Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Off Ramp

Image borrowed from bing

The Off Ramp

“I think giving money is the worst thing
people can do. It enables panhandlers
to manage their addictions.”
--Bill VanderMeer
Director of the Union Gospel Mission

In California it is usually Hispanics
selling oranges or flowers,
but around here as you line up
for the light at the head of the off ramp
the panhandlers rule,

young and old,
usually solo, but the other day
I saw a young couple on the curb,
he was shirtless and had long dirty hair
as he played a pawn shop beater guitar,
she was braless in a skimpy halter,
wearing a floppy men’s fedora.
They had a weaved basket between them,
and several large bills were stacked up in it.
Their sign read:
“Need to pay rent to her Mom next week.”

A dwarf in an oversize pea coat and watch cap
sporting a patchy beard:
“Out of luck--need a buck.”

A young man with a soldier’s buzz cut
in a torn Seahawk’s sweatshirt:
I’m like Obama-I need change.”

A handmade cardboard sign
stuck in a flower pot read:
“Broadway panhandler moved to 65th
and E. 8th--appearing between 
11 a.m. and 7 p.m.”

A well dressed man in a business suit,
with spiky hair and clean fingernails:
“I love to help. Need to give. Please take
some money.”

A 6’ 4” 350 pound Samoan in a wife beater,
wearing long shiny sports shorts and flip-flops:
“Need money for a DNA test. My girlfriend
might be my sister.”

A stooped over elderly man wearing a filthy
wool overcoat, bald and toothless:
My wife has been kidnapped, and I am 
$5.00 short of the ransom.”

A large legless black man in a wheelchair
with his portable O2 bottle in his lap:
“Give me some money or I’ll kick you
in the face.”

An old woman with cheaply dyed red hair,
balding in front, with a wispy mustache:
“Granny needs to have a tattoo removed.”

A short middle-aged man in a nasty looking
soiled sweatshirt with cut-off sleeves, his
filthy arms covered in tattoos:
“Need money for alcohol research.”

A youngish man with bushy unkempt hair,
wearing glasses with masking tape at
the center, missing several teeth:
“Will take verbal abuse for money--God bless.”

A tall muscular black man in a backwards ball cap,
wearing a high school letterman’s jacket:
Need money for beer, drugs, and hookers.
Hey, at least I’m not bullshitting you.”

A large sign on the side of a city bus:
“Promote real change--not spare change.”

A small sign tacked on a phone pole:
“Panhandling is legal--get over it.”

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012

Posted over on dVerse Poets

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cento For Cupid's Darts

painting by guillaume seignac

Cento For Cupid’s Darts

"And yet to say the truth,
reason and love keep
little company together nowadays."
---William Shakespeare

I breathe deep, taking my shoes off,
shivering as I feel the lawn’s tongue
green & dewy on my feet.

From what I’ve tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.

Let us go and make our visit in the room
where women come and go
talking of Michelangelo.

Angelheaded hipsters burning for
the heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo
in the machinery of the night.

I love you as certain dark things
need to be loved, in secret,
between the shadow and the soul.

You boys can keep your virgins--
give me hot old women in high heels
with asses that forgot to get old.

“Does my sexiness come as surprise--
that I dance like I’ve got diamonds
at the meeting of my thighs?”

I charge you that you make preparations
to be worthy to meet me, and I charge you
that you be patient and perfect
until I come.

Hoorah for the large men who lie
between the breasts of bestial Marj.

Just to wake up, look across the expanse
of our pillows and know today,
I will marry once more.

Sweet, there is nothing left to say
but this, that love is never lost--
ships tempest-tossed
will find harbor in some bay,
and so we may.

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012


Stanza 1:  Claudia Schoenfeld from PER FUMUM--THROUGH THE SMOKE.
Stanza 2:  Robert Frost from FIRE & ICE.
Stanza 4:  Allen Ginsberg from HOWL.
Stanza 5:  Pablo Neruda from LOVE SONNET VII
Stanza 6:  Charles Bukowski from LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL
Stanza 7:  Maya Angelou from STILL I RISE.
Stanza 8:  Walt Whitman from TO A COMMON PROSTITUTE.
Stanza 9:  E.E. Cummings from BETWEEN THE BREASTS
Stanza 10: Brian Miller from POPPING SILK & OTHER COMPLEXITIES
Stanza 11: Oscar Wilde from HER VOICE

Posted over at dVerse Poets FFA

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Red Door

image borrowed from bing

Red Door

The blazing orb dove into the ocean
like a huge fiery California waterbird,
drenching the white caps on the cruel waves
that rolled merciless against miles
of white Malibu beach,

as summer dusk settled sonorous
on Santa Monica, but the teen age girls
squealing on the ferris wheel at POP
did not hear the soft footsteps in the deep sand,
did not see a solitary figure strolling
the emptiness beneath the pier,
merely a shadow within a shadow
watching the crimson and orange surf
hammer the earth, then slide back
and pound it again, leaving dirty foam bubbles
that fizzed and popped near his brogans. 

The gathering twilight approached him
as he stared out at a convoy of Naval vessels
gliding deliberately toward the horizon like gray phantoms
bristling with their precious cargo of cannon fodder.

He had escaped, had served, had seen
the mystic side of that huge expanse of flat water,
understood having mortars for breakfast,
before swishing the hungry jungle flies
from the dozen severed heads stuck firmly
on bamboo stakes, dead eyes searching
for America with their testicles crammed
in their midwestern mouthes,
lips sewn up crudely with green vines,

compounding the bright coral covering his cortex,
an inner reef that grew in his head 
like a cancerous tumor, blockading even
the Mary Jane craft that churned through
the blood canals, its denizens of demons
working hard at licking the pink pulp
off the backside of his eyeballs

as he continuously sought more fuel
to feed the cold furnace 
his heart had become, pouring
chemicals into the void, sticking
his head deep into the darkness,
chasing the black-hooded monks
who had no faces as they
wandered in the fibrous fog
captured by the impenetrable canopy
of horrid memories 
and nauseous nightmares,

because the mother fucking purple scars
of war do not fade easily,
and shrapnel does not dissolve
from hippie spittle showers,

and nothing seemed to ease
the terrible ache in his chest,
not tanned teen torsos
nor soft California nights,
not the medicine from Mexico
nor mind bending mushrooms,

but his mother’s voice chimed
clearly within the sea gulls cries,
helping him to realize
he had to come down,
had to get a grip, 
had to return to the world,

which probably brought him to this beach,
to peer through the barnacle-laden stanchions
at the old Hotel Casa del Mar, its rod iron
balconies swarming with heroin ghosts,

yet somehow not even 
Edmond O’Brien as Chuck Dederich
or Alex Cord as Zanky Albo,
or the VA counselors,
or his mother
could convince him 
that now was the time
to join the congregation
of the Church of Synanon. 

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012

Posted over on dVerse Poets OLN63

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Road Trip

image by massimo venturi

Road Trip

While on a road trip to Texas, 
parked at a rest stop outside Ft. Stockton, 
along the straight concrete snake of I-10,
chewing on cold slices of Pecos cantaloupe,
we got out to stretch our legs.

My wife, who does most of the driving, 
walks for 15 minutes to shake the road kinks out,
while I find a cement bench in the shade
as refuge from the 115 degree Southwest sun.

Parked next to us was a white SUV
with one of those professional stick-on signs
on the front doors; it read

Massage and Spa
Wimberly, Texas.

An older man, perhaps in his 70’s,
with a great shock of white hair,
wearing a Hawaiian shirt and black slacks,
was struggling with the leashes for his
two small spotted dogs. He noticed
I was staring at him, so he dipped his chin,
smiling a howdy,

just as I realized that I needed to call
some of my friends in Washington State
to inform them that our trip was running long
and that I would miss an appointment 
with them the next week.

I retrieved my second wallet from my left cheek pocket,
a small leather one that holds my gas credit cards
and my little black address/phone book. I placed
the open wallet on the roof of our silver hybrid Camry,
while I struggled to figure out how to use my wife’s
new iPhone so that I could call my people.

Finished but still cranky with the heat
and my ignorance of new technology,
I slipped the address book into a shirt pocket
on my red cowboy shirt, snapping the flap
over it as I got into the vehicle while still fussing
and off down the freeway we sped.

A couple air-conditioned hours later
as we approached San Antonio,
I patted my shirt pocket
and the terrible realization that I did not have
my second wallet thumped me on top of the head.

God damn son of a bitch! 
I roared, pounding my fists
on the innocent Toyota dash.

My wife exited the freeway
as I excitedly explained that I had lost
or left my wallet, probably by leaving it
on the roof of the car back at Ft. Stockton.

I embraced full self-deprecation,
giving myself four Bozo awards,
expounding on the virtues of aging,
while also lamenting the loss
of the three crisp hundred dollar bills
in the wallet as hideout cash,
as my sweet wife pulled out
her iPad and iPhone and began
the arduous task of looking up and then contacting 
the five gas card companies
so that we could cancel those lost cards.

We had managed to cancel two of them
when the cell phone rang. 
It was my youngest daughter
who was house-sitting for us.

“I just received a strange phone call,” she said,”from a Joe Taylor who lives in  Wimberly, Texas. He said that he had found your wallet at a rest stop, then looked up your name on Google, since none of the cards had ID beyond your name, then called here to leave a message that you should call him at his office tomorrow after 9 a.m. His business is called “Touched By An Angel”.”

I just burst into copious tears of gratitude,
being a living witness to the unassailable fact
that yes, angels do walk among us.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets

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Thursday, September 20, 2012


painting by john shannon


In a thatch of sleeping thistles,
standing ankle deep in clover
near the swollen swirl of the stream,
I glanced over at your cabin,

perched there on stilts
with its high porch,
like a tall brown heron
that saluted the mossy sun setting
behind the thick slippery limbs
of the mother of maples.

In the half light I could see
a silver glint off the chromatic curves
of your proud metal chimney,
towering like a stack on a sturdy ship,

blemished by that trickle of creosote
that dripped down teasingly into
the black flaming barrel
of your homemade wood stove.

Standing there quietly in the almost dark
I swear I could smell your sweetness,
granting majesty to the moment
as I marveled at how compatible
we seemed that summer,
side by side in the naked scotch broom.

What a joyous and rare August’s eve
we had shared the night before,
tumbling slow on the heels of humidity,
warm and sticky--with you nearly
invisible in the gathering ink
as I held your voluptuousness tightly,
struggling to see one of your slender fingers
pointing to a Greek goddess
in a clear constellation that seemed
to shine just for us.

In the darkness, pressing your breasts
against my chest, my thoughts reeled
like flirtatious fireworks, absolutely
certain that finally my wandering had ended,
that I no longer needed to spread
loneliness around my shoulders
like a prayer shawl, because
I was not lost, no,

I had found refuge, sanctuary, there
in that wet meadow on the edge
of the national forest, and 
I had found something else
within my self, 
first a hidden door,
then a hidden room 
somewhere in a secret fold of my soul,
where before nothing had ever penetrated,
no phantom footprint,
no phantom breath. 

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012


image borrowed from bing.


Are we 
so desensitized 
by the plethora 
of make-believe violence
on our Xboxes, 
in action films,
in our modern art--

so much so
that we fully expect
to become victims
in a country
with the highest murder rate
in the world,

where nine year old
punks with Glocks
rule the streets
and our minds?

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012

Posted over on G-Man's Flash-55

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Deus Vult

image borrowed from bing

Deus Vult

Today, this minute, we are faced with a Middle East 
once again ablaze with religious fervor, 
and democracy is but a pale rider
among the desert warriors.

The blood threads of holy rivalry spread virally 
like a catastrophic pandemic throughout history
like horribly hemorrhaging capillaries, 
with each side feeling threatened
by their opposite zealot,

God making a dizzying attempt to ride
the war horses on both battle lines,
in one holy hand and
Deus vult
in the other;

as the atrocities mount up like Dachau data,
the fearsome lions of the Sahara
the self-righteous winged Crusaders,
angry fists clenched,
pure panic reigning
as histrionic scholars cite Pope Gregory VII
who piously sanctified the use of force
in the service of Christ Almighty,
and Muslim multitudes stoke the ecclesiastical rivalry
with violent protests against some stupid film
that somehow offends their holy prophet

Much of this began in 1099 when a rag-tag
starving army of Crusaders besieged
Jerusalem, the holiest of cities,
in response to Christians being cut off by caliphs
from visiting the holy sites, as Jews and Muslims
fought together to defend their city from the
crazed yet dedicated berserkers at the gates,
who miraculously overwhelmed them
and began massacring everyone,
burning torahs and the koran everywhere,
before hideously pillaging the great city,
wringing treasure from their coffers,
resorting to murder, rape, even cannibalism
before it was over, reduced to historic inevitability
and centuries of papal interpretation.

This is a conflict that has festered for a thousand years,
and it probably cannot be logically resolved,
seamlessly assimilated, or democracised
into some form of queasy hybrid
or unstable cranial hermaphrodite,

no, this remains a timeless titanic tussle
of powerful prophets, of crazed combatants 
whose diverse world views clash bloody,

and praise Allah sweet Jesus,
we can barely believe the current chaos
that runs rabidly through our headlines,
across our big screens, as we close in
on a particular presidential choice
that will seal our immediate fate.

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012

Posted over on flipside records
Posted over on dVerse Poets OLN62

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Saturday, September 15, 2012


image borrowed from bing


You know the first time
one encounters something or someone,
that initial impression may not be
                                      relevant or

like that pretty girl who challenged
your lame pick-up patter, who first
intimidated you before fascination
kicked in;

or that French art film that baffled you
in 1965, only to thrill you completely
in 2002;

or that trestle bridge that seemed so immense,
when you were ten years old, but shrank
to insignificance the day you received
your AARP identification card--

and certainly the romantic unrealistic notion
that one can fall in love at first glance with
a blond cheerleader in a short skirt,
the verdant foothills below Mt. Rainier,
a 1968 Chevrolet SS Impala convertible
with a 396, factory 4-speed and dual glass packs,
the Space Needle,
Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings,
Frank Frazetta’s fabulous pulp covers,

is every bit as valid 
for each of us 
as the converse,

so I guess
that is probably why 
poetry was invented,
to explicate, illuminate, feature
the cognitive dissonance
that enriches and colors our days. 

Glenn Buttkus

September 2012
Posted over on dVerse Poets

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