Mortal Salt by Daniel R. Smith (Second Edition)


Karen Finneyfrock’s What Lot’s Wife Would’ve Said (If She Wasn’t a Pillar of Salt) is a moving poem that draws parallels between Lot’s flight from Sodom and Gomorrah and the on-going AIDs crisis circa 2011. In the hands of Daniel R. Smith this serious poem is recast as consumer parody. Replacing every word of an existing label, from the nutrition facts to the bar code, he repackaged store-bought, corporate salt canisters with Finneyfrock’s poem. The first edition of 100 canisters in sold out to collectors and institutions, including SF MoMA, Emory University, Yale University, University of Washington, and Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA). A second edition of Mortal Salt was created for a 2019 book arts exhibition at BIMA.



By Karen Finneyfrock

Do you remember when we met

in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless,

and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing

you, when we were young, and blushed with youth

like bruised fruit. Did we care, then,

what our neighbors did

in the dark?

When our first daughter was born

on the River Jordan, when our second

cracked her pink head from my body

like a promise, did we worry

what our friends might be

doing with their tongues?

What new crevices they found

to lick love into or strange flesh

to push pleasure from, when we

called them Sodomites then,

all we meant by it

was neighbor.

When the angels told us to run

from the city, I went with you,

but even the angels knew

that women always look back.  

Let me describe for you, Lot,

what your city looked like burning

since you never turned around to see it.

Sulfur ran its sticky fingers over the skin

of our countrymen. It smelled like burning hair

and rancid eggs. I watched as our friends pulled

chunks of brimstone from their faces. Is any form

of loving this indecent?

Cover your eyes tight

husband, until  you see stars, convince

yourself you are looking at Heaven.

Because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbors

are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.

I would say these things to you now, Lot,

but an Ocean has dried itself on my tongue.

So instead I will stand here, while my body blows itself

grain by grain back over the Land of Canaan.   

I will stand here

and I will watch you


Artist Bio

Daniel R. Smith is an artist, creative director, and curator of design projects in Seattle. A northwest native, he grew up on the Tulalip Reservation and later graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in both fine art and design. As a fine artist he’s exhibited at the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), Bumbershoot, Bellevue Art Museum and SOIL gallery. His work can be found in the permanent collections of Seattle City Light, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, MoPop, SF MoMA, Emory University, Yale University, and University of Washington. Deeply involved in the local design community, he spent a decade organizing a series of poster exhibitions for Seattle’s largest arts and culture festival, Bumbershoot, connecting his home to other cities internationally: The Seattle-Havana Poster Show (2007), The Seattle-Tehran Poster Show (2008), The Seattle-Moscow Poster Show (2009) and The Seattle-Havana-Tehran Poster Show (aka “The SHT Show,” 2015), and The Seattle-Istanbul Poster Show (2017). Sticking closer to home during the pandemic he created “the nanoforest,” a tiny slice of native plants in an inner-city parking spot, now a platform for photoshoots and more: Instagram @thenanoforest. More information at