...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 )
Archive for the ‘Creative Writing’ Category
Sunday, September 6th, 2015
We took the first hour of 4 and manned the SPACES Gallery poetry tent across from the West Side Market yesterday. Folk would walk up, we’d ask their name, a few questions, then write a free poem for them. We wrote 18 in an hour, so we each had 7 minutes max to question, write, fotograf, and give. Fascinating process . . . fast, fun, little time for depth, more a process of impressionistic reportage.
It was a blast, especially due to the two children who received poems — our 1st customer was Audrey, 4-yrs old, who also took our spaghetti squash I’d drawn a funny face on.
Our first 4 folk had names starting with A, as did numbers 6, 7, and 12 so the A’s, about 4% of the alphabet, took 39% of our output.
Thanks to SPACES staff Mimi Kato and Marilyn Ladd-Simmons for their prep work, hosting, direction, and encouragement. And thanks to our friend, teacher, ceramicist, and neighbor Angelica Pozo for asking Lady & I to participate in this.
Pedestrian Poetry by the People, Smith shift, 2015
SPACES Gallery hosted a bazaar tent where folk could sit,
tell us their name, a bit about themselves. and we’d write
a quick poem for them. Lady & I had first shift 10-11 in hot
sun under blue sky in open air square across from the West
Side Market. First of 18 seekers was 4 yr old Audrey who
took the free spaghetti squash with a crazed face I had
drawn, then asked me to write “Sally” across the front.
Audrey who loves spaghetti squash
She named her “Sally”
It’s a beautiful blue day
Just as beautiful as Audrey
Bright as month
of river running
A beautiful day
Sky-high with potential
Fresh start at the
West Side market
Weekend like going to
a restaurant & sharing
a bunch of appetizers
What more of a great
Start to September
Could one want?
Because she said
as she walked
in the sun
(she was wearing a t-shirt that said
I Said I Would So I Did)
Mitzie & Amie on a
hot as balls day
Bright blue sky
without even a trace
Hot – like summer
finally purchasing claim
on its season
Today we have not a
care in the world
Al & Amie & April
& Mitzi walking park
in sun with poem
people . . . .
may your flux be fine
While you’re in Cleveland
Catch the poetic wind by
Like spiders strapping themselves
to a string of web
& leaping – wind carrying
them to a destination
Cool little city on a hot day
Bright blue promising sky
Like a present for everyone
carries wind of promise
in lands of sun
and light rain
(he mentioned after his name has to do with the sun)
It is a day
of special names,
people flowers flowing
in market square . . .
What a treasure to meet
an adventurer – Lily from
Sky high in blue clarity
Crepes in hand, sweet-or-savory?
All I can do is draw from
my own memories of travel –
& of living in an unfamiliar
And then the pleasure of feeling
it slowly becoming my own
Blake from the up-down city of
Detroit – visiting the up=down
city of Cleveland
Both cities laden with urban
decay for urban explorers –
cities of salt, rust, and some
Promises in new construction,
kindled interest – monied interests –
we hold our own pockets open &
hope! For kinds of rain.
For family & friends
and southeast side
excursion to the Market
and gathering of clan
circling the falling
to catch up with laughter
& learning in sum
Eating bread from Market
in her stroller fair
blue eyes target
beneath golden hair
Artistic neighbors meet at
beloved community spot –
Market Square – food,
tents, people with a bit of
Megan & Aidi – sharing a
memory in the making Aidi
will remember the rest of
her life – these similar
moments – time with
Mom, the community of
Steve to Steve
from Tampa to Cleveland
may your flux flow
and feel be fine
cuz any friend of Rafeeq
is fine to find
Welcome back, welcome back to
the puppy dog people of Cleveland
salt of the earth, prone to hellos
& self-deprecating answers
How familiarity is like a warm
bath, a kind of indulgence –
& maybe you are thinking, “Oh –
I can come home again – &
this is what it’s like!”
From Toledo to the Market
with marriage down the road
Sun & sisters & folks
from art to food to friends
Familiar – from another northern
Ohio city – Toledo! So happy
to meet you, neighbors!
Like sausage gravy & biscuits –
Like where one is comfortable –
Sampling the degree of
separation from here to there –
Thinking – “We should do this
Thinking – “So many places in
Taking life like seizing the day
– Smith & Lady, 9.5.2015
us with Amie & Mitzi – foto by Mimi Kato of SPACES Gallery
After our shift, Lady asked Mimi Kato to write a haiku in Japanese for Lady’s next online issue of TheCityPoetry.com. We are going to take time to test time to see how we find out what it means down the road.
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
King hailed angels
of the moral order
to our ears
are launched by dream
like cacheted letters
carried on the stately talons
of a giant eagle
of our conscience
has come due
Sunday, February 8th, 2015
Cupid flies on a zephyr
from Lagos, ruby lips homing in
to set things better
Collective psyche poses
modern dancer static fingers
splayed in stance, tender by the
velour waiting for the shape
of change, Leda and
her heat to shine
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
Peeling back the avalanche
the overflowing inbox
the incidents of the nuts & bolts
of dealing with life–
all those card hands
I’m putting all those card hands
in file drawers in their various positions
paperclipped in place
so I can come back to them
later, refreshed, so I can deal
with what’s been dealt better
more gently with myself
yet just kinda crunch
or even let my fellow elves
go to work on it
(I am part elf)
When those cards are filed
or even just left in place
on the table
or left to compost
for the other elves to turn
I’m getting replenishing
I’m getting nourishment
I’m getting energy
I’m getting relief
I’m going to church
I’m going to meditate
I’m going to eat good food
I’m going to train my legs
on the trail
I’m growing more trees
on the watershed of me
to harbor life, livelihood
keep stock alive
The elves are sitting back
relaxed, too, after their workday
We’re investing in ourselves
We’re doing things in the present
that we are to do to value the now
and the future, me & the elves
Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
didn’t do it
But I’ve seen
insects of orchestras
folding, thrumming and vibing
grasshopper there with the rest of ’em,
singing his leg on forewing
How one can carry an instrument
How voice can be like a leg
like an arm
for what you need to do
voice in void voids void
A fish splashing in itself
A satellite broadcasting
some kind of rain
An umbrella for a spot
Or an antenna
An opera singer
doesn’t have to carry
for her things,
just sing and sing
Like the grasshopper
zinging along its thing
on a string
Someone at home with
herself, in herself,
Carrying all her worldly
in her own self world
Finding vast velvet
She lets things open
Sung, sing, will dip
and sing again
Monday, August 5th, 2013
detail Smith sculpture – foto Smith
What would Jack do?
Reading Jack Keroauc’s truth-disguised-as-fiction “Tristessa” (1960) which I hadn’t known about until I bought it used from Guide to Kulchur for $5.
Kerouac was my main driver of yearning for adventure and travel ever since my 17 yr-old self read “On the Road” in 1963 and it inspired a fire to go to Mexico and smoke dope.
Took me four years to find marijuana, two more months to put a needle in my arm, 44 years to hit Marrakech and six months more for Mexico.
Now I read his adventures and think, hmmm, getting drunk, done that . . . smoking grass, yup . . . joy riding, yes . . . mainlining, been there . . . smoking opium, of course . . . hash in Morocco mushrooms in Mexico, uh huh . . . walking Zen trail, still dabble.
But the one thing I did poor Jack didn’t was pass through the maelstrom of alcohol and needles and snorting and sniffing and popping.
I ended up drinking myself to death 22 years ago and haven’t imbibed since, stopped needles 14 years ago, quit cocaine three years later, and discovered a couple years ago during my hip replacement I no longer enjoy pills.
So I’m down to 2 cups strong coffee daily and grass anytime I have the chance. Last did LSD in 1985 and magic mushrooms down in Mexico 5 years ago, though I’ll do both again in ten years or so.
Find that Jack’s words which excited my 17 yr self now seem tame, shallow, but still the initial thrill that primed my adventure pump by showing there was more out there than suits, suburbs, TV.
What he did and wrote was important because he did it first and he did it well. He hopped the Beat train before it left the station, before it even had a destination. Unfortunately he drunkenly stumbled off part way thru the journey to go home, live with mom, drink himself to death, losing his mad holy light while railing at those still riding, especially the (to him) free loading hippies who hadn’t earned a ticket.
That’s the second thing I did Jack didn’t – I stayed on the train. There’s a third string we have in common . . . we both drank ourselves to a bleeding throat ulcer which killed us, except I rose the third day and walked home sober.
What he did isn’t lessened by later because we’re all weak and constantly stray quit fail walk away, so thanks Jack for the journey. You are my original light, and I cherish your burnt-out bulb. You turned America to the possibility of leaving the sheep pen and having exotic adventures. You also showed us failure.
Both are lessons to use.
2 from Guide to Kulchur – foto Smith
London, 2006 – foto Smith
Thursday, May 30th, 2013
(I didn’t know my reality was in holding mode, initial conditions mode left to mold. It was waiting for me and I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t know it.)
(And we left the country in 2006, and we initiated our big Quest even though we didn’t know we were on one… well, if only to make art and have adventures in a kind of artistic and for me, initially, mostly secular way. Zzzzzzzz…..)
(And I found crazy sane magic, non-secular magic. I found ghosts. I thought I was crazy and not. I am not crazy, OK? I am not. I am one of the most lucid narrators in this glob, this moshpit of whateverness that we’re making into i-care-for-it-ed-ness.)
Where is this going? The Quest.
We were invited to Minneapolis to participate in a reading last weekend about outlaw poetry–“Wanted.” It felt like kindling the Quest again to me–our combined part of the Quest.
(I plucked fistfuls of clover and distributed them to poets and passers-by. The men who go to work and eat at the pantry on our street, West 14th. I wrote letters and sent them to grieving folk and prisoners. I would rather write letters for the purpose of poetry and celebration because I don’t want anyone to be sad circumstance. An abundance of letters to help along happiness.)
(I helped with the production of Matter Ring. The reading being named “Wanted” and the book by friend on mattering topic jives.)
And we set out.
I drew a picture of myself, a version carrying the shield of clover, bees abuzz around me, Excalibur truth wielding. Me, fairy, part of God/Reality.
I found out stuff about clovers and the pernicious nature of the idea of dualism. Clover in Illinois saving the environment, Shamrock in Mentor not-so-much-saving-it. Businesses wielding the shield of clover. Clover itself always good.
And I forgot about the “we” part and thought about the “I” part, and on my BIG TO-DO LIST is to figure out the we part in this picture. I am thinking/have always thought that Smith is Merlin. And I am quester, and I am Lady-of-the-Lake.
I found out about clover lawns and am ever an enthusiast of permaculture.
Bees! The story!
The story is that in short, there were storytellers there, and this is kind of a detective story and a quest. Aren’t all? And isn’t the search for the Holy Grail a detective story? And isn’t it about the land, how we are the land, how we are royal?
I worship Your Royal Highnesses the Bee Queens. Who knew that people were at the mercy of bee queens and their workers? Is it a matter of pulling up the fabric and seeing the relationship at that point? Can all points worship all other points and be worshipped as well?
The story is a winding stream that we are helping be healthy with many habitats for wildnesses. Streams buttressed with living carpet, plant blanket. The outlaw part has something to do with the story… living in nature but following higher law, law of out-of-dooredness. Marijuana figuring prominently in so many outlaw poets’ tales.
What is the spirit of plants–what is the spirit of clover and what is the spirit of marijuana?
. . .
A bee inspected me yesterday when I went outside. It hovered there, and inspected me. It tried to come inside, too.
. . .
Is it then not Quest, but Story? Is writing Story the Quest? What is it, from what point do I pick it up this big gob, this kaleidoscope?
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
“First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.”
Dear Beings of the Universe/Good Luck Charmers,
The moon is full. We are on the Quest. We set off this morning, our little quest within the big Quest. We are going to Fairyland, which is good because I am not just Lady, I am a fairy. We will tell the beings in the basement under Fairyland our stories from Stations of the Lost and Found.
This Fairyland we’re going to is in Minneapolis. On the way, we are stopping in Elgin:
- Much of Elgin is in the county of Kane.
- Elgin National Watch Company’s logo features Father Time.
- Elgin has a Symphony Orchestra and some examples of homes in the Queen Anne style.
- The Indian Removal Act of 1820 and the Black Hawk Indian War of 1832 led to the expulsion of Native Americans who had settlements and burial mounds in the area.
So that Act was 193 years ago, basically, two or three lifespans ago, roughly 8 generations ago. How could one possibly justify the expulsion of Native Americans? What were the settlers thinking? And so overtly, too: the Indian “Removal Act.” It led to the Trail of Tears. Interestingly, many ethical Christians protested the act.
So there’s this potpourri of information that one can dig into—what parts of it apply to the Quest?
What I know:
- I am a fairy and we are going to Fairyland.
- I was asked to ask Brahman to stop the suffering of Samsara. This is part of my long quest and what I was told in the Dream.
- I am Lady of the Church of Not Quite So Much Pain & Suffering.
- Native Americans figure.
I like time and the thought of going West on a quest. East, too, but I’ve been more East than West.
Peace & blessings & love,
P.S.: I would like to leave you here with a Bree poem from the new Matter Ring:
You are the bartender salting the rim
of the earth. You are shaking things up,
You are the hostess the whole room
rounding while we straighten our shirts
in the mirror moon easily makes
of your eyes,
The salesman on the ready, always, you
make something out of us, like it was
no thing, this us. And this is us waiting.
We are what we make of each others army.
And you time things right, ever the
doorman, you of the first infantry, opening
into us, you also pull away from us, and off
of us rise.
Friday, April 5th, 2013
Skin is the first thing I think of
when I think of you
the hearth of cuddle
wrapping my skin around yours
my arms along yours
the big bird bones of our hands
knuckles gently bent around
how calm and warm and smooth it is
and then suddenly
how short–you’re up like that
there are ten minutes of this or so
and then you’re up like that
Oh that we would have the luxury
of feeling able to settle into
each other for a whole amniotic morning
a whole one
Hours without time ticking down
to some task
Just in the flow
in the womb flow
Mandy walking on us
walking on top of the blanket
braver when we’re inert
or meowing from the other room
now and then
Birds becoming more persistent
in song and then
meandering with my thoughts
Even a siren can sound
especially in the morning
a siren like business being done
with us relaxed
in the here & now
A siren like rain happening perhaps
the extras on the scene outside our door
should we choose to get up
The siren an anti-siren
saying don’t come out there, it’s other stuff
going on out there, just soundtrack stuff
the intimate cell of your domicile
Siren, such a weird word
heralding some sad stuff
but also some happy stuff
and poetically mostly happy stuff
in this spool at least
There’s the siren song of now
that siren song of the womb room
that siren song of Mandy plodding on carpet
her feet making oddly heavy sounds
though again she is light like
our hands are like
the birds are like
and the sirens are like and unlike
Monday, December 3rd, 2012
sum part – foto Smith
Writing poetry can be frustrating at times since due to its nebulous nature it can be read so many ways depending on the reader’s mood, education and happiness.
There was confusion last week about 2 of my poems which caused me to leave the following explanation as a FaceBook comment. Blogging it here cuz it’s rewritten and theoretically I have more blog readers than FB readers, unless they’re all trolling cyber-spyders.
Wife just read the following poem and exclaimed, “Oh, how sad.” And I went “What?”
Belief and doubt
merge in comforting concinnity
on broken throne
of tarnished saint
No here here
or there there
No here now
just now now
I’m telling ya flux, it ain’t a sad poem — I should know, I was there during both inception and birth. It’s a philosophical riff on Ram Dass’ “Be here now” and Gertrude Stein’s “There’s no there there” (her judgment of Las Angeles both culturally and as a city) plus the Buddhist teaching ‘all is illusion.’ All in all a positive thought flow to me, but I can see how it can be read sadly.
Same thing with my previous poem which some saw as sad:
New Year’s Model
Old walk, new waddle
as border I straddle
of was forever will be
break from cage
burn to butterfly
No, not sad — positive . . . this was a meditation on me deciding not to immediately replenish my grass supply because I’m in a same-old rut and need to break out of my soothing sleep, leave my cocoon and become butterfly, rise in new from Phoenix ash of old.
Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m constantly sparring with my nature, trying to encourage my better inclinations and discourage or even hopefully conquer my lower nature.
Guess I’m too cryptic in my writing – but that’s what poetry is, unless it’s the easy to follow verse of an Ogden Nash or Dr Seuss (both of whom I respect, although respect doesn’t cover Dr Seuss — it’d be more like awe).
And I must admit I don’t understand or get a lot of my fellow poets’ poems as well because I don’t have their secret starting point to know where to begin.
So I’ll continue to write and post and be misunderstood because basically writing poems supplies me my worth factor – any day with a new poem is a day I’ve earned my keep.
Fortunately I write a lot of straight forward verse as well that’s easier to see as positive, even though it often hides darkness beneath in implication.
We’re all a work in process. Life is process. Good, bad, indifferent, in between . . . we work on what we are, and what we are comes from who we’ve been and what we want to be.
You can decide when I’m done how plus or minus I was along the way. Until then, misunderstand away — but remember, even my negative words have a basic inner positive thrust — they imply “This could be better” or “There is light and potential purpose beneath this dark analysis.”
Like all of us, I’m dark and light within. Been either fighting that or trying to come to terms with it my entire life. Figure my job is to handle the dark and exude the light.
If I make you think along the way, I’ve earned my keep . . . if I make you smile or laugh in the process, well that’s my Christmas bonus.
I think the main clue to the first poem being positive is the word concinnity which means:
1. Harmony in the arrangement or interarrangement of parts with respect to a whole . . . Studied elegance and facility in style of expression . . . an instance of harmonious arrangement or studied elegance and facility.
This probably doesn’t help folk much because it’s a word nobody knows — I got it from my A-Word-A-Day daily email — wordsmith.org/awad/.
Bottom line – folks overlay their emotion and meaning over my own, and the only way around this is to write simple straight-forward unambiguous poetry, which I can’t always do because I love words too much, the way they flow and twist and transform and play with my mind.
Just another skirmish in the never ending Subjective-Objective War.
Dividing line – foto Smith