...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 )
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Love the cluck of chickens,
the laugh of children play,
birds, rain, running water,
train wails far away;
they ease the prick of thicket’s thorn
for as now is reckoned
morals thicken after ticket’s torn.
Ponytails were killing us. My most excellent friend & I are solving the problems of the universe. The most excellent show maybe ever–“Red Dwarf…”
On Friday, the Red Dwarf ran into the Squid of Despair, a giant squid. The cast and crew discovered that everything is a giant, mass hallucination, that we’ve all been playing parts for four years in a GIANT VIRTUAL VIDEO GAME.
SO, now they find out who they REALLY are–and THAT’s the DESPAIR–the despair was that they found out who they really were…
AND, right when they were about to KILL themselves, all cast members lined up, four in a row with one bullet–the ship’s computer finally got to a high enough FREQUENCY where they could HEAR and save them.
Friends, we suggest that we buy each other’s organically grown sustainable smoothie very expensive cakes and artisanal food, get frequent behive hairdos, sans hair dye, at the beauty salons where the hairdressers are paid magnificently and enjoy their work. Exercise classes and spas. Sustainable capitalism–it’s a plan.
I suggest free education for everyone, or paid education, whatever works. And a career of anyone’s choice. Some people have to go to school longer for their careers. Those people should be paid a wee bit more. OK, incentive. But not ridiculous incentive. I’m thinking: sliding scale speeding tickets, like the ones they have in Sweden. Getting rid of tax loopholes and offshore accounts. Staying local. Stopping all this weird international shipping except for cruise ships to one anothers continents. In the basements of the cruise ships, we could carry very expensive, fine cheese and the spices and coffee of the world. Gigantic, energy efficient cruise ships. Free energy? What was that thing Tesla was talking about? Hope it works. I would like to beam myself to the North and South pole if possible, and Japan. Coffee crops as well. I really like coffee from fair wage growers whose wages must grow more excellent.
Keeping the inheritance ‘stuff’ within reason, but making sure these rich people work doing art/music/artisanal food or whatever tickles their fancy and stimulates the economy in a sustainable way.
Primed the pump last night and bought some local, organic food. Sharpened our old knives for only $12. Hope he charges more next time. Hope the family business has more business coming in–we are an overtly ethical business. Hope our book projects take off. I know all this will happen. I just, know… it.
We are pleased to host Yuyutsu RD Sharma for the next week or so in our home while he stays in Cleveland. Yuyutsu is touring the US. If you are in the Cleveland area, I encourage you to come out and hear him at one of the venues at which he’s appearing this week. Take the opportunity to catch this poet while he’s in town!
Yuyutsu RD Sharma is a distinguished poet and translator. He has published eight poetry collections including Space Cake, Amsterdam, & Other Poems from Europe and America (Howling Dog Press, Colorado, 2009). He has even launched a literary movement, Kathya Kayakalpa (Content Metamorphosis) in Nepali poetry.
â€œDonâ€™t panic,â€ they said,
remain cool like your Krishna ,
meditate maybe like Buddha,
uttering â€˜Om Mani Padme,â€™ jewel in the lotus,
or lie down and relax
like Vishnu on the python bed
to float on the oceanâ€™s currents,
buoyant on the invisible thread
of your breath in slow motionâ€¦
Millions of cats prowled around me.
Smoke from shared sex
and hashish joints stung my eyes.
of an awkward fire fed my stomach.
I skidded queasily towards
towards the formidable edge,
unknown ominous frontiers of human lifeâ€¦
They laughed a secret laugh
behind my back â€“ â€œIsnâ€™t it crazy that
this man from Kathmandu should get stoned
from a piece of space cake in Amsterdam ?â€
â€œDonâ€™t be serious, laugh,
celebrate the flame of life!â€ a womanâ€™s voice said.
â€œHold my hand; I can imagine
you are alone on this trail.
Iâ€™v been there once,â€ she whispered.
Her tongue curled like a dry leaf in my ear
and crackled â€œHow much did you take,
just a piece? I took thirty-eight grams once,
It can be crazy if you donâ€™t know itâ€™s coming.
Just donâ€™t worry too much.
Donâ€™t lose your control over things.
You can kiss me if you like,
You can pat my back,
tickle my belly or stroke my breasts
for a while, if it comforts you.
Sometimes it can be heavenly,
this licking the rim of the forbidden frontiers of human life.”
â€œThatâ€™s what he wants, thatâ€™s exactly
what heâ€™s looking for,â€ a voice leered far off.
â€œBut I have to go ultimately,
Iâ€™ve a man waiting at home for me.â€
â€œMaybe read a poem of yours,â€
someone said. My heart raced wild
and I heard some girls gossip in the next roomâ€”
What if he gets sick in Europe?
Donâ€™t we get sick in Asia?
â€œJust take it easy,â€ another voice echoed
â€œYou wonâ€™t go psychotic. Remember one thing,
whatever happens, you can always make a comeback.â€
Faces of my dear ones veered past my face.
I felt delicate thread of my life
slipping through my fingers
â€œHey man, itâ€™s fine. Donâ€™t worry too much.â€
My host shouted. â€œDrink lots of water.â€
“Drink black tea or coffee,â€ a guest suggested.
â€œOr take lots of orange juice.â€
â€œMaybe sing your favorite song,â€ a woman said.
â€œOr recite one of your Hindu mantras.â€
â€œMaybe stick your finger into your throat,â€
another voice came sheepishly, â€œand throw up.
You probably havenâ€™t digested everything yet.â€
Questions came like wind slaps.
â€œCan you tell me what they call boredom
in your mother tongue? Do you remember
your email account and password?
Discuss your children, if you have any.
Shall I bring my little daughter before you?
Maybe youâ€™d feel better then,
seeing her brilliant eyes.â€
I imagined a childâ€™s face and clung to it,
like a penitent would hold onto
a sacred cowâ€™s tail in his afterlife,
and slept on it, all through the river of bloodâ€¦
Hours passed by
and then I heard someone sayâ€”
“What if he had freaked out?
What if Death had stalked our house tonight?”
Hearing these words, I woke up
knowing Iâ€™d come back, stepped on
the familiar shores of life
where Deathâ€™s feared, a distant distrustful thing.
My drowse burst like a glacial that cracks
from rumble of a seed of fire
that explodes somewhere in earthâ€™s deep sleep.
“No Exit” by Mother Dwarf Smith – foto by son Smith
We made the monthly Tremont ArtWalk rounds tonight, and our first stop half a block around the corner at the Doubting Thomas Gallery, my 24 year old art past struck again. Performance artist Frank Green is selling off his art collection and one of the pieces he has for sale is a fine assemblage by my dead mom–Mother Dwarf–while another in a rusted cake pan is one-third of a triptych of mine from the mid-1980s (the other two portions of the triptych were destroyed somehow).
Also saw Dick Head at Green’s show, and 4 days ago in another part of town I chanced across some of my old artwork in a couple of Dick Head’s 1985 Clevebland Rag-o-zeens. My old art past is Mobius strip looping around in some Twilight Zone infinity flip. These seem to me to be omens saying I’m supposed to be here.
I first met poet artist punk musician publisher performance artist Dick Head in 1983. There was a pounding on my 4th floor warehouse fire door. I opened it to my first view of Dick Head. He whined, “Do you have any drugs?” “No,” I replied, “but if you find any, come back.” An hour later he was back pounding on my steel door, with drugs. Not a bad foundation for a 27 year friendship.
Robert Ritchie a.k.a Dick Head – foto by Smith
Sometimes I forget how long I’ve been in Ohio. Moved to Chagrin Falls in 1977 when I was 31 (moved there to be with another man’s wife), then to Solon in 78, downtown Cleveland warehouse 81, Tremont 85, Europe 2006, Africa 07, Mexico 07, and back to Tremont 09 at 63.
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”
Started life in Idaho in 1946. Then Washington state, Oregon, California, Tennessee, Maryland, Hawaii, Virginia, Florida, Connecticut, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio. And of course the England Netherlands Poland Croatia Italy France Spain Morocco Mexico Ohio loop just to keep things interesting
No wonder place has seldom been my identity.
“No Exit” (detail) by Mother Dwarf Smith – foto by Smith
“As Above, So Below” – 1/3 of triptych by Smith – foto by Smith
The adventures of Lady & Smith, soon to be no longer broadcast from foreign shores.
Getting things picked up, packed, mailed, given away, tossed, cleansed for our fiftieth-some move since 2006. Our fridge and furniture have been traded for our final two weeks rent. Plants gone, art gone, books gone, spices gone, smoke gone. Getting white and empty in here. It’s the awkward stage where we’re gone in our minds but still here in the flesh. (Although my body still revels in this sun and warmth).
What an odd three year story arc it’s been – Cleveland England Netherlands Poland Croatia Italy France Spain Morocco Mexico, and now back to Cleveland to live. I spent 29 years there–46% of my life. Looks like I’ll stay at least one more.
Once back, perhaps we can begin to put our journey in perspective. 31 months, 10 countries, 21 cities, 3 continents. Not sure how we’ve changed, but know we ain’t the same.
After all this, I figure Cleveland will be just one more foreign city to report on.
We watched Stranger Than Paradise last night. Wanted to see the actors standing in the blowing snow looking out at the iced-over Lake Erie to prepare us for returning to Cleveland winters. The scene where they drive by Tremont into Cleveland showed our old studio flat. Interesting scene because they’re supposed to be driving from the east, from New York City to Cleveland, yet in that scene they’re coming from the west, which is ass backwards.
Looks like we’re moving back to Cleveland this spring after 32 months living outside the U.S.
Lady’s been talking of moving back awhile now. She’s isolated here, needs to be around younger people, have a viable art & poetry scene. We were talking of San Francisco or Seattle, but family and a job lead us back to Cleveland.
I’m isolated here as well, but then I’ve been isolated for 62 years now – place don’t make no difference because it’s the people Iâ€™m walled off from no matter the country, city or century.
Returning is going to be exceedingly odd because I left Cleveland AND the U.S.A. in both my mind and body August 2006 with nary a thought of ever returning to either. At least my cosmic script writer still has a sense of humor and the absurd.
Knowing we’re going, each day I look deeply into the colors and contours of here, the most beautiful place I’ve lived except for my 7 years being raised on a 40 acre farm on Paradise Prairie outside of Spokane Washington in the 1950s. Both southern France and the Istrian tip of Croatia were beautiful places to live as well, but they were culturally even more disadvantaged than Oaxaca.
Not looking forward to this, but relationships and marriages require compromise and right now Lady’s needs outweigh my own. Plus I’ve lived most my life and have become who I am while Lady is young, still living, still becoming. (Actually, she’s very becoming.)
I’m looking forward to the poetry and art. Cleveland has the best poetry scene we’ve seen anywhere in our three years of travel – including London England. And it’ll be good to make art again. I’ve made a dozen pieces in our journey through 10 countries and 22 cities we’ve lived in during that time, but the art desire was attenuated because I knew we’d be moving on again and I’d have to leave the art behind – my ego is too large to be comfortable with that.
I’ve fond memories of the cities we stayed in along the way – in chronological order: Cleveland, Ohio USA / London, UK / Leeds, UK / Grassington, UK / Burley-On-Wharfsdale, UK / Amsterdam, Netherlands / Lodz, Poland / Krakow, Poland / Liznjan, Croatia / Trieste, Italy / Venice, Italy / Abeilhan, France / Barcelona, Spain / Madrid, Spain / Marrakech, Morocco / Essaouira, Morocco / Keswick, England / Marseilles, France / Paris, France / New York City, New York USA / Oaxaca, Mexico / Tanetze, Mexico.
Not a bad run. And this will not be our last – get some more money and a wee bit of security and we’ll be off again.
I’ve finished my morning ablutions, drank my 1st cup of eye-opening life-giving Mexican coffee purchased from the mountain woman with whom we stayed twice to help pick her coffee from her trees (so maybe we’re occasionally drinking some coffee beans we actually picked), answered my 1 email, spot checked the news to see what lies the evil corporate empire has defecated on us since last night, glanced at the blogs I follow of others, and read the few comments left on my blog.
Now it’s time for me to blog, and of course I have no blog.
Lady started this blog on WalkingThinIce.com end of June 2006 while I was recovering from my nose polyps removal and cancer biopsy operation (polyps are gone, cancer is clean). Since then we’ve lived in 10 countries (4 of them twice) and have blogged 1,232 blogs with between 2 to 3,000 fotos of our travels.
Lady and I have been together 3 years and 2 months, and we’ve a daily blog of our life and times for 2 years 4 months of that. Well, almost daily – for our three months of living in a small fishing village on the tip of Croatia facing the Adriatic we had to bus a half hour into town to blog, and our two weeks of camping in the North England rain we had to walk an hour through the mountains to blog, so in those cases we only blogged thrice weekly. But I blogged two-three times a day in our two months in Krakow Poland, so that should keep my average up.
In our 38 months together we’ve moved 50 times, living in the U.S.A., England, Amsterdam, Poland, Croatia, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, England-France-Spain-U.S.A. a second time, and now for the past 11 months in southern Mexico.
Here in Oaxaca is my favorite place I’ve lived since I moved from the farm to the city in 1960. It’s not the most important place I’ve lived since then though – that’d have to be Morocco. One month in Marrakech and 2 months in the old walled city of Essaouira on the Northwest coast of Africa was the most amazing adventure I’ve had because it was like going through the looking glass to an ancient time before electricity, cleanliness, antibiotics. There’s nothing Western about it, it’s more like Old Testament times. Morocco also kept trying to kill me with multiple attacks of dysentery, which kept things interesting.
The one thing daily blogging in a multitude of countries, cities and cultures has done is made me a better, faster, more thoughtful writer. The other thing is it has given Lady and me an online diary record of our daily existence, with fotos.
The funny part is when Lady started this blog, I asked her why. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to blog. And now I’m addicted to my daily noise.
Still, it is hard to blog every day, to think of something to say. No one’s interesting every day all the time. So here’s my bogus non-blog of a blog today. Of course my non-blogs aren’t really a problem because I always have interesting fotos for eye candy to keep you distracted from my lack of content. Tomorrow I might just have something real to say.