...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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Who knew I had 30 wives.
“You’re not the man from St. Ives are you?”
Thought you were going to write.
“Yeah, I’m going to.”
Good, I’ll sit over her and wrong, then.
“Fold me once, fold me twice,
I won’t be fold again.”
“I’m going to lay down, I don’t feel well.”
Good, sleep’s the best thing for being sick.
“What about ice cream,
is ice cream good for being sick?”
Sure, ice cream puts you in a better mood
which increases your positive energy
which strengthens your immuninites.
“Immuninites? My ancestors were Mennonites.”
More likely Mennonites and Womennonites.
“You’re not Mormon, are you?”
No, I’m less man, more mutant.
What you working on?
“I’m Photoshopping out the background
of a picture of a battery. I need the energy.”
Batteries in some cell phones have been exploding.
“Are they re-volting?”
No, reading crime fiction, took up assault & battery.
What sigh are you?
“What sigh am I on?”
Yes, are you in-sigh or out-sigh?
Leaky Sneaky they used to call me
until I started pissing in their corners
when they weren’t looking
now they call me Sneaky Leaky.
“Where’d I ever find you?”
In the bargain bin
underneath the Blue Light Special
I’m next year’s model of last century’s design.
“Well I’m an earlier version of myself,
about a year and a half ago.”
As she bends over tying her running shoes
I beat on her back with my hands.
“What are you doing?”
Playing my solo.
“Your Hans Solo?”
I’d rather pleasure pleather.
“What about Naugahyde,
how many Naugas does it take to make a hide?”
If I become a proselytizer, will you be my pimp?
All hail dyslexia – tuck Frump.
“I can’t believe this reality we’re in.”
You mean the Presidential election?
“Yes. It’s crazy.”
I think someone left the wrong gate open.
“Dad says drones aren’t evil but sometimes
they’re just flown that way.”
I want to be a good drone when I’m flown up.
She’s walking down the street
here to help our hinder
to see we dodge defeat
then slips away forever
says it’s chance we meet
beneath angelic flavor
He ambles down the lane
where I wrestle fixing flat
insists no time explain
must buy tube and that is that
by time I see he’s right as rain
wife has tube, store closed fast
– Smith, 2.23.2014
Can’t imagine how this reads without the back story.
Lady and I were helped often by strangers in our 31 months of living in ten countries on three continents 2006-2009.
In Krakow Poland, we checked out of our one-week loft for two months in the old Jewish Quarter, donned our too heavy backpacks and walked cross town to find our new place locked, no one answering the office buzzer. I stood there with the packs while Lady went looking for a fone since she had a few Polish phrases memorized. She came back, unfoned, which is when we decided to get cell fones.
We’re standing there wondering what to do when a young blonde woman bops along, says “Oh, are you trying to get in,” whips out her fone and calls someone, turns to us and explains “They thought it was to be tomorrow,” buzzes the custodians to let us in, carries Lady’s backpack up to our apartment, has the custodian loan us her key until tomorrow, explains she’d just been coming by to tell her boss she was taking a sick day when she saw us, wishes us well and leaves.
In south France bicycling from one wine town to another, I hit a pothole and blew my tire. I was trying to fix the tube with my repair kit when a tall gaunt dude walks up and says I need to buy a new tube and I need to do it now because the store’s closing for mid-day snooze in 10 minutes. I thank him and explain I can fix it. He insists, takes Lady into the store. As they come out with the tube, the store closes, and I’ve realized the tube blew at the base of the air nipple and is indeed unfixable. I thank him gratefully and he leaves.
Two strangers, two saves.
Lot of less than nice stuff going on in the world right now, but folk forget how much kindness and good stuff constantly happens all the time. Pay it back by paying forward.
We visited Auschwitz and Birkenau
concentration camps in Poland outside Krakow.
Auschwitz looks like a clean collage campus,
but Birkenau was drenched in death,
fingernail scratch in wood,
white bone chips in dirt you walk on
lining the bottom of the stream,
even the soft wind whisper in the slow moving trees
For willful dispension of disbelief
sorrow knows no words.
The first two weeks of Lady’s and my “taking-up” consisted of me appreciative of the sex but telling her we had no future due to the 27-yr age gap.
She ignored me, just as she’d ignored my GO AWAY unwelcome mat outside my door.
One day after she left, I discovered a plate with a circle of sliced mangoes with a scoop of pomegranate seeds in the middle, slick wet red juice oozing down across thick yellow mango moistness.
I thought “Aha, a love spell if I’ve ever seen one” and gingerly carried it into the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet.
Didn’t do no good. In two weeks she had a key. Two more she’d moved in. Five months later we married the day after her divorce and four months after that we left the country for 31 months of foreign lands.
It’s near time to start book two, write about all that.
One of my favorite memories is Lady jumping on the outside of a train in Poland that was leaving the station without us . . . she clung on the side hanging from the roof of the car, her feet dangling below the open door, her too-heavy backpack pulling her down, me running along the concrete platform behind her trying to lift her and her pack into the car. Finally got on and in our seats and I start wondering if we’re on the right train because everything is in an unknown language as she tells me she’d broken a fingernail and I’m amazed it wasn’t her neck.
Anyway I found a small folded note (see fotos) on the floor of the nook, opened it, and found this happiness spell in Lady’s handwriting.
So maybe I was right about the pomegranate seeds and mango.
A Simple Machine
No mango from the shadow
No ghostings from the closed
But kisses for your shoulder
I certainly do enclose
I dance about your shadow
Re-hang in velvet drape
Your renovated altar
Your greatness to relate
From former fog I scurry
To your two as one
What gestates in ambiguity
Becomes footnote to bronze
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.
Precedent kathy’s economic stimulus package – a prescription for today & possibly the future (albeit with tweaking and optimization):
1. If you happen to be near a flower shop, I hear the bees are expecting food next year and so buy a flower, think of a bee, and if you are wealthy, buy flowers for your entire house. I hear they are going to flower forever and ever.
2. I hear the bees have been heard of as ‘unhealthy’ in an outdated narrative, but I’ve recently heard an update on this information: there are some 15 or so new species of bees. I hope they are very good, sturdy, happy little pollinators and that they somehow magically know how to find their ways back to the hives. I anticipate that we shall eat fruit, good fruit, from now until the foreseeable future. I COMMAND IT SO. And the fruit will be wildly and widely available for maws of mass consumption, and will be very healthy and beneficial for the maws of mass consumption.
So, I command you to start eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (if you have the money for it and if it is available in your region. I hear most regions do have enough food. I would like to assume so. If not, I COMMAND IT SO.)
Of the grocery stores, et cetera: I really don’t understand how a couple of red peppers can really equal the life of a chicken. How can this situation be changed so that healthy food is subsidized? GOVERNMENT: I COMMAND YOU TO START SUBSIDIZING HEALTHY FOOD FOR PEOPLE.
3. Cellphones used to have a ‘bad’ reputation. I hear that they are now in collaboration with our needs, and nature’s needs. Thank you, cellphones! We love you!
4. I hear more and more Republicans are finding that they really were right, after all, that they are decent human beings who put their mouths where their money is in terms of helping the poor with churches, in stimulating the economy ethically so that people can buy more locally-made, hand-made goods – this is my vision for the near future. This is my economic stimulus plan.
5. The rich people will dine on the most succulent, juicy, well-marbled grass-fed beef, served to them by wonderfully paid and happy craftspeople who work with food.
6. McDonald’s and its ilk will start serving healthy, inexpensive, wonderfully-tasting food, and will pay its workers very well, a living wage that will meet and exceed its collaborators expectations, 32 hours per week with full benefits and pension plans in reparation for the history of the business’s exploitation of its workers and environment. In turn, the workers will become very faithful advocates of McDonald’s (and its ilk). And their high wages and high health will help stimulate the local economies.
So, on some days, a person of moderate wealth might find that he/she would like to eat at McDonald’s or its ilk, and other days, at an expensive smoothie bar or expensive restaurant or vegetarian restaurant (I hear they are becoming quite popular.)
7. Artists: Did you know that anyone can become an artist? Sure, some of us are misunderstood, but–get this–in a civilized society with lots of cash flow, the rich people buy lots of art. They buy personalized items for lots of money, and so do we. We are rich people! Did you know that? All of us are rich.
We might not have the actual cash money in our bank accounts right this second–but I hear it’s coming! Has to do with that hand-crafted, ethically-produced stimulation thing. Yowzers.
8. Poets: Why are you giving away God’s words for free? You are so good. Buy each others books. I command thee. I command more people to start appreciating poetry–people who might not necessarily write poetry, but suddenly find that, wow, what a goldmine of nuance and love and reverence for life there is in those darned poets! BORDERS BOOK STORE: I command you to buy books from local poets in consultation with the people who know best–like Suzanne from Macs.
INDEPENDENT BOOK STORES: You are lovers of hand-crafted zines, recycled and reowned books, fine coffee environments, tee, pastries, plants, atmosphere, music, fine wine, et cetera. IN MY ECONOMIC STIMULUS PLAN FOR YOU, YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT LOSING BUSINESS, ONLY GAINING IT!
9. Back to the bees. I hear monoculture crops weren’t such a good idea. I’m glad they’re realizing now that they need to employ beekeepers for the local areas, and that most of the year (maybe?) the bees need to eat organic, varied, wonderful, varieties of food. Perhaps a patch of this food with a local beekeeper could be employed in every area that needs one? And that the use of pesticides is suddenly found to not be necessary, or that somehow, it is in coordination with the health needs of pollinating insects? Seems like local beekeepers would be a good jobs program to me.
– – –
I imagine that this plan will require some tweaking, but it sounds like a good start and good vision to me. What do you all think?
“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.