Once upon a time there was an unimportant poet by the name of Schmo. Schmo lived in downtown San Francisco, where he edited and published a soft-core newspaper, which featured nude cutouts and garbled words, which proclaimed itself to be poetry. This was designed to fool tourists into thinking they were buying smut, when in reality they were getting garbled words disguised as poetry. In short, Huckster Schmo knew the way to go.
Schmo dreamed of making it big in the literary world. Each day he would get up at five in the morning and deliver his papers to the newsstands located throughout the city in the hope that someday he would become famous. Schmo published his friends in the hope that someday they would be in a position to publish him. He also published those who were not his friends in the hope that someday they would become his friend.
Schmo maintained a karma scorecard for recording the names of the persons who had not or would not publish his work. He vowed that some day these people would suffer the karma consequences of their dastardly deeds.
Schmo liked LSD. In fact using LSD was the only way Schmo could write poetry, although few people who read his poetry could understand what it was that he was saying.
Schmo once paid a week's salary to be the featured reader at a local poetry event, sponsored by his side kick, Tommy Blackbird, a baby-faced wannabe Beat poet, only to be interrupted by a young man in the back of the room, who kept shouting: BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT. The crowd, much to Schmo's dismay, began to take up the chant, which grew in its intensity: The cries of Bullshit Bullshit soon filled the auditorium. Schmo was caught completely off guard and didn't know what to do, so he simply kept reading his bullshit poems to the cries: BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT! This is how Schmo got the name Bullshit Schmo.
It was a distraught and angry Schmo who went back to his world of ass kissing and stamp licking. Schmo did this for many years, but no one would publish his work, not even his closest friends. It was around this time that Schmo began to put LSD on the glue side of stamps, and declared himself the unofficial Karma King of San Francisco.
Acting on the advice of one of his Hippie admirers, Schmo revived an old Beatnik magazine, Beat Treats. But Schmo's Marxist friends were not happy with him. They wanted the magazine named after them. After much deliberation, Schmo came up with a plan to become famous and appointed himself the head of the thirty-third San Francisco International Poetry Festival. Poets from as far away as the Aleutian Islands were invited to participate. It was around this time that I ran into Schmo in downtown San Francisco.
"Schmo, I asked, am I going to read at the festival?
" No, Schmo said. His voice was gruff, not unlike the great Tibetan Buddha.
"Why, may I ask?
"You dare to ask me why not? Remember two years ago when I sent you some of my poems and you rejected them?
And what did the note say.
"It said that you were broke and had to suspend the publication of your magazine."
" Don't you see? " Schmo asked. " It's your karma coming back at you. I only do things for people who can do things for me in return. Your karma doesn't fit into the cosmic rays of the galaxy. Your psyche is out of tune with the universe. I don't have time to talk to people who don't have the means to help me."
Isn't that bad karma? " I challenged him.
"Bad karma. You think that is bad karma? I'm going to form an army of poets, design a black flag, and march down Broadway and Columbus. God help anyone who gets in our way.
" Ummmmmmmm, I said.
" That's good," Schmo said, hopping up and down on his right foot. " Now you're communicating on a higher plain, but I'm afraid it's too late. My karma scorecard is already made out and you're not in the lineup."
" Maybe you could use me as a pinch hitter? I suggested.
" Impossible, he said. " It's simply out of the question. It's far too late in the game for that."
"You could always bump Michael McClure.
"Bump McClure, Schmo raged. " McClure is the center of the universe. He is the meat of life. He is the star under which the cosmic karma revolves."
" Well, I broke in. " I certainly wouldn't want to disturb something like that. I didn't know. You have my apologies."
"It's your karma, Schmo fumed. He shifted his hopping from one foot to the other.
"Your karma is out of line with the magnetic force. Schmo continued.
"Maybe you could bump Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I said.
I'd really like to be part of the reading. It would mean a lot to my mother."
"Your mother? You dare to mention your mother? Ferlinghetti is the mother of the universe. We're part of a team. Part of a universal scheme.
"Is their room for God in your universe?" I asked. What about Jesus?"
"I have no time for those two losers, Schmo sputtered. He stopped jumping up and down, and began doing windmills.
"What did those two jerks ever do for me?" Schmo continued.
"Look, not to change the subject, but about the festival."
"You just don't understand, do you? " Schmo said.
"It's like that time when the stuff turned blue in the spoon."
"Janice Blue. Buffalo Stew. The Harvard Crew." Schmo muttered between clenched teeth. "Don't get me off the track. It was the Dutch cleanser in the drawer that did the trick. East of Candlestick. I got my piece and fled to higher ground. Came back with three crew cuts, five grams, and two empty rounds from a Smith and Wesson. Ah those were the days."
Is that from a new poem of yours, II asked?
"Dumdumdumdum, he scolded.
"Are you sure you're feeling well enough to run the festival, I asked?
"There are fifty million Hindus searching for their karma. Schmo giggled. "And I'm not going to tell them there where it is at.
By now Tommy Blackbird, who had joined him, was tugging at his arm sleeve.
"Youre talking crazy, " he whispered.
"Dumdumdum," he replied.
That was the last time I saw the would-be poet Schmo or his side kick Tommy Blackbird, though he did write me a letter shortly after the festival was over. It simply read:
"Hermetic Solipism Meglowmanrig Ring."
-- D. Schmo
It was postmarked from Mendocino. They used to have a State Hospital nearby. I think maybe Schmo might have found himself a caretaker's job there.
A. D. Winans is a native San Francisco poet, writer and photographer. He is the author of over 45 books and chapbooks of poetry and prose. His work has appeared internationally. Winner of a 2006 PEN National Josephine Miles Literary Excellence Award. Presa Press has just released a book of his Selected Poems: The Other Side Of Broadway: Selected Poems: 1965-2005.
(C)opyright 2007 A.D. Winans All Rights ReservedSend us your comments on this article