Get your lust on

This ain’t no namby-pamby cinnamon hearts & chocolate flowers couples fest.
This is Gypsy Valentine, an afternoon of smokin’ hot verse and bohemian music
at Leva Cafe on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Edmonton poets Mandie Lopatka, Kelly Shepherd and Amy Willans and I
will start the fire, accompanied by the smouldering violin of Karen Donaldson Shepherd and the Mediterranean stylings of Greek/jazz guitarist George Koufogiannakis.

In honour of our hot-blooded theme, the fine folks at Leva have created a food+drink special for the occasion: two 3-ounce glasses of house red wine combined with their fabulous artichoke/pesto pizza for $20.

My poetry book White Shirt ($16) and Kelly’s chapbooks the bony world ($10)
and Circumambulations will be available for purchase.

What: A caravan of steamy words and sexy rhythms
guaranteed to get your heart pounding.
When:
Sunday, February 13, 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Leva Café, 11053 86 Ave. (Garneau neighbourhood)
Why:
To drive the cold winter away; or as Stephen Berg so nicely puts it on his own blog, Grow Mercy, to “put the red back into your blood.”

About the Poets

Mandie Lopatka: For God so loved the world that She tossed equal parts Marilyn Monroe, Aretha Franklin, Loretta Lynn and Amy Winehouse into a martini shaker, jigged until Her Holy Hips were out of joint, and poured The Divine Miss M-Lo into the world’s most elegant cocktail glass. Johnny Cash could have used a friend like her.

Kelly Shepherd: The Clark Kent of E-town poetics. Underneath the mild-mannered reserve beats the heart of a spoken-word warrior. Master of the slow burn.
If a leaf falls in the forest, he hears it. Knows where to find the key that unlocks the door that frees the baby bird that’s been caged inside your chest since the beginning of time.

Amy Willans: Knows what it means to miss New Orleans. Shows you where to look among the bourbon and burnt sugar. Inventor of skin, bone, the colour red, piercing blue, black ice, white lightning and magnolias. Wrote the User’s Manual & Maintenance Guide for A Streetcar Named Desire.

Laurie MacFayden: Has a thing about red shoes, white shirts and cheekbones.

Gypsy Valentine: Not for the faint of heart.

when 2 poets collide

for M & K, whose collision is still sparking up the cosmos
sept. 8, 2007

when two poets collide
turbulent skies rejoice
stars sweeten up the cracked hallelujahs
cackling black crows kick up their heels.

when two poets collide
there is chiming up the violets
there is singing down the rain
there is trilling, drumming, chirping, thrumming
there is clanging of pot, slapping of feet,
prattling of ham
there is a clutch, a plethora,
an insignia of iambic pentameter
there are rips and fits and stits and pits and ritz!

there is word / there is beat
there is sonnet / there is heat
when two poets collide
leaping greenly ghazals pull red wagons
through fitful sleep

deep breathy verbs punctuate the blood
a cauldron of metaphor burbles next to the bed.

there is upper-case wool
there is lower-case lingerie
there is subtext in the soup pot
irony in the ink pot, wild ripping beauty in the coffee pot
pathetic fallacy in the chamber pot

there is grammatically incorrect kissing

a hint of patchouli tenderly tenderly
graces the ripe hot doggery of the haiku
when two poets collide

this is how our love affair would go

(from a dog-eared SAGA notebook,
november 2000)

this is how our love affair would go

if you weren’t married, or straight, or celebate — and i don’t
even know if you’re married, or straight or celebate, but if i did know, and you weren’t any of those things, or on the rebound, or dying … this is how our love affair would go:

i’d stop by your desk at work with a casual question about the new project.
i’d linger a little longer than necessary, making deliberate eye contact,
smiling coyly after you answered my casual question, which was in fact not casual at all, but quite pre-meditated, not spontaneous in the slightest but calculated
and designed totally to give me an excuse to stop “casually” by your desk and speak.

and then our shift would be over and i would be outside, waiting on the curb
for the No. 9 bus, pacing and waiting for you to drive past and notice me shivering in the dark, and then you would stop and lean over to the passenger side of your little blue toyota and fumble with the window and offer me a lift. you would point with your head, as if you were tossing hair out of your eyes, and say, “i’m going to the south side, if you’d like a ride …” and i would say, “oh, no, that’s okay, the bus will be along soon, thanks, but … well … okay, then, if you’re SURE you don’t mind …”

and then i would climb awkwardly

into your front seat and fumble with the seatbelt (because I have
incredibly bad seatbelt karma), and you would already be pulling away from the curb by the time i got myself buckled in, and then you would ask, “so where do you live?” and i would say, “oh, just off whyte, sort of near bonnie doon,”
and you would say, “oh, that’s not far from my place, and there’s a great little cafe near there, and i don’t think i’m quite ready to unwind just yet, so is there any chance you might be interested in going for a coffee?” and i would say, “SURE!” and then i would secretly hope i didn’t sound too eager, and then i would secretly smile to myself because my plan had worked and i was now going for coffee with you, and it’s a good thing because the No. 9 bus isn’t even my bus … so if you hadn’t stopped
and offered me a ride i’d have been waiting an awful long time.

cafe starsand then we would be in the cafe and it would be small and dark, but very comfortable
in that cozy, funky, bohemian artist kind of way, and there would be soft jazz playing,
the good, warm, relaxing, sexy kind, not the manic, migraine-inducing, teeth-on-metal kind, and then we would each end up ordering peppermint tea instead of guatamalan dark roast, and you would ask me how i’m liking my new job, and i would tell you, “it’s great, and how long have you been working there?” and we would talk about all the crazy people in the marketing department for a while, and i would absently pick up the spoon from the table and play with it in my nervousness, turning it over and over in my fingers, and then you would laugh and say, “if you don’t quit with that spoon i’ll go crazy,” and then you would lightly touch my hand, the one with the spoon in it, and grin at me in that gentle, sensitive, all-knowing way you have, and you would look me directly in the eye long enough to let me know that the spoon was just an excuse for you to touch my hand, and we would both feel the fire as our skin touched, and we would realize at that same moment that we were hot for each other, and then we would try to pretend we weren’t, and one of us would comment on how late it was getting, and suggest that maybe we should be getting home, because because because …didn’t it look like they were getting ready to close?

and then we would be back

in your car and you would be pulling up in front of my house and then
you would be leaning over to help me get the door open because the handle is tricky on the passenger side … and then as you were leaning over me me to pretend to push
on the sticky door i would smell your soft fine hair
and it would smell a little of cinnamon with just a hint of coffee and sadness,
and i would forget that i barely know you and don’t even know if you are married
or seeing someone or doing a zen celibacy thing, or dying, and i would kiss the top
of your head as you were still pretending to try to get the door open, and then we would both grab the door handle and pull it shut … and then we would kiss, a long, hard, desperate trembling kiss, and then we would hold each other and tremble some more, and then we would look at each other as if to say, “i don’t know what came over me,” and then we would kiss again, and then i would gather up my backpack and lunge out the door, saying breathlessly “i’ve gotta go — thanks for the ride,” and then i would rush inside my house and feel all whooshed and frantic and blessed, and bells
would be clanging inside my head and butterflies would be doing gymnastics somewhere between my red and green chakras …

and then there would be a knock

on my door and i would open it, knowingly but tentatively,
and then you would be standing there holding a scarf and saying, “i think you left this in my car,” and i would say, “oh yes, thank you so much, my grandmother knitted that for me,” even though we both knew it wasn’t my scarf at all, it was your scarf, and it was just an excuse for you to see my face again, and then i would say timidly, timidly, “i know it’s, um, really late, um, but … would you, uh, like to come in for just a moment?” and then you would say, “uh, well, no, i really shouldn’t,” and you would be already gliding through my door like you’d done it a thousand times before
and taking off your coat and dropping it on the floor and stepping towards me …

and i would look into your eyes and i would be all flushed
and i would put my bashful hand on your cool, tender cheek and know that i would never again be able to stop by your desk at work without thinking
of this moment
and blushing
like hell.