Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Send in the Clowns

painting by c. nelson kellar

Send in the Clowns

“I remain just one thing, & that is a clown--which places
me on a far higher plane than most politicians.”
--Charlie Chaplin.

Actually, we have co-existed
                                  with clowns
                                               for centuries,
dating back to the medieval courts of kings,
                                               where jesters
and fools were given permission
to be outrageous
to represent bawdiness
to pretend to violate sexual norms, even
to mock the gods
              roast the aristocracy, and then later
morph into the more malicious

Extreme fear of clowns
is called Coulrophobia,
a term found on the internet since the 80’s
but not found in medical texts or dictionaries.

Many younger children have intense dislike or fear
of clowns, recognizing a familiar body
that sports an unfamiliar face, giving
no real clue what/who might be lurking
                 behind the make-up,
                 bulbous red nose
& electric pink or violent violet fright wig,
representing a frightening visage, a frightful person
whose intentions are unknowable.

Even in 12% of all adults, 
though most of them would deny it,
fear of clowns can induce panic attacks;
in isolated cases keep them out of
carnivals, circuses, horror theme parks,
& even prevent burger munching at

Theories abound that too many stories,
                                         movies & events
featuring killer klowns (From Outer Space),
                                          like Pennywise
in Stephen Kings IT, or the sinister Joker
                                           in BATMAN
have intensified & exacerbated these fears.

Emmett Kelly became famous as Weary Willie, 
but his personal life was a shambles,
& his angry ex-wife claimed that 
Willie overtook Emmett’s personality.

Emmett Kelly Jr., after losing his leg
in a train accident, bizarrely decided
that he needed to become the reincarnation
of Weary Willie, began dressing as him,
began calling himself EK III;
falling into a life of degradation, drugs, and madness.
In 1978 he was arrested for the murders
of two of his homosexual partners,
& he claimed that Willie was an accomplice.

Between 1975-78, John Wayne Gacy,
an actual killer-klown,
sodomized & murdered
33 boys & young men in the Chicago area,
claiming that he selected his prey
while performing as a clown
at their birthday parties & events. 

clowns represent the side
of human nature not totally
accepted by society;
as the conflicting dichotomy
of evil clown vs. circus clown
They seem
                  to attract
                                or repel us
secondary to holding up a funhouse mirror
to our secret inner selves. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blackthorne--Scene Twenty-Six

image borrowed from bing


Cinemagenic Twenty-Six


“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination
from ambush. It will be a still extinction from apathy, indifference,
& undernourishment.”--Robert M. Hutchins.

1(sound cue) brassy bleats from trumpet, saxophone, & clarinet.
2(two-shot) Buck dove out of the leather swiveling chair, with one
hand jerking off the barber’s striped apron, the other reaching for
his Colt. The barber was standing still, tall & resigned, staring
at his shop window.
3(sound cue) galloping horse’s hooves blended with snare drum
spats, & trumpet snort.
4(close-up) Barnes, stone-still, staring sadly, blankly.
5(sound cue) a shattering shower of glass overlapped by three
shotgun blasts.
6(medium wide-shot) the big plate glass window exploding inward,
the shiny shards filling the screen in slow motion.
7(sound cue) violin scratching stridently, horse’s hooves fading, people
shouting, Cheewa barking.
8(medium close-up, low POV) Buck squirming across the floor through the
broken glass, the Thunderer in his right hand, the lethal sawed off in his 
left, working toward the partially open front door. 
--Buck: Barnes, did you get elected?
--Barnes (weakly): Not quite, but I got nominated real good.
9(sound cue) pioneer fiddle & acoustic guitar chords.
10(medium wide-shot) Buck struggling to his feet, but remaining in a crouch,
stepping toward the door--Cheewa raced out ahead of him.
11(sound cue) crunching glass under his boots.
12(medium close-up) Barnes lying on the floor alongside his barber chair,
holding his stomach, his apron stained crimson at his solar plexus, lying
in a pool of his own blood.
13(medium wide-shot, reverse POV) the exterior of the barber shop, with
Cheewa boiling out of the front door, running off to the right (camera-left)
--followed by Buck, upright, both weapons cocked, looking left, then right.
14(close-up) Buck, his eyes a bit frightened, startled, some white shaving
lather still on one cheek, smudged into his new sideburn.
15(sound cue) blues guitar chords.
16(crane wide-shot) camera pulling back quickly to show us an empty street.
16(sound cues) saloon piano & harmonica, dog barking, low buzz of
17(reverse medium wide-shot) across the street from the barber shop,
people clinging to doorways beginning to move around, faces
peeking out of windows from behind curtains.
--Bystander: They’re gone for now!
18(medium wide-shot, tracking to the right) as Buck rushes up
to Cheewa, who is standing stiff-legged at the head of an alley.
19(cut to medium shot) the alley, Buck standing behind his dog,
weapons extended, Cheewa on point, alkaline dust settling at
its opposite end. 
20(sound cue) blues guitar double-slide.
21(close-up) Buck, his brow furrowed:
--Buck (VO narration): Alleys, alleys, you back-shooting cowards.
You flee like cockroaches, like wharf rats scampering for the 
nearest woodpile. One of these days I’m going to cut off your
fucking tails.
22(sound cue) Deep voice: Hold it, right there!
23(hold close-up) Buck closes his eyes.
24(medium shot) camera pulls back, Buck has lowered his weapon
--there is a man standing behind him. Buck froze.
--deep voice: Drop your cannons, raise your hands, & turn around slowly. 
25(hold medium set-up) Buck obeys, dropping his Colt & sawed-off
into the deep dust.
26(sound cue) the pistol & shotgun thunking into the ground, drum slaps
27(cut to reverse POV) as Buck slowly revolves around, his hands in
the air, his face expressionless.
28(reverse shot immediately, Buck’s POV) There is a short stocky man
in a shapeless white hat pushed up in front, who has the drop on him--
holding a pump shotgun; blond haired with a thick mustache, wearing
a bright red shirt with the sleeves unbuttoned & rolled up, revealing
heavily-muscled forearms, thick hairy wrists.
29(sound cue) harmonica & guitar.
30(medium close-up) pinned on the man’s black leather vest was a
shiny Sheriff’s badge.
31(close-up) bright blue eyes, knitted brows.
--Sheriff: that’s right, big man...just take it easy.
--Buck: Why the hell are you pointing your scattergun at me?
32(sound cue) Bull buffalo bellow & Indian snake rattle shake. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub OLN

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breaking News

image borrowed from bing

Breaking News

“Good news is rare these days, & every glittering ounce of it
needs to be cherished, hoarded, & fondled like a priceless
diamond.”--Hunter S. Thompson

Lovely Kate Upton, model & actress, knows
after doing a Sports Illustrated sexy pose,
that running in slow motion in the surf
in a white bikini gives men a visual kerf,
while comparing her to Bo Derek,
binding them together in a carrick;
both of them obviously a ten,
& that’s not just for the men. 

I love it that our dear Pope Francis
is taking some personal chances
by cold-calling Catholics world-wide;
sweet condolences if someone died,
canceling a magazine subscription,
causing traditional cardinals a conniption--
all because old Frank is a true mensch,
& he must his conscience fully quench. 

Kate Middleton was recently seen
doing something low & mean,
wiping off her son’s royal drool
on her dress while at the zoo;
damn, people need to get a grip,
cuz being a real Mom is so hip. 

I do have to admire George Clooney though
at dinner in Vegas with Steve Wynn,
creating quite the heated contentious din,
despite all the casino owner’s dough,
George stood up & called him an asshole,
for slandering his pal Barack Obama,
like telling him to go screw a llama
in front of nine shocked friends;
so later he may have fences to mend. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poet MTB

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

John Ford Slept Here

image borrowed from bing

John Ford Slept Here

“The more I see of Indians, the more convinced I am they all
have to be killed, or maintained as a species of paupers.”
---General William T. Sherman.

There is something about the Southwest
that draws me to it repeatedly--maybe
because of the hundreds of Westerns
shot in the Mohab area of Utah by 
Howard Hawks & others, out in the Arches,

or that John Ford country just off AZ 163,
running north off 160--reminding me of the summer
we stayed in an overpriced cigarette- smoke stinking
room in a rundown motel in Kayenta, where
I ate my first fry bread taco;

remembering how upset I was when I found out
the famous parts of Monument Valley could not
be seen from the highway--they were all on
the Navajo reservation, & you have to pay a fee
to drive onto it, & then pay another fee to huddle
in a dusty flatbed sight-seer truck that could
negotiate the blow-sand dunes & potholes
purposefully left in/on the roads that snaked
out among the monuments.

I mean no one can easily describe the heart-stopping
thrill as one stands for the first time along
the southern lip of the Grand Canyon, peering
into the pleistocene reddish-blue vastness
of a gash carved by the Colorado river, & later
seeking out the northern edge of the canyon
with its lesser view;

I do so enjoy all those stops at ancient ruins
from Flagstaff to Page, but something unique
& fun is to roll northeast on AZ160 toward
the 4 Corners Monument, where the Ute Mountain
reservation bumps feathers with the vast AZ/NM
Navajo nation, where the geographic physical
corners of AZ, NM, UT, & CO all meet cordially,

no actual approach from UT highways, but yes,
160 NE out of AZ,
NM64 coming NW out of Shiprock,
or CO40 dropping down SW out of Cortez,
near to the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde
or the several ruins at the Canyons of the Ancients;

a funky ostentatious tourist monument erected
right at the cross bars of the four state lines,
where I stood spread-legged in the quadrangle
posing for the obligatory photo, with the merciless
sun beating down at 118 degrees, where

four ragged rows of Native American booths 
were sitting under unpainted planks or canvas
selling fabulous Indian silver & turquoise jewelry
(some made in Mexico we found out later),
trinkets, moccasins, blankets, t-shirts made in China,
pottery, sculpture, baskets, & art, a warm mix
of Ute & Navajo cultures, with fry bread stands
every fifty feet. 

The place seemed like a fulcrum, a vertex,
a nesting of heart & drum beats, a marriage
of mingling & tingling, a reservoir of rejuvenation,
where one readied them selves to seek out
even more red rock canyons, pinioned-choked
arroyos, pueblos, vast vistas, sage-scented
rest stops--

making your own road movie,
both in your mind & digitally,
indefatigable, never tiring of the next
viewing, reconnecting with a rawness,
a vigor that fuels your imagination,
salves your incessant wanderlust,

until the next trip,
ever returning,
ever yearning,
ever curious. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Poetics

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ever the Dreamer

Ever the Dreamer

“I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions
to be realized, than a lord among those without dreams.”
--Kahlil Gibran.

Still that fresh-faced boy
on that windblown bluff
             above Puget Sound,
                        under a peeling madrona,
                                   staring out at Blake Island,
                                                  of becoming
                                             a writer,
                                      an actor,
                             a teacher;
a recipient of some kind of wonderful windfall,
                                                         enough wealth
                                                         to be able to live
on one of the grand islands in the Sound--
to build my dream-house
that had a deck with white railings
                                          and red bannisters,     
                                          part pirate ship,
                                          laden with colorful rigging
and two brass telescopes to star-watch with,
                                          redwood whiskey barrels
                                          made into raised gardens;
while rising out of the middle of the magical roof there
                                          would be a Stephen King
ten story tall writer’s tower, protruding phallic like
                                          a poet’s lighthouse
                                          where the muses could mass
                                          high above the pine & maple tops,
where I could witness sunrises over the Cascades          
                       & sunsets over the rugged Olympics.

                       A simple enough plan, just
                       become a successful rich Actor,
                       gaining a modicum of notoriety;
then happen to mention to my posse of agents,
Hey, did you know I have written a couple of novels,
& thousands of poems, & the words cry out to be shared ?
                      Perhaps we could publish some of this stuff,
                      make a pile of cash
                      and put our kids through college. 

Oh yes, my dreams were vivid,
like neon roadmaps,
& yet, as is too often the case,
like losing your virginity,
like turning 21, 30, 40, 50, 60,
the destination once arrived at,
the goals achieved (sort of),
         as grand
              as imagined
                    or anticipated,
                             because youth
                                  is blind to wisdom,
                                           deaf to sage advice.

                                   I became the Actor, 
                                            but a whirling decade
                                                  of Thespianism never led
                                                           to a plateau of success,
rather it just revealed the grit below the glitz,
the negative energy of daily rejection, like
drinking alcohol when dying of thirst,
it’s certainly wet, but it never slacks the need,
or nourishes the soul.

                                         So one onerous smog-ridden beaten-down
                                         day in the ghetto of Hollywood, I decided to
                                         embrace a hiatus, seek gainful employment;
                  & I’ll be damned if it didn’t come to me
                  easily, like colliding with a stranger on the
                  bus, staring at their face, & understanding
that you recognize them, knew them
from another life,
from another dream.
                  It was time for MacDuff to fade,
                  for Benedick to become mute,
                  for Sancho Panza to let Quixote slip away,
                  for Adolphus Cusins to divorce Major Barbara,
                  for the cowpoke drifter to stable his silver spurs,
                  for the sailor to give away his fuck pitchers,
                  for the soldier to unload his weapons,
                  for the Commedia masks to be put away gently;

time for the teacher to make a difference
in the darkness, for the shadow poet to
continue to be a passionate scribe, for
the novelist to learn technical writing,
as the make-up, tights, & ruffled shirts
were put into the back of the wardrobe;

           as several dense decades gathered
           at my feet like a windblown Sunday
           newspaper, with the funnies & editorials
wrapping warmly around my thighs--
becoming emotional at my retirement
party as my former students & fellow 
employees saluted & roasted me,
filling me with a genuine sense
of fulfillment. 

As I launched my next ten year plan,
a wondrous wisp of a thing happened--
my dreams were rekindled, & every day
it seemed dreams became reality,
coming to ragged & beauteous fruition,
but energized, reborn, rejuvenated replacements
lined up
         like dream warriors
                           within me--
                                     in a never-ending
                                               spiral, twisting themselves
                                                         into a helix formation,

all with a child’s face,
with that old
sense of 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Black Pearls

image by phyllis galembo

Black Pearls

“Tahiti is insular, full of peace & joy, but fully encompassed
by the horrors of life beyond its beaches. Push not off from
that isle, for thou canst never return.”--Herman Melville.

There is a wide wonderful archipelago
of 118 islands in the South Pacific--
referred to as French Polynesia.

is the largest island,
populated by Polynesians before Christ,
called it Otaherte.

In 1606 the Spanish called it Sagitaria.
In 1767 the English named it King George Island.
In 1772 the French called it New Cythera.
By the 1800’s it became known as Tahiti.

In 1788 the island was visited by the HMS Bounty.
In the 1820’s the English converted the natives
to Protestantism, introducing alcohol, firearms,
prostitution, venereal disease, & illness to them,
decimating the population, killing 60% of it. 

The French moved in with their Catholic missionaries
in tow, & for a bloody decade the new Catholics waged war
against the Protestants.

The French won, of course, proclaiming Tahiti
as an official colony of France. 
Gauguin resided there in the 1890’s. 

In 2007, I visited Tahiti for my firm,
on a quest to buy up some black pearls,
indigenous only to the Tuomota Islands
in French Polynesia.

I flew into the Capitol at Papeete,
& stayed in a hotel there, having to deal
with Chinese pearl dealers, finding out
that the Chinese were called
the “Jews of Tahiti”, being the
majority merchant class. 

French was the primary language there,
but plenty of English was spoken too. 
I loved hearing smatterings of the old Tahitian
language, the Reo Maohi, in the cafes,
bistros, & marketplaces.

They say that the island of Hawaii
in just 10 days gets more tourists
than Tahiti in a year, & that even
an average Las Vegas hotel has more rooms
available than in all 118 islands.

My last day there, my purchases concluded,
I wandered into the central park, & was
confronted with Gaston Temara, who stood
on a steamer trunk & gave political speeches.

He wore fake chains on his wrists,
& a ceremonial bag-mask on his face;
fierce & fascinating, he had led 
an unsuccessful bid for independence
the year before, but

his hardy black band of freedom fighters
was quickly put down by French troops
sent by President Jacques Chirac,
who claimed, after freeing the dissidents, 
that France did not believe that the majority
of Tahitians wanted independence.

Flying home to California, my company satchels
crammed with precious black pearl jewelry,
I could not get Temara out of my head.

Would something akin to liberty find a way
to flourish one day in Tahiti?
Something deeply American in me
truly hoped so. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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