Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Argentum Arms

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Argentum Arms

“To my great surprise, Twitter is not housed in a silver pod
that orbits the earth; no, it is in a bland building in San 
Francisco, next to a bowling alley.”--Susan Orlean

Silver is more than the Lone Ranger’s stallion,
more than mere coinage coatings, even
more than an alloy with gold, copper, zinc
and lead; much more, for Marvel Comics
has been drawn to its luster like a pack
of wild dogs chasing a wolf bitch in heat. 

From the Golden Age, through the Silver Age
of comics, the Marvel universe has been laced
with Silver, crowned with it, and many
of their super heroes have been forged
and fused with it, an amazing amalgam,
with characters coated & placed heavy into it
like beautiful & clunky Navaho jewelry.

My absolute favorite shining superhero,
drawn by Neal Adams, is the Silver Surfer,
of course; once just an eager young
astronomer, Norrin Radd, living on  Zenn-La,
who saved his homeworld from Galactus,
a planet devourer, by agreeing to become
his herald, to zoom through the cosmic
dust on his silver surfboard searching for
planets to consume--

until he came upon the Earth, 
met up with the Fantastic Four,
who helped him regain his humanity,
saving Terra Firma, betraying Galactus,
and being exiled on Earth for punishment. 

Silver Sable was a female mutant mercenary,
an acquaintance of Dr. Doom, who hunted
war criminals so relentlessly that she often
angered other superheroes, like Spider-Man
and Captain America. 

Silver Dagger was a former Cardinal in the Catholic
Church, who hunted demons with his magical
dagger, often went astray, and has fought
Spider-Man and Dr. Strange.

Silver Scorpion, Elizabeth Barstow, was a Golden Age
character who was a companion to the Human Torch. 

Silver Samurai, who just fought the Wolverine in his
latest film, is a Japanese mutant, who energizes
his sword & armor, who became a criminal,
and has fought Daredevil, Black Widow, and Spider-Man.

Silverclaw is a female mutant who is a reserve member
of the Avengers, named Maria, and has the power
to shape shift into several different were-forms. 

Silvermane has always been a super villain, 
and is a long time nemesis of Spider-Man,
and he has fought Daredevil, and Nick Fury.

Silver Scarab is a superhero named Hector Hall,
who is the son of Hawkman & Hawkgirl,
who became for a time the Sandman,
and then later Dr. Fate. 

Quicksilver is a mutant, the son of Magneto,
the twin brother to the Scarlet Witch, possessing
superhuman speed, and was recruited by
Iron Man to be a member of the New Avengers. 

I don’t know why the other Comics behemoth,
DC, never got as attached to silver superheroes,
but there probably is a good reason, like maybe
Jack Kirby would have punched them out,
or Stan Lee would have sued them. 

Glenn Buttkus

July 2013

Posted over on Poetry Jam  

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dusky Deeds

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Dusky Deeds

“I will wear my heart on my sleeve, for daws
to peck at: I am not what I am.”--Iago

The roots of racism run miles and centuries deep,
as Shakespeare noted, using it as a catalyst
in many of his plays.

His most perplexing and finely drawn villain,
the most manipulative of his antagonists
was Iago in Othello: the Moor of Venice (1603),
a long play that drives straight ahead, relentlessly,
without any comic relief subplot.

Tight, cleverly written, this is a Machiavellian
role with lethal layers, wholly amoral, cynical,
angry, jealous, envious, but still containing
depth & spirit, as he was a dangerously sly
and intelligent psychopath. 

Interestingly, Iago has the most lines in the play,
1,070 of them, far more than Othello--
the most lines for any non-title character
in Shakespeare; what can we deduce from this?

Iago plants the seeds of hate early on,
“Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
is tupping your white ewe--making the beast
with two backs.”

What we know, or think we know of Iago, came
from the various theatrical and film productions
of the play. Most of the actors playing Othello
have not been black--Ralph Richardson, John
Geilgud, Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Raul
Julia, & Anthony Hopkins; outnumbering the black actors
who have tackled the part--Paul Robson, James Earl
Jones, & Laurence Fishburne.

Yes, it is always Iago that is the lightning rod, 
the motor for the play, powering the plot, and
his dark motivations have been interpreted
by several noted actors:

Laurence Olivier played him at the Old Vic
in 1938, adding a homosexual veneer to
his jealous rages & malevolent behaviors.
They say David Suchet played him as gay
at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985.
Kenneth Branagh’s Iago in a film version,
showed a conflicted affection for Othello.

Ian McKellen gave him another fey shadowing
in a 2004 production, done as a 19th century
setting, and the critics complained that his
portrayal was “too brilliant as he out-shined
the rest of the cast.”

Jose Ferrer played him as brooding, slick,
& intelligent on Broadway in 1942, playing
opposite Paul Robson. 

Bob Hoskins in a 1981 BBC production,
opposite Anthony Hopkins, played him
As “quintessentially evil, rotten to the core”
outshining Hopkins.

Christopher Walken, playing opposite Raul
Julia in a 1991 Shakespeare in the Park
production, played him as “inexhaustibly
snide & wonderfully beastly.”

Christopher Plummer, opposite James Earl Jones
in 1982, played him as witty-evil, smiling, a con man.
Philip Seymour Hoffman got rave reviews off Broadway,
doing a marvelous non-star turn with “a provocative
portrait of a man burned to an ashen, angry nihilism
by years of unrewarded service.”

Only Ewan McGregor seemed to earn unanimous 
negative reviews, and it was written of his portrayal,
“He had no glee, no panache, no light and shade.”

It is past time, people--we just have to own the several
shades of darkness in each of us; even we Boomers
who had our civil rights awakening during the free-
wheeling 60’s, in the glaring light of the Zimmerman
decision, and the indefatigable coverage regarding
the state of Racism in America today--

we need to ask ourselves the very hard questions
about our own motives, perceptions, relationships,
& prejudices, and regardless of our discoveries
therein, be prepared to pry our minds to the open
setting, and truly begin to reinforce our liberal
rhetoric with actuality, honesty, & verve. 

Glenn Buttkus'

July 2013

Posted over at dVerse Poets OLN107

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Septem Maria

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Septem Maria

“Words, of course, are the most powerful drug
used by mankind.”--Rudyard Kipling

Our blue planet, in its infancy, was completely
covered by water, one vast pole to pole
body of water, one seemingly endless Salton Sea;
rife with terrible storms as armies of waves
clashed within the magnetic axis lines, pulled
about spastically by the new moon. 

Within all this turbulent saline, life began;
first a few random cells splitting, then combining,
until countless aquatic colonies were created
clinging to reefs, deep trenches, and the 
slippery sides of sea mounts.

Some of these primitive creatures developed
curiosity, and they visited the surface incessantly,
until the Forces-That-Be co-created some of them
sporting gills and nostrils, and lo, sea mammals
began to appear, preferring gulping open air to
breathing oxygen underwater.

Rising hourly out of the water with their huge bodies,
they kept searching the flat horizons for specks
of substance, because they felt daily the shaking
of the earth’s core, knowing that the magma heart
kept thrusting its cooling peaks & pinnacles higher
each eon, until one magnificent day
Land appeared, first as atolls, then islands,
then huge continents. 

The bravest of the open air-breathers began
flopping themselves up onto the land, remaining
longer each time before returning to the waves;
until Nature, or the gods, kept intervening, turning
fins into legs, then arms, soon adding prehensile
grips, before the clumsy little hands were created
complete with opposable thumbs. 

These creatures were eager to explore the lands
provided for them by the throbbing planet; some
of them beginning to stand erect, first on four feet,
then all the way back & up on two, standing tall;
allowing their natural instincts to become
dreams, intellect, & dialectics--but always, 
always amongst the diverse populations
there were men who longed to return to the sea
as sailors, fishermen, & explorers.

Early on a saying was used to connote splendid
nautical skills, mariners would say that they
“sailed the seven seas.”

One of the earliest records of this saying was Sumerian
in 2300 BC, and they listed them as
the Persian Gulf
the Gulf of Khambhat
Bay of Bengal
Strait of Malacca
Singapore Strait
the Gulf of Thailand
the South China Sea.

Later in Medieval Europe, they changed the list;
the Black Sea
the Caspian Sea
the Arabian Sea
the Indian Ocean
the Red Sea
the Mediterranean Sea
the Adriatic Sea--
and depending on the region, the list could include
the Aegean Sea
the North Sea
the Dead Sea--
aka the Sea of Sodom
the Sea of Galilee.

In Colonial times, sailing in Clipper ships
from England to China, “sailing to, and returning
from, the other side of the world”, the list was
the Banda Sea
the Celebes Sea,
the Flores Sea,
the Java Sea,
the South China Sea,
the Sula Sea
the Timor Sea.

In modern times as we place our cameras
in outer space, when we speak of the Seven Seas,
we are referring to all the oceans of the world;
the North Pacific Ocean
the South Pacific Ocean
the North Atlantic Ocean
the South Atlantic Ocean
the Indian Ocean
the Southern Ocean
the Arctic Ocean.

Today we call over a hundred bodies of water “seas”,
so as you dream of piracy, glory, & exploration,
just pick seven of them, any seven,
and sail the hell out of them. 

Glenn Buttkus

July 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tune Therapy

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Tune Therapy

“The 60’s are gone, dope will never be as cheap, 
sex never as free, and the rock & roll never as great.”
---Abbie Hoffman

Back in my woebegone wage-slave days,
during my 30 minute commute to the office
each & every weekday morning,

to avoid the tremendous tedium,
to cheer myself up,
to dig the moment inhabited,
to put forward some positive vibes,

always listening to one FM Classic Rock station,
I would play a little game along the way,
always the Pollyanna at the start;

knowing that rock songs are 3 minutes in length,
knowing that I had 8 to 10 chances,
knowing that the damned odds were long,
knowing that my success would be minimal,

I created two Rock Group categories;
“Best of the Best I” and
Best of the Best II”.

In the first group I included five
of my favorite R&R artists,
needing to hear one of their songs;

Rolling Stones
Elton John. 

In the second group I included
my next five favorite R&R artists,
and would accept songs from,

Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Joni Mitchell
ZZ Top
Pink Floyd.

I would always get more excited
if I could hear a song from Group I,
but, of course, would still

love it if I heard any tune
from an artist in Group II, but
this game was complex.

I decided that if I could hear just one song
from either group, my whole day
would be ringed with rainbows;

on a fabulous day I would actually hear
up to 4 artists from both lists during
the half-hour commute,

but on a gray day, I would hear
none of them, and that day
would be dullard & flat-assed.

It was my will against the odds,
with my heart vulnerable to
the whims of cruel chance.

Sometimes I would go a whole week
without scoring a win, but hey,
sometimes I would be fat-flushed

with luscious luck, and my songs
would appear in cheerful clumps
day after day, a shining week.

This silly superstitious routine
was practiced for several years
and I never tired of it.

Sometimes, yes, I do miss the game, but
not the terrible traffic,
not the woeful worries,
not the fatuous fatigue,
not the belligerent bosses,
not the writhing work day. 

Glenn Buttkus

July 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poets FFA

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Monday, July 22, 2013

July 23

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July 23

“He makes a July’s day short as December.”
--William Shakespeare

Today is July 23rd, on a day the Lord has made;
the 204th day of the Gregorian calendar,
and who knows what day on the Mayan tablets,
the first time it has landed on a Tuesday
in the last ten years, as summer 2013
has hit like a bellicose blast furnace
clear across this vast continent, coupled
to vicious flash flooding in the deep
arroyos of the Southwest.

How does any Day in History distinguish itself;
well, by the various & specific births, deaths,
& events that have occurred on it, of course.

It is a Leo astrological birth day,
and there were several interesting personalities
that made their debut on/during it--

a slew of entertainers,
Daniel Radcliffe in 1989,
Emil Jannings in 1884,
Ronny Cox in 1938,
Woody Harrelson in 1961,
Michael Wilding in 1917,
David Essex in 1947, and
Philip Seymour Hoffman in 1967;

A couple of baseball players,
Pee Wee Reese in 1918, and
Don Drysdale in 1936, with
the inclusion of one writer,
Raymond Chandler in 1888.

Perhaps it was not a good day to die;
Vic Morrow decapitated in 1982,
Montgomery Clift, with his drug-induced 
heart attack in 1960,
Ulysses S. Grant, checking out in 1888,
with a glass of bourbon in one hand
and a stogie in the other, D.W. Griffith
facing the going to black alone in 1948,
Leo McKern growling like Rumple in 2002,
Van Heflin finally finding Shane in 1971,
and Sally Ride astride an exploding
space shuttle.

The diverse events created counterpoints
to each other, composing a mad concerto;
the typographer, an early typewriter
was patented in 1829;
Fox Films bought the rights to record sound
onto film stock from Movietone in 1926;
Henry Ford sold his first automobile in 1903;
the Treblinka extermination camp was opened
in 1942, deepening the Holocaust;
the lucky Gimli Glider, Air Canada Flight 143,
ran out of fuel and made a perfect deadstick
landing in Gimli, Manitoba in 1983;
the 12th Street Riot happened in Cleveland
in 1967, starting off with a violent gun battle
between black militants and the police.
leaving 43 dead, 342 injured, & 1400 buildings burned;
Vanessa Williams, in 1984, became the first
Miss America to resign in the wake of the bad
press over her nude layout in Playboy. 

I have braved 69 of these July 23rd events,
and this one has already presented me with
the arrival of Kate & William’s baby prince,
the arrival of “Papa” Pope Francis in Brazil,
hours more of the Zimmerman coverage on CNN,
the continuing story of the search for more dead
women wrapped in plastic in Cleveland,
the answer as to what a “Beatles sandwich” was,
more dribble about the fate of Edward Snowden,
and how Billy Ray Cyrus saved his marriage;

another sterling day in the life,
short-sleeved weather, complete
with a couple more surprises,
and it’s not even noon yet. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets OLN

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Septenary Sinews

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Septenary Sinews

“We shall never understand one another until we
reduce the language to just seven words.”
--Kahil Gibran

We have always looked to the number 7 for luck,
odd not even, and we have continuously
been immersed in septenary myth & reality
since Day One, for it took God 7 days
to create the world, didn’t it--and we spend
all lot of our time trying to avoid a relationship
with the 7 Deadly Sins.

Shakespeare’s seventh play was Edward III,
“All the world’s a stage
and all men and women are but players;
they have their exits and entrances;
and one man, in his time, plays many parts;
his acts being seven ages.”
--As You Like It.

In ancient times there were Seven Wonders of the World:
the Colossus of Rhodes & Great Pyramid at Giza,
the Hanging Gardens of Babylon,
the Lighthouse of Alexandria,
the Statue of Zeus in Olympia,
the Temple of Artemus at Ephesus,
the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

7 is the fourth prime number,
actually a double Mersenne prime.
A 7-sided shape is called a hepagon.
There are 7 fundamental types of catastrophes.
7 was considered a God number in ancient Egypt,
and the Pharaohs ordered things in groups of seven.
It was Seven Against Thebes.

There are 7 books in the Harry Potter series.
Harry was born in July, the seventh month.
Wizarding students spent 7 years at Hogwarts.
Lord Voldemort created 7 Horcruxes. 
I read each volume in 7 days.
T.E. Lawrence wrote the 7 Pillars of Wisdom.
George Carlin created The 7 Words You Can Never Say.

The original 45 rpm records were 7 inches in diameter.
Pirates sailed the Seven Seas.
There are seven main Archangels.
President Taft coined the phrase “seventh inning stretch”.
Mickey Mantle wore number 7 on his uniform. 
Buddha walked 7 steps at his birth.
Atlantis, according to myth, was made up of 7 islands. 

There are seven main stars in the Big Dipper.
Most mammals have seven cervical vertebrae.
In British folklore, the Queen of the Fairies,
( Quentin Crisp perhaps), paid a tithe to Hell.
Isaac Newton identified 7 colors in the rainbow.
Diamonds are Forever is the 7th film in the James Bond series.
Daniel Craig is the seventh actor to portray Bond. 

In the past Hindus wrote a 7 in one stroke, as a curve.
Ghubar Arabs made the longer lower line a diagonal.
Europeans added a third line in the middle
to differentiate it from the #1 in handwriting. 
Canada has eleven highways and route 7’s.
Many countries, many in the Middle East, have only one.
America has fifty-three of them. 

Hollywood has long considered the number 7
to be lucky when included in a film title. 
Seven Chances (1925)
Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Seven Sinners (1940)
7 Brides for 7 Brothers (1954)
Seven Samurai (1954)

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao ( 1964)
7 Days in May (1964)
Se7en (1995)
7 Years in Tibet (1997).

It should take a reader between 7 seconds
and 7 minutes to read this poem, and
about 7 days to forget it. I’m 7 times
grateful that 7 of you managed it. 

Glenn Buttkus

July 2013

Posted over at dVerse Poets "Poetics"

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