Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Memory: A Poem of the 15 year-old Frida Kahlo


I had smiled. Nothing else. But suddenly I knew
In the depth of my silence
He was following me. Like my shadow, blameless and light
In the night, a song sobbed…

Monday, December 26, 2016

On the Second Day of... Good King Wenceslas

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
After a busy day, Santa and friends enjoy the Feast of Stephen.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

Friday, December 23, 2016

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — The Sabbath Bride

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
The Central Synagogue in New York City.

I am at synagogue tonight and
when we turn to face the Sabbath Bride,
I am walking with your elbow in my palm
to the corner restaurant.

A boy came past and
cursing, muttered, "Dirty Jew."
I wheeled and punched and
he fell to the sidewalk.
He had a bloody mouth.

23 décembre : Noël au Québec

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
Une chanson de Noël de méchanceté et de souvenir.

J'ai dans la tête un vieux sapin, une crêche en dessous
Un Saint-Joseph avec une canne en caoutchouc
Etait mal faite pis j'avais fret
Quand je r'venais d'passer trois heures dans un igloo
Qu'on avait fait, deux ou trois gars, chez Guy Rondou

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas on the Streets

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
More than 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point last year.

Happy Holidays to all
and to all a good night
Especially those on the streets
Who fight for life

Just another day
for you and me
Don't be upset
if there's no smile to be seen

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Huron Christmas Carol

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
Canada's oldest Christmas hymn was written in the Wyandot language of its Huron First Nation people in 1642.

'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Brown Santa

No little boy or girl is too far away for this little brown sleigh.

Breaking my hump for the UPS
Making some coin for Christmas Day
Running down streets
and running up stairs
Placing little brown parcels
in doorways, on porches

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Once Upon a Time at Christmas


She once made mulberry jam and cinnamon rolls,
She once rode horses and milked cows,
She once sang in the choir and planned Christmas programs,
She once taught school and played the piano at church,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jingle Barra

Cascabeles, cascabeles, tra la la la la...

Jingle bells,
Ocean swells,
Riding Barra breakers
onto our beach...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr Place is there for a reason.

        God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
        Courage to change the things I can,
        And wisdom to know the difference.

Sometimes referred to offhandedly as the Facebook Prayer for it's ubiquitous presence on the social media app the Serenity Prayer is more than one sentence long.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Had to Peek


Two sips into the first cup,
I am the sun returning from a long journey
As seen glinting through palm leaves
Where there has never been a road.
I write this to see what's there
Behind that wispy veil.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I Call Her Esperanza

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
The Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12.

I do not know anything but that slow
fall aurora over the world and
all the things my love contemplates;
lilies beneath pillow dreams
when rain sounds and

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Que ofrecer


Un mundo
No diferente si no real
Un camino
Seguirlo para guiarnos
Escucharnos el uno al otro

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Daughter — A Poem of a Mother's Love

For Lexi.

My daughter
My reason
My pleasure and pain
My laughter and sadness
My sunshine and rain
My lessons and answers
My gives and my takes

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Library Walk: Willa Cather, Willa Cather, Willa Cather

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Willa Cather is born this day in 1873.

Gregg LeFevre's playful, repetitive take on a famous passage in Willa Cather's O Pioneers! is immortalized on Library Way across from the New York Public Library.

The actual quote reads:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

On The Road: Finding Bécquer by the Sea in Mexico

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Literally, poetry on the road...

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer is considered to be the most widely read Spanish writers after Cervantes. The Bar None Group came across his poetry on a mural of the history of Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico. Is it coincidental that Bécquer's poem is found in Christmas town? The author himself died Christmas week in 1870.

Known as Rima XXXVIII, Bécquer's poem in Barra de Navidad is one of three pieces of poetry that encapsulates the sea as a central theme.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Her Name is Barra

Cristo del ciclone watches over the faithful in Barra de Navidad.

Predawn bottle rockets calling the faithful to prayer.
The thunderclap of surf meeting sand.
The first glare of sun offering promise of warmth
A choir of magpies singing in a papaya tree

The warm ocean breeze runs her fingers though my hair.
She whispers in my ear and her name is Barra.