...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
our landlord family left for 3 days. their son showed me how to pump water in case the roof cistern runs dry, then they shut down their computer and went. now we’re 3 days without internet. their wireless access was inconsistent, but inconsistent is far better than none. at least inconsistent offers hope. now i’ll have to cruise the neighborhood for my cyber fix.
i’m hooked on computers and the internet – blogging, internet fact checking, email, myspace. after talent, experience, subconscious, and creation, the internet is our main creative tool to get art done and told.
this side of cyber, lady had her hair chopped boyscout short yesterday, and doesn’t like the 2-tone look. she doesn’t like the look, the cut, the color. i asked her how it could be improved, and she said “make it longer.” since that’s not an option, i suggested she shave it off, or cut it down to a brush cut. she’d look lean and mean in a marine buzz. i tried all manner of reasoning, logic, suggestion, attempted humor to jolly her out of her bleakness, but every time she looked in the mirror, her gloom returned. there’s something about a woman and her outer appearance that affects them in ways beyond my understanding. i told lady that beauty is external and ephemeral – live long enough, your tits and ass sag, turn lumpy, your body shrinks into wrinkle, skin hangs in fungoidal folds, flesh oozes, liver spots appear on hands, arms, hair thins, falls, bones protrude, smells leak, noises gurgle, noses grow – so it’s best to look within now, to the internal beauty of the heart, the mind, the spirit – the wholly inner trinity, the god we should worship for real, for what lies without can be lost, while what lies within is yours.
she said “thanks, i feel sooo much better now.”
mexico seems to be a culture of young flesh. the kids are gorgeous, sensual, happy kissing, hugging, walking hand in hand, arm on ass. but after kissing comes babies, comes jobs or lack, and extra broadening body weight, worry wrinkles, resignation. like camus’s Summer In Algiers essay – the young dance, strut, bop about until thirty, then they discover their life of youth and beauty is gone, and wait to die.
hmmm, lady’s back. hair dark brown not blonde. she’s not happy, but she’s happier than she was without it. i think she’s kinda cute, but she’s not listening to me. i tell her her eyes are in shell shock because she so drastically changed the shell shape of her head and hair that her eyes can’t accept what they now see, so just stare in silent shock – when her eyes readjust, she’ll see she looks cool. which she do.
she doesn’t realize there’s a charm about her always. she can look anyway she wants, from far out freak to SUV PTA, and she’d still look good. ugly ain’t an option with her eyes and smile.
footnote. we put our blogs on our bobs and went out on a cyber cafe search. it is sunday and nothing is open. after wandering 40 minutes and getting only 6 blocks over, i asked her if blogging were really important. “not to me today” she replied, so we went exploring our new neighborhood instead. blog maÃ±ana, and tack on maÃ±ana’s blog as well – two boredoms for the price of none.
next day. we’re trapped by the trash – sitting here listening for a metal clang clang clanging coming down the street – it means we have to run our garbage out to the slowly moving garbage truck. last week it came by 30 minutes ago, but as they say, “this is mexico,” which means don’t expect, don’t count on – always be ready for a yes, a no, a maybe, a maÃ±ana, or an otre diaz (another day). can’t go out to breakfast until the trash truck comes – what an odd dichotomy.
other street vehicle sounds – a long drawn out rising loud-horned “aguuuaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” is water (agua) . . . a police whistle means the bicycle guy sharpening knives, and a steam whistle is a bicycle guy selling hot ears of corn. what sounds like sick electronic cow bellows over loud raucous radio chatter is the gas canister truck.
the rebosa across the table changed colors, changed nights, changed into a serape. a serape is a strip of material 8 foot long 1 foot wide which men and women use as shawls or light jackets, while a reboso is 8 foot long and 2 foot wide used the same way but usually by women as a shawl and baby carrier. maxman puts a serape across his round table for decoration. on two succeeding nights, he had 2 different ones, so i told him his reboso kept changing with the moon – he said not only that, but it’s a serape.
if i only bought red bound books from now on, i wouldn’t have to read them because they’d already be red. i’d save time, and brighten up the room as well. i could specialize in red books by red communists and red chinese – you know, better red read reed than red read red.
in spanish, manzana means apple and maÃ±ana means tomorrow. so maybe manzana maÃ±ana could be an apple tomorrow, and maÃ±ana manzana tomorrow’s apple. sounds like manassas molasses to me.
we start spanish classes day after tomorrow – hour and a half a day, 3 days a week, $6 an hour each. lady was talking taking 7 hours a day 5 days a week when we arrived., but that would have fried my brain – and i’m doing a pretty good job of doing that all by my self. it’ll be good to begin learning the language here, give us different hues for the city. although there’s many villages around that speak only zapotec dialects, or others.
we have more incentive to stay here permanently past our 6 month legal limit – we’ve been invited to a sacred mushroom festival in july by a zapotec family. he said his father would also show us the old caves used for ceremonies in the mountains. both these prospects excite me.
coming back from the mitla temple ruins yesterday, the taxi was shunted to the side of the highway by soldiers with machine guns. we were waved on through, while others were examined more closely. this is my 3rd country looking out a window and seeing uniformed men with serious guns – a bus window enroute to essaouira morocco, an amtrak train window in pennsyvania u.s.a, and a taxi here.
america was the only country where the men with guns came inside the windows and took people off.
mixtec stone built on top of zapotec – foto by smith
today was humphrey bogart country. we cabbed east through the sierra madre mountains, dropped a thousand feet to the temple ruins at Mitla, Place of the Dead. the area’s been occupied 10,000 years. zapotec history starts 500 BC. around 200 AD, the zapotec built temples which were later re-built around 700 to 1,000 AD by the mixtecs, who lost out to the aztecs in 1494, who lost out to the spanish in 1520. spain built a church on top of one of the 5 mixtec sites which had been built on top of the zapotecian ones. cannibalization anyone? amazing how religions eat themselves, both in legend and location.
the mixtecs came from “the Place of the Reeds,” were known as “the People of the Stone,” while their name derives from “the Place of the Cloud People.” i love the poetry of the past.
“The Aztec empire was a multiethnic and multilingual political organization. Near the end of the empire, religious and military activity may have resulted in the astounding figure of 20,000 human sacrifices per year.” (sounds like where vice dick cheney and george warcrimes bush got the inspiration for their iraq policy – except they’re sacrificing over a quarter million civilians a year instead of 20,000.)
hall of columns – foto by smith
the temple is unusual for its intricate friezes. each frieze consists of up to 100,000 separate pieces of cut stone, polished and set without mortar.
friezes inside temple – foto by smith
after the temple, lady and maxman sat and drank 3 different kinds of homemade mezcal in the courtyard of one of maxman’s zapotec friends while i smoked. as they drank, i played eye ballet with their children. got them to laugh and play, so i felt redeemed.
have to go back to see the caves and the tombs higher up in the mountains. but first must visit the larger older Monte Alban temple complex to the west.
driving back in a collective cab, the sun settled, slanted great golden gleams of light across the never ending mountain faces full of textured magic of crag, tree and rock. range after range of mountains, each one more distant a lighter hazier shade of purple. these are the mountains john huston hustled humphrey bogart and walter huston through in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) – a great gem of a movie on greed. “Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges.”
i ain’t no humphrey bogart, but i certainly got my lauren bacall in lady k.
i’ve nothing to say, so i’ll regale you with 7 short poems by Lady K.
these are not her master poems, just a real-life sample of what she does. she says she’s not a poet. i disagree. she says i’m a better poet. i tell her i’ve been writing poems 44 years, while she’s been at it 7 – that she already has more gems than i had at her age, and when she’s been at it as long as i, she’ll be oozing poetry all over the place.
she also claims i destroyed her as a poet because i took her misery away, made her happy – and it was her lack of happiness that drove her poetic search for a better place. well gee honey, sorry i brought you love and happiness and adventure. guess you’ll just have to suffer your lack of suffering.
poets are weird – except for me, of course.
~ ~ ~
I’m a lung
and a throat
on a seat
on the road
and there’s sun
and there’s wind
and the road
has no sound.
~ ~ ~
Perfume Counter Pussy
high in air
back alleys Scream
~ ~ ~
I saw Clint Eastwood.
This morning, at the gas pump.
Tall leg and buckled denim folds.
He jiggered the nozzle,
dunked and docked it to the hole,
He set his angle butt
on the side of his indeterminate Buick,
Watching the money go by,
thumbs hooked in his pockets.
~ ~ ~
I am a girl who burns for you
my heart hangs heavy in there
it is ginger, for sure,
and its hairy root goes straight to my bud
oh, I bluster and burn.
~ ~ ~
Childhood was a discount store, the ice cream stand
or Headlands Beach. We were as real as a polaroid,
in our feathered hair and blue jeans. My stick arms
freckled down to my large hands. Your skin as gold as
your smoky living room. We were beautiful
12 year olds, each other’s context, our words were boys.
~ ~ ~
MY LUSTING RIBS
I always got this thrill–
the idea of being Olive Oyl,
tied to a railroad track by Bluto
My pale skin, my
pulsing pulsing pulsing
So frail, so prone
a limp bird just waiting
for Popeye to rescue me
But Ohhhhhhh, Popeye,
an ache filled with thrill
Rescue equally exciting
as to succumb to consumption,
the train cracking rack of
ribs on the track
~ ~ ~
JESUS CAME BACK
He was sick of all the shit–
the pyramid scheme where
144,000 angels cashed in
He’s down here,
with me, on Earth.
God closed up the
Jesus cooked me dinner,
the last fish
in our frying pan.
He performs minor
miracles in our bed
and it is all for me.
“Your facial hair is very uneven. Varies from the sides and the bottom,” I tell Smith as I trim his beard.
“That’s cuz I couldn’t afford to buy all the hair at the same time. Had to buy odd lots. Same thing with the penis. I couldn’t afford the whole penis right away, so I just bought the foreskin. So I just had this flap of skin down there, this little skin flute down there. Once, when I went on a date–still couldn’t afford the penis–so I just broke a hot dog in half and stuffed it inside the foreskin. Trouble is, my date performed oral intercourse on me. And I discovered when I got home she’d eaten the hot dog. It’s hell being poor.”
“That’s it. I’m gonna go write this down.”
“You wanna see my penis?”
Smith puts his hand in his pocket. Pulls out a blue lighter.
Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (Latin: “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”) – Descartes
if doubt leads to thought leads to me, then i must indeed be, because doubt’s my redoubt. i begin in enigma and end in ambiguity.
Time is big. I am
small, and but shank and shadow.
Yet no me no Time.
on the map, they label the mountain the city starts climbing to the north the “uninhabited zone.” perhaps that is where i should be, where i will finally find my people – the lost whisper tribe.
of course, it’s not really uninhabited. there’s all sorts of indigenous folk living in and on the mountains, but indigenous people don’t count around here to the government unless they protest, or revolt. as gringo tourists, we get Do Pass Go Collect $200 Get Out Of Jail Free cards – unless we specifically piss someone off, then we disappear.
walking in the sun xmas morning, we passed under a pomegranate tree. it reminded me when lady started courting me, she left me a plate of sliced mangoes topped with pomegranate seeds. this was back when i was telling her i could not love her because i no longer believed in love. so as soon as i saw the wet deep yellow slimish slices splotched with purplish red moist seeds in the fridge, i said “aha, a love spell,” and dumped it down the toilet. didn’t do me any good though, i fell anyway. powerful potion portion pomegranate mango.
i was right to suspect spells – we were married by a Wiccan. wrote this about it:
Get Me To The Witch On Time
with the kitten
my inner itchin
tied me to
the loving post
I’m Wiccan wed
and wonder fed
I better butter be
i have doubts about our global future, capitalism, politicians, myself – but two things i doubt not are lady’s love, and our companionability. living life with lady is the stuff of cinema.
speaking of, the morning after our first night, after she’d left, i read this poem of hers in a book i had. found it encouraging then, true now.
Life Is Not Cinema
Life is not cinema, but if it were–
were I cast as the lead actress in your movie–
I’d give you the moon and the stars,
I’d find shelter in your arms,
and we would eat popcorn
as the closing credits roll by the top of the sky.
– by Lady K
(Note from Lady: “I’m honored to read these little love notes on your blog.”)
Reading “The People Decide”, the account by Nancy Davies about last year’s APPO occupation of Oaxaca. I can’t help but think about what it would’ve been like to live here during the occupation. Certainly exciting, certainly inspiring, definitely dangerous, and definitely inconvenient.
Lots of the shops were closed, sometimes the banks, the roads.
I only know of two expats who were hurt: the Indy journalist Brad Will who died, and our Snowman, who was shot in the shoulder. And they weren’t attacked by APPO. They were attacked by the Federales or State police.
I haven’t finished the book yet, but I know how it ends. The Federales arrested hundreds of the movement’s leaders, disappeared many many people, killed tens of people, tortured others… they continue to torture and hold people today.
One of the movement’s leaders–German Mendoza Nube–is a paraplegic. He was made into a paraplegic by the government. They tortured him in the 80s. The Federales kidnapped him last year, took him right from his wheelchair.
I don’t yet know what the “tipping point” action was that ended the occupation. I assume it was a critical mass of arrests and exertion of force.
Last year’s short-term goal of APPO was to make Oaxaca “ungovernable” by the illegitimate governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. APPO occupied government buildings, closed roads. It wasn’t only a teachers’ strike. It is a movement to change the government of Oaxaca, to uproot the corrupt PRI-run state infrastructure and replace it with genuine democratic institutions. APPO’s decision making scheme is carried out by popular assemblies composed of village elders, etc.
The PRI is corrupt. It totally panders to neoliberal interests. It takes the assets of the people and sells them off to corporations at the expense of the people. You know; it’s the global story.
The Oaxacan situation was exacerbated by NAFTA. Many small farmers, “campesinos”, are out of work because of “free” trade. The US subsizes its food imports to Mexico, and the campesinos cannot compete with the low food costs from the US. So most of the small farms have gone under. Many campesinos end up as illegal immigrants to the US. Entire villages are missing their young people as well. They must find work in the US to survive.
Many campesinos are indigenous, which makes them more legitimate immigrants than the people who live there now, the descendants of European invaders. Who are we to restrict borders.
It’s really not fair to say we have “free trade” when we don’t allow people who we victimize with free trade to compete in our labor markets.
And this “free trade” hurts most people both sides of the border. It only helps those at the tippy top who skim the flow of money, the anachronistic neo gilded age elites.
christmas today. lady k’s and my 3rd xmas together, and our 13th day in oaxaca (out of a legal 180). it’s been intense adventure from day 1. no down time or time to gather one’s thoughts, reflect on one’s path. our friend maxman says get used to it because it never unintensifies adventure-wise down here. once you think you’ve gotten a handle on things, you discover there’s a whole other under layer you need to learn to navigate. he’s been here 3 years and still loves it, even though he was shot through the shoulder by government thugs during last year’s teacher protest strike and occupation of the town square.
if we still love it here in 6 weeks, we’re going to pursue staying full time. this is a rich place and we’ve not even begun to dive in. we heard of fields of orchids growing in the cloud forests up in the mountains – you can look down 8,000 feet to the valley. we have to see that – our poet hearts demand it. same with the zapotec / mixtec / aztec temple ruins close to town. my soul cries to see all the exotica i’ve seen in movies and read in books these past 6 decades.
can’t keep blogging daily thought cuz my brain is over-burdened with unassimilated experience. need down time to stay up. so here are 4 haikus i wrote in 4 countries along our way.
~ ~ ~
As I lie reading Tao Te Ching drops in bathtub
I soak in Tao juice
~ ~ ~
Marrakech at dusk
Purple petals on the ground
Red flower falling
~ ~ ~
West African coast
Low tide, shadows, sea bottom
Tracks from brine to blues
~ ~ ~
Oaxacan hawk on
High watches Oaxacans hawk
Trinkets to the prey
lady k’s 35 today. she’s an xmas eve child. my woman from the elf woods.
a friend told a friend of our age difference, and that friend said i was likely rich, had discarded my 1st wife, and had bought lady with my money. hmmmmm, wonder how much lady costs? if it’s money, i sure ain’t got the bread.
i understand. that’s what i’d have likely thought myself once. but the story is, i divorced my first wife back in 1975, when my present wife was 3. i dated until 1985, then withdrew from the meat market and went celibate for 20 years. lady came along 2 months after mom’s death in 2005 and informed me i wasn’t going to be celibate any more. she was right.
the bathroom just bit us again. it runs from a roof cistern. the tank flapper stopper didn’t come down, so it’s been leaking water straight from roof cistern to sewer below. landlord banged on our metal door, scaring the bejesus out of me. he was nice, but he couldn’t have been happy. water is a problem here. can’t assume anything works right here, so have to check. learn and live.
always some bad, but there’s good too. our first night here, we turned out the bedroom light, laid down, and the ceiling burst into unexpected glow-in-the-dark stars. magic moment.
tonight coming home from dinner at our friend knowman’s, we came upon a parade getting ready to start up. band kept playing “silent night, holy night” in different tempos while they waited. told lady i’d arranged it just for her birthday. large truck float with young schoolchildren nativity scenes rolled slow down the street followed by a pickup truck bed of the 3 wise men and folks on feet with candles and children. we added ourselves to the pack back and paraded home.
i call our friend knowman, lady calls him snowman. his real name’s knowman snowman.