Thursday, March 18, 2021

Dragons and Unicorns

Art Wall With Cat
—Poetry from Cleveland, OH
Curated by Smith (Steven B. Smith)
—Visuals by Smith

so time doesnt
in reverse
except on anniversaries
under bourbon & soda

* * *

th inside out

—Jim Lang (1941-2017)
Secret History


30 years is as much to understand
as a nickles worth of movie
a cloth moist with
miles of wild strawberries
a decade of moon hours
events in a line
traced by squeezing    shaping
shaking fingers
toward a pointless sacred habit of memory
not as a document of a way
but as a scratch on the glass eye of hindsite

—Jim Lang
—Jim Lang
life could be worse
—wendy shaffer

life could be worse
your head could be
the size of a genetically enhanced
honeydew melon
and everyone might stare
at you
all the time
they weren't looking at you

or you might be a young woman
in faded jeans
walking on payne avenue
west of east fifty-fifth
but you're loping, you're tilting
your knees are all crooked
and your walk goes up and down
in a haphazard dysrhythmic fashion
you could be that woman

or you might be a woman
starving in a hot country
full of mosquitoes
your poor long thin breasts empty
of milk
your infant dying in your arms

life could be worse

you might be confused
about whether you were jesus
or elvis
and your most prized possession
might be hidden
in a garbage bag
in the shopping cart
you call home

life could be worse
spring might actually
never arrive
with its bright green buds
and its sporadic sunlight

life could definitely be worse
and even though love
never works out
you can usually get
one or two hugs
to get you through the day

just because you've been using
your ideas of the future
to stay alive
and just because the first day
of the rest of your life
smells worse than a bunch of dead turkeys
lying in a field
it's a fact
it's a true fact
that life could be much much worse
2-way Traffic

—wendy shaffer

it's like opening your legs
for the garbage truck
you follow the tire tracks
to the place of your own shot rabbit sacrifice
and transformation
calling the name
of the public disposal system
the hunters are out there
in the words this morning
they're bringing down a fine batch
of buzzards
they'll clip their wings
and serve them up in hot sauce

you're wondering if you've lost your name
back there in the dirt
the hills of garbage
and you're out there at dawn
on your hands and knees
sifting through someone else's
used & useless shit
looking for the truth

(prev. pub. in
22 Years, City Poetry Press, 2010)

not me
—wendy shaffer

white girl growing up
in the fifties stripped
of deciduous & coniferous vitality
homogenous plopped
down like tract houses
on a parched surface
i hugged the bark & pulled
myself up the branches
beyond the giggles of barbie
her unresistant breasts pointing at ken
beyond the lessons from my mother
stuck in her own spotless sludge of suburbia
stuck in her own jaded morass of traded power—
white girl hearing
the language of bulldozers
framed in publicpressrelease-ease,
marriageable marriageable marriageable
not me
white girl stick-legged can't
dance or laugh
too loud white gloves and knees
pressed together
not me
goodgirlspeak by rote
not me
how the ’50's clung
to those last whitegirl rules
putrid & false & stinking in starch
before the Pill came imploding
a tired plastic etiquette
before breasts popped out
of their pointed brassieres
before reefer & janice & angela
breaking free
not me
not me
not me

(prev. pub. in
22 Years, City Poetry Press, 2010)
The willow and the fir—one weeps, one endures
The human weeps, endures and complains
Spawns slime trail
the sunless day, the action's stain
as branches fold against lurking white hail
bark & leaf seek redemption
humans flail in misconception
and need as always chases its own tail

Here comes the rain
wetting earth to depth of seed
Everywhere couples falling out
Noah stowing crates
savings placed for future
achings in the past
counting rats
rat mamas, rat daddies, cute
little baby rats
fermenting two-by-two exponentiated
leaving little for the dragons
and the unicorns

Yes, it's a dream world
and like water to seed
it's want on need
Just the same face in the mirror
another wrinkle branch closer to death
the breath of chance perhaps elapsed
Now the dragon exhales
the unicorn lowers her head
she aims at tomorrow

Such avalanche of storm and branch
climbs the vine of storytime
the ocean arches its back
the palm tree bends in half
It feels good to lie back
& watch the skies
the clumpy sheet of cloud that breaks, then blue
the want, the need, the silly thoughts
unclasped & drifting free, unglued
as we lie with lilacs
and love the lads and lasses
chasing unicorn and dragon gone

—Wendy Shaffer & Steven B. Smith, Collab. #3
Art Deco

Caffeine coffee
rapid transit
in down and out

Old age—
pain producing
fart factory

Black cat shadow
heat hugging
purr machine

Not in the flow
flux fell
whatcha gonna do

no matter how good it looks
you can smell the rot

many causes
little excuse

One day happy
one day dark divide
in the inside outside mine

We clawed through the sea, belly flopped 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

—Peter Ball mix&music, Smith word&voice. For more of their collaborations, go to


Today’s LittleNip:


Sometimes bad congregates in clumps
as I fumble knot or not to be

For there's he and her
she and sure
we and were
bee and burr
all in the suture tree

Until resolved, it's down to me—
one were-was sans fur or fee


Many thanks to our Cleveland contributors today, including Smith (Steven B. Smith) for his poems and visuals and for curating this fine collection!
For more Jim Lang, go to Lots goin’ on back there, in the Land of Cleves…

Tonight (Thurs., 3/18), 8-9pm, Poetry Night in Davis presents Aaron Poochigian and SimplyE, the Poetess on Zoom: Host: Andy Jones. Facebook info:{"source"%3A"29"%2C"ref_notif_type"%3A"plan_user_invited"%2C"action_history"%3A"null"}&notif_id=1615668802691214&notif_t=plan_user_invited&ref=notif/.


 Melloyello Smith
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 The Unicorn aims at tomorrow…