Monday, November 30, 2015

Self in Duplicate

image borrowed from

Self in Duplicate

“To be able to look back upon one’s past lives
with satisfaction is to live twice.”--Lord Acton.

I remember my last professional gig as an actor, 1977, in the
stifling heat of January at the Mirnerva Theatre in Sydney,
Australia, in the heart of King’s Cross, sitting on a catwalk
20 feet above the stage watching pal Keenan Wynn faking
his way through a scene from a lightweight off-Broadway
comedy, frustrating his co-star, Jane Kean, of HONEYMOONERS
fame; him the victim of a hearing impairment & a terrible memory.

I had a nothing part as a cab driver, with 20 minutes to kill before
my next entrance. Someone sat down beside me--a very large man
with long hair & a swept back pompadour, jet black with silver wings
on the sides. He wore white pancake on his face, made up like a
Mime, with white eyelids & bright red lipstick. He had a large bronze
pendant of Buddha around his neck, his white Nehru shirt open to
his navel, orange tights & tall black leather boots.

“Hey,” I mumbled.
Hey, yourself, Glenn.
“Do I know you?”
Are you kidding, Slick? We have been friends for your whole life,
& the two others before that.
“What are talking about?”
Before this you were a writer of Gothic fiction; pretty successful too.
“Really? What was my name?”
Trevor Hardwicke. The life before that, you were an Irish laborer
working on the first subway line in New York City; died in a cave-in
at 33, left a wife & five kids. One of them became a doctor.
“So what are you called?”
Mathias, it’s always been Mathias, remember--I was Laertes to your
Hamlet right here in this theater.
“Come on, I’ve never been here before two weeks ago.”
Your Hamlet was the talk of Sydney for months, & your Henry V
was excellent; but you played Macbeth for two years straight.
“And you were?”
Macduff, of course. I really enjoyed killing you several times a week.
“But how can this be?”
Because as an old soul you chose to live in two overlapping
dimensions at the same time, born on the same day, with identical
death days. We are sitting on the edge of the overlap right now.
“Christ, this blows my mind.”
Do you want to know more about the other You?
“So I’m a fucking psychic twin?”
Actually at this point your personalities are legion on
multiple planes, & your coat of colors is blinding bright.
I could hear Keeno fluffing a major line with Jane Kean,
“Sorry, man, but I have to split & get out on stage.”
Take your time. He’s jumped ten pages. The last act will
have to be improvised.
I started to climb down a ladder to a lower catwalk,
“Will I see you later?”
Sure, you can’t help yourself.

I looked up & he was gone. I only saw him one other time
during some meditation twenty years later. He waved & 
winked, but said nothing.

There’s never enough
years in one lifetime to reach
real success times two.

Glenn Buttkus


image borrowed from


“Beyond a certain point, the whole universe becomes
a continuous process of initiation.”--Robert Anton Wilson.

In 1871, Bobby Dunstan had heard tall tales of cattle drives out
across the Great Plains since he was knee-high to a milk bucket.
He was the eldest, growing up on a small horse ranch about five
miles out of Ft. Griffin, TX--so he was the first to be able to leave
home on a cowpoke adventure.

He was 17, & tall as a healthy stalk of corn; more than anything in
this world he wanted to test his grit on a real cattle drive. His father
let him take the mule, Old Gus, & it was a long 75 mile ride up north
to the Red River Station at Spanish Fort; only a three day trip as the
hawk flies. Soon the blisters on his backside made him wish that he
too had wings--but the rough ride readied him, making his insides
rawhide tough.

His experience with horses paid off in aces, for he was hired by the
Burning B bunch literally the day he arrived in town; made head
wrangler, in charge of a 100 horse remuda, plenty of broncs for the
dozen cowboys that would drive the 2,000 head of longhorns 24 hours
a day. They would use the popular Chisholm Trail all the dusty way up
to Abilene, Kansas--more than two months work at $40.00 every month.

Red River Station was the jumping off place for dozens of drives that
Spring. The seasoned hands in his bunch were wild-eyed, but all of
them seemed to possess a clarity of purpose. Before they hit the trail,
he willingly swam naked in the Red for his initiation. They were damn
lucky that late April because the river was running shallow, & they stayed
off the sand bars, & avoided the quick sand--because he heard that a
week later after a Texas rain squall, it became turbulent & treacherous.  

“Abilene or Bust!”
the pokes yelled, spurring their mounts
north up the Chisholm.

Glenn Buttkus

using her 12 word list on Wordle227.
Also posted over on dVerse Poets Pub "Haibun Monday"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blackthorne--Scene 50

image borrowed from


Cinemagenic Fifty


“Reality is easy--it’s deception that
is the hard work.”--Lauryn Hill.

1(wide-shot) The three unbroken mares were staked securely,
close together.
2(sound cue) a crow’s strident caw blended over a cello chord.
3(overhead drone shot) a white raven in flight; traveling with it
as it flaps & soars down to & over the equine trio of bound maidens.
They all looked up as it winged by, landing on the naked top limb
of a ancient snag.
4(medium close-up) the raven’s head swiveling left & right, its 
red piercing eyes alert. 
5(sound cue) Indian seed rattle, castanets & wood block bangs.
6(cut back to medium close up) One of the mares, a black, was
restless, pacing, tugging at her tether, making soft nickers. Another,
a dark chestnut, was down, her legs tucked beneath her, watching
the younger black with bemusement. The third one, a brown & white
pinto drank from a small pond, blowing mud bubbles & sucking up
the cool water.
7(sound cue) a stallion‘s neigh over a muted coronet.
8(medium close up) the young pinto lifted her perfect head, & pricked 
up her white ears
9(close-up) the joy in her blue eyes.
10(return to medium close-up) she began bobbing her head, tugging
at her rope restraint, whickering shrilly with fat water beads standing
out on her soft nose.
11(two-shot) The chestnut & the restless black both turned their head
& looked up. He had come.
12(sound cue) piano & French horns.
13(cut to medium wide-shot) the Appaloosa stood on a hill high above
the trap. The breeze was bending the grass, blowing from behind him,
ruffling his mane & rippling waves on the pond--so he did not smell
the hidden men.
14(cut to a reverse shot) with the stallion in partial silhouette. Below him
there is an opening between two boulders, & a lot of tall sage, pine, &
aspen limbs have been piled high over a split rail fence that surrounds
the pond, & danger did not announce itself.
15( cut back to original POV wide shot) revealing that a dozen of the
boldest members of his band of mustangs stood as one, a tight knot
of wild horseflesh behind & below him.
16(medium close-up) he called to his mares.
17(sound cue) they answered as triplets.
18(stationary wide shot) below the stallion. He pawed the ground
with his left hoof, snorted & started down the hill alone, moving
toward the lens. A couple of the bronco colts started to follow, but
then halted.
19(sound cue) Indian snake rattle & French horns with sustained
low bleats.
20(cut to crane shot) tracking medium wide as the stallion trotted 
down the hill, then stopped,
21(close-up) & sniffed the air.
22(cut to medium close-up) as the restless black mare urged him on,
implored him to help them.
23(medium wide shot) the stallion cantered into the opening in the rocks
directly in front of his staked-out females.
24(sound cue) acoustic guitar chords.
25(medium close-up) He stopped short, talking to his ladies, his eyes
angry & impatient--Take us away from here, we are frightened. He
commanded silence. They obeyed.
26(medium wide-shot) he skittered stiff-legged up to the restless black;
hers was the first nose he touched. He walked past the chestnut, now
on her feet--she was old & flabby, right up to the frisky pinto--she was
one of his favorites. He had no more than nuzzled her neck
27(medium close-up) angle on the stallion’s head just as he heard
the noise.
28(sound cue) the onerous sound of the first pole slipping into place
over a coronet & snare drum.
29(medium wide shot) all the mares were screaming, bucking, & straining
against their ropes as he whirled around & lunged toward escape.
30(cut to medium close up) as the second, third, & fourth poles slipped
into place across the opening, barring the stallion’s egress--& there were
two men with ropes behind the poles.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub OLN

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mail Call

image from

Mail Call

“You’re a disgusting fat slob. Sound off like you got a pair, you
useless, grabasstic pile of civilian dog shit.”--R. Lee Ermey.

In 1966, during Navy boot camp,
I stood at Mail Call
becoming a chunk of driftwood
that others stepped over & on,
not noticing my empty hands,       or mile-off stare;
                                            still seeing my mother
                                            baking bread & cinnamon rolls,
                                            cooking fiery chili slowly all day,
                                            waxing a thousand square feet
                                            of hardwood floors, & folding all
                                            of our laundry & putting it in our drawers
before she bathed,
            & dressed up like she was getting ready
                         for a date; make-up, jewelry, perfume,
                                      every afternoon, to please,
                                                                 to greet
                                                                 to genuflect for
                                        my asshole stepfather--a perfect 
                           conglomerate of Archie Bunker & Stanley Kowalski,
               who looked like Tony Curtis, dark & handsome--
her third husband,            another loser,
                                         another ignorant Lothario,
                                         another felon,
                                         another batterer, but
                she really was in love with this one,
                with his muscular body & tattoos,
                       his James Dean 1950 black Mercury fastback, &
                       his Brando leather motorcycle jacket & aviator sunglasses,
before, of course, she found out he had cheated on her regularly
& had been raping my little sister since she was twelve.

I did receive a few letters from my grandfather & my sister, & my girlfriend,
who was using my absence as a catalyst to break up with me during that
13 gut-wrenching weeks of boot training before Viet Nam, standing alone
& invisible midst the colorful chatter spilling out & clogging the room from
those lucky boys whose mothers had written them, & God help me, during
that dark time part of me became blind, had amnesia, standing as a statue
covered in bird shit with folded arms, with lowered gaze, with ridiculous
expectations, convincing my self that if I pretended hard enough, wished
with unbridled enthusiasm, & focused with all my soul on my mother’s face,
that somehow, maybe, miraculously a loving letter from her would actually
appear, but the troll on my right shoulder was eager to point out that
my pathetic pretense was 100 days deep in fallacious misplaced 
moronic bloody lying hope--because another part of me had watched
her die three months before I had spent my June birthday as a boot,
turning 22 silently, without detection, & I could no longer recall her
beautiful face--all I could visualize was the cancer, the watermelon-
sized tumor in her uterus, leaving her frail body emaciated, her mother-
bones poking out of her paper-thin skin, a beauty contestant in Dachau,
dead at 39, so riddled with tar-black carcinogens that my grieving
stepfather had no funeral, just had her cremated in private, he & her
urn & a case of beer.

I now use his name;
adopted as mother’s wish;
millstone & penance.   

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub "Poetics"      


Friday, November 20, 2015

One Wish

image from thesherwood

One Wish

“If God granted me a second chance, a rebirth, but with
only one wish, I’d search for you all over again.”

I was running through a terrible storm, deep in the forest,
my raincoat saturated, my ball cap soaked, my jeans
sticking to my legs, & my boots making squishing noises
as I ran. The giant thrashing conifers were like a behemoth
maze. I had no idea what direction I was headed in--twisting
& turning all the way.

Against a lightning flash I could see an outcropping thrusting
out of cliffs as tall as windowless sky scrapers. I stepped out
of the trees & plunged into cavernous darkness. But in the
distance I could make out a bright light, so I moved toward it.
Sweet cedar wood smoke wafted into my space. I was finally
out of the deluge.

So it was that I happened onto the cabin, constructed of rough-
hewn twisted timbers, held together with fat wooden pegs &
white adobe mud; something older than written history, & it
beckoned to me through large well-lit leaded glass windows.
The front door was easily ten feet tall, with carved faeries &
dwarves & elves on it. I opened it easily with the brass gargoyle
handle, & stepped inside. It was brightly lit by several large oil
lanterns, made of many-colored glass. It was toasty-warm, with
a roaring fire ablaze in a large stone fireplace.

Welcome, wet stranger, come in & dry out as you realign your
aura, center your cosmic flow, intensify your Christ conscious-
ness, & heal your pain.
A very tall wizard sat in a redwood rocker, & his huge hat
shadowed his eyes.
“Is it safe.”
Safer than where you just came from. Go ahead & remove your
wet garments before you catch your death.
Oddly, I didn’t hesitate, stripping off my storm-soaked clothes. If this 
was an illusion, it was a damn good one. I needed to dry off. My clothes
steamed while lying on the stone ledge, as I sat calmly on a white
wicker chair in my damp underwear.
“Are you real?”
Very much so, for a fortunate few.
“And I’m one of those?”
Most assuredly.
“What are you called?”
There are those who call me Hie R. Selff. What can I do
for you?
“Excuse me?”
What do you want? You are entitled to one wish.
“Are you shitting me?”
Young sir, I shit you not.
He puffed on a long slender pipe as I sat staring into the fire,
watching the bone-dry cedar pop with lovely combustion.
Without hesitation, suddenly I said, 
“I want the cancer to disappear permanently from my wife’s body.”
He looked through me with his piercing golden-green eyes;
smiling, he said: Of all the wonderful things in the whole world,
that’s all you want?
Yes, if you just heal my wife, I will be deliriously happy.”
Fine. Just close your eyes now, & concentrate on your wife’s
face. You will awaken back in your truck at the trailhead. Drive
home safely--when you get there your sweet wife will want
to share her good news.

When given just one 
wish, think outside your own self;
share the good fortune.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on With Real Toads

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Playing Dead

image borrowed from

Playing Dead

“Everything you want is on the other side
of fear.”--Jack Canfield

On Friday the 13th, six days ago
in Paris in the Bataclan Theater at a show,
there was the deadliest attack in French history.
with innocents as the quarry, in every single row,

butchered, slaughtered, murdered & callously killed,
while some played dead, lying in pools of blood spilled;
but we are told not to ever do that--
told to run, to scatter like rats, to be strong-willed.

In England, the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office
gives us a survival list to study & second-guess;
escape, run or hide, unless the attackers can see you,
like victims in a city zoo; if so just swallow all the stress,

just realize that you standing in a killing zone
& as the bullets fly, you are really not alone.
So run if you can, play dead if you can not,
for in a trap you are now caught, your fate unknown.

I hope there are swarms & flocks of angels there
too, ready to catch you, to became a heavenly pair
of souls departing, spirituality fierce & aglow,
offering love to absorb blows, life everlasting to share.

Perhaps it’s not helpful, still it is a proven fact,
for every successful attack, a dozen more are sacked.
We must not live our life hearing the threats, feeling Fear,
for the cost of liberty is dear, & safety is never exact.

Glenn Buttkus

We are tasked to write a Florette.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Hosanna

image from our family album.

Holiday Hosanna 

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned
in life--it goes on.”--Robert Frost.

As a kid, I often wondered
                          why the holidays       seemed
                                                            so bitter
                           to my grandparents--

but now with grandchild #7 in the oven,
                           clarity regarding such confliction
                                     descends like acid rain that peels
                            epidermal layers, revealing truths that come
                     with candy cane daggers & cranberry barbs,
                     with tattered bibles & sugary shrouds,
                     with faded photographs & garlic breath,
                     with dripping tinsel & torn wrapping paper,
                     wearing popcorn necklaces & gumball gems.

It has everything to do with the moaning string
                            of loved ones,
                            of tolerated ones
                            of forgotten & disliked ones; yes,
                                               ALL passed on, BUT
                        their faces, spirits, smiles, grimaces, hearts
                   & idiosyncrasies emerge around
          our family table, as those of us
still breathing gather in celebration & kinship.

As grandparents we sit now
at the head of the table,              venerated, respected & loved,
          happily assuming the inherited roles
of patriarch & matriarch               wearing a laurel of lilies,
                                                     holding a dove’s feather in one hand
                                       & a fancy silver fork in the other.

Those lost to us find their way home during the festivities--my still young
mother, dead at 39 in ’68, my three boorish stepfathers, a cruel trinity,
--perhaps even my biological father, whom I never met or knew, my lovely
grandparents, on my mother’s side, my wife’s parents, & too many friends,
acquaintances, bad bosses, drunken cronies, dearest comrades, cousins,
uncles, aunts, nieces & nephews--a swarm of specters on queue, increasing
in numbers on line with each year.

My dear mother-in-law was last to pass, at 90, last July. We always
flew to Texas each year to celebrate Christmas with her, more than
two decades of sweet tradition. Her empty chair, empty plate & absent
cheer will be sorely missed. My wife is already weeping when she 
thinks I don’t notice, the heartaches from Lucille’s passing still being
fresh wounds all around.

Hurrah, holidays
are upon us, as the dead
sit there behind us. 

Glenn Buttkus