Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year y Gracias to the Writers of Bar None Group for 2018!

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Our journey this year began on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

What an incredible year!

The first days of 2018 were spent in Mexico along the Sea of Cortez and the last moments of 2018 are spent anticipating family visits. Thank you to all of you who have read, contributed, inspired and shared the words within the pages of the Bar None Group this past year.

Happy New Year to:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Max Ehrmann's Desiderata: The Christmas Poem that Wasn't

photo © Mark Butkus 2003
One time presidential candidate, Adlai Stevenson had planned to use Desiderata in his 1965 Christmas cards.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
A Christmas poem by Emily Dickinson.

The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman—
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen—

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Blues of a Young Woman or A Charlie Brown Christmas?

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
This is not A Charlie Brown Christmas character. We don't have the rights to them.

“I think there might be something wrong with me
Christmas is coming,
But I’m not happy
I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel

Friday, December 21, 2018

They Were Alone in the Winter

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
A poem for the first day of winter.

Each night, I braid my daughter's hair.
My fingers slip through the thick silkiness,
weaving the strands into a single black stream.

"The air feels like something will happen,"
she says. "Maybe it will snow."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Last Christmas

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Some locks open, some locks close. Some locks are found on bridges in faraway places.

I found a small lock
While rummaging through the toolbox
The three attached keys
Would give one cause to believe
That said lock could be opened
But one would be mistaken as I was

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Poetic Journey of Charlotte Green Begins Here!

An untitled poem by Canadian poet Charlotte Green.

I'm used to letdowns
and empty promises

Monday, December 17, 2018

John Greenleaf Whittier and The Mystic’s Christmas

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
The outward symbols disappear from them whose inward sight is clear.

“All hail!” the bells of Christmas rang,
“All hail!” the monks at Christmas sang,
The merry monks who kept with cheer
The gladdest day of all their year.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Paintings of Inner Meanings by Martha Kaplan

artwork © estate of Martha Kaplan
Winter Bamboo Labyrinth.

___ ___        ___ ___ kun
Kun ____ ____    ____ ____
___ ___        ___ ___     earth    female

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Louisa May Alcott has A Song For A Christmas Tree

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
From a Christmas long ago.

Cold and wintry is the sky,
Bitter winds go whistling by,
Orchard boughs are bare and dry,
Yet here stands a faithful tree.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Autumn Is a Painted Lady

artwork © Lois Parker

Autumn is a painted lady,
Bacchus is her god:
Over hills, through forests shady,
In vermilion sandals shod,
She comes dancing, ever swirling,
Gaily on her way…

Thursday, December 13, 2018

For What it’s Worth by Stacy Lake

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
A small open boat.

For what it’s worth
There's valuable currency in words
Words that support you to cash in

In a real dream, more vivid than technicolor
A being made of multi colored seashells placed three gold coins in my open palm
I felt warm energy, and a sharper friendship with the unknown

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The G Suite Blues

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Fifty shades of blue. Thirty-nine lines of  blues.

I've been building this site for many long years
A labor of love, of sweat and of tears
It's not a source of income
That's for those who are smart, not like me who are dumb
Every year I pay Google for my little domain
When they come a knockin' wanting pay for my name

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Dark Angel of Lionel Johnson

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
The minstrel of mine epitaph.

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust
To rid the world of penitence:
Malicious Angel, who still dost
My soul such subtile violence!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

On the Road in Nevada: Walter Zabriskie's Ode to the Jim Butler Motel

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Ode to the Jim Butler Motel in Tonopah, Nevada

Jim Butler is the place to stay.
It's really pretty nice.
It's clean, convenient, comfortable,
All for a budget price.

The P.O. is across the street,
The Mizpah is next door,
You're in the center of the town...
Now, who could ask for more?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Fathers Day Poem: He Was There by Hannah Rodrigues

photo courtesy Hannah Rodrigues
A father's happy place.

He was there...
    Looking at me, only the way he could

He was there...
    Feeding me my first ice cream

He was there...
    Holding my hand

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — A Father’s Pen

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
Beholding in wonderment its vantaged range.

I weep as I write my remembrance of the hour
when I and my now-lifeless son
played inside the panes of an imperishable vacuum.
Upwards we climbed the sheer towers of its scope

Thursday, June 14, 2018

On the Road: Mark Twain and Lake Tahoe

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Where Taylor Creek empties into Lake Tahoe.

At last Lake Tahoe burst upon us,
a noble sheet of blue water
lifted some 6,000 feet
above the level of the sea,
and walled in by a rim of
snow-clad mountain peaks
that towered aloft
a full 3.000 feet higher still.

Monday, June 11, 2018

San Francisco Blocks — Around Union Square with Amos Gregory

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Finding Amos Gregory in a San Francisco alley.

"The road to peace is
narrow and long,
Amos Gregory wrote upon
an alley wall in 2017,
but my conviction is strong.
Upon it's path do my feet belong."

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

At The End Of The Affair with Maxine Kumin

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
The key to the beginning of the affair.

That it should end in an Albert Pick hotel
with the air conditioner gasping like a carp
and the bathroom tap plucking its one-string harp
and the sourmash bond half gone in the open bottle,

Monday, June 4, 2018

On the Road: A PW Covington Roadtrip (Paying for the Gas)

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
We were San Francisco curious and decided to commit poetry.

A tattered copy of Sirens of Titan
is chosen over bad motel TV
at the start of a five state road-trip

Coffee, sleeping pills and truck stops
four dollar gasoline
seems all too much to spend for poetry
and words of witness shouted into the irrelevant abyss

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Revolution on Canvas: Brian Martinez Pens a Letter to Dear Ginsberg...

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Poetry from the Indie Music Scene.

Dear Ginsberg...

I wrote a letter to Ginsberg and
and sent it to the sky,
through my eyes and to the
nearest stars and with pupils
opened wide, I cried and cried,
unashamed, uninhibited. the
angels read aloud to Ginsberg,
sitting in some heaven ness sky,

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Traveling with Chu Tun-Ru

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
That now the traveler has departed.

The red has parted from the green.
I'm half sober from my drink last night.
The horse in harness waits outside the door.

Friday, June 1, 2018

On the Road in Santa Cruz: Tilly Washburn Shaw Goes Vroom!

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Flagrant metal chains of gear.

Out walking in the fog on Westcliff Drive,
everything becalmed & muffled way high up
over the Pacific, when comes a rumbling

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Seattle Blocks — Madison and 6th

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Above all else.

It’s the ground floor
On the morning after
The year before
From the California desert
Of Palm Springs to
The Pacific Northwest
And Seattle rains.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Saturday, May 26, 2018

On the Road in Seattle: Love and the Pongo Poetry Project

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
The courage of the poet's pen is expressed in Seattle public art.

At the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle we came upon a booth for the Pongo Poetry Project. Pongo is a 25-year-old Seattle-based nonprofit that has helped more than 7000 teens inside jails, shelters and psychiatric hospitals heal through poetry. A flyer distributed at the booth had the following poem on love.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First Lines Second Thoughts — Philip Roth and Portnoy's Complaint

She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise.

First Lines Second Thoughts is an occasional look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? Today, on the day of his passing, we look at the opening lines of Philip Roth's controversial novel, Portnoy's Complaint.

Published in 1969,  Portnoy's Complaint is a continuous monologue of Alex Portnoy to his psychoanalyst. The novel was considered scandalous at the time for its explicit language and vivid descriptions of of masturbation. It was banned from many libraries, and Australia too.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Stacy Rae Lake is Something Current for Now

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Now I am a boat resting at a dock.

When I looked down at the beach
My toes were made of crumbling sand
Each grain of sand spoke to me
offering significant steps to unfoldment

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nora May French asks, How Ends The Day?

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
The end of day at the Mission in Carmel.

We wandered where the violets bloom,
    beside the sunlit stream.
We saw, where on the crystal waves,
    the water lilies dream.
Their gold hearts wreathed in leaves of
    pearl, all silvered by the sun,
We heard the brook laugh as it swayed
    their bright heads one by one;
Yet no smile dawned upon your face, to
    chase the tears away.
"The waters cease, the lilies fade, in
    darkness ends the day."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bar None — Brenda Hawley and Passing a Hangover

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Remnants of the night before.

My mind is numb today
Everyday play, play, play
Need to take a break today
I declare today a movie day

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Harry Truman as a Child

Born this day, 1884, Happy Birthday Harry!

The fields were boxed into sounds, weren’t they,
as carefully as books beside your bed,
and a necktie draped for the next day on a chair?

And you owned it all, didn’t you?
You owned the priceless fields
and start of day as warm as Mama’s voice.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Where the Wild Things Sleep

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
The Rock House in Anza Borrego Desert is home to many an overnight hiker.

Desert silhouettes
Winter creosote
Dusk escapes
Through fissures
In rock walls
White contrails
Turn pink
Before dissipating

Monday, April 30, 2018

An Untitled Poem About Grand Central Station

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Track 23 at Grand Central Station.

"Grand Central, let 'em out please, watch the doors!"
In His own image did He make all men.
"One ham on rye, I'll have a coke, what's yours?"
From Adam's side our mother moves again.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stacy Rae Lake and the Glory of Transformation

"The miracle that you are is in everyone else."

If I wrote a poem about you it would be called Glory
The spiritual heart is bigger than form
Giant glowing arms reach out to embrace all states
And they grow colors and flowers on every inch of their earthy bodies
Energy as essence pours rain and tears
balancing joy and purification
It can wash the darkest city into bright vibrancy
Telling stories about truly living life

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Poet Diane Burns writes, Sure You Can Ask Me A Personal Question

photo © Mark Butkus 2006
No, I don't know where you can get Navajo rugs real cheap.

How do you do?
No, I'm not Chinese.
No, not Spanish.
No, I'm American Indi—uh, Native American.
No, not from India.
No, we're not extinct.
No, not Navajo.
No, not Sioux.
Yes, Indian.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

National Park Week: John Muir, Yosemite and the Action of Flowing Ice

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Yosemite National Park.

No one wrote more passionately — or poetically — about his natural environment than John Muir. During National Park Week we revisit his words, more specifically, his words about Yosemite National Park. It was at Yosemite, camping with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, that the seed was planted to create the National Park Service. The following words were first published in 1914 in The Yosemite. They come from the last paragraph of the chapter, The Ancient Yosemite Glaciers, arranged poetically.

Monday, April 23, 2018

English Poet Matt Duggan in U.S. to Read from One Million Tiny Cuts

The cover of Matt Duggan's One Million Tiny Cuts.

Readers in Boston and New York are advised to circle their calendars for April 25, 29-30 as English poet Matt Duggan will be reading from his latest volume of poetry — One Million Tiny Cuts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Library Way: Isak Dinesen and Shadows on the Grass

 photo © Mark Butkus 2011
And then in the end, the Liberation came.

Isak Dinesen. Tania Blixen. Osceola. Pierre Andrézel. Four of the names that the Danish author Karen Blixen (1885-1962) used in her literary career. Best known for her 1937 book Out of Africa, Blixen is remembered on Library Way with a quote from the last published work during her lifetime, Shadows on the Grass, which itself serves as an end to Out of Africa.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — My Old Soul

photo © Mark Butkus 2007
Remembering The Holocaust and the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.

My old soul has sung before.
It has lain many hands in mine;
I reach for yours,
and link it to he who needs.

He stands in Bergen-Belsen in the rain,
waiting his turn to expire.
He takes hands he cannot save
and sighs and breathes the gas.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Revolution on Canvas: Poetry from the Indie Music Scene

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
This ship — S.S. Palo Alto — has a hole...

catching the grayest of blue skies when
love is just too big to know
straddling april's winter when the
heart is only half whole

Sunday, April 8, 2018

First Lines Second Thoughts — George Orwell's 1984

photo © Mark Butkus 2007
Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast...

First Lines Second Thoughts is an occasional look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? Today, on a cold April day, we look at the opening lines of George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Of Baseball, the White Sox and Nevest Coleman

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Having opened their hearts, the Chicago White Sox open their home season today. Go ChiSox!

This one is for Nevest Coleman
Who was thrown a curveball
Who spent 23 years in prison
For a rape and murder
That he did not commit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Written in the margins of a newspaper — the only paper available to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Birmingham City Jail — The Letter from a Birmingham Jail was written four days after King's arrest on Good Friday April 12, 1963 while marching against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — The Two

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
A poem for Easter. A poem for Passover.

I think when God walked shy to Moses,
stars clustered in his hands,
he led our rabbi down
to the orchards of the heart.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Waiting with Marilyn Hacker

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
"Dismissals and evictions come by mail."

I get up every day before the mail
and go through the same matinal ritual;
piss, wash, make coffee, warm my hands,
prune and water my three rooms of plants,
feed the cats, answer yesterday's letters.
Something frightening is going to happen.