Saturday, March 27, 2010

floating down the otonabee

so, i've flooded you with lots of poetry lately. mostly because it keeps interrupting my essay. 

whine, whine.

but i've failed to give you much life context. ma bad.

its spring. i can feel it in my coffee snarfing, schoolboy giggling, stone skipping bones. i have crushes abound, and deadlines trying relentlessly to buckle my spirit (and failing beautifully). 

the poem i wrote about manhood was inspired by a very swoon-worthy kiss moment at a gay dance a couple weeks back. it threw me for a few intersecting identity loops. a gay man and a gay jes and what i know about gender and what i know about me and old barriers crashing down with wet, sloppybeautiful lips, and a stubbled chin like a welcome mat instead of a weapon or a wile.

dumbstruck, dumbfounded, and all around disabledlanguage surprised by my own skin and sexy, i processed. and processed and processed. 

oh, repining heart of mine. longfellow would smack me, i know. but the truth is, if it feels real, it is. solipcynicism aside, i think it can be fair to allow yourself to experience something without jumping ship in a rejection and self-loathing dingy.

so, i poemed it. as erotically and palpably as i felt it. and then i performed it at a poetry slam that i had not predicted he would be at. and whaddya know... he figured out it was about him, was cool and flattered about it, and messaged me the proverbial 'i'm a boy-only gay... i thought you were a girl-only gay too?'

i wanted to say everything. my 5 year journey in bones and boobs and gender and sex and 'well maybe men too, in an auden sorta way...' but sometimes a word count is a useful thing.

so i paused. i vented to a. who happened to be sitting behind me at natas - someone i trust, but who isn't directly connected to my day-to-day life. told her about my desires. about how it was okay that he was flattered and confused because i was too. told her about his 100% boy gay response. and how, i guess the gay boy in me likes the (100%) gay boy in him. in that erotic, sultry dark alley makeout men kind of way. and she said, you know, that's hot. you should tell him that. 

and i thought, yeah. yeah why can't i?

she threw in a great line for me too about my mouth not having a vagina (if its any consolation), which felt sexy and flirty and confident like i'd like to be.

its not even about unrequited or pining or whatever sometimes. more like, creative autocartography. and this fear of being alone....god. i'm starting to think its a thinly veiled excuse not to trust myself.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


she moved to this city too much in love

with places she'd been

her eyes, sparkling like the collections 

of a magpie

saw me in different bars

(she can't remember where)

this city

was a heart

that she moved through

was a t shirt

she sweat through

during dishwasher shifts 

that cracked her hands 

like the binding

on some book of poetry 

she is a memory-

like the one 

where i'm in the basement of that Christian private school

in my gym clothes

six years old

wearing those velcro shoes i always fished out of

the lost and found 

and i'm holding my prism

my friends, circled around me

they just thought it was a piece of glass

until i told them about refracted light

and then they all wanted to hold it

because it was special

was a gateway

made me important

but irene was bigger than me and maybe i wanted her 


a big sized kid ally

so i let her hold it


and her clumsy big sized kid hand 

dropped it

and the concrete floor accomplice

severed that parallelogram in two

she apologized

i said it was okay

and the kids went to gym 

but i stared at it on the ground and pouted 

and i think

that was the day i learned about loss

because i put the pieces back in 

its velvet pouch until i got home

and sobbed and told my daddy

and he bought me a new one

and i thanked him but

i didn't hold it the same way, i

think i figured

well, the world has buttloads of prisms

i guess

maybe in a silo somewhere

run by bill nye

you learn things at five

and four

and six

that surface later like a revelation


poetry slams and show and tell

poggs and poker chips

clip-on ties and trust issues

drinking problems and imaginary friends

poo jokes and well... poo jokes

its old news

and nothing hurts like the first time

she spoke to me 

in my language

from 4, or 6, or 5

i know cuz she told me she

learned its meter

measured distance

to mouth

to pulse

to having me at hello

she had big kid sized confidence

and adjectives

and i figured maybe she could protect me

she told me once

oh, she told me a lot of things

but once in a poem

on a stage

she called me the destination

and i imagine 

a road map

like the 23rd birthday card

she used to tell me i was her moon

her watch

her jam




and so many miles away


you, child of the sun

i should have listened

should have remembered physics

and known lightyears and einstein


calculated two 

weeks to open 

and close me

by fifty-two ache like an eye

like a scared shoe

like a shitty patrick swayze inspired ceramic bowl 

used as an ashtray

should have listened to your metaphors

instead of eating them

like jam

like punctuation

i am not on that map

not yours

or the new king james version

none of us are

even if maybe


there's a sachse, texas

and i have the t shirt

thought i could keep 


if i danced for you

like Cecilia 

or Biggie

but you are palpitating

through this city

that i work for

Little artery 

shuttling blood cells

with chemistry

oxygenating the tired--O, my love

i traded with you too

because that's what i do;

a little O and O --> 

for your CO2 baby


always wish you had let me

[circulate:]inside you too

tasting your language

with the many tongues

of my 


but if its not tonight

well then

thats okay-

we are immortal 

under a microscope


remember how i took you here on our first


pretty sure i didn't know what a double of whisky was

or why i should drink one

before that night

you said it felt like you'd known me


and maybe thats the only place we'll ever balance

equilibrium, baby

remember how i took you home after and tried to make

osmosis with our lips 

you and your impermeable membrane turned me down easy

as your algorithms

so i put on october sky

one of like 5 movies i had on vhs

and we fell asleep talking about lesbians or something

(little artery) (big spoon) 

(little spoon) (big smile)

and then 

face / to /       face

occupying a fraction of a bed

that will always feel like a velvet pouch

in my palm

when its gone again

Thursday, March 18, 2010

i don't think up comebacks anymore

i guess
it was a somewhat endearing moment
like its new
the laughing chorus
you can clock me at 
2-3 per week
times 52 reps a year
times 25 year career
professionally speaking
it adds up
but in some ways
it's always my first

on the elevator with my father 
they wait
the Goonies with juice-stained lips
and shorts their mother laid out for them
that morning
with chocolate milk and race car 
tough guy dreams
still crying 
over skinned knees
tattooed with bruises and

like i remember my knees
with the curve in my back
turned toward them
they are two
the lift stops at 2 
and another
as more
file in
the box on pulley answering
to buttons
smeared with sticky soccer hands

i can't hear my father over
freckles and front teeth 
still coming in 
big and white
entitled front row spot
in smile
or cackle
or sneers
from the company of ascot's little men afraid of what goes bump in the night
where their bell tower popcorn 
etches my hump, in spite of the fact
that i don't always have my cloak of night shadow
from these
not yet successful covert
operators still learning 
to tie tight their 
sneakers, snickers
behind me
telling me to answer my father louder
or ask a question
about the weather
or jesus
or his band
or his beard
greying hopefully
enough to muffle what he might not have observed 
on this elevator

doors open
stepping onto carpeted room with my father
and a trailed off conversation
encasing the several i've had 
with children who squealed audibly scattered 
adults who watch reality
t.v. telling
snot wiping sleeves to 'watch your mouth' and 'mind
your manners'
but the only one i trust
is slow step
slow step
hunched over
walker click 
shifting hip
in front of me 
who saves his foul mouth
for the bedroom
like me

with my cock out.

i think about touching his body
on the bus
on the couch
on the dancefloor
in a cafe
in my dreams
i think about his body pressed close to mine
(airtight seal) 
i think about his rough 
chin,holding his soft tongue
chasing mine
and tequila
i think about his manhood
and where i want it
to meet 
my own,i think
about my body
and what it likes
and how it talks
if you listen
and then 
i think
about how his body
has things to say
to me,maybe 
like touch me 
like this
like that
and baby
and oh
and then
him, looking at my
thinking about where
he wants it
to meet his own

Sunday, March 14, 2010

burrows is probably going to change the juicy bits

so ima post some of the original parts of my article this week. mostly cuz its gay and i like it.

The Secret of the Midnight Shadow

Believe it or not, I was a boy scout. I'm sure its coed and stuff now, but back in the day (circa Jes at 13 - think keen times a trillion) it was boys-only boy scouts. The only non-penises were me and the scout leader's daughter. We tied knots, went camping in all four seasons, shoved each other, told ghost stories, ate smores...and played dodgeball a lot in the school gymnasium. Yes, tucked away with my decorated sash are fond memories of getting my 'culture' badge by making shnitzel for my troop, in honour of the mother(deutsch)land (believe it or not, Sachse is German and pronounced 'zook-sah' ).

But where was I? Hardy boys, Dick and Jane, boy scoutery; this imagery is the homoerotic rascal infantry of the pre-pubescent boychild. With his own sprinkle of life-sized Never Neverland magic, artist Daryl Vocat has created a world for us in full street view at Artspace. 

With a coat of near-nighttime cerulean covering the four walls of the main space, Vocat takes us to the nigthmarish whimsy of these small cops, robbers, and twilight mischiefs. Creator of Edmonton-planted poster project 'Children Be Gay', depicting other characters of boyhood, this show encompasses a body of work at the core of Vocat's artist passion, which he has been moulding since 2006. Before its unveiling in our city, the show was shown in both Edmonton and Toronto. Intrigued by the detail of the background work, I inquired about Vocat's installation-labour. "I use projectors in order to map out the trees and background details. The show at Latitude 53 (in Edmonton) was much less minimalist than this show though. I just found the background to be too busy, and detracting from the figures," Vocat shares.

Introduced to the artist by Dahn, who's calf is now sporting a pair of Vocat's figures, I share his excitement for the spectacular 'finished' work. Of course, its not really finished. Over the next month it will be there for us to invite us into a rabbit hole realm of slingshots, shade and glances. The subtlety of the visual reference to the secrecy of gay male experiences, both growing up and in their adult lives (undercover bars, sneaky rendevous, hook ups in alleys and other sexy dark places...) is powerful and an important aspect of the work. The work reminds me greatly of Uxbridge painter Daniel Colby and his series 'Collegiate'. Pouting about the prospect of spending 6 months in my slow, hick, and twenty-something repellent hometown, I grumbled trailing behind my mother and her man pal as we went on the artist studio tour last October. Our first stop was a father and son duo - dad makes furniture, son paints pictures of houses. They were good paintings, but houses are boring to me. 

After being interrupted from holding up the wall with my tough guy look when a woman asked cheerily 'are you the artist?' (what? cuz i'm covered in tattoos, look gay and out of place? probably more because i was grimacing for so long), I wander into a small back room. There, before my eyes, was not paintings of houses, but boys. Young and adolescent boys, posed with each other in such a strikingly covert way, many of the bustling country bumpkins didn't seem to pick up on the cues. One older woman sure did, and got out of that room pretty fast. But not me. I stayed and stared and stared. It got me through those months, lemme tell you.

Opening this past Friday, Dary Vocat's work, along with two other works will be exhibited until April 24th. A short film entitled 'Labyrinth'  portrays a surrealist private eye afterlife tale employing stop animation through a retouched painting storyboard, a groovy film noir sound, and in decipherable mutter-dialogue.

In the Mudroom (the gallery's back space), Montreal-based artist Sayeh Sarfarez features a multi-media installation entitled 'Magic Never Ends: Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Well coupled with the theme of Vocat's work, this exhibit tells a story of a war zone struggle and dissent through lego men, a helium balloon, chicken wire, and a looped soundtrack (a song of inspiration to Iranian resistors). The live-streaming video surveilled show-patrons interaction with the work, scrawled across the walls in at times purposefully micro-sized handwriting. The devastation of armed conflict is told in arrows, paragraphs and miniature playtoys. 

Standing 4'9" and looming over the lego-daisy grave of a man whose experience and struggle is unfathomable to me, I can't help but feel the ineffability of his donut-size chicken coop graveyard seeping into my boots traypsing clumsily across the artist-marked concrete-landscape floor. And I suppose thats the point. I walked out of the room feeling less the superficial 'well, all this is so much bigger than me', and more the unknowing passport holder in solidarity with a struggle I can't understand any more in lego literature than press releases.

Between The Secret of the Midnight Shadow and the Magic Never [Ending], this childlike world created for grown-ups welcomes us with tender terror, into inverted worlds between words.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

shawty's like a melody in ma head, that i can't keep out got me singin like

essay essay essay.

rj visited me in my 'special booth' in the liesbrary. its not mine i guess but when i got here it was occupied and i didn't know what to do with myself. i wandered around the 3rd floor aimlessly, like a fucking little doe- 'yer not my mama' at every vacant study space.

but score! i'm here and ima pillage this essay and all its essay cousins. 

i'm listening this song 'replay'... on replay. (veeeery creative jes).

last night i went to the trent film society screening of dakan. i cried during the love scene. it's this incredible film about this boy in guinea that loves this other boy. classic homo story told in a very beautiful and unique way. amazing shots- minimalist lighting. 

and manga tries, through religious ceremony and for the love of his mother, tries to move beyond his feelings for sori, and falls in love with a woman. but when they start to make love, his mind goes to sori. and not just imaging oumou was sori, but going to moments the two men had together, kissing, falling down laughing. and my heart broke a little bit as i thought about the times i've had sex and been thinking about d; desiring a companion i wasn't in bed with, and the weight of the guilt of not being 'there' for the other person.

and then manga visits sori at the end and sori asks if manga would like to meet his son (new baby with new wife). and manga plays with the child with this piercing laughter and enthusiasm that made me overwhelmingly sad and happy at the same time. imagining holding d's baby, the baby of someone who you hold so much love for, in a being they created. but the wave of knowing this baby is a piece of the life you didn't have with someone you loved so strongly.


and rj and i are laughing in this booth and talking about criticisms we have of this queer community. masculinities privileged, whiteness prevailing. feedback unwelcome. stepping back from organizing has been a blessing. looking for new teachers, mentors, places to learn. i have been a teacher too, but the best leaders never stop making students out of themselves. this, i have learned.

rj is one of my teachers. so is nate. so is my father. my father who visited and told me he didn't see colour at the dub fest after telling me he didnt realize it was a black type of poetry. i was like 'of course you saw colour, dad. and its a good thing. peterborough doesn't often have artistic spaces wherein racialized people make up the majority of performers and attendees.'

people like my dad will get their back up and fight if you ask them to. 'asking them to' is disrespecting their voice. privileged or not, if you want someone to listen to what you have to say, you have speak with love. and sure, i'm no fool. i know that if we went around telling the ignorant we loved them, we'd open ourselves up to attack and abuse. but, discernment is key. and not just seizing opportunities but making them. and not just making them in the moment, but laying down the ground work. 

and now, back to this essay...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

don't speak too soon

(they did it. they broke me. they broke in. with broadway and candles and chorus. they showed me a love undiluted and i said stop and they said no. the self loathing. its rooted in colonial mire. but i gotta find a new pond to swim in. clear clear water, filtering into my pores.)

Monday, March 1, 2010


oh man. twentyfive.

this has perhaps been the best birthday i've yet to experience. 

it's sunday and i'm sitting alone in 'my booth' at the olde stone. saddled with a hefty pint of stout and my current overdue essay putputputtering out of me in seismic spurts of almost-academic-enough, and smirking with the satisfaction that sundays after-arthur article submission provides.

d is working in the back. i woke up at her house after another too-drunk to walk home party. dad and nate visited to give me birthday wishes and some of the best gifts i've ever gotten. dad bought me a pair of paratrooper goggles from an army surplus store, and matched with my same-shade leather coat, i look like a young amelia earhart. nate bought me a gorgeous pen. he says he made the would part of it...with aspen? i dont even know if thats a kind of wood...or tree.. but anyway, it's pine-y in colour and inlayed with gold and black. the weight of it in my hand is perfection. 'it's cuz you're a writer' nate says across our table at kubo, as he beams. his zest activates a part of my heart that only he is able to access. 

i talked them into accompanying me to the remaining evening of the dub poetry festival. clifton joseph. lillian allen. klyde broox. afua cooper. ritalin. the line up was incredible. titans of the dub movement. word warriors. and my father.

my father, who listened to poem after poem hit syllable to microphone to air. affirming the neocolonial clutch that is cunningly grasping his privilege, in the parenthesis of his queer and only-daughter's life hitting its 25th year. i'm not about to say he drove back to uxbridge with any sort of revelation shackled to his hands, because it was nate that had to drive, courtesy of the gratuitous tequila shots. 

but after a series of discussions that blew my mind every way that one's mind can be blown, save for a loaded gun, my birthday meal was literally and figuratively on my father's dime. generationally, i was gifted with time. this time. where queer won't cost my life. where disabled doesn't guarantee segregated, uneducated, immobile. where safety doesn't mean silence.

i exist in a space and time in a body and mind of my mother and father's making. the graces that nate and i have found are a direct result of the spirit and soul they allowed us to see in them. sure, my dad wants to be comfortable and provided for. sure my mom doesn't wave a rainbow flag for me. but they continue to love me here, now. and that speaks in ways that they don't. 

i brought nate and dad with me to m and d's pisces party. we rolled with cigars, my dad giggling about how clifton joseph grabbed his hand and told him he'd been 'feeding off his vibe all night'.  my dad stood in a circle with my friends shooting the shit, as i grinned and showed them my prezzies. outta of some unknown pocket nate produces a bottle of single malt scotch for me. as IF.  

d slid into the booth with me after a shift of muck and grunt work. she orders us calamari to share, and we launch into an evening of conversation that keeps me perpetually smiling. about aging. about this queer community and power, used and misused. about our responsibilities. about of failures. about our future friendship. 

we left and rolled into the only, not missing a beat. she read me the label of the chimmay her bartender macking skills afforded us, leaning in close, being sure to meet my cheek with hers. and as i let myself get romanced by her tender and careful intonation, i felt certain of my place in the world. 

and i know that sorta thing, paired with the girl and the bar sounds so goddam trite, but it was a real moment. recalling it to you now makes me choke up, as i feel the terror of not having the ready access to d once she rockets from this city that wears her face in restaurant windows and street corners.  i was fine before her and will be after but time is leaking a trail of tears behind me like hoda sputters in crackpot. 

as much as i am over her, in the in-love sense, i'm still in love with the feeling of her around me. the way she insists on taking care of me. on steering our evening. on being the tempo to our intoxicated dancing. no one spins me like she does. ima miss that. in a way my reluctant heart isn't ready to speak.

and she gets quiet whenever i talk this way. about caring and loving. but i know she remembers me in the same sort of moments. and separation will mean less remembering.  so i asked her to go to saskatchewan with me because i've never seen flatness and i've been dreaming of an imagined landscape and she readily-agrees in pipedream punctuation. 

maybe this is what 25 means. 

we are always mutable. we are always moving. up and away. and away from where we started. away from where our parents first planted our petite pies. its terrifying because its palpable, that distance from the couch to the coffee table. go.