Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blood Brothers


image from mintpressnews.com


Blood Brothers

“Love is not enough, but it is the rock on which 
all else stands.”--Nora Roberts (Blood Brothers)

A dozen years ago, while working
    for the VA, I applied for “Sensitivity Training”
              to assist in helping Native American veterans,
                    and got accepted. We were given a full week off
              & were allowed to stay at Camp Chaparral up at
    the Yakima Indian Reservation. My wife drove
me up to the Seattle Va Hospital, where
I transferred my duffel bags to government
vans.                         It’s 130 miles, over the pass into Central
                         Washington, to Yakima. The reservation
                      is southeast of there, outside of White
                  Horse. We met up with ten other vans,
               sent from several other VA facilities
            all over Washington state. We left
         in the late afternoon, a dozen white
vans in a caravan rolling up thick
white dust for the 25 mile run up
to the camp, due west to the slopes
of Mt. Adams, deep in the pine forest.

That week was remarkable,
eye-opening & informative,
as we listened to Indian veterans
talk about their difficulties after
Viet Nam & service in Iraq and
Afghanistan, problems with PTSD,
alcoholism, suicide, & sustaining
any semblance of a family life. 
                          
I bunked in the Crow’s Nest cabin, hosted by Bob Crow, John
Runningfox, and Harold Bearpaw. During those lovely autumn
days, we attended classes, did nature hikes, tried out the sweat
lodge, & I learned about making Indian art. My talent for drawing
was re-invigorated, & I drew many sketches, giving them away
to tribe members. I met a fellow civil servant, Paul, who was an 
artist, & he loaned me art supplies. On the last day they held a
talent show, I got to help host it. 

On Departure Day, we all exchanged gifts, hugged a lot, & gave
each other phone numbers & email addresses--we, of course,
vowed to stay in touch. The emotional ordeals & intense sharing
made us all feel very close. I was made an honorary member
of the Yakima tribe, & given the name of Spider. I paid dues
& received a news letter. Sadly, typically, I never did follow up
on any return visits. After two years I quit paying dues, but for
all these years the monthly news letter arrives as a ghostly
reminder. I did, however, stay in touch with Paul, and we have
become good friends.

Indian veterans
have special needs, & I loved
learning about them. 


Glenn Buttkus




Monday, May 23, 2016

She Awaits


image by glenn buttkus


She Awaits

“When you have reached the mountain top, then you shall
begin to climb--for when the earth shall claim your limbs,
only then shall you truly dance.”--Khalil Gibran.

I rise in the dark before dawn, waiting for my brother. When he
arrives with the apple fritters, the coffee is ready. We clean our
twin cameras, though mine is more beat up, discussing the two
years we have circumnavigated Mt. Rainier, cataloging all her
moods & looks. We hop into my bright red SUV, driving early
& fast toward the east, the Cascade foothills, the lair of the
majestic Ice Queen. 

It’s still dark when we turn off the highway, and start up the
graveled forest service road, following Huckleberry Creek.
We eagerly take the cut-off, seven miles straight up the
winding road to Sun Top, a ranger fire look-out station,
high above the thick fir forest. We park a mile from the top
and hike the rest of the way, just as the sun is cresting and
its searing tangerine rays coat everything. Half a mile from
the top, we get our first full glimpse of the mountain, its glaciers
still deep in snow--the singing sunrise smearing its slopes with
strawberry kisses.

From Sun Top we feel
we could touch Mt. Rainier, so
we do with our lenses.


Glenn Buttkus





Thursday, May 19, 2016

Minimalist Joy


image by glenn buttkus


Minimalist Joy

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking
more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”--Socrates.

There is a photographic form widely
    respected and utilized by those
        that somehow see abstract
          images, fully formed sweet
               minimalist art, here
             and there, wherever our
               eyes dart, from the
                    back yard to
                        ornate
                          keys;
                       from what’s
                        calling for
                       recognition
                    to that created by
                 our own innate sense of
                composition, seeing some
              vignettes at every turn, being
             fascinated by old peeling paint
      patina, hood ornaments, chains, padlocks
                           rope,
                         culverts,
                     doors, windows
                      striking urban
                structures, grills, stacks of
                old tires, fences, tree bark,
              broken gears, abandoned cars,
                or houses, or machinery, or
            boats. This is a never-ending hunt
        for treasures that are hiding in plain sight.


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub


                 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Without Wings


image from sfgate.com


Without Wings

“Angels are like diamonds. You can’t make one--you
have to find them.”--Anonymous.

His prosthetic lower leg stood by,
       its chrome bones bright in the morning light,
              as he perched like a failed potentate prince
                      on a soiled red cushion, its fat tassels tangled
              and dirty, there on the cold sidewalk, up
         against the stucco wall of Dan’s Deli. He had
a cute mutt with him, who sprawled out
on his own blue pillow,
wearing one of those
cursory cute red bandanas;             but this guy was different. He
                                                   was young & blond, with piercing
                                       Steve McQueen blue eyes that matched
                              his rumbled blue down jacket, that had a white
                      peace sign patch sewn over his heart. His donation
          cup was ceramic & attractive. His golden hair was unkempt
  but seemed clean. He had one of those Scandinavian thin blond
mustaches, & had shaved in the last few days;
hatless but far from worthless
or feckless.

He was probably in his 30’s,                He looked you right in the eyes
but he seemed younger,                      as you exited the Deli clutching
living on the streets, several                your cold-cut hero or sweet apple
green plastic yard bags holding           fritter, but his gaze was swathed
his worldly possessions.                      in calm kindness, without even a
                        hint of desperation, anger, or pitifulness.
                        He never spoke, yet his silence lacked
                        sadness, brimming with respectful and
                        polite vibes. His cup runneth over with
                        money, which he never looked at.

                                              He was probably a recent veteran, one of
                                   those handsome strapping young men that
                           that a gang of rotund Republicans had
                     sent to the Middle East to drive over
            a lethal IED in an unarmored Humvee,
       or maybe an addicted street urchin
who got high and fell under
a bus, or fell asleep or passed
out on some railroad tracks, or
had crashed a stolen motorcycle.
He held a rudimentary hand-drawn
sign that read:                 
                                        In need of a treat
                                        this Halloween!
                                        Anything helps!
                                        Dog bless you--

with a paw print replacing
the O in Dog. He caught my
eye after I read it. We both
smiled at the same time.
I gave him five bucks.

It has always tickled me that God spelled backward is Dog.
This strange young man’s cleverness & demeanor touched
me deeply. I returned there after work, but he was gone. I
never saw him again. Somehow his absence, after experiencing
his presence, plagued me, haunted my dreams, invaded my
random thoughts. I had an inexplicable need to talk to him, to
hear his voice, to find out his story--but it seems that he will
always remain just an intriguing mystery.

Angels are among
us. I saw one begging
today by the Deli.


Glenn Buttkus


       

Monday, May 16, 2016

Kelp Lemonade


image by grunwaldart.deviantart.com


Kelp Lemonade

“Life expectancy would grow in leaps and bounds if only
green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”
--Doug Larson

Moss is
the mold we accept
in nature,
while
arid climes grow
green with thirst,
forcing amphibians
to become
green at the gills
as smog clogs airways.

Verdant,
rife with rot,
today’s jungle canopy
green out the sun
as greenish bacteria
sharpens its fangs. 


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub Q-9

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blackthorne--Review, Part V




Blackthorne

Cinemagenics 30-35.

Review, Part V

“I sent my first draft, in treatment form, of my screenplay for
RIDE VALIANT off to Los Angeles last week. First comments
seemed favorable; waiting for more feedback for changes.”
--Glenn

Thirty-One: Sipping & Jawing--Wallace inquires about Antlered Buck.
Buck is surprised that so many folks know that the ranch had its
taxes paid annually by an absentee landlord. Bronson wants to buy
it, increasing his spread. Buck admits he has taken up residence, &
that he plans, “to fix the place up”. Wallace points out that Bronson has
controlling interest in the town bank as well. Buck said, “Money is not
an issue.”  An attractive young woman entered the store in a riding
outfit. It is Wallace’s daughter, Salina. She is very upset that her father
mouthed off” to the sheriff. Wallace introduced Rod Buck. She looked
at him & said, “I know who he is.”

Thirty-Two: The Offer--Salina rails against Buck for putting her father
in the middle of the squabble. Wallace tries to calm her down. She
said, “So you decide to come home at last?”  Buck replied, “Looks that
way.”  She blurts out, “Do you want to sell your ranch?” Buck, stunned,
asked, “Sell to who?” “Dad & I,” she replied, smiling, “Because Cash
Bronson wants it, & we would prefer he doesn’t get it.” She felt that he
still was a drifter, & when he tired of being in one place, & moved on
again, “the ranch would be host to blow sand. Either that or you will
tangle with Bronson’s bunch, & get your damn fool head blown off.”
He stood there considering her thoughts, while they waited for his
reply.

Thirty-Three: Memories--Buck said,” Well--I’m not really interested in
selling at this time.” Salina flared up,” Why in hell not? You could stay
drunk for a year on what we’d pay you. You are waltzing in a rattlesnake
nest here.”  Buck became irritated, “I don’t want to get drunk, or ride out,
or sell my ranch, or run from Bronson. My bones will be buried right there
on the ranch, next to my folks.” She said, “OK, if you’ve made up your mind,
I’ll be sure to put flowers on your grave every other Sunday.” She left the
store & stood out in the back yard near the flower garden. Buck then
remembered the freshly white-washed picket fence, & the wilted flowers
on the graves in his family plot. He flushed red. He said, “Your daughter
seems to have iron staves in her petticoat.” He watched her out the back
door, standing with her hands on her hips, her Mexican scarf fluttering.
Wallace poured them another drink. “Yup, she is her own person,
that’s a fact.” Buck then remarked that if Wallace had known his
father, it must have been after he lit out, “Because I don’t recall
knowing you.”  Wallace said, “Yeah, you were gone, but old Bill
talked about you a lot. I knew him during his worst years, when
you could trip over him any morning sleeping on your porch, or
out in the barn.”  Cut to Salina, weeping,  holding a single yellow
rose, staring out at the horizon.

Thirty-Four: Courtship--Buck thanked Wallace for “befriending
a man who didn’t deserve one.” Wallace said, “Deserving had
nothing to do with it. I don’t expect thanks for caring about a
man most folks spit on.”  Buck made it clear that, “My father
was one man, I’m another--you & I don’t have to be friends.”
Wallace said, “Whoa, Hoss, looks like my whiskey stirred up
some past dust.”  Buck talked about rebuilding his horse herd
for the ranch, asking where he might find some brood mares
& a stallion. Wallace pointed out that Bronson had the best
stock in those parts. Buck said he’d find another way. Wallace
said, “You’ll probably need to hire a hand.” Buck asked, “Are
you looking for some part time work?”  They both laughed.
Wallace mentioned Johnny Eagle, a half-breed bronc-buster
that used to work with his Pa. “He’s easy to find--he hangs out
at the Cantina.”  Buck got ready to leave. Wallace assured him
that their offer for the ranch was solid & good intentioned, and
that if he sold to them, “He’d always be welcome there.” Buck
asked out of the blue, “Does your daughter have any suitors?”
Wallace smiled, “She’s the hog’s drawers around here, and she
knows it; but so far she hasn’t hooked up with any of the local
tomcats. She scared most of them.”  Buck: “I like her.”  Wallace:
So does Thor Bronson.”

Thirty-Five: Equus--We are introduced to a large herd of wild
mustangs--rippling muscles, long manes & tails, galloping at
full speed. A tall magnificent Appaloosa stallion led the herd,
running like the beautiful lyrics of an Apache song, like the
paintings on Navajo drums, like the stories told around Comanche
campfires. There is a lone albino bison on a bluff above them, a
medicine brute. Overhead drone shot with the pair in counterpoint,
as the horses halted--the white buffalo on the right side of the
frame, the Appaloosa on the left, with the morning sun rising
up hot between them.
*********************************
We are introduced to Johnny Eagle, a wrangler in a horse-breaking
corral, with a dozen cowpokes on the fence watching him work with
a chestnut mustang mare. The horse reared up furiously on its hind
legs. The Eagle smiled. He was short & heavily muscled. A red-
faced pot-bellied man in a drugstore Western shirt & a derby said,
Come on, you half-breed bastard, we don’t have all day. Are you
going to fuck it or ride it?”  The Indian gave no acknowledgement,
keeping his focus on the mare.


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub OLN


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Doorway to the Light


image borrowed from sites.duke.edu


Doorway to the Light

“Death is frightening, but so is eternal life.”
--Mason Cooley.

Somewhere in adolescence,
        after attending my first funeral, I began
                   to visualize the significance of death. I listened
                              to the ministers yowl & bray about how our Life
                 was clothed in Sin, rife with our prevalent imperfections,
        our tendency toward greed, and our murderous
rages. Then I watched my parents die
young, & my grandparents passed on.

I did not have either the stamina nor the
temperament to accept the mandates,
dictates, rules, & edicts of any particular
        religion, so my version of faith had to grow
               out of stern arid stuff, struggling for sustenance--
                      but when it did blossom in all its brilliant Zen-ness,
               I found it to be evergreen, sheathed in infinity,
         and hard-wire connected directly into the
  belly of the Cosmos.

Twenty years ago I was allowed to stand
at Death’s Door, catapulted there by illness,
but before that final fatal step, there was some
kind of spiritual intervention, & I never ventured
beyond the veil, even though it fluttered on my
face. I found myself locking jaws with a golden
dragon before becoming baptized with a white
torrent of kundalini energy. 

I clearly saw that death of the body was just a portal, an egress,
a doorway where Soul transferred to another plane of existence--
perhaps not the pearly gates described as Heaven, nor the lusty
vigor of Valhalla, nor even the orderly logic of Bardo, but rather
some shining alternate reality/dimension where fear demons
were forced to flee back into their ignorant shadowland. So as
this less than hearty husk approaches its expiration date, as
that transitional doorway yawns open ever closer--sometimes at
2 a.m., the chilly draft awakens me--I simply refuse to wear the
red robes of victim, & opt to wear the rainbow mantle of cosmic
traveler.
                
No one escapes Life
alive, but death just brings us
our eternity. 

Glenn Buttkus