Recent Work By Bud Smith

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Nine

 

Hamlet wakes up in the underworld. He is up on stage. Act 1: Scene 1, Elsinore, the rampart walls of his familial Dutch castle, except something seems wrong. Part of the castle is made of plywood, and painted gray. Other parts of the castle are styrofoam molded to look like stone blocks.

Up above him on the rampart walls, he sees men dressed like Spartans because the wardrobe people are idiots. The guards hold spears, are keeping an eye out for Norway who is coming soon to kick everyone’s ass.

The guards address each other as Bernardo, Fernando, Marcellas, and Horatio, but Hamlet knows those men, and the guards are not those men. Hamlet thinks he’s dreaming. The imposter versions of Bernardo, Fernando, Marcellas, and Horatio, begin talking about a ghost they have seen. Hamlet climbs the stairs to join them on the rampart walls. Halfway up, he hears them say that the ghost that has visited them two nights in a row is Hamlet’s father, the recently slain King of the Danes. Okay, Hamlet thinks, I’ve heard this one before.

Beach Boys

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Eight

 

I was dreaming I was a Beach Boy, but now I’m home and I’ve given that up.

I can hear the state flag of New Jersey whipping in the wind against the face of this building.

Yesterday, I walked over to the public library and got a library card. I’m reading Hamlet, and a book about Hamlet written by Harold Bloom. And I’m finishing off a few letters I still have to send. Trying to run to the post office. You know how it is, you can be alive 111 years and there’re always more letters to send.  More people to thank for your life.


Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Seven

Most of the time when you see a piano you’re not allowed to play it, but you’re supposed to try, even if you don’t know how to play it. Or at least I’m asking you to, because I’d love to hear you play.

 

Watching William smoke a Marlboro Red on Cannery Row, looking out at Monterey Bay and the gulls going keekeekeeekeeekeee.

 

Then I woke up in Big Sur and heard the waves crashing on the rocks just outside the tent.

 

All these days, all these nights, a restless feeling, and never truly comfortable and always looking for peace. And maybe I’ll find it tomorrow. Oh I doubt it. Oh I don’t even want it.

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Six

 

Well, it was a bad idea to wait to try and write this in the car, while all these beautiful things are flashing by outside. The last thing I want to be doing is looking at my phone. I’ll do it for this hour, and then, as I promised my brother, William, we’ll switch and I’ll drive the rental car into the Grand Canyon.

 

Into the Grand Canyon. Yeah. I’m gonna drive this Nissan right into the Canyon.

 

We were just at a rest stop near Sedona and there was a big sign giving a history lesson about the white guy who found the Grand Canyon. First of all, imagine being the guy who thought he found that, think about him having to tell his friends, “I found this reallllllllly big canyon” and his friends going, “Nice, what are you going to call it?” and he says, “The Grand Canyon.”

 

America is funny like that. What’s this big mountain range called? “Rocky Mountains.” “Okay, I guess that’s good, let’s check and see if anyone else already is using it…wow …no one has. Rocky Mountains is available, I can’t believe it.”

Trees

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Five

 

“When Henry Hudson sailed up through the Narrows between Long and Staten Islands in 1609 and anchored in the upper bay almost opposite old Communipaw, and he looked over the surrounding country and, as his gaze fell upon the green plains and pleasantly wooded hills stretching away toward the setting sun, he declared his enthusiasm that it was ‘as pleasant a land as one need tread upon.'”

 

He was looking at Jersey City.

 

Pleasantly wooded hills stretching away towards the setting sun. Damn.

As pleasant a land as one need tread upon, he said.

Jane

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Four

 

My friend, the vampire, wanted to go to the vampire dance club in Newark, New Jersey. I said sure, even though I was not a vampire and didn’t dance. Turns out I was driving, too. That’s fine. There was nothing else going on. September, in my bayside town, one hour south. We climbed in my silver Mercury Cougar and drove north.

 

I met Jane at that vampire dance club. She was not a vampire either.

Butterfly

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Negative One

 

In the beginning, I got born. The doctor handed me to my mother and said good luck. I was crying. My father came in the room with a handlebar mustache, and my mother said good luck to him. Out the windows, specks of dead stars were falling out of the sky, landing in the ocean, hissing. Grandma and grandpa came by and said hello, good luck. The other grandma and grandpa came by and said there was no such thing as luck, don’t be superstitious. Shortly thereafter, they died.

Fish Hook

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Two

 

Your life is a house where you keep your memories. You built this house. Before you, and your memories, there was just a field here, with wild flowers and grass and bugs. You and your house and your memories displaced all of that, but it’s okay, when you die, the house will fall down and the rooms with your memories will collapse under the weight, and the wood that built the house will rot away and feed the ground, so grass and bugs and wild flowers return.

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-One

Read the first part of this story, “Birds,” right here.

 

The man from New Jersey is woken by gunshots in his apartment. He is lying on the living room couch, facing the buttoned sofa back, and here is another shot, behind him. He rolls off the couch and covers his face, cowering, “Stop.” His wife is standing in the doorway, tears streaming down her face. Out of bullets, she drops the gun on the floor. Down the hallway she flees; barricading herself in the blue room. She calls the police.

Birds

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Twenty

 

A bird flaps by, trapped inside the building. The man from New Jersey looks up, sees it land on the blue pipe where the gas comes in. A crow, big and fat. He puts his wrenches down and walks away from his coworkers who are busy calling each other cocksucker. The bird flies off again, circling over the vats and drums. He walks through white powder. The crow lands on the electric conduit and turns its eyes on him. He steps over to the door to the outside world. A sign on it reads: Door Must Remain Closed Building Is Pressurized. He enters the code, steps outside, through the doorway, and holds the door open so the bird can’t see he’s there. A minute later it flies past, takes its place in the sky. The man from New Jersey walks back to his job. They say to him, “Where’d you go, cocksucker?” He says, “I let that bird go.” “What bird?” They would never notice a bird.

Eggshells

By Bud Smith

Poetry

Good Luck: Episode Nineteen

 

Eggshells

 

walked to the postal box, across

from the liquor store, and the bank.

At the box I saw egg shells

on the concrete, and thought

“I’m no Inspector Clouseau

but it appears that someone

ate a hard boiled egg here

between the hours of 3am

and now, which is precisely 11:18 am”

and a voice, my own, asked

“Inspector, how can you be sure?”

and I answered, “It’s simple,

there are no raindrops within

the cup of those broken egg shells.

The killer must have peeled

and eaten the eggs after

the rain stopped.” “Killer?”

“Well yes, this is certainly

the deranged handiwork of a killer.”

I slipped your letter in the box.

Rewrite

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Eighteen

 

It was raining. I couldn’t leave work. The flash flood too deep to drive through, and I knew better. Another work emergency. Five of us in rain gear, hoods up over our hardhats, rubber booties stretched over steel-toed boots. (I don’t write specifics about my coworkers anymore, no names, no record of what they say or think—this after I was told it is unethical to write about people without letting them see it first before it’s printed.) Nameless, faceless, Us, in the storm, ripping apart an elephantine machine. Gears and pulleys. Its metal guts. Black grease smeared our yellow. Thunderstorms spinning around.

I got home in darkness, with wet socks and a headache. My usual routine was to write for a couple hours after work, but that now felt impossible. I’d go to the couch and dream till dinnertime. I opened the PO box, and a flash of lightning dimmed the lights of my building. Among the bills was a response from a publisher I’d sent a story to a year before. A purple post-it note said they were sorry to pass, but to please consider them again, the story had reached the later editorial rounds. They felt the characters and their resolutions didn’t feel earned, or true to life.

Block

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Seventeen

 

This paragraph was written on a cellphone at my day job. With all the mess, and the noise, and the constant humming and slamming of million pound machines. I’ve run out of things to say, which is unacceptable. Usually this place sounds like angels singing, but now the demons have begun to shriek.

Salad

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Sixteen

 

Rae said something. I couldn’t hear. 7th was too loud. She looked back over her shoulder to hear my answer, so I just said, “Yeah.”

Her hair was getting long again, curled up at the neckline. Each boot step clicked in a nice musical way.

She motioned for us to cross. The sidewalk got wider and it was okay to walk side by side with her, people had all the room in the world here.

The bars were packed with people. The restaurants had full tables. The jails were at max capacity too. The bookstores and churches were empty.

Suicide in Bed

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Fifteen

 

We’re watching the movie The Apartment. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. We’re watching it because I didn’t know what an apartment was. Didn’t I feel stupid when I found out I’d been living in one for 14 years.