Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pundits of Prosody

Castle & Sun by Paul Klee

Pundits of Prosody

“All poetry, as discriminated from the various paradigms
of prosody, is prayer.”-- Merriam-Webster.

Prosody has its
origins in Latin and
Greek; revered by some.

As if to
imply that “serious” poets must
study form like

Rabbinical scholars, like
medical students dissecting corpses to
understand Nature’s secrets.

Listening to linguists discuss poetics
saying that sans classical form-aesthetics
all verse pales, becomes almost pathetic,
to me is delusional, leagues from prophetic--
because poetry that finds its own way,
foraging through language, keeping form at bay,
can emerge as muscular, inspired, simply majestic,
miraculously just much more       energetic.

It is said/written that without adequate knowledge of the art of
versification, a poem can become barren, static, & soulless, like
a computer simulating music versus an accomplished musician
interpreting it emotionally, but speaking only for myself, to rely 
too heavily on pedantic parameters is stifling. In High School,
when it became apparent I had a talent for writing, my English
teachers complained:

“Glenn, you have already developed a writing style that violates
many of the rules of grammar even before you fully understand
them. You attack language like a berserk bear in a bakery. You
should not attempt to write like Faulkner or Ginsberg when you
are only 15 years old.”

Each time that I approach classic poetic forms
    & have to be concerned with tempus & morea,
               become obsessed with the prosodic principles
                     of feet, meter, & pernicious syllable count, using
                            the pyrrihic, trochee, spondee, dispondee, &
                     sapphic--merging into dactyls & anapestes, possibly
                morphing into the troglodyte state of being a hoary
           spiny-scaled pungent Dactylic Hexameter, 
my head swims with the artificiality
of the limp & lame language,
the hollowness of the murky mandates
& damned diatribes--                                 and my POEtic spirit
                         becomes enraged at the
                         claustrophobic characteristics
                         & the malicious manacles;
because my poetry rises 
like dew on mountain meadows,
not from some fenced-off,
plowed, tilled, & sown parcel of platitudes;

it is written to be spoken, to be sung, & like jazz, it creates its own
measures during the act of creation--& I tell you enthusiastically that
when prose copulates with phonetics rather than merely being bound
by prosaic prosody, it embraces pitch, volume, tempo, & rhythm more
naturally, viscerally, & organically.
It is born.
It breathes.
It is alive. 

Although I respect
poets who study their art, still I
roam free, & off leash.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB/FFA

Our guest host at dVerse is asking for us to write with Prosody in mind. This 
poem is my maverick version of a Haibun, opening with a haiku, followed by 
two stanzas of Collom Lunes, followed by a stanza of rhyming verse, 
AAAABB, that becomes a sliding list of AAAAAA, followed by a pure prose 
stanza, followed by a dialogue stanza, followed by a Wave stanza, ebb & flow, 
descending & ascending, capped with creative spacing of line breaks and stops, 
followed by a straight-up free verse stanza, followed by another prose stanza, 
capped with an epilogue Haiku.

Would you like to hear me read this poem to you?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Ring-Tailed Gauntlet

image from

The Ring-Tailed Gauntlet

“God answers sharp & sudden on some prayers
--a gauntlet with a gift in it.”--Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

One does need to work,
both for livelihood & pride;
that’s not in dispute.

When you are
a wage slave for more
than fifty years,

if you’re smart, you will gain
              sustenance & provide tangible 
              sanctuary for your best 
              self from the 
              surreptitious application of your poetic view
within the ragged edges of the tedious rut. 

I was fortunate that my servitude 
was midst 300 acres of Douglas Fir,
hundred year old gnarled sentinels 
surrounding vast meadows of wildflowers
on the placid shores of American Lake. 

As a dedicated VA civil servant,
        I tended to arrive on the campus hours early,
                 so that I could sit & watch the sunrise over the water
                             with Mt. Rainier in stark silhouette, or listen to the
                                    rain when the marine flow left low clouds over the
                                            gentle rippled waves wriggling with the wind,
                                    or when it was clear I could thrill to the noisy flight
                              of ten kinds of military choppers, fighters, or cargo planes,
                   seeming to just hang in the crisp morning air as they
           circled the air fields at McCord AFB & Ft. Lewis, always
competing for the sky with eagles, Canadian geese, mallards & swarming
murders of crows.

Our building, the Blind Rehab Center,
was furthest south along the lake,
with Ft. Lewis, all 75 miles of it, right there
over a low fence beyond the parking lot.
                 Deer would forage up from the forest
                 & leap that fence with ease, then graze
                 just outside our office windows; twice we
                saw black bear, & had to call for security to
                chase them back into the military reservation. 
                                    But like all gardens, all oasis, there were
                                    serpents to deal with, for we suffered a plague
                                    of raccoons, fed & cherished by the foolish.

Often at 5 a.m. as I                   hiked in from the parking lot,
                       passing through the darkness between
                  outdoor lights, thug-like raccoon muggers
              would leap out fearlessly from behind trees,
          demanding food as their tariff & tribute
for allowing you safe passage through their
          gauntlet of yellow eyes, twitching ring tails, snarls
               & sharp teeth. Since there actually had been some staff         
                      attacked, even bitten, over the years, I always felt
                            a little like Indiana Jones braving the fur gangs
                       of forty-pound rodents, yelling at them, hearing the echo
                of my anger as it shattered the quiet, sometimes having
          to take swipes at them with my cane, & hiss at them
like a two-legged tom cat, clutching at my lunch sack,
never turning my back on them
as I unlocked one of the back doors.           The VA would tirelessly trap
                                       dozens of then twice annually, & relocate them
                                       somewhere; but to no avail, because they always
                                       seemed to return in a few short weeks, bringing
                                       their whelps to teach them panhandling & mugging. 

Once inside my building, I became Master of the Watch, I owned the space
for an hour or so before the other staff members began to trickle in. I would
microwave my breakfast, brew up some coffee, click on my computer, & learn
to surf the Net; at least as much as the government overseers allowed. For 
years I was always there to greet the others as they arrived, some only minutes
before the start of business. This routine of arriving early, centering myself,
focusing my energy, meditating, & often writing poetry served me well, providing
me with the succor, joy, & enlightenment that was embedded in the outer
reaches of the often overlooked frame around each day. 

When the harness and
yoke are hung up at long last,
freedom blossoms bright. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blackthorne--Scene Thirty-Nine

image from


Cinemagenic Thirty-Nine


“The vitality of a new movement in Art must be gauged
by the fury it arouses.”--Logan Pearsell Smith.

1(traveling arc shot) a jagged rock coming from the crowd that
someone threw violently.
2(close-up) the rock striking the ebon mare on the haunch.
3(sound cue) French horn riffs over a horse scream.
4(medium wide shot) She exploded under him, rising high into the air.
5(sound cue) violin & piano.
6(wide two-shot; slow motion) the black lady landed on her front feet first
before her back feet touched down with a undulating jerking motion that
whipped Johnny’s head so violently that his hat flew off.
7(close-up) the mare stomping his hat.
8(overhead titan crane shot) The horse bucking, the onlookers hooting.
9(medium close-up) Graff, the foreman, grinning like the cat with canary 
feathers in its teeth.
10(medium two-shot; regular speed) She circled to the right, leaned to the
right, then bucked to the left, kicking her hind legs straight out; clouds of
dust swirled up. She circled to the left, then bucked both directions. Johnny 
lost his balance for a moment as she rolled out furiously to the right, & he
lurched suddenly forward with all of his weight down onto her neck.
11(sound cue) blues guitar slide.
12(medium wide shot; slow motion) Her hooves went out from beneath her
as she toppled into the alkaline haze, sliding down onto her left side.
13(sound cue) her breath expelling, her bulk hitting the ground over low strident
notes on the piano.
14(medium two-shot) Miraculously he got his legs clear & was tumbling away
from her as she scrambled to her feet, kicking air, screaming with rage & 
fear, bucking & snorting & colliding with the corral poles dumping several
cowboys over backward onto their butts.
15(close-up) Johnny Eagle: Who tossed that goddamn rock?
16( two-shot) Foreman Graff & a tall unshaven cowhand next to him,
who sarcastically inquired: Why, hell, what rock do you mean, breed?
17(close-up) the Eagle: What did you say?
18(voice-over) What fucking rock are you.....
19(medium close-up) before the ranch hand could continue, the Indian’s
fist collided with his chin.
20(medium wide shot) the ruffian was knocked backward off the fence, landing
into the crowd behind him.
21(sound cue) trumpet & mandolin.
22(wide two-shot) Johnny Eagle, like a snarling puma leaped up
over the corral poles, nearly knocking the fat man off. The puncher
got onto his knees & was gathering his legs under him.
23(sound cue) Johnny’s yell as he leaped from the fence,
24(medium close-up: slow motion) the Eagle aloft, dropping down
onto its prey.
25(two-shot) Johnny landing on the larger man’s chest as the hired
ruffian felt his lungs nearly burst,
26(sound cue) the impact.
27(ample two-shot) Johnny bounced to his feet as the thug twitched
on the ground, grunting & groaning & gasping for air.
28(sound cue) Indian branch flute twill. 
29 the cowpoke pushed himself up on one arm. Johnny kicked the arm
out from underneath him.
30(close-up) Johnny’s anger: Fucking borracho coward!
31(medium two-shot) The big man writhed in the dust, growling like
a badger, as the Eagle’s boot lashed out again--to the ribs, to the groin,
to the small of the back, to the side of the neck, & to the stomach; rapid  
jabs, his boot a blur of retribution, the powerful kicks splitting muscle
& breaking bones.
32(sound cue) fast strumming guitar.
33(medium wide shot) the bully-boy curled up in a fetal position, but
the Eagle only saw a snake in the coiling. He lifted the man’s head up
& raised a murderous tightly clenched fist.
34(sound cue) I wouldn’t do that, Johnny.
35(three-shot) the Eagle whirled around to stare into the barrel of a pump
shotgun aimed at his head.
36(two-shot) over Johnny’s shoulder, the sheriff’s deep blue eyes 
37(close-up) over Joe Hop’s shoulder, catching Johnny’s dark ones
& holding them.
38(close-up) Joe Hop:
--You don’t kill a man for throwing a damn rock.
39(sound cue) bass drum & tamborine.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets OLN

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Insomniac's Song

image borrowed from bing.

Insomniac’s Song

“Neon shines through smokey eyes tonight. It’s 2 a.m.
and I’m drunk again.” --Dave Matthews.

Five nights in
a row I was awakened
at 2 a.m.

Someone was softly saying my name,
like Sheldon repeatedly pounding on Penny’s door--
a female voice--Glenn, Glenn--Glenn.

I blink away the gauze of sleep,
staring at my electric digital clock,        red numbers on a black face,
            a tiny white noise gently whirring in the slit of night light;
                      always 2 a.m., exactly, & there never
                               is anyone there.
The night is never silent;
I can hear               the freezer & refrigerator keeping things cool,
                           cats scurrying after rats,
                       train whistles as the freight is hauled through town,
                  as forty boxcars slap at the iron rails,
               the old house creaking as ghosts dance upstairs,
           someone walking in heavy boots over the gravel in the alley,
       night birds hunting, courting, & serenading,
an electric garage door rolling open, then shut,
       a low rider cruising by with windows down & rap music
             playing loudly--love my hoes, mowing down pigs, hug my
                    niggahs, dancing witch-you,

just as some timely post-nasal drip
brings on spasms of dry coughing,
bringing my attention to a full bladder,
prompting me to shuffle through darkness
for a sit-down pee, dozing a little with
my pajamas around my knees,
& back to bed, blankets under my chin.
                      So why am I still awake?
                      Is it almost daylight saving time?                            No.
                      Am I reacting to the Mexican food I had
                      for dinner--indigestion, acid reflux?                         No.
                      Is there still a tickle in my throat?                            No.
                      Did I nap too often yesterday afternoon?                No.
                       Do I need to buy some sleep meds?                       No.
                       Should I wear a silk sleep shade?                           No.
                       Do I need cognitive behavior therapy?                    No.

OK, OK, 2 a.m.--what the hell is the significance?
      What’s it all about? I do know that it is
             a Korean heavy metal band,
             a 1993 jazz album by saxophonist Theo Travis,
             a 2014 album by Adrian Marcel.
             an Iron Maiden song from X-Factor.
             a Teddy Pendergrass ballad,
             a Barry Manilow tune from Paradise Cafe,
             a song from an Anna Nalick album. &
             a 2006 Indie movie about five guys closing down 
             an Irish Pub in Dallas, a video game, & oh yes,
there is something on Yahoo called the
Drunk Shopping Service that allows insomniacs
to buy all kinds of useless shit at 2 a.m.

But hey, now the clock reads 6:30 a.m. & the dream I am exiting was
macabre & disturbing; my wife had stepped into the shower while a pair
of young Mormons in their black suits & skinny black ties stood in the
hallway, both smiling at me while one played an upright honky tonk
piano, some George Gershwin tune, just as our basement began flooding
despite the ungodly howl of our twin sump-pumps. I yelled at my wife, &
she came out to investigate wearing an evening gown covered with golden
sequins as the water disappeared--Go back to bed said she, & I did, only
to be awakened by someone playing a ukulele, to find seven middle-aged
women telling me they loved my open mic spoken word performances at
the BSharp Coffee House as I headed upstairs to find a half dozen County
Jail prisoners cleaning the rugs & furniture, “I got them from a Work Release
Program,” my wife said on her way out the door to work. “Good Bye, I love
you!” I yelled after her; Good Bye I Love You chanted the prisoners, laughing,
telling me I was pussy-whipped. Then I noticed that one of them was a

It’s two a.m. in the
morning, & my mind is just
squirming like a toad.


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Verisimilitude Versus Veracity

image from

Verisimilitude Versus Veracity

“We have done so much, for so long, with so little, now
we are qualified to do anything with nothing.”
--Konstantin Jirecek.

Regardless of our pitiful need to attempt
         control over chaos, we discover various guises
                    of antithesis at their duty stations reinforcing the
                             powerful parameters of personal white light within,
                    like capturing fireflies in a flesh Bell jar, like harnessing
          lethal U235 within the molecular skein of lead;

The omnipresent yelping Yahweh,
the reigning monarch of our universe within,    
                                       the existence of opposing forces
                                  that assist in maintaining its axial status,
                           much like those invisible gravitational
                     bands of energy that prevent Earth from
             flying to pieces, & further allowing other planets
       in our universe to coexist, to share the space
while creating orbits, tides, balance & order.

We may believe
that if we can inhabit the eternal 
Now, we will

be free of
the antithetical, find peace with turbulence--but
what could be                                                                  further from the truth?
                   Sure, we can manage living a lie
                   & actually be ignorant of its falseness,
                                 but the jack-booted storm troopers
                                 of spontaneous reckoning will march
                  into our sphere when least expected;
              we cannot successfully reside in a vacuum
         without a thorough understanding of the opposing
energies that allow it to happen.

          We are taught to live our lives, not
               toil in lethargic inactivity, spinning our appendages
                     statically in a home-grown quagmire.

                           Passion for living springs from need, fueled
                                 by depletion, misfortune, depression & 
                                          misguidance as we seem to notice
that which is broken
as we are propelled by
things that
still work, find
ourselves very attracted to
the sensual beauty of human form
while disregarding the darkness within its
heart, tend to honor the warriors who protect us
as we give less credibility to the pacifists among us that
advocate more peaceful paths; cursing at the complicated cloverleafs
that slow our volition, craving unrestricted spurts of speed
along sensuous straightaways.

Damn foolishness to some
is the breath of life to others;
for every tall person who feels superior
there are five more that just want to fit in;
deviate sexual behavior does not seem strange
to those who are drawn to it, seek it out;
listen to all voices in diverse Babel-tongues,
endeavoring to respect their views, but only
respond to those whose message resonates
with your own values.

Can there ever be
                 wisdom without ignorance,
                  beauty without ugliness,
                     hope without despair,
                     night without day,
                    clarity without distortion,
                   growth without sustenance,
                         joy without anguish,
             happiness without pain.
                  actions without consequences?

Hell, no--of course not,
so get a grip, because
unsolicited shit happens,
ready or not.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets MTB

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