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Archive for November, 2009

my tribe

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

basement poet – foto by Smith

Three comments from last Sunday’s poetic potluck party.

One poet (Steve Thomas) wrote that “i felt like i walked into the soft cotton of acceptance on sunday that there was comfort with a whole world revolving around us.”

I replied “well, poets are after all the center of the universe – that’s why we write verse.”

And a decades long friend (Field Marshall May Midwest aka book artist Melissa Jay Craig) wrote that it sounded like I was needlessly complaining because after all we were putting on an artistic event, had a foreign poet traveling thousands of miles to be with us, had our artistic and poetic peers surrounding and celebrating with us, and that her old boss used to tell her “You’d bitch if you was hung with a new rope.”

I’ve been thinking about that phrase, and I believe I would bitch being hung with a new rope because a new rope would be rougher, stiffer and pricklier with all those new erect rope hairs sticking out poking my neck — I would want to be hung with an old soft used rope so it’d be more comfortable around my neck. I figure if things are that bad, I’d want all the small comforts I could muster.

The third comment was from another poet who when invited to the potluck grinned and said “I’ll bring the pot if you bring the luck.” And did.

my tribe – foto by Smith


hermit’s anonymous

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Yuyutsu reading at Visible Voice Bookstore – foto by Smith

Been a long nine days.

Spent three days cleaning out our second bedroom so the Nepali poet Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma could stay with us for 10 days. The room was where we’d put anything that didn’t go anywhere when we moved in – like 60 big boxes containing 4,552 VHS videos of movies from 1894 through 2006 – so it was a serious mess.

Then Yuyu arrived Wednesday and we had his featured readings Wednes and Thurs night.

Friday we took him to artist Chiplis’ found neon studio, then over to musician Peter Ball’s so he could record his poetry, then to two art openings that night.

Saturday one of his fans (a Maoist Zen Buddhist) took him around town. Saturday night we went to a potluck party at an artist/poets, and then his Maoist took him out to a concert.

Yesterday we gave a potluck party for him. Had at least 30 poets and artists and a few civilians here, which was interesting since we have seating for nine. It was a marvelous gathering with one great poet after another popping up performing their work in a 45 minute round robin of unscheduled poetry.

Today take him to a laundromat, then drop him off at Peter’s so they can finish their music/poetry jam session. Thursday we’ll take him out to Lady’s folks for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday isn’t covered yet, but I think I’m just going to ignore everyone because I’m not a people person; normally 1 or 2 people a month is more than enough for me and so far this week there’s been at least 100.

Lady’s talking of turning our second bedroom into a poet’s residency, having traveling poets come through and stay a week at a time. A great concept for networking, but it obviously entails being with more people which in my book is pre-paid Purgatory time, by which I mean each social gathering is suffering for me so I figure all my social suffering during life on this Earth counts as time already suffered so that same amount of time will be deducted from my time in Purgatory.

Of course this doesn’t do me much good because both Hell and Purgatory are here and now in this life on Earth, and I don’t really believe in Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, or this Earth.

The bottom line – we gave temporary sanctuary to a traveling poet from Nepal who sold enough of his books (he has eight) to cover this leg of his journey, we had our first party in our new digs, we’ve shown the cream of the poetic crop here in Cleveland our artistic and poetic chops (though most were already aware), and we set up an infrastructure for traveling to Nepal as performing poets as soon as we can afford the air fare.

If this keeps up, I’m going to have to join Hermits Anonymous.

Maxwell Shell, Peter Ball, Steve Thomas, Jeff Chiplis, Russ Vidrick, Cynthia – foto by Smith

Ray McNiece reading; behind him clock-wise Steve Thomas,
Steve Goldberg, Jack McGuane, Russ Vidrick, Peter Ball, Blayne,
Janet, Jean Brandt, Lady, Craig – foto by Smith

Ray McNiece and the Provost family: young Jackson, Karen, Terry- foto by Smith

Steve Goldberg sitting, Jack McGuane, Ray McNiece,
Peter Ball, Janet, Jean Brandt, Lady, Wendy Shaffer,
Yuyutsu reading – foto by Smith

Jack McGuane reading, Ray McNiece, Peter Ball – foto by Smith

Janet, Terry Provost reading, Craig, Jayce Renner – foto by Smith

Wendy Shaffer reading, Jen in chair – foto by Smith

Yuyutsu recording at Peter Ball’s – foto by Smith



Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Yesterday we had a party. It was an opportune time as we have Yuyutsu here and we’ve finally straightened our place. I decided to make a chicken curry because I wanted Yuyu to try it. When we were in London I fell in love with chicken curry, and started to learn how to make it. The following ‘recipe’ is based on my experience with making chicken curry about 50 times. The recipe has kind of evolved over time with trial and error.

Yuyu made a wonderful lentil dal–a himalayan curry–and I’m going to try to pin down his ingredients and blog it as well. It was so fun. Yuyu and I were cooking side by side in the kitchen, my shoebox of asian spices open on the counter.


2 T mustard seeds
1 T cumin seeds
1 T coriander seeds
1/4 C olive oil
1 T butter
4 medium onions, chopped into 1″ cubes
1/2 bulb garlic, peeled, diced

Heat olive oil in large heavy-bottomed pan. Olive oil isn’t technically ‘asian’ but I think it works well. Add mustard, cumin and coriander seeds and butter. Monitor the seeds and flame to make sure they don’t burn. When the mustard seeds start to pop in the oil (maybe a minute or two after being added), add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion starts to turn translucent. Stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Meanwhile, put these ingredients in a blender:

1/4 to 1/2 C masman curry paste – IMPORTANT *
1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
2 large chilies, with seeds — or more if you can tolerate it!
4 large tomatoes, chopped roughly into wedges
1/2 to 1 C roasted cashews
2 to 3 T good pungent curry powder
more garlic if desired (good for health!)

Pulse and puree the paste, ginger, chilies, cashews, tomatoes and curry powder. You might find it necessary to add a little bit of water to make the ingredients more ‘blendable’ by the blender. You could add more chilies if you can tolerate hot curries. The chilies have a kind of synergy with the ginger and spices and really bring out the flavor, kind of like an Indian ‘menthol’ effect.

Add the fried onion mixture to the tomato mixture in the blender and pulse until fairly paste-like. Don’t worry if it is a bit lumpy or if the seeds haven’t broken down. They will break down more when the paste is cooked. Pour the paste back into the heavy pan. Add another quarter cup olive oil and mix together. Cook on a low flame for about a half hour, scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally. You might find it necessary to add more water if the mixture gets too dry. The mixture should be kind of like a lumpy gravy consistency, pulpy. You want it too cook down a little, so don’t cover the pan. It will make a mess, occasionally plopping bits of orange goo onto your stovetop and walls. This is normal.

After cooking for about a half hour, you can add a half stick of butter (if desired) and a can of coconut milk. Blend in until the butter is melted. It’s not necessary, but the butter is a nice kind of fat to add, good comforting taste. And really enhances the flavor of the spices and I highly recommend it. I don’t skimp on fat in this recipe. Fat is VERY important for flavor and satiety. Many Indian recipes call for ghee (clarified butter) but I find it’s not necessary.

Sample the mixture to see if it is salty enough. The masman curry paste has a lot of salt, so it should be sufficient, but you could add more to make the ingredients ‘zing.’ Sometimes a little sugar brings out more flavor, although I didn’t use sugar last time.

At this point you have a good gravy base for a curry. You could do variations on this using chicken or beef or lamb or just vegetables if you are vegetarian. I think it’s best with chicken and potatoes or chicken and yams or chicken and carrots. I add about 2 pounds of chicken diced into 1″ cubes – a mixture of thigh and breast meat is great.

Last time I made this I used chicken and potatoes. Two pounds of chicken, and about 3 C potatos chopped into 1″ pieces. I added the chicken and potatoes to the gravy in the pot and cooked for about 45 minutes to an hour on a low flame, scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally. I did not lid the pan because the gravy tends to break down more and become more liquidy, and you want a kind of thick gravy at the end, so I let the steam escape. Keep a glass of water nearby to add to the mixture in case it cooks down too much. I kept cooking it until the potatoes were tender and the gravy was cooked down to a nice thickness.

You could dice a half cup of fresh cilantro and add it to the gravy at the end if you like.

Serve with fresh roti or warm pita bread or basmati rice.

– – –

* Masman curry paste – you can find this at an asian grocer. You could try to make it from scratch, but it requires a lot of ingredients, and it’s best if you grind them fresh. The curry paste includes things like chile, ginger, lime peel, etc. You could try a different curry paste here if you like, but the masman is my favorite.


broke lip grin

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

party smile – foto by Smith

Gotta put on my party smile, we have a potluck party with an unknown unknowable number of artists poets and such. Party sprang unprepared from our foreheads at Yuyutsu’s reading Wednesday night and we just blurted it out. If I’m lucky, no one will show; if not, knot.

Not sure my party smile works anymore; think I out-wore it last night at another poet/artist’s poet artist potluck party and I don’t know if it was designed for use two days in a row.

party people – foto by Smith



Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

fotos by lady

Telephone Frontier


Can’t Remember Title


Installation Detail

The Shins

The Beach



caged dice and dead birds

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

north east corner dining room – foto by Smith

Back to the art fart park.

(Have to blog quickly while Lady’s out jogging, before she comes back and takes my computer to do paying work. This loss of my umbilical cord computer and internet access is driving me bug fucky).

Lady and I have 90+ pieces of art by dead Mother Dwarf Smith, dead brother Cat Smith, live wife Lady K Smith and me Smith Smith displayed in eight room/nook/crannies of our apartment in 30-some installations. We walk from gallery display thru gallery display to gallery display to eat sleep shave bathe defecate in beneath around between art – art brut, art primitive, art outside the barcode box.

Here are five more.

Sojourn, 2001, 17″ x 34″, Smith – foto by Smith

Used a dead bird skeleton and some bird skulls found on the roof plus a couple chicken heads from the West Side Market. From life to death – the journey we’re all on

Dice Cage, 1997, 18″ x 18″, Smith – foto by Smith

This was done on an embroidery circle. It is a riff on Einstein’s saying that God doesn’t play dice with our universe. I suspect there’s a lot of dice playing going on.

I Want, 1988, 14″ x 14″, Smith – foto by Smith

“Regardless of my credit experience, I WANT” – sums up America, sums up religion, sums up too many of us.

Green Cheese, 1999, 8″ x 8″, Mother Dwarf Smith and Smith – foto by Smith

Mom (Mother Dwarf) put a bunch of metal on a plate and fired it in her kiln. She didn’t like the results so asked me if I would finish it. I added my liquid copper corrosion and some diffraction grating paint to make it shimmer. The title refers to the moon being made of green cheese.

– foto by Smith


cyber shadow

Friday, November 20th, 2009

me no write right – foto by Smith

Black day here at the Smith’s computer ranch.

Lady’s laptop refused to boot up for 4 hours, then came up with an unreadable screen. Turned it off and on to find black screen death.

So she switched to her old computer. It died within an hour from overheating and now it too won’t boot up.

Our Nepalese poet guest Yuyutsu’s laptop looks like it got hit with a virus, but Lady got around that so at least he’s still online.

That leaves me and mine – we’re working fine. Unfortunately Lady needs a computer to do the web work she’s doing for her mother’s company which means I have to give up my computer so she can earn us some money to survive in this super-expensive country called the United Corporate State of American Consumers, so I’m left on-line-less and computerless.

It’s scary how dependent I’ve become on my laptop parasite and the internet – my computer and I have become a symbiotic chimera and I’m lost without being able to type my words, process my fotos, or surf the cyber whorl.

Tried writing on paper with pen but it’s so slow, more for notes than actual composition.

So for the next few days I’ll be a cyber shadow, having to sneak in in-between Lady’s on-line-ness (she’s out running right now – that and her bath will give me 90 minutes).

So, seize you on the downsize. This is Smith reporting once again from the tarnished crackling silver backside of the looking glass.

cyber shadow Smith – foto by Smith


yuyutsu, she, thee and me

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

side light, under the roof eaves – foto by Smith

Nepalese poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma will be reading tonight at Cleveland’s Mac’s Backs at 7 pm Thursday 11.19.2009 along with San Francisco poet artist Celeste McCarty.

Here’s the Mac’s Backs p.r. release:

Mac’s is pleased to welcome back two friends.

Yuyutsu Sharma is a Nepalese poet and writer who travels the globe when he is not at home in Nepal writing, publishing and distributing books. He last read at Mac’s in March, 2008. Since then he has published Annapurnas and Stains of Blood: Life Travels and Writing on a Page of Snow (Nirala Publications, New Delhi) and Space Cake, Amsterdam and Other Poems from Europe and America (Howling Dog Press).

Yuyutsu has also translated and edited several volumes of Nepali poetry. He is the author of The Way to Everest, an exquisite collaboration with photographer Andreas Stimm. Sucheta Das Gupta from the Himalayan Times said this about Yuyutsu’s poems: “The poems are shining jewels of passion, energy and splendid craft, redolent with vivid, dreamlike visual imagery, strengthened by realistic observation and powered by strong male eroticism.”

Some of our long time customers may remember Celeste McCarty who worked at Mac’s in the early 1990’s. She is an artist living in San Francisco. She developed a reputation for her unique and colorful postcard size paintings when she sold them from her porch stoop in her SF neighborhood. Curve Magazine profiled her in an Open Studio column in May, 2008. Celeste has recently published several books of drawings & words, including Friendly Fire and Shroatables.

Mac’s Backs is at 1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, Oh 44118 fone = 216.321.BOOK.

~ ~ ~

Lady and I met Yuyutsu for the first time yesterday when we picked him up at the bus station to stay with us a week, and then heard him read his work last night for the first time as well. I’d read his poetry before and liked it a lot, but he’s one of those poets who are even better in person. Between each poem he’d explain the portion of Nepalese history pertinent to the poem so we had a combination rap session, history lesson, travelogue, poetry reading. Only ten people showed up, but they were all solid poets and artists, so the creative density was high.

Listening to Yuyutsu, I realize I lost my faith and joy in life about a year ago and have consequently become a bundle of negative energy, a constant contrary curmudgeon. I now endure rather than endeavour.

I’ve forgotten about magic, and magic’s forgotten about me. Especially since moving back to the States. While we were traveling for three years, every ordinary day wasn’t ordinary because we were living on foreign soil and each day presented unAmerican images, unAmerican thoughts, and unAmerican cultures which excited my brain as it tried to balance my new life ways against my old life ways which kept my words, thoughts and images flowing.

I’ve become far too down and negative about being back on the Corporate Shores of America. I need to re-realize that life is what happens to you where you are, while you are. I’ve got to re-learn to live by my own motto that this it is the it it is.

If I don’t like my is and wish for what isn’t, it’s up to me to make my isn’t is. I’m a poet, goldarnit, I’m supposed to be positive.

Pacman anybody? – foto by Smith


Yuyutsu RD Sharma reading Wed. Nov 18 & Thurs. Nov 19

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

We are pleased to host Yuyutsu RD Sharma for the next week or so in our home while he stays in Cleveland. Yuyutsu is touring the US. If you are in the Cleveland area, I encourage you to come out and hear him at one of the venues at which he’s appearing this week. Take the opportunity to catch this poet while he’s in town!

Nepalese Poet
Yuyutsu RD Sharma

Wednesday, November 18, 7:00 p.m.

@ Visible Voice Books

Thursday, November 19, 7:00 p.m.

@ Mac’s Backs

Yuyutsu RD Sharma is a distinguished poet and translator. He has published eight poetry collections including Space Cake, Amsterdam, & Other Poems from Europe and America (Howling Dog Press, Colorado, 2009). He has even launched a literary movement, Kathya Kayakalpa (Content Metamorphosis) in Nepali poetry.

Sharma has read at many prestigious venues including Poetry Café, London, Bowery Poetry Place, New York, The Guardian Newsroom, London, and the Gunter Grass House in Bremen. His works have appeared in Poetry Review, Chanrdrabhaga, Sodobnost, Amsterdam Weekly, Indian Literature, Irish Pages, Delo, Omega, Howling Dog Press, Exiled Ink, Iton77, Little Magazine, The Telegraph, Indian Express and Asiaweek. The Library of Congress has nominated his recent book of Nepali translations entitled Roaring Recitals; Five Nepali Poets as Best Book of the Year 2001 from Asia. Yuyutsu’s work has been translated into German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Spanish and Dutch.

– – –

Space Cake appeared in The City:

‘Roach 81’ by Blue 7


“Don’t panic,” they said,
remain cool like your Krishna ,
meditate maybe like Buddha,
uttering ‘Om Mani Padme,’ jewel in the lotus,
or lie down and relax
like Vishnu on the python bed
to float on the ocean’s currents,
buoyant on the invisible thread
of your breath in slow motion…

Millions of cats prowled around me.
Smoke from shared sex
and hashish joints stung my eyes.
Unsettling tongue
of an awkward fire fed my stomach.
I skidded queasily towards
towards the formidable edge,
unknown ominous frontiers of human life…

They laughed a secret laugh
behind my back – “Isn’t it crazy that
this man from Kathmandu should get stoned
from a piece of space cake in Amsterdam ?”

“Don’t be serious, laugh,
celebrate the flame of life!” a woman’s voice said.
“Hold my hand; I can imagine
you are alone on this trail.
I’v been there once,” she whispered.
Her tongue curled like a dry leaf in my ear
and crackled “How much did you take,
just a piece? I took thirty-eight grams once,
It can be crazy if you don’t know it’s coming.
Just don’t worry too much.
Don’t lose your control over things.
You can kiss me if you like,
You can pat my back,
tickle my belly or stroke my breasts
for a while, if it comforts you.
Sometimes it can be heavenly,
this licking the rim of the forbidden frontiers of human life.”

“That’s what he wants, that’s exactly
what he’s looking for,” a voice leered far off.
“But I have to go ultimately,
I’ve a man waiting at home for me.”

“Maybe read a poem of yours,”
someone said. My heart raced wild
and I heard some girls gossip in the next room—
What if he gets sick in Europe?
Don’t we get sick in Asia?
“Just take it easy,” another voice echoed
“You won’t go psychotic. Remember one thing,
whatever happens, you can always make a comeback.”
Faces of my dear ones veered past my face.
I felt delicate thread of my life
slipping through my fingers
“Hey man, it’s fine. Don’t worry too much.”
My host shouted. “Drink lots of water.”
“Drink black tea or coffee,” a guest suggested.
“Or take lots of orange juice.”
“Maybe sing your favorite song,” a woman said.
“Or recite one of your Hindu mantras.”
“Maybe stick your finger into your throat,”
another voice came sheepishly, “and throw up.
You probably haven’t digested everything yet.”

Questions came like wind slaps.
“Can you tell me what they call boredom
in your mother tongue? Do you remember
your email account and password?
Discuss your children, if you have any.
Shall I bring my little daughter before you?
Maybe you’d feel better then,
seeing her brilliant eyes.”

I imagined a child’s face and clung to it,
like a penitent would hold onto
a sacred cow’s tail in his afterlife,
and slept on it, all through the river of blood…

Hours passed by
and then I heard someone say—
“What if he had freaked out?
What if Death had stalked our house tonight?”

Hearing these words, I woke up
knowing I’d come back, stepped on
the familiar shores of life
where Death’s feared, a distant distrustful thing.
My drowse burst like a glacial that cracks
from rumble of a seed of fire
that explodes somewhere in earth’s deep sleep.

Yuyutsu RD Sharma


3 me

Monday, November 16th, 2009

south east wall of dining room – foto by Smith

Three more of my assemblages / collages.

Runoff, 2003, 11″ x 19″, Smith – foto by Smith

This represents how evolution took us from upright monkeys to the creation of religion – the round rust in the lower right corner is a run-off spout which has a cross and chain wrapped around it. I like this one so much that I gave it to myself.

Loyola Collage, 1979, 16″ x 13″, Smith – foto by Smith

My 1973 graduation diploma from Loyola College in Baltimore Maryland. The Swamp Thing character with creatures on its back is supposed to represent me slogging through academia.

Organ of Worship, 1996, 10″ x 6″ – foto by Smith

This consists of two fotos of one of my 1975 Baltimore girlfriends covered with dress patterns and “the world’s smallest Bible.” The dress pattern’s “lower front facing” refers to the “Organ of Worship” in the title which references the mons veneris region of the fotos.


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