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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,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )



…so what this cat taught me, is I can take anything, I can make it mine. I mean, who knows, maybe he wasn’t even talkin specifically to me, you see? I think he got a bunch of us, all lined up in a row, and he was gonna see if the bullet could travel in a straight line, or if there was reverb, or if the bullet got bouncy. Who knows.

So I thought, well, I really want to answer this cat, catch it by its tail & ask it some questions. The cat turned fraidy on me, said, “I got a wife & child back home.” I thought, “Hm. Dontcha see I got a dance partner too? I’m not looking for betrayal. I just want to know some answers, kitty cat.”

Wow! And all I wanted was like, to follow through on a line of inquiry.

And the concept of poetic voice, and like, your voice has been my constant companion, I’ve even absorbed it into my head. Maybe kinda a romantic glorification, sure. But so what? It’s all fodder for art… but I’m never gonna betray you baby.

I thought, I’m gonna catch me that cat. Has multifold ramifications – yr always talking about Heisenberg & the trap of looking. & when I look, I see deeply, it’s like laser precision guided missile-ry – or at least that’s what the defense contractors tole us – that there would be no collatoral damage cuz of the targeting systems…

“So what I wanna know, Polly, is does this book have a story? How’re we gonna keep the readers interested? How we gonna keep our magic personal yet write about it?”

You gotta have faith, Smokey. And now I fear I got you hangin on my every word like a cigarette burn. But you knows I love ya. & when you see something that hurts ya, well, we’ll just blame it on Shady, now. Shady’ll be the fall guy. He’s a curious cat. He’s like the villain in your book. & this book is for you. This is where I share my fear with you and make you understand, my love, my man…
“I would like to see a bull fight here in Mexico, ifn they were going to do it anyways. Kinda good economy.”

Sure, why not. I just looked at a bunch of people in my cafe & it hit me–we’re all casualties of cruelty–I could elaborate on that but…

I wanna let you know that each fish got a bigger fish and the chain of command dictates that one day yr gonna be a big fish and you won’t even realize all these lil things are dyin all around ya–it’ll be like krill kill thru the bay-leen…

I could elaborate on that even more but & the only way not to kill is to kill yrself. So that’s why I did it, Smokey. That’s why I poured gasoline in the gunk works. I say to thee, LET MY EGO GO…

“Wasn’t that a commercial?”

Ha ha. Yr making light of my GENIUS, my ART. How DARE you. You step on my tail.

“Yr like Godzilla, Baby, Queen Kong-”

No, I’m more like Fey Rey with a Ding Dong.

“HA! Yr the foil to my inflation. That reminds me. I always wanted to poke out my eye & give myself a de facto lobotomy.”

You’ll need an eyepatch. Oops!

“Wha? Were you getting too specific again? Was that a real experience?”

Shit. Yep.

“You can’t just go on writing about eye patches. You’ll get certain factions nervous. You shouldn’t talk about the clientèle that way, reveal their secrets.”

Well, since we’re talkin about it, I’d like to get me a big black pirate ship & sing the hidey hoe!

“They’re gonna push you off yr plank.”

O no–I think he’s probably cool with it. Don’t worry. All I’m sayin is, an eye patch is really admirable, even classy & we got license to use it. I even got a reference. Smith sez, “When we get some money I’m gonna get you skinned and get me a scar put in my forehead, thru the eyelid and down the cheek.”

Ooo–you had to mention the skin. Ain’t nothing sacred?

“No, Polly. Nothing shall be spared. What comes around goes around, and there ain’t no rules on this ship–only guylines of experience.”

O, it’s a cool world. While we’re at it, I always feel like yr putting Lady on the dis-play–a worse for wear–somethin to drive all the pirates away: “SEE LADY & HER HANGING SKIN.”

“Are you askin for a fight?”

They say there ain’t no rules in a knife fight, Smokey. Let’s get it on. (They also say, there ain’t no rules in love & war.) And O, I saw you looking at me in the cafe, watchin how I interact with other people, noting the drive-by starings.

“You’re referring to your jumpiness, ain’t ya.”

It’s like everyone’s a cop on the beat. Heck. I just wrote about an eye patch sitting in this cafe. And then the guy came right up & talked to me! I was a-scared he’d see the open page in my notepad whilst he ordered his whims, spook me outta my earnest words. It tweren’t no offense meant, Smokey- I swear it.

“This reminds me of a scene that turned my face grey and robbed me of my sleep.”

I know what you mean. You looked like a ghost. It’s a complicated complexity to it all – even the act of explaining begs the brain of the Other. I jes gotta tell ya, Smokey, put on yr x-ray glasses and look at my heart on the dissection table. It’s all there for ya to see. It’s pumpin good and it sez Smokey, Smokey, Smokey like some kinda puff signal.

“Or a fog machine.”

But you know that cuz you seen all the possibilities, the hurdles to faith. It’s like learning a language, Smokey. It’s a crude cudgel for truth’s crucible–and here’s another allegory for ya: this Mexican gent came up to the counter whilst I wrote and shook me outta my gestalt, scaring the bejesus outta me. I asked him—in Mexican–“You want food from here?”

Then I thought, how rude my tool, but he didn’t take offense. He sed, “No, thank you,” and I thot whereas I coulda greeted him better, you know—I coulda sed, “Good morning, would you like to buy something from the cafe?” which is more polite, but he startled me, that’s all. Just like you did the other day.

This might seem boring right now but hang on. I tell ya, it’s a collusion of coincidence and it gives many people illusions but I’m gonna explain it all in my book.

Yr like a philosopher, Polly.

No, just a butt fucked wing nut, but thanks, and have a nice day.

“This all brings me to a topic, Polly, I’ve a want of exploring this—the SHAME GAME.”

No! Smokey, back, my brain can’t handle this! I need some sleep!

“O–fuck off & die, bitch.”

That’s just crazy crest, Smokey, & yr supposed to be my co-star.

“Or the coaster of yr ride – or yr demented hand puppet.”

O! How low can you go? Wanna feel my pocket? Have I told you about the low hanging blue balls?

“Yr so cruel.”

They’re just like juicy fruits, all the tidier after an operation.

“You psychotic bitch! You metaphor whore!”

No, I swear, I wrote this before I read his.

“That’s the other thing I want to do, go get me a scalpel.”

I got the manual right here, Smokey! I know you been wanting to do this fer YEARS! *

“OOOOOOOoooo! Shit. Yr a crazy lady!”

No! I’m Shady, and I gotcha in the crosshair of life. There are some things in which I’m interested, Smokey, as a pure grammatically correct intellect n all. The whys & wherefors, the philosopher’s gold nuggets.

“Be careful you don’t turn gold to shit with yr alchemy.”

It’s just scientific detachment. I think you can handle it. I got no purposeful animosity–but I reserve the right to be a hypocrite and you know they say there’re more than 50 ways to skin a cat. And yr my role model in the quest for the illusive ground floor of truth. (I gotta credit that fine find to a very smart lady I’m courting for some truth juice.)

“You comin on to a lady?”

No. There are lots of ladies and come-on’s a label & who knows where the delineations lie. But that & the methods employed within the games we frame are a bedtime story for another hookah pipe night.

“Another mystery to solved, Shady?”

Yep. Gotta get that cat by its balls. Did I ever tell you about the fella who felt up my ethic?

“What juggling. O my. Was it interesting?”

It was just like calculus. You shoulda SEEN the brains on this dude. It was like the time I tole ya about when I set inside the theatre—I was wearing a low cut skort–& this fella set himself right next to me, brushing his hand accidentally against my thigh.

“Why didn’t you move, Polly, why didn’t you move?

Well, I was intent on watching the movie. It was like one of those carpets from the 80s, a real variegated shag, had strands of different densities—it was freaky, like yr beard on mushrooms.

“Remember the time you said I wonder if yr smart enuff for me, Lady?”

Yr plenty smart. Like I sed, yr a readymade, a real bona fide bona fide, a perch for celebrated consternations of consciousness.

I once read a poem writ by a guy who stuttered. The title of the poem was THE TREE OF REALITY. Good read, those leaves. Full flung from the gods despite the extra articulation.

So what I’m sayin is, SMART ain’t always OBVIOUS and UP (but it helps)–it’s HEART—is there HEART in your ART?

“Oo- you got a creepy manifesto. Yr a blighted babe.”

You’d better believe it, Smokey, & I ain’t takin no prisoners & the Geneva Conventions will not be absurd. Stop me before I immolate in shame.

“So, what’s this all about? Aren’t you afraid you’re gonna hurt someone?”

Why, words don’t matter, Smokey, do they?

“I don’t know. I guess yr gonna have to find that out, Lady.”

I’d like to think of it like this. We’re all partners in the creative coalition with equal opportunity for expression, blame & shame. Meanwhile, eyes got voices in the head that need to be explained, like a mouth for an ear or the invention of the telephone or several doses of pre-chewed cans of worms.

“I see you’ve thought this out, Shady, but perception’s an onion skin illusion & I got the transparencies. Have you thought about the use of maturity in this application?

No, Smokey, you got good game. Yeah, this ain’t no fuckin restaurant, is it. It ain’t an all-you-can-eat buffet. You gotta show some restraint. I gotta do some thinkin on this. O, I want you to tell us about Jones & his brakes & I’ll tell them about Kathy’s** mutilation dream. I’m gonna go take a nap…
* The wish for missing balls is in CRIMINAL, if we ever get a publisher.
** My real name is Kathy

I tell ya, I want to fly into those footnotes like a screaming banshee. The cat sez words are dead, & someone killed the words!

Whose footnotes, the lady’s?

No, I love Lady. I want to protect her. She’s like a fucking symbol of innocence. She walks into the world like a virgin searching unicorn. I have no desire to hurt or fool her, just show her some mathematical proofs & blueprints. So that’s why I want to do some straight talk here, Smokey. Cuz this is a serious project and there are several detectives askin questions.

So whose footnotes, then?

The cat in the hat. He was begging for exchange for weeks, cold calling all the high class prophets, dialing through the phone book. He threw together a quick resume, demonstrating wicked proficiency. Then he threw my car keys in the field so I’d have to bend over.

Go away, I said, as I searched for my keys. I’m busy. I’m not interested. I got tons of potential in different directions, seeping like a multifaceted, professional infestation through the ranks. & I said, if some givin’s gonna get got, I’m gonna be the one spreading jism. & I wouldn’t give it to him other than in a very abstract, professional manner, such as funny balloons one might blow up outta medical gloves.

Wow. That’s loaded. Then what happened?

I wanted to write something real that dealt with my own truth, maybe some other truths been botherin me a while, too. Of boring abstract philosophical portent. Here’s a specific context: Lady was working with Smith for three years and they finally had their baby. It was a countdown to turnover, a real efficient birth. The script came in with the stork basket. I knew I had a project. It was called, HOW TO WRITE A BOOK IN THIRTY DAYS. I figured OK, the calculation is ten pages per day but what the fuck am I going to write? What’s the context for all my craziness?

As if there can be a context for your craziness, Lady.

Don’t shame me. We’re truth talking.

I don’t mean to shame ya, Lady. You must understand I am only serving up as the devil’s advocate in this inquisition & this pitter patter is just a way to explain.

OK. So, right away this agent calls me up on the telephone with a story idea. I guess he’d read some passages from my book. I wasn’t sure if he was calling me for work, or if it was a come on. I certainly didn’t want to encourage him if it was a come on, and there are all kinds of complications in collaborative relations. You open one box, there are others, and it’s like the dice of death. But then I remembered how jealous Lady was of Smith’s collaborations with other women and how she kept it in check. And the agent had some brilliant ideas, a real high class outfit, so I went with it. Heck, I even searched out other proxies, ways to obscure my tracklines, I tried to find some wymyn too, but the language in that taint is haunted. & how could Lady explain all this to Smith, whose heart is breakin for some simple table conversation and some low down get down jive, while Lady’s busy trying to crank out her daily quota, a deca pages on some dicey shit?

So that’s why you turned yourself into Shady?

Yep. I had to give myself a penis to bone up to the ladies and buddify the men. I wanted to abstract myself, make it pure engagement. Question my identity but make it obvious to all who follow, in turn making them ask themselves more questions and rising the tide to lift everyone’s boats. But the kool-aid was tainted, there were tumbling dominoes of death & everyone’s dead.

I don’t think you can say that. I mean, look at all the eggs. You got a couple people workin with ya. You got interest. You got new subscribers. You got steam for yr new dream. You got people with popcorn sitting & watching. You got a venue for some serious ideas about writing & thought & general human behavior.

Yep. Well, I got one dead Bunny who opted out. But I don’t know if I want to reveal all that right now, you know, Smokey? Maybe it can be a kinda inside job, the gunk in the works, the cockroaches in the pipelines. I always wanted to pull the cloth of a table & say, AND THE FLOWERS ARE STILL STANDING.

You made one big mistake Shady, the golden rule: NEVER EXPLAIN NOTHIN.

Hah! We’ll save that for another day, Master Man. I got an ache to explain everything! Get my Wordsworth! Ping! Yr Sterile!

Zap! Yr pregnant.

So fun playing tag with you in my mind. O, by the way, take a look at the room and see if you see what’s missing.

The quotation marks?

Read between the lines & supply the missing words.* Lends an airiness, don’t it?

Yep. I can still follow it.

* a jest to a good friend of mine who appreciates a joke made in good nature
Shit, Lady, we’re outta luck. I can’t tell if that cat’s alive or dead.

Well, he looks dead to me Smokey, but they say a cat’s got nine lives. I saw yr picture with the half eaten entrails. I think the roof dogs finished that half. It was like a black box job with a hack saw and an inexperienced magician.

Oh, Smokey, we got another detective on the case. He says we’ve gone kafkaesque with a bulimic fly, a half dead cat, a moth that never made it to the door, a creepy cockroach with a rorshack* ink blot, Harvey the Rare Bit & a mole… who knows how many critters & oh, I think the bear’s coming soon… Let’s set the trap. Whatcha feel like fer dinner tomorrow, Smokey?

Bear… I want a bear…

You want the bear? I don’t think that’s a good idea. Dead dice. That bear was just hungry. He walked into a black room and he was blinded by the lamplight. Words are weapons of engagement & I’m trying to diffuse a botched job. Our subconscious has an evil genius that connects us to a common context of universal meaning, and every word is rigged, even if the participants aren’t players or playing. I ain’t a rat for that gone trap. I ain’t letting anyone touch these li[n]es. This is a tight rope and it needs to be precise.

Sounds toxic.

You’d better believe it. It took me three years* to get over a couple of ugly deeds from an overinflated jackass gas bag…

O, is *that* how you thought of him.

No, it tweren’t his fault, it was a lack of understanding, he communicated a universal truth & I thought it had a personal meaning. They say yr best friend can become yr personal nightmare. I’ll let you in on it later. Stay tuned…

*here’s a fact to spare you misery: this was circa 2002-05

Yr burning house is haunted word
like the leaning taint of taunt–

An unseen dream
regurgitates in a hurry–
a fly flurries neon of a
lucky find fought bottom
skies rung cat in hat
trick like a wily rabbit
(came quick)

Was it clean?

A lucky sevens yr
shuffling house of cards
like a man’s fat hands
on th white gloved moon–

& that’s a stack of facts
like a swift bag of shit
burns bricks thru a glass ruse–

That’s the troof
& I’m sticking to it.
I ain’t no trappin rat
in a glib flap of lip
tricked out hat
yanked behind
a curtain called loose
like a
soar or a
soured grape
sandwich clit

But you could keep on going forever, I think you get the juggling gist of this fist of compound tower of scoured jive– and that’s a clue for you, a roadmap, and a tool

O pretentious mentor & wandering jew

I want to do multiple bags of trick. It’s called open up yr inner ear & catch the rain, or the listening eye, or how to titillate yr senses.

“Rain? I heard that metaphor before.”

It’s also called, How to Explain Beautiful Objects to Your Man, How to Ward Off Evil, Even Buddha got an Ego, Don’t be Afraid to Talk About Yr Fears, How to Find Your Dream, and How to be Faithful to Your Wife.

“That omission begs a question. I got something to worry about?”

Yr a sharp shooter. I don’t think so, Smokey. But it seems I’m more the story, serving you up some clues. That’s another conversation we gotta have later, I don’t know if I got enough hydraulics for it now. The fates, the future—all are catcalling me. & we got some blue balls that need spliced, some tension that needs diffused, some pain that needs explaining.

“Like a questioning breeze.”

I don’t want to stomp on someone else’s metaphor, but I sure liked that. That was kinda like an honorable mention, a shout out to a sister, a helping hand. They say, No Pain, No Gain, but I ain’t about to be mum for no bullies. Even if they thought they were workin some kinda tortured Art.

“Bully? Yr the biggest.”

Yr right, Smokey. & the Bully was a Buddha. We gotta talk about this brother-sister father-daughter mother-daughter shit later. Heck, we even got some father-son, and how if you meet the Buddha on the Road you’d better get Split. & we also gotta do the Mirror Mirror on the Wall trick.

“Sounds like you gotta a lotta variations on a theme. I’m a little worried cuz yr typing away, and I’m not dictating.”

I’m glad yr communicating openly, Smokey. She tried to do that with another man—six years ago to be explicit—but I’m not sure how to approach that story. We’re gonna have to shape out the tangentials on that one-the man is the stuff of nightmares & frightened blights of fancy. I wanna show you the whole enchilada at once, grab pie from the sky & serve it up whole, but I can’t do that without name calling & stepping on toes & really we’re each each other and all our own.

“Did you use him?”

Maybe, & he certainly used me. OK, but yr like the main detective on the case–that’s yr role & it’s got tender tenure, and I got a story to tell. A truce of truth.

“That sounds familiar.”

It’s called, How to Keep Yr Dream Achieved & How to Help a Fellow Sufferer & How to Tap Into the Pain without Getting Drained & I Ain’t Your Secretary No More.

“Shit, Lady, sounds like you got a manifesto.”

& It’s also called Never Surrender & Yr Not Too Old to Jump Out of Airplanes. Interesting yr calling me Lady. Sounds natural for a healthy rapport. Nope, I don’t got a manifesto, but if we keep communicating we can create a rapport of explanation, better soil to grow together. It’s easier to tell you this story on paper cuz it taps into some keen & mean stuff that’ll burn out yr eyelids and flap yr daylights.

“I like this plain spoken language. Not everything gotta be cryptic. Crypto-cat! Ha!”

We’re gonna shake that cat’s tail. That reminds me about another one of yr shame things.

“Was it shame? Using an animal? Objectifying an object?”

That’s what they tell ya. But I believe in mass redemption & taking off the labels—we’re even going to explore the tort of torture–cuz we’re all equal opportunity pilgrims in my plan. They say the best way to learn is to preach & you don’t need no unnecessary pain. It’s kinda like a get-rich-quick scheme or THE BIG BOOK OF ANSWERS.

“Yeah, like you got some kinda special understanding? The higher you are, the harder you fall. What kinda kool-aid you trying to sell. & I see yr back to using quotation marks. You’ll get yr comeuppance yet.”

Yep! Now see if you can read between the lines, Pops. Yr a shame gamer.

“Yr such a card.”

Don’t use loaded words, Smokey.

“I gotta whole pack.”

Now yr just being mean.

“OK, I gotta cat-o-nine tails.”

Hmf. Be nice to a brother. Keep yr eyeballs loaded, keep talkin, & look out.

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