Thursday, February 21, 2013


street art by Banksy


“Art begins with resistance--at the point
where resistance is overcome.”--Andre Gide

For a good time call Kathy at FU2-666, 
scratched with a pocket knife while someone 
was taking a crap in a latrine stall 
in the bus station in 1958,

mixed in with copious pornographic cryptic messages
and crude drawings of sexual organs,
I love to suck dick & 
I take it up the ass;

this was my introduction to graffiti 
as my 12 year old hormones began
to rage & my mind reeled.

Graff has been with us since the cave glyphs.
They have found figure drawings & inscriptions
on Turkish temples, synagogues, ancient sepulchers,
on tombs, ruins, in the Catacombs of Rome,
and magma-scorched onto the stones of Pompeii;

disappointed lovers scribbling,
“I want to break Venus’s ribs with a club
and deform her hips.”--
a huge phallus with accompanying words,
“Mansueta Tene”--handle with care,

the young Michelangelo and Raphael were taggers,
painting their names with others in the ruins
of Nero’s Domus Aurea;

heart shapes and handprints connotated 
the proximity of a brothel,
Love For Sale.

The Mayans & Aztecs did it.
The Vikings did it.
The Crusaders did it.
The Mongol hordes did it.
American soldiers did it
on foreign city walls
and on the sides of their bombers,
tanks, and jeeps.

Street Art has developed rapidly
as a complex art form, whose validity
or value is contested highly & reviled by many,
while being appreciated, respected, 
& cherished by others.

Too often it is done without permission,
done hurriedly, breaking the law, done
defiantly, brazenly on buildings, in alleys,
on railroad box cars, subways,
& under bridges,

moving from scatological roots
to declarations of love, of territory,
political slogans, famous literary quotes,
various forms of protestation, 
sometimes with DC & Marvel comic book
or Hollywood movie themes,
“Dick Nixon before he dicks you.”

The new artists have monikers like
Skeme, Dondi, MinOne, Zephr,
Blek Le Rat, & Mr. Brainwash,
using spray paint cans & marking pens
to perform the Pissing of pigment,
done with refillable fire extinguishers,
Throw Ups and Bombing
where garish images are painted quickly,
Rolling or Blockbusters
as huge paintings prevent other artists
from sharing the space,
and the complex Wildstyling,
where letters & images interlock;
and of course Stenciling,
like the popular Banksy art.

Personally I prefer the work done lovingly,
with the permission of the property owner,
vast beautiful murals that fully manage
to enhance the quality of our lives;

let’s have less besmirching, belittling, bullying,
braggadocio, degrading or impugning;
for God’s sake let us celebrate life,
not glorify chaos or violence. 

Glenn Buttkus

February 2013 

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

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


Claudia said...

art begins with resistance...i like that..graffiato coming from the italian and meaning to scratch took me to marie durand who carved the word résister into her prison walls...ha and i have the venus's ribs and manueta tena as well in my poem...found it on wikipedia...smiles

Brian Miller said...

the pissing of pigment...and throwing up...ha, you and claudia have it going on today...smiles....nice bit of the history...we all hope to leave our mark in some way...i will say i understand the message many of them are making, the statement...but i am all about life...even if it takes a bit of chaos to get there...smiles.

Brudberg said...

What a wonderful historic walk through of graffiti, and the sentiments... Wonder what future archeologist will find of our society.

Anna Montgomery said...

Far ranging and a fascinating tour of graffiti (you and Claudia were in the same alley eh :)). Bansky is a popular choice, a neighborhood with one of his works is suing a private auction house that removed the work and is trying to sell it for $500,000! The art establishment often acts like thugs too.

Susan said...

Your last stanza rocks, and I was happy for the curve from sex ads through history to the preference articulated and alliterated there. Isn't scatological a wonderful word?

pandamoniumcat said...

I love art begins with resistance... nice history of graffiti, I must say I love all forms of art and the idea of freedom of expression that I think is also at the heart of graffiti.

Delaina said...

What a trip you have taken us on. I'm still spinning. Nicely done!

Mystic_Mom said...

What an amazing trip. Love it.

lucychili said...

banksy makes challenging comment, often those that do are not those which are preplanned with building owners. i would like to make a graffiti which celebrates life.
i think that might be one that people would not mind =)

Susie Clevenger said...

Wow...a whole lesson in graffiti brilliantly written as a poem...Love it!

Kim Nelson said...

LOVELOVELOVE your historical perspective, Glenn. As always, you educate, elucidate and entertain.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

What a tour de force!

Jaly Can said...

If you look closely at our new urban art collection you'll see elements of design made popular by street art.