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Smith text of last night’s reading

Text of my reading last night at Visible Voice Books in Tremont (Cleveland, OH) from “Where Never Was Already Is” with co-reader John Burroughs who also published my book.

~ ~ ~

Car repair
free pastries free coffee
six hundred dollars.

~ ~ ~

Wheel Deal

There’s something wrong with this world
I mean I wash the dishes
and more dirty dishes appear
I clean cat box of clayed shit and clumped piss
and more’s magically there
every day I defecate
yet defecate the next
dedicated to rerelease I guess
I eat in morning noon evening in-between
again and again
I drink water piss it out drink it in
again and again
in never ending script
get up
run the rat wheel
walk the rat wheel
sit the rat wheel
be the rat wheel
resolve to better
fall to fail
it gets cold I put on sweater
it gets hot I put on sweat
is there a seek in cycle
or learning in loop
something actually done
accomplished
improved
or are they just waiting for me to see the light
already seen in previous scene
done played
paid
replayed
repaid
is this but screen test
or something real
I mean what’s the deal?

~ ~ ~

Life with Wife

So strange,
I’m sitting quiet in my chair
and this beautiful young woman walks by,
stops,
leans over, kisses me,
and walks on.
This has been happening for over 12 years now.
I wonder who she is,
and how she got in?

~ ~ ~

Norman Rockwellville

Walked a mile to the country school
white wood, two rooms
grades 1 through 4 left room
5 through 8 right
the husband wife teachers
lived in the cottage on the grounds
each day I listen to my 5th grade lessons
then 6th, then 7th, then 8th
end of year they close the school
skip 2 of us in the 5th to 7th
the third, her mom said no
did not want her young daughter
in class with older boys with cars
and condoms
which I later understood

Walked a mile other way to country church
white wood, two rooms
youngsters in front
adults in back
preacher weekday carpenter
his family a good chunk of the congregation
one day in front room
sitting behind my 14 year old girlfriend
who’s teaching the kids parables
I run my 13 year old hand
up her leg
under her skirt
into her panties
to a bit of wetness beyond
where I pause in silence
as she continues her sermon

~ ~ ~

Dung or Diamond

On my lack of fame and fortune
I keep baiting the stream
But nobody bites

As for peace and understanding
I chase the spirit
I follow the sprite

~ ~ ~

Sisyphus in the Land of Sorrow

No longer waiting for my cream rise to top
nor my rock to not unroll
cuz that boat will never sail
in fact wasn’t even made
and its flag don’t fly
its tank is empty
its tires flat
and engine froze
no happy ever after fame and fortune
cuz unhappy race is base of game
no matter which rung you on
unless you let go
voluntarily
for real
and fuck fame
fuck fortune
love life
hug wife
pet cat
and of course
sip the coffee and toke the smoke
to set the yet for rising sun

~ ~ ~

Marriage Proposal

December of 68 I was lying on LSD on my bed downtown Baltimore.
Walls, floor, ceiling, doors all painted flat black.
Metallic mobiles and assorted assemblages hung from the ceiling
turning at will in low green and blue light.
My future wife walked in and sat so she could see me in the mirror.
So and so just got married she said.
That’s nice.
Silence.
Watch her reflection watching me.
So and somebody else also married.
More silence.
Watch her reflection evaluate my reflection’s reflection.
Even through the LSD I could see she wasn’t talking what she was saying
so asked.
I just want to know what’s going to happen she screams
stalking into the living room.
I lie there amid my hallucinations and resentfully realize
I’m too weak not to marry her.
Another’s strong needs always overrode my indifferent apprenticeship.
20 minutes later she skulks back to the bedroom.
OK I snap.
OK what? she snaps back.
We’ll get married.
When?
Six months I finalize
feeling sure the artist within will wither once reduced to marriage,
suburban boxes, the upperclass hypocrisy rampant in her family and friends.
We had a rich wedding in a high Episcopal-cum-Catholic cathedral.
Reception held of course at the country club.
None of my freak friends came.
The day of the wedding
I put all the trash left from moving in the middle of the floor
smoked the last of my grass
took off all my clothes
and slowly danced naked about the trash
sprinkling it with my box of monosodium glutamate
and chanting unknown chants of sorrow.

~ ~ ~

Cleveland Gray

Gray gloom blooms
Over my head
Dims my dimmer
Breaks my bread
Hurts my heart
Aches my gut
Empties my bucket of luck

Mom’s dead
Dad died
The homework ate my dog
My money fled
My President lied
He’s helping the rich instead
(what a big surprise)

Feeling blue what do I do to shake this Cleveland gray?

No home heart warmth
To keep me sane
Shadow sun forgotten same
Jams my brain
Makes hope a corpse
And life a pain
Over and over again

Maybe get some sleep
Or take a toke
Or shuck a sheep
Or shake a joke
Or just drown in downtown brown
Cuz I tell you true I’m feeling blue
Gotta shake these Cleveland grays

~ ~ ~

8-ball Boogie

I worked my ass off and now my pants won’t fit.
Kissed so much behind my lips are starting to stick.
This working class hero bit’s just another bag of it.

I’d eat the rich, but their taste is so bad. I’d serve
the poor, but too many already have. I’d play with myself
but I’m not all here. So I ask God, is She still there?

Reason drips in dropped disguise red through white
through blues departing in the night, the never right
hype the Man, his chicken stripe, and his doo doo do.

We worship Amway, Scientology too. As long as it’s
Brand Named we play the fool, pay first born foreskin,
a nipple or two. So break out your dead deal dust due.

Ghosts of gone before host our yet to be. No
flowers for the finished, no hour for their song.
Ground zero works in theory only when you’re wrong.

Weren’t for Monk, I’d catch Coltrane. Weren’t for TV
I’d have a brain. Heart and soul sold for junk. If I’m
the rat, best step back cuz I’m not the one gonna jump.

8-ball boogie gets you every time. Tried to fax the
factors in, they made me stand in line. Try to share
my truth with them, they stamp my life a lie.

8-ball boogie, get you every time.

~ ~ ~

Grease Your Grill

I’m an oven cleaner baby
Come to scrub your grill
Yes this oven loving man
Mean to steam your grill
Get the heat back baby
Flame and fire the thrill

I’ll rub your rust off lady
Get your grid to shine
Rid this mood of maybe baby
Lady let me lick your lime
Make much meat that might be
Moistened by munching lightly
Juicy, prime

Gonna grease your grill
Put the heat back baby
Then, send you the bill

~ ~ ~

Alchemy, Inc.

Kenneth Rexroth found his muse
a floating petal in slow stream
running gentle Asian arc
between his woman’s thighs.

Wallace Stevens rose unwilling
from unloving woman
to actuarial tables, champagne,
painting philosopher dust.

Bob Dylan mixed amphetamine,
coal dust, winter cold
lean and mean and bold.

Leonard Cohen went for love,
Zen guitar, droll wine women
in funeral parlor tone.

William Carlos Williams’ prescription:
red wheelbarrow, dusky attic,
dancing daily in the dark.

My wife Lady K slipstreams with All,
glad book in hand,
flux and flows with glow.

I take when and what and why I get,
grateful for any voice at all,
scramble for the word.

~ ~ ~

Black Ice

Late January
coming back from Snoetry 5
a 12-hour reading in Erie
three lady poets in the car
me driving
sun down
liquid ice falling from the sky
we enter 90 West to Cleveland
going 45 in a 70 zone
see two-car crash
and flashing lights ahead
I hit the brakes
the tires stop
the car doesn’t
we slide at same speed
silent on black ice
straight for crashed car
two backseat poets screaming
front seat poet talking serious
me thinking it’s simply too cold
and too far from Cleveland to crash
I slow turn the wheel to the right
and we gently slide right
just past the rear of the crash car
the screaming stops in amazement
but now we’re heading for the cop car
its top lights flashing NO NO
I gently turn the wheel left
and we slow slide left
between the front of the crashed car
and the rear of the police car
and go on down the road
in complete silence
ecstatic

~ ~ ~

Slipknot

Meet me in the meat lane
I’ll be lambing up the chops

trying to chase the safe
and not the not

laminating lamentations
crying up the crop

slipping slide relations
in cut of guardian knot

never wanted to fuck my mother
didn’t want daddy dead

actually loved my younger brother
before he blew off his head

they’re all gone and yet remain
in my side of am

none of this of course germaine
to jiggle jelly jam

~ ~ ~

Status Report 168

Rats sing.
Rats laugh.
Rats line their nests
with gnawed American money.

The rich sing.
The rich laugh.
The rich also line their nests
with money not their own.

I prefer rats.
They do it for love.

~ ~ ~

Confessional

I said I’ll make the decisions
because I’m old and male

and she said no

I said yes, says so in the Old Testicle,
and you don’t want to upset the Old Testicle
because it’s Big and Hairy

and she said don’t piss me off

I gasped, you’ve just offended the Sacred Scrotum

and she made the decision

~ ~ ~

Conversation with Wife

Leaning back in my chair,
Lady bends over and kisses me.

I reach up my two hands,
cradle her breasts.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m holding these up for you,
was afraid they’d fall and hurt me.”

“Oh, you’re sooo brave, and manly . . .
now can you make me some coffee.”

“Coffee for the breasts?”

“Yes, that is the price.”

“Ah, the booby price.”

~ ~ ~

Bad Boy Smith

At a reading at ex-dive bar
The Millard Fillmore Presidential Library,
Ray McNiece and his band Tongue-in-Groove
played Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues
to bring me up with the announcement
I “was Cleveland’s bad boy,”
had “done time.”

So I confessed.

Served 9 days in Juvenile Detention
in 1960 when I was 14 for stealing 13 cars.

Spent 1 night in jail in 1968
on false charges after an argument
over thermostat settings in the hall,
case dismissed,
arguing neighbor moved out.

Locked up overnight twice
for drunken lurchedness —

first in early 80’s
after cops in civilian clothes
beat me bloody for talking back,

second 1990
for being too drunk to even walk
and driving through a fire hydrant,
water spraying everywhere;
I was lying shirtless on the jail cell floor
when a guard asked if I wanted a lawyer,
I replied, “No, you’re going to let me out
in the morning anyway.”

It’s sad I knew that.

Did have to spend 3 days in a hospital
after I got out
attending a You-Are-an-Alcoholic seminar
in place of being jailed for 6 more months.

But the big one was in the little house…
10.5 months in York County Jail 1970
for my second armed robbery;
after being caught,
my bulging pockets of stolen money
somehow reduced itself to $140
once counted by the head detective.

I am a bad boy.
But I’ve learned to pretend to be good,
seem to be getting better at it.

At least I’m not some cop
pocketing money another stole.

As for the alcohol?
Sober 27 years.

Down to strong coffee,
occasional grass,
driving too fast,
not respecting the government,
and jaywalking.

But I’m still one bad bone.


One Response to “Smith text of last night’s reading”

  1. JJStick says:

    Such a fun reading, your voice is back.

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