join the circuits

by-ways – foto by smith

we left the united states 2 years ago tomorrow. flew from cleveland to chicago to london to began our freedom adventure. it was an interesting beginning – we left 100 degree chicago heat so i could nearly die of hypothermia in a north england sheep field two nights later.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been” – Robert Hunter, Truckin’, 1970

we’ve found we’d rather do than be.

learned a bit about traveling, seen how others do things, posted a thousand blogs online as well as poetry, short stories, comics, zines and art while having adventure and making love on three continents. not a bad life.

may you be as lucky.

bird trees – foto by smith

new issue “GIVING IN” CITY ZINE NOW ONLINE & IN PRINT features many well known poets

G I V I N G   I N
T H E   C I T Y   P O E T R Y
I S S U E   2 2

did you know that darwin didn’t even know that chooks couldn’t see the blue iridescent feathers of the roosters that he presumed to think were a basis for his selection theory?

allow me to react to such nonsense with a few words about domestic silence. mediocrity is to oblivion what sound is to wind, and to further unravel such simple distractions, note first the blue iridescent feathers of the rooster, and ask yourself or anyone for that matter, who snaked the sun from the rainbow’s heart?

from Evolution is a Burning Blunder of Hot Hair by Andrew Boerum

The City Poetry is an underground zine which focuses on Cleveland writers and artists, but it also features well-known contributors from all over the world. Its poems and art are typically surreal, irreverent, madly political, beautiful or sublime. Warning: contains mature content.

View the complete issue online at, buy it in print here. *
This issue features Joe Balaz, Marcus Bales, Richard Biscayart, Andrew Boerum, Kimberley Diamond Bones, Bree, Adam Brodsky, Michael H. Brownstein, Eli P. Cimota, Melissa J. Craig, Jesus Crisis, Danilee Eichhorn, Z. Guadamour, Jim Lang, Jack McGuane, Michael Salinger, Darryl Salach, Eric Shaffer, wendy shaffer, Yuyutsu RD Sharma, David Smith, Lady K & Steven B. Smith, Wanda Sobieska, l-j stockman and George Wallace. I apologize for inadvertent omissions.

All are called to stand up
for this over-inflated establishment,
this store that had unwittingly morphed
into a universe in its own right—
self-sufficient, fully-fledged, and indisputably functional:
a model microcosm to our own imperfect world;
an island unto itself; a high-voltage bubble of commerce
that had boiled over the top,
frothing into some hyper-charged
cash-and-credit force field that trapped its contents
within a finely-tuned matrix
of creeds, rules, and regulations, which formed
a new and complete set of guidelines for existence,
apocalyptic bylaws and all.

from To Wal-Mart by Wanda Sobieska

T H E   C I T Y   P O E T R Y   I N   P R I N T

Starting with this issue, I am pleased to make The City Poetry available in print at

Full color version, perfect bound spine. 42 pages. This issue is available at cost.

$10.83 plus shipping *

> purchase issue 22 here

* Disclaimer: I have not yet reviewed a proof of this. After I get my proof I will update this page to let you know how lulu did with the printing.

rash & burn

Huautlan centipede – foto by smith

finally went to a doctor today about the pain that appeared in my left groin 5 months ago – it’s a hernia. doc says the pain i’ve had in my right groin from trying to lift my 250 pound collapsed mother off the floor 4 years ago is not a hernia but rather a damaged tendon.

so i’m having the hernia surgically fixed – between $1,300 and $1,800 dollars will take care of everything. our small savings become ever smaller.

the doctor was around my age, the most easy going pleasant mannered doctor i’ve come across. he asked lady if i were her father. i replied no, i’m her husband. he looked down, mortified, smiled ruefully and said “I blew that one.” told him not to worry, that’s what everyone assumes. you just cannot get around a 27 year age gap in couples. folk don’t think it’s natural. if i weren’t on the inside of us, i’d wonder what the heck in perversion was going on myself.

but before they can operate, they need to get my arrhythmic heart beating correctly, so it could be 2 weeks of medicine before i’m repaired.

i’ve been walking around town with my left hand down my pants holding the hernia in – been getting some odd looks from folk wondering why i have my hand down my pants in public. i tell them my penis is lonely and i’m keeping it company.

it’s a relief to know for sure what’s wrong and to have started the repair process. my body is not me. my mind spirit is me. my body is mere vehicle. unfortunately, it’s an essential component in this life on earth.

if we sell the book, i’ll get the right groin tendon fixed as well, then take the dancing lessons i’ve promised lady if i ever got repaired.

did a bit of self cure too. my left forearm blistered. not sure if it was too much sun or brushing against some toxic plant, but it itched like mad and wouldn’t go away. lasted months. put anti-biotic cream on it but it just made it worse. finally i rubbed it open raw with a towel, then poured rubbing alcohol over it. burned like hell, but it got rid of the rash. rash & burn.

this getting old and breaking down is a finite process. only so much body to break. i’ve lived a hard fast life, so who knows how much of me is left to fail. unfortunately for younger healthier lady, if she wants my warped mind and twisted stories, she must follow me around and pick up the broken pieces that fall off me as i lurch from marijuana mound to mushroom mold.

Maria Sabina museum, Huautla, Mexico – foto by smith

lady’s day

Lady in bathroom thru roof stairs window – foto by smith

i told Lady she’s getting feisty since eating magic mushrooms – now she’s in chat rooms calling folk on their logic. she says i’m right, that during the trip she remembers thinking “Now I don’t have take anything from anyone anymore.” going to the other side and coming back gave her more confidence in her own strength of thinking.

now she’s researching other “other side” logics – including astral projection, learning how to trip naturally with the mind, and hallucinogenics. she’s also interested in getting her physical, mental and work life flowing better. before our trip, she said the mushrooms for her were for doing psychological work, and it worked.

i’ve gotta get some jump-start clarity because i’m still yesterday – lady’s now.

ps – she has two poems just published online at

Lady in front of her assemblage at Sara & Mike’s in Cleveland – foto by smith

Lady in Huautla, on town hall steps – foto by smith

pensive Lady – foto by smith


Calvert Street, Baltimore, 1968

In the old daze, you had to get up before dawn, crawl through forty foot of snow down to the field you plowed with your fingernails in between pulling the grizzly off Uncle Mom and killing your Republican quota of three Injuns a day. Life was an adventure back then. Of course, there was no TV, so tweren’t nothing to do no how. Now, life is boring. Incredibly boring. You live in a little box just like the boxettes next door. You wear the same suit or jeans, go to mundane jobs in unimportant buildings and push little pieces of paper or people around. The thrills come when you stab someone in the back, fuck around on your spouse, get an actual key to the shithouse, or a gold watch for being unadventurous for forty years.
    Now drop some LSD and snort some coke and smoke some grass and eat some Valium and drink some booze and I swear just getting out of your chair and across the room becomes an incredible adventure with the outcome unknowable. In fact, I defy you to eat some belladonna and walk anywhere. Do enough drugs or booze, and TV sitcoms become witty. Drink more, and your neighbors and friends become less boring through the blur. Become catatonic, you might even be able to see life from Ronald Reagan’s viewpoint.
    When I got kicked out of the Naval Academy for smoking grass, I swore there were two things I’d never do: shoot up or drop LSD, because needles led to heroin addiction, and I was too crazy to do LSD. Two weeks later, I’d done both.
    January 1, 1968, I was in my 4th year of wanting to try marijuana because of reading On the Road. By the second week of January, I was stoned. Three weeks later I was kicked out of the Academy and the Navy. By my second week as a civilian, I was dropping LSD and shooting speed. Did uppers, downers, hashish, psilocybin, mescaline, snorted glue, popped tranquilizers, ate belladonna, did morphine, shot heroin, ate THC. Pills everywhere. It was a massive year of drugs and interesting people.
    I moved to Baltimore in February. My parents called me and begged me to come home to help with the auction they were running at the time. It tore at me, but I said no. So they put my eleven year old brother on the phone, and he cried for me to come home. It tore more, but I still said no.
    By chance, I’d moved into a drug building on Calvert Street. It was an interesting building. As I moved in, John the homosexual ran up and down the stairs wearing a long white diaphanous nightgown, crying out in falsetto, “Ooo, middies, middies.”
    Old man Crawford lived on the top floor. His kick was to come down while we were tripping, pound on the door and yell, “Open up! Police!”
    I moved in with Mackeral, one of my fellow ex-Midshipmen. We painted each wall of the living room a different, darker shade of green. The bedroom was painted entirely black: walls, floor, ceiling, doors, windows. The bathroom was a riot of colors splashed on during an LSD trip. The kitchen was dignified shades of grey with made-up Japanese characters painted in black on the wall. There was a thin wall which faced the door to the hallway. We put a poster of Baba on the wall, painted the wall and poster black right up to Baba. It was one where the eyes were both opened and closed, depending how you looked. Often tripping in the hall I’d look back and see the poster open its eyes and watch me through the black.
    There was a hippy on the first floor going to art school. He sold blood plasma every week for fifteen dollars to survive. One of his art class sculpture projects was three smashed vegetable cans, hooked together, painted black. He gave it to me after he got his grade.
    I pulled a big doll head off. It had blond curls. I took a black magic marker, put thick black circles around her eyes. Wrote the word WHORE across her forehead, doused her with lighter fluid, and set her on fire. The black circles on her eyes ran down, like she was crying. Gave her a haunted look. WHORE ran a little bit, but you could still read it. Most of the hair was gone and blistered. What was left blackened. There was a blackish gray tinge about the face. I glued the head on top of the black tin can sculpture. It affected everybody who saw it, even me. My future wife asked me to put it in the other room out of sight because it made everybody creepy.

    – Excerpt from Criminal by Smith and Lady

oaxaca wall walk

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith
no logic, no theme, no message, no story.
just 7 fotos i took of walls on our walk in the order i took them.

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith

wall, Oaxaca – foto by smith

beware – wearer bites

smith, 1975 – foto by smith

i’m an incipient curmudgeon, a natural-hewn hermit. i have NEVER felt at ease with other people, never found small talk easy. over the years i’ve learned that people and me aren’t meant to be. so i solved my problem – i got a door mat that said GO AWAY in large letters, and i stopped dating for 20 years, and quit socializing. the sum of my interpersonal interactions consisted of a couple poetry readings each month – when the poets went out after to socialize, i went home alone. i never visited folk. if folk visited me, i started wondering after about an hour when they would leave. the sole exception was my mother Mother Dwarf whom i had move in with me the last 16 years of her life because i couldn’t afford to keep two households going after my brother Cat blew his brains out all over the back of his pickup truck and my father Pappy died from missing him 18 months later. i turned mom into an assemblage artist, got her her first solo art exhibition when she was 68 years old, and we became each other’s best friend, collaborator, and audience.

after mom died, i gratefully embraced living totally alone. two 1/2 months later, lady moves into my life and it’s been nothing but people, adventure, socializing, excitement, more people, and way more socializing since.

lady’s unhappy that i occasionally bite folk around me. i tell her if they weren’t around me, they wouldn’t be bitten.

the only way i can get along with people is if there are no people to get along with. but the only life i desire now is life with lady, and life with lady means way way too many people within biting range. too many people equals offended people. offended people equals an upset lady.

the funny thing is i’m good at socializing – i can fake it well. but it’s work, unpleasant work.

and there’s no solution to this problem – unbitten people requires no people near enough to bite, while being with lady means too many biteables within reach.

think i’ll get a tee-shirt that warns BEWARE, WEARER BITES. then if they’re bit, it’s their own frigging fault.

Want Ad

I like walks in the rain
I like licking pink stains
There’s good and bad things baby
Crawling through your hair
Old lumps of new grown gravy
Calling from your lair
You wanna bite me baby
I wanna bite me too
Bite me three times
You got a deal

smith, 1954 – foto/collage by smith

part 3 of 3 – wow no wow in huautla

my sacred mushroom packet – foto by smith

i’ve tripped on hallucinogens between 300-500 times from 1968 through 2000 – mostly lsd, but dozens of mushrooms, mescaline, psilocybin, thc, dmt, stp, and other stuff i’m not sure what it was. i tripped for fun, for adventure, for spiritual growth, out of habit and boredom. but coming to huautla was to be my first controlled trip guided by a curandero shaman – i was solely interested in the spiritual path this time. for once i was going to go pure, do it right.

of course we didn’t find an affordable guide thanks to our miss-screw-everyone-but-me traveling companion, so goal one shot down. goal two was to analyze myself during the trip – see what part of me was good, what needed work, what had to go.

my banana leaf had fewer shrooms than lady’s, but they were much larger. i ate half my mushrooms at 6:30, could immediately feel the alkaloids moving through me. by 7 i knew i needed more and ate the rest. by 8 i had the classic physical symptoms of pressure in my body, a sense of sound and growing movement in my head, the remoteness of a body wrapped in insulating cotton, and a thickened sense of mucous and phlegm. but no high, no color, no visions, no patterns, no happy, no nothing. and that is as far as i got. no trip for smith.

i was flabbergasted. i was prepared for the trip to fail, for us to not even reach huautla. i was prepared to arrive and not find mushrooms. but once i had the mushrooms, i never even considered the possibility they wouldn’t work on me – after all, these are the sacred fresh ultra-strong magic mushrooms the beatles, bob dylan and donovan took and praised. this is the super source for magicville.

i thought of multiple scenarios why i didn’t get off. maybe i’m already tripping all the time now and don’t even know it, so the mushroom high was merely business as usual. or perhaps we have a finite number of trips in our being and i’d used up mine over the past 40 years. or reality and the mushroom gods were angry at my negative thoughts about our unpleasant traveling companion. or perhaps my two days without food, three days of traveling and energy expenditure of walking down the mountain twice overwhelmed my spiritual high potentiality.

but most likely the dose wasn’t large enough for me. ever since i started doing drugs in 1968, i always required a higher dose than those around me due to my size, metabolism, and mind. back then folks would have me do the drugs first so they could judge their dose by how high i got. i figure the curandero gave us small doses because we were doing them on our own and he was worried about our losing it. he didn’t realize my size and past use made a difference. or maybe they were weak mushrooms, or a stingy dose. all i know for sure is the other two got off fine. (i learned since that with the selfish couple, the man said he didn’t feel a thing, and the woman claims she had a fine time but none of us believe her).

by 9 p.m. i knew i wasn’t getting off, not even a smattering of joy would be mine, so i gave up, ate some crackers and a small avocado and drank a lot of water to fill my empty stomach. lady went to sleep and i smoked a joint to try to slow down my body which still felt like it was going to get high. took an hour before i could try to sleep and then it was troubled and mediocre.

got up at 5:50 to put my glasses on to check the time – and i couldn’t see. during the night, the left lens had fallen out and i couldn’t focus. how can a lens fall out while the glasses are sitting alone unworn? i laugh, thinking what a marvelous metaphor – i couldn’t have visions last night, and now i can’t see this morning. seems to me there’s some serious smith work i need to do.

we get up, pack, check out, see hummingbirds dart in the sunshine while waiting for a cab back to the center of town. watch a hummingbird land on a leaf – i’d never seen one land before and it looked like a large alien scary iridescent green insect. we gave up getting a cab and started walking up the mountain to town when a cab came by and took us. sat on the city hall steps watching kids play soccer (hoping for more mushroom offers), then rode the uncomfortable 5 hour van ride back to oaxaca.

back side of Maria Sabina banner hanging from City Hall balcony – foto by smith

i told lady since she loved the shrooms so much, she could have the remaining 4 folded banana leaf packets we’d scored the day before, and i’d stick to grass and hash until we could get some larger doses. i couldn’t see depriving her of her joy by my trying another useless dose or a dose and a half. she was sad for my loss but happy about 4 more trips and talked of tripping after our 5 hour van ride home. told her that wasn’t a good idea because she’d be wasted from the van ride, and the body required a week or so between trips to recharge its spirituality.

she couldn’t wait, and she tripped last night – which left 3 days between trips. she got high, saw colors, some hallucinations, but the universal oneness and the joy wasn’t there – it was just a high, which is rather sad after experiencing oneness. she took a couple hits of hash to give her high a push, and the hash heaviness melded with the mushroom intensity to give her a heavy wasted days & wasted nights kind of high.

she said the shrooms would go bad within two weeks so she had to eat her remaining 3 doses every 3 days or lose them. i explained each trip would be less and less fun and more and more disappointingly frustrating, so suggested we wait a week, then turn the three remaining doses into two and we’ll both drop. the extra half dose might get me off and might be enough to get her to oneness again. who knows – this spirituality business has a lot of crap shoot clauses in it, so we’ll have to wait to find out what happens and where we go.

an added insult to injury, i bought a maria sabina tee-shirt with gorgeous flourescent green mushrooms on the back to celebrate my huautla mushroom trip. the trip didn’t trip, and the tee-shirt don’t fit, so i have a non-souvenir of my non-trip. how apropos.

what are the gods telling me? i think my mind and soul have become too hardened, too selfish, too cynical. i need to become nice again. then maybe the mushrooms will work. try again in 5 days with larger dose and see.

the trip was a great success because the important thing was for lady to experience her first hallucinogenic trip. she had a grand time, took to tripping like the natural magic mushroom munching mama she is. the ride up and back through the mountains is gorgeous, and huautla itself is a special magic place. we’re considering living there for a month or so, doing mushrooms as often as feasible.

now all i have to do is get my magic mojo working again so i can munch shrooms myself.

back side of my too small Maria Sabina tee-shirt – foto by smith


doubting thomas gallery, cleveland – photo by lady


a brittle skeleton
of lines
heaves of sighs


part 2 – wow no wow in huautla

cleaning magic mushrooms – foto by smith

i’ve always done my hallucinogens in daylight, or in the dark, or any time or place between. there’s as much to be said for walking though sun slants in the woods while tripping as there is for lying quiet in the dark and following the colors within. but, both online articles and both curanderos said they are to be eaten in the dark while lying down with a candle burning, so we tried to wait for dark for her to eat her first mushroom.

one curandero said start at 8, the other at 7. lady was impatient to begin and began eating 10 mushrooms at 6:45. but this was oaxaca daylight savings time – most huautlans refuse to acknowledge daylight savings time – so the curandero meant 8 our time, and lady had an hour of light to play with before dark.

i opened the drapes to the round topped bar-Y window (foto below) and put our pillows at the foot of the bed so we could lay and look out window up mountain where the town was strung hung on terrace after terrace climbing to the sky and cloud and changing light and large eagle birds soaring overhead in between back and forth.

after 30 minutes she didn’t feel enough and began eating the rest, slowly holding them on her tongue so her mouth membranes absorbed the hallucinogen more quickly. 90 minutes in she starts smiling. she’d look past me, say “wow.” look at me, said “wow” again. she saw an antenna leading upward from my temple into space, said i was alien. in artificial robot voice i said, “you’re not supposed to be able to see us. don’t fear. we come in peace.” she laughed, so i told her more surreal lies about missing stars and trip tied shoe laces. once everything kicked in, she was “i like this. i like this a lot. i could stay here.”

in the middle of her trip, our door was unlocked by 2 males with a pass key. we snapped “HEY” and they closed the door and left too fast for me to see but had the impression it was the young manager. i then screw-locked the door so it couldn’t be unlocked from without and filed it under another lesson learned – always dead bolt or screw lock. i surmise he knew our couple friends were staying overnight at the curandera’s* and assumed we were too, so he was coming in for look and take or simple curiosity. what was weird was lady didn’t freak out. calmly accepted this unexpected potentially mood damaging intrusion with a cool well it happened let it pass.

Y-bar window tv terrerium – foto by smith

i lit a ceremonial candle on the tv stand and we lay looking the other way out the window, watching the sky loose its light. as dark descended–and it moves fast in high mountains–the mountain disappeared in black and twinkled with the lights of huautla strung up and up and up uphill, cloudmist drifting in between the top of town and us.

drugs don’t cause things – they just let out what’s already in. lady glowed in goodness, kindness, caring. she’s a much nicer person than she thinks she is.

then the inevitable “i want to do this again. a lot. we have to get more.”

next day we go back to the government building, hoping someone will offer us mushrooms. way too early, so we try tracing our way back to the curandero’s place. lady asks wee child in door if daddy is home. we buy 4 more banana leaves. he lights incense and taps lady about the face and body front and back–with discrete detours for decency–with a piece of incense while chanting, then hands the incense to her to toss in the burner – all this in front of a virgin mary shrine alter. he did the same with me, then waved each of the 4 banana leafs through the incense smoke chanting more. he said my name over one while in the smoke so i memorized its folds for later.

we start wandering the town again but my groin starts hurting so we find our dirt path and walk down the mountain again, though this time there’s no boy running after us with offers of mushrooms and our legs are tired and sore from yesterday’s descent. and it had rained, so it was muddier, slipperier, and more difficult too. and i was tired – i hadn’t eaten much the day before because you need an empty stomach for the mushrooms and i was going to trip tuesday night with lady. didn’t, so ate crackers. didn’t eat much wednesday either for same reason.

waiting for my 6:45 take-off time, lady takes a nap while i air out my mushrooms – the curandero said unfold the banana leaf and let them breath before eating. rather like a good wine. i last until 6:30 and start eating.

that’s our second 24 hours in huautla – pronounced WOWt-luh.

* curandero / curandera – A Mexican man / woman who practices healing techniques inherited from the Mayans

mural on front wall of city hall and police building – foto by smith