Monday, January 15, 2018

Civil Rights Memorial Mural Outside Selma, Alabama

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
Jonathan Daniels; Viola Gregg Liuzzo; Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Rev. James Reeb; Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The Civil Rights Memorial Mural stands in the shadow of the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama. Painted on a wall along a strip of failed businesses, of failed dreams, it is a stark reminder of America's past.

A reminder of those who paid the ultimate price to advance the ideals of this great nation. Found in the windows of a row of boarded up businesses were a sign condemning the KKK and a more hopeful sign.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Walking the Symmetrical Path to the Sea

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
Russell Rosander takes us on a walk to the sea.

In the preference of nature for symmetry,
Down the crooked line of the spine,
Hands and feet alternating,
Propelling me forwards
Between left and right,
Traveling between my two eyes
Along the dividing line between opposites
Through which all water and blood flows
Down to the sea.

Friday, January 12, 2018

La Tristesse par poète haïtien Coriolan Ardouin

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
Recalling the devastation of January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti through a 19th century poem.

La tristesse n'est pas une fleur du jeune âge.
La brise vole et chante et baise le feuillage,
La Rose vient d éclore et le Cygne d'amour
Glisse sur les flots bleus où se mire le jour.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Oakland Street Poetry: These Black Hands

 photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Where are all the black construction workers?

These hands,
These black hands,
These are strong black hands
That can swing hammers
And pound nails with precision.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Then We Came Home

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Home being that place where the heart lives.

Then we came home;
your fingers pushed my hair,
grew flowers in the ash and I was young.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tales by LeRoi Jones, Words by Amiri Baraka

 photo © Mark Butkus 2011
"When I walk in the streets, the streets don't yet claim me."

First Lines, Second Thoughts is a look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? Today, we take a different approach. We look at the opening lines of a short piece of fiction — Words — by the Beat poet LeRoi Jones. Words is from a collection of short fiction entitled Tales that had it's first paperback printing 50 years ago in 1968. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

On the Road to Graceland

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
Remembering the King — Elvis Presley — at Graceland.

But I don't want to go to Graceland

It was a whine more than a declaration
And it had been said more than once
Over the last 1500 miles

But I don't want to go to Graceland

Sunday, December 31, 2017

31 December 1985

A New Year reimagined.
Reynolds Price poem recalls a time long gone. For this reviewer, a New Year's Eve in Canada.

Even a sane man staggers to points where
The smallest grain may suddenly blast out
Promise or threat — the wrong birdcall,
The rate of sunlight prowling a face,
The day's first word. Today, butt-end
Of an endless year, you tumble me
From chair to car in chill sunlight
And then yell "Whoa!" I crouch in the plush,
Expecting blood — cut forehead, cut foot
(The practical hemophilia of the numb).