Thursday, February 25, 2016

I, Buttkus

image by shane shier

I, Buttkus

“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no
feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.”
--Erik Erickson.

I never liked the name, Buttkus, very much.
It was my stepfather’s, my third one, who
at my dying mother’s request adopted the
three kids. But I found if you wear a name
long enough, it becomes you & you become it.

In my family, it seemed, I was always 
          first, though not always a winner,
          first born & favored by Mom,
          first into the school system,
          first to get straight “A”s,
          first to go to college, returning three times,
          first to graduate, with three degrees,
          first to be in the armed service,
          first to pursue a career in the Arts--

I mean, why not?
I had very little mechanical aptitude, poor math skills 
         and the hoary sciences never beckoned to me. All
I had was a romance with words, a silver tongue,
         a vivid imagination & a passion for performance--
         which richly fueled my careers as actor,
                                                               teacher &
                                                               poet.        In the end it was
Civil Service, working for the Man,
that allowed me a thirty year career
as a teacher of the visually impaired.

Today, I sit like an aged restless tomcat,
       a Boomer two times three years into retirement.
            I grew up with a fiery Socialist for a grandfather,
                      who lovingly planted & sowed the perennial
                      seeds of liberalism within me, imprinted on
                      my soul. For a time
            I mingled with liberals at college, & it saddened me that
            I encountered so few in the world at large.

Observing our planet, our country, at present, waist-deep in the bloody
quagmire of the Bush-induced New Crusades--much too close
to the writings of Nostrodamus, plagued by ever-clinging racism,
bigotry, sexism, red-necked Republican ravings (wake up, Bubba,
you are too poor to be a real Republican), while watching a bilious
billionaire with a fourth grade vocabulary & a bully’s sensitivities,
pretending not to be influenced by corporate factions & Wall Street
sickens me (OMG, he is the damn poster boy for the 1% ruling class);
I find myself hatching nightmares of impending dystopian, fascist
scenarios, that too many of us, like lemming heading for the cliff,
fall in line, hopping on bandwagons & trains with too much momentum,
just seem to be hell-bent on materializing.

I am who I am,
not some other, just a crippled
bear in a paper cage. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub MTB  


brudberg said...

Ah.. you really went fully into the first person and did autobiography... it's so interesting (and chilling) to see how the US have imported some of the worst politics from Europe... the Front National, the Ukip and PIS... and why not a Putin or an Erdogan... it seems we are capable to elect the worst kind of people.. Where is dialog and compromise? a willingness to do good?

Victoria said...

Definitely, you, Glenn. The fun thing is, even though there is so much we have in common, I turned up on the opposite side of the coin. Life has its strange twists and turns and here we are. I am who I am, too. If only we could all come together somewhere in the middle.

Toni Spencer said...

Excellent narrative, personal and intense. Interesting and yet, poignant senryu at the end of the narrative. I relate to it strongly. Here I am, third year of retirement, a declawed tigress trying to keep my sword and skills sharp and regretting nothing but melons to slice through.

Linda Kruschke said...

This was great! Although I didn't expect to encounter that which I come to poetry to escape -- the seemingly insane state of our political world -- and would have been just as happy if you'd left that last paragraph off (not that I disagree with it's sentiments, just would have enjoyed the poem more if it had been solely about you). Peace, Linda

Gayle Walters Rose said...

Loved your first person account of you, Glenn. And I have to agree with Bjorn, it's chilling what is going on with our politics these days...I truly am horrified.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Agreed with Spencer, I too felt this to be rather intense and brilliant :)

Debi Swim said...

Wonderful autobio and great rant!

De said...

I like this:
"if you wear a name
long enough, it becomes you & you become it."

And, as always, ALWAYS, your senryu.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy the frankness and openness of your writing. Your views about the ridiculousness of U.S. politics further emphasize your morals, passion, logic and desire for a better world.

Kim M. Russell said...

Yes, a very honest poem. I agree that if you wear a name
long enough, it becomes you & you become it.

Anonymous said...

An inspiring auto-biog, and a getting-it-off-your-chest kinda rant at the end. I agree that the world is going to hell in a bucket, and the sad thing is that there's not a lot we can do about it.

Mary said...

I like the way you go through your personal history and end up with a commentary on the political situation today here in the US. Frightening fare. I share your fears. After watching last night's debate (more a collection of tirades rather than a debate, wouldn't you say?) even more so! I do see us heading toward the cliff......following a pied piper bent on destruction! Unbelievable.... Our forefathers would roll over in their graves.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your story and voicing what so many of us are thinking.

Kathy Reed said...

There is a certain symmetry to "I, ButtKas" and "I, Claudius"....I can see you as the emperor.

Certain lines stuck out to me - 'sad there were so few liberals,' but that is changing;),
love the '"Bush created New Crusades",'and the reference to a 'fourth grade vocabulary' and the calling out of the ubiquitous incapable, obsolete and dangerous people too long in congress and elsewhere who are out of step with the rest of the world. A biography is a perfect first person write.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story, and your ranting thoughts about these political times, when the joke turned to be not a joke at all. said...

Enjoyed getting to know you here. Your thoughts on these political times -- agreed! What was that old saying...."Sticks and stone may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." Sadly......they will -- hurt many -- people, countries etc....if the trump of all cards is elected. I remain incredulous that he has hit the basest of name calling and bigotry.....and the absence of rational policy some cases, the absurdity of plans....and is still appealing to so many. I fear what this tells us.
My ranting for the day!

Kate Mia said...

Identity and Politics..
a match of culture and person..
that will always be different...
conservatives vs liberals..
fear vs free..
dark vs light..
and now the most
polarizing election
of aLL..
it hurts so good..
when honesty iN core.. of
at least what one of the parties
is aLL about.. comes to a full
combover too..;)