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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,
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Archive for September, 2012

Road of rules

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

On the road – foto Smith

Noontide Midnight

Beware people with
Small heads
Big mouths
Bigger teeth
For they bugger ethics
Oil small boys
Dark questionables
Vestments drenched
In unholy liquid

Tears rise
Through my dry

It’s noontide midnight
Gossamer chalk line fault
Cherry red siren on top
Whip cream wagon waiting
For the sauce

Right lane ends ahead
Wrong lane continues

— Smith, 2005

Wrong lane contunues – foto Smith


Field Marshal May Midwest’s Regional Art Terrorists

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Banksy rat – foto Smith

WCPN public radio aired a ten minute piece on my special friend / artbook-papermaker / teacher / artist Melissa Jay Craig, and I was included with her as “one of the 70’s artistic renegades and anti-establishment types who proudly wore the banner of criminal and terrorist” (Dee Perry). They also said “Smith is something of an underground legend in the Cleveland art scene” (David C. Barnett). They even briefly mention my memoir.

The interview runs from the 8:55 minute mark through 18:30 and may be heard at

Melissa Jay Craig was the leader of the Regional Art Terrorists back in the late 70s and early 80s; she’d lead RAT Attacks, which were illegal guerilla art actions in public spaces during the dead of the night, such as painting sunglasses on the news anchors advertised on billboards and inscribing *IGNORE ALIEN ORDERS* underneath them. Her gorgeous plant/book art biomorphs may be seen at

Here’s my first RAT attack with her (from my memoir *Stations of the Lost & Found* by Smith & Lady) in 1981.

It was while living in the warehouse I met most of the really good creative people who are still in my life today. Melissa Jay Craig, the organizing force behind the Regional Art Terrorists, lived across the river in an art warehouse called Riverbed. Melissa had become famous as “Field Marshal May Midwest” in the Cleveland Press because of her “RAT Attacks,” illegal guerrilla art actions such as stenciling “IGNORE ALIEN ORDERS” over billboard ads. My first RAT Attack took place high up underneath the Detroit Superior Bridge. Melissa painted a four foot wide pair of red grinning lips on plywood and cut them out with a coping saw. The teeth revealed by the grin were pure white with a large diffraction grating gleam radiating from one. She wanted to hang it on the outside side of the closed off second level of the bridge right where the train came over the river into Tower City.

The Attack wouldn’t occur until three in the morning when there’d be fewer cops around to arrest us, so Cat and I dropped some acid to pass time. The acid wasn’t working very fast because we’d been tripping a lot that month, so we dropped a second tab each, and then a third. Field Marshall May Midwest and her gang of regional artists showed up around the time all three tabs started kicking in.

We got to the bridge four blocks away and found the entry into the lower deck that was usually open barred by locked metal doors. The bridge had two levels, but the lower level with the old train tracks had been abandoned decades ago. The Regional Art Terrorists tried to climb up to the arched openings, but no one could make it, so somehow I climbed up the concrete abutment into the lower arched opening and walked back to the locked doors where they slipped the lips underneath to me. I put the lips on my back and walked through the dark a quarter mile to the river. The second level looked like the streets of Beirut on a bad day; huge holes gaped through the concrete floor. I saw the Flats below, and then the river.

I walked along, four foot red grinning lips on my back, equally large LSD grin on my face. It was one of those moments where all is right with the Universe. I chained the lips onto the outside of the bridge closest the transit bridge so morning commuters would be greeted with a grin and then went back to get a second, smaller pair of lips, the two footers. Those went on the Riverbed side of the bridge, where Melissa had her live-in art studio. The Regional Art Terrorists waited and waited, kept looking for me in the middle of the bridge in the middle of the night in the middle of the river, but I had found a forty foot steel girder going straight out from the bridge horizontally into the air all by itself, so I walked out onto it like it was a tightrope and I hung the lips forty feet away from the bridge over the river facing Melissa’s building. The accolades I got when I returned to Earth were icing on the skate.

Lip smackin – foto Smith


*My Rock* – Lady’s poem in Delia’s mural

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Delia King’s Philadelphia mural containing Lady K’s poem, original design

My Rock

Most people think of a rock as
something stationary on the ground.

There is a rock in me
that makes me go.

I was bewildered
by the mystery of my ambition.

That’s when I found this rock.

This rock won’t break up,
and it doesn’t respond
to my questions.

This rock just says
“I am a rock”
and it makes me go.

— Lady

Delia King’s Philadelphia mural containing Lady K’s poem, original design

Lady’s leaving on the bus for Philadelphia where she’ll attend a reception tomorrow for a mural that incorporates her poem above. She’ll sleep the 10 hour ride with one transfer there, get in at 8am, go to the 3pm reception, followed by an after party at the mural artist’s house, then reboard the bus at 8pm, sleep the 10 hours + 1 transfer back, and arrive home around dawn . . . a peripatetic poet. And likely tired — Thursday when she gets back she has to host an evening anti-fracking meeting at The Gypsy bean.

The mural’s by Delia King.

We couldn’t quite afford to both go on the bus, and weren’t sure our car was up to 16 hours out and back; plus we have a cat that goes into shock when we leave her without human slaves for a day or two, so she goes and I stay. In a way I’m glad because bus seats, as well as train, airplane and too many car seats, are not kind to my 6 foot 3 inch frame, but I miss her already and she ain’t even gone. In the past 7 years, the first 4 we were together 24/7, while the last three back here it’s been 24/7 except for the 1 to 2 days a week she goes to the office. Odd relationship; most folk don’t spend half that time together.

She’s the first poet I know who has a poem in an outdoor mural. New chapbook, public poem, upcoming new issue of her TheCityPoetry zine, co-author and instigator of my memoir . . . the Lady’s on a roll.

These fotos are Delia King’s initial design; the finished mural vibrates with mirrored and metal bits and such.

Delia King’s Philadelphia mural containing Lady K’s poem, original design


My Pisces

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

My pisces


The Grasshopper’s Tale

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Smith life – foto Smith

The man Cool Cleveland labeled “everything your mother warned you about” has released an autobiography that continues his tradition of shock and awe.

The book, Stations of the Lost & Found: A True Story of Armed Robbery, Stolen Cars, Outsider Art, Mutant Poetry, Underground Publishing, Robbing the Cradle and Leaving the Country by Smith & Lady, is the story of Steven B. Smith, a Cleveland artist who pursued the outrageous and the good, finally finding meaning in art, poetry and odd life experiences.

Public radio’s WCPN reports Smith as “one of the 70’s artistic renegades and anti-establishment types who proudly wore the banner of criminal and terrorist; Smith is something of an underground legend in the Cleveland art scene.” (September, 2012)

He’s also called “the ultimate insider of outsider art” (Northern Ohio Live, 2006); “funny and poignant, but with rough edges worthy of a tetanus shot” (Scene, 1996); “equal parts artist, poet, publisher, eccentric, gadfly, lightning rod, underground cultural icon.” (Deep Cleveland, 2006); and “a genius at putting objects together in a way that is all at once poetic, raw, perhaps lugubrious, and at times biting or potentially offensive” (Plain Dealer, 1987).

Life-long friend Stone Ranger said, “Let’s face it Smith, if the song ‘My Way‘ were written about your life, it would be lyrics by William S. Burroughs and music by Laurie Anderson, as performed by The Velvet Underground.” (2002)

Published by The City Poetry Press, there will be book readings at Mac’s Backs in Coventry Saturday September 29, 2012 at 7 p.m. and Visible Voice Books of Tremont Thursday October 25, 7 p.m.

The beautifully-written 364 page book is available for $20 online at, through the Smiths at readings, or via their daily blog, Copies are also available at Mac’s Backs and Visible Voice Books.

The back book blurb sums it up:
Drug orgies, massive refindings of reality, the acceptance of interdimensions. Errant life scout, cultural adventurer, perception tester, court jester, inner seeker, reality adjuster, flow surfer, servant and searcher of Other.

Born in Bitterroot, raised on Paradise Prairie, farm boy, car thief, Naval Academy, expelled for dope, society marriage, armed robbery, jail, illegal loft dweller, Artcrimes, rat attacks, overdose, celibate, remarried, expat. Ran from the cops ten times, got away nine.

Stations of the Lost & Found has been getting excellent feedback from readers.

Dianne Borsenik, poet and publisher: “What a read! It’s an I-can’t-put-it-down-what-the-heck’s-gonna-happen-next kind of book.”

John Burroughs, poet & publisher: “I’d trade any of Kerouac’s or Bukowski’s volumes for it in a heartbeat.”

William Merricle, poet: “The book is brutally good and honest.”

If you need a book for reviewing purposes, let Smith know at or call (216) 645-9400.

~ ~ ~

The Grasshopper’s Tale

My life’s dog food for do gooders
Hot dodgers dogging God’s zone
Fur sure of itself
Per path and position
Point portion pursued

We who rise in heat from dream
Lick recollection loose
From cold fire’s template
Futility’s fog
We bleed in abandon
Dance dawn’s dapple light

— Smith, 1989

Smith life – foto Smith


military me 63 66 non-military me 75

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

military me 1963- foto Smith

military me 1966- foto Smith

I enlisted in the Navy Summer of 63 because we were too poor for me to go to college and I was too dumb to know about scholarships. The Navy had a program where for every two years you served, they’d pay for one year of college, so I figured 8 years in, hop out, 4 years college — my 12 year plan.

I confirmed this with my recruiter and he said no problem, the Navy did indeed have such a program.

But when I got to boot camp they said screw you, you have to be 21 for that and you’re only 17.

They got me.

I did 3 months boot camp San Diego California
9 months aviation radar school Memphis Tennessee
9 months U.S. Naval Academy Prep School Bainbridge Maryland
2 1/2 years U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis Maryland

Then I got caught smoking marijuana January 1968 and they kicked me out of both the Academy and the Navy. But because I was enlisted, they either had to Court Martial me or give me an honorable discharge, and the Academy didn’t want the negative publicity of one of their own smoking dope (along with 11 of my mates) splashed over the front page so they gave me an honorable and paid for two more years of college at Loyola Baltimore on the G.I. Bill.

I was willing to give them 8 years of my life for 4 years of college. They screwed me out of that deal, yet turned around and gave me 4 years 8 months 4 days of schooling on their dime before kicking me out and giving me two more years of school — which brought my 12 year plan down to 7, and all of it education.

There’s something delicious in this.

And karma-saving too because had I graduated in 69, I would have flown jets and dropped napalm on Vietnamese civilians, because when I was in the service I believed in the rightness of the war, and I fear what killing and maiming others would have done to me, much less them. I fear how easily I might have been lead to murder, how close I came to finding out, how grateful I didn’t have to confront such choices.

~ ~ ~

Used Karma Lot

I cut the cockroach off at the watering hole
Sent his brown backed soul
To that great black crack in the sky
May God have more compassion than I

— Smith, 2001

after military me 1975 – foto Smith


baby orphan squirrel

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Orphan baby squirrel – foto Smith

I held a baby squirrel. It purred. It was soft and its little ungrown ears were precious.

Waved to my neighbor, asked how she was and she exclaimed, “We have a baby squirrel!” They’d found it in shock hunched in the middle of the busy road, looked everywhere but could not find a mother. Of course how does one find a squirrel mother or nest? They tried leaving it in a safe place on the lawn but every time they set it down, it ran up the man’s leg and clung to him, so they brought it inside, borrowed her brother’s cage (he works with distressed animals), and are feeding it liquid with an eye dropper because it’s too young for solid food.

She took me in to show me. When she picked him up, he scurried to her breast and hugged her. I pet him and then she put him in my hand. He decided he liked me and snuggled down and started soundlessly purring . . . I felt this little internal rhythmic rumble start up and exclaimed, “Wait a minute, is he purring!!!?” She said she didn’t know but that’s what happens every time you do something he likes.

So squirrels purr within. And the baby ones at least love to be softly stroked. What a delight.

I mentioned how strange it was going to be having a full grown squirrel in her house with her 10 cats and she explained her brother who has done this before said at some point the squirrel will become feral and try to escape or bite her and that’s when it’s time to let him go.

Difficult to fotograf because my new camera is lousy under low light (I hate to use flash) and he moved so much, plus every time I got close with the camera he’d reach to check it out. Fearless critter, and totally loving.

~ ~ ~

Pablo Picasso, Died

It pays to heed occasional squirrel whiles

Poor castle cast off
My heart does not knead for you
Your warped eye whispering
Spawns demon shadows only
Within your hairy benobbed frame
Need not be
Need not be

Red naped realities abound
Need not abide
Squirrels imply

— Smith, 1973

rescued baby squirrel – foto Smith


Bisque Buddha

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Pureheart – foto Smith

I like this one. Recorded this afternoon. The music slinks along in swamp rock as I successfully exploit my vocal weakness and limited range. Peter wanted to fatten my voice, make it stronger and smoother in editing but I said leave it cuz my sole charm lies in my vocal ineptness. Besides, I usually save face with good words and Peter always comes up with cool sounds

Click to play > Bisque Buddha . . . 3:16, music, mix, recording Peter Ball a.k.a. Apartment One; words, vocal me a.k.a. Mutant Smith.

Bisque Buddha

What good this dusty truth I hold in hand
to gain immoral ground in other’s land?
What use the pure of heart when acts of need
in escalating schemes the living seed?

What truth you want cuz we got em all
There’s the right the wrong the big the very small
Truths change naught though they hurry so
while new lies easily sought scurry low

I hook to my left, fake to my right
Judge by the heft of my tainted sight
Lie lining mission to isn’t within
Bending the truth really isn’t a sin

If truth to be told takes who how and when
Then why the eraser at truth’s other end?
Why all the viewpoints and let’s make amends
when no truth’s all truth and all truth’s a sin?

So I rhyme jism to rhythm within
All going nowhere in wisdom or whim
For all gain’s no gain less all gain as well
A story told too often to sell

I juggle what’s left forgetting what’s right
Lurching in lust in this lack of light
Line lying mission with wishing within
Rendering truth so only I win

— Smith, 9.19.2012 (poem from which this was stolen was 2001)

There are 51 more Ball & Smith songs at, all free downloadable.

This way please – assemblage & foto Smith, collection of Peter Ball


The Knot of Reality

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

So I came up with a fairly pleasing design mockup for my friend’s site, Critical Knots.

I like that the site focuses on the booklet so people know exactly what they’ll be getting. I really wonder what prompted my friend to develop the guide. He is so very talented. I wonder how long it took him to design it.

I’d been thinking a lot about the symbolism of the knot. There’s the thought about “tying the knot” meaning to get married. There’s also the thought of the knot as a kind of pretzel of interconnectedness.

In Buddhism the knot might represent dependent origination.

What I like is the idea of making the knot of Reality more simple. Rather than a kind of big messy thing with a lot of problems, let’s visualize a simple knot that represents harmony and solutions that are interwoven into the “knot” of Reality.

I also like the idea of cutting the Gordian knot—in my mind the Gordian knot being some kind of thing like Zeno’s paradox but the cutting of it not something that would refute “all being one.”  According to a Wikipedia writer, here’s what Aristotle said about Zeno’s paradox, and I find this a very astute way of putting it:

Aristotle also distinguished “things infinite in respect of divisibility” (such as a unit of space that can be mentally divided into ever smaller units while remaining spatially the same) from things (or distances) that are infinite in extension (“with respect to their extremities”).

~ Lady


Good Time Grooving

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Dancers listening to RA Washington’s band at Ingenuity Fest
Photo by Lady


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