Friday, July 19, 2019

Doing Time

Center of the Sun
—Poems and Visuals by Smith, Cleveland, OH


Mondays wake with foggy feet
to cups of coffee, pastries sweet
trouble held in hurting head
we the living walk the dread

To work to work the birdies cry
leave now before the traffic tries
to keep your gone away from go
for time decays so fast to slow

At work you watch the pencils push
new mourning marks for weekly rush
in hope that soon day's weasel stops
mad monkey's midnight crop

More work more week more stress more seek
play fair, head high, bookend with sleep



and there's lilacs...
there's lilacs

 Blue Fusion


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 ís the crime

And I’m doing time

[Check out music/mix by Peter Ball, word/voice by Smith at;
2nd poem in above jam]

 Green Goddess


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

 Twilight Zone


There's bitter before
bitter after
bitter now
but then
there's joy before
joy after
joy now
it's interwoven
3 Fates measuring
no shadow without light
no death without life
no going but gone
see you later alligator
after trial crocodile
though no stage door encore for me
entwined might and maybe
helps me fight so far
parts of 8 decades
down dis road
dis-played dis-dained dis-mayed
delayed by both desire and load



Step into my spider said the parlor to the fly
It's warm with moistened sloping to its gentle lie
She'll fit you with a jacket of her finest weave
Of course she'll keep insisting you can never leave

The cost is oh so simple
Your life and nothing less
The heft of spin is ample
To keep you in this mess

The sin of mother's father
And father's other friend
Leads the gland to funnel
Fear to smother end

No use in checking exit
Your fly friends are all gone
All that matters you exist
And fit my baking pan

So come up free and easy to my loft in sky
Sit and sip your sorrow as I set my sly
At least you'll find some purpose in my flying pan
Your essence keeps me going, your spirit fuels my fan

[Check out recitation w/music/sound collage by Peter Ball at]

 Heaven's Gate


Her body old,
her weight gone,
frame down to bone and fur
her love for us still bright,
she was done,
had had it,

She rubbed unsteady against my ankles,
looked up
and howled piteously for release.

I felt shame
because I hadn't loved her enough
to kill her yesterday.

Next day we lay her on vet's table
on a warm blanket,
pet her awhile,
and talked.

I knelt
and we locked eyes,
the tip of my finger
between the pads of her paw
as she held me.

When the drug hit
I saw no fear,
she just looked up and away
in brief startle,
and was gone.

Such a small creature
for so immense an impact,
blackhole of loss.

First time I've paid to have love killed
and we had to put it on credit.



We clawed through the sea, bellyflopped onto land
till wretched in wealth we poisoned our glands

We cut down the trees, befouled our own nest,
gave the dogs fleas and messed with the rest

And now running us, greed dressed in suits,
a big moral muss that none can refute

Up through the stages with the goods for the bads
releasing our rages and trashing our pad

For the balance of fair is lost in this life
where our given share is trickle-down lies

There's more than enough but not much more time,
share some of the stuff or pay for the crime

Because if you don't, this card house will fall,
be a world of won't collapse on us all

So down through the ages from the good to the bad
we're still simple savages trashing our pad

[Check out music/mix by Peter Ball (1949-2015), words/voices by Smith at]

 1 Bird, 2 Lines


We walked a bird walk guided talk today
on 88 acres of peninsula,
land carved from Lake Erie water
by 20 years of dredged river muck dumped
from the bottom of the Cuyahoga River,
silt and dirt and toxins and runoffs
from the industrial flats,
chemical poisons from steel mills
and coal and asphalt and salt and sewer
and chemist only knows what
taken from the bottom of a river that caught fire
and burned for two hours in 1969,
a river described by its 1880 mayor as
a sewer that runs through the heart of the city,
a river first fired in 1868 and then burned repeatedly
before its multi-million dollar 1952 inferno,
all ignored until ’69 when white national reporters
asked America's first large-city black mayor
just what he was going to do about it
so he cleaned it up
showing Congress and country it could be done
igniting the nation's clean air and water act
leading to boating riverside dock bars
and Goodtime cruises,
though I still wouldn't drink it, or even swim
(thank you Mayor Carl Stokes),
and today we walked river muck reclaimed
by grass and plants and trees and time
and seeds shat by birds and mammals
and blown by wind,
we saw loon, towhees, tree sparrows,
over a dozen great blue herons,
more redwing blackbirds than I've seen in my life,
egret, robins, mallards, crows, seagulls, tern,
flickers that used to be called yellow shafted flickers
until they changed the names to sell more books,
song sparrows, blue-gray gnatcatchers, falcon,
fox sparrows doing their back ’n forth shuffle dance,
a yellow-rumped warbler, downy woodpeckers,
cooper’s hawk, redtail hawk, turkey vultures, cowbirds,
morning doves, and blackbirds
all amidst a constant chorus of birdsong
with solos by angelwing butterflies, poison hemlock,
deer, wild cucumber, boxelder,
and a host of birds plants trees butterflies I missed
and I gotta tell you
it's a nice this


Today’s LittleNip:

The tree my teacher:
warm in sun, wave in wind
wet in rain



Thank you, Smith (Steven B. Smith), for your rattlin’ rhythms on this hot Friday in July, rapping to us all the way from Cleveland! Smith’s visuals are always music of their own, too, morphing colors and forms as they lovely-ly do.

Poetry in our area tonight includes Shaun Griffin and Tom Meschery at Sac. Poetry Center for A Special Random Friday Reading at 6pm, hosted by Bob Stanley. Or head over to Davis to The Other Voice for Katy Brown and open mic, 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Patwin Rd., hosted by James Lee Jobe. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the rhythms of poetry!

 Radioactive Smith

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.