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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
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Archive for May, 2008

torn between the knowledge & the need

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

graffiti – foto by smith

the artist who was supposed to deliver our pre-paid clay sculpture wednesday night rang our buzzer at 8 friday morning – without the sculpture. his car wouldn’t start, and the sculpture has since been damaged. but he salvaged part of it in a new piece and will give us that sunday at the poetry reading. i wasn’t surprised to see him – i felt all along he would show up eventually. there is an honesty about him in spite of his hustler ways. he sang some of his songs and talked of the three of us getting an art show or musical event or whatnot.

this poem is from 2003, one of the poems which helped me catch Lady’s attention, and the second of three poems included in this year’s Cleveland Poetry Scenes – A Panorama and Anthology:

Dear Occupants, Accidents and Occidentals

Just yesterday it was yesterday
Now it’s already today

Confuse not mercy with weakness
Confuse weakness not with an upset liver
And confuse not an upset liver with love
It is the shape of the silence
Which defines the sound
Like winter rubbing against summer
Each refines the other

Only certain curtains can be drawn
The rest must be endured
The souring sermons
The centered self serving
The lion den Christians in Coliseum stands
Twixt ape and angel wandering
Torn between the knowledge
And the need

Do I worship the moon or sun
Or yet the blooded one?
I bloat and smell
Decay in age
The focus runs

political graffiti – foto by smith


sweets succinctly sour

Friday, May 30th, 2008

political graffiti – foto by smith

this is from 1993, and is perhaps my most poetic poem – the sounds slither. one of three poems of mine included in this year’s Cleveland Poetry Scenes – A Panorama and Anthology

Alone This Train

I look to pain to gain
Sleep devoid of sheep
And master’s muster walk
Or talk of tinkers’ conforming will

Alone this train
I see you born
To breed
To die
Infected meat
You teach to cheat
Your fly from famine
Shallow matter
Decayed in safety’s slumber

You briefcased fellows
Bellow farts to follow
Hollow smells
Of high topped fashion
Passion fish not flesh
But flounder

Hurried waters sleek in sinning
Shower lies and cry forgetting
Licking compulsion’s flesh

This land is long, and lost in shadow
Her sweets succinctly sour

striking teachers tent – foto by smith


screen-saver heart

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

one of our plants – foto by smith

blogging is an ego-driven phenomenon. why would anyone think another human would be interested in their daily thoughts and actions? we all have lives, so why would we need to spend ours reading of another’s?

considering the time most folk spend in front of a tv, it would seem they’re trying to escape their own lives, live vicariously through others – sort of like parents often do with their children. so if it’s escape they want and need, i’ve done things most folk won’t, am living my present life as most folk don’t. so there’s a lot of entertainment value.

people also examine other’s lives for clues on what to do – or most often, what not to do. again, my life is a fine example of both.

however, nobody’s life is worth a daily public on-line entry. no one’s thoughts are worth daily jottings. no one is interesting all the time.

that said, let’s see – what’s new for escape or learning today? hmmmmmm, my heart is skipping beats again. sometimes 3 beats and a skip, sometimes 14 and a skip. think a salty restaurant meal initiated it. my heart started skipping december 2006 in croatia due to not enough water and waaaaaaay too much strong coffee – plus every meal we ate in a croatian restaurant came wrapped in a salt blanket. i changed my diet and ways and finally got it working right again in france in early 2007.

it is worrisome when your heart stops and your brain keeps going, pondering it – causes a wee bit of worry. logically my skipped heartbeats mean less oxygen is being sent to my cells, and fewer toxins removed from my blood. of course since i’m using fewer beats per day than required, that leaves extra unused beats down the line to keep me going after i otherwise wouldn’t be. figure this is my screen-saver heart mode.

anyway, drop my 2 cups of coffee a week, cut down my salt, drink more water, and i should be fine. again. “fine again” could describe my life – hop in trouble, wiggle and work my way out of trouble. been doing it 62 years now. you’d think after awhile i’d get it right.

local pigeon – foto by smith


dreadlock no-show

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

graffiti – foto by smith

43 pages and 25,000 words of our book are gone, deleted, tossed out the window because Lady decided they impeded our story flow. and she’s right. the missing stuff also made me look meaner, shallower, and weaker as well.

been a good culture week – read an excellent book in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (much much better than the movie), and watched a fine film titled There Will Be Blood starring Daniel Day-Lewis based on an Upton Sinclair novel. both are about obsession. the book ends happily, the movie in madness. we also bought a used copy of Neil Gaiman’s underground novel American Gods for $3. been wanting to re-read that one for a couple years. kulchur oozing out all over the place.

more culture – a dreadlocked artist tried to sell us a 20″ red clay free standing sculpture of the head of Pacal the Great who ruled Mayans from 615 to 683 A.D. wanted $20 for the original sculpture. it was too big to take with us, so we gave him 200 pesos and a note with our address and asked him to bring it by tonight. if he shows up, we’ll get stoned, show him our art, talk. if he disappears, then he needed the twenty dollars more than we did.

later – dreadlocks did not show. he may still turn up. lots of possible reasons he didn’t show. he knows where our poetry reading is sunday. still, if he doesn’t show, that’s how it goes. he’s an artist living out of his car, so if we don’t ever see him or our sculpture again, then we’ve still done some good. we were only buying the mayan head to help in the first place.

political graffiti – foto by smith


than then

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

street wall shrine – foto by smith

i’ve two as yet unfulfilled travel adventure desires – 1) cross the equator, and 2) view the aurora borealis or the aurora australis (the northern lights or the southern lights). we can head down south america at the equinox and do both – maybe september. that would add a 4th continent to my resume – Lady already has 4 continents to my 3 since she visited Suriname when she was 5.

she asked if i missed the united states. told her i miss the drug stores where you can get most anything 24/7, missed the hamburgers, the big cheap breakfasts, and the cleveland poetry scene. she said she missed the breakfasts and her car. i don’t miss the past because now is so much more than then.

but of all the marvels on our 2 year journey, the things i think most often and fondly of are the five daily muslim prayers broadcast from the minarets of the mosques in morocco. the first prayer was pre-dawn, near 4. heard it many a morning. it’s been 11 months since i heard them and they’re still in my mind.

another powerful memory is standing on the roof in marrakech watching an 8 foot stork fly directly at us, passing 20 foot over our heads. a bird with an 8 foot wing-span is bloody huge. i kept looking for engines.

Lady working – foto by smith


butterfly patch

Monday, May 26th, 2008

butterfly dance – foto by smith

we followed a mountain stream, flowers, and butterflies 90 minutes up mountain to a waterfall. we sat in the sun at the base of the cascading water and smoked. we hit a butterfly patch in the path – hundreds of small black & red ones and five purpleblue – these 5 looked white when their wings were together, but turned into sun-glow blue when they flew. i stopped and stood in their midst, watched them dance around me in the sun. at the same time the birds were chirping intricate choruses amidst the constant rustle of running water falling down mountain.

going back down, little looked the same as climbing up. one of the facts of life – going back never looks like getting there.

mountain stream flowers – foto by smith


oaxaca town tune

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

wig woman – foto by smith

oaxaca town tune
everyday city haiku
these from me to you

truck clang, bus roar, more
laughing, yelling, crying too
street sing a long song

brown skins watch my white
face, my pace, my white rat race
grin in sympathy

slim silver sliced moon
silky black mexican sky
marijuana rune

tall gringo above
above mexicans below
white rock, brown current

marijuana hash
opium smoke chewed nightly
pain somewhere back there

wife for life in chair
her heart and my heart one pair
life once strife now fair

barcode pens broken
other’s lies left in rotting
this sun and sound mine

dreams to be followed
don’t need future props and bags
feed on steps stepped now

*(i’ve not done opium since the late 1960s, though i’m tempted down here).

political graffiti – foto by smith


peacock of poets

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

graffiti – foto by smith

for 5 months now we’ve tried to find poetry readings here. Lady finally gave up and created one. lady wants, lady does. she’s now the proud host of the first sunday of every month open mic poetry reading at Cafe Los Cuiles – first reading will be in 8 days. it’ll be an informal no sign-up sheet anyone-can-read-at-any-time-in-any-language format. we just walked around the city tacking up 99 bi-lingual fliers for it.

she created a reading for us in krakow, and another in london, a third in cleveland. the only thing i miss about cleveland is its poetry scene – they have easily a dozen or two open mics a month to read at, and a livelier peacock of poets.

graffiti – foto by smith



Friday, May 23rd, 2008
One of the cool things about Oaxaca is there’s actually a kind of functioning citizenship. Marches on the streets almost every day for various collective interests. The zocalo (town square) is occupied now by striking teachers and APPO. APPO is a non-partisan movement with many objectives such as ousting the governor and it advocates the standard laundry list of progressive issues (anti-privatization, anti-globalization, pro-education, local sovereignty, etc.) Some think Oaxaca’s going to blow up again, like it did in 2006 and people were killed including–gasp–a white guy. Others think that it won’t turn into a movement again because there won’t be enough support. In 2006 the businesses suffered too much and people didn’t make money. Should be interesting.

Yesterday was eventful. APPO took over the government buildings here and blockaged two roads, one to the airport and the one to Mexico City. Good thing we got our visa last week before they occupied the visa administration office. So far it’s more tranquil than in 2006 where the federal government killed and disappeared many dissidents including the indy journalist Brad Will because he was taking a photo of the police. (Always makes me nervous when Smith takes photos of police here.)

We went down to the zocalo to check it out and felt perfectly safe, though I didn’t see many other gringos around. It’s kinda like a party. Tarps are spread over the entire town center, and teachers have spread cardboard over the pavement as insulation for sleeping bags. Lots of tents, too. And people selling food to the teachers, and others selling indigenous crafts.

Took a taxi ride with a friend. She asked the driver about the occupation. He said it’s peaceful, and that the teachers and APPO are peaceful, it’s the government we have to worry about.

This town is very strange. We walked by a couple hundred policemen at the university last week. We felt so conspicous and a bit frightened. The police were there because the students were voting for the university president, and sometimes there are gun battles over the voting. I don’t understand why the police were there rather than in the zocalo. My friend says if the police go to the zocalo, there will be death, and the governor’s trying to avoid a showdown.

The policemen at the university were armed with sticks. The sticks are painted municipal/fascist black or gray. Making instruments of punishment municipal colors is typical of the euphemistic atmosphere promoted by institutions trying to claim legitimacy. Kinda like how they have doric columns on the buildings that adjudicate privilege.

Friend says the university is full of radicalistas. She said it to warn me about taking classes there, but I want to go there, meet young people full of ideas. That they would be radical is icing on the cake for me. I would love to take classes in another country, another language.

Here in our nest of an apartment on the edge of centro, we don’t see much. We can’t find much English language news of Oaxaca, so today I’m going to try to force myself through the local spanish language paper, see more of what’s going on.



my dinner with myself

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

political graffiti – foto by smith

The night before the night before Xmas, I ate at the Dragon Inn. or Out. Same old odor: Tsingtoa beer, egg roll, pork fried rice (it always makes my foreskin tingle) when
! ! C ! R ! A ! S ! H ! !
someone threw 2 rocks through the dragon painted picture window, one rock breaking bar booze bottle.

I was alone. Only customer. Back to front window. Manager-waitress and cook in kitchen. They rush out shout WHAT HAPPENED at me thinking me did it because me only me there. I ponder. Point. They run out.

Across the street a drunken cop walks wrapped around a woman, the two stumbling towards her place. Middle-aged manager Chinese woman calls him over in broken English, says, “Someone broke window.”

Cop weaves, mumbles, “Wha? Who? Inside?”

“Yeah, inside. Someone broke window inside.”

Cop touches gun, squints through window at me standing watching. Starts to come in. I realize I am only one within. I am large. Standing. Male. Cop is drunk. Has gun. Thinks PERPETRATOR is within where I alone linger.

The last two months flash before my eyes lies – the Cleveland Police beating me up and breaking my rib; the pumpkin from the overpass smashing my car lights; falling down after completing the Art Behind Bars installation and breaking both elbows and both wrists; my loft stairs collapsing thrice; smashing my 1977 blue Saab into the foreign woman’s Cougar car . . . etc. I can see me being shot, and I find my innocence amusing: “SELF MADE DEGENERATE SHOT BY DRUNKEN KOP WHILE POSING AS CONSUMER” says imaginary Pain Dealer headline.

I immediately sit at table. Write with beer. Become CUSTOMER. See, me safe, me drink beer, me spend money – ME CUSTOMER ! ! Cop comes in. Walks by me back to bowels of kitchen. Feel safe. Cop emerges from bowels. Sees me. ! PULLS GUN !

Chinese lady grabs his arm yelling, “NO NO NOT HIM, HE CUSTOMER.” I smile. Raise both palms outward and shake my head no in gentle reinforcement, ready to run.

Cop asks for description. Start to say I only one out front back to front when I realize ain’t no way I’m going to draw his drunken attention to me, and drink my beer instead. He watches with Pavlovian saliva and says “I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to the bar, next door and check things out. If I’m not back in 5 minutes, call the Cleveland P.D.”

He leaves. Owner comes in. Screams at woman. Calls the Cleveland Police. Yells at them. They hang up on him. He calls back. Screams louder. They hang up faster.

Drunk cop comes back without his lost lady, saying “There’s no one fitting the description next door, so there’s nothing I can do … it’s not my beat anyway.”

While I’m wondering what description he’s talking about, he wanders back to the bowels of the kitchen.


Woman leads cop back front. Owner screams in cop face “ARE YOU CRAZY?”

Cop leaves. Owner verbally abuses employees awhile, then stares at me – me thinking he suspects me because here I am all alone and writing like mad in a wonderful socio-psychological experiment.

All this for $8.25. And I eat too.

– excerpt from CRIMINAL by Smith & Lady, from December 1985

restaurant wall mural – foto by smith


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