Friday, January 31, 2014

Trust Me

image borrowed from bing

Trust Me

“Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a
wooden gong. With trust, words become life itself.”

“Trust me,” said
the con man, the gigolo,
the car salesman,

the whore, the
brother-in-law, the boss,
the scaled serpent,

the leader, the
beggar, the dormouse, the tomcat,
the old vehicle,

the bald tires,
the almost-healed foot, the
seeds of Spring,

the weather, the
tail-wagging barking dog, the
tattered saddle cinch--

I will not
betray you, cheat you, let
you down, take

advantage of you,
disrespect you, hurt you, or
let you come

to harm, so
countless times you extended your
faith, heart, cash,

receiving whatever comes,
positive or negative, smile or
grimace; without guile--
gift for the gods. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on Free Write Friday

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


image borrowed from bing


“Bushido can only be realized in the presence of death--chosing
death over life, accepting this as truth, as closure.”
--Yamamoto Tsunetomo. 

Sometimes we approach much heralded & celebrated art like school children, only hearing the parroting praise, only seeing what was already described by the experts, the critics, the intellectuals, and that represents a sadness, a shame, almost hypocrisy for the individual unable or unwilling to liberate their own opinions on what they have experienced--because as ill-equipped as some of us might be to discuss opera or Op Art, or the fecundity of O’Keefe’s sexual flower paintings, or the emotion found in the dangerous drippings from Pollock, or Klee’s bi-polar linear madness, still we need, we must share, accurately and honestly, the rage, bile, or rapture we felt post-exposure to a painting, performance, pantomime or film. 

Case in point, the classic French film Noir, LE SAMOURAI (1967), showered with accolades, with a rare 100% critic’s approval, & a high 93% audience approval, considered an essential existential crime drama, influencing John Woo’s THE KILLER, & Jim Jarmusch’s GHOST DOG, & Luc Besson’s LEON, & Walter Hill’s LAST MAN STANDING; directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, a veteran crime drama creator--this film being considered his best, finally released in the original French version, after we all suffered in 1972 with the American release, severely truncated, re-edited, & overdubbed, & wearing the lame title of THE GODSON. 

This is a very dark tale of a meticulous assassin, who lives alone in a rundown secluded apartment, inconspicuous, hiding in plain sight, a Spartan existence, with a monk’s simplicity & a strict adherence to his own vocational code--with only one spark of life in this black on gray domicile, a bird in a cage. This is a color film, but most of it was shot in deep shadows & at night, giving it a Noir feel & essence. 

A film like this, with its sterling reputation, held in such high esteem, was a movie I expected a lot from. The lexicon of Assassin films is lengthy, dark & deep, so I hoped to see something fresh, gritty, & original, something deeply rooted to yakuza, bushido, & samurai traditions. There was an existential component to it as we watched Alain Delon maneuvering himself into a full tilt tragic end, but I must say, as flat-affected, dull, & insipid as the movie turned out to be, the primary weakness of it was the casting of Delon in the lead. His matinee good looks, his rumpled Bogart/Columbo raincoat, & his strained attempts at coolness seemed wrong, off-center, out of balance.

I wanted, needed to see Jean Reno, Yves Montand, or Gerard Depardieu as Costello; someone with a lived-in face, deeply lined  chiseled, with life’s weariness in his slight stoop, in his heavy shoulders, with the potential for believable violence springing from his killer sinews, effortless toughness rather than Delon’s stiffness, effeminate posing & pretenses that emerged as awkward sophomoric shuffling.

I needed, wanted to see an accurate realistic portrayal of pain, a propensity for violence behind his fierce stare, a rage, an anger predicated on a misspent youth, time in the joint, death deep in his eyes, a string of victims implied, strung out in piles of bodies in unnamed alleys, left in dumpsters & shallow graves, the coldness of a professional mechanic coupled to zero guilt, misplaced pride, and a fondness for firearms & martial arts; a Bronson, Statham, Palance, Widmark, Marvin, or even Ladd--I pined for sharing some time with Willis in a dirty T-shirt cleaning his weapons behind a pile of new ammunition, for some connection to bushido, some whisper of Kurosawa, one or two Mifune stares, a Nakadai burst of perfect violence, a Katsu hiss of killing blades--but instead received just cover boy Delon operating in a vacuous state of disbelief, posing in Borselinos & expensive suits, standing stilted in shadows, & prancing in & out of stolen Citroens.

Glenn Buttkus

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Blackthorne--Scene Twenty

image borrowed from bing


Cinemagenic Twenty


“Legitimate use of violence can only be that which
is required in self-defense.”--Ron Paul

1(sound cue) a woman’s scream.
2(medium close up) Millie, with one hand covering her mouth,
her eyes huge.
3(close-up) the double-barreled shotgun thudding to the floor.
4(close-up) Colt .41 Thunderer poised in whitish-blue gunsmoke.
5(medium close-up) the red floral print wallpaper on the stairwell
peppered deep with buckshot.
6(angle on the guard) holding his gunshot right hand with his left.
7(angle on blond whore) lying flat against the stairwell wall,
out cold.
8(sound cue) electric guitar pounding chords.
9(two-shot) Buck lunges toward the guard above him,
punching him hard in the face.
10(sound cue) fist colliding with a chin.
11(medium shot) guard with his back to the camera,
dropping to one knee, with Buck hovering over him.
12(close-up) Buck’s bare foot brushing the shotgun
out of reach.
13(medium close-up) Buck’s face, calm, stoic.
14(tight two-shot) over Buck’s muscular shoulder,
angle on the guard’s face; grunting through gritted
teeth, blood flowing thickly from his mouth.
--guard: better finish it, Buff--you’re a dead man already;
you damn sure dropped your big ass into a hornet’s nest.
15(close-up) Buck: Do tell, well OK, let’s blunt your stinger.
16(sound cue) saxophone high notes overlapping the
bearded guards roaring.
17(medium two-shot) guard rises up & leaps at Buck.
18(angle on Buck’s back) as he slammed the Colt barrel
down onto the guard’s head, forcing the brute to his knees,
stunned but not out, his head bleeding, dazed, his chin
on his chest, both fists clenched.
19(two shot, angle on the guard’s back) Buck holsters
the Colt, and goes to work with his fists.
20(sound cue) clarinet, reedy low notes; loud fist blows.
21(medium close-up) Buck connects with a right uppercut,
lifting the guard up & over onto his back.
22(medium close-up) the shotgun is on the floor near to the
guard--he reaches for it.
23(two-shot) Buck squats on the guard’s chest, pinning him
to the floor.
24(close-up) Buck’s POV as he strikes the bully guard three
times in the face.
25(sound cue) cartilage & bone breaking.
26(close-up) Buck’s eyes, now angry.
27(sound cue) base drum beats over harmonica riffs.
28(two-shot) Buck grabs a fistful of the guard’s longish hair,
& hoists him up to partially erect.
29(close-up) Buck delivers a short jab to the man’s windpipe.
30(sound cue) an Adam’s Apple re-forming as broken meat.
31(two-shot) Buck whirls around, drawing both of his side arms,
facing the noisy crowd below him--the guard lies in a crumpled
heap behind him.
32(medium wide-shot) Twenty men at the foot of the stairs.
33(sound cue) blues slide guitar.
34(close-up) Buck: so what’s the play, gents?
35(medium close-up) a younger guard in the front of the crowd,
holding a pump shotgun.
36(close-up) young guard’s face, fearful, confused.
37(medium wide shot) he puts the shotgun against his shoulder,
waving no contest with the free hand.
--nobody’s pulling on you, stranger.
--don’t shoot no more, pard. 
--calm down, mister.
--expect a visit from Bronson real soon. 
38(medium close-up) Buck holsters his weapons.
39(sound cue) snare drum raps over harmonica riffs.
40(medium wide shot) Buck turns his naked back to the crowd,
and quickly climbs the rest of the stairs.
--Millie follows him as he passes her.
41(sound cue) Indian snake rattle. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets OLN130

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Saturday, January 25, 2014


image borrowed from bing


“No one would remember the samaritan if he only had
good intentions--he has to have money too.”
--Margaret Thatcher.

When you came out of the supermarket
and you were approached by a teenager
in a gray hoodie, with a yellow striped
skateboard tucked under one arm,
and he asked you for spare change,
you stopped & stared at him

“Stupid little shit--
who does he think he is?
Why did he pick me to ask?
Why doesn’t he just flip burgers
for some pocket money
like most of his friends?
Did his parents know that he was
out here begging for money
from strangers?”

Yet he calmly returned the stare,
& there was no arrogance
or lack of respect
in his watery blue eyes;
there were dark circles under them,
dirt on his cheeks, & he had bad breath
with yellowed teeth.

“Was he high on drugs,
or strapped with a Glock,
or carrying a hunting knife?

He was terribly thin,
his soiled clothes hung on him
like rags on a bag of bones,
his cheeks were wet
from recently weeping,
& he had a long scar
on his forehead.

Other people bustled by
unaware of the mini-drama
playing out in those few
chilly rain-soaked moments.

Making a snap decision,
you pulled out your wallet
and handed the young man
a five dollar bill.

“Thank-you,” he said quietly,
moving on quickly to another shopper.
He had a ripped back pocket
on his grimy jeans, & you could see
his dirty white underwear poking out. 

When you got to your car,
you became angry with yourself;
“The little asshole probably conned me--
screwed again by my soft heart!”
you thought,
“Or maybe he will eat his first meal today
across the street at McDonald’s.”

But the anger resurfaced with a resentful surge;
“You’re just an easy mark, a sucker--too stupid
to realize you can’t fix the world with five bucks.

Then another voice suggested,
“No, I can’t--but maybe this small thing I have done
will infuse a positive vibe into the dark soul of just
one lost child, & it will be a pivotal point, a new
beginning, an impetus for change.”

So you felt good as you drove home,
deciding not to dwell on the negative

Two days later, you saw the same kid
in the strip mall parking lot, laughing
& skateboarding with some other boys,
wearing clean clothes, & a damned
stab of regret left the taste of metal
in your mouth. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Journey's End

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Journey’s End

“People see God every day, they just
don’t recognize him.”--Pearl Bailey.

As a kid, probably the first time
I ever heard of the word God,
I thought his last name was

Then I heard other children
talking about “loving Jesus”,
parroting the platitudes
their parents conditioned them with.

My own parents were not religious,
we never attended church
as a family--so I asked permission 
to attend religious services
with some of my friends & their families--
eager to find out who this God was,
or might be.

Off I went, my expectant arms around
the shoulders of my pals, & visited
churches, chapels, cathedrals,
temples, synagogues, & mosques,

sat in every kind of sanctuary,
sang songs from aged hymnals;
heard sermons from preachers,
priests, ministers, sanseis, teachers,
rabbis, elders, & Islamic holy men;

added my pocket change as contribution
every time one of those baskets, trays,
tambourines, hub caps, hats, or gunnysacks
was passed around--

filling their coffers with tax-free revenue,
praise Jesus;
blessed holy income,
praise Allah;
money from the multitudes,
praise Buddah;
cents from sinners,
praise Mohammad;
dollars from dopes,
praise Oral Roberts.

I spent much of my childhood
trying so very hard to understand
the exact nature of faith, worship, & prayer
within all those dimly-lit
cavernous yet claustrophobic,
sanctified, certified, thrice-blessed, holy
wooden--adobe mud--brick--cement--steel--
palaces of the many prophets,
somehow all serving & honoring
the same God;

finally emerging more confused
than enlightened, not finding
all that strictness, those mandates,
that forced fellowship within each faith
appealing--finding only
hypocrisy, dishonesty, arrogance, & cruelty
beneath the robes, 
behind the pulpits--
never embracing the succor,
salvation, answers, or comfort
I sought;

becoming an outrider,
a proud pariah, seeing
as much of God
in industrial waste,
in dumpsters,
in killing fields,
& on city buses
as I ever found
in those gilded privileged Clubhouses
labeled as acceptable venues
for spirituality. 

It took several dark decades
for me to finally manage 
the anger I felt,
the betrayal I sensed,
the distortions I witnessed--
until that beauteous summer’s day
at sunset when I stared at my own
reflection in the calm surface
of an alpine lake, and finally found
the truth, the answer, shining
out of my own eyes, 

& that quiet smile
that formed on my astonished lips
has remained accessible
ever since. 

Glenn Buttkus

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blackthorne--Scene Nineteen

image borrowed from bing


Cinemagenic Nineteen


Cunning & treachery are the offspring of incapacity.”
--Francis de la Rochefoucauld.

1(medium wide shot) hold on the Saloon set-up allowing
Buck to cross the frame left to right, from the front door
to the foot of the stairs.
2(sound cue) harmonica & banjo.
3(traveling crane shot) panning the startled faces of a couple
dozen men & several saloon girls:
--you crazy sonofabitch!
--who the fuck is that?
--he’ll be dead by nightfall.
4(medium close-up) Buck taking the stairs two at a time.
5(medium wide shot) Buck arriving at the landing
6(sound cue) snare drum snaps.
7(2-shot) The bearded bully guard from the tower with a shotgun 
leveled at Buck.
8(shot expanding to 3 figures) as the blond whore from the adjoining
room peeked out from behind the guard.
9(sound cue) saxophone, short staccato notes.
10(medium close-up) the bearded guard:
--You done it now, Buffman!
--Buck: Done what?
--Guard: If you’re looking for trouble, you found it
in spades.
--Buck: Actually, asshole, I’m looking for my pants. 
11(angle on) the blond whore, mascara running down her cheeks,
eyes red from crying, shaking with rage & fear.
12(extreme close-up) the twin barrels of the old shotgun pointed
at the lens, filling the frame.
13(close-up) Buck, his face composed.
14(close-up) the bearded guard: Emma here says that you broke into
her room & murderously assaulted one of her best customers.
15(sound cue) violin & accordion.
16(medium two-shot) the blond prostitute stepped out from behind
the guard, her dress half torn off, her left breast exposed, her right
eye swelling from a new bruise.
17(close-up) Buck: she’s confused.
18(close-up) bearded guard: bullshit!
19(close-up) blond whore: fuck you!
20(close-up) Buck: then she’s a liar.
21(medium wide shot) revealing Millie standing three
risers up behind them, not saying a word.
22(medium close-up) blond whore: you crazy motherfucker--
you might have killed my Paully. 
23(sound cue) a scream of insane rage.
24(sound cue) coronets & screaming.
25(three-shot) the diminutive blond rushing toward Buck,
her fists clenched, her arms windmilling.
26(medium close-up) she scratched at his bare chest & stomach,
then pounded on his legs, her arms a flurry;
27(sound cue) a woman’s blows connecting, with her huffing,
& grunting while delivering each punch, competing with blues 
guitar slides.
28 Buck does not defend himself, stoically accepting the
silly pummeling.
29(close-up) Buck’s face, staring unblinkingly at the guard.
30(close-up) the guard, his eyes wild, his teeth clenched.
31(medium close-up) the blond whore, suddenly exhausted,
collapsing to her naked knees, her arms at her sides.
32(sound cue) banjo & acoustic guitar.
33(close-up) blond whore, eyes shut, whimpering:
you killed Paully--you killed Paully....
34(two-shot) suddenly the whore comes to life, aiming
a short vicious jab at Buck’s crotch.
35(sound cue) pair of clarinets, high notes. 
36(medium close-up) Buck backhand-slapping the woman,
with his left hand.
37(sound cue) the loud slap.
38(close-up) Buck drawing his Colt .41 with his right hand.
39(sound cue) a pistol pulling out of a shellacked leather holster.
40(close-up) the guard pulling the shotgun triggers.
41(sound cue) Two shotgun blasts & two loud pistol shots--

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets OLN129

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Saturday, January 18, 2014


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“On each side of the river, flowing from the throne of God,
stands the Tree of Life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, its leaves
used for the healing of the Nations.”--Revelation (22: 1-2)

Man’s mind & body, his entire history
has been rooted & connected
to the Tree;

beyond the miracle of photosynthesis,
which provides us with oxygen, 
the Tree is associated with all forms
of philosophy, theology, & mythology,

representing all aspects of creation, 
the World Tree, the Cosmic Tree,
from fecundity to immortality.

In Christianity, where most of us
were introduced to the Tree,
it stands for the immaculate state of humanity
before the Fall, standing in the middle
of the Garden, symbolic of man’s will,
his very heart & core, revealing
the exact moment when he was given
“free will”;

while some zealots believe that
the Cross was the true Tree of Life,
& that Christ’s body and blood
were its fruit.

In Judaism the Tree is called
Etz Chiam, & it is a synonym
for yeshivas & synagogues.

In Norse mythology, the Tree
was called Yggdrasil,
& it belonged to Thor, a sacred
massive yew, ash, or oak,
it connected the 9 realms
of Asgard. 

In the Koran, the Moslems call it
the Tree of Immortality, 
stating that both
Adam & Eve ate of its fruit,
thus directly disobeying Allah.

In ancient Persia
the World Tree
could bear all seeds.

In ancient Egypt,
it was the Acacia Tree,
where Isis & Osirus emerged,
containing DMT, a psychedelic
drug that enhanced spirituality.

In Armenia, the Tree
was a religious symbol
drawn on the walls of fortresses
& carved into battle armor.

In China, the Tree
is made of bronze, topped
by a phoenix & guarded by a dragon,
bearing one peach every 3000 years,
& whoever eats it will become

Personally, when it comes to trees,
I was influenced early on
by poet Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree--
poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Poetics

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