contemporary mixed media collage, urban assemblage art, and modern poetry of steven b. smith   
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Zen Over Zero: Selected poems 1964-2008
by Steven B. Smith.
68 poems and 21 collages
over 44 years. $12.00.
> buy now

poem genome 101
why i wrote my 1st poem 41 yrs ago

i was 'ordered' to write poetry in 1964 in the u.s. naval academy prep school at the bainbridge, md. u.s. naval base. i'd finished an english class test early and bored, turned the test paper over and wrote soft porn movie ad for non-existent liz taylor richard burton film.

lieutenant junior grade english teacher, rather than punish me, suggested i write a poem for the base newspaper, so wrote my 1st line of poetry:

who cares? who gives a damn? who cares? i shouting took me aside, explained he had something lighter in mind. wrote surrealistic nonesense with 1st verse:

i saw a purple purfled cloud
a softly go flinning by
it skipped and jumped and fruddlehumped

i still can't figure out why the base newspaper published it. 2nd poem, 1st publication, 1st typo victim.

then wrote Teddy Bear (aka SOP or Standard Operating Procedure) which i read for the 1st time in public last month 41 years after its birth
at a fellow poet's request. 1964 poem SOP also exists as 2004 song Teddy Bear, 1 of 3 songs which may be heard at Poem Rock /

earlier, 1960, 14 yr old me wrote 4 macabre short stories to compete with my friend who was writing these cool short story poems. turns out his were all lyrics he'd stolen from kingston trio songs.

1st story
hermetically sealed operating room fills with blood, everyone drowns.

2nd story
american pilot sneaks into russia, steals their rocket ship and flies it back to the u.s.a. - can't operate their radio to explain he's not russian, so american female army officer blows him out of sky.

3rd story
2 men want info from tied-up me, who won't talk. they put rat in glass bowl upside down on my bare belly, and i watch it gnawing thru to my soft inner heat till i can't take it anymore and try to tell them what they want - but fear has paralyzed my vocal chords, and i can no longer speak.

4th story
not wanting to be dead, i claw up thru the dirt of my grave to the air which will make me live again, but out in the air, i find i'm still dead so go find mom who gave birth to me to make me live again. she doesn't. she dies. i go back to grave.

i'm lucky i got this far with so little damage done. tho saner, wiser, healthier than ever before, folk still find me odd.

how odd. yet children, plants and animals like me, mostly. treat me as one of them.

19 may 2005