Friday, December 31, 2010

The Eight Most Popular Poems and More from 2010

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
The beach at Tenacatita before the occupation.

These are the poems, essays and more that resonated the most with you our readers in the past year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year y Gracias to the Writers of Bar None Group for 2010!

A toast to the 2010 writers of Bar None Group! Cheers! Salud!

What an incredible year!

Last year a group of like minded individuals came together in a seaside village in Mexico. They had a dream, a shared vision. They would collect the stories, the art and the poetry to be found in the Costalegre area of Mexico, specifically, Barra de Navidad. Thus was formed the Bar None Group. Also known as the Dharma Bums of Barra de Navidad, this collective published their first offering in 2010 — Bar None: An Anthology of English Writing from the Costalegre and this website!

Here are the writers, poets and artists who have taken the first tentative steps in helping us to forge this online community. Thank you for being on this journey with us and allowing us to share your creative offerings.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bar None Anthology Published

The Dharma Bums of Barra de Navidad and their friends wax poetic on the beauty of the Costalegre, Mexico and the characters that populate a tiny seaside drinking village with a fishing problem.

Was it really a year ago that a disparate group of individuals found each other and a shared passion for art, literature, and poetry in Barra? It was and now the fruits of that experience can be shared with the first volume of The Bar None Anthology. Now available online. (Advance copies have been circulating around Barra de Navidad for the past few weeks.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Un Rey Mago en el Nacimiento de Cristo

Una poema por Roberto Juan Carlos

Hoy Yo tuve un nino en mis brazos
Ha pasado mucho tiempo
Desde que tuve una vida en mis manos

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas at Sea

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor'wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

King Witlaf's Drinking-Horn

Witlaf, a king of the Saxons,
   Ere yet his last he breathed,
To the merry monks of Croyland
   His drinking-horn bequeathed,--
That, whenever they sat at their revels,
   And drank from the golden bowl,
They might remember the donor,
   And breathe a prayer for his soul.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The True Christmas

So stick up ivy and the bays,
And then restore the heathen ways.
Green will remind you of the spring,
Though this great day denies the thing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Visit from St. Nicholas

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
St. Nicholas on parade.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — One Hundred Years of Solitude

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, we look at One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Published in 1970. In English.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dear Barra

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
The Queen of Rock and Roll in Barra de Navidad.
We first met one year ago today. A friend, who spoke very highly of you, ultimately, introduced us. We knew our time together was short, so we didn't waste a minute, getting to know one another.

You treated me like I was special.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Fowl Most Foul

Behind our condo resides a mentally impaired rooster.

Or maybe he just has a defective cluck-clock-chromosome. I am pretty sure that I read somewhere (the Old Farmer's Almanac, perhaps) that roosters crow at daybreak. This is not the case with my Mexican Foghorn Leghorn. His exuberant outbursts commence at 3 a.m. every morning. The rigorous aria inspires all the other mammals to chime in and by 4 a.m. It's a spontaneous combustion barnyard jamboree.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Mexican street dog

This is about a Mexican street dog, a dog with no owner. For some reason, he had taken to following me around, even though I never paid him much attention.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fade to Black

As the curtain draws
Upon your mortal light
A legacy of letters is left behind
To remind one and all
That you strived
To transform your times
Whilst sharing a passion you have
For the written word
With the wink of an eye
And a wry sense of humor

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — At Swim-Two-Birds

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
Two birds and a vacant face.

Having placed in my mouth
sufficient bread
for three minutes' chewing,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cielito Lindo

De la Sierra Morena
Cielito lindo, vienen bajando,
Un par de ojitos negros,
Cielito lindo, de contrabando.

Pájaro que abandona,
Cielito lindo, su primer nido,
Si lo encuentra ocupado,
Cielito lindo, bien merecido.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Frat Jack: On the Road Re-told

"I first met Dean not long after Tryscha and I hooked up. I had just gotten over a wicked fucking hangover that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with a six-foot-five douchebag and a beer bong. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the bro’d. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see hot LA actress chicks and try In N’ Out burgers, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect bro for the road because he knows how to fucking party."

So begins On the Bro'd - a serialized retelling of Jack Kerouac's seminal On the Road translated and updated to 2010 in bro-speak.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wrecked — A Poem of the Haiti Earthquake

photo © Teresa Puente 2010
Ofrenda honoring victims of Haiti Earthquake.

A crumbled road, leading —
Nowhere, not now...
Upturned vehicles,
Their passengers the same;

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dios Nunca Muere

Muere el sol en los montes
Con la luz que agoniza
Pues la vida en su prisa
Nos conduce a morir

Pero no importa saber
Que voy a tener el mismo final
Porque me queda el consuelo
Que Dios nunca morirá

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Melanie the Red-Haired Troll

This is the story of Melanie the red haired troll.
Melanie may not seem to be a scary name
You may even have a favorite relative named Melanie
For all I know You may even know a Melanie
You could even be a Melanie
But if you're a troll
you don't want to have a name like Melanie

Friday, October 29, 2010


  Ahi viene el agua
  Por la ladera,
  Y se me moja
  Mi calavera.

  La muerte calaca,
  Ni gorda, ni flaca.
  La muerte casera,
  Pegada con cera.

I, of the Storm

Dark, the thunderous skies
erupt into light and sound
the heavens open up
and the rain begins
to pour down

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — Paul Clifford

Boston window through rain.

While the author and the book may be forgotten, the first words to the Edward George Bulwer-Lytton novel Paul Clifford are perhaps the most famous opening words in the history of English literature.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more.'

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crustacean Migration

Along the fence in our backyard is a smattering of tunnels. The entrance holes are about the size of a baseball. I am unfamiliar with native burrowers indigenous to this area. The possibility of what kind of critter might emerge from the dark passageway was unnerving.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Not My Birthday — Kerouac Still Dead

Piper's Bar, Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico

The bloated corpse of Jack Kerouac was rushed to a hospital in Florida on October 20, 1969. Still breathing, he expired the next day. His death was attributed to natural causes — a lifetime of heavy drinking. Elsewhere in the cosmos a five-year-old boy sat at the bottom of a staircase in tears. Left in the care of an alcoholic World War II veteran and a German shepherd. The stairwell was his refuge.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Augustino and the Choir of Destruction — A Review

In a deliberate attempt to weed out the undedicated reader, this 300 page meditation by Marie-Claire Blais is a work of art. For those brave enough to take on the challenge of pushing through this unbroken monodiatrialogue of words, feelings and descriptions, a warning must be issued.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jacobson Wins Booker Prize

London author and columnist Howard Jacobson was named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction on October 12,  for The Finkler Question, published by Bloomsbury. Jacobson has been longlisted twice for the prize, in 2006 for Kalooki Nights and in 2002 for Who's Sorry Now?, but has never before been shortlisted.

The Finkler Question is a novel about love, loss and male friendship, and explores what it means to be Jewish today. Said to have ‘some of the wittiest, most poignant and sharply intelligent comic prose in the English language', The Finkler Question has been described as ‘wonderful' and ‘richly satisfying' and as a novel of ‘full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding'.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen blackbirds.
Thirteen black birds.
Among twenty snowy mountains,  
The only moving thing  
Was the eye of the blackbird.  

I was of three minds,  
Like a tree  
In which there are three blackbirds.  

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.  
It was a small part of the pantomime.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Renounce Guilt, Find Divinity

Mexicans have cultivated a guilt free and blameless approach to life. Even the Spanish language supports this philosophy. For example, if I was looking through my purse or around the house for my keys but couldn’t find them anywhere, I would probably call a friend and complain, “I lost my @#$%^ keys. I feel so stupid!” That’s the gringa rationale in me, I suppose. In Spanish however, one would say “Se perdian las llaves,” ˗˗ my keys have lost themselves. They – the keys – are the stupid ones. In this scenario, I am the hapless victim of my keys inability to find their way home. Now that is divine grace at its finest.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Me Acerco y Me Retiro

Me acerco y me retiro:
¿quién sino yo hallar puedo
a la ausencia en los ojos
la presencia en lo lejos?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When They Came

When they came
they rode trucks
along the main
road of my youth
they held bayonets
stiffly against
their faces
tongues sticking out
like barbed wire

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yours: A New York Poem

I spent the afternoon exploring
As much of you as I could
Feeding on your flesh
With my lips and tongue
Illuminated my soul

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — The American Crisis

These are the times that try men's souls:
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,
in this crisis,
shrink from the service of his country;
but he that stands by it now,
deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

The rains that played havoc with your plans were due here by dawn
There were no puddles nor drops when the day began
Pure folly to think that the bales of hay would be brought in under dry skies
The farmers plight is to out-maneuver the weather
A moment passes as the east wind blows foul and the deluge commences

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Take Two

As I walk thru life
I live and learn
Through laughter and tears
I have created this being called me
Action, inaction and reaction
Dictate my course

Saturday, September 4, 2010

From Love and Squalor

When your name is stolen from a book
it's easy to lift lines
I don't know if she knows it
or even if it matters

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Tiny Little Poem

If I started this letter on paper
each time it started in my head
I’d rustle as I walked
and the bed would float
in a sea of paper balls
from all my dreams

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In a Lunar Groove

No more music, only noise
Attempts to resuscitate
        With each new toy
Only frustration, the ego dance
Like the new toy, it doesn't last
Run to fly
           run for your life

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Toys of Coventry Patmore

My little Son, who look'd from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey'd,
I struck him, and dismiss'd
With hard words and unkiss'd,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Have A Dream for Tenacatita

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and galvanized a nation with his words. On August 4, 2010 the residents of Tenacatita, Mexico were evicted from their homes by police in a land dispute. Have words been spoken loud enough, high enough and far enough for these people to return home?

They too have a dream. Two score plus years after Dr. King's speech, America has a black man sitting in the White House. In Mexico, a community waits to sit once more in their own homes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dani Thornton-Stock has an Insatiable Appetite

I sit and write out of the essence of my heart.
I want to love this time,
like I have never loved before.

The kiss that seeps from your lips ~
needs to send chills down my spine,
electrifying my soul,
transcending my thoughts into a vision ~
of my hearts desires.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

First Lines Second Thoughts is a look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening sentences stand alone as poetry? Today we look at Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino. Published in 1971.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Warning by Liz Colado

Inside the dark, odd house
We two, awkward
Uncomfortable in our skin
Distance between us increasing
With your departure

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — Neuromancer

 First Lines Second Thoughts is a whimsical look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening sentences stand alone as works of literature? Today, we look at Neuromancer by William Gibson. Published in 1984.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chaos is the New Calm writes Wyn Cooper

Chaos is the new calm
violence the new balm
to be spread on lips
unused to a kiss.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tenacatita: Truth and Consequence

There is a little oasis on the Costalegre known as Tenacatita. The sheltered bay has one of the best swimming beaches in Mexico and is home to one of the best coral reef snorkeling sites on the Pacific coast.

Tenacatita is a fishing village - pongas dot the beach when they are not at sea seeking out the abundant fish thriving off its shores. The beach has many madre y padre restaurants offering the catch-of-the-day and ice-cold beer under the shade of palapas. This is how the locals do business - this is their livelihood.

Zanne Mack on the Loose

Zanne Mack from Frisco Bay
Headed south one Christmas Day
Found herself down the Mexico Coast
Trying to shake off some wayward ghost
(That would be on the side Pacific
if we need to get real specific)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

photo © Mark Butkus 2006
We're a happy family?

First Lines Second Thoughts is a whimsical look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening sentences stand on their own as literary works of art? Today we look at Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.