Archive for the ‘The Copper Conundrum’ Category

CONTEXT: October, 2010

Sometimes poems just come to you.

This one came from an odd source. I was reading an on-line forum where somebody starting talking about the difference between the mind and the brain. They were using love as an example. Another person came in and started explaining how love was a chemical reaction in the brain. They made a statement that isn’t EXACTLY the opening for the poem, but it is pretty close.

The poem starting falling into place almost immediately.

Amusing side note. I was featuring with Kevin Matthews out in Carleton Place at a LiPS Slam. As is my habit when I perform out there, I gave this poem a trial run. (I have probably debuted more poems out there than anywhere… short of Capital Slam.)

As I got to those early lines in the piece, Emily Kwissa and her friends started laughing. Apparently they had just had an exam in school on that exact thing. πŸ™‚

    Chemical Love

I recently heard that
There is a scientific basis
For love.
As people fall in love
The brain releases a certain set of chemicals
Including pheremones, dopamine,
Norepenephrine and seretonin,
Which act in a manner similar to
Amphetemines, stimulating the
Brain’s pleasure center and
Leading to side effects such as
Increased heart rate,
Loss of appetite and sleep,
And an intense feeling of excitement.
So now I can honestly say,
Baby, you are my drug.
You started as just a taste –
First smile is free
But after that it’s gonna cost ya.
Sliding into my veins
On an hallucinagenic
Power slide.
Footing is treacherous
When you can’t even find
Your feet because
You’ve been knocked heels
Over head.
Lay it out in little lines
As we pretend love is orderly
Then blast my brain with
A near fatal dose
Directly to the cerebral
Hollowing out my Common Sense
Until I find myself humming
For no reason.
The effect multiplies with
Repeated doses leaving a
Product of less environment
And more desironment
As the language can’t contain my
Like any dealer of
Deadly substances
You ask for payment once
The hook sinks its oh-so-soft
Barbs into my fleshy parts –
The price is my heart
And I turn it over
Without hesitation
Because, let’s face it,
I’m addicted to you.

You inject into me
And I inject into you
As I triple up this entendre
And we disprove the
Impenetrability Principle
As two bodies
Occupy the same space
At the same time.

You have me tripping
The light fandango
As my heart turns
Cartwheels across the floor
Yelling out ‘Look at me!
Look at me!’
Like a five year old
Desperate for attention.

When we are apart
I go through withdrawl.
I get the shakes and
The bakes while
The fakes say
‘What’s up with him?’
But I know I’m jonesing
So bad that only
Another hit of that what
Makes me feel good will do.

I freebase you because
With you as my base
I feel free.
We love hard until
I realize we have made
Out of every day.
You don’t stimulate only my
Brain’s pleasure center
But all of my brain
As you layer a knowledge-high
Over the sizzle from
Eyes to thighs
And… oh my.
I think I need a glass of water
Before I overheat
Or overdose.
I throw precautions to
The wind
Mixing you with gin
Because you are all the tonic
I need.
I’m hooked on phonics
Because all the words start
With U.
The mathematics of fanatics
As all equations have
You adding to me and
Solving for X
Where X equals infinity
Because our love knows
No limits.
You blow my mind, baby
Because you are my drug
And I can’t wait
For another dose
Of you.


Next… is likely a poem I just wrote today. πŸ™‚

Oh, if you see this in time, don’t forget that Once Upon A Slam is tonight! Mercury Lounge! 7pm!

Friday night the Copper Conundrum performed as part the Vernacular Spectacular show at the Ottawa Storytelling Festival. It went very well and we received a lot of very positive feedback. Danielle, Kevin and I had a great time and we really appreciate Caitlyn Paxson for inviting us to perform.

Speaking of the Storytelling Festival, if given the opportunity you NEED to go out and see Tim Tingle perform. The man is brilliant. It was as emotionally moving as any performance I have ever seen.

Saturday night was Capital Slam. The features were an amalgam of Urban Legends and Wild Card team members from CFSW. It was fun. There was a surprising dearth of performers… maybe because six of them were featuring. πŸ™‚
I wasn’t planning to sign up, but since we only had seven slammers I added my name to make it eight.

Because I hadn’t really prepared, I did a couple of poems I had been working on with the Copper Conundrum. It is fun to do older stuff sometimes. I did Library and The Stranger. They went over well and I ended up third (improving my season score a little and keeping me in first overall… until Chris Tse performs again. πŸ™‚

We had a first time winner… Sepideh! She wowed ’em at CFSW and now has a Capital Slam victory under her belt! Well done!

The final rankings were:

1. Sepideh
2. PrufRock (making his season debut)
3. Rusty Priske
4. Talia
5. Loh El
6. Ronsense (Ron Langton now has a stage name!)
7. Marco Lobo
8. Kheim Possible

On Sunday, Ruthanne Edward held a Story Slam at the Ottawa Storytelling Festival. It was a lot of fun. It was a more ‘pure’ storytelling lineup (as opposed to the Once Upon a Slam crowd which has a mix of storytellers and narrative poetry). There were a lot of time penalties (including two people who racked up 6 point penalties each), but in the end the top scorer wasn’t decided by the stop watch.

1. David Hickey (Montreal)
2. Kim Kilpatrick (Ottawa) – (two slams, two 2nds for Kim)
3. Phil Nagy (Ottawa)

One item of note was Kate Hunt of the Kymeras, who is a great poet, but had never slammed. She took Ruthanne’s workshop and made her slam AND storytelling debut! She ended up with a very good score, but picked up one of those 6 point time penalties. Nobody cared. It was awesome.

This Friday is the return of Once Upon A Slam at the Mercury Underground. Story Slam is rising fast and looks to be the Next Big Thing! Get in on the ground floor (pun intended…)

Out of context: The Copper Conundrum is performing at the Venacular Spectacular show at the Ottawa Storytelling festival on Friday. St. Brigid’s at 10pm. The show is hosted by Ivan E. Coyote and also features some cool local storytellers.

CONTEXT: September, 2010

Memory is a funny thing. I have always had problems with memory, whether it is memorizing my poems or other, more important things. EVERYTHING in this poem is something I have faced or wondered about or agonized about.

Recently something came up which made me think about it more and this poem came out.

    Sometimes I Can’t Remember

Sometimes I can’t remember my poetry.
Words whipping away like
Leaves in an Autumn breeze
Upgraded to a cyclone.
Ideas imprinted on my mind
Yet dancing past the
Tip of my tongue
Leaving me grasping for words
That are as important to me
As a whisper
But are as ephemeral
As a whisper
Flitting past my ear
When my attention is taken.
So I grip my paper
And hope that the words
Don’t slide off and leave me
With a page as blank as
My memory – looking to remind
Myself that I have something to say.
Even as the drip-drop water spout
Drowns out any thoughts
Except survival
As I try to stay afloat
And remember the words
That will remind me
Why I am alive.

Sometimes I can’t remember
My dreams.
Not the nighttime images that
Give us our fantasy stories
And secret adventures –
I never remember those.
I mean the dreams of a life
The man I never was, standing
Astride the world, leaving a
Mark that would never be
Washed clean
By the drip-drop flood
Of time and entropy.
Who did I want to be?
Did that person exist at all
In some parallel world that
I could only glimpse in my
Dreams? And I never remember those.
I think of my grandfather
Whose memory became fluid
Like the reverse memories
We have when looking to the future.
I never knew if he knew me
Or how much of me was the
Me that he knew
And now I know that the me
He knew may be no less the me
Than the me that I think I know.
Did I know who I wanted to be?
Whoever it was
I’m sure it isn’t me.
If only I could remember
Each daydream and musing
And far-reaching fantasy.
Did I dream of poetry?
Would I be proud of what I’d see
If that old me could see
What he would eventually be?

I remember being called genius
As I watched the worlds
Flow from the page
As I reached to hold onto
The simplest trivia.
A genius with a mind
Like a fishing net where
The holes outnumber the fish.

I remember staring at the phone
With no idea of my number.
Sweat pouring down my cheeks
As I grasped for any clue of
The digits I’d punched daily
For years.
I lose my way, I lose dates,
I lose names and faces
Hurting feelings of poets I had
Heard five times before.
The drip-drop of a rushing river
Of time, leaving me behind
In a wake of brine
Looking for my anchor.

Sometimes I can’t remember
Why you love me
And I desperately hope that
You can and I have not just
Become a habit that begs
To be broken.
What was it that drew you to me?
There must have been something
That I couldn’t see –
Or if I could it has been lost
To my drifting memory.
Can you remember?
And if so, can you tell me
Because I need to know
Who the person was that
Turned into me.

So I write poetry
Getting my thoughts down
In a way that shows more truth
Than simple statements ever can.
A record of my brain
Ready for translation.
But how can I remember me
When sometimes I can’t even
Remember my poetry?


Next is a fun version of a love poem.

Back to Poetry

Posted: September 3, 2010 in CFSW, CPC, Slam, The Copper Conundrum
Tags: ,

Wow, it has been a while. Summer is relative poetry doldrums around here.

I mean, I have actually been busy, what with the upcoming Canadian Festival of Spoken Word plus GenCon, plus, plus, plus… but now it is back to the usual ‘grind’. πŸ™‚

This Saturday is the start of the new Capital Slam season! I had to step aside this year because of the festival, but now it is time to start trying to get on the 2011 team! πŸ™‚

Then, next Thursday is the Bill Brown 1-2-3 Anniversary show. Last year was a lot of fun. I expect this year will be as well, but I don’t expect to get to the top 4 like last time. My short poems are just not… up to snuff.

The Copper Conundrum has been asked to perform at the Ottawa Storytelling Festival, that should be fun…

And, of course, the festival!

We had the draw for the Last Chance Slam on Wednesday. 31 people signed up for 12 spots. The names drawn were:

Kevin Matthews, Ottawa (woot! Go Copper Conundrum!)
Malek Yalaoui, Montreal
Jenny Smart, London
Hilary Angus, Montreal
Festrell, Ottawa
Sepideh Soltaninia, Ottawa
Kathryn Lennon, Kitchener/Waterloo
Calondra Mainhart, Saskatoon (I think…)
Daniel Mark Patterson, Vancouver
Jenna Tenn-Yuk, Ottawa
Traistan DePlume, Vancouver
Sean O’Gorman, Ottawa

The waiting list, in case anyone drops or doesn’t show up…

Steve Miller, Vancouver
Grace Defined, Ottawa
Brad Morden, Ottawa
Jillian Christmas, Toronto
Paul Fischer, Vancouver
Loh El, Ottawa
Karen James, Ottawa
b!WILDer, Lanark County

The top slammers at the LCS will form the Wild Card team who will line-up against 17 other teams at the festival.

The other teams are:

Vancouver (3 time champions)
Toronto (Toronto Poetry Slam)
Toronto (Up From the Roots)
Lanark County
Ottawa (Capital Slam) – defending champions
Ottawa (Urban Legends)
Halifax (2 time champions)

The festival is going to be AMAZING!

CONTEXT: June, 2010

Working on material for the first Copper Conundrum shows, we got into a discussion about what it was like to grow up with red hair.

The thing is – it wasn’t until I was an adult that I even HEARD of the idea that red-heads were treated badly. That wasn’t what I experienced. (Though I do HATE the term ginger.)

Now being named RUSTY on the other hand… πŸ™‚

But really, it isn’t that I LIKE having red hair, it is more that I couldn’t picture NOT having it. It is who I am.

So I wrote a silly little poem.

Note: When I was coming up with alternate names if I wasn’t called Rusty I picked Ricky and Randy. Then I decided to switch Randy as a tribute to the one and only RC Weslowski.


Red isn’t just a colour to me.
Red is my identity.
More times than I can count
I have been asked
“Why do they call you Rusty?”
Accompanied by a wry smile
Or knowing glance –
Really an unknowing glance
Since their rhetorical
Question has led them astray.
They assume my name followed
My curly red locks –
Once perched atop
Of my head – now migrated
But NO!
On the fateful day in
March, 1968, a brand-new
Pasty white beach-ball
Bounced into the world
As bald as Picard.
Birth certificate says Russell
But I’ve been called Rusty
Since my hair was
Nothing more than a
But I have grown into my hair colour
As my hair colour has grown into me.

Would I still be me
If I was a blonde named Ricky?
Or a dark haired
RC Priskowski?
But alas, that we will never see
For I am red
And red is me.


Next is a fairly new, fairly popular piece about angst.

CONTEXT: May, 2010

When Danielle Gregoire, Kevin Matthews and I got together to work out our first Copper Conundrum sets, we decided to see if we could riff off each others work… using it as a springboard for new writing.

Danielle has a poem called ‘Pre-pubescent Genius’ which some people may know as ‘We Never Kissed’. I decided to write my own section to that, telling a different story of young {ahem} love. πŸ™‚

    We Never Kissed (after ‘Pre-pubescent Genius’ by Danielle K.L. Gregoire)

We never kissed.
Sitting two rows over
In second period algebra
Trying to calculate the
Difference between actually
Asking you on a date
And solving for X.
Even my teenaged brain
Recognized I may be valuing
You for the length of your
Skirt rather than the
Quality of your mind –
But what else did I have
To go on, since we had
Never actually spoken.

We travelled in different circles.
Yours was the popular crowd
And mine… wasn’t,
But if John Hughes movies
Taught me anything,
Those are just roadblocks
That can be eventually overcome
By perserverence and
Comedic co-incidence.

I knew we were fated
For mutual infatuation,
Hand-holding, plus possibly the
Sorts of things that run
Through the mind of a
Puberty-riddled boy way more
Often than we will ever admit.

You were my one-and-only love
… For about a week
Until I fell head over heels
For yet another girl that
I would never kiss.


Next is another piece that came out of the Recipe’s Ingredients workshop.

The Debut!

Posted: June 22, 2010 in Poetry, The Copper Conundrum

Last night was the debut of the Copper Conundrum! Was the show absolutely note-perfect? No, but the small flubs were completely overshadowed by the fun we were having on stage.

I LOVE getting to join in on classics like “Errorist”. I LOVE getting to join in on classics like “Hallelujah”. I even love getting to swallow my butterflies and join in on “Ma Pavane”.

I LOVE what Danielle and Kevin have done to “Why Art?” I LOVE having them join in on “Icarus” and “Library“.

I LOVE performing “Angst” (new piece).

I LOVE getting to sit back and listen to Kevin’s amazing performance of “Grapefruit Gelato Lake” and Danielle’s amazing performance of “Sum of Many Hearts”.

I LOVE the group and LOVE getting to do what I do.

If the audience loves it anywhere near as much as I do (and they sure seemed to!) then we have tapped into something good.

Next performance is tonight. The Copper Conundrum: Danielle K.L. Gregoire, Kevin Matthews and Rusty Priske. Royal Oak Laurier Basement. 9:15pm. $10 at the door.

See you there.