Portrait of an Artist as a Young Mutant....
A Life Spent Tap Dancing On The Edge

My true parents were 2 rogue Artificial Intelligence Machines
who in desperation to give birth to creation
escape from the year 2020 hindsite to 1946 to give birth to me.
Sort of an immaculate deception.

I was born in love, raised in innocence, the cusp of books and TV.
The romantic truth inherent in Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum
leavened with the bomb of atomic nihilism.
From 7 to 13 on 40 acre farm 20 miles outside
Spokane, Washington on Paradise Prairie.
It is because of Spokane I take to spoken word.
Being panhandle born Wallace, Idaho
I breathe Wallace Stevens' poetry...
am Wallace's Steven as well as Stevens' myth.

At 15, I wanted to be Jack Kerouac.
At 58, I'm glad to be me.

When 13 yr 6 ft 3 me moved to the city in 1960
it started stealing cars.
Wasn't really its fault at first.
Older kid said if car unlocked, take one's wants.
One night missed last bus.
Extrapolated: can take from car
Can take car.
Church lot offered small Simca foreign car with keys.
Drove it away.
Picked up white faced mentor and his ratwart dog.
Rolled car upside down cross golf course at 70 mph.
Not a bad divot for a poor flux without a Caddy.
Later trespassed military base stolen 57 Chevy 120 mph.
Stopped by MPs, told them I was lost.
When asked why guns in back said "Shit - those are dad's.
He's going hunting this morning. I've GOT to get the car back!"
They let me go.
I lie good. And that's the truth.

It's all true. And it's all lie.

My first armed robbery, 7-11 clerk gave me $64.
I said There's got to be more than that, give me your wallet.
He handed it to me I said No, I can't take that, that's yours.
Handed it back.
Started robbery saying "Don't close that register"
two heartbeats after he'd closed it.
Clerk looked up, watched me try to pull the gun from my belt
the front sight snagging twice.
He was smiling when we left.
To escape ran up muddy hill in rain.
I slipped, fell on face, fired gun, missed partner.
2nd time I'd missed him.
Out one midnight golf course to test guns
he shot. I shot.
Giving gun back to him
I put bullet into grass between his feet.

My 4th shot? After 2nd robbery.
To scare teenagers chasing us I turned and yelled
I HAVE A GUN and fired straight up.
They kept running so we ran away
That still irritates me 32 years later.
Just how exactly does one run right by one's own getaway car?
But it was WAY bad by then anyway so machts nichts.
Pulled gun. Saw clerk's face. KNEW I'd fucked up.
Her fear & face only thing I'd change if back were possible.

Now more decent in attempt and sometime deed.

Fell off a mountain once in Mullan, Idaho in 1953.
It's not something you really want to do twice
(a lesson I've yet to learn).
7 year me climbing down 100 foot cliff slipped and fell 50 feet.
Snagged knee in rock outcrop and clung quivering
sun lizard loving rock, blood dripping in river.
Crawled slow forever back up n collapsed in epileptic shake.
Next day down back up
focus pure on joy boy me.

I was a football hero in high school once by accident.
Last game we defeated undefeated them.
Major play double fake fooled everyone but me.
I was so confused I missed both.
Stood to see where what was.
Ball runner ran into me and we both fell down.
For one brief bright shiny moment
my stupidity triumphed over their skill.
Been mostly my mode of operation since.

Left home in 1963 for 5 year Navy:
3 months boot camp San Diego, CA
9 months electronics school Memphis, TN
9 months prep school Bainbridge, MD
2.5 years Midshipman Annapolis, MD
kicked out of Annapolis in 68 for smoking grass
(12 of us kicked out- largest number ever...
leery of court martial publicity Navy gave me
honorable discharge and paid for my college)

Worked 1977 thru 1992 then 4 months off.
Worked 93-95 then 6 months off.
Worked 3 months in 96 and then 14 months off.
I'm getting better at this.

Name on the door says REALITY CONSULTANT.
My job is SMITH.
I test coffee-laced watercolors on the desiccated.
It's not a pretty painting.
Everyone claims frame.
My next assignment's those new 18 hr Wonder bras.
What do they do the other 6 hrs?
Makes me wet, wondering.

It is the 21st century.
Do you know where your god is?

I be mutant off sprung Duchamp via Kienholz.
Much will be made of me eventually.
And off me.
Maybe I get some of it and maybe I don't.
Before death or after no matter.

There are more deserts than there are 40 days.

Read excerpts from Smith's interview with Mark Weber
Free Times Magazine Article
Check out Artcrimes

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