Monday, September 26, 2016

Top 10 Banned Books of Banned Book Week 2016


The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship. The 2016 celebration will be held September 25-October 1.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Road Songs: Big Sur and the Songs of Hotbox Harry

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
The welcoming front porch of the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur.

A recent trip up the California Coast to rediscover wandering roots took a detour at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. Tucked away on a curve of the Pacific Coast Highway the library came to be following the death of Miller in 1980 in the cabin of his longtime friend Emil White. One makes their way down a path — a piano in the woods to the left, Jesus on a cross of computer monitors to the right. Keep walking and turn right at the ping pong table and enter Emil's old cabin.

In among the books that you would expect to find in a library named after one of America's most polarizing authors — including a play by Jack Kerouac first published in 2005! — there was an apparent anomaly unto itself. A CD of music — Songs Hotbox Harry Taught Us.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Welcome Autumn! My Heart Soars by Chief Dan George

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
A Native American poem for the change of season.

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.

The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last Call — Barbara Foote's Sly Dancer

photo © Mark Butkus 2014

Well, I'm sitting in a cozy palapa bar
Listening to grand Mexican music
Live!
A friend returns to the long table
Dancing
I chair dance in response.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Come Beloved

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
Upon the west...

I am hungry; come soon.

I looked tonight at flames
like you upon the west
and jewels winging home.
I hold you in my eyes
when I see what cannot be stamped again.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget — Where Were You On 9-11?

Tiles Across America in Greenwich Village across from St. Vincent Hospital.

I was on strike.
Picketing at 580 Booth.
Someone came up and told me
that a plane had hit the WTC.

My first image was
of a Cessna lost in the fog.
That's all my brain could accept.
A plane lost in the fog.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The One About Dorothy Parker

As depicted in Al Hirschfeld's famous caricature: Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Round Table (lower left) surrounded by Robert Benchley, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Frank Crowninshield, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Frank Case, Franklin P. Adams, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood.

I ran my fingers through your hair
as you ran through Dorothy Parker's words
"Why is it that your poems don't rhyme?"
You cooed while gently twisting
the dagger in my heart.

What was it that Ms. Parker wrote?
"Scratch a lover, and find a foe."
It was in a ballad I think,
A ballad of great weariness.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Open Door


Standing on a street corner
waiting for a bus
in front of the Comex paint store.
Move out to the street
to see,
                 to see,
but no, not yet,
                 not yet,