Monday, October 1, 2018


image from


“Life is a shitstorm, in which art is our
only umbrella.”--Mario Vargas Llosa.

Unlike some more tolerant folks, I abhor crowds.
I always have. If you want to be witness to my
stress triggers, put me in a long line, or send me
out Christmas shopping. In crowds I feel like a
white lab rodent in an overcrowded nest. The
transfer of anxiety and angst from one to another
is like feeling a vicious jolt from a cop’s taser.

Yet, that face to face, butt to butt carnival is 
actually preferable to me compared to a mile
long dead stop traffic jam. The stresses are
amplified by being completely impersonal,
hidden by bumper to bumper angry scowls,
masked within their mundane cookie-cutter
malicious machines; no exit, no escape, no
wiggle room--all stop and clamped down.

This ill ease, for me, is an urban disease that
no one in its grip is immune to. Some utilize
indifference, malaise, daydreaming or techno-
distractions as their counterpoint, but after
ample exposure, they become leaden-eyed
and android clones. Somehow, my anger has
vaccinated me, leaving me uninfected, and my
poet’s eyes miss nothing.

Pigeons wing over
the throbbing masses, blithely
picking their targets.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub


brudberg said...

Oh yes... the anger is vaccination... the thought of sitter there locked in a traffic jam makes me prefer bicycling through rain... at least i'm always moving...

Jane Dougherty said...

Like you, I hate crowds. Oh to be a pigeon.

Kim M. Russell said...

I'm with you on this, Glenn - crowds make me ill. Your description alone of feeling like a lab rat, with the 'transfer of anxiety and angst from one to another...feeling a vicious jolt from a cop’s taser' made my stomach churn and just the idea of carnival brought me out in a cold sweat. But I did smile at the pigeons picking their targets. :)

sarah said...

Your pigeon made me laugh! Take aim, fire! Seriously, though, I like your bleak and bitter take on alienation.

Grace said...

At least my train is moving and I get to my destination. I really hate: mile long dead stop traffic jam. I feel really angry when I am in that situation: no exit, no escape, no wiggle room--all stop and clamped down. Have a good Monday Glenn!

qbit said...

"my poet’s eyes miss nothing." -- Yes to that! You are stifled and jostled and close to trapped, but you respond by observing, by noticing. Almost the only way to survive, as the other choice is to give way to the deadened apathy around you.

Unknown said...

I'm with you - hate crowds. I think it is a product of having been shut-in so long. Love your haiku, and your sense of humour.

Frank Hubeny said...

Nice ending about anger: " my anger has
vaccinated me, leaving me uninfected, and my
poet’s eyes miss nothing"

tonispencer said...

I too abhor crowds which is why I do my shopping online or go to the out of the way farmer's markets or small shops. Crowds make me itch. I like your closing about being vaccinated and your poet's eyes seeing all.

A Reading Writer said...

Oh how I can relate. Such crowds and scenarios can trigger anxiety, lots of it. You wrapped this one so strongly.

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

Glenn- I too abhor crowds. I tend to pick up every scent, every emotion, every misplaced dream. It can be overwhelming...

Jilly said...

Excellent word choice as you turn this into disease. (My favorite coffee cup reads: Sometimes I stay inside because it's just too peopley out there.)

Frank J. Tassone said...

Rush hour is one of my stress-triggors. Audiobooks have saved many lives! Great write! I viscerally feel that creeping frustration your anger immunizes you against!