Thursday, May 8, 2014


image borrowed from bing


“I wanted a perfect ending. But now I’ve learned the hard way
that some poems don’t rhyme, & some stories don’t have a
clear beginning, middle, & end.”--Gilda Radner.

Long before written language, 
we were fortunate enough to have
the storytellers within
                         our tribes,
                         our villages,
                         our families--
carrying on an oral tradition
                               that began around campfires in caves;

and today we are blessed/cursed with a media
that utilizes satellites to know
when a sparrow falls in Spain,
when a pope rises out of Poland,
when 237 girls in Nigeria 
                        between the ages of 8-18
                        were kidnapped, sodomized, & raped
by sub-human Muslim radical thugs in a country paralyzed
by brutality;
when a negligent Korean crew
on a grossly overloaded ferry
can sadly sink & drown hundreds
of innocent school children--but the news reporters
still are forever on the lookout for an old ally--the story.

Oddly, the stories I most vividly recall,
are those labeled fiction,
based on fact, 
shreds of the truth,
& the human condition--the stories
illuminated in literature & film.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with Europe, but I do know a story
when I see one, & I’ll keep after it until I get it, or it gets me.”

“This the story of a ship in war.” 
John Mills from IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942).

“There are eight million stories in the naked city.”
Barry Fitzgerald in THE NAKED CITY (1948).

“I thought it was going to be a 30 day stretch--now
it’s a year; like a life sentence. Where is it? Where’s
that big story that will get me out of here?”
Kirk Douglas in ACE IN THE HOLE (1951).

“What a time we had, Rosie. We’ll never lack for stories
to tell our grandchildren.” Humphrey Bogart to Katherine
Hepburn in THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1952).

“The old sad story, promising youth blighted, dragged down
by money, position, noblesse oblige.” Sean Connery to
Tippi Hedren in MARNIE (1964).

“This was the story of Howard Beale, the first known instance
of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.”
William Holden in NETWORK (1976). 

“There was no way of telling his story without telling my own.”
Martin Sheen in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979).

“I’ve told theses stories so many times that I almost forgot it was
me who had these things happen to him.” Dennis Quaid in

“It wasn’t just a story, now was it?” Sarah Polley to John Neville

I tell you, your silly head is full of nonsense;
racked with riddles,
mired in movies,
lost in libraries,
bound in book stores,
mesmerized by trashy magazines,
persuaded by poetry,
dimmed by drama,
pole-axed by politics,
made comatose by comedy”,
said my shadow companion yesterday.

“But of course,”  I replied,
“All poets are that way.”

What about the serious things in life?”

“Why so serious? You know that everything can be,
will be, inevitably must be reduced to a story,
                                                            a fable,
                                                            a legend,
                                                            a lie,
                                                            a myth,
or some kind of poem.”

“Why do I waste my time chiding you, for
you will remain a hopeless romantic, 
                            a tireless crusader,
                            a happy historian,
                            a damn dreamer,
just a storyteller.”

Smiling as I scribbled down some ideas, I said,
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets MTB 

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


Mary said...

Oh how I wish some of the stories and voices we are hearing and reading in the news today were fiction. But then again I think that some are so horrific that no one could make them up. Who would ever conjure a story about kidnapping 200 girls? I enjoyed all your quotes, Glenn. Another thoroughly researched piece.

Claudia said...

i love storytellers and storytelling and i so can relate to that quote
I’ve told theses stories so many times that I almost forgot it was
me who had these things happen to him.”
cause i so easily get lost in a story and live through it as i read as if it was my own... cool poem glenn...loved all the quotes - and i wish there were more good stories than bad stories to tell..

Brian Miller said...

why so serious indeed....smiles...another movie quote...the joker....but our heads as poets are def full of something....smiles....story telling is an art, and its one i love to gaze on and play in...nice job on the convo but also weaving in the quotes....

Gabriella said...

Indeed facts are far worse than fiction it seems. Some stories would be deemed incredible if they were in books or movies.
I enjoyed the quotes you found for us to read.

Anonymous said...

A good one Glenn. Loved the lines from the films. >KB

Björn Rudberg said...

So much I want to flee to fiction, and what better way to use a collage of movie-quotes.. so much content in your poetry.. really a great read.

Anonymous said...

A good story can change the world. And I agree with Mary that I wish some things on the news were just stories...

Anonymous said...

That last line was just brilliant, Glenn. Without imagination, what are we?

Grace said...

Not a bad thing at all ~ The news these days are so depressing that I turn to poets & storytellers to liven up my day ~ Good one Glenn ~

Laurie Kolp said...

Yes. Sometimes I think we know too much. Nothing like supposition.

Anonymous said...

You are a superb storyteller, Glenn! Obviously, you take your research/writing seriously. I like the format of news (awful), quotes (worth repeating), and final conversation (entertaining).

Anonymous said...

love the close, Glenn (as well as Glenn Close, but that's a matter for another day). you've highlighted that seemingly intractable dichotomy between art and commerce, which of late seems to have been won by the latter, and turned it back - to the story that we all compose in order to make some semblance of sense in this f-d up world ~

Vandana Sharma said...

So many traditions are being lost day by day..............

Sumana Roy said...

i like how the poem begins with storytelling and ends in the same note completing a full circle..and its never ending like our life..some nice quotes i must say

Anonymous said...

Don't ask me why, but I just love, love, love the last bit of this (the part below the quotes)... The rest is also nice, but that bit... Brilliant!

Marina Sofia said...

What a killer last line, Glenn.
And what an encyclopedia of movie quotes you are!
Sometimes it feels like we barely need to make up stories, the truth is far stranger than any we invent.

Walt Wojtanik said...

A great piece, Glenn. I have a file of movie quotations and I love incorporating them into poems. Quite obviously, not to this extent. So well done and visual (in that reading the quote, I can see the scene). A beauty!

Susan said...

Consumers get what they want or want what we get--it's either the chicken or the egg. Storytelling is best, slanting truth so it can be handled, handling truth so it cannot be slanted in what we now call news. I enjoyed reading this. All we have is story, so everyone has an opinion about it and only a special few are true.

Kathy said...

The quotes are fun as I remember most of them. Yes, all life is ultimately stories distilled, told or retold, written because we are sensitive people who all have a novel or two or screenplay in out heads. What is more important than telling the world what the rest of the world is doing...unless it is all negative much of the time it is....lets hope they get the 200 girls back and continue to hunt for others lost your 'other voice' or shadow companion.

Anonymous said...

Glenn - love the Gilda Radner quote - and what a story you tell with this wonderful poem! K

vivinfrance said...

I am glad there are still story-tellers to inform, entertain and amuse. You are one of them, and have done justice to your theme.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Excellent work Glenn and expert close.
Oh that there be more humour in life and I do so hope you remain "a hopeless romantic, a tireless crusader, a happy historian, a damn dreamer, just (!?) a storyteller" for else, what is the point of being alive?
Anna :o]