Thursday, September 6, 2012


image borrowed from bing


“For most of the history of our species, we have been
helpless to understand how nature works. We took 
every comet personally, and had to create myths
as an attempt to explain the patterns of nature.”
--Ann Druyan

My grandfather was a wonderful landscape artist,
who, facile as a Faustus, somehow cajoled
the sky itself into accepting temporary residence
on several of his canvases, creating uncanny
unsettling vast horizons filled with cloud formations
that had depth, perfect clarity and exaggerated realism--
so much so that the worshiping clamoring crowds
felt compelled to dub him affectionately: 
“Sky Carpenter--Master of the Skies”, 

and he was, controlling light, shadows, mists, clouds,
the sun and all the elements like a Norse God,
and his hundreds of paintings swirled with spiritual splendor,
until toward the end of his life, when his brushes moved 
more slowly, his ancient heart pumped erratically 
as ten kinds of pain rushed through his shaking limbs, 
and dexterity abandoned his fingertips; 
he growled like a grizzly
within the dark cave of his creativity, 
painting individual portraits of the pain spawn,  
exposing their faces.

The sky dared not to elude him as it grew closer
and clearer than ever, and the point of parallax
allowed stars to suddenly be within reach
as new planets appeared behind his eye lids.

At night, he said, it felt like he could ride a bolt of light,
remembering that wondrous evening when he had 
stood with his grandfather on a dark hillock in 1910,
watching the night sky in childish anticipation
of the magical materialization of Haley’s Comet.

In 1986, when he was 88 years old, Carpenter waited
like a wolf for the faithful comet’s return;

We knew exactly how it would be;
I would stand by his side as first grandson,
and it would show itself just after midnight,
and he would shout its name, and it would
come to him, a great cosmic creature 
scorching the treetops;

“Good Bye, Butch!” 

he would bellow before he lassoed the maverick comet,
throwing himself onto its fiery back, grabbing
two handfuls of stardust mane, with space fireflies
buzzing in his long gray hair, managing one small wave
before he dug his strong old legs into its shimmering sides
and rode off into the vast silence of the cosmos.

And that 
is just how it happened, leaving me here
to relate the tale; but how in hell does one begin
to explain to folks that my grandfather rendezvoused 
with a heavenly traveler, pulling down the mother
of all comets, hopped aboard and rocketed off
into some sweet dark distant oblivion?

For Christ’s sake,
no one will ever believe me.

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Claudia said...

smiles...i believe you...what a way to go...he sounds like an awesome man, quite the character...would love to see some of his paintings...

lucychili said...

yes would be nice to see his skies =)

Brian Miller said...

this feels like a fable you know...lassoing a comet and riding off...but i believe you as well...and it makes me smile that he is once more home....nice one man...

Victoria said...

Thanks to our questioning and the creation of myth to answer those questions, we have a rich literary history...and here's a new one. Love it, Glenn.