The Gospel of Thom Smit


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Adam was a short beast, with a thin line of hair down his back, like a mane.  Eve had a thin line of hair down her back; it was like a mane.


In those days, when you came into town, a stranger, you could always recognize Adam and Eve, because they were the only ones without navels.


The first writing was by Cain, who started by drawing funny pictures on his parents' bellies.  Their bellies were smooth, and had no navels.  Cain would ask them to lie back by the fire, and close their eyes, and he would draw.  When he was done, they would open their eyes and look at what he had drawn.


Once Cain drew an unheard of thing.  It was such a thing, that when God saw it, he let it stay on Eve's belly as a punishment.  God punished Eve for the evil sport she had fallen into.  It could not be washed away, but stayed on Eve's belly.  For they had fallen into an evil sport.




It was during the years in the wilderness.  Moses came down from Sinai and saw what Aaron had done in his absence.


And Moses said: "What is this you have done!"


Aaron said: "You know yourself what this people is like.  They said to me: 'Make us something to glitter in our heads.  This God who led us up from Egypt--we don't know what's become of him.'  So I said to them: 'Who of you is still shapely and comely?'  And they came to me and showed me, and I filmed them all.  Then I gathered the film and threw it into the fire.  And after awhile out came this calf."




Yahweh did not plant a garden in the plot behind DV-8, for nothing was planted there.  And the land of that plot stretched forth in mud and occasional sprouting weeds, and cigarette butts did scatter over the land.  And one could see the plot from the window by the urinal, and the plot did stretch forth under the dull glow of the streetlight.  And Yahweh saw that it was barren, and good for nothing.


In DV-8 did the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, and Arvadites come to drink their beer.  There did they gather to drink.


And Cathy and Niall did serve the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, Arkites, Sinites and Arvadites.  Them did they serve the beer that they drank.  And the Arkites, Amorites, Jebusites and Sinites did tip the bar.  But the Girgashites, Hivites and Arvadites did not tip her.


And Cathy did complain to Yahweh of the Girgashites, Hivites and Arvadites. 


And Cathy said: "Whence do they all come to me, to buy my drink and slobber on the wood, but never do they put a dollar in the glass?  How long shall I suffer the Girgashites, Hivites and Arvadites to buy my drink?  And when will they return to their lands?"


And she said: "The Arkites, Amorites, Jebusites, and Sinites do show right proportion.  For they spend freely on drink, and occasionally do they tip us who serve them the drink."


And Yahweh heard Cathy's complaint.  And Yahweh did bless the Arkites, Amorites, Jebusites, and Sinites.  But the others he did not bless.  And they did suffer grievous hangovers.


And John the Hittite did play the best music in DV-8.  And Wednesday night would he bring forth from his own collection, and he would play.  And the heavy notes of blues and deep solid guitar licks did fill the place.  And nowhere was to be heard the light dribbling piss of pop. 


And none dared rebuke John the Hittite for the music he did play.  For if one should rebuke him, John the Hittite would smite him.  For John the Hittite smote many a whiner in his youth.  And thus it is said: Many a whiner was smote by John, but rarely a man was smitten by the women in DV-8.


And the Hivites and Arvadites did play billiards in the basement of DV-8.  And the urinal did have a screen that pulled shut for the modesty of the Amorites.  But the Jebusites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites and Arvadites did have no modesty; and they did show forth their members freely to all who would look.


And one day it happened that Daniel the Arkite was found in the plot of barren land.  And he was upside down and sorely drunk.  And he did say: "Who hath put me thus in the plot of land, to be thus upside down and sorely drunk?  And to have thus mud and a cigarette butt on the side of my face.  Who hath done this deed to me?"  And no man did admit it, but all said that he had put himself in the plot of land, and was himself upside down there, having been put there by no man.


And Daniel the Arkite did curse the men of DV-8, saying: "The Arkites and Amorites and Sinites and Arvadites are gobshites.  How long shall I listen to their slobber over the wood, before I piss off from this place?"


And the men of DV-8 did openly mock at Daniel the Arkite.  For he did curse the Arkites among the others; but he himself was of the Arkites.


And one day did Niall the Sinite stride across the plot of barren land.  And under his foot did he tread the cigarette butts and the mud.  And the sprouting tufts did not set his heart mourning; but he did stride forth.


And Niall the Sinite did set forth from his homeland in DV-8.  And Yahweh considered it righteousness in him.  And Niall the Sinite with his brother Jason the Sinite did establish their seed in a new land, and the seed did flourish, and Yahweh considered it righteousness in them.


And the Flood did come.  And few were the heads of those that did peep above the water; but many were the heads of those that sank.  And mud was all over the place, and the Girgashites, Hivites, Gobshites and Arvadites did wail grievously unto Yahweh, but He paid them no heed.  As to the Arkites, Amorites, Jebusites, and Sinites, when the Flood did come they found themselves living in fifth floor apartments or higher, for Yahweh had seen to it that they should stay dry.


And Cathy did venture forth on the waters of the Flood.  And she did find herself adrift over the place of six ploughshares.  And lo, when the waters did recede, a pub was brought forth.  And Cathy did name that pub Bob Wun Daye, which being interpreted means No problem.  And the walls of that place were not hung with tattered banners, and the air there did not smell of locker rooms; neither did the Arkites, Amorites, Jebusites and Sinites slobber on the wood; but Yahweh did bless that place.



The Gospel of Thom Smit




Once upon a time was the Word.  And the Word was without form, and void.


In short, the Word was many words, and sometimes even things.


One could not tell the difference in any place, for all words and things were different; they were all different from each other, and they were even more different from the Word.  And the Word, in its turn, was different according to whom you asked, and in what words you asked.


What's more, all was such that one could not fix one's eyes on any thing, or fix one's ears on any word, and expect it even to stay the same as itself.


In short, all words were different from themselves, and all things were different from any words, and also from each other, and also from themselves.


Even one's eyes were different, the left one from the right, and either eye was certainly different, very different, from either ear; and the ears protruded from each side of the head: in short, they were very different.


Then Thom Smit was born.




And Thom Smit did grow to be a youth of fourteen years, and his virtue did show forth in many ways.


And the people were astonished by his words, for he spoke as one with wisdom, and not as one who watched TV.


Said he: "Just as our elders, weakened by years of compromise, submit to the presence of those they loathe, so do our melons soak the fouled waters of the plain, till they poison both themselves and those that partake of them." 


And: "Submit not to both these poisons.  Though you eat the melons to the skin, yet leave the elders to chew their own bitter rinds."


And Thom Smit did take ceramics class at the Pottery Barn of the strip mall as you drive into town from Monona.


And he did throw him many a mean pot.  And he did paint upon his pots designs and symbols, and the people did look at what he painted, and did say, "What hath this youth?" 


For they said: "This youth is not like others, but hath him a perversion of the head."


And the owner of the Pottery Barn in those days was named Chuck, and Chuck did keep the pots of Thom Smit in the back, lest other youths should see them, and lest they should speak of them unto their parents.  For on the pots were many things that youths should not see. 


And some of Thom Smit's pots did the owner break outright, pretending they had cracked in the kiln.  "For this one," sayeth Chuck unto his assistant, "this one is surely too much; I will not even fire this one."


And Thom Smit did suspect Chuck of thus breaking his pots, and spoke sorely unto him.


And Thom Smit did take him a can of maroon glaze, and did pour it into the drawer of Chuck's desk.


And the can was a large can, and did foul the books and papers in that desk, dripping even unto the floor.


And Thom Smit did break seventeen ceramic owls made by the ladies of St. James Lutheran.  And Chuck did see him do it, and did hear him speak bitter words as he did it.


And Thom Smit was no longer welcome at the Pottery Barn, but did take up tennis.


Said he: "Our world is all preprocessed, and full of fakes; fakes upon fakes.  The boredom of Formica covers all things here, even unto death."


And all of these things were when Thom Smit was still but a youth of fourteen years. 




And it came to pass as Thom Smit was a young man that he went forth like many of his generation to work as a barista. 


And this work was as he was a student at the university in the town of Madison; and the caf in the which he did work was near upon the university, and was often filled with people.


And the people of the caf were of many sorts. 


And Thom Smit did work next to the scribe of that place, and he did serve forth the drinks unto the people.


And the prophet of that place in those days was named Cosmo di Madison.  And Cosmo di Madison did preach the word of the Lord unto the people there.  But the people heeded him not.


And Cosmo di Madison did resent the presence of Thom Smit at the espresso machine, and did make him out to be a servant of Belial.


And Cosmo di Madison complained sorely to the scribe of that place, and spoke many bitter words. 


And the scribe of that place recorded the words of Cosmo di Madison, for in those days did he note down all his words.


And it came to pass when Thom Smit heard the words against him, that he did say unto Comso di Madison, and he said it unto his face: "A prophet art thou not, but art rather a paranoid schizophrenic." 


And: "The symptoms are obvious upon you, O Cosmo di Madison, and all do know it.  Thou art one who barkest at the moon.  Woof woof!" 


And Cosmo di Madison did not suffer the words of Thom Smit in silence, but did rail against him to all that would hear.


And Cosmo di Madison would drink no drink made by his hands, but did speak of such drinks as having a poison in them.


And one day Thom Smit did say unto Cosmo di Madison: "Today it seemeth you have not taken your medicine, O great prophet, and so it is that you speak forth loudly your prophecies, and the people heed you not." 


And: "Today I have a hangover, O prophet, and care not to hear you.  So get you hence through the door, or pay for your coffee like the others.  If you cannot pay, so must you go hence to the street.  For today I have a hangover, O prophet, and care not to hear your prophecies."


And upon hearing these words a rage did come upon Cosmo di Madison, and he did complain ever more sorely of Thom Smit, and did attribute to him many conspiracies and sundry larcenies. 


And the scribe did write down all his words, for in those days did he write down all the words that the prophet did say.




From the Scribe's Journals:


Thom Smit--to think he is a student of engineering!  He's blonde and small, of muscular build.  He's a great reader of Gilles Deleuze, and considers himself a Nietzschean.  It's lucky for me he's at the caf.  He's proving an excellent foil for Cosmo di Madison.  I've recently got him reading Rabelais. --May, 1992


Cosmo di Madison now recognizes in Thom Smit a nemesis worthy of the swiftest action. That I'm responsible for his being hired at the caf is generally known, and I confess it openly.  I should have seen the man's character for what it was.  Needless to say, Cosmo di Madison has forgiven this lapse on my part, pointing out that Pseudo-Sergeant Major Smit is obviously a professional and had been trained by Kissinger's people specifically to pull the wool over my eyes.  Cosmo di Madison himself was almost taken in.  "At first I thought he was just a loser like all the other losers.  But it's worse than that. He's a fucking imposter--ya hear me?" --July, 1992


Remarks of Cosmo di Madison on Thom Smit:


1. "That useless fucking bastard calls himself a fucking lieutenant major, but he's just a fucking high school dropout drug addict who couldn't tell his ass from a hole in the ground if his life depended on it."


2. "How many customers do you think that fucking punk is gonna short change before Mark [the owner] wises up and fires him?"


3. "You know he's got his finger in the till and he's supplying all the barbiturates to Craig and Monkey Butt.  Kissinger's got him working the joint to make sure they do their job and try to drug me every fucking chance they get.  I wasn't born yesterday what do you think!  Pssh!  That fucking Craig has been selling the barbiturates on the side too.... Oh, don't act so surprised!  You know it goes on."


4. "Mark needs to spend more time in his shop.  I got enough stuff to do keeping the customers clean.  If Kissinger buys out your staff, this place is finished, ya hear me?  I won't come back.  Ya hear me?  You just see what'll go down then.  Mark will wish he never even heard of this town.  Ya hear me?"


[The scribe's writing of the deeds and sayings of Cosmo d Madison is at: ]




And soon after these things had come to pass, behold it did happen that the spirit of the Lord came upon Thom Smit, and he began to speak in parables. 


And all at the caf did wonder upon it, and did say, "What hath Thom Smit, that he speakest thusly?"


And he did leave his work at the caf, and ceased from his study at the university. 


And Thom Smit went forth to preach unto the people like Cosmo di Madison, for the spirit of the Lord had moved him. 


And Thom Smit did wander the streets on the west side of Madison, whereas Cosmo di Madison did preach in the downtown. 


And Thom Smit preached the word unto the people of the west side, as you head out of town toward Monona.  And the people heeded him not.


And thus it was that the people said amongst themselves: "Is Thom Smit also one of the prophets?"  And these words are as a proverb even unto this day.




And Thom Smit built his house on sandy ground, and sowed his seed upon the rocky wayside, and combed his hair with a goblet.


And he took a fox for a mango, and made of it a hairy puree.


And many did laugh at him, and said: "Thom Smit does not know his ass from a hole in the ground."


And they said: "Thom Smit could not find his ass with both hands."


But verily it was said unto them, and it was said by Thom Smit: "A day shall come to pass when none shall be able to tell their ass from a hole in the ground.  And then shall a great wailing be heard."


And he said: "Only those who from the very beginning could not tell their asses from holes in the ground--only such as these shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  All others shall be cast out, and their asses shall be grass, and they will know not if they have been turned into a golf course, or what.  Boy, will there be wailing then."


And he said: "Those who mistake their asses for a wheelbarrow shall inherit the earth."


And he said: "Blessed are they who try to catch flies in their mouth. Blessed are they who would rather hang out in a juice bar than flay the fox with the big boys."


And he said: "My father is a colonel and I am a sergeant major.  My father could thrash all your male relatives with his left hand if he wanted.  My father has forty-seven Cadillacs."


But the people heard him not, and they sent him packing from their patio parties; and their daughters did tend to throw garbage at the back of his head.


But verily, reader, can you tell your ass from a hole in the ground even now?




I. The eggs are white and have a yellow center.

     I am white and have a black center.

     My wife is ivory with an unknown center, perhaps red.

     Our guest is light yellow, or olive, with a center of pure white.

     Christ said: "My yolk is light."

     Yes, but light what?

     Valentinus: "Of a very light color indeed!  Like a shimmering peach."


II. The first egg I crack has two yolks connected by a bloody umbilical to the clear mucous membrane surrounding them.  The crystal sphere.







Original sin, the fruit of the Fall, is not passed on through blood or the soul, but through language.


The fallen world is the object of language. 


It follows that our being in language is our being in sin.  This does not mean that we can live other than in language, but rather means that we must live in language so as least to miss the mark. 


The poet comes before the scribe.  The poet's work is revelation of the divine.  The poet allows us to live in language so that we may least miss the mark.  The poet forms language so that it is the closest to nonlanguage. 


The poet makes use of, and perfects, those elements in language that are not of language. 


There is a possible accumulation in language, a materiality, a hard rhythm at the heart of language heard best by the poet.  The poet follows this rhythm until language breaks and cracks, having reached the top or bottom, the left or right, the backwards or forwards, the inside or outside, the temple or frontier of its range. 




The scribe loves all that is getting out of hand.  He loves such because he knows, given the tininess of his own hands, that everything has already gotten out of hand. 


"Everything has gotten out of hand!" says the scribe with pleasure. 


And being that everything is thus begotten, the scribe knows it to be most recognizable in its thus-begottenness when it is not merely known to have gotten out of hand, but is felt to be always and ever becoming out of hand. 


"Hell!  Best for it to be gloriously becoming so!"--that is what the scribe says. 


In fact the scribe knows his hands to be so tiny that the only thing they can really grasp is the stylus.  And the scribe grasps this stylus scriptively, which is to say in a manner that pays homage to the getting there of all that is way out of hand, but not only in a manner that pays homage, but in a manner also that is no manner, but is instead way out of hand. 


The scribe, then, holds the stylus in his tiny hand, but knows that what the stylus leaves, the marks the stylus leaves, are already out of hand the moment they are left, are left as it were in homage to the loveliness of their getting out of hand, and are also in their very leaving left out of hand.


From this you can see that the scribe is in no man's hand.  He is hardly a hired hand.  That he kept grain accounts--don't believe it.  Rather heaped he grain round Pharaohs conscripted.  And will!


The scribe loves all that is getting out of hand.




God formed man of the clay of the ground and then breathed into him the breath of life.  The clay of the ground as material and the breathing in of the breath of life: these have been the focus of most concern in our literature and speculation.  And the question of what the breath of life may be has been recurrent.  But the question of the forming, the verb forming, hasn't raised our attention in the right way.  And yet everyone knows--the Sumerians and Babylonians knew--that the pressing of marks into the clay was the crucial part of this forming.  It was the pressing of marks, the right marks, that gave the clay the dignity needed for its reception of the breath of life.


The clay as result of this writing is clay that may receive the breath of life if only this breath be given it.









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