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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 the ‘Mexico’ Category

Letter to the Wealthiest Person in the World

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

This is the letter I emailed Carlos Slim Helu today. According to Forbes, his family’s monetary wealth is estimated to be 74 billion dollars.

Dear Mr. Helu:

It has recently come to my attention that you and your family have the most monetary wealth in the world. I refer to a web page that I see on Forbes:

I see that you are from Mexico. I have read that there are a lot of financial problems in Mexico. We are from the United States. My husband and I lived in Mexico for 18 months, and just like the United States, I see that there are people who are begging in the streets for money. In Mexico, there are also children who beg for money. Some children suffer from malnourishment as well. When we visited there we met a teenager who had suffered such that her hair, which was supposed to be black, had portions in it that were brittle and pale.

Seventy-four billion dollars is more than enough money for you and your family. I have a proposal for you and your family. I would like you to donate the excess money you have–like roughly seventy-three billion dollars and a half–to people who have suffered from poverty in Mexico. I am sure many people will be appreciative of this and this will make your life and your family’s lives much more happy.

I think it will also be good to reject NAFTA as I have heard first hand from people that this has harmed them–both in Mexico and in the United States. It especially impacted the cost of tortillas.

Can you please help with this issue?



. . .

Contact information – Mr. Carlos Slim Helu:

Telefonos de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.
Consejo de Administración
c/o Carlos Slim Helu, Presidente Honorario Vitalicio
Parque Via 198
Oficina 701
Colonia Cuauhtemoc
06599 Mexico, D.F.

Phone: +52-55-5703-3990
Fax: +52-55-5545-5550


Mexico Way

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Mountain sun sky – fotos by Smith

Mexico Way

The high water rustle of wind
in palm tree leaves
hanging in pre-rain sky
soothe as I walk
toward cloud shroud mountain
mañana and morrow
mixing in my mind

— Smith, 8-8-2011

Sun mountain sky – fotos by Smith


Oaxaca (wuh-HAWK-uh)

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Collage I made and lost in Oaxaca, Mexico – foto by Smith


On roof in shade under blue sky
sun hot
wife asleep in chair
with empty beer
me buzzed
white rose petals
once pink
slip from bud
fall to floor
woodsmoke in air
mountains surround
clouds in between
opium seem

— Smith, 7-31-2011

Oaxaca is pronounced wuh-HAWK-uh. It is a mile up in the Sierra Madre mountains in southern Mexico, not far from where John Huston filmed his father Walter Huston and Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in 1948. We lived there from December 2007 through March 2009 when we moved back to Cleveland.

There. I bound myself to write 31 poems in 31 days in July, and I wrote and posted 32. Interesting process — wrote stuff I never would have written, posted stuff I’d never have posted . . . a lot of which worked, so it was a rewarding exercise. Still, I doubt I’d do it again — my poems tend to be slippery critters, don’t liked to be ordered to perform.

It’s not often you can illustrate a poem with a foto, but the foto below shows the roof, the wife, the beer, the chair, the shade, the sunlight, the sky, the rose . . . and me buzzed behind the lens, of course.

Lady on our roof patio Oaxaca Mexico January 3, 2009 – foto by Smith


Busride Mountain, Mexico, 2008

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Back of the bus – foto by Smith

Busride Mountain, Mexico, 2008

Burros in streets tied up outside houses.
Live chickens on seat next to me.
Small pig further up, by the dog.
Back of bus bouncing.
Seats hard.
Wife sick.
Pregnant woman vomits out window again.
Same overwrought cd plays for five hours.
Baby wails.
Children on road in rain hold up bags of fruit for sale.
Rest stops are asking the driver to stop to piss on road.
Waterfalls cascade down mountain.
Mist rises from clouds below.
Road half-washed away.
Passing on blind curves.
At each curve a shrine for those who missed.

— Smith, 7-28-2011

Mexico mountain mist – foto by Smith


Easter high in the Sierra Madre

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Tanetze, Mexico – foto by Smith

I wrote these haiku high up in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Tenatze, Mexico Easter 2008. We were staying with a Zapotec couple for the second time helping them pick coffee beans from their trees. The family took the day off for Easter and we walked further up the mountain to attend a girl’s coming-of-age party in another village.

Easter Mountain, Mexico

Rooster crows, bird coos
Sun rises up mountain side
Daily pain begins

Cat claws in my knee
Demands attention from me
Good to be wanted

Country to country
All things change yet stay the same
I remain other

Laugh, touch, cling, hug, hold
People clasp people to heart
I watch from shadow

Outside the fire’s flame
In this dark encroaching cold
I hold my wife, warm

— Smith, 2008

15 yr old girl’s coming-of-age party march – foto by Smith

Lady & Smith, Easter, Tanetze, Mexico – foto by Thomas

from roof of our host’s house – foto by Smith

from kitchen window of host’s house – foto by Smith

view from our bedroom window – foto by Smith

Lady in bathroom – foto by Smith

pineapple growing from ground at base camp – foto by Smith

coffee picking base camp – foto by Smith

lizard on stump – foto by Smith


coffee mountain, mexico

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Cleveland ice – foto by Smith

Since I’m on my 4th day of not drinking coffee, I figure it’s a good time to repost my coffee haiku written when Lady and I went up to a village called Tanetze high in the Sierra Madre Mountains in southern Mexico to pick coffee.

We lived with a Zapotec couple for three days. As I was picking the red coffee beans from the trees and being bitten by dozens of small vicious bugs that only bit on blood vessels, I asked what the vines wrapped around the trees were and was told they were vanilla bean vines. Also saw pineapples growing out of the ground, and two lizards making love on a tree stump when we broke for lunch. Magic experience, especially since we bought coffee from them later and maybe drank beans we’d helped pick.

It was a 40 minute steep trek down the mountain to get to the coffee trees, and an hour back up at the end of an exhausting day. I was so tired I almost fell off the mountain. As I picked, I looked down the mountain at the tops of clouds, and up at the clear blue hot sky.

The city of Oaxaca is a mile high, Tenetze even further up the mountains. The village was only 35 miles from Oaxaca as the crow flies, but the bus trip up the side of the mountains took 5 hours, and was scarier than any of the mad mountain Mexican bus rides I’ve seen in the movies.

Coffee Mountain, Mexico

Standing on Coffee
Mountain, the vanilla vine
dances, beckons me.

Coffee cherries red
against blue sky await
caffeine morning rush.

This liquid dark way
hot strong coiled energy
sleeping in my cup.

The kiss of coffee
on my stiff lips still asleep
bursts joy and new sun.

Two eyes sleepy, thin
Two hands seeking warmth, sun, source
Coffee to rescue

Dawn dark but coffee
black swirl in bottomless cup
brings me inner light

— Steven B. Smith, 2008

Cleveland ice – foto by Smith


dylan now and then

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

sketch of Bob Dylan at 19th Peoples’ Art Show, artist unknown – foto by Smith

“Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.” – Bob Dylan

Our main gringo friend and fellow marijuana / hashish / opium smoker down in Mexico was Mad Max, who had a young Bobby Dylan as a college roommate for 5 months just before Dylan exploded big time on the NYC folk scene in the early 1960s. He thought young Dylan a brash selfish unsharing arrogant man.

Max’s friend Stan also knew Dylan in college back then and told us a story of the night Dylan stopped by and was playing songs and kept bumming cigarettes. Finally Stan said he had to go out to get more cigarettes and reached for Dylan’s pea coat to wear. Dylan said don’t wear it because it wouldn’t fit. Stan put it on, said “see, it fits fine,” put his hands in the pockets and discovered an unopened pack of cigarettes. Stan also said he’s the one who got Dylan to start a journal after he showed him how other writers used journals to further their writing.

I happened to email Max the other day saying I thought Dylan our finest living poet and got this email reply:

~ ~ ~

“I never much cared for Dylan’s songs. They seem to me to be pretensions and a little too precious. Dylan never learned to speak as well as he wrote. Which is a fault in a poet. Poetry needs to be spoken; written it is stiff and dead.

“When I first knew Bobby he was just plain Bob Zimmerman. He and I, Hugh Brown, Dave Morton, we, shared a house on 15th avenue in Minneapolis, near the University.

“Dylan was an asset because he was a chick magnate with his soulful eyes and his guitar ringing out old ballads. He was a very inwardly directed person, which is not a bad thing, I suppose. Having grown up and been educated in Hibbing, MN’s public schools he was dreadfully ignorant. He could read and write, do simple arithmetic and knew American history as then taught; a sort of ‘life of the saint’s’ including Washington’s hatchet and Jackson’s brilliant eradication of the Cherokees.

“He was beginning to figure out that this was deranged, but he didn’t quite know how. We talked a bit about this. I was fortunate in that I had been educated by cloistered Franciscan nuns. I was brought up in the old way, the trivium – grammar, rhetoric and logic, followed by the quadrivium: arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry.

“Bobby was, essentially a savage with a feeling for poetry but no acquaintance with its great lights. I gave him a copy of Dylan Thomas’ prose work ‘Adventures in the Skin Trade’ which he admired and from which he took his public nom de plume.

“I shall never be a great poet. But I shall do little works.”

~ ~ ~

As for me, I believe Dylan to be the best singer/songwriter of our time. As for his fabled early arrogance, I’ve found extraordinarily talented folk to be arrogant in their youth – if they’re great, they grow out of it. Not knowing him, I’ve only his lyrics to go by, but I’d say such was the case.

Madmax was also on the bridge with poet John Berryman the night Berryman jumped to his death (January 7, 1972).

Max is still down in Mexico gleefully drinking and smoking himself to death, while I am up here in Cleveland doing neither.

Here’s one of his poems, to give you a feel for the man.

Drunk, Going Down, Looking at the Moon
To my friends the Smiths, and Oaxaca

In the dim Oaxacan night’s light, I stumble, tumbling –
dropping my cane, looking at the moon.

No harm, no fault. The beer didn’t break, the pants never ripped.
Two beers, a joint? I was Li Po in that boat.

Looking, falling; he drowning, I bleeding a bit from the knee.
Same moon, same fall, same drunk…


“If I wasn’t Bob Dylan, I’d probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself.” – Bob Dylan

puppet of Bob Dylan at 19th Peoples’ Art Show, artist unknown – foto by Smith


OPTIFACT World News and Weather Report – 9/13/2010

Monday, September 13th, 2010

World News Report–Mainstream Media:

Oprah Winfrey, Eminem, Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama are trending on Yahoo. Seems mighty fine to me.

I wish the Christian workers were not attacked in Indonesia. We need to be more tolerant and loving of one anothers faiths. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

I’m hoping North Korea has fewer floods. Glad South Korea is helping North Korea with rice.

I’m glad this newborn baby, who was abandoned, was found alive.

I’m hoping for even more cooperation between China and Japan. “Japan frees 14 crew members of Chinese ship

I’m hoping Israel opens up its borders again and reintegrates its economy with Palestinians, and that it acts compassionately with the consequences of the immigrants it has accepted from Asia and Africa. I’m hoping the Palestinians can forgive the Israelis.

I was amazed at the amount of openness in Mexico–there is a lot of repression, but also a lot of openness. I’m hoping NAFTA is repealed or made more fair so that small farmers in Mexico can return to their livelihoods and that our subsidized corn stops undermining their corn farming:

Checking and hoping for positive stories:

I don’t like the fearful/hopeless tone of much of this site today, although I understand the anguish. I like this David Michael Green article title:
“I Have A Dream, 2010 Version” and the assertions of John Nichols, although I am hoping for a soft landing for rich people, one that creates meaningful lives for them and helps them gainfully employ and fund people who have less money.
“Bring the Troops Home, Bust the Banksters, Democratize the Economy”

I definitely do not agree with this article about entropy: IMO, things are getting more and more integrated as life evolves. We sentients are the eyes and hands of God examining itself for integration before dispersal.

I have no wind in my sails this morning for more vitriol and despair. Hoping for some positive headlines on Oy. After checking this site, I suggest its readers examine this material with a grain of salt & stop despairing & try to work on seeing the ‘other’ side as the same side. We must work together.

Checking foxnews. Bleck. Seems pretty realistic but too pragmatic in terms of benefiting our culture at the expense of dominating other cultures. I definitely am not delighted about Fox News calling itself “Fair & Balanced.”

I am wishing for the elimination of the words ‘undermine,’ ‘insurgent,’ and ‘execute’ on Also not sure Elie Wiesel should be a prime example of humanitarianism given the current nature of the Israeli state, but I’m willing to listen. Glad he’s hoping for Mideast peace, though.

(FYI, I my maternal grandmother is Jewish.)

– –

World Weather Report:

New tropical storm Julia is following behind Igor, but it looks like they’ll die out at sea.

Lots of heavy rain in southeast Asia and parts of Africa, and I’m hoping it’s all OK.

Wishing for more blue dots where they are needed to alleviate drought, and fewer blue dots where they are not needed. The eastern mediterranean is in need of blue dots, which I hope it gets. Europe looks fine.

– –

Glad to hear about the improvement in Guyatu Bagaja’s life. Her family is now located near water in the Horn of Africa. I hope they can find means to employment and good living. I’m hoping for more precipitation in Kenya to alleviate the livestock situation. I’m hoping for less conflict as well. I like the Disaster Risk Reduction programme and I hope it can continue to do good work and expand its influence and that some day it will no longer be necessary.

Adembe & Love,




Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Ponytails were killing us. My most excellent friend & I are solving the problems of the universe. The most excellent show maybe ever–“Red Dwarf…”

On Friday, the Red Dwarf ran into the Squid of Despair, a giant squid. The cast and crew discovered that everything is a giant, mass hallucination, that we’ve all been playing parts for four years in a GIANT VIRTUAL VIDEO GAME.

SO, now they find out who they REALLY are–and THAT’s the DESPAIR–the despair was that they found out who they really were…

AND, right when they were about to KILL themselves, all cast members lined up, four in a row with one bullet–the ship’s computer finally got to a high enough FREQUENCY where they could HEAR and save them.



Friends, we suggest that we buy each other’s organically grown sustainable smoothie very expensive cakes and artisanal food, get frequent behive hairdos, sans hair dye, at the beauty salons where the hairdressers are paid magnificently and enjoy their work. Exercise classes and spas. Sustainable capitalism–it’s a plan.

– –

I suggest free education for everyone, or paid education, whatever works. And a career of anyone’s choice. Some people have to go to school longer for their careers. Those people should be paid a wee bit more. OK, incentive. But not ridiculous incentive. I’m thinking: sliding scale speeding tickets, like the ones they have in Sweden. Getting rid of tax loopholes and offshore accounts. Staying local. Stopping all this weird international shipping except for cruise ships to one anothers continents. In the basements of the cruise ships, we could carry very expensive, fine cheese and the spices and coffee of the world. Gigantic, energy efficient cruise ships. Free energy? What was that thing Tesla was talking about? Hope it works. I would like to beam myself to the North and South pole if possible, and Japan. Coffee crops as well. I really like coffee from fair wage growers whose wages must grow more excellent.

Keeping the inheritance ‘stuff’ within reason, but making sure these rich people work doing art/music/artisanal food or whatever tickles their fancy and stimulates the economy in a sustainable way.

– –

Primed the pump last night and bought some local, organic food. Sharpened our old knives for only $12. Hope he charges more next time. Hope the family business has more business coming in–we are an overtly ethical business. Hope our book projects take off. I know all this will happen. I just, know… it.




Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Precedent kathy’s economic stimulus package – a prescription for today & possibly the future (albeit with tweaking and optimization):

1. If you happen to be near a flower shop, I hear the bees are expecting food next year and so buy a flower, think of a bee, and if you are wealthy, buy flowers for your entire house. I hear they are going to flower forever and ever.

2. I hear the bees have been heard of as ‘unhealthy’ in an outdated narrative, but I’ve recently heard an update on this information: there are some 15 or so new species of bees. I hope they are very good, sturdy, happy little pollinators and that they somehow magically know how to find their ways back to the hives. I anticipate that we shall eat fruit, good fruit, from now until the foreseeable future. I COMMAND IT SO. And the fruit will be wildly and widely available for maws of mass consumption, and will be very healthy and beneficial for the maws of mass consumption.

So, I command you to start eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (if you have the money for it and if it is available in your region. I hear most regions do have enough food. I would like to assume so. If not, I COMMAND IT SO.)

Of the grocery stores, et cetera: I really don’t understand how a couple of red peppers can really equal the life of a chicken. How can this situation be changed so that healthy food is subsidized? GOVERNMENT: I COMMAND YOU TO START SUBSIDIZING HEALTHY FOOD FOR PEOPLE.

3. Cellphones used to have a ‘bad’ reputation. I hear that they are now in collaboration with our needs, and nature’s needs. Thank you, cellphones! We love you!

4. I hear more and more Republicans are finding that they really were right, after all, that they are decent human beings who put their mouths where their money is in terms of helping the poor with churches, in stimulating the economy ethically so that people can buy more locally-made, hand-made goods – this is my vision for the near future. This is my economic stimulus plan.

5. The rich people will dine on the most succulent, juicy, well-marbled grass-fed beef, served to them by wonderfully paid and happy craftspeople who work with food.

6. McDonald’s and its ilk will start serving healthy, inexpensive, wonderfully-tasting food, and will pay its workers very well, a living wage that will meet and exceed its collaborators expectations, 32 hours per week with full benefits and pension plans in reparation for the history of the business’s exploitation of its workers and environment. In turn, the workers will become very faithful advocates of McDonald’s (and its ilk). And their high wages and high health will help stimulate the local economies.

So, on some days, a person of moderate wealth might find that he/she would like to eat at McDonald’s or its ilk, and other days, at an expensive smoothie bar or expensive restaurant or vegetarian restaurant (I hear they are becoming quite popular.)

7. Artists: Did you know that anyone can become an artist? Sure, some of us are misunderstood, but–get this–in a civilized society with lots of cash flow, the rich people buy lots of art. They buy personalized items for lots of money, and so do we. We are rich people! Did you know that? All of us are rich.

We might not have the actual cash money in our bank accounts right this second–but I hear it’s coming! Has to do with that hand-crafted, ethically-produced stimulation thing. Yowzers.

8. Poets: Why are you giving away God’s words for free? You are so good. Buy each others books. I command thee. I command more people to start appreciating poetry–people who might not necessarily write poetry, but suddenly find that, wow, what a goldmine of nuance and love and reverence for life there is in those darned poets! BORDERS BOOK STORE: I command you to buy books from local poets in consultation with the people who know best–like Suzanne from Macs.

INDEPENDENT BOOK STORES: You are lovers of hand-crafted zines, recycled and reowned books, fine coffee environments, tee, pastries, plants, atmosphere, music, fine wine, et cetera. IN MY ECONOMIC STIMULUS PLAN FOR YOU, YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT LOSING BUSINESS, ONLY GAINING IT!

9. Back to the bees. I hear monoculture crops weren’t such a good idea. I’m glad they’re realizing now that they need to employ beekeepers for the local areas, and that most of the year (maybe?) the bees need to eat organic, varied, wonderful, varieties of food. Perhaps a patch of this food with a local beekeeper could be employed in every area that needs one? And that the use of pesticides is suddenly found to not be necessary, or that somehow, it is in coordination with the health needs of pollinating insects? Seems like local beekeepers would be a good jobs program to me.
– – –
I imagine that this plan will require some tweaking, but it sounds like a good start and good vision to me. What do you all think?


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