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Archive for April, 2012

The D Dance

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Air dance – foto Smith

Wrote this poem two weeks after mom died in 2005; added a chorus last month; recorded it this afternoon with Peter Ball.

Absolutely love Peter’s music on this one; the vocal as usual is open to critique . . . Click to play.

Death Dance

Take one crisis forward
Two disasters back
Do the death dance baby
Spin the man in black

Don’t you mind the drooling
Or the puddles on the floor
I don’t care who you’re fooling
Death destructs the poor

  For flesh sags and wrinkles
  Most muscles lose their touch
  Bad bladders burst and tinkle
  When too much to life we clutch

And way before you’re dying
You creak and crack and groan
Then comes along the diapering
The one-way ticket rest home

Where drenched in piss and TV
You’re just one more peopled pod
I tell you life ain’t easy
With or without your God

  Oh the bellies sag and wrinkle
  The muscles lose their crunch
  Old faces frown and crinkle
  And brains get out of touch

Music, mix, recording Peter Ball; words and vocal Smith.

There are forty-two more Ball & Smith songs for listening or free download at


Soap cookies

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Pear soap – foto Smith

Opened a bag Lady brought home from the store and saw the box in the foto above and thought “Ahhhhh, pear cookies . . . I’ve never had a pear cookie, these should be good.”

But it turned out they were bath soap bars, not cookies, so I told Lady I was going to bake me some pear cookies. The last time I baked cookies was 30-40 years ago.

She doubted I’d do it so I did.

Pear cookie ingredients – foto Smith

Original Recipe Yield 30 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pear – peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth.

Beat in egg and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger; mix into batter.

Stir in chopped pears, chopped nuts and raisins.

Drop about two inches apart by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center springs back when lightly touched.

Remove to wire racks to cool.

Combine confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and mix until smooth.

Spoon icing over cookies.

Online recipe by Cheryl Statt who says, “Delicious, rich flavor with or without frosting. Top with walnut halves for a fancy touch.”

They’re delicious. I left off the recipe’s lemon juice/confectioner’s sugar icing because I don’t like iced cookies.

A small amusement: in the lower left hand corner of the box of pear soap it says “Gentle Care” — just below that there’s a dent. Guess someone didn’t get the message.

Pear cookies – foto Smith


Lady in perpetual bliss

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Sometimes I feel like I’m in bliss, in perpetual heaven. I mean, I am personally so very lucky. I have good health, I love my companion, I have work, I have a brain, I have at least a modicum of talent. And there are all kinds of projects to do and times are very interesting and my work is very creative.

But I look around and I see evidence that some people are suffering and so even though my own personal circumstances are pretty awesome, I really can’t see that it’s heaven for everyone else.

Another thing about this place–if it really is heaven–is that there’s a heck of a lot of stuff to do in it. I mean, wouldn’t the ultimate heaven kind of give me a lot of time if needed to do the things I want to do? Maybe Earth is a half-way house to Heaven.

So Friday night there’s a poetry reading down the street and it’s being held by one of our friends, and it’s in a bookstore we want to support and we haven’t been there in two months.

But I just got this call from IRTF and this young activist just got back from El Salvador, has a bunch of pictures and wants to share his experience Friday night at 8.

IRTF stands for the Interreligious Task Force and they do a lot of awesome projects working on improving human rights in Central America.

I yearn to see these pictures because I think about our traveling times and the amazingness of those experiences and to see someone else’s experience in a country in which we haven’t yet been… well, that’s very appealing. It’s even more interesting because the young man is coupling his traveling with activism, so the travel not only expands his horizons but is of some utility in the world.

We’re committed to our poetry night Friday, but if you’d like to see the presentation, it’s at 4241 Lorain Avenue at 8 p.m., and there will be food. And it’s free!

Or if you’d rather do the poetry, it’s at 7 p.m. at Zion Church in the basement, 2716 West 14th, also free. Lots of stuff to do in this heaven.

~ Lady


new Lady K poetry & talk series: BEING AT PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITY

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Cosmic Lady – foto Smith

This is a roundabout invitation to an open mic poetry and talk potluck get together this Saturday afternoon.

My wife is trying to save the world. And all Her inhabitants. Literally. And Reality knows Mother Earth could use some help.

But Lady figures to handle the big problems — global warming, health, hunger, happiness — we’ll need everyone involved regardless of class color gender nationality or power to make it work . . . which is hard to do when we’re all pointing fingers and yelling at each other.

So she started from the bottom up.

She changed her self in basic be the change you want to see belief. She became a vegetarian; walks or bicycles whenever possible so not to use gas and pollute; buys used goods at thrift stores; supports local business and unionized stores, buys cage-free eggs, moved our money from bad Big Bank to local one which invests in the community; she’s become an avid activist, has fed the Occupy Cleveland Public Square info tent breakfast-for-four every morning since last October, donates time to the Sierra Club and IRTF and multiple others, got the homeless newspaper to publish again . . . (I could go on but she hasn’t paid me yet).

Now she’s debugging the next step of the problem: how to get folk to stop shouting and start talking to each other . . . getting all the various factions fractions frictions frissons of the 99% as well as the 1% to realize it’s going to take 100% of us to stop befouling our nest beyond redemption.

So Lady K is starting a monthly poetic dialogue to try to heal the rift in our communities between the citizens and its leaders. It is to be a monthly gathering, everyone welcome, possibly changing venues each month from from community to community.

Her basic premise is if we don’t start talking, we won’t start solving.

Here’s the P.R. for her first gathering.

Saturday April 21, 2012 from 2-5 PM
“Introducing Ourselves”

2555 Euclid Heights Blvd.
(in basement of St. Alban Episcopal Church)

Open mic poetry, refreshments and roundtable introductions. Theme of the evening: “Introducing Ourselves”– however you might wish to interpret this.

Please feel free to bring some food and poetry to share. We will meet again in May; stay tuned for venue and theme info!


How can all become less estranged, and more part of the community?

We welcome you to participate in a series of events featuring poetry, discussion and food. The impetus for this series is a drive to improve the relationship and understanding between people who are leading and policing our communities and all people who live in the communities to minimize violence and to work better together on solving problems.

Here are some of the immediate problems we’d like to work on solving/discussing:

1 — Incidents have occurred such as misuse of force/misuse of authority/improper training on the part of some police officers and other members of the community. Some in our community have been stopped and harassed by for no apparent reason, and like in the case of Trayvon Martin, some children have even been harmed.

2 — Too much polarization, not enough togetherness

3 — Not enough working together on common community issues

Addressing and helping solve these social issues can help us work together on some of the other big issues–economic and environmental–at which we will be more effective addressing together. We hope to see you here!

Lady on today’s Tax Day Protest March – foto Smith


Cold Fusion

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Cold Fusion, 2003, 11″ x 13″ – Smith


5 cent art

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Drawing by Eliot – Smith foto

At last Friday’s art opening, I looked down to see a 6 year old boy. I’d noticed him drawing the building across the street when we came in so smiled and said hi, but he just stood in silence staring up at me, holding his yellow sheet of paper with his drawing on it so I couldn’t see it.

So I moved on to look at the next piece on the wall and my silent staring shadow moved with me. Tried to get him to talk but he just stood and stared and held his yellow paper to his chest.

A few art pieces and a bit of shadow dancings later he held out his paper, stared up into my eyes and said, “I drew this.”

“Well good for you. It is very nicely done.”

“I’ll sell it to you for five cents.”

“You want to sell me this drawing for five cents.”


“Okay.” I dug in my pocket, handed him some coins saying, “Here, how about fifty-five cents.” He took the coins, gave me the drawing, and as I went digging for more coins he ran to show his mother what he’d done.

Then he sat down and drew again. I wondered if he was going to try to sell me another, but eventually he came over and showed me his new drawing — it was very close to what he’d sold me. “See, I copied it. Now we both have one.”

His name is Eliot. I think he’s six. His mother’s a poet. What a slow, surreal, sweet encounter.

PS — just received this note from Eliot’s mother:
A funny part of this story I think you missed, is that a short while later,
Steve Mastroianni heard the story of Eliot’s sale and told him, jokingly, that he needed to give him, as the gallery owner, a cut of his profits. Eliot looked a little perplexed, so Steve told him not to worry, there would be no fee for his first sale. But Eliot took me aside and asked me how much he needed to give him and why. So I had a little chat with Eliot about how things work in the art world with gallery owners getting a percentage of the sales since they provide the space and have to pay rent and whatnot.

Eliot seemed to really want to play by the rules and held out his coins and asked which ones he should give Steve. I told him the nickle would be a good cut, so he dutifully walked over and stood in from of Steve until he caught his attention, and handed him the nickle.

Welcome to the high finance world of art, kiddo. I think he’s got what it takes to make it. 🙂

Here are two normally unseen pieces of mine, unusual in that they’re paintings with no found objects included.

The Three Ways of Water, 2003, 19″ x 23″ – Smith foto

Space Time Continuum, 1992, 22″ x 26″ – Smith foto


Shaved fish

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Standing in the shadows – Smith foto

Many moons ago our doorbell buzzer buzzed. This was two years back when the bell still worked and I didn’t because my leg ball bone was grinding against raw hip socket bone, so Lady ran down the three flights of stairs to talk to three middle-aged women who wanted to come up and save our souls by reading their bibles to us.

This was during a heatwave in July 2010, just a few days after Lady had impulsively shaved her head completely bald for art performance reasons which she immediately regretted.

It was taking awhile so I hobbled down to give her backup support, and the women’s faces oddly shifted as I came into view and they saw me: I was a foot taller than Lady, 27 years older, shirtless, wearing khaki cutoffs, had an Amish beard with no moustache, and my head was shaved as well (which I do a couple times every month).

These nice ladies continued their prosletyzing to the odd-looking bald couple when suddenly our landlord on the first floor gets curious about the long conversation right outside his door and steps out to ask if there’s anything he can do to help. He’s the drummer for the math-metal group called Keelhaul, is 10 years or so older than Lady, shirtless and wearing khaki cutoffs as I am, also has chin whiskers with no moustache AND a shaved head as well.

What are the odds.

We were nice, friendly, and considerate to them; but three shaved heads were a bit much for our soul searchers, so they moved on. I still wonder what odd cult narratives were galavanting through their mystified minds as these fishers of men&women went searching for a cleaner catch.

In our three years here, I’ve had bible trollers buzz our buzzer four times fishing for my soul, but each time I’d read more of the bible than they had so outreasoned them and escaped to sin another day.

Haiku death matches
leave monks lying in the road
as sin saunters on

— Smith, 2011

Shadows in the standing – Smith foto


Doing Time / Junkie Luv

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Pinion pulse – Smith foto

Of the 42 Ball & Smith word/music jams online at, I keep 21 hidden at the bottom of the list locked in a metaphoric basement knowing no one ever listens that long so their deformities are safe.

While rooting round down there I found this from years ago, back before I began adding choruses to the poems so Peter could turn them into songier songs

This one is two poems strung together which have little to do with each other and were written 31 years apart. Every 60 seconds it becomes something different, sometimes good, sometime not, but it does builds to a nice ending, so I let it out in public on probation to see if anyone hounds it to death. . . DOING TIME –

Doing Time

A leaf alive
Another life
A lie let lie too long. . .

Moon meat and Moses
Sucker song along
New lie highway
Old road alone

Need new lies
Old lie don’t do
New supposes
For falling through

New excuses
And pretty parts
To hide abusive
Hollow hearts

Toys for boys
Swirls for girls
Swine to enjoy
Those hurled pearls

For Babylon baby
Ain’t another time
There ain’t no maybe
It’s this life’s the crime

And I’m doing time

— 2004

Junkie Luv

My eyes slither open, shut
In golum time my tongue
Rasps brown lizards
As I hiss my want of you
In careful solitude
O my preciousss

Sleep whispers soft leavings
On my lids my head nods
Nods my precious
These fingers numb in spite
The clash of needle
And the floor

— 1973

Music, mix, recording Peter Ball of Apartment One; words, voice me. All songs free downloads.

More Ball & Smith jams at

Door do not open – Smith foto


Four 4 for

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Fame, No Cash Value, 2003, 14″ x 9″ – Smith

Words go, thoughts thin, poems pout, mind empties, so easier to show unblogged art, some never ever shown. Do this next couple days till brain returns. Is good to have a plan.

All the blue you see here is my homemade liquid copper corrosion. You take a small amount of acrylic polymer (I use Liquitex matte medium), add a dash of copper powder and a pinch of salt and shake it up and it immediately begins to turn blue as the salt corrodes the copper — takes a few hours to really get blue . . . add a dash of water to make it a lighter blue. You can also use gold and brass powder but you get different corrosion colors, more greenish.

The trouble with the medium is you have to work flat on the floor because it runs like water so you deal in pools or repeated brushings and have to let it set over night or even for days depending on the humidity and how thick you slosh it on.

It’s also translucent in thin layers.

And if you cover iron with it, the salt corrodes it too and gorgeous orange rust stains ooze thru the blue corroded copper. Cover cheap pot metals like Monopoly pieces and they corrode a white coating sometimes with yellow sulfurous bubbles. Marvelous medium.

Buddha Rose, 2004, 14″ x 9″ – Smith

Dead Elvis 97, 1997, 18″ x 22″ – Smith

Ice-9, 2003, 14″ x 10″- Smith


“One For All” at the Union Hall

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Tuesday evening we participated in “Spring Training for the 99%,” a three hour session of galvanizing brainstorming, case studies and exercises at the Steelworker’s Union Hall on Independence Road in Cleveland.

Perhaps eight people from the Occupy Movement per se were there, yet the meme “99%” is associated with the Occupy Movement and the literature we received frequently refered to the movement. Over sixty people participated, mostly union members.

I was pleased to see many people of color. I am a person of mostly European heritage and I grew up in “white” suburbia, so am always looking to broaden my horizons and become less insular. I am also encouraged that so many people of color are employed in unions. As always, when I talk about “race” issues I kind of worry because I have been so ignorant in my life, albeit full of compassion. My ignorance has been in my kind of awkwardness and lack of comfort in diverse groups. I think this is something that many kind-hearted people experience, and it is important to understand our awkwardness and work on becoming more comfortable in the community on which we are working on becoming more a part, the diverse world community.

I wonder to myself how frequently people get together in union halls and what is discussed. Is it typically union issues, or is there also camaradery and perhaps talk about the larger issues of society?

The most interesting part of the gathering was that we were broken up into groups (we counted off by number), given a large sheet of paper, and asked to brainstorm and draw in twenty minutes all the things we want to see in an ideal community. We named our communities, too–ours was the town of “One for All.” (Later I got a kick out of learning that smith’s group’s town had the name of “All for One.”)

At the center of One for All we drew a community garden. Then one guy said, “We need more jobs here again; we need industry; let’s put in a shoe store and clothing factory.” So we put a shoe store and clothing factory in the upper left. Below that, affordable housing. And a river under the community garden for which we specified “clean water.” Train tracks for high speed rail right through the center of town which the inhabitants can use to zip around to other communities. Free education building, a city hall, a free clinic, a free hospital. We had it made!

The organizer for the evening then came to our table and drew a big “X” right through our free hospital and clinic. “This land is being taken over for WalMart,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” And then she ripped the section off our map.

We drew a wall and protestors around the torn off area but she came back and tried to take away the paper. I held on to it but then thought, “Oh, perhaps there is supposed to be some kind of lesson here,” so I let her take our beautiful community and she proceeded to rip it up and walked away with the pieces. (I still have it in my head, though, so it’s not gone.)

Later we learned that three of our groups had actually protected their communities by creating a physical blockade so that the “corporate actors” couldn’t get to them. This was what we were supposed to do–think outside the box. And what really would have been great, the organizer said, was if we had called on adjoining communities’ tables to help us defend each other from the attacks. Food for thought.

Many great ideas this evening–and the one I like the most is the “tactic star.” Here’s a version of the tactic star for those who are interested.

The idea of the tactic star is to really think about how to hone one’s tactics to achieve a particular goal. Many good points are touched on–largely related to how the tactic will be received by those we are working on helping and persuading and if this reception aids the goal.

Upcoming events in Cleveland:

Today (April 12, 2012) at 4:45 by the Free Stamp–“Save the Post Office”–rally to prevent cutbacks of Post Office services, locations, budget…

Saturday April 14 @ 9-3 & 5-8 – Community Forum and Dinner events (register and pay at

Sunday April 15 @ 3:30 – Justice for Trayvon gathering at 2917 E. 116 & Buckeye at Second New Hope Baptist Church

Monday April 16 @ 4 – Justice for Janitors Rally at Public Square

Tuesday April 17 @ 4:15 – Tax Day Protest @ NW Quad. Public Square – help stop war spending–instead use the money to help our communities and have a fairer rate of taxation of wealthy people (Buffet rule)



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