Chalk Outline

In a recent Disability After Dark Andrew Gurza talks about his teen years, which brought me back to my own fear-filled teens. We’re from different generations, and vastly different social contexts but the awkwardness of being a gay teen is remarkably similar. I’ve also been saddened, to put it mildly, by the suicide of Tyron Unsworth – a 13 year old gay boy who opted for death rather than face the bullying he constantly experienced.school

His school said they had no idea this was going on & that if they had been told they would have intervined. The fact that when his older bother did complain about his particular bullying he was told to act more like other kids & to toughen up. Thus blaming the victim. Why would Tyron expect anything different in his case?

bluechalk02I experienced frequent verbal & physical bullying until I left Sydney – Cape Breton. I was also told to act more like other kids & to toughen up. Never was there a sense that those bullying kids were in the wrong – that if I opted to be ‘other’ then I had to pay this price for my disgusting depraved sexuality.

You know, at thirteen I had no idea of what to do, no role models to call on. One friend offered to teach me how to walk more like a man. Ironically the people who said I should be more like others became critical because I wasn’t thinking for myself.

I did entertain thoughts of suicide. I opted for the longer, more painful method of alcoholism that started in my late-teens. That & being as invisible as I could, which clearly didn’t work. I can remember one day at my job, which involved dealing with the public, some guy said ‘lets ask the faggot.’ Defend myself? Against the truth.

desk02The few times in school when I got into physical altercations the aggressor had four or five buddies cheering him on. So not only was I a faggot but I was also a coward. The downward spiral.

Andrew has had people tell him they are amazed that he’s alive – meaning ‘why didn’t you off yourself.’ As if the normal solution to his limitations was death. He dug in his heels with a stubborn fuck you (hand me the lube) stance. I survived because living well is the best revenge.books

Tyron Unsworth didn’t survive. How much emotional fortitude is a 13 year old expected to have? Why did he have to learn to defend himself in the first place? Gay marriage hasn’t caused gay teen suicide to decline but has given some the opportunity blame a victim – after look what we’ve permitted for you. I never wanted marriage when I was a teen – I wanted respect.

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The poem 12 griefs in Venus Selenite’s book Trigger starts on ‘the first day of Christmas my oppressor gave to me a chalkline on my sidewalk’  the subtext being-  this chalkline could have been her’s & she’s glad it isn’t. Tyron’s suicide is a chalkline that could have been mine and my grief will not remove it from around him.

 

school

Home (not of the brave)

 

he lived across the street from us

mornings I’d peek from the front door

till he had left for school

then I’d sneak along the maple trees

make my way down the hill to class

most days I’d avoid him   his gang

sometimes I couldn’t and would come home

with a bloodied nose   bruises

that disappointed my dad

who didn’t understand

why I couldn’t stand up for myself

after school when I was in sight of home

I’d run like hell to the front door

where I’d be safe but not secure

 

Hot Damn! Exit Strategies

pinksnow01The December edition of Hot Damn! at Buddies in Bad Times, didn’t waste time with chimneys or stockings before it got directly down to the naughty and nice with Charlie Petch hosting a slam of writers who were anything but sugar plums – though some were fairies (& damn proud of it). By the end of the night it was Bop Dionne Samuels The Bird of Paradise Paradise who proved to be fairyest of them all 🙂

The Hot Damn!’s December brought fine open mic-ers & eager slammers to the Buddies cabaret stage. First up was Kyle Andrews who read from his piece in the anthology Making Out Like A Virgin. The book collects writing by survivors of childhood sexual abuse – true stories of how they have healed and moved forward. A powerful, but not heavy-handed, collection of hope and purpose everyone should read.pinksnow02

From the first round slam: if there is no such thing as the passage of time, rocks the shape of every one of our disappointments, my voice is running out of steam, I come out to people but it doesn’t get easier, all of the people were white … all the food was banal … mistaking my kindness for interest, I don’t ask those questions back, you can’t promise not to hurt me by accident, teach me the words of my next poem, you expect me to take all the risks, kicking people out will be his first priority, have a moment of silence for that lesbianna … make a sandwich for that lesbianna … she is hungry’

ribbonFeature Thepoet Mona  returning to Toronto from Winnipeg, gave a well-constructed set of personal pieces about relationships, race, politics, family and self-awareness. She was accompanied at time by Daniel (with a fine moustache) on guitar. ‘red wine whispers a planned whisky escape, I am built of exit strategies, seeking penance and permission, it hurts me now but it was right to leave, that’s sounds like a bad idea – what time?, (about Trump) racist America was already her y’all, my skin tone is a narrative I don’t understand, sometimes getting out of bed is a political statement’

snowribbonSomehow my notes for the last set of open stagers & the round 2 of slam disappeared 😦 Someone not wanting to be quoted? So I have no lines from it to share with you. I make notes of lines as I listen, using one side of the page, so maybe someone needed a blank side of a page & mistaking my hen scrawl for scrap paper took it for their own vital work.

Six strong poets performed in the slam. Funny. emotional, challenging and in some cases rambling. A couple of them lost points for going over the slam time limit. As host Charlie Petch reminds us we applaud the poet not the points but when one of the points of slamming is to discipline the imagination to a structure poets suffer for flaunting the rules. Save the full version for your feature 🙂

Hot Damn! will be spreading the queer gospel to Peterborough in January, then Hamilton in February  before returning to Buddies on March 1.

sample I read Venus Selenite’s 12 griefs on the open stage. It’s from her book Trigger. I changed one line in the final iteration of the 12 days to read the chalk outline of a thirteen-year old on my sidewalk. News of the suicide of a Tyrone Unsworth bullied for being gay brought me memories of my troubled thirteen-year self.

While Enjoying A Grape Popsicle

‘it’s the sookie

the gutless wonder – get him’

three pairs of feet rushed me

Dave Parsons, his brother Stinky

and kid sister Mag

with a bruise on her arm

Dave a year older than me

Vic in my class at school

at 12 I knew what helpless meant

there was no way out

sometimes they were suddenly there

shoving and pushing me

‘yah yellow crybaby’

Dave had me in a head lock

handed my Popsicle to Mag

‘can’t even fight a girl’

he pushed me at Mag

she hit me in the face

‘go on – you useless gutless wonder’

she hit me again

I tried to stop her third smack

the others piled on me

‘hit her would you – we’ll teach you’

kicking shoving me to the ground

I tried to stop crying

‘sookie baby you tell

and we’ll say you did that bruise to Mag’

looking back

I can place these kids

in small town unhappy drunken homes

where Dave learned

words like ‘gutless wonder’

booze-hound Dad working mother

older brothers in and out of jail

acting out as they were acted upon

abuse that I didn’t experience in my home

which doesn’t change the fact

I didn’t know how to protect myself

I believed that I was gutless

my useless word against theirs

Dave broke an arm rolling a stolen car

Stinky got busted for dealing

Mag had her first kid at 16

I suppose they suffered for their actions

yet even as I put them

in this sociological context

I still wish I had the power then

to beat them

weeping for me to quit it

as I eat my grape Popsicle

and piss

on their bruised

powerless

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on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

hot3

http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

6DC0301

Early 2017:

my first local feature in over a year: location date TBA

it came in

April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm startgames

http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –

newcap

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

August 31-Sept.3

fec17-header

https://www.facebook.com/events/526940540845331/

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

http://nanowrimo.org/

money

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblrsnowsho

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Summer of Love Poetry 2

Each of these writers enriched my world view with a deeper sense of ‘otherness.’ My view is pretty wide already but it still limited by my white cismale reality. I grew up an east coast town where I didn’t meet anyone of another race until I left high-school (long story for another blog post.) But growing up queer give me a radically different pov on the world around me. But even the queer world can be narrow focused so meeting these fine fearless – no fearless is the wrong word, because they have their fears, but is there a word for people who aren’t held back by their fears?red lights

The other collections I read this past summer are:

venus selenite is another writer I first met at Fire 2015 & who at Fire 2016 launched ‘trigger’ her first collection. Political, polemic, direct & effective pieces in a collection that overflows with styles, structures & even some humour. A ‘trigger’ warning is something poets are to state before presenting a piece that contains material that may cause adverse emotional reactions: i.e. childhood sexual abuse. venus challenges us with the fact that her very trans-self may trigger regardless of content. 16redhockey03Slipform: Moon Salt – this is the departure collection – pieces produced by several poets during the Slipform workshop. Each in a different structure: sonnet, triad & all successful. I did a small version of the workshop at Fire 2016 & really like the alphabet form – each line starts with the next letter in the alphabet.16redlights01Finally is Francisco-Luis White’s Found Them. I heard Francisco at Fire 2016 but they didn’t have copies of this fresh from the press chap book. I downloaded mine from Amazon. The pieces deal with gender, romance & queer sexuality without gender. Highly personal, deeply felt & resonant they present a process of realization that invites the reader rather than challenges them – the realizations seems so matter-of-fact one wonders why anyone would be stressed or triggered by such basic human evolution.

I’m not a critic or even a sociological analyst – just a white gay guy who reads & writes poetry. I’m not trans, my struggles haven’t been racial profiled, yet I find my human need for acceptance & the search for a voice & someone to listen to it, is the same. I no longer burn with the anger that fuels some of these writers – mine was dampened when I saw that it wasn’t rational for me to demand an understanding world when I didn’t really understand myself. Besides understanding is over-rated 🙂 16redme04Search these writers out – you might find your worldview enriched in unexpected ways too.

Vita E https://www.facebook.com/twocpoetry/

Dane Figueroa Edidi http://www.ladydanefe.com

kay kassirer http://kaykassirer.com

Angelique Palmer http://angeliquepalmer.wixsite.com/poetteachermother

Slipform: Moon Salt http://www.whatevennou.com/slipform/

venus selenite: https://venusselenite.com

Francisco-Luis White https://www.amazon.com/Found-Them-Francisco-Luis-White/dp/1530643376

read part 1 here: Summer of Love Poetry 1 http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1Yz

samp02

Innocent As Charged

I would never do that

trust me

that isn’t my style

I’m not ever going to try it

I know better

so should you

yes I’ve tried many things

will continue to do so

but that isn’t one of them

I know it wouldn’t suit me

not at my age

not at this stage of my life

it would be creative suicide

really

I’m pushing my own boundaries

but never in that direction

I would look desperate

as if I wanted to seem hipper

than I am

or than I think I am

because

being hip

isn’t that important to me

I’d rather be myself

the self I am at the moment

not the one from last year

or even last week

I change often enough

without adding that

I’m not out to reinvent myself

but at the same time

I don’t want to be always

presenting the same identity

there’ll never be such a radical shift

I have several of them anyway

some are just more expected than others

so expected

that even when I don’t deliver the usual

people remember it as being

more of the same

change isn’t enough

but somethings I won’t do

just for attention

that is one of them

does that surprise you?

you thought I’d be willing

to do anything

that I was a spot light whore

willing to do what it takes

I’ve surprised you once again

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cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

October  6 – Thursday Toronto, 7:30 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.hotoct

https://www.facebook.com/events/1047981975249926/

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nanobullseye

http://nanowrimo.org/

December – Thursday Dec 1st – Toronto, 8 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.divine

http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

6DC0301

Early 2017:

my first local feature in over a year: location date TBA

it came in

April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm startgames

http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –

newcap

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx5KD1eDccdjdTdQ28kZRNg

money

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on TumblrDC0401https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet