Our Moroccan Friend with Smith
(he gave us permission to take this photo)


“In the old days, they thought the Earth was the center of the Universe. Boy were they wrong.”

They were?

“Yes. I am the center of the Universe. Rotate around Me, Oh Vast ‘Thingy’.”

Ah, good stuff. To the bone. To the marrow, even.

“To the marrow?”

Yes. Will you marrow me?


* * *

It’s a day for nostalgia: nukes, ozone layer. My childhood fears seem nostalgic. When I was little, I knelt in the dirt of our back yard, trying to dig a bomb shelter with a tablespoon. I was going to save my family and my best friend’s family.

“I used to be worried about the ozone layer,” I tell Smith. “But now I have global warming.”

“I don’t worry about global warming. Because the bumblebees will take care of that.” Smith’s current favorite disaster story is the disappearance of the bumblebees.

I say, “What’s really sad about this is that when plants started flowering 130 million years ago, that was a whole major incident for the planet. A whole new phylum of plants, anthophyta. We’re no longer causing mass extinction of just some species. Now we’re achieving *phylums*. ”

“Yes, and Einstein said if all the bees go we only have four more years left.”

“Well, I think science will help with crop fertilization. I’m not worried about that. I imagine high pressure pollen spraying or a lotta feather dusting.”

“Ah, Mr. Science will save us.”

“But flowering plants in the wild will be gone. It will still be a disaster.”

“Not entirely. Some pollinators are ants, wasps…”


“Yeah, pigmy bats. We can paint little yellow circles on their bodies.” Pretend they’re bees.

I wonder what a world will be like without the clumsy busy bodies of bees. Will they become mythological creatures, gold bugs only met by tomorrow’s children in illustrations? MGM lions, tigers, bears…

All our problems right now are really about overpopulation. We’re in an ugly Mathusian comeuppance.

Felt work

“I’m cold.”

“Go out to the balcony,” says Smith. “Go to the railing, to the sun.”

Gold sun’s painted into the salmon and magenta colored bedroom. I wander to the railing. Smith comes up from behind me and scruffs my tanned neck with bearded kisses.

I say, “Yr not gonna push me off, are you?”

“No, there has to be a profit involved. Yr not insured and yr not rich, so there’s no profit. But wait a minute – it *would* be good press… Traveling Artist/Poet Loses his Helpmate in Tragic Marrakech Accident….” I could parlay that press into some self-promotion.”

“Ahhh…. I understand.”

“Plus, rich women would then throw themselves on me, to try to alleviate my sorrow.”

“Hah hah!” I spout.

Smith gives me a yellow pumpkin face grin.

“I could also sell a *true* story of what really happened, a different one, a different version, to each of the tabloid trash chains.”

“Ha ha.”

“Well, like today, when those British ladies were here. We were talking about how most artists don’t make it before they die. I could always kill myself, fake-like, and then we could cash in on my death. I could make new assemblages making sure I only used old articles, and we could keep releasing this ‘new found smith artwork’ into the hungry waters. So actually, I’m the one who’s supposed to fall from the balcony. Not you. We had this backwards.”

“I think I’d follow you off the balcony.” I don’t know what I’d do without Smith. I only know joy with him as my companion.

“No, we’re just going to make them *think* I went off the balcony. I need a bizarre death. Something metaphoric. I need a big falling word sign to fall from the sky and crush me into the sidewalk.”

“I’m going to write that down.”

“No no no. Nobody else can know about this, just us. That’s why this is all a secret. Although, in Basic Instinct Sharon Stone wrote what she was going to do, and she got away with it.”

“What would the word sign say? The one that’s going to crash on you.”

“Peace on Earth, in pieces,” he says. “There is peace in pieces.”

We slump back into the bedroom. Smith straightens a pillow against the foot of the bed, bends his knee. He’s wearing his ever-present uniform of black pants, black t-shirt with an enigmatic faded silk-screened rectangle.

He coughs. “So you gonna contact those travel book people? Those people who’re going to give us tons of money and drugs?”

“Oh, no. We can buy our own drugs.”

“No, let them do it. It’ll be easier, safer.”

“I’m thinking of contacting High Times. They could sponsor us.”

* * *

Smith reads some of his recent writing to me: “I wrote, ‘You can stand on the roof and hear the prayers revolve around you.’ I think that’s what it feels like to be God.”

Then in a jive voice, he says, “Give me some more prayers, Baby Lady… Hmm. That makes me think of the Jim Carey movie where Morgan Freeman is God. Now there’s someone I’d vote for.”

“Morgan Freeman? Why? What if he turned Republican?”

“Maybe I’d still vote for him. I trust him. It’d probably be a *ruse.* He’d be making them *think* he’s Republican.”

“Turning *Republican* is kinda like turning into a werewolf,” I suggest.

“Oh no. I have a lot more respect for a werewolf. At least a werewolf has balls, doesn’t get five deferments from the Vietnamese War.”

“Actually, I respect my biological father for defecting from the war. He went to jail for it, too.”

“That’s true. But Cheney and Bush *ran* from war and now they’re *running* a war. Bush deserted his National Guard unit at time of war and Cheney said, “I have better things to do.” And now *he’s* killing people. It’s his war. It’s *Cheney’s* war.”

* * *

“Ug. Can’t relax. That’s the trouble with a brain you can never turn off.”

“But I like having an active brain,” I say.

“Mine’s sluggish or something today. My body’s sluggish… Maybe I’m just tired from smoking for 19 days.”


“That’s it, yep. I’m proud. I have lived up to my responsibilities.”

“You should try not smoking for a couple days.”

“I am a weak soul. I have a stick of hashish and I keep hearing it call my name: ‘Smith! Smoke me!’ I wonder how our dust mites are doing.” We theorize that the dust mites from Smith’s old house have developed a jones for chemicals due to his steady domestic usage.

I look at him wistfully. I think about how unattractive I feel today even though my weight is good, low. My eyes are bright, I have a tan, and my hair looks good. But I will always feel like a fat woman.

It’s like he can read my mind. “I like you, you know. Yr a good kid. Yr a good person. And you’re looking better and better. ‘Cept for the hair and the glasses, you look like a hippie chick.’

“I do kinda look hippyish right now.”

“Well, you dress hippyish. You look hippyish. You act hippyish. Course, then there were the old hippies. OK. I’m gonna smoke pretty quick. I’m gonna smoke, I’m gonna smoke,” he sings.

Continues: “It’s easier to write now than it used to be. But it’s even easier still when I smoke. I tend to get a little bit funnier. I also tend to use too many words, which I have to take out the next day.”

“Ah, that’s a lime tree outside our window,” I notice. “A lime tree in Marrakech… the big orange sun city.”

I move the computers to the center of the bed. Smith notices this, and moves them again, to the floor. We lie down, get more comfortable. We kiss intensely for a long time and then migrate to other differently articulated gaspy activities.

tea’s steeping
pie’s cooking
woman’s hugging
man’s loving

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