Hunting Season & Hunting Safety

October 31, 2017 by

Dad wanted Mom to go rabbit hunting with him, but he only bought her a .410 shotgun. Dad thought of Mom as a city girl, so he didn’t feel comfortable having her hunting next to him with a 12 gauge. When Dad decided that I was old enough to go hunting, he had me use Mom’s .410 for rabbits and he bought me a single-shot .22 for squirrels. Dad was a safe hunter. He didn’t take unnecessary chances.

Bernie & Viola Smetzer

Mom & Dad

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A Beadie’s Daybook: Glass Birthday Bracelet in Pink & Aqua for Vera

October 9, 2017 by

 

Glass bracelet in pink and blue fastened, beadwork by Mike Smetzer

Vera’s Birthday Bracelet

It has been awhile since I have done any jewelry as I have been focused on writing. I was quite glad to get back to it.

This piece started out with a short string of cherry-blossom-pink beads that Vera liked. They are a bit lighter than the photo suggests. Since these beads have a medium tone, I looked for a similar tone in a contrasting color.

Both the pink and aqua beads have a “partly cloudy” internal structure that varies from transparent to opaque. The aqua pattern is more dynamic, swirling like clouds around a planet. The pink pattern is static, like cloudy masses in a liquid suspension. The roundness of the aqua beads and their smaller size also set them off from the larger oval shape of the pink beads.

Both the pink and aqua colors call for a silver-colored metal for the clasp rather than gold .

Glass Bracelet detail, beadwork by Mike Smetzer

Vera’s Birthday Bracelet detail

The result is an 8½-inch bracelet with platinum-plated spring-ring clasp. It is strung on satin-silver beading wire. The pink beads are Blue Moon cherry “quartz” puffed-oval glass beads 18 mm x 12 mm – 19 mm x 13 mm. The “translucent aqua” beads are lampworked glass, 11 x 8 mm – 12 x 10 mm. The aqua beads were selected from the roundest beads in three strands of highly variable puffed ovals.

Looking forward to more stringing soon.

Mike’s Tips for Tipplers

October 7, 2017 by

 

Lord Culvert Canadian’s 1.75 liter bottle is on sale again in Maine this month for $5 off. So here’s a simple idea every frugal tippler should try.

Get out your double shot glass and pour yourself a good one. Then you’ll need some Torani White Chocolate Sauce, available locally at Marden’s Surplus & Salvage for a very reasonable price. Add a long squirt of white chocolate sauce. Stir well. Delicious! Your Culvert will now have flavor and complexity you never believed possible.

And you can save big time by serving this home-made liqueur to the sweeties in your life. No more buying Baileys Irish Cream or Drambuie at rip-off prices! White Chocolate Culvert is just about the same thing. The classy guy will serve this drink after dinner.  Pour it into liqueur glasses and bring it in on a silver-plated tray from the kitchen.

Silver-plated trays are cheap and easy to find at Goodwill. Be sure to use intimate lighting so she won’t notice those spots where the base-metal shows through. The rest of the evening, my friend, is up to you.

Extra tip: You can make this liqueur as sweet and chocolaty as she likes!

An Unsettling Day at the Store

September 15, 2017 by

An unsettling day at the store. I was making jokes like usual, but no one was smiling. Like when you are reminiscing to you wife about some really fun thing the two of you did years ago. But she gets quiet and seems to be listening too closely. And you think, oh wait, who was I with?

 

Mike's Truck Starting a Long Decline - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Mike’s Truck Starting a Long Decline – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Immanence

August 23, 2017 by

 

Stillness announces
its approach

through the willows
in the marsh.

No mosquitoes.
No music of frogs.

Everywhere a listening.
Something is coming.

The tom cat sniffing
for kittens in the hay.

Grain dust rising
in the busy elevator.

Black clouds sprouting
silently on the horizon,

churning, building,
sickening with green.

Immanence is spreading
across our earth today. 

An unholy darkness is coming,
strong as a god.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Detail from "Moon Night" - acrylic painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Detail from “Moon Night” – acrylic painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Salamanders

August 20, 2017 by

 

When I was twelve I caught a spotted salamander
      in the yard
and took him in a jar to school.
When I appeared with him in science class,
the teacher stood above me at a loss.
“Why did you bring it here?  We’ve all seen
      salamanders.”
This hadn’t occurred to me.
Because it delighted me to have caught him,
I brought him.

 

First published in Cottonwood (formerly Cottonwood Review).

 

Discussion

I find one of the best ways to deal with the memory of an embarrassing or painful experience, is to write it into a poem. I have a lot of poems.

Below is a photo of my older sister Rose. As a teenager, Rosalee told my little sister and me that she had arrived on a space ship, which seemed about right to us. However, it appears she actually rode into our parents’ lives on a horse.

 

Rosalee Smetzer on a horse

Rosalee Smetzer on a horse

Rose and Granddad Smetzer

Rose and Granddad Smetzer

Bernie and Rosalee Smetzer

Dad and Rose

Mike, Rose and Jean Smetzer

Mike, Rose and Jean

Animals Hunting

August 18, 2017 by

 

In the supermarket animals are hunting
for eggs.
They are digging out potatoes
and fondling ripe melons.
Young pairs graze together down aisles.
An old female is poking the buns
while young hunters bring in peaches
and pile them in bins.
Animals carry food to the counter.
After sniffing and other rituals they pass
and hurry to dens with broccoli and
beef hearts.

  

First published in Kansas Quarterly.

 

Koi - photo by Mike Smetzer

Koi – photo by Mike Smetzer

Waiting Among the Dead

August 16, 2017 by

 

Every morning dead crawdads pile up at my door
like nestlings dropped from a tree
I shovel them into bags and carry them out back
For every day a new bag lining my alley
They stink through the fly-covered plastic
My neighbor Allen says eat them fresh

He comes and sits on my steps
We watch lines of ants searching the bleached grass
Allen scratches dying skin from his legs
and ants carry it away

All day the sun on cracked clay and hot steps
A dripping hose has drawn four-inch slugs
They lie around in the morning like dead moths
Allen says they are shell-less snails
Eat them French

The summer sun shines all day and on into the night
I walk the streets and feel the sweat blossom
like mushrooms above the band of my cap
I haven’t shaved or bathed, and my mouth tastes
like instant coffee
When I piss it is dark yellow and kills the leaves
Where I piss daily earth worms gather
pink and fishy white

I wear no sandals and refuse to wash my feet
As I lie in bed I can feel small insects moving
between my toes
Skunks gather at my door to eat the slugs and crawdads
In the morning they are dead
I shovel their corpses into bags for Allen’s alley

Allen dies eating crawdads in his garden
His wife returns my bags of corpses
They are overflowing my alley
All day I watch for rain
My nose cracks and bleeds
and my tongue is cloth

On Sunday I follow a crow to the graveyard
It calls to me from Allen’s stone
The grass around his grave is rich with green
At dusk a crawdad peeks out of his hole
Allen’s eyes shine up at me like rubies

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

An earlier version of this poem was first published in Tellus.

 

Discussion

This is an August poem from the decade I spent living with and without air conditioning in Kansas. It commemorates the dog days of summer and of my life. If you have never felt this way yourself, I salute you.

I think of it as the feeling Jimi Hendrix must have had when he wrote “I Don’t Live Today.” But with way too much sun instead of no sun coming in through the window.

“Oh, no. Oh, there ain’t no life nowhere.”

 

Detail from "Moon Night" - acrylic painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Detail from “Moon Night” – acrylic painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Pondering the Alt-Left

August 15, 2017 by

 

Yesterday an FB friend reported being yelled at by the alt-left for not being progressive enough. Her experience got me thinking.

Back in the 80’s I published an article in a little magazine that presented an argument for pornography. A politically correct friend of mine read it. He said he thought the author’s points were interesting, but he decided that he did not think the author was right and therefore the article should not have been published.

For me that illustrated the extent to which the “political correctness” of the 1970’s had become liberal fundamentalism. A concept that had begun with humor had turned into dogma. Political correctness developed the rigidity, intolerance and tunnel vision of any belief held from a fundamentalist mindset. Politically correct thinking worked just like conservative Baptist thinking. I don’t fully understand alt-left thinking, but it seems to be like that of The Westboro Baptist Church.

Thinking farther back, the 60’s were wonderful to live through because they had a richness of diversity and innovation. So did the early Christian church. Political and religious movements in their youth are like a slurry of just-mixed concrete, with its individual grains of sand and stones and lime. That slurry is then poured into molds. Fundamentalism is what you have after the concrete has set. It makes a great foundation for building an institution. But it cannot change or adapt. It remains fixed until it cracks or crumbles.

 

Mike's Truck Starting a Long Decline - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Mike’s Truck Starting a Long Decline – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

That’s All There Is

August 13, 2017 by

 

A row of fence posts
down the road.
You don’t see the man
who dug the holes
and planted the posts
and stretched the wire.
You don’t see him.
You just see posts going by
and the wire
and off in the distance
the sky.

 

First published in West Branch.

 

Minimalism in Writing and Art

Minimalism in writing and art focuses on a few key details and gives them a straightforward presentation. Such work is simple, stark and yet resonant, often implying more than is described or shown. Minimalism is rich, but not like a kaleidoscope is rich. It is rich in its simplicity, like the color of a gemstone or the light a single firefly in the night.

 

Bridge Superstructure - detail from photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Bridge Lines – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer