By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Thirteen


First I want to say, art is done in a small room to make it big. Then I want to say, you’re going to die, you’ll need a distraction. Then I want to also say, art eats a gigantic thing with its many rows of teeny tiny teeth.


By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Twelve


[What follows is a transcript of a talk by Bud Smith given at McNally Jackson Books in NYC on Saturday, January 19th, 2019]


I didn’t know what I was going to say here tonight. I thought maybe I would read something, a story. I don’t know. I usually have my shit together.

For a while there, I was a wild goose about it, got nervous, couldn’t sleep. So I got out of bed and walked into the living room, asked for advice.

Someone on Reddit suggested I read y’all “The Swimmer by John Cheever. A famous short story. I didn’t know it, and it wasn’t available online. So I killed time, looked outside, where the night slipped into morning, blackness shifting into shades of rose and tangerine. That old familiar blue of morning, blooming.

Rae got up, asked if I was all right. Her purple pajamas became a black dress. She went to work. I walked over to the public library. They had John Cheever’s Collected Stories. That big red book. So I sat down by the Pepsi machine and read “The Swimmer.” A sad story about a man who drinks his life away, develops psychosis in the suburbs. I figured nobody at this city folk reading would even know what the suburbs were. So nevermind, “The Swimmer.”


By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Eleven


Our cacti can’t stand on their own anymore. We’ve braced them with toothpicks. I was gifted a ceramic lemon and a resin flamingo leaning left. They’re here on my bamboo desk in the pink room. I live here. She lives here. Friends sometimes live here. Come live here.


By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Ten

Driving through the night. A dark road. Melissa was in the backseat, holding my friend’s hand. I was up in the passenger seat, newly low. She’d stopped fucking me, now they were fucking. I mean it was more than that. They were in love. Me and her were out of love. A song came on the radio. “My Best Friend’s Girl” by the Cars. The driver turned it up. I can’t quite remember who was driving. I just know it wasn’t me. Those two lovebirds in the back started laughing. The driver laughed. I laughed too. I’m still laughing.

You’re born absolutely helpless. And then you’re alive awhile and you don’t think about how helpless you are. Then you get old and you turn back into a baby.

Public Defender

By Corey Burns


Law school doesn’t prepare you for the day-to-day practice of law, especially if you’re a public defender. Realizing this was actually kind of a relief for me because I spent all of law school on academic probation and graduated last in my class.  I mean, all you read in criminal procedure classes are these cases where the cops forgot to read someone their rights or did an illegal search, so a lawyer got his client off. You develop an expectation that cops screw shit up a lot. The reality is, those cases are pretty rare, which is what makes them famous cases. The cops don’t make the same mistake twice. So, all the stuff I was supposed to have learned turned out to be kind of useless.


By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Nine

Just a quiet Sunday when you don’t care. Leave the bedroom, 8am. Go out to the couch, read for awhile. Two books, a novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell, and a small blue book analyzing dreams. I can’t remember my last dream. In the novel, the narrator is an old man, and can’t quite recall what he is trying to say about Illinois, 1922. I put the paperback down and look out my window. Jersey City, 2019.

Blue Skies

By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Eight

Two days before the end, it’s warm and the sky is deep blue and the clouds roll slowly by. My coworker climbs up on a flatbed truck and lies down and looks up at that blue sky and those clouds rolling by. “Hey Bud, you know what my resolution is going to be?”

“What’s it gonna be?”

“I’m resolving to look up at the clouds more often. When was the last time you did that?”

“That’s all I really do,” I say.

“Well, I guess you’re blessed.”

Oblique Strategies

By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Seven

In July of 1975, Brian Eno entered Island Studios to record his third album, Another Green World. He had no ideas whatsoever, having largely abandoned traditional songwriting, and now coming into bloom as an artist playing the studio.’ He carried with him a deck of cards called Oblique Strategies.


By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Six

Five of us were packed in the work truck listening to a wacky morning DJ tell a story about a man who dug a tunnel from his basement to the bar down the block.

His wife didn’t want him drinking. He used the tunnel in secret to get drunk while she slept. The DJ went har har har har har, and shook a noisemaker.

Pat said, “She was right to ban him from drinking, he had a problem if he had to dig a tunnel.”

“And she must have had a problem too if she didn’t even notice her husband was digging an escape tunnel.”

The story was a hoax. But so are most stories. Especially stories involving tunnels.


By Bud Smith



Good Luck: Episode Five

While I was getting my haircut, the bell jangled, the door opened, a woman’s sweet voice said, “Hello. Will you shave my daughter’s head?”

The barber closest to the door turned and looked. He considered it. “Maybe. How old is she?” He was Yugoslavian. I liked the way he spoke.  

The rest of us looked—myself, my short barber, the man getting the fade in the other chair. We turned our heads in perfect synch to see an Indian woman in a lavender coat holding the hand of a toddler.

First Memory

By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Four

My first memory which I can place in time is my fourth birthday party. My dad took me for a drive in his midnight blue Ford Mustang so my mom and her sisters could decorate the house for my surprise party. He took me to Roy Rogers and I got a chicken sandwich and a black cherry fountain soda. The soda slipped through my fingers and spilled all over my white OshKosh B’gosh corduroy pants, making a red lake on the seat and then the carpet at my feet. I don’t remember getting yelled at for that. It was my birthday. He loved me.

Later, at the house, in my pink pants, everybody jumped out and yelled, “Surprise! Happy Birthday!” One of the gifts I got was a plastic sword from Thundercats. The sword, when held up high, said, “Thunder Thunder Thundercats Ho!” Just a few days after I got that sword, my babysitter’s little brother heaved it onto their roof and the sword was gone. I never ratted him out about it. But I guess I am now.


By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Three

My friend died laughing on the telephone. He laughed so hard his heart stopped.

It doesn’t sound real. It sounds like something a person puts in a short story and it bothers the reader because it’s so unbelievable. But this was real life. My friend died laughing on the telephone.

It was late in the evening. He was clicking around the internet. A lot of his friends lived in his computer. He was always saying hello.

A direct message came in to his Facebook from a person saying they were the dean of Harvard. Harvard needed money. Help Harvard. Go over to the Western Union right away and wire money to help save Harvard.

And every other word was misspelled. And the person pretending to be the dean of Harvard had no grasp of grammar. So my friend started playing around with the scammer and the messages from the scammer got threatening, and god, could anything be funnier?

Turkey Baby

By Bud Smith



Good Luck: Episode Two

I’m a turkey baby. That’s what mom says. I’m her turkey baby. I was her turkey baby and I am still her turkey baby.

It was snowing. We stopped welding on the million pound bomb. I left work. The turnpike was all jammed up. I battled my way to the spur, and past the tollbooth, onto Christopher Columbus Blvd.

Now I was almost home, but dead stopped in snowy gridlock traffic and saw no end in sight, so I parked on the side of the road and walked half a mile to a bar with a fireplace raging and the lights otherwise off.

I had a happy hour whiskey. And then another. The fire felt really good. The car was illegally parked. Every minute was illegal. Every sip was illegal. I texted a friend in Ireland, he messaged that my night sounded like a John Cheever story. I knew one John Cheever story, a drunken man stops and swims in every neighborhood pool on his way home. I agreed, Yes, I was swimming home too.


By Bud Smith



Good Luck: Episode One

I stood and watched a man in a blue suit stare into the window of a shop that only sold popsicles. He stared for a long time. He kept staring and I said, “Do it, man. Get yourself a popsicle.” But he couldn’t hear me. I was all the way over here leaning against the brick wall on the other side of Bleecker Street and the wind ripped and sent a newspaper slapping into me. I laughed, kicked it away.

The man in the blue suit changed his stance and peered closer. His breath fogging the window. It was such a cold day. I was shivering. Part of my problem with shivering was that I didn’t own a coat anymore. I’d gotten too fat for my coat three years before, maybe four years before and I refused to buy another coat. That coat was supposed to last the rest of my life. That had been the deal.

Maybe I’d change my life or something.

Long Beach, California.

Out on the ocean on a small boat that can only hold twelve of us, we put my grandmother’s ashes in the ocean.

Speakers on the boat play music.

Cat Stevens, “Don’t Be Shy”.

It’s strange to see my grandmother in this new form.

She’s scattered.

And there are flower petals that float around her.

And the waves created by the boat spread the petals farther and farther away but there are some petals that cling to the ash.

And then Tom Jones sings “She’s a Lady”.

And my grandfather almost falls out of the boat and when he regains his balance he says, “We almost had a double feature.”

And then a few hours later, my parents and my sister and Ashleigh drive me from Long Beach to Los Angeles so that I can be interviewed by a man named Brad who interviews writers in a nice garage.

I’m going to talk about a book of poems I wrote a year ago when I was suicidal and heartbroken.

I’m fine now, but no one is fine forever, so I’ll be sad again.

I’ll be suicidal again.

And then I’ll be happy again.

And one day I’ll die.

And maybe I’ll be happy when I die.

Or maybe I’ll be sad.

But either way, I’ll die.

I won’t live forever.

And then I’ll be dead.

And that’s okay.