Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Poem: "Our Films"

I showed you Nick Nolte
And you showed me a leopard seal. 
What do these things mean? 
What were we saying between the lines?
My film was of a painter who loves too hard, is crazed
And yours was of a top predator that was nurturing nonetheless. 
What were we saying between the lines (if we were saying anything at all)
When we recommended these films to each other? 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Poem: "And So Another Day Passes"

And so another day passes
And another day goes
And another one passes
And another goes.
And a minute makes two
And two of them four
And before you know
It’s out the door.
And another week on
And another week goes
And another day passes
And another day goes
And somewhere out there
Your lovely heart pumps
Thumps and thumps
Your lovely heart thumps.
And another day passes
And you make your way home
Down sad city streets
Of cobblestone
And bending forward
So much on your back
You make your way home 
You make your way back
And your lovely heart pumps
For what I don’t know
And another day passes
And another day goes.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Poem: "Panhandler in the Train"

When the money does not fall out as quick
As you'd like it
And lips stay pursed
And purses clutched, 
And screeching wheels is all you hear
After your appeal, 
I just hope my little smile does
Something like a dollar would
And I have somehow done some good.

Poem: "A More Serious Look"

A more serious look because responsibility
A more serious look because you know
A more serious look because of an ability 
To kill things or help them grow
A more serious look because you’ve shown
You’re not on training wheels anymore
And you have the control to let things go:
You’ve been through this before. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"Happy Birthday" song

At a big intersection near my old apartment building here in Hamburg, there used to be several traffic signs in the shape of an arrow, each of which pointed in a different direction. One of the signs announced that downtown was south. Another sign said that a small town, Wedel, was west. But the sign that would often grab my attention when I would walk by was one that pointed east and said "Berlin."

This particular sign stood out to me because when I would walk past it, it would remind me that, in fact, I lived in Europe and that Berlin -- Berlin! -- was only a two-hour car ride away.

It's really easy to forget sometimes that I live in Europe; it's easy to forget how cool that is and how fortunate I am. But whenever I have these sudden realisations, like with the sign, I love it, because during such moments, I'm really able to feel my life, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I mentions these "Wow, I actually live in Europe" realisations not only because they're interesting, but also because I had another one this morning.

Because today is my birthday -- Yes, yes, thank you, thank you.'re too kind... -- one my friends sent me a What'sApp voice message in which she sang "Happy Birthday." Fine, OK, but see, this friend of mine is German, and the words, as she sang them, had the sweetest imprint of her German accent on them. And in hearing that accent, I again had to pinch myself. Why? Because this is my life and I live in Europe. Wow.

Thanks for all the good times, everybody. Let's have many more.


"Happy Birthday," as sung by my friend.


It's been a while since I've played chess, but I thought I'd start up again. I'm pretty proud of this win because I was pretty patient and there's a nice rook sacrifice at the end. I'm "new earth" and I have the black pieces.

Friday, May 24, 2019


Here's a funny little occurrence that just happened at the supermarket.

I was at the checkout waiting for my turn when I overheard a small conversation going on between the cashier and the woman being checked out.

The two were talking about the flowers that the woman was buying, “Pfingstrosen,” or peonies, as they're called in English.

When I had first entered the supermarket, you should know, I had thought about buying a small bunch of the “Pfingstrosen” that were on sale but had opted not to at that point.

However, when I heard the cashier and the woman talking about the “Pfingstrosen” and how good they looked, I decided to leave the checkout aisle to run and go get a bunch.

Now here comes the funny party: The moment I arrived at where the peonies were, I heard someone behind me, and that person was the person who had been standing in front of me in line. She had also overheard the conversation between the cashier and the woman and was inspired by it, and decided to run off the line as well to grab a bunch.

After this woman and I got our flowers, we both came trotting back to the checkout line, and as we did so, the cashier and the woman being checked out looked on, laughing and smiling.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Story: "The Pink Shoelaces"

I wrote the following short story, which is true, in the fall of 2006. It needs no introduction. If you knew Jason Butler, you will really appreciate this story. Enjoy. 

“The Pink Shoelaces”
By Chad Smith

            I was about sixteen years old at the time, maybe fifteen. You know what it’s like to be that age: you’re confused, you’ve got a lot of energy and you really don’t know where to focus it. But I managed; we all do, right?
            It was my junior year of high school and I had abandoned my old friends – they were too busy doing drugs. Not for me. I remember I started to dress differently. I always loved art and was creative, but my taste for clothes up until that point had been pretty generic. At fifteen – sixteen? – though, I threw myself headlong into painting, the arts and skateboarding, and it was all reflected in the clothes I wore. I’d draw on my jeans with paint marker or I’d throw on old, random T-shirts and wear silver rings. I didn’t stand out desperately, but I got noticed.
            One weekend around this time, I bought a pair of Adidas: navy ones with white signature stripes on the side. I bought them because I wanted to paint the three Adidas signature stripes different colors. White was too boring. I remember right after having bought the sneakers, I headed back to my house, took out my paint markers and colored the three stripes orange, yellow and red, respectively.
            But something still was missing. 
            The shoes, though livelier, still didn’t look the way I had envisioned. It was the shoelaces. The ones the shoes came with just didn’t fit the look. So I replaced them the next day. The color I decided on, pink, was kind of unusual. I liked it, though. I could care less if anyone thought it was weird or feminine or whatever – I liked these laces. 
            Anyway, wearing these Adidas with the pink laces in science class the next day, I sat there, bored, waiting for the teacher to arrive.
In this particular class, which was Marine Biology, we students didn’t have individual seats. Because most of the work in the course was done with a partner, we sat at desks made for just two people. The person who happened to be sitting next to you, then, by default, was your partner in all the assignments.
            My partner that year was Jason Butler. Jason, a senior, was a friendly, charismatic kid. He was the type of kid everyone knew and wanted to be friends with.
When I was a freshman, I once saw Jason at a house party. Unsurprisingly, at this party he didn’t just mingle like everyone else. Instead, he walked into the master bedroom of the house and decided to jump from its window into a pool two stories below. As he stood there on the ledge, a few people sitting around the pool taunted him, “You won’t do it! You won’t do it!” A moment later, though, those same people were soaked by the giant splash.
            But I digress. Back to the science class. Before I had arrived there that day, some of my old friends had been giving me shit about my pink shoelaces, calling me “twinkle-toes” or whatever. One of my old friends even said I was wearing “Barbie boots.” I could’ve cared less, though. Yeah, but at least I’m somewhat original, I had thought. No, their comments hadn’t bothered me at all – until, that was, I got to class. 
            There, it started to gnaw at me: Who did these kids think they were? They haven’t said anything to me for months, and now they only speak to me when it’s to make fun of me?
I started to get angry. I started thinking about all the times I had done them favors or revealed something personal or simply been a good friend. I felt betrayed.
            When the teacher finally did arrive, he told us to take out our lab equipment. But I was really in no mood to do work after the encounter I had just had. I remember wondering where Jason was. After a couple minutes, though, he finally walked in. He was late and, characteristically, he was cool about it. He walked in with his good friend, Bobby. Funny enough, while the two were taking their seats, they were still flirting with some girls in the hallway, gesturing at them through the window of the class door. After an exasperated look from the teacher, though, they stopped.
            “What do we have to do today?” J.B. asked me. That was his nickname, J.B. “I don’t know,” I told him, “study some fish bones, I guess.” I pointed to the assignment. He turned to me and smiled, “I’m not doing jack. I’m actually gonna try and sneak out of here once everyone gets settled.” I just looked at him and snickered, “Don’t get caught.”   
            However, J.B. didn’t sneak out of class that day. Actually, he sat there the entire period and did his work. At some point – I think it was after he finished the task and was just leaning back in his chair – he noticed my sneakers.
            “Nice shoelaces,” he said. I looked over at him and thought he was joking. But there was no sarcasm there. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, “they’re different...I like them.”
             I thanked him and went back to my work. But I took Jason’s comments to heart. He made me feel – with that brief statement – that I was doing something right. He made me feel as if I were on the right track. It no longer mattered what my old friends had said to me: I was coming into my own – with or without them.

* * *

            Junior year of high school came to a close in early June. Summer came and went, and in September I began my first week back at high school as a senior. What a milestone, right?
            One afternoon, after having left my English class to go to math, I noticed a commotion at the end of the hallway. Two girls were crying, and many students were staring at them. Leigh, one of the girls crying, looked in bad shape: her face was a deep red and her eyes were closed tightly, but tears were still escaping,  even falling off her face. Something was desperately wrong.
            Jason was in the E.R; there had been an accident. He and a friend were near our town’s community college, which they had recently begun. Jason had stepped out of the car to cross the street and get a pack of cigarettes, but instead of making it there, a semi-trailer truck slammed into him. The driver attempted to brake, but it made little difference. Leigh was one of J.B.’s good friends, and she had just come from seeing him in the hospital. She said he didn’t even look like himself: the swelling was too severe. Later that day, we heard he was brain dead.
            Jason’s parents, now, were faced with a horrible decision – when to take him off life support.
            I couldn’t believe what was going on. This was it. J.B. wasn’t going to laugh about the whole situation another day. He wasn’t going to recount what had happened in any anecdote about how he had almost gotten hit by a truck. This was it.
            The next day at school, in every corridor, around every turn, there were hushed voices or simply there was silence. Such quiet in the normally bustling halls said a lot about the gravity of the situation. It was as though everyone knew what everyone else was thinking, but no one knew how to make sense of it.
            And then we found out: Jason’s parents took him off life support that morning.

* * *

            I didn’t go to the funeral, but I wish I had. Although I was never that close to J.B., I wish I could’ve gone and said goodbye to the kid who made me feel a little stronger during a vulnerable time. It was crazy, after the funeral I heard of a few tiffs between groups of students, arguing about who had more of a “right” to be upset and who didn’t have any “right” at all. People were already saying that some underclassman saw the ceremony more like a social event. I don’t think that’s true. People were upset and were just looking for someone or something to blame.
            It’s weird to think back to that time, you know? It’s weird to think I had been friendly with J.B. during his final year. I’d like to think that his spirit lives on, but who really knows. One thing’s for certain, though: Jason, and what he said to me that day in Marine Biology, left me with an impression that will be with me for a long time – forever maybe.


Poem: "Like You Had Nothing Invested in Me"

Like you had nothing invested in me.
Like I was a vacant lot.
Like I was a taken man. 
Or a parking spot. 

Cool you were, observer-like,
Full of wonderment.
In awe of how my life went on,
As if we’d never spent 

The time we did, in places where
I kissed your mouth and grabbed your hair,
Moved you deep, as you moved me
In places where the eyes don’t see. 

As if this were the truth.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Poem: "That's Why It's the Heart"

That’s why it’s the heart
Because you don’t fucking know
This ain’t the fucking Internet
You don’t wear it like clothes. 
You don’t know it and won’t
Hold it or see
Examine it like 
Appraising a ring. 
It’s the fucking heart, you fool
Some kind of strategy
Some kind of fucking darkness
Some good old mystery. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Poem: "Why Do You Want to Kill Me?"

Why do you want to kill me?
 What did I do to you
 For you to murder me?
 For you to want me through?
 I hear the rain tap, tap my roof
 A soundtrack for my thoughts
 About the murder at your hands
 And all the damage wrought
 By actions took, a hangman's noose
 A whetted blade, a bat:
 The murder of myself by you
 No chance to run it back. 
 No chance but now to listen to
 The tap, tap, rain, tap, tap
 About a life that I once had
 The one I can't get back.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Poem "When Nostalgia Starts to Pull at Me"

When nostalgia starts to pull at me
And I question who I am
And I question how I got here 
And question all I am, 
I hope that you'll be thinking too 
Of who you are and we 
Feel the same sun on our face 
And feel the same soft breeze. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Poem: "Totally Lacking"

It was all charm and no substance
It was frigging nuts.
It was frigging Mickey Mouse
Or Donald Duck. 
All charm and no substance
Totally lacking guts.
Totally lacking substance
Totally lacking love. 

Poem: "Beautiful Bird"

There's a bird that perches on the roof of my apartment house and sings every morning. Even though I can't be sure that it's the same bird that's out there every day, I somehow feel like it is. At any rate, this bird's tune is wild. It's a really full tune, which goes all over the place -- it warbles here, warbles there, then hits all kinds of these high notes. This morning, still a bit sleepy, I had to close my window to dampen the tune, but normally, I love it. Anyway, I wrote the poem below about this bird and its song. Enjoy.

Beautiful bird
What are you saying? 
Are you praying? 
Or are you singing
Only for the love of it
Which sits on another branch?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Poem: "A Smile In"

In every picture
A smile in
You had
I swear.
I know.
In every picture, though. 

I don't know. 
In every picture, in every picture. 
I still don't know. 

But I will say
Your smile is a gift
Your smile is a light
Your smile rivals smiles of
The nicest smiles I
Have seen and I have seen a few
Beautiful and bright.
Your smile is a gift from God
Your smile is a light. 

Poem: "If We Have Dreams Like That"

If we have dreams like that than it
Makes only sense that they
Have dreams like that as well because
It takes a pair to play. 

If we have dreams like that than it
Makes only sense they too
Have dreams beyond the arc of what
A pair’s allowed to do. 

Taboo are dreams
That touch the seams
Of hearts that can’t expand
And can’t imagine life beyond
The edges of their hands.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Poem: "It's Static How They Live and Work"

It's static how they live and work
Practically alive 
They earn that cash 
With their nine-to-five
Static how they live their lives 
In line at lunch outside 
Life is passing by but they 
By such terms abide. 

I am one of them, I am 
But also something more 
The ocean is inside of me 
Some volcanic core 
Smoulders dark and angry like
A lover's heart it burns
Seasick with the motion yet
Boarding in a storm
A ship to ride the waves in rain
At night, at dusk or dawn
I’ll always be dynamic 
Never static, never bored. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Poem: "Bus"

You're exiting the front
Causing mayhem
A better plan, you should
Have thought about
Before you took
Your backwards route.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Poem: "When You Don't Read My Poems..."

When you don’t read my poems
I’m sad.
A day without your view
Definitely makes me un-glad. 

I might as well write letters to
The dead, I know, I see
Still, your view, honestly 
Means very much to me. 

I speak to you like someone dead
I’d love to tell you this…
When I’m in gift shops, too, I see
I see these little gifts

Gifts I know you’d like that go
With things you have, your stuff
Gifts I’d like to get you but
That’d be too much. 

So I write you here, I write you and
Am sad when you don’t see
The poems that I write, OK
This pretty, one-way speech. 

Poem: "What Do You Think About Before You Go to Sleep?"

What do you think about before you go to sleep?
What do you think about before you go to sleep?
I asked you first.
I asked you first like so many times.
But all I got were nursery rhymes
A cat’s cradle of truths and lies
Laughter canned and lame laugh lines. 
All I got were nursery rhymes.
What do you think about when you close your eyes?
A veritable world of beautiful dreams
I would have liked to have seen 
With you but I 
Was only given nursery rhymes.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Poem: "Your Menagerie of Lovers"

Am I just part of your menagerie of lovers?
Something formless like the sea?
Full of colors, lacking form, not logical or clean?
Am I just part of this menagerie you keep?
Undercover, under covers, cloak and dagger, dark and deep?
Diving in and out of it, your sad menagerie 
Disappearing acts until 
Oh, remember me? 
How funny is it that we here
Again each other see! 
You can keep your cloak and dagger and
Your sad menagerie.

Poem: "I've Resigned Myself"

I've resigned myself
Declined myself 
Accepted it and know
Some things are too entrenched, so I 
Best just let it go. 

Cause I've bind myself 
Entwined myself
And find myself each time 
Right back where I started, knelt 
At the starting line. 

Poem: "Beautiful with You"

Beautiful with you
Walking there.
Beautiful with you
Evening air.
Beautiful with you
Laugh and laugh
Hold my hand
Hold little back
Beautiful with you.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Poem: "When I Saw Them It Was Strange"

When I saw them it was strange
 She looked the same
 And looked at him
 The same way that she had
 The night they showed up there.

 You remember that night, right?
 After all that we had said
 When he entered there with her
 You barely nod your head.
 I asked you if you knew who
 She was and you said no
 But she looked at him intently
 I guess that's how it goes.

 But circle back to Monday
 When I saw the two again
 Drinking coffee, smoking and
 Sitting on a bench.
 He made eyes with me and then
 Looked away real quick
 But from his eyes I got a lot
 If you will, this "Blick."

Strange it was I have to say
The way she looked at him
Just like the night you saw him and 
Barely nod your head.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Poem: "Look at the Moon"

Look at the moon and choose a side. 
You see it high there in the sky? 
I know your heart, I know your mind. 
I know when temperate spring days come, 
You spend your time absorbing sun. 
But when the sun goes down at night, 
I know you fix your eyes up high. 
I know you watch the moon up there 
And even offer up some prayers. 
I know you do cause I do too.
So this is all I ask of you: 
Look at that moon and think of me 
And say a prayer or two, 
And in return I'll clasp my hands 
And say a prayer for you.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Poem: "If Only You"

If only you saw me in another way
In another environment
What would you say? 
In a staircase, in a field, let's say. 

You'd see me in another way. 

The everyday, it skews your view 
Of what you think you know or knew. 
You see me as a piece, all right 
Of some machine you do not like. 

But if you saw me new, alone 
Not downtown and not at home 
You'd see me in another way 
And then perhaps the dawn would break. 

Poem: "Starving for Love"

This one has a nice inherent melody to it. Enjoy.

Starving for love, starving for love
Starving for touch
Starving for hugs
Starving for lips
Pressed against mine
Starving for candles
Candles and wine
Starving for stars
Twinkling in eyes
Starving for love
Starving for life. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Poem: "Women Have Magical Feelings"

Women have magical feelings 
They can feel things magically. 
They can feel things that they feel and can
Feel things they can't see. 
Women know when you've said no 
They know when you've said yes. 
It's more than what they think, they know
It's more than just a guess. 
I presume it's like the wind through grass
This magic they possess 
Like how a mother bird just knows 
How to build a nest. 
Women have this feeling strong 
It comes from deep inside. 
Which makes it really hard to lie
And really hard to hide.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Poem: "We Know Each Other"

Longing, elonging, 
Longing, elonging, 
Contracted like a bug, 
These things called feelings, 
This thing called love. 
Longing, elonging, 
Wretched, wicked, hard. 
A-thief-in-the-night-like brutal and 
Leaving me with scars. 

But you, you...
You can go straight thru, 
Straight thru on the tube:
You need not even stop! 
Hop on at your home and then 
By your work hop off. 
Every day you ride the one 
That people take when they 
Want to leave this city, bye! 
Want to leave this place. 
Every day you take the one, 
It's near the spot we met. 
Remember what you said to me?
Remember what you said.
"Yes, we do," I'll say it here, 
I've got a place no other. 
We do in fact, we do in fact, 
In fact we know each other. 

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Poem: "The Moment Chooses Me"

I don't choose the moment
It chooses me
Swept away by rolling waves 
To the stillness of the sea 
Eyes shut tight 
Fingers crossed 
Allowing things to be 
Allowing things I can't control 
To wash and carry me
Into waves of waters warm 
Beneath the rolling sea
The moment I don’t choose, oh no
The moment chooses me. 

Poem: "Bloodless"

It seemed kind of bloodless to me
To me it seemed kind of bloodless 
Sure, it seemed to function 
As often do machines 
Bloodlessly, they move 
Churn and do their thing 
Bloodlessly machines 
Know what part to play 
But things don't have a heart
Can't feel, can't love, I pray 
You start to see these things 
As unfeeling as they are 
Only then you'll know what love is and
Get to know your heart. 

Friday, May 03, 2019

Poem: "Morning Dew"

Sometimes when I'm writing, I'm lucky enough to hit that sweet spot. This was one of those times, I think. I hope you enjoy the piece, too.

Another day
Another not you 
No morning honey or 
Morning dew.
Another empty letter box 
Nothing left to lose
No morning honey 
No morning dew. 

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Poem: "I Thought It Was Something"

"I thought it was something we were doing together."
I did too 
With you 
In any weather
Just name your price 
It's only right.

This one's warmer. 
This one's light. 
This one's sexy. 
This one's nice. 

"I thought it was something we were doing together."
I did too 
But black's not blue and blue's not white 
Just one chance and 
Just one life. 
Wisely choose
The one you'll have 
As I'm not sure 
They'll have it back. 

But, right, you thought it was something we were doing together 
In any weather, in any storm
Early evening, early morn'
Every night, before the dawn 
1, 2, 3, just you and me
Easy, easy, easy, wrong. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Poem: "The Great Beyond"

It's cool, yeah, but it's faint, yeah 
I don't feel it very hard.  
It's like looking high up in the sky 
And not seeing any stars. 
It's faint, hard, hard-hearted, but 
The life I have to live  
With my gut packed up, a kettle ball 
And memory like a sieve. 
It do not mean a thing, it don't, at least 
Not what I want 
Just looking for some answers from 
The friggin' great beyond.