Matadora In The Rain (not in Spain)

Damned’s final show a Glad Day was a bitter-sweet night. When Zelda’s was destroyed by fire Glad stepped up to offer us a great new home to keep the series going. Ideal in many ways – in the downtown core & with a great space. We started off strong there with full house but gradually the attendance dropped but not the quality of our features – turns out many people found the flights of stairs too much – even more felt the space lacked amenities, mainly a real bar and food. Damned listened and found itself a new home – Q Space at College/Bathurst.

yule remains
yule remains

Hosted by DM Moore, the final show was a fitting farewell & thank you to Glad Day. First feature Elizabeth Ruth read from her new book Matadora. The story of a female bullfighter was one she felt compelled to research then write. Unconsciously, I think, she took a matador stance to read – one hand behind her back & the other holding her book almost like an espada. The sections she read were evocative and direct ‘frail stalks of sunflowers creaking underfoot;’ ‘teased his fingers along each of the carved letters’ & also called up the spirit of Lorca ‘a lamp shone through a blue silk shade turning her body into a bruise.’ Soon to be on my Kindle (once I clear off some of 50 other books on it now)

crappy Ikea planter
crappy Ikea planters

Due to illness our second feature couldn’t make to the show so DM opted to have the second spot filled by the open stagers; DM started us off with a fine rendering of Every time I Say Goodbye (she needs to sing more often); Marcy Rogers did another great monologue from Lesbians Who Wear Lipstick the Middle ages ‘I don’t need a dick, man, I play guitar!’ I followed with a new piece ‘The Gate of the Kiss’ & some old pieces from my Go Bump set. Philip Cairns read two pieces – one about the Hell of call-centre life & another about the Hell of dating life: ‘why do I keep falling for pretty boys who don’t want me.’ After Philip, Cate McKim took a rare step on to the open stage for a superb rending of After The Gold Rush (she needs to sing more often); the set closed with Lizzie Violet who first warmed us up with summer memories ‘melting Popsicle dripping on grass stained jeans’ then cooled us down with Thirteen Nails in The Coffin.’ See her pics of the show: BuDa pics.

no tan line
no tan line

Final feature Tania Joy entertained with great songs form her ep ‘I’ll be Around.’ She has a comfortable stage presence, warm delivery & voice – which some in the audience found reminiscent of Joan Armatrading. Her songs were emotional, uplifting and direct with touches of gospel, old school country and folk.

No Picketers :-( That’s Poetry For You

no need for Gas Masks at BuDa

The Beautiful and The Damned’s (BuDa) night of Queer Dissident Voices sponsored by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, was a Pride Toronto Affiliated Event. That gets the official nods out of the way.

To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to a night of strident, cry-baby activists and was very surprised to get swept up in a night of energetic, passionate and articulate writers hosted by DM Moore.

floating alley art

Ghadeer Malek was a bit caught up in classic political syntax but was personally & emotionally invested in it which gave it great power that transcended, for me, the stridency of images such as ‘pillars of democracy built on exploitation and land grabs’ – images such as ‘parents create children with death in their eyes’ allowed me to share the family tragedy of war. The memory of once listening to the Beatles with her grandmother but ‘it hasn’t been quiet enough to hear the Beatles sing’ was/is for me a dynamic expression of what we lose as our personal context is destroyed by war.

Second feature Hamid Parnian, was in some ways hampered by his limited English – he read his pieces first in Farsi then in English. There was great charm and emotion in his native language – his English translations made it clear his political drive was more personal – being queer was political enough – “we morphed into that which has no names in social morality” – the pieces were sensual and touched with longing, ‘… your bed sheets, the smell of your bed sheets.’

He mentioned that the Quran was an erotic text. I offered to help him with his English so perhaps he can explain that to me more fully.

With QAIA once again getting press we were expecting some picketers, which has happened at past QAIA events – but, hardly a surprise, poetry readings are so below the radar there was nothing beyond our own spoken-word smokers blocking the sidewalk on Yonge street.

I left before the music act, too pooped to listen and absorb anymore. Talked with some old friends, new friends, had yet another long talk about ePub, plus one of my Art Bar fans was there to encourage me to expand Brown Betty into a full volume of verse –

writing sample
writing sample


Here’s are the pieces I read –

More or Less

heavy print said

gay accountant killed by straight steelworker

efficiently establishing

accountant = less of a man

steelworker = more of a man


both blind drunk

less of a man brings more of a man

back to his place

more of a man comes out of a blackout

in the midst of oral sex

experiences homosexual panic reflex

flings off less of a man

less of a man hits his head bleeds a lot



bi-curious turned into straight furious

doesn’t deny what happened

but has no cogent memory

thanks to the blessed absolution of blackout

less of a man had a bad heart

coroner can’t specify an exact cause

too much booze    heart    head trauma



more of a man goes free

due to lack of conclusive evidence

his shame and disgust are deemed

punishment enough

the embarrassment to his wife and child

is paid in full by the life of less of a man

less of a man apparently

having no one of note in his life to embarrass

the death of this predatory queer

being more or less the fair price

for daring to give a blow job

for the stunning audacity of touching

and innocent heterosexual’s sacred dick



he is a man without a context

Brampton landed stranded

with the family of a sister-in-law

a brother in one nation a sister in another

home a room in a basement


learning English

to give him the structure of classes

companionship with others     lost

looking to anchor

skin   dark brown black smooth

arms eager to hold

hungry for more than mere contact

needing the relief of physical acceptance


shy yet fierce

kissing as if he’d been drowning

he tells me of growing up in war

brothers     uncles slaughtered

before his very eyes

I’m not sure if it is genocide

or merely being the losing minority

the politics of killing

for property    religion escapes me


its hard to understand straights killing queers

and still getting away with it

because proving the crime

might embarrass someone’s wife

that’s the closest to war I ever want to be


and he   this stranded man

is looking for a solid ground under his feet

as he seeks a new life here

a man in an already suppressed tribe

where liking men is even more suppressed

I take him in my arms

let him hold on as tight as he needs

I’m learning what it’s like

to sleep with someone’s enemy

Kissing Butt (2012)

Hosting The Beautiful & The Damned is alway a treat especially when celebrating its one year anniversary with a dynamic line up and stellar open stagers. I even debuted a new piece – one that may be part of my Art Bar set, we’ll see.


First up was Gemma Files who read a solid enticing section for the third volume of her hexslinger series – it gave us a real feel for the multilevel ‘magic’ in the books – Mexican mythology mixed with gun-toting cowboys (who happen to be gay). I hope she’s doing the audio versions. She ended her set with a couple of poems again dealing with dark myths but this time in contemporary settings – ways of treating an ex, that is if Loki is your ex.


Feature two was Spencer Butt with a high-energy, stage-thumping performance. He spews vibrant images and unlike many slam poets deals with personal issues with compassion and not anger. Too many great lines and images to keep track of – ‘his memory was drunk/eating popcorn in the balcony’ – ‘he was born in an aviary and died in a place crash’

Here’s a pic, taken by Lizzie Violet, of me kissing Butt –

may 10, 2012

Music feature Carlin Belof wrapped the evening up & wrapped us around her fingers at the same time. Songs about relationship difficulties that were oddly uplifting. Great lyrics and a fine guitar player as well – But as she sings ‘being told you’re talented and are going far may not be the solution – so screw you’.

Cake was served, drinks were enjoyed & good time was had by all. I’ll be hosting BuDa again in December and have already started to line up my festive features.

As I mentioned a few blogs ago I’m working on a series sparked by Montaigne. (Of Quick or Slow Speech [10])  This one was also influenced by a podcast lecture on Robert Lowell that talked about a poem he had written after the death of his father.

Dad’s Pockets

as a kid

I would go through the pockets

of my Dad’s suit jackets sport coats

as they hung in the closet

I would find quarters which I’d take

sometimes fifty-cent pieces which I’d leave


I’d slip the over-sized jackets

off their hangers

wear them in the dark of the closet

in the smell of his things

his shoes miles too big for me

trying to steal into adult hood


I’d skulk out

from my secret foray

a little daring thief

sneaky   guilty

fearful of being found out


when he’d miss the pocket change

I’d be confronted

say too quick I don’t know what he meant

blurt out I didn’t do that

which he never believed

if only I’d hung those coats back the right way

he’d let me go with warning

that I was slow to heed


I’d be back there in a week or so

go through those pockets

try on those shoes

grow much too slow into adulthood

much too quick into guilt


‘Vegas in a blizzard’

Another productive week. Got the first 30 pages of The Lazarus Kiss, my NaNo novel, edited and in good enough shape to submit to Bloody Words for an evaluation. Mailed that out along with an agent meet-up request. BW isn’t until June but deadline for evaluation is April 1. The process of doing this represents my commitment to the work itself. Now I have to do the rest of the edits to have another draft ready just in case the agent asks to see it.

dive into it
dive into it

I did an agent meet-up at BW some years ago. When I sat down the first thing that agent said was that she was cutting back on her author list – not very encouraging – but my pitch was good enough that she wanted to see more. That more was returned because she found what sex there was was too explicit. Such is life.

I have to work on my pitch for Lazarus. It hits so many genres its hard to decide which one to go with except I’ll tailor the pitch to high-light what crime happens in it – there is a serial killer so I guess it counts as a crime novel but crime is the setting, in a way. It’s more about heteronormative guys having their sexual identity called into question by a family curse. But that sure isn’t a good pitch line. I’ll have something solid by June.


I’ve been thinking about Dane’s workshop last week. We talked around why we write but didn’t get to why we perform – maybe perform is the wrong word, as one of the poets said ‘performance’ sounds like acting out, in which one over-emotes the work (something that never happens at slams.)

I, for one, like to feel that the writer on stage is invested in their work. Too flat and I’m not there for long. I can always tell when someone is reading simply because they have to get out there for their writing career – as opposed to some who reads because they love to read.

Got out to the recent The Beautiful & The Damned – missed the last two – can’t go wrong with Zelda’s meatloaf – DM Moore hosted & had fun batch of Marie-Antoinette trivia – spoken features were excellent too. I did miss the first few open-stagers as there were some chatter-boxes in the house who resented being told to keep it down – they left in a irritated huff at not being to talk louder than the performers they hadn’t come to hear.

First feature was Brandon Pitts who did an energetic set of pieces from his recent book ‘Pressure To Sing.’ His work is strongly rhythmic & rhymed without feeling forced or show-offish. He brought ‘late nights in Sodom and Gomorra’ to life on Zelda’s stage.

Nina Arsenault, the second feature, did a riveting set of poems from ‘Landscape with Yukon and Unnatural Beauty’ that were about her performances in the Yukon and Dawson City ‘Vegas in a blizzard.’ She presented the work in a non-melodramatic sense of self with observations that transcend being trans and took us to a tender human experiences. One piece started off telling us that even at 50 below the Yukon river doesn’t freeze, that water continues to flow constantly much like the flow of creativity that keeps a performer going regardless of the fears on the surface – powerful stuff. I hope these pieces see publication soon.

These were two writers/readers invested in work they loved who also loved to perform.

crows over cornfield
crows over cornfield

writing sample
writing sample

here’s ones of the pieces I read when I hit the open stage:


“My dad got these for my birthday while he was in Paris.” Jack pulled his jeans up to show us his runners and socks.

“You got those sneakers at K-Mart.”

“Not the sneaks, the socks.” He hiked his pant legs up a bit further. “What ya think?”

The socks were colorless with a grey line around the tops and bagged around his ankle.

“Made of silk.” Jack started to pull them up.

“Oh.” Dave wasn’t impressed.

“Can I feel them?” I asked, more interested in what was above the sock. Hair. I didn’t realize that since last summer Jack had developed hair on his legs. Lots of it.

“Uh, sure.”

I pushed his pant leg up to just over the calf, then ran my finger under the edge of the sock. I don’t remember what it felt like. Silky smooth I suppose but I do remember that hair on his shins.

“Wow.” I held his calf like an apple in the palm of my hand, pulled the sock up. It became transparent with Jack’s black hair underneath.

“Like nylons.” Dave snickered.

I suddenly had this image of Jack in silk stockings pulled up to his white bum. The hairs on his legs matted underneath, pushing through to escape. I felt something so unnameable, so wrong but at the same time so delicious.


We lit a candle in you

Dipping into the past to repost one of my first WordPress posts –

Even if I do say so myself, as host it’s hard to be unbiased, but the Damned’s Very Crawford Christmas was a rollicking success. A packed, responsive house enjoyed the great line up of features, open stagers, endless trivia questions and my spectacular shirt. Give-a-ways were handed out with the sparkling assistance of Snowflake and Tinsel – no need for a Christmas tree with these two in the room.


Sophie Mayer, here from London UK, did a saucy and sexy set, dressed in her fur fringed elf festive attire. I’ve met or heard Sophie before & was eager to hear her. She did not disappoint. I managed to snag her book & chapbook – which I hope she sold enough copies of that she won’t be walking back to the UK. Her kissing poem were right on target for mistletoe season. One line stuck in my mind “He lit a candle in you no one could snuff out” – or something like that.


To intro James Ince I read this poem that Joan Crawford had written:

Joan’s Poem

Where are you?

My heart cries out in agony,

In my extended hands

I give my heart with

All its cries – its songs – its love,

But it’s too late.

You are not here to see its sorrow

Or hear its throbbing of your name

Perhaps it’s better that way

You who love laughter

Did you ever know I love laughter too?

Oh my beloved

Where are you?


Little did we know Joan had so much more to offer besides her eyebrows.


James read from his latest play, “The Ties That Bind.” The section he read dealt with bullying and its repercussions in a sometimes humous, often angry and always with direct raw emotion, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Amoeba Starfish wrapped up the show with their seductive mix of electronica and psychedelic ambient music. The final set of open stagers read with Starfish accompaniment.

The open stager line up was Marcy Rogers (everyone’s favorite tooth fairy), Jeff Cottrill (everyone’s favorite Ondaatje impersonator), S. MacDonald (everyone’s favorite Anne …?), Rex Baunset (everyone’s favorite Christmas Ho), Tinsel (aka Philip Cairns: everyone’s favorite leftie), Snowflake (aka David Harry Bateman: everyone’s favorite profile), DM Moore (everyone’s favorite Kermit fan)



here are the Joan trivia questions – (answers in the new year)

1 Joan did the first audible what in the Hollywood Review of 1929:

a slap              b kiss           c tap dance

2 Joan’s first talkie was:

a Hollywood Review of 1929         b Untamed            c Our Dancing Daughters

3 Joan’s first technicolor picture was:

a Torch Song        b Johnny Guitar           c Sudden Fear

4 Joan took how many pieces of luggage to film Trog

a seven        b seventy-seven        c thirty-seven

5 Who said of Joan: “You are a female Johnny Weissmuller.”

a costume designer Gilbert Adrian       b costume designer Edith Head     c costume remover Clark Gable

6 Who tried to pull off Joan’s shoulder pads only to discover they were her real shoulders.

a Michael Curtiz      b Clark Gable       c Franchot Tone

7 What did Joan believe you should never let your husband see you doing?

a plucking your eyebrows      b exercising            c sleeping around with Clark Gable

8 What did Joan eat instead of chocolates in Baby Jane

a Bette Davis Eyes        b tofu tortellini      c tiny meat balls

9 What did Joan recommend for fuller eyebrows

a Clark Gable sperm massage      b castor oil          c hot peanut butter massage

10 Joan accepted the Academy Award for

a The Miracle Worker          b Mildred Pierce         c Baby Jane

11 In Mildred Pierce Joan’s character

a sold real estate       b worked as a cocktail waitress to make ends meet     c baked pies

12 Who replaced Joan in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte

a Joseph Cotton     b Olivia De Haviland       c Bette Davis

Jim Croce (sans porn’stach)

Reluctantly pushed myself away from my NaNo cage match to get out to The Beautiful and The Damned Thursday (Nov10) night at Zelda’s.

Trasharella hosted a great line-up – herself fresh from a police line-up in connection with a recent occupation at Holts. Channeling Odetta and Judy Garland she sang a couple of songs. I didn’t realize that the Don Jail was so good for the vocal cords.

nice hat
nice hat

First feature Heather Woods read from her two books – she captures the frenetic action  of roller derby so well I wanted to dig out my old skates (yeah sure, as if I’ve ever been on roller skates). Sonia Di Placido treated us not only to real cake but some fine samples of her work in ‘Vulva Magic’ and her up coming ‘Cadmium Red.’ She recently unearthed a Remembrance Day piece she wrote at the age of 13.

Music feature Myke Mazzei closed the show with a lively set of originals & covers. I’ve heard Myke a few times now & always enjoy his stage presence, talent & sideburns. On stage he has Jim Croce (sans porn’stach) vibe – open, warm and sense that he enjoys what he’s doing.

I picked up his cd “Fields’ recorded with ‘The Mod Villains’ – which has more of a Neil Yonge feel to it. Good sound quality. Strong material & who knows a Juno might be in his future. Good to have ‘Been Thinkin’ to replay at my leisure. Catch him if you have chance.

the red guitar
the red guitar

I have to confess that I made notes about my NaNo project while waiting for the show & even while performers were on stage. I did hit the open stage and read a short passage from my NaNo project this year.


 deeply seated

Jackie Toast

The Beautiful and the Damned (BuDa) Jackie Burroughs’ Toast (not roast) at Zelda’s was yet another packed house for this new series. As one of the organizers I have to admit we are doing something right to pack them in with Canadian Festival of Spoken Word ( also packing them in on the same night.

DM Moore hosted a great show with strong open-stage performances by Marcy Rogers, and David Bateman.  Philip Cairns did a sweet, high-glitter, featurette with some of his affectionate poems about Jackie. First feature Sandy Day launched her book ‘Chatterbox  Poems.’ Having read the book I was curious to see how she would present her work. The book is structured with a prose piece then a poem – often the prose commenting on the poem to follow, which I quite enjoyed but wondered how the poetry would breath without the prose.


Sandy gave a strong if slightly nervous reading on her work. For her first time before an audience she did very well. The material was strong but, as I did with the book, I found the prose passages more emotionally grounded.

I did my featurette in the second set – mostly material from ‘Walk Through’ (a chap books of pieces inspired by Jackie) with one piece ‘Shitman’ that I had written with Jackie in mind. It brought down the house, while the ‘Walk Through’ pieces I choose got some laughs and even a few tears. Plus I sold some chapbooks.


Rex Baunset closed the show with a rollicking, high-energy set of fierce gay-folk-punk songs. This man and an acoustic guitar blew the roof off. I’ve heard Rex several time now and each time he gets better. His new songs were funny and hard-hitting at the same time. Someone get this man a record contract.

Being part of the BuDa team my opinions may not be totally impartial but such is life.



he had a shitty attitude

everyone knew that

even passing in the the street

strangers knew he had a shitty attitude

and he didn’t give a shit

if they didn’t like his shitty attitude

they could eat shit and die

for all he cared

for all they cared he was dead


he knew that

by the way they glanced so quickly

looking a way in dismay

acting as if he wasn’t even there

as if they could see though shit

they didn’t know jack shit

that much he knew

and so he didn’t care

if they shit in their shoes when he was near them


he chuckled

shitman would be his super hero name

is it a bird

is a plane

no it’s shitman

and they would crap their pants


that would fix all those mucky muck politicians

if he went to a big important speech

stood in front of them

as they spouted their bullshit to the nation

and glanced down at him

and shit their pants

right there on stage


he could see the look on the face of

the president

the prime minister

the queen

as they found themselves in front of the world

all those cameras microphones reporters

unable to hold it in another minute

that panic as sphincter muscles relaxed

and they crapped their pants

as the smell was recognized


what a laugh that would be

as everyone pretended there was no shit

acted as if the mucky muck had not

just dumped a load in his pants

right their in front of everyone

as he waddled off stage

with that shit my pants walk

crap oozing down into his shoes


yea for shitman

that would be so sweet