Saturday, December 14, 2013

Flame Harnessing

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Flame Harnessing

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single
candle; happiness never decreases by being

After man discovered how to create & control fire,
it was inevitable that he would learn to encase
a burnable wick in wax in order to light his way,

& even more inevitable that he would soon
thereafter begin to use candles to represent
religious significance & symbolism.

During Colonial times one lit a single candle
in the window to welcome home family travelers,
and later, for many, the single candle stood for
the Star of Bethlehem, or for Jesus as the
Light of the World. Three candles meant
the holy trinity.

The Buddhists light candles in front of
Buddhist shrines or statues to signify
both the light of Buddha’s teachings
& of impermanence & change in life.

We find the Menorah in Jewish Temples
& homes, holding eight candles, lighting
one for each day of Hanukkah, representing
the oil that burned in the Temple for 8 nights.

Most prominently, we find those decorative racks
of votive candles in Catholic churches, usually
facing a shrine of Jesus or Mary or both,
placed in colorful jars or holders.

Lighting some of these candles somehow
intensifies one’s prayers for the safe return
or improved health of a loved one, &
all kinds of special circumstances.

It is important to understand the color coding 
on votive candles:
--green for prosperity, growth, & vitality,
--white for eternal life, enlightenment, the color of joy,
--red for sacrifice, love, & passion,
--gold for eternal life or victory,
--blue for Lent or Easter, trust & faith,
--purple, often lit during Advent, to express
remorse & repentance.

On a lighter note (smile), people who
have been known to bake 100 foot wide pizzas,
or waffles that could cover a table, set out
to create the World’s Biggest Candle.

It seems the Americans have triumphed
in this endeavor with the humungous 
Caruso Candle built in Centreville, Indiana,
standing 80 feet tall, 8 feet in diameter.

Every year on Caruso’s birthday, I guess
they put a large singing tenor in a crane basket,
& lift him up to the top while he holds a blow torch--
God, I’d love to witness that celebration. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th

“Friday the 13th doesn’t mean a thing to me. My
luck sucks every day--so what’s the difference?”
--Rodney Dangerfield.

the most
dreaded day
of the year;

Mickey Spillane,
Julia Child,
Chet Baker,
Tupac Shakur,

all died
on it;

the Costa Concordia
hit a rock
& sunk
on it.

have been
considered unlucky
ever since
was crucified
on one. 

has a
is a

it might be

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on G-Man's Flash 55

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hearth Song

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Hearth Song

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul,
& yet no one ever came to sit by it.”--Vincent Van Gogh.

Our house was 
built in 1953, 1,500 square
feet upstairs, with

a full daylight
basement. We assumed residence in
1993, inheriting a

home already inhabited
by spiritual passers-by; both
frightening & fascinating.

Never the same
figures, all strangers just trying
to get home

themselves, trying to
find their way through the
maze of separate

dimensions, who stopped
to rest at our hearth,
before moving on,

resuming their journey;
a couple on the love
seat, a soldier

in a WWI
uniform, a young girl in
a shawl, holding

a rag doll,
a teenager in a poodle
skirt, a logger

wearing plaids; fully
revealed, just politely visiting, attracted
to our fire.

Our fireplace is
massive, a double-decker, with
full hearths upstairs

& down, with
a complicated fleu system, its
tiles fire-baked.

At first we
used it a lot, buying
several cords of

wood, & stacking
it on new pallets alongside
the house, &

yes, we fully
enjoyed the primeval fascination of
staring into open

flames, listening to
it hiss as it consumed
alder, fir, &

pine, warming ourselves
by sitting on its rainbow
rock shelf, &

there were several
winters that we kept the
home fires burning

for weeks unending;
but somehow, the love affair
waned, as enforced

burn bans, the
outrageous cost of firewood, the
filth & clutter

left on rugs
from hauling fuel to feed
its dragon maw,

& miscalculations with
the fleu, smoking up the
whole house, just

soured our ardor.
Now the basement fireplace is
covered with plywood,

then further mantled
with moveable shelves of DVDs,
erasing its existence.

Upstairs we keep
the tall brass shield erect
to discourage our

tiny grandchildren from
crawling up into it; standing
cold--flameless for

years; just remaining
decorative, something to hang holiday
swags & wreathes

upon, stones to 
dust, a silent roommate, a
mute companion, where

Hestia & Vesta
no longer hold court, abandoned
by janyas &

specters alike. Maybe
we ought to rekindle that
flame this winter,

& let them
all know that we miss
their visits, &

now they are
more than welcome to drop
back in--to

enrich our home
life, to be recipients of
our genuine hospitality,

to rebuild our
connection to the portals covered
with sad ash. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets MTB

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Murderous Mews

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Murderous Mews

“You have the freedom to be yourself, Jonathan, your
true self, here & now, & nothing can stand in your way.”
--Richard Bach.

Once more, Nature 
has been molested by man, forced
to be an unwilling participant in a new
unbalanced oceanic rape scenario.

The Southern Right Whales, reduced
from a population of 50,000 a hundred
years ago, to a modern day population
of 7,000 world-wide--have always
migrated to the warm Patagonian waters
near Argentina, to the Valdes Peninsula,
swarming in large birthing pods near
the bustling city of Puerto Madryn.

Each year 200,000 tourists spend 40 million
dollars, flocking there in July-December
to watch the majestic mammals breach
the water. leaping magnificently into the air,
& then displaying their regal tails;

but these days hundreds of tourist ships
stay tethered to their docks, because
the magical whale watching has become
a horror movie, something out of the 
fevered mind of Alfred Hitchcock.

The Kelp Gull population has exploded
during the past few years, since Chubat
province Argentineans have erected
huge open air garbage dumps, & they
continue a policy of tossing fish parts
from local seafood packing plants
directly into the ocean.

Always ravenous, these carnivore gulls
have discovered that they could score
easy meals by attacking the whales;
diving down onto them when they surface
for air, driving their sharp beaks & claws
first into the rubbery flesh, & then tearing
off five foot strips of sweet blubber.

Adult whales suffer hundreds of deep lesions,
but seldom die of the terrible wounds; they
have learned to arch their backs underwater,
only surfacing their blowholes before diving again;

so the real victims are the whale calves, from
2-6 weeks old, with their softer skin, & a tendency
to linger in the warmer shallow waters where
they are fed 25 gallons of floating mother’s milk
daily; being lipless, they cannot suckle.

It is said that the macabre torment of the whales
is a nightmarish dirge, sounding like a punishment
from vengeful gods of the deep. 80% of these
Southern Right Whales suffer from gull-inflicted
wounds, but it is the vulnerable calves that are
dying at an alarming rate.

Argentinean politicians are not suggesting
going green, processing their garbage properly,
or disposing of fish parts more efficiently,

rather they are sending out police patrol boats
with orders to shoot the gulls doing the attacking,
& then dispose of their bodies quickly so that
marine life do not feast on them & ingest
the ammunition as well, further upsetting
the ecological imbalance.

Like the nearly forgotten plight of the drowning
polar bears, this is just another manifestation
of man’s hubris, ignorance, & arrogance;

one day soon the whales will just stop coming,
and maybe the killer gulls will start attacking
people out of their frustration
and madness. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets OLN126
Posted over on the Mag 197

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ecila's Rorrim

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Ecila’s Rorrim

“You are eternity, and you are the mirror.”
--Kahil Gibran.

Ecila was a young poet,
who lived alone in a rented cottage
in the countryside, and she was spending
her first winter there.

The realtor who found the cottage for her,
gave her his assurances that the lovely
domicile was fit & hardy--& the perfect place
for a young writer to find inspiration;
his name was Charles L. Dodgeson.

One cold wintry eve, with flames roaring
in the fireplace, Ecila sat comfortably
in a tall red armchair, with her two kittens
playing at her feet, 
one white (Snowdrop), 
& one black (Kitty)--finding
the yin/yang feline combo 
perfect as companions.

She held a large tablet on her lap, favoring
the bright yellow legal pad to write upon;
working on the beginnings of a poem,
wanting to explore a metaphysical theme
of overlapping dimensions, alternate worlds,
extended entity personalities, & time travel.

A tall full-length mirror stood on its stately
brass pedestal near the fireplace, & the flames
glowed sweetly in its depths.

Something prompted Ecila to look up,
& to her surprise, her own reflection
was inaccurate; she was standing
somewhere wearing a black & white
waitress outfit, with a short red apron.

She was fascinated as she rose
& approached the tall glass portal.
There was a bustling diner on the other side,
decorated with fairy tale murals;
Jabberwocky’s Joint
read the neon sign hanging over
the ice cream/soda bar.

Oddly, she could no longer see
her own reflection in the scene,
so she leaned in closer & could hear
both Elvis & the Everly Brothers
tunes blasting out of large flower pots
that looked like jukeboxes, 
& the brightly colored flowers
were singing the lyrics.

“Alice, my girl, where is my Big Man burger?”

She turned to face the customer,
who was a very rotund man, barely
able to sit upon the two chairs he
had scooted together.

“Coming right up, Hump--don’t get excited
& fall off your chairs again,” she said,
heading for the kitchen.

“Well hustle up, princess--you know that
I am celebrating my unbirthday again today!”

The floor was made up of large black & white
squares, like a huge chess board, & the chrome
furniture all had pink, red, & green tops.

“Alice, babe, our fave shorty,” 
said the two white rappers,
T-Dum & T-Dee, in harmony,
“Don’t forget our two hot fudge mondies.”

The other older waitress whizzed past her; everyone
called her Red, because of her Lucy-dyed tresses.

“Sunny today, but bundle up tomorrow 
because we are expecting icy snain,” 
warbled a blond weather girl on television, 
all dressed in white to match her platinum curls.

Finally reaching the huge kitchen door,
she swung it open & found herself facing
herself in a tall mirror, where her Alice
name tag looked like it read Ecila.

She suddenly awoke to kittens purring,
a fire crackling, & the winter wind howling
outside, and for a moment she
could not recognize her world,
could not separate the dreamscape
from the landscape;

but then as the room pulled 
into focus, she began to scribble madly 
on her note pad
and a new poem 
began to emerge from
her pen.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Miracle in the Burbs

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Miracle in the Burbs

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time
we love, every time we give--it’s Christmas.”
--Dale Evans.

I still live
in a
small town,

carolers stand
in the cold

Santa sits
on a
fire truck
and cruises
the neighborhood,

where tree farms
are just

store window
look like
Norman Rockwell,

the reason 
the season
every heart,
every home.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Greatest Gift

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The Greatest Gift

“All men die, nations may rise & fall,
but an idea lives on.”--JFK.

Some truths are hidden beneath fear, mandates,
codes, & various interpretations of morality--
even so if one truly loves another,
would they have the authentic courage
to let them go--if the loved one wished it so?

Perhaps the greatest, most poignant & painful gift
of all is to allow our loved ones the RTD:
Right to Die, to embrace, or orchestrate
death with dignity;

Most of us tend to dismiss this Gift
as non-viable, not to be considered;
that is until cancer or some other
terminal illness invades our insulated lives,

and we find ourselves terribly tangled up
in matters of morality, mortal sin, euthanasia,
living wills & Do Not Resuscitate orders--
or when we are suddenly designated as a
Medical Durable Power of Attorney.

Sometimes this ethical conundrum raises
its death-head whenever a celebrity
commits suicide secondary to a
terminal illness or depression; folks like--
Hunter S. Thompson,
                  Kurt Cobain,
                       Pedro Armandariz,
                                       Brian Keith 
                                             Ernest Hemingway
                                                         Spalding Gray
                                              Sylvia Plath
                                      Charles Boyer
                          Richard Farnsworth
             Jonathan Winters
          Roger Ebert
   Nick Drake.

There are those of us who believe
that if a person is still of sound mind,
has a terminal illness, 
and is not under duress or pressure
from a family that wishes them gone,
they should have the right, the entitlement
to participate in a physician--assisted suicide;

and this is legal in only two states;
my home state of Washington is one of them;
where one is given the right to decline
a life-prolonging treatment, often horrific
& lethal itself, in order to continue to exist
as a vegetable, a side of meet housing only
a brain stem, a comatose lump, a zombie,
a bright soul entrapped in a corrupted receptacle--
with the humane proviso, of course, that they
be offered pallative care in order to reduce
unreasonable pain & suffering. 

The Right to Die should be universal,
freely given as a gift of love, never
as a curse or committed sin.

One’s body,
one’s life, are, in fact,
their own, & the Soul
should be given a loving option
to evacuate a deteriorating husk,
in order to soar freely,
and ready itself
for the next

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on Poetry Jam

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