Monday, November 23, 2015

Mail Call

image from

Mail Call

“You’re a disgusting fat slob. Sound off like you got a pair, you
useless, grabasstic pile of civilian dog shit.”--R. Lee Ermey.

In 1966, during Navy boot camp,
I stood at Mail Call
becoming a chunk of driftwood
that others stepped over & on,
not noticing my empty hands,       or mile-off stare;
                                            still seeing my mother
                                            baking bread & cinnamon rolls,
                                            cooking fiery chili slowly all day,
                                            waxing a thousand square feet
                                            of hardwood floors, & folding all
                                            of our laundry & putting it in our drawers
before she bathed,
            & dressed up like she was getting ready
                         for a date; make-up, jewelry, perfume,
                                      every afternoon, to please,
                                                                 to greet
                                                                 to genuflect for
                                        my asshole stepfather--a perfect 
                           conglomerate of Archie Bunker & Stanley Kowalski,
               who looked like Tony Curtis, dark & handsome--
her third husband,            another loser,
                                         another ignorant Lothario,
                                         another felon,
                                         another batterer, but
                she really was in love with this one,
                with his muscular body & tattoos,
                       his James Dean 1950 black Mercury fastback, &
                       his Brando leather motorcycle jacket & aviator sunglasses,
before, of course, she found out he had cheated on her regularly
& had been raping my little sister since she was twelve.

I did receive a few letters from my grandfather & my sister, & my girlfriend,
who was using my absence as a catalyst to break up with me during that
13 gut-wrenching weeks of boot training before Viet Nam, standing alone
& invisible midst the colorful chatter spilling out & clogging the room from
those lucky boys whose mothers had written them, & God help me, during
that dark time part of me became blind, had amnesia, standing as a statue
covered in bird shit with folded arms, with lowered gaze, with ridiculous
expectations, convincing my self that if I pretended hard enough, wished
with unbridled enthusiasm, & focused with all my soul on my mother’s face,
that somehow, maybe, miraculously a loving letter from her would actually
appear, but the troll on my right shoulder was eager to point out that
my pathetic pretense was 100 days deep in fallacious misplaced 
moronic bloody lying hope--because another part of me had watched
her die three months before I had spent my June birthday as a boot,
turning 22 silently, without detection, & I could no longer recall her
beautiful face--all I could visualize was the cancer, the watermelon-
sized tumor in her uterus, leaving her frail body emaciated, her mother-
bones poking out of her paper-thin skin, a beauty contestant in Dachau,
dead at 39, so riddled with tar-black carcinogens that my grieving
stepfather had no funeral, just had her cremated in private, he & her
urn & a case of beer.

I now use his name;
adopted as mother’s wish;
millstone & penance.   

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub "Poetics"      


Friday, November 20, 2015

One Wish

image from thesherwood

One Wish

“If God granted me a second chance, a rebirth, but with
only one wish, I’d search for you all over again.”

I was running through a terrible storm, deep in the forest,
my raincoat saturated, my ball cap soaked, my jeans
sticking to my legs, & my boots making squishing noises
as I ran. The giant thrashing conifers were like a behemoth
maze. I had no idea what direction I was headed in--twisting
& turning all the way.

Against a lightning flash I could see an outcropping thrusting
out of cliffs as tall as windowless sky scrapers. I stepped out
of the trees & plunged into cavernous darkness. But in the
distance I could make out a bright light, so I moved toward it.
Sweet cedar wood smoke wafted into my space. I was finally
out of the deluge.

So it was that I happened onto the cabin, constructed of rough-
hewn twisted timbers, held together with fat wooden pegs &
white adobe mud; something older than written history, & it
beckoned to me through large well-lit leaded glass windows.
The front door was easily ten feet tall, with carved faeries &
dwarves & elves on it. I opened it easily with the brass gargoyle
handle, & stepped inside. It was brightly lit by several large oil
lanterns, made of many-colored glass. It was toasty-warm, with
a roaring fire ablaze in a large stone fireplace.

Welcome, wet stranger, come in & dry out as you realign your
aura, center your cosmic flow, intensify your Christ conscious-
ness, & heal your pain.
A very tall wizard sat in a redwood rocker, & his huge hat
shadowed his eyes.
“Is it safe.”
Safer than where you just came from. Go ahead & remove your
wet garments before you catch your death.
Oddly, I didn’t hesitate, stripping off my storm-soaked clothes. If this 
was an illusion, it was a damn good one. I needed to dry off. My clothes
steamed while lying on the stone ledge, as I sat calmly on a white
wicker chair in my damp underwear.
“Are you real?”
Very much so, for a fortunate few.
“And I’m one of those?”
Most assuredly.
“What are you called?”
There are those who call me Hie R. Selff. What can I do
for you?
“Excuse me?”
What do you want? You are entitled to one wish.
“Are you shitting me?”
Young sir, I shit you not.
He puffed on a long slender pipe as I sat staring into the fire,
watching the bone-dry cedar pop with lovely combustion.
Without hesitation, suddenly I said, 
“I want the cancer to disappear permanently from my wife’s body.”
He looked through me with his piercing golden-green eyes;
smiling, he said: Of all the wonderful things in the whole world,
that’s all you want?
Yes, if you just heal my wife, I will be deliriously happy.”
Fine. Just close your eyes now, & concentrate on your wife’s
face. You will awaken back in your truck at the trailhead. Drive
home safely--when you get there your sweet wife will want
to share her good news.

When given just one 
wish, think outside your own self;
share the good fortune.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on With Real Toads

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Playing Dead

image borrowed from

Playing Dead

“Everything you want is on the other side
of fear.”--Jack Canfield

On Friday the 13th, six days ago
in Paris in the Bataclan Theater at a show,
there was the deadliest attack in French history.
with innocents as the quarry, in every single row,

butchered, slaughtered, murdered & callously killed,
while some played dead, lying in pools of blood spilled;
but we are told not to ever do that--
told to run, to scatter like rats, to be strong-willed.

In England, the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office
gives us a survival list to study & second-guess;
escape, run or hide, unless the attackers can see you,
like victims in a city zoo; if so just swallow all the stress,

just realize that you standing in a killing zone
& as the bullets fly, you are really not alone.
So run if you can, play dead if you can not,
for in a trap you are now caught, your fate unknown.

I hope there are swarms & flocks of angels there
too, ready to catch you, to became a heavenly pair
of souls departing, spirituality fierce & aglow,
offering love to absorb blows, life everlasting to share.

Perhaps it’s not helpful, still it is a proven fact,
for every successful attack, a dozen more are sacked.
We must not live our life hearing the threats, feeling Fear,
for the cost of liberty is dear, & safety is never exact.

Glenn Buttkus

We are tasked to write a Florette.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Hosanna

image from our family album.

Holiday Hosanna 

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned
in life--it goes on.”--Robert Frost.

As a kid, I often wondered
                          why the holidays       seemed
                                                            so bitter
                           to my grandparents--

but now with grandchild #7 in the oven,
                           clarity regarding such confliction
                                     descends like acid rain that peels
                            epidermal layers, revealing truths that come
                     with candy cane daggers & cranberry barbs,
                     with tattered bibles & sugary shrouds,
                     with faded photographs & garlic breath,
                     with dripping tinsel & torn wrapping paper,
                     wearing popcorn necklaces & gumball gems.

It has everything to do with the moaning string
                            of loved ones,
                            of tolerated ones
                            of forgotten & disliked ones; yes,
                                               ALL passed on, BUT
                        their faces, spirits, smiles, grimaces, hearts
                   & idiosyncrasies emerge around
          our family table, as those of us
still breathing gather in celebration & kinship.

As grandparents we sit now
at the head of the table,              venerated, respected & loved,
          happily assuming the inherited roles
of patriarch & matriarch               wearing a laurel of lilies,
                                                     holding a dove’s feather in one hand
                                       & a fancy silver fork in the other.

Those lost to us find their way home during the festivities--my still young
mother, dead at 39 in ’68, my three boorish stepfathers, a cruel trinity,
--perhaps even my biological father, whom I never met or knew, my lovely
grandparents, on my mother’s side, my wife’s parents, & too many friends,
acquaintances, bad bosses, drunken cronies, dearest comrades, cousins,
uncles, aunts, nieces & nephews--a swarm of specters on queue, increasing
in numbers on line with each year.

My dear mother-in-law was last to pass, at 90, last July. We always
flew to Texas each year to celebrate Christmas with her, more than
two decades of sweet tradition. Her empty chair, empty plate & absent
cheer will be sorely missed. My wife is already weeping when she 
thinks I don’t notice, the heartaches from Lucille’s passing still being
fresh wounds all around.

Hurrah, holidays
are upon us, as the dead
sit there behind us. 

Glenn Buttkus

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blackthorne--Scene 49

painting by paulus potter


Cinemagenic Forty-Nine


“Perhaps the habit of intrigue is infectious--in the
air or the walls--like secret passages in the mind.”
--Susan Kenny.

1(cut to medium wide-shot) The two men riding double on the big Red,
with the white stallion limping slowly behind them--on a tether held
fast by the Eagle.
2(sound cue) banjo & guitar.
3(two shot) the pair riding at a walk toward the camera as it moves
ahead of them.
4(tight two-shot) angle on Buck: We need to take it easy on Jesus, but
that’s fine; probably get back to the ranch after dark.
--Johnny: Damn, I feel estupida; almost busted my culo.
5(close-up)angle on Buck: Consider your self twice-lucky, old man, that 
no bones were broken. If my big ass had hit the ground that hard, we’d be 
pulling me home on a fucking travois.
6(angle on Johnny)--Nice idea, but what would you have made it out of--
cactus & horse shit?
--Buck: Hell, we probably would have tied your arms & legs to a couple of
brush poles, & I would have laid out on top of you.
7(sound cue) harmonica & piano. 
8(medium close-up) a pair of prairie dogs standing tall watching the riders
in the near distance.
9(two-shot) angle on Buck: So what about the Appaloosa? Should we hunt
him down, & bring him to ground with a .50 caliber slug of pure vengeance?
--Johnny: Oh, maybe not this time. I got an Apache hunch that one fine day
he will wear the ABuck brand.
10(close-up) Buck: Christ, wouldn’t that be something! But, sombitch--catching
him is like roping a daydream.
11(cut to a two shot) angle on Johnny: I hate to stomp your spit-bubble,
Boss, but I tell you, I really don’t think we can ever run him down. We will
never catch him.
12(close-up) Buck’s face; a wrinkled brow--Does the mighty Eagle, the
grande horse master, the maldito wrangler just give up so easily?
13(sound cue) Indian seed rattle.
14(cut to CU of Johnny) smiling, with his dark eyes twinkling: Chinga that
notion, my Buck. This great mancha will be yours. It’s just that we will need
to trick him, you know, appeal to his cock, & not stir up his fear & pride.
15(angle on Buck)--You mean pony express him--bring fresh mounts with
both of us & hop aboard them mid-gallop when our stallions are blown out?
16(angle on Johnny) --Sure, sure, that might work, but I think that
even then that spotted stud might still run them, or himself, to death.
--Buck: Then how should we do it? Smoke & mirrors don’t impress
a flying demon.
--Johnny: You know that our bad boys are swift; goddamn fast, as
quick as any hammerhead in these parts--until today. That devil
ran our studs right into the ground, race over--& I got the hijo puta
bruises to prove it. He runs like a crazy mountain puma with his
prick on fire, he leaps into the air, flying with his hooves off the ground,
like something out of shaman legend. He gallops like the firewinds
of hell. He is Chatawa.
17(sound cue) harmonica, coronet, & Indian tom-tom.
18(close-up) Buck: Yes, Chatawa--nothing faster, nothing stronger. 
--Johnny: Hey, we’ve got some sexy brood mares back at the ranch--
especially that pretty little palomino bitch.

1(cut to an overhead drone shot) The Appaloosa was loping smoothly,
not in a rush now, halting at the head of a deep gulch.
2(sound cue) a horse herd milling about, hoofbeats, snorting, whinnying
sweet & low over some guitar riffs.
3(cut to a medium wide shot) POV over the heads of a herd of spirited
mustang--fifty strong. In the distance we see the Appaloosa galloping
out of the dim gulch toward them. Several mares see him approaching
& they let the others know.
4( medium close-up) a fat diamond back rattlesnake that’s wrapped around
the gray dusty branches of some sagebrush.
5(sound cue) blues guitar slide & harmonica huffing.
6(cut to medium wide shot) as the Appaloosa gallops past the snake, over
the top of a stationary camera.
7(cut to an overhead drone shot) above the stallion as it rushes to rejoin
its herd.
8(sound cue) snare drum beat over horse’s hooves.  

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub OLN

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


image borrowed from for


“A lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song
in the other.”--Sean O’Casey.

The Republicans
assure us that global warm-
ing is a liberal lie.

I just read where Tom Selleck’s whole avocado orchard
died of drought. He paid for & hauled in water--& the
County sued him for breaking archaic ordinances;
go figure. 

In the Northwest, our last two summers have been screaming
scorchers, while in California, where many of my friends live,
there has been a murderous cauldron of angry drought, 
followed by heavy rainfall, mud slides & flash flooding. We
are experiencing a radiative imbalance clear across the
country. 14 out of the 15 hottest days in history have happened
since 2000. Industry & utilization of fossil fuels for transportation
have stoked the intensity of greenhouse gases. Measured
concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, & ozone are now
at higher levels than any time in the last 800,000 years.

Here on the west coast, this Fall, it seems that rivers rage over
their parched banks causing massive flooding. The lovely
Indian Summer has packed up it’s hogans & slipped way
South under the cover of darkness. Last week the first
frost wilted the last of the flower boxes on our deck. Every
month there are more price hikes on meat & produce secondary
to panic & manipulation. The oil barons continue to push us
around & reap the rewards of our carefully controlled fear.
We begin to feel that we reside in a battle zone under constant

Granted, men can adjust to any environment, & we are bred &
socialized to survive. But look to the poets, who believe that
even in hell one can find flowers to admire, & sunrises to greet,
& sundowns to gush over, & children & pets to hug. 

Common sense tells us
the difference between bullshit
& actual science.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Poetics

Thursday, November 5, 2015


image borrowed from


“Courage is resistance to fear, not the
absence of fear.”--Mark Twain

I was awakened by cats fighting
outside my wi(n)dow, as whirling shreds
of my last dream sparkling in the near
darkness like dwarf ersatz fireworks
were oddly connected images with me
in a war zone somewhere, a member
of a rag-tag band of resisters, poorly armed
without a plan other than a gnawing need
to survive low on ammunition--several comrades
badly wounded, wrapped in dirty bloody rags
surrounded by real troops in helmets & kevlar
with machine guns, tanks & ordinance, but
somehow just being a part of a fight for freedom
with defiance, pride & zeal on every face swelled
my chest with tremendous resolve because sometimes
we just need to pick a side & follow our heart
no matter what the final outcome because
subjugation & surrender have never been sign 
posts within the vastness of my dreamscape.

When all seems to be
hopeless, our spirit resists
because it just must.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub MTB
where we are called to utilize Enjambment.