WORK by Bud Smith

BUDWORK2

Oh I forgot to tell you. I had a memoir come out called WORK. Civil Coping Mechanisms put it out on September 18th. Gawd bless them. WORK is about my job working heavy construction, it’s about trying to love people, it’s about trying to make art while also working heavy construction and while also loving people.

The book has been described by reviewers as a nonlinear non-fiction novel. It jumps around in time and is kind of a greatest hits of my best anecdotes about my working life, and the good things and troubles that caused for me. Here is an excerpt.

page 70/ “The new job sends me for a drug test. I pass it. I shave my face. I look different. Younger, somehow. I go on a date with a girl who works in a ‘wild bird store’, as she vaguely explains it. Wild Birds Unlimited, it’s called. I’m high and laughing about that. Picturing these colorful birds flapping all crazy around the store, and her not laughing about it at the cash register. Then I’m bragging to her that I passed my drug test and how I’m officially a high school graduate, just got my diploma today, six years after graduation. I pull the diploma from my pocket. Unfold it. Look. She doesn’t laugh, but like I said, that’s her thing, not laughing. We have a one night stand in my pick up truck in the parking lot of St. Barnabas’ Catholic Church. It’s nice. A mutual decision to no longer continue. But I see her a few weeks later, I stop by her store because I want to see these wild birds she sells. Inside the store though, I find out that Wild Birds Unlimited only sells bird seed. Stacks of waxed paper sacks filled with safflower, millet, canary seed, hemp, thistle seed, corn, green split peas, sunflower seed, wheat, and milo. Ha, look at that. Not a single free-spirited wild bird trapped in a strip mall storefront, let’s celebrate. I get a phone call on the first day of autumn to go and weld at a chemical plant. I’ve lied to them about knowing how to weld. In hindsight, oh what a thing to say. I’m good on paper—in real life, I only know how to destroy stuff. But hey, just like you, I am trying so hard to learn some other more beautiful way.”

It’s available for purchase at Amazon and at Civil Coping Mechanisms

It’s also here at Goodreads

Here’s what some people have said about the book:

“Bud’s writing effortlessly weaves together anecdotes from his life or work into great art.”
—The Rumpus

“Bud Smith is one of the only writers I don’t mind hanging out with in real life. I’ve seen Bud Smith sober and I’ve seen Bud Smith drunk. He’s great either way.”
—Scott McClanahan, author of The Sarah Book

“Refreshing. Bud is a good one.”
—Otherppl with Brad Listi

“Bud is the happy prophet of the stupid world. He’s Walt Whitman only married and working at an oil refinery.”
—Kevin Maloney, author of Cult of Loretta

WORK is a portrait of Bud Smith’s years working construction. It’s about his hilarious blue-collar family. It’s about growing up in a campground in NJ, skipping college, and moving to NYC on a drunken whim. It’s about making art even if that means writing a novel during 1000 consecutive lunch breaks.

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91 Degrees and a Little Rented Boat 

the city empties out
and the lake is still full of swans that don’t travel
but mate for life and good for them
hell yeah, swans

I keep drinking grapefruit beers
in between paddling
around lilly pads
and you are a watermelon slice
that looks good in a swimsuit
and puts joy on me

you have a bag of chips, salt and vinegar
crunch and laugh and please live thirty years longer than me because you are tonic for this sick sad earth, you know that?

look over there, someone is sailing a toy ship
making ripples on the water, making the reflected clouds, wiggle
let’s go kill it with this blunt instrument

and did you know you’ve also been singing in your sleep, accusations flying that I’ve been fucking my best friend

this friend who’s beautiful and spits death out so it burns up in the holy atmosphere, this friend with bones made of precious metal and skin that drinks up the sunshine

and I am, I am fucking my best friend
and we don’t wear a condom because swans don’t either
hell yeah, swans

my friend sings in her sleep and we do it all ways, when she wakes up

we might even do it in this boat if we can find some shade

so put down the potato chips, and never mind the people of the city that fell out a hole and appeared somewhere cooler and it’s hot here, almost the Fourth of July
and you’re smiling like a criminal that remembered there is a happiness to rob from everything

I’m smiling too, slouched and charlie horsed, and trying to pop a stubborn button and unzip a jammed fly.

I think we are about to screw under the branches of a twisted tree leaning out over the green water

a tree about to fall in the next big storm

Isn’t that a poem?

Five Poems at Hobart but don’t tell anybody 

Hello 

Today I have five poems up on Hobart. One of the poems, “Postcard from the Corner Bodega” is from the book Dust Bunny City. The rest of them, I just cobbled together from my Twitter draft trash can folder. Yay. Thanks for reading. Don’t tell anyone about these poems, okay? I want it to be a big secret. Is that creepy? 

Dust Bunny City is Owwwt + New Stories

Hello, 
This morning when I got home from work, there was a car parked on the street outside my place and someone had stolen the rims, and with the rims, the tires on the rims. The car was balanced on a lone cinderblock. The lug nuts were scattered all on the road. Things happen so fast. 

My book Dust Bunny City just came out. Well it’s not just my book. It’s a book with Rae Buleri. It’s a novel in words and images. Words from me, line drawings from Rae. A paperback can be ordered from this link

There is a party in NYC next Sunday for the release of Dust Bunny City. You should come if you aren’t busy. 

Also, I forgot to tell you about a couple stories that came out because I’ve been on night shift and doing nothing but going to work and coming home and sleeping for a little bit and then going back to work . 

Everybody’s Darlin’ from Potluck Magazine  

Wolves – from Smokelong 

The Lost Girls – from WhiskeyPaper

3 Poems – from Drunk in a Midnight Choir

Thank you for being in this weird world with me. I’d be lonely without ya all. 

– Bud

 

 

For the Statue of Liberty

Every day I drive past the Statue of Liberty on my way to work. I pass by the Statue of Liberty on my way home. 

In the morning, in the darkness right before the sun comes up, the Statue of Liberty is lit up with a glow projected up, and that glow is one of the only things I can see through the blackened trees. 

In the evening, when I return home and the sun is just about to set, there is that amber glow of sunset hitting the buildings in NYC and hitting the Statue of Liberty, too. 

The whole world is a great big junkyard. America is a great big junkyard. Entire world is. Everywhere you look, every single country, a magnificent junkyard. Some of those junkyards have beaches or mountains or better art museums than others, some of those junkyards are dusty, some of them are hardly anything but lush jungle that humans can’t cut down fast enough. 

The reason America is my favorite junkyard, the junkyard I love best, is because of the Statue of Liberty. We have this idea that anybody can come to our junkyard and anybody can leave our junkyard. But every once in a while some dummy goes and messes up the Liberty part of the Statue of Liberty. 

Our junkyard might need a different statue, instead.

A statue for each town. The Statue of Xenophobia. Each town gets one. 

So then we can take our children to the center of town. Make it a custom. 4th birthday, take the kid to the center of town and explain the town’s Statue of Xenophobia. 

“This statue is here because everyone in this town should be afraid of everyone that lives outside of this town. Learn it now. Be afraid of everyone outside of this town.”

If that doesn’t work, how about a Statue of Xenophobia for individual blocks? 

Just the other day I was in Paris and looking at the Statue of Liberty replica that was put on an artificial island on the river Seine to protect their harbor. The Île aux Cygnes, the replica is called. 

The Statue of Liberty was of course a gift from the French, and placed at our Ellis Island to welcome immigrants. But hey guess what, we gave France back a replica of the same statue. A gift. 

How about that? There is another version of the Statue of Liberty and it is on the other side of the world. Just chillin’. It’s sitting on the river, and the sun hits it too.

A few days before I left for my trip to Paris I ran into someone I haven’t seen in a long time and while catching up, I mentioned I had my bags packed and was headed to Paris for the week to check it out with my wife. 

This is what they said, “Are you out of your mind? You can’t go over there? Isis! Terrorists are all over that place. World has changed.”

But the world hasn’t changed. Ever since civilization popped up, it’s been a series of junkyards closing in on each other. Some of the junkyards have better jazz than others, some of the junkyards you can get the best food you’ve ever eaten on any corner. Some of these junkyards, you can walk up a set of marble steps and learn anything about civilization you’d ever want to know. Other junkyards aren’t as well stocked. 

I believe in America and I believe in the Statue of Liberty. And as any student of the past will know, this country has done its fair share of severely screwing up in concern to people who aren’t white skinned, and well, looky looky here, we’re doing it again. 

Take your children to the center of town and explain, this town isn’t the end of the world. Point in any direction. Say, the world is vast, the world is sprawling. Do not be afraid of people beyond this town. This state. This country. This junkyard.

Go Cross Country Tomorow 

This here is a rough map of the USA. Most citizens do not even have the means to leave their own county for more than a couple hours. If you have the means, it’d be a nice thing to see your neighbors away from the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, the middle shore or the Gulf of Mexico … it’d be a nice thing to keep an eye on what America really is by traveling through America and talking to Americans, when you can, as you can, rather than always aiming for a resort in the Caribbean or equal to. 
“I am happy to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America”

Happy Birthday, Happy Veteran’s Day 

1 

Last night I walked down a cobblestone street in the city and as I was thinking about how long it’s been there and how during its cobblestone lifespan there’s been all the horrible bullshit that has happened to society and all the good things that have happened to society. 

By a stoop, I overheard a woman talking to another woman and she said, “That motherfucker deserves to be kicked in his tiny little balls and I want to be the one to do it!” 
A couple blocks up, there was an old man sitting on a bench waiting to get in a restaurant and he was hissing into a cellphone, and he too wants to fight the guy that’s supposed to be president. 

I wish for two things:

These cobblestones to never get paved over and for these beautifully combative, clear minded people to never leave New York. I love them so much. All of them.

2

Later in the night, I was sitting at a restaurant on the street last night and a man walked up on the sidewalk next to my table and was asking for money because he was a Marine and having a hard time. While I searched my pockets, he asked other people for help, all the while singing “From the halls of Montezuma! To the halls of Tripoli! …” and doing a little march, and generally and truthfully talking about his time in the service. I had no money in my jacket and no money in my pants.
Don’t you know it, there were all these rich assholes coming out of the hotel across the street, and goddamn you should have seen them looking right though this man, as he talked to them, it was like like he was a ghost. 
Found out that the birthday of the Marine Corps is the same day as my wife’s birthday. He told me that. Happy birthday USMC! Happy birthday Rae Buleri!
My wife was in the bathroom of the restaurant and when I couldn’t find even a dollar in my pocket for the Marine, I opened up her purse that was sitting by my feet and found some money, and I had to leave the table and walk down the street a little bit to catch the Marine, but I caught him on the corner talking to some people who were dressed up like they were going to the opera and on the way to the opera they weren’t in the mood to be held up by anyone who doesn’t have gold dust for blood. 
Had a talk with the Marine on the corner, shook his hand, thanked him for his service, gave him the money I robbed out of my wife’s purse on her birthday and the birthday of the Marine Corps. It wasn’t much money but he looked at it and said, “Damn man, you didn’t have to do that …”
We don’t have to do anything, ya know, technically.
When I got back to the table, my wife still wasn’t at the table, and when she came back we finished our meal, paid and walked over to the next place to celebrate the rest of her birthday. On the walk, a homeless man flagged her down and without missing a beat she gave him this huge sloshing handful of change that she keeps in her giant jacket so she can ride the bus from our apartment in jersey city to the path station that takes her into new york city.
I don’t know, I think there is so much goodness in this world and most of it we can’t even understand, or identify, let alone be empathetic with. It all comes down to people who sometimes can’t see beyond the immediate forcefield of their own life. I feel that way too much, caught up in my own bullshit and oblivious to what others are going through … but when someone comes walking down the street and sings, you have to hear that song.
Happy Veteran’s Day today. I’m off of work today. We switched President’s Day for Veteran’s Day as a holiday in our contract at work and I’ve never been more happy to think about that. Sitting in my apartment, thinking about my grandpa who in world war two worked in the shipyards, and from doing that work, he began my family’s line in the trade work that I do now. 
Saluting all you Veterans, thank you for fighting for a country I am thrilled to have been born into, because we have the right to do things like march en masse through the streets and voice our concerns about this that and the other thing. 
Nothing is perfect, except my wife, who when I mentioned I stole five bucks from her to give to the Marine, she looked upset I hadn’t been able to find any more money to rob from her to pass on.

New Book / New Stories 

Hello, 

I hope everyone is doing good. I’ve got some friends riding  out Hurricane Matthew in Florida, but it looks like they’re gonna be okay. Was worried about one friend in particular who lives in a punk house that is collapsing anyways on a blue sky day. Anyways, looks like Florida will keep on Florida-ing. Yuss! Punk House will live on. 

Heard some news last week. Civil Coping Mechnanisms (CCM) will be putting out my memoir/essay collection called Same Clothes As Yeaterday in June 2017. Excited about that. 

Also, today at Hobart, I have two pieces of flash, “Red Teeth” and “Do Ya Wanna Dance?” They’re here

It’s October and most everybody is happy that it’s hooded sweatshirt weather.  I’ve had some writing fall through the cracks lately and wanted to share a list here if you are in the mood. 

  •  Hobart published two short stories from my collection, coming in November (from Disorder Press) called Dustbunny City , read them here 
  • Hobart also ran a story of mine called Boss, about a man struggling with the ghost of Andre the Giant, read Boss here 

Thursday Night in Philly


Hi,

Thursday 9/29 I’ll be reading at Tattooed Mom’s in Philly. Would be cool to see you. Come say hello. 

Also, in November my wife and I have a book coming out called Dustbunny City. 

My Story “Boss” Published at Hobart 

Life is such a maze. It’s easy to get lost in the maze but most of the time you can get through the worst part of the maze by working together with other people passing through the maze. I wrote this story, Boss, thinking about the many people I’ve known in my life who have temporally gotten lost, depressed, pained, suicidal … I believe that people can actually help each other, and make a difference in each other’s life. Check in on your friends and family and neighbors. Make sure everyone is feeing good and if they aren’t, do what you can to help them along through the maze. 

Thank you!

Here’s my story Boss at Hobart