Thursday, October 19, 2023

Son of Sisyphus

Both Sides Now
—Poetry by Smith and Lady, Cleveland, OH
—Visuals by Smith

Some thoughts weigh lots and don't stop
for spirit or bone atonement
enlighten illumination

Wrapped in pain
I dip in pleasure
soaking sore in hot

Take toke
sit in sun
close eyes
become autotroph
suck vitamin D for old bones
older wounds

Gonna ask God
for script approval
see what the Big It says

Sometimes you say less
because it's too much work to say more
I like the juices to run

I walk up and down despairs



Just realized
my basic life philosophy
is glorified flower
caterpillar to butterfly
apprenticeship approach
in which
one sprouts
until you get it right
the old do and die
until there's no more why.

But that ain't true.

There's no logic
no grand grid
from there to here
no now from then
it's naught but cosmic comic whim
we don't roll the dice
we're the laboratory mice
the pepper in the stew
to keep the gods amused
it might be plan
or free form will
we're the double bill
the clone clowns renewed
the soap opera crew
for laughing gods to view.


right understanding
right thought
right speech
right action
right livelihood
right effort
right mindfulness
right concentration

bionic butterflies and performing humanoids

dog and me
waiting for thee
in the car
wondering where you are

down highway
streaming music of past
in hot foot future

hauling heretic to 8-fold way

 Homeward Bound


Our yard is in this foreign country Cleveland
by the Zoo where Latin music beats up the hill
from Friday cars on Wildlife Way
and we set on magic carpet
of our deck
level with the canopy.

We’re so lucky, we say, this house,
our lucky deck.

It’s wild and undomesticated like you, I say,
and confirm the evidence of fallen branches on
the hill
which have settled into loopy silver spaghetti swirls
wherever they can be held, protected by
the poison ivy

I do, I do, I think,
and as I set to write in your notebook
God beams light and illuminates the paper and
in my juicy mouth I taste the tongue from troughs
of dripping maple leaf, from the green humidity all
and the shape around my body baffles my ears with
cotton oxygen

The roots of the green grow from fecund soil
on Folger coffee ground from last year’s leaf
where ants daub distinctly on amber legs made
from rubber cement, chitin segments size of dried-
up scabs

The locust rattle shakes at crow, caws sing saw
in lulls
of cricket fiddle, the opera ladies of the woods

These woods are woods in the city
where they don’t have a big building
and squirrels chuck at dogs and we
saw a raccoon in its hollow then
sleeping on a branch all summer long.

This is the wild by the zoo
where we are. A brush of noticing
cleans the palate’s stage, hears clear air
and squirrels swear and chase each other down
the trees in laughter which later
frogs will answer

They like our talk, I say.
Does your belly does your twitch shake
like a squirrel in a safe haven?

Clearance Frogman Henry, he says.
Whatever the song his hit is,
he sings the song in one voice.

Then he sings exact same words
in a high falsetto then more music
exact same words, and lo—
Bullfrog mode.

We’re probably talking ’60—’61—
Coulda been ’20—’29
for all I know.

I learn a lot from you, I say.

I know a lot of useless stuff, he says.

Oh no, I say.

You know, he says, just looking at all these woods
We’re so-o lucky. Our house is surrounded by trees.
There’s life in the life in the life—
There’s eco, echo systems everywhere
from happy sap water
to craft brewery beers and
micro dynasties.

Oh, I say.

My brain and my mouth just skip along, he says.
Sometimes I’m here, sometimes I’m not.

Yesterday I called you God’s fool, a joker,
a professor. Today you’re a bum, I say,
an archetypal bum in a sweatshirt,
two torn-off elbows. It’s what I like
about you.

You have to put your head back on
Persephone, I tell him. This weekend.
You’ve got to do that.

I kind of like it as it is, he says.
The antenna balances the load on
her back.

Oh yeah, I say. Sculpture of a load
on the back of a headless woman is a woman,
a Woman’s Persephone.

Oh Dear, Dear, he says. I will fix her
this weekend. The bugs are biting.

Maybe that’s why I itch, I say.
The bugs are biting.

Time to go on in, he says.
Time to roll one up,
come up with dog

The cognitive revolution
was 70,000 years ago that's when
we started changing things

Emergence of fictive language
Lies that we all agree to believe in
Big Tribe God, etc., etc.

The whole problem here
is size of group
At 150 or less, you can know
everybody in your tribe
You groom them, do things
together, gossip

More than that, it breaks down,
because you can't know
everybody. You can't know
who to trust. At that point
the only way to get people
to work together in bigger numbers
is fiction

You create a fiction for the good
of the tribe

Or it's us against them or
our God or King wants us to—

You create these lies
everybody believes in
and that's how we got big,
learning to tell stories
not based on verifiable fact
70,000 years ago in the
cognitive revolution

When we started making fire
we started cooking food cooked food
takes less stomach and intestine work
to extract the nutrients

We cooked our food digested it faster
and we no longer needed all the
long intestines we had before

Intestines take a lot of energy
so we shortened our intestines and used the
extra energy to build up our brains
because we had to know shit

We had to know what plants did good and bad
We had to know where the food roamed

We built bigger brains
We learned to lie
to tell stories

—Smith & Lady
 Push Here


Old chair squeaks beneath my weight
unsure of my need in the night.

I fear neither worth of wait
nor need of light.

I put one foot in foot of the other
the other in front of the one.

If we have to, as we have had to,
and we want to, we will.

Last night of summer the jewelled wallpaper of  crickets, frogs, coyotes, and owls, the noise of stars turned organic. A taloned screech stipples and rattles the tree canopy, mammals and rodents scuttle and slip through dry thatches of overgrown shrub. Night falls on the chicory and goldenrod and in the excited dark a far-off woof woof booms some canine news. The deer roam the dark and I turn and press my head into pillow Tylenol body akimbo and wait to go to sleep under this magical gambrel roof of our house in Cleveland.

 Now Hiring


Time is not the major plot
for rot and roll to save my soul
cuz time is lost, time is lost
time like Sisyphus counting cost of coal

So ride the range of deserts strange
The sun below and sand piled high
The where to go decide by why
a secret course to heart high sigh

Here we go heart in glad
life aglow high-five plan   
we’ll make it work, we’ll make it swell
take our fork and tap the well

Do the do, be the be
be like you, not like me
every same has other side
and that’s where we must ride

I walk the road, I face the stairs
I hear the noise of trolls down there
below the here above the where
such is the is of my affairs

Yet I stand tall and I stand true
the silent type that does the do
though aim be skewed
pain still is shrewd

Do the do, be the be
be like you, not like me
for every same has other side
and that’s where we must ride

Stride through day, stroll through night
ride the ray of right in sight
it might just might set kinder tone
when time is lost alone
when time is lost alone

—Music by Billie Clarksville, words & voice by Smith, 2015; see

Today’s LittleNip:

Trekked this far
hope to make the rest
son of Sisyphus

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

 Lady Love

Our thanks to the Smiths today—Steven B. and Lady (Kathy)—for their collaboration/presentation/excavations, as they write to us from their estate in far-away Cleveland-by-the-Zoo. Lady says they’re lucky to live where they are; I concur—I would dearly love to live where I would be awakened by the sounds of elephants trumpeting in the morning. Anyway, keep on Trekkin', Smiths; we’ll see you next month, gods willing and the crick don’t rise…


 Smith by Smith

Today is a big day in NorCal poetry, with
Third Thursdays at the Sacramento City Library
at noon; a Cameron Park Library
Poets and Writers Workshop at 5:30pm;
D.R. Wagner and Dave Boles at
Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis
at 7pm; and The Roux Open Mic
and Feature Series at 8pm.
For info about these and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
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LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
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bones crackling,
lurching along in a
Halloween dance—
that’s me,
out for a walk…