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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,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )

Archive for September, 2016

doncha know

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


So They Say

Poets write of love
but I only know me
and me I don’t know

Some songs sing seas
and please let that wet
water now

Winds whisper when
where and there mingle here
sum how

But low light licks
both sides the mind
comes and goes

And philosophers tell whys
but it’s the lies
raise wise

Don’t you know

– Smith, 9.13.2016



waiting in line dream

Monday, September 12th, 2016


Waiting In Line Dream, Cleveland, OH, 2016.9.12

Stepped up to the counter in a hospital and gave the guy my two prescriptions. He diddled and dawdled forever and frowned a lot, looked a bit like the actor Wes Bentley in American Beauty who filmed the dancing bag. Some of his friends came along the hall behind me and he talked to them awhile through the glass, ignoring me, then when they went through the exit door, he glanced at me and went with them. I waited for over an hour.

His manager came up and said someone would help me shortly and I snapped someone’s already helping me but he went in that door to talk to his friends and never came out. Manager looked angry and I felt bad for getting the clerk in trouble.

A young woman with long straight hair came up to help me. She pulled out a bag of peanuts in shells and cracked one open, and pills fell out instead of peanuts. The pills were irregular sizes and shapes, reminded me of brain worms. She made me eat one, then started cracking the rest of the peanuts to release the rest of my pills. Told her she didn’t have to do that, I could do it later, it wasn’t an efficient use of her time. She smiled at me in appreciation and left with the peanuts and never came back.

I crawled through the window and went looking for her. Found a large group of people in a meeting in back and looked at all their faces one by one, found her, she slumped down to avoid me, found her again, she laughed.

Was back at the window, wife hugging me from behind. Other folk came and went without actually helping me. I beat my fists on the counter, shook the partition, but then quit because it was counter productive and I felt ashamed of my outburst.

Then while ignoring me, they started helping people to my right through my window, giving them forms and pills, telling me not to worry, it’d just be a minute.

Finally a line of 13 people came out, arms around each others waists, all laughing, and did a little chorus line dance step – they were all the people who hadn’t helped me and I thought this must be some sort of psychological experiment I’m unwillingly involved in.

They disappeared, and a large black maintenance worker lugged two huge black garbage bags out and dumped them on the floor next to me. Out came a bunch of moist four-inch-square jiggling black chunks and I realized these were the remains of the people who failed to help me, and I wondered why the chunks were black since all the people who’d failed to help me were white. He went back and brought out the corpse of the straight-haired girl – her clothes were disheveled and exposed her shaved pudenda. He tossed her in a corner and a small white boy who was waiting for a doctor to see his mother started wrestling with her in front of a glass office full of African Americans in black suits and I hoped the wrestling didn’t disturb their meeting.

Then I woke with the theme song of Zorba the Greek in my ears.

Waiting in line for service in waking life is bad enough – but waiting in line in dream?



11 yr on

Friday, September 9th, 2016


Eleven Year On

Our eleventh year my dear
an odd number
for an odd wife
with an odd cat
and an odd husband
heading for a dozen
better’n folk thought
who doubted we’d make one
as we three odds make it even better

– Smith, 9.9.2016



Mullan, Idaho 1955

Thursday, September 8th, 2016


Mullan, Idaho 1955

Somewhen down the mountain
in the narrow valley of night
truck tires whine
train whistle moans
while up here
nine years old in grandma’s bed
rain stains on ancient wallpaper
show shapes of never was
places of never will

There’s the here
there’s the getting here
and there’s the ghosts in between

– Smith, 9.8.2016



it’s a good day

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016



Status Report 234

It’s a good day
wrote a poem
read a book
washed the dishes
finished laundry
worked on art
made cat purr
cooked for wife
that’s my life

– Smith, 9.7.2016



square root of none

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016


Hour of the Wolf

Near night end
quiet time before flesh awakes
and psyches stir
dawn yet to rise on new day dream
air light with lesser sound
thinned of thought

Cat’s asleep on cardboard box
wife meditating on couch
I drink pre-day coffee
grateful sun’s unsprung

Gazing out near window dark
I inward go
finding no one home

If this were math class
I’d be imaginary number
square root of none
sum of un
my homework eaten by fog

– Smith, 9.6.2016



dog star sirius dogon funny

Sunday, September 4th, 2016


Posted a montage of inventor of recycled neon art Jeffry Chiplis art & show cards at

Muey much many more Chiplis pieces at

And now a word from our stand-up comic poet.

Dog Star Serious Dogon Funny

When caffeine grows up, does it become cowfeine?

The Invisible Man’s having an existential crisis
— he lost face

Does sepia make sinks seep?

What do you call foster parents?
– faux ma faux pas

Happy Daddy Day all you Mother fluxers

If STD is short for standard
then STD eyes would be standardize

Can vegetarians attend office meatings?

Sorry I missed the soirée
one Rumi with a view, please

This is defecated to my own unlove

– Smith, 9.4.2016

Dog Star Sirius


black star flaming

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016


Black Star Flaming

Fame’s a fine song on the radio
or ego disease the famous feed

Fame’s a word in the dictionary
or perhaps simply misspelt frame

Fame may be a lot of things
but what it ain’t is part of me

Inert I lie as log at night
dream chasing dream within

Awake I walk this may and might
stalking win through sin again

No Elvis fortune, no Bowie fame
just me worshipping want like Cain

– Smith, 9.3.2016

Songs referred to in poem are:
Elvis’ Flaming Star,
originally recorded as Black Star (1960)
David Bowie’s Black Star (2016)
Elvis’ Fame and Fortune (1960)
Bowie’s Fame (1975)

Found this 10 year old unpublished article about our leaving Cleveland by Mark Kuhar.

Leavin’ Cleveland: An Exit Interview with Steven B. Smith

By Mark S. Kuhar
July 2006
(hopefully to be published in Art-e-fakt)

How do you begin to calculate the contribution that Steven B. Smith has made to artistic culture of Cleveland over the years? Equal parts artist, poet, publisher, eccentric, gadfly, lightning rod, underground cultural icon, Smith is all of that and more.

Smith, now 60 years old, has served his country on the high seas (and was kicked out of the Naval Academy for smoking dope), worked as an insurance salesman, a computer programmer, a steelworker and a church janitor, among other things. He has been married and divorced, suffered through the tragic suicide of his brother, been a jailbird and a cancer survivor.

And through it all, he has managed to both keep his humanity intact, and his creativity well engaged. With thousands of paintings, collages and poems to his credit, he has been a prolific contributor to the fabric of Cleveland’s artistic culture.

The death of his mother last year, and his recent marriage to poet Lady Walker, brought him to a place where “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” He decided to take the one that leads out of Cleveland. After more than 20 years, he and Lady sold most of their belongings, moved out of Smith’s Tremont loft condo and are heading overseas for adventure, and to escape what he calls, “an oppressive political climate.”

I conducted the following “exit interview” with him as he was finalizing preparations to leave.

MSK: You’re leaving Cleveland after more than 20 years of service to the arts community. What is your artistic legacy? Where does your work fit in?

SBS: A three-pronged legacy, rather like the devil’s pitch fork.

1 – I’ve made some folk laugh, a few more smile. My life hints of ways to live outside of accepted sheep in safety pen. Just cuz it is, don’t mean it has to be. You CAN go your own way, be honest, and still make it. You pay for the consequences of what you do, so you may as well do your own thinking, make your own decisions. Though I find that by doing this, you usually end up fighting accepted authority every inch of the day.

2 – I started ArtCrimes here in Cleveland in 1986 and it ended here 20 years and 21 issues later (last month).

3 – There’ve been 40-some articles/reviews/blurbs about my art/poetry/ArtCrimes/criminal-past since my first one-person show at Spaces in 1984. I’ve had two art shows censored – once in Willoughby and once by Tri-C Parma. So I’ve given them something to bemoan or bemuse my 29 years here… I’ve left little art tracks.

Where does my work fit in? I’d say the top shelf in the best museum in the world … or the wall of a friend’s house … or in an outhouse out back. Even put some in the trash recently. I’m Outsider Art with wit, style with grace. Belong to no school, thought, pattern, clique, scene, philosophy. Can’t evaluate any of it until 50 years after I die, and I ain’t dying, so we’ll never know for sure. I’m willing to let my words and art be judged by time, tho.

MSK: How did the city of Cleveland and its inhabitants inspire and inform your art work, either positively or negatively?

SBS: The people–Cleveland has great artists, great poets, great small press publishers–and small-minded small-souled politicians, press and chief executive officers. The art scene is tame and conservative. The press ignores the underground. I’ve only been mentioned so often because of my bad-boy-ness.

MSK: How did you develop and evolve your unique artistic style? Whose work served as a role model?

SBS: Started doing my art before I knew it was art. As a plebe in the U. S. Naval Academy in 1965, I began cutting out word phrases and taping them together into sardonic anti-religious god word collages with deep streaks of dark dark humor. On my 3rd collage I added an image of an old skeleton key – then found a real key same size & shape and glued it on top. It really tickled the poet me putting this real key over symbol key. The heck with Magritte – this both IS and ISN’T a pipe. Iced my existential cake with real frosting. Since then, forget it. Anything goes. Dead things, broken things, old things, beautiful things, sad things, cheap tawdry no one for a friend but me things (seems to be a lot of those), even no things. Go to sleep around me at right time, you might wake up part wall sculpture.

After I started doing this on my own, I eventually started reading and found first Robert Rauschenburg, Kurt Schwitters, Man Ray, my hero Marcel Duchamp – and finally soul mate Edward Kienholtz. Less mentors, more reassurers my path a valid one they broke.

And broke pretty much is what art has left me – money-wise, that is, cuz life-wise mind-wise heart-wise friend-wise and just for plain old adventure, art and poetry have been very very good to me.

MSK: How did your family situation growing up and into adulthood contribute to your art?

SBS: Fine art and poetry were not part of my family life – movies, music, television and reading were. Early reading and lots of it pretty much shaped my life, kept me going. Gave me the desire to be a good-guy hero. My father was a stone mason, and my mother sewed quilts, clothes, and had a ceramics shop, so creativity was always around. One day in the mid-1950s, my father was telling mom how weird a customer’s copper sculpture was on a fireplace he’d just built, and then he turned, looked down at me, and said “you’d like it” (not complimentarily).

MSK: You’ve lived more than your share of tragedy, with death, jail, cancer and more in your background, yet you have channeled that into untold creativity. To what do you attribute your survival and accomplishment?

SBS: I just believe things are going to turn out good – and if not, well, that’s the price, that’s the way things go. I’m a cynic from experience but an eternal optimist by nature. Laughter makes pain manageable.

As for my creative output – it’s not something I do so much as something that happens. My minds like to play. Reality likes to play. Sometimes interesting intersections happen and leave a poem, piece or story behind I claim as mine.

MSK: Looking back at over 20 years of ArtCrimes, how do you view that body of literature?

SBS: ArtCrimes has published over 500 folk, mostly Clevelanders and Ohioans, has helped create a small world presence for Cleveland via contributors from a slew of nations – there are 4 British, 1 Netherlander, 1 Japanese in this last issue that I know about. ArtCrimes never rejected anyone – no matter how lacking in talent or horrendous in belief – and was the first to publish a bunch of folk – such as Michael Salinger. As a body of work, it is greatly uneven, often raw. Usually anti-authority. Underground. But there’s a slew of top shelf art, thot and poetry in each issue. Just because we accepted the worst didn’t mean the best didn’t deliver. ArtCrimes was Daniel Thompson’s biggest publisher from 1986 thru 2004 using 100 of his poems. Bottom line – a lot of folk would never be published without ArtCrimes – and a lot of published folk would never have gotten their grittier, nastier pieces published otherwise.

MSK: You’ve seen your share of poets and artists come and go over the years. Who do you miss the most?

SBS: Nationally I miss John Lennon. Only time I ever cried for a celebrity death. Lennon could be my avatar creatively, drug-wise, politically. Locally Daniel Thompson’s passing has left a major hole which I see no one filling. Think you need a bit of the ever hopeful hippie to do what Daniel did – he could convince all sorts of cross-cultural cross-generational cross-political cross-social cross-racial cross-religious folk to get-together-by-golly-and-do-something. Art-wise, I don’t believe we’ve lost any Clevelanders that matter.

MSK: You’ve spoken — eloquently and passionately, I might add — about political repression in the United States. Talk about the role of the current political climate in your art and your life.

SBS: Kurt Vonnegut said “The only difference between Bush and Hitler is Hitler was elected.” Bush stole the elections twice, then killed several hundred thousand Iraqi women and children in our name. Spies on Americans, trashes the Constitution, refuses to obey our laws. He’s a perfect president for Corp-O-Rat Amerika. Seems when they taught us not to steal, cheat, kill, or lie, it didn’t apply to rich white Republicans or rich white Democrats or rich white CEOs. This country never really stood for all the fairness we were taught it did in High School Ethics class, but she’s never before ever been this much of a bullying greedy do-anything-for-oil murdering psycho-slut. I’m voting by being and leaving.

MSK: Tell me again how you met Lady, I love that story. How has she enriched your life and art?

SBS: After Mother Dwarf died, I wrote 9 short pieces on her death. Some of the best writing I’ve ever done, and since we all have a mother, it affected people. You gave me a chance to read it down at your Borders Deep Cleveland reading. Lady asked for a ride down, and never left. I tried to discourage her due to our 27 year age difference – but finally saw we had to be. I wrote this poem to her our second week:

Dada Graybeard – A lady poet followed me home / And asked if I could keep her / I replied / It must be denied / For I had no room in my freezer / She engineered her stay / Of relocation with play / Charm and elocution / Praised this and that / Allowed a wee pat / Counted on evolution / I may be cheap / And easy too / But for female I’m hard-wired / And too / It’s sort of cool / This once being the one that’s desired / Though I question her taste / Her need of rat’s waste / A too hasty fade / Will shatter shades / I cannot replace / Best to see / What she reweaves / What treasure in her trundle / Though it fracture my plan / I am but man / And man is meant to bundle

I’d known her a couple years from our poetry circles. Our first week, she left a dish of bright red moist pomegranate seeds on wet yellow orange mango slices in my refrigerator – looked like a love-potion spell so I threw it out. Didn’t do me any good – I fell anyway.

She moved in 3 weeks later. In our 5th week we were heading to K-Mart to get some shelves to integrate her into my environment when I said “You know after ArtCrimes comes out, I have no plans… we can do anything we want.” She said “How about moving to Europe?” I replied “Why Not.” So in 3 minutes we decided to emigrate – without knowing exactly where we were going. We’ve been together 11 months, married 4 months, and we’re leaving for Europe in 3 days.

She’s taken my life up several levels. We have one of those fairy tale movie loves that everyone knows doesn’t really exist in the real world – yet does. We collaborate on writing, art, everything. My creative output has probably doubled. We’re very much alike – I figure she’s probably my long lost missing clone come back to take my place.

MSK: Do you have any advice for today’s emerging crop of Cleveland-based artists and poets?

SBS: Do your own thing. Don’t join committees. Or groups. (I was a group of one, and I found that to be one too many… now tho I’m a group of two with Lady, and I find that to be just right – go figure). There’s no need to emulate. Or follow formulas. Do what interests you because no one’s going to pay you for it anyway so you may as well enjoy doing it.

MSK: Smith, for all we know, you may never come back to Cleveland. You may live out the rest of your life in a poet’s garret overseas. If you never return, how do you want to be remembered here in Cleveland?

SBS: As a life object lesson. I have done bad stupid selfish things along the way, but I always wanted to be a good person. I never let any particular failure define me. I always assumed I would get better than I was, and I did. Not perfect. Not even really really good. But definitely better. Beyond that, they can tell any lies about me they want. Just spell my name right.

Mark S. Kuhar is a Cleveland-based writer, artist, poet and publisher. He is the proprietor of Deep Cleveland, llc, You can follow Steven B. Smith and Lady’s European adventures on their blog: Their art and poetry may be seen at and



last moon rising

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

mousereleasecatch & release

Body count – 6 mice dead, 7 mice released, unknown number waiting

Catch & Release

Three undead mice
see how they run
when let go

But that’s old news
not all true

Years ago
when polar vortex vectored down
the mice came in

We got two with kill traps
felt so bad and unBuddhistic
seeing broken bodies bent
our minds depressed
we went to catch release

Next three caught
took to Metro Park
city mice to country picnic

Later three more
released down in the Flats
next to train tracks
hoped they found a ticket

But now!
Mutant mind mice mock us

Four catch and release traps
peanut buttered four days
no entry
just mice feces left
so we’d know they knew

Could hear their high mice laughter

Back to kill and bend and maim

Four mice dead
a fifth caught alive by leg
took it out and let it go
hope it made a mending

But last two nights
half the traps set off empty
the other half ate baitless

Little mouse turds left in laughter

This keeps up
it’s poison

– Smith, 9.2.2016

lastmoonrisinglast moon rising


eye bugs stalking vision

Thursday, September 1st, 2016


Two dreams, neither much fun..

We all had to walk in slow-motion because we were imprinted behind a 3-D force field green screen which made turning or walking difficult. I kept saying this isn’t logical, we don’t have to do this, I’m going to wake up and get out of it – and I woke and was free and grateful.

Then we were in a long medical line outside under an endless tent waiting for a pill. They gave it to Lady K who was in front of me, but when it was my turn, they looked at me and said “Oh, you’re in too bad of shape for this, you need a shot first” and took us out of line. The nurse told me she had to get something and left and we waited, and waited, and waited for hours. I was getting angry, went looking for her unsuccessfully, finally found an open pail of strange goo I knew was what I was to be injected with and was going to inject myself but didn’t have a needle and didn’t know the dose and was worried I’d overdose, but went looking for a needle anyway when the nurse suddenly reappeared, clothes disheveled, gigantic fake eye lashes on her lids, and she was saying “They never arrived, the plane never showed up” as she took off the left lash, but when she tried to take off the right lash, it stuck and dangled so I reached over with thumb and finger and gingerly lifted it off like a bug. All this time she was cackling crazy-like and fluttering her lashes flirtingly at me. Told her I needed the shot and she took off again. Suddenly I see her running down the sidewalk with several patients and Lady running behind her and Lady waves to me so I run rapidly after them raising my knees as high as my head like a Monty Python silly walk and just barely see them turn into an underground passage where I finally find Lady sitting calmly at a table under colored lights drinking a latte and she says “You really need your shot” and I wake up again.

Night Fare

Dreams oozing left of me
reality rushing right
neither one hospitable
and nary a pipe in sight
spider eyes flirting
needles over long
glowing goop in bucket
this is not my song
eye bugs stalking vision
madness foaming wild
won’t tell me my mission
treat me like a child
night schemes running rampant
sun hiding day
need some grass to clamp it
down to mellow may

– Smith, 9.1.2016



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