugh now clinking unfinished

coffee cups of memory

crows over cornfield
crows over cornfield

#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.’

samples

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

and

were never seen again

plushie?
plushie?

‘you’re not #disabled enough’

Lizzie Violet hosted anther sensation Cabaret Noir at Q Space. A perfect high-octane Mother(F**ker)s Day with stomping sets by Cathy, Vanessa & Kirsten. I made sure I got into the first set of open stagers before the features pulverized the audience. I’ve heard them all before but am always happy to hear them again & again.

wood choppers ball

With open stagers from Chicago, audience from Australia, Noir has in three short months made its presence felt. The show kicked off with a rocking short set by Nelson Sobral. His Missile song had me thinking of Delta Bravo. I did three of the April pieces, including Golden Days (because it is about my mother).

First feature Vanessa McGowan did an amazing, emotionally raw set. She digs deep into her personal history without flinching. Her direct delivery was pitch-perfect in frankness, never strident and peppered with songs sung with a tenderness one wasn’t expecting. In her piece ‘handicapped ain’t what it used to be’ we learn what happens when ‘you’re not disabled enough’. Lines like ‘we bury our deepest desires’ ‘the art of unnoticing’ related to us on a heart to heart level.

serious root canal work

Next up was Kirsten Sandwich – their pitch-perfect (most of the time) acapella harmonies give me goosebumps. With material that ranged from Elizabethan madrigals to Brecht/Weill to the Rheostatics to Kate Bush they left us wanting more.

sawdust in the snow reminds me of you

Final feature Cathy Petch, give us another musical set – accompanied herself on saw for a couple of pieces & Kirsten Sandwich on one. This was one the best sets I’ve heard from her – maybe because the new pieces still have an emotional rawness that hasn’t been woven in by slam memorization. Raunchy, tender, funny and human. ‘your mouth full of shy,’ ‘run from pieces of wall he hit instead of me.’ Loved her Love Poem to Chewbacca – ‘after you there is never enough chest hair.’ I certainly relate to that 🙂