The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    Dear Funny Mr. Smith

    Terrible news to report this morning, fellow Daggers. Our dear friend Mr. Smith (Michael Tracy Smith) died yesterday, a day before his 66th birthday.

    As some of you may know, he suffered for many years with Spondylitis, a degenerative disease that fuses the spine. Through it all he kept his big heart and his delicious sense of humor.  He was a master of the art of Haiku and made his amazing haikus a regular Friday feature here at Dagblog, a gift for which we probably didn't thank him enough.


    This is a poem Michael wrote for other Spondy victims.  He worked tirelessly with the Spondylitis Association of America and they're mourning him today, as well:

    There is a moment, after they tell you,

    That you have an incurable, chronic degenerative disease,

    That you feel all alone,

    That you ARE all alone,

    That you are the only one that you know that has to deal with something so huge,

    so formidable, so difficult, so challenging and utterly life-changing.

    There is a moment, after they tell you, That everything will be okay,

    That you feel they are lying, that your life is now definitely and completely over,

    and that no-one understands or knows the full extent of what you have lost.

    We do. We who have what you have. We who've lost what you've lost.

    We who feel the pain that you feel. We who struggle with what you struggle with.

    We're fighting to keep our lives from becoming less than what we dreamed they would be before all this. And we're scared that we are losing the fight.

    We know. We know the fear of unknown disability and uncertain futures.

    We know how what you thought you were is no longer how you are.

    We know how hard life has become in more ways than anyone else can possibly know.

    We know. We are a miracle in your life.

    We are the vindication that you are not alone, that you are understood by someone.

    We are your reassurance that despite it all, you can make it through the difficult times.

    We are your mirror and your sounding board.

    We are your miracle.

    We are not alone, we are united in our understanding.

    We are each other's insistence that we can carry on, that giving up is not an option.

    We are each other's lesson that our lives still have worth and can continue on,

    striving to learn and then reaching out to teach, in an unending cycle of giving and receiving.

    When you sink into despair, and think the worst,

    We know. We have too.

    We know all the levels of Hell that there are to know.

    Just as you know them.

    We are your miracle.

    We will steady you, so you don't fall, help you learn to cope and shed real tears for your pain,

    which is the pain we, ourselves know all too well.

    There is a moment, sometimes long after they tell you that you have an incurable, chronic degenerative disease, that you come to know that you are still you and that despite it all,
    you are going to be all right.

    We are each other's miracle.


    Rest in peace, dear Michael. You will be missed.





    A beautiful soul
    Who moved us with golden words
    Has left forever

    Aaaah Jeeze, not yet noon and I cannot stop sobbing!

    I know how you feel, Richard.  Wish I had words of comfort.  His pain has left him.  That's all I've got.

    This gloomy morning

    The internet is lonely:

    Where is Mister Smith?

    A friendly stranger

    Has left us so suddenly

    My haiku is late

    Haiku up before

    you go-go, don't leave it hang-

    ing like a yo-yo.

    He was a remarkable observer and chronicler of life, beauty, emotion,  nature and why every one of us should appreciate each other and every single day we are blessed to be alive. Who could say they would ever forget him, or that his haikus did not make them smile, or give them a feeling of peace as you were drawn into his descriptions and thoughts? 

    Perhaps Dag could republish his work now and then on Fridays.

    That's a great idea, NCD.  I'm all for it.

    From what I read, this man was in pain every goddamn day!

    But he decided to live with it.

    And he chronicled it but he wrote about the better days and his better loves and his family of old.

    See, I am still sobbing.

    He taught me much!

    Thanks for letting me know.  Your message from FB rang through my phone. It scrolled across the top in tiny letters so I got on FB to read it. 

    Yes he was. He rarely ever mentioned it.

    I am going to miss him.  He was always a real dear to me. 

    I found out just after leaving my birthday message.  We almost ran into each other at Mike's reading--I wish we had.


    Fuck mortality.

    White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field


    Coming down out of the freezing sky
    with its depths of light,
    like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
    it was beautiful, and accurate,
    striking the snow and whatever was there
    with a force that left the imprint
    of the tips of its wings - five feet apart -
    and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
    and the indentation of what had been running
    through the white valleys of the snow -
    and then it rose, gracefully,
    and flew back to the frozen marshes
    to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
    in the blue shadows -
    so I thought:
    maybe death isn't darkness, after all,
    but so much light wrapping itself around us -
    as soft as feathers -
    that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
    and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
    and let ourselves be carried,
    as through the translucence of mica,
    to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
    that is nothing but light - scalding, aortal light -
    in which we are washed and washed
    out of our bones.

     ~  Mary Oliver
    Rest in peace and power, Mr. Smith.

    Thanks, Momoe. I was just about to include this. The link was broken for me earlier today.

    I'm so sad to read this. His posts were all sweetness and kindness and light. Thanks for writing and reposting this, Ramona

    RIP Mr. Smith. 

    I only knew him from here at dagblog. He seemed to be a gentle soul.


    Reposted on Mona's thread.



    How can this humor
    overcome such pain - haiku
    short-circuit despair?

    Anonymous poet
    playing for keeps while we were
    just having some fun

    Who reads poetry
    these days? an anachronism
    come to life, or death...

    Gallows humor, man! 
    our Penelope weaving
    and unweaving verse

    Putting off his end
    with charm, and grace and knowing,
    (and damn prolific).

    I never met you,
    dear Mr. Smith, but God speed -  
    do write when you can.

    - xxo, PP



     I guess we all take the bright lights in our lives for granted.  But I don't mean that in a negative way.  I think that another way to look at taking a person for granted is to say that you rely on them without fear or concern.  I knew about Michael's serious health issues, and I knew about his pain, but I admit I never thought about it as I read and thoroughly enjoyed his contributions here.

    I got into a funk a couple of years ago about the thought that I was going to die and would not be remembered long term.  After a while I got a perspective:  We all die.  Even the queen of England.  And although Elizabeth will be remembered in an historical way, the rest of us will be remembered for a while by the lives we touched, and that is a gift that goes both ways.

    Mr Smith touched so many of us who never even met him.  I will remember him, and miss him as so many of us will.  I am just glad he is no longer in pain.


    A stranger before

    His precisely penned musings

    Bid us all come in


    RIP MR. Smith

    So sad to hear that.

    He was Mr Smith

    Where the light became brighter

    Light bringer, writer...

    I wish his family, friends and fellow spondies strength in dealing with the tragic loss of such an iron-willed fighter in his 60's.

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