past tents

Nulvoid, 1995, 6″ x 9″, by Steven B. Smith – foto by Smith

I’ve reworking our letter of inquiry to potential literary agents in an attempt to get our book started down the publishing chute. Here’s my latest opening line. What do you think, would this catch your eye:

Criminal – My Life & Crimes 1946-2006 by Smith & Lady: a true story of armed robbery, stolen cars, alternative art, mainstream poetry, underground publishing, robbing the cradle, and leaving the country.”

The previous first line I had in the letter that a good 40 literary agents ignored or rejected was:

“I ran run from the cops ten times, got away nine; stole 13 cars when 14, spent nine days in jail; was part of the largest group ever kicked out of the U.S. Naval Academy for marijuana in 1968; committed two armed robberies, spent a year in jail; am a poor boy from the west who ended up in the Society Register in the east.”

Now that I reread that sentence, I wince at its awkwardness. I tried to get too much info into too small a space.

This publishing process is so frustrating. First, I have an outsider/outlaw story life that violates most establishment folks sensibilities, and they’re in charge of the process. Second, I am a total unknown outside of being semi-famous in my own small neighborhood. Third, the economic times are so bad that two publishing houses are no longer publishing anything at all (just trying to survive instead off their catalog of past successes) while the rest are seriously cutting back.

I think anyone who has read Jack Kerouac or William Burroughs novels or Albert Camus’ essays or listened to Lenny Bruce would be a natural audience for our memoir of my life. On The Road is a so-so written story of a sad and shallow group of people hitch-hiking across country for a few summers while my story is 60 years of outsider life, crimes, drugs, art, poetry, philosophy – all told honestly with humor and NO excuses.

Caged Dice, 1997, 18″ x 18″, by Steven B. Smith – foto by Smith

My Special Walk

A taxi van stopped by the sidewalk as I was thinking about stepping into streams blindfolded. Ran past some dobermen. They barked until I told them it was OK, then stopped at the 4 corners by the 04 on Wiley & Scranton.

Found a lost hubcap.

& thought about water, plants, and the importance of the planet.

Down Wiley, the animal protective league.

I thought about my stepgrandmother.

Two tulips and I think of her flaming lips.

Thought about taking photo of ALOT graffiti, then felt bad for the graffiti artists, then almost tripped but caught myself. God gave me a screw & I can’t find the picture of it. I did get this, though:

I thought, there is a hierachy. Then I heard a pneumatic air hiss from inside a building. Grandpa was a compressor engineer. I think everyone has great potential.

Stepped by the P to take a shot. Thought it wasn’t good until I found the sparrow.

go ask alice

Won’t, 1997, 15″ x 19″, by Steven B. Smith – foto by Smith


Buried beneath
Your borrowed beliefs

A moon toad
Asleep in the river

No beginning
No end

No place to be
Or have been

– Steven B. Smith (thnx to Lady for rediscovering this one)

There are two reality paths flowing through our apartment: I walk the everyday task path in this world of the mundane using logic while Lady works a world of alternate beliefs in shamans, miracles, magic message iPods, and direct communication with God/s. Same third floor apartment, two different universes. (We did move in on April Fool’s Day, so maybe this is Reality’s little joke on us).

It does make communication awkward though since we’re dealing from different systems, beliefs, mythologies, dictionaries.

Have to wait to see how two such structurally different planes eventually reconcile into one life-couple collaboration – although we had a similar situation eight months ago down Mexico way, and I’m not sure that one ever did exactly reconcile.

I guess reality depends on what philosophical path you take down which rabbit hole.

White Rabbit

by Jefferson Airplane, 1967

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said;

Stephen Strange, 1977, 7″ x 12″, by Steven B. Smith – foto by Smith

2 from the road

Moon Blood by Steven B. Smith, 1993, 13 inches – foto by Smith

Until I can figure how to blog the mental and emotional black hole I’m in without disrespecting others, I’m going to cheat and each day show a couple pieces of my artwork I’ve made over the past 45 years.

I’m in a process of re-seeing this art because it’s been in storage for the past three years of our travel outside the U.S.A., and I’m meeting it with new eyes. Fortunately for me, I like what I see.

Above is Moon Blood, 13 inches by 13 inches, from 1993. It’s one of the pieces of mine Mother Dwarf cherished up until she died. Moon Blood is what I call menstrual blood.

The green and blue are from my liquid copper corrosion mixture. The rust is the salt from the copper corrosion acting on the metal pan I used as back drop, and the white is the salt oxidizing pot metals. Sometimes the cheaper pot metals will oxidize yellow orange as well from the sulfur.

detail of Moon Blood by Steven B. Smith, 1993, 13 inches – foto by Smith

And below is another moon piece – the moon here being a used coffee filter with coffee grounds left on it and then covered by my liquid copper corrosion. This one is titled The Validity of Relationships after my poem of the same name.

The Validity of Relationships

Full moon

Moonlight drips
Drips down
Dead realities
Dead reality
Dripping down
Dread realty

The moon is moist in Autumn
Great, rotund.

The piece is 15″ x 17″ and is from 1987. I like making my moons blue due to Blue Moon, the 1934 Rodgers & Hart song covered by Elvis Presley in 1956 and remade as a rambunctious doo-wop song by The Marcels in 1961.

The Validity of Relationships, 1987, 15″ x 17″ – foto by Smith

See you laters

Shroud by Railroad Tracks (photo by Lady)

See you later, enfinity!
In a while, crock o pile!

Ran on an x. Jumped over another, rand across spend.

Tried to avoid breaking mothers backs on the cracks,

sneezed in retort.

Flowers smelled like tea & honey & meat in the trees,

underneeth, two tulips. Rosemary pine cones.

Kim gave me money for Wendy.

I saw two birds fly by the underpass. I told them about

Mentor Marsh, where the birds cover they sky.

Truck overyhead like a silver train.

Love dove pigeons cooing.

See you l8ter, infinity,

raised my hand behind the railroad track, they stayed.

Tried to capture a foto as I rasied my camera, they

flew away.

God’s House, where the other halfs live.

Zaviar Saviar.

Thought song, Keep Feeling Fascinashunnnnnnn

Found a King cd for collage.

See you later, alligator…

God’s House, where the other halfs lived.

God’s house, I get it all.

Went up the wrong drive way.

Tried to captcha,

captcha a camera,

birds laffed at me.

See you later, infinity, see you l8ter…

Spend (photo by Lady)

God’s Horizontal House (photo by Lady)

voodoo lounge, 7 scenes

Voodoo Lounge by Steven B. Smith, 1968 – foto by Smith

I’m not rich enough to be poor. Prices going up. Money going down. Me wondering around lost in financial woulds shoulds coulds.

Spring’s sprunging, my mind’s mucking, time’s taking, truth’s teaching, my spirit’s reaching, always aching.

And now for something completely different. Here’s my first hangable piece of art, done in 1968. Call it Voodoo Lounge. 20 inches by 30 inches (51 centimeters by 76 centimeters). I’d done 3 small paper collages and one frightening small sculpture before, but this was my first wall piece. It’s 41 years old, five years older than my wife.

Voodoo Lounge by Steven B. Smith, 1968 – foto by Smith


Readin messages in magazines
& I’m lovin it

Innocense lost & found
Now smiles are all wrapped up

Birds listen to poetry while
Giants of Gender
Black Wires & White Liars
Night Women, a mysterious clique
manipulate men

Sex is a gift
Predatory men &
Devoted Family Members
will meet the alluring Lilith
the Triangular Road
gives Strength to the weak.


dark pasts

thru the past darkly – foto by Smith

Yesterday’s theft of our car radio flashed me back to Baltimore 1968. I came out to find my driver’s side window smashed with a brick, the car’s interior reeking of cheap booze from the bum who spent the night in it, and the contents of my glove compartment spread over the floor.

This frustrated me because the car had been unlocked, there was no reason to bust the window.

The good news was while picking up my stuff from the floor, I found the aluminum foil wrapped chunk of hashish I’d had in the glove compartment.

So once again bad news, good news.

Of course if you’re into karma, this all began in 1960 when 14 year old me stole 13 cars for joyriding. Before we began stealing, my older neighbor taught me that if the cars were unlocked, we could take anything we wanted. We rifled glove compartments for months before I upped the ante and took the whole car, glove box and all.

the shiny future (ha ha haaaa) – foto by Smith