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Archive for June, 2009

shrunken head shortage

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

cellulose ghosts – foto by Smith

You know inflation’s getting out of hand when 31 years ago you could buy a shrunken head for $500 and today it’s $50,000 because no one is shrinking heads anymore. It’s sad to lose the old skills. There supposedly haven’t been any new shrunken heads made in the last 100 years even though we’ve an ever expanding number of Freudian mind shrinkers. Maybe I could get a government grant and learn how – I’d shrink only politician’s heads though since they’re all moral pinheads anyway and no one would miss them.

Hard to buy an Iron Maiden torture device too – Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museums says there are only 10 in the world, although Wikipedia says they’re all forgeries. I read that a lot of the classic torture devices have fallen along the wayside, having been replaced by political speeches (which are truly torturous and painful).

Ripley’s museums are having trouble finding enough oddities to fill their ever expanding number of museums – they now have 67 locations world wide, and Ripley’s policy is that they all must include a shrunken head. They’ve even been reduced to buying fake Iron Maidens, and say fake shrunken heads go for $5,000.

I heard they hired Diogenes to find them one honest man to display, but so far he’s still searching.

They do have a portrait of Barack Obama made of 12,000 gum balls in their New York museum – although I’m suspicious of their count because it’s probably 12,009 or 10,997 gumballs and they’re rounding off their lies.

Maybe we could hunt down Dick Cheney, stuff him and sell him to Ripley’s as a man without a heart, a soul, regret, standards, ethics, or morality – except considering how many other politicians, priests, CEOs, cops and Television evangelists fit that same bill, he probably isn’t unique enough to qualify, which is a sad commentary on life on fast dying Mother Earth.

You know, it’s almost as if Mother Earth is going through menopause, and humans are both cause and symptom.

alas poor Yorick – foto by Smith


5 bukowski

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

stone fissure, Lake Erie – foto by Smith

18 years ago, I asked poet Ben Gulyas to guest-edit issue #11 of ArtCrimes. Gulyas wrote to Charles Bukowski and asked for some poems. Bukowski sent a batch. Ben felt the poems were less than stellar and wrote back saying they lacked fire, did Bukowski have any others. Never heard from him again.

Here are 5 Bukowski poems we published in 1991. Have no idea if he published these elsewhere or not. I did line searches for each poem and found nothing on Google.

~ ~ ~

somebody else

a hangover at 70
seems somewhat worse,
of course,
than one at
but considering
most other things
I feel about the
my strengths, my
ideals, my

it is only when
I am walking
and I see my
in a
plate glass
that I wonder,
who is

that thing

that old fart.


– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~


I sat in that bar for so long that
I memorized each grain of wood
along the whole bar, and each
cigarette burn.

the nights and days melded
together, the weeks and the
months, the

two years in that same bar
from opening until closing

I was a fixture, an act.
I drank rivers of booze, lived
through dullness and madness,
accident and song.

I was there without visible
means of support.

then one day I got off my
stool, walked out, and not
only away from the bar
but also the
city and the state.

three years later I
returned, stayed a week,
got off that bar stool
and never

I needed a better place
to hide.

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~

upon reading an interview with a bestselling
novelist in the metropolitan daily

he talks as he writes: white fissures of placidity,
and he has a face like a dove, untrampled by externals
or internals.
a little shiver of horror runs through me as I read
his comfortable assured success drones on through
the print.
and least we over-worry he interjects:
“I am going to write a novel next year.”
next year?
I skip some paragraphs, even the interviewer is
but the interview goes on for two and one half
it’s like milk spilled on a tablecloth, it’s talcum
powder, it’s the bones of a dead fish, it’s a crease
in a faded necktie, it’s a gathering hum of nowhere.
this man is very fortunate in that he is not standing
in the line of a soup kitchen.
this man has no idea of his failure because he is
paid so well for it.
I am on the bed, reading.
I drop the paper to the floor.
then I hear a sound.
it is a small fly buzzing.
I watch it flying, circling in its irregular

life at last.

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~

change over

Xmas season
here I was a boy and here was my mother and here we
were in a department store
where my mother stopped before a glass case
and I stopped too.
the case was full of toy soldiers, some with rifles
and bayonets, others were mounted on fine horses.
there were toy cannons and there were soldiers with
machine guns.
there was even a castle with a moat, there were toy
airplanes and tanks
and my mother asked, “do you want some of these
soldiers, Henry?”
“no,” I said.
I knew we were poor and I didn’t want her to spend
the money
but I wanted those soldiers in their various colored
uniforms, their different types of helmets and all
their stances: marching, charging, firing.
there were officers and enlisted men, there were
flags, there were raised swords…

“are you sure you don’t want some of these
soldiers, Henry?”

“I don’t want them…”

we walked on, went to another department where my
mother bought me stockings and underwear.
they were to be wrapped in bright packages and
placed under the tree.

that Christmas was hell but when my war finally
came along, as wars will do, and I couldn’t get
past the psychiatrist
I was pleased to learn of my

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~


everybody thinks about dying now and then
and the older you get the more you tend to
think about it instead of thinking about
climbing into bed with some bunny you think
about climbing into the grave, oh boy, but
there’s almost a peaceful connotation to
it, sure, especially if you’ve lived a
number of hard years, but, of course, there’s
the inconvenience of it all, not so much to
you but to others–there’s the body, it does-
nt move, you’ve got to do something with it,
it hardens up and stinks up pretty fast, no
offense, I’m not singling anybody out here,
it’s like we all wipe our asses, right? or
most of us do, but before dying some of us
get this itch to do something: plant a gar-
den, lift weights, work with oil paints, buy
a bright yellow convertible sports car or so
forth and so on and ect, like some still
want to go to bed with a bunny, some of the
men and maybe even some of the women, but
actually talking about death gets to be rather
boring, although dying is finally the
only thing that finally gets some people
attention at last, the cochineal types, you
know, but they’ll never realize this auto-
matic herd-like homage because they won’t be
there as they weren’t there in life either,
and in a sense the living only honor the dead
because they will be next, it’s cheap really,
a kind of connecting chain of self-agony, and
my wife asks me, “would you rather be ashes or
buried?” and I say buried because even though
I won’t know it, I could know it ahead of time,
thinking about it now: somebody drinking me
down with their beer or sticking me up their
asses or their pussies or mixing me with the
dog food, I am caught with this sick vanity:
I like myself living or dead, I am the best
thing I have ever met, so bury me sweet and
deep and don’t weep, realize that one of the
nicest things is leaving you, your cities, your
songs, your mewking laughter, your history, your
hell, your chess sets, your jams and your jellies,
your bunnies, your buttocks, the way you’ve
smeared the sun and pissed in your ears, I still
liked some of you, which beats the other, so
drop the lid–the darkness is yours and as
your feet hit the floor each morning, I wish
you luck.

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

down the line – foto by Smith


plane talk

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

u test / right side of the tracks – foto by Smith


Thought is as relevant as the underside of leaf
the bristled ground floor of an ant’s eye level

Soul as significant as an aphid cow

The miracle of eye believes in pain
for seeing is believing on
this plane & thought is emergence
& existence transcends
the improbability of clockwork

There are ghosts of the battlefields of ants
between dandelion stars

– Lady, Oaxaca, Mexico, December 23, 2008

Lady’s been doubting her poetry lately, something all poets go through one time or another. But I’ve been re-reading her and am blown away. I’ve been in the poetry business 46 years. I’ve written, read, heard and seen an enormous amount of poems, both mine and others living and dead along the way, and know good shit when I see it. Someday her self-image will catch up to her actualization.

red laser into camera lens – foto by Smith


and the dead shall speak

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Daniel Thompson, 1935-2004 – foto by Smith

I’m printing off some of the late Daniel Thompson’s poems to read at the 5th Annual Daniel Thompsonathon in the park tonight.

My limited edition art/poetry journal ArtCrimes (with which I lost $20,000 printing 21 issues over 20 years) was the biggest publisher of Daniel Thompson’s poetry – from 1986 through 2006, I published over 100 of his poems.

Daniel was the one who convinced me to start reading publicly in 1981, and he and poet Jim Lang are responsible for my most interesting readings. Lang’s also reading tonight, as are 8 other superb poets.

Lady’s baking a blueberry pie for the potluck portion of tonight’s event. My task is to taste it as soon as we get there.

What: Fifth Annual Daniel Thompsonathon

When: Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Potluck at 5:30 p.m. / Poetry at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Horseshoe Lake Park Pavilion in Shaker Heights, on Park Drive
east of Lee Rd. between South Park and North Park Blvds.

Why: To celebrate the work of the late, great Cuyahoga County poet
laureate Daniel Thompson

Featured poets: Katie Daley, Chris Franke, Jim Lang, Peter Leon, Ray McNiece, Maj Ragain, Brian Taylor, Barry Zucker, Lady K, Steven B. Smith

(more Daniel at – click on Guest Artists)

Jim Lang, Daniel Thompson – foto by Jim Lang

Bree, Barry Zucker, Daniel Thompson, Smith – foto by Jim Lang

Daniel at Cafe Noir – foto by Smith

Daniel’s final performance – foto by Smith


1 lady, 2 lady

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Lady K through a plastic glass darkly – foto by Smith

Two fotos of Lady and one of her poems:


The thought of no thought makes a river of thought rushing
through my meditation candle sloshing against the shadows
splashed on the wall thought running up against the walls
filling the room, leaking out the door like a bathtub left running

My thought can follow you out the door & down the street
into the Mexican roof dog’s stare as your shadow elongates under
the moth beaten streetlight under the turned on moon

My thought expands across the planet in latitudes &
longitudes, it’s the Tropic of Cancer & Capricorn & the
Greenwich Mean Time line

My thought cuts into the Earth like a hole bored through to
China; my thought imagines us bouncing between China & back
again through the molten core of the Earth like a ball on a string

My thought is like a baseball to the moon & back again

My thought counts 93 million miles to the sun & wonders if it
can skip ahead, count by tens or hundreds or millions

My thought would like to look at the sun & burn holes in its head

My thought wants to do handstands on light beams

My thought wonders about the edges of the Universe, like is it
full of dirt or empty or not even empty, just not there

My thought thinks the other side of the Universe could be another
Universe created by a big thought

In other words, my thought refuses to be silent under the
meditation candle. It expands like plumes of a gas nebula
under hint of suffocating winds. My thought will never end,

– Kathy Ireland Smith, October 16, 2008, Oaxaca, Mexico

Lady K – foto by Smith


experimental re-write

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Cleveland Museum of Art – foto by Smith


Ciao chow boogie
Go down wail gone
Sassafras the fancies
She’s my daddy-o mom
My moldy goldy oldie
My crazy maybe one

Ride now into never
with every sly lie
I’m cool cat copacetic
In absolute time
Jig forever together
In metaphoric fire

Raise sin to sensation
Peel feel from the ground
No explanation
Just loose liquid sound
Undress in nude nation
Do the two-back get down

always free – foto by Smith


hi-def death

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

pain 100% – foto by Smith

Walked into the laundromat yesterday and before I was even through the door, an old woman asked me if I were ready for the TV switch. Asked her what she meant. She explained that analog TV was being turned off in a few minutes to be switched to hi-def digital.

Told her I didn’t have a TV and she exclaimed “Well what do you DO then?” Explained we read, write, watch movies on our laptops. She was horrified.

As the switchover approached, she turned up the TV for the countdown. I watched as the announcer intoned “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” and at zero the TV channel disappeared into white static. She went frantic whining about how she couldn’t come here if there were no TV, how the owners were too cheap for cable, how they were going to lose all their customers, how all the bars had to have TV to bring the customers in.

I hid my smile. I go early to the laundromat on purpose just to avoid the TV people who have the Judge Judys and game shows and talk show braindeads constantly blaring as I try to read.

She yapped and yapped and yapped at me about no TV and I kept my face neutral and said nothing because she’s human with her own needs and I’ve no right to mock her misery. Her standards and needs are not mine, but I’ve no moral right to belittle hers. She wouldn’t understand anyway.

Unfortunately after 10 minutes she turned it back on and started switching channels and found one working and she turned the sound WAY up and ran out where I was reading to shout “WE HAVE TV.”

Each new customer that comes in she immediately runs to them and tells them the story of how the TV died, how a few channels came back, how cheap the laundromat owners are, how they’re going to lose all their customers, how the bars all have TV. I heard the story 6 more times.

A news program comes on and she leaps up, rushes to the controls and changes it to a children’s game show. As soon as she finishes her laundry and leaves, I turn it off.

Then the machines turn on me. Two of my washing machines finish, but the third gets stuck at 6 minutes in the spin cycle. I get the two loads into the dryer, come back 10 minutes later and the washer still says “6 minutes, spin.” The washer door is locked so I can’t get my load out. I shake the machine, pound on the control panel, try to force the locked door open and pound it shut over and over over and finally time starts moving again.

After my drying cycle is done, I find one of my two driers had no heat so I have to dry them all over again in another drier.

That night as Lady and I are walking around the neighborhood ArtWalk, I see the mad TV lady sitting on a bench outside the ice cream shop and we nod and smile at each other in recognition.

what now we’re bored – foto by Smith


visit the egress

Friday, June 12th, 2009

fotos by Smith



Thursday, June 11th, 2009


imagining my absence of my presence around you
like seeing a bird not seeing me
or does it just not have the vocabulary
or not care to speak

do those I think about think about me
or am I just a contrail,
barely discernible
ultimately forgettable
lost & not found

work, work, I’m work
and I won’t take no
and I won’t take yes

flip flap, bent leather
reworked into worthlessness

bird’s a word for worms

my gunk is your junk

when I got ambition
I’m dead-end appalled
by futility

only when I give up
am I ok in the moment

this work does not matter
just the wick wet, the flame sweet
the measurement by feet, your own
movement, the exercise of your pace
through the day, the sidewalk,
the hi & by in passing

this work does not matter

people matter

poetry does not matter unless you’re almost dead
but then when you learn enough,
poetry does not matter
when you’re jaded enough,
poetry does not matter
when you’ve bent your heart to outer space
and collapsed it into an origami trash can
looking for meaning in endless empty inner shells
of regressive russian doll roulette pointlessnesses

what can matter after this process?

walking, the altitude of the sky to you,
you to the sidewalk. the sidewalk that wraps
around the Earth. the uncharted paths
you could make with a machete if you have a machete.
sounds in green, sounds in brown, roofless sounds
sounds through open windows
traffic and its absence
city and its absence
pay dirt of parallax

dead, yr in bed.
not dead, yr on your feet.

work can get u through the day
& it’s nice to say hi to people.

food’s good, too.



Fifth Annual Daniel Thompsonathon

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

This – assemblage and foto by Smith

Lady and I will be two of ten readers at the

Fifth Annual Daniel Thompsonathon
Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Potluck at 5:30 p.m. / Poetry at 6:30 p.m.

Celebrate the work of the late, great Cuyahoga County poet laureate Daniel Thompson at Horseshoe Lake Park Pavilion in Shaker Heights, on Park Drive east of Lee Rd. between South Park and North Park Blvds.

Featured poets: Katie Daley, Chris Franke, Jim Lang, Peter Leon, Ray McNiece, Maj Ragain, Brian Taylor, Barry Zucker, Kathy Ireland Smith, Steven B. Smith

A fine parcel of poets, we’re glad to be included.

For Daniel Thompson poems and fotos alive and dead, try

Lady K – foto by Smith


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