Monday, December 31, 2012

Before Auld Lang Syne there was James Watson's Old Long Syne

"An excellent and proper new ballad, entitled, Old Long Syne."

Printed 48 years before the birth of Robert Burns, Old Long Syne has the identical first words of Auld Lang Syne. Even the version printed by James Watson as a broadside in 1711 notes that this version of Old Long Syne is, "Newly corrected and amended, with a large and new Edition of several excellent Love Lines."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year y Gracias to the Writers of Bar None Group for 2012!

What an incredible year!

The first moments of 2012 were spent in Times Square ringing in the New Year before packing for a move to Chicago. The last moments of 2012 are spent under the stars of Mexico with the Dharma Bums of Barra de Navidad. The Bar None Group published a second anthology entitled, Take Two: Another Anthology of English Writing from the Costalegre that was launched at Chynna's Backstage Bar in beautiful Barra de Navidad. But our deepest gratitude extends to all of you who have read, contributed, inspired and shared the words within the pages of the Bar None Group.

Happy New Year to:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Eight Most Popular Poems and More from 2012

Has a letter to the editor ever changed history as Émile Zola's?

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

John Greenleaf Whittier and The Christmas of 1888

Low in the east, against a white, cold dawn,
The black-lined silhouette of the woods was drawn,
And on a wintry waste
Of frosted streams and hillsides bare and brown,
Through thin cloud-films a pallid ghost looked down,
The waning moon half-faced.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
    "Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
    By the embers in hearthside ease.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Mayan Poem: The Song of the Minstrel

Let's party like it's!

A curious highlight to this holiday season is the impending end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. Alas, the Mayan calendar does not symbolize the end of times. It symbolizes the end of the calendar. Nothing more. One 144 000 day cycle ends and another 144 000 day cycle begins.

The following Mayan poem is from the concluding 13th bak'tun of the Mayan Long Count calendar. Let's hope that Mayan poetry flourishes in the new calendar beginning December 22, 2012.

Friday, December 14, 2012

First Lines Second Thoughts — Little Women

Santa's Towing in Harlem.

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? This Christmas season we revisit Little Women. Written by Louisa May Alcott. Published in 1868.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Red Box

Sequined designs on a red box.
The plastic jewels loosening.
In the tropical heat and humidity of summer
I remember this...

Black mold is growing again
On the edges of fading photographs
    This one:
We gaze adoringly into each other's eyes.
On a bench overlooking the sea.
    Or these:
The children beaming in mirth
On Christmas, holding long forgotten toys.
Moments of joy and wonder
Moments of love worth dying for.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Did She Know...?

Guess she just wanted to test the waters, said words but they were never followed up by supporting actions, now it's just me in this desolate mind state I seem to find myself in, wondering whether anything she told me ever held any meaning.

Was it all a ploy? As most love to play this game & why should it be what she wants merely because she was the first to take a shot, granted she might defend that it was done in order to save her from any future hurt through a perceived & construed diabolical plot. But had she ever taken the time to think about the possibility that her actions would lead me to, in that same future, commit this emotional crime she thought I was capable of to another, as now she has forced me on a path to a place of which I previously wanted no part of whether awake or in slumber.

Friday, December 7, 2012

To: Allen Ginsberg

To: Allen Ginsberg,
Fourth Door on the Side
(the one that reeks
of burning typewriters and glowing words)
June 3, (1998...2012)

Allen, why is it you?
that undoubtedly replies to resurrected questions
- unfaltering
wielding calibrated rifles in sandy mountains-
with spooning poetic papers turned
horizontally on to their bottom
like the lover you lacked for far too long
--traced outlines from stapling pencils
can be molded to hold each other! transcending together

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Book Launch: Take Two

Join the Dharma Bums of Barra de Navidad as we celebrate the publication of Take Two: Another Anthology of English Writing from the Costalegre.

We will be meeting at the unofficial Bar None Group HQ — Chynna's Backstage Bar — on Sunday December 9th at 2pm.

Take Two continues on with more tales, poetry and art from the little Mexican drinking village with a fishing problem. Critics agree that Take Two is heavier than Volume One.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sonnet to Bohemian Masala

4 wooden posts, an 8 legged friend
Cow dung floor to keep us on Earth
Sweet insect music, an antique hearth
2 lovers crash, no dispute to amend

2 heavy bags, 1 hand to lend
4 sandy shoes, a nervous laugh
Aching muscles, sandy skin from the surf
Sun-kissed bodies, burns to attend

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Prayer for a Misfit Toy

No man is an island...not even a misfit toy.

Please do not misconstrue my absence
for anything more than what it is
my absence

Friday, November 30, 2012

Allen Ginsberg's Howl in Spanish: A Review

Diego Luna reads Howl en espanol!

The moon is full on a cold New York night. Nights such as these are well remembered walking through Greenwich Village remembering Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. But on a full moon thoughts would invariably sway to Allen Ginsberg and his seminal classic Howl.

But this isn't New York City. This is Guadalajara, Mexico and the hall at the Expo Center is teeming with 500 young women who have waited in line for hours to hear Allen Ginsberg's Howl in espanol.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Fair

It's all somewhat overwhelming
The mass of people jostling
for the same space as everyone else.

The smell of the schoolgirls
Who view this as a day out.
The smell of the boys
Who view this as a day off.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Signs of the Times

Air is getting cool and cooler,
   Frost is coming in the night,
Hickory nuts and walnuts falling,
   Possum keeping out of sight.
Turkey strutting in the barnyard,
   Nary a step as proud as his;
Keep on strutting Mr. Turkey
   You do know what time it is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

La Adelita

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
¡ Viva la revolución ! ¡ Viva las adelitas !

En lo alto de la abrupta serranía
acampado se encontraba un regimiento
y una moza que valiente los seguía
locamente enamorada del sargento.

Popular entre la tropa era Adelita
la mujer que el sargento idolatraba
que ademas de ser valiente era bonita
que hasta el mismo Coronel la respetaba.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Diego Luna y Jaime López aullarán a Ginsberg en la FIL

Allen Ginsberg's Howl to be read in Spanish at Guadalajara Book Festival.

El actor y el músico mexicanos protagonizarán una lectura dramatizada de Aullido, el poema más emblemático de la Generación Beat, bajo la dirección de Sergio Zurita, el 29 de noviembre durante la FIL Guadalajara

“Vi las mejores mentes de mi generación destruidas por la locura…”. Cuando Aullido se publicó por primera vez, en 1956, Allen Ginsberg tenía “la curiosidad de legar a las siguientes generaciones una bomba de tiempo emocional que seguiría explotando en la conciencia americana”. El próximo 29 de noviembre, en el marco de la Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, el emblemático poema del escritor estadounidense estallará una vez más con la lectura dramatizada que, dirigida por Sergio Zurita, reunirá en el escenario al actor Diego Luna y al músico Jaime López.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ode to a Twinkie

Ode to a Twinkie. A Mexican Twinkie. A Submarino.

The rumors of your corporate death are premature
As a child's memory recalls a Twinkie on a skewer

Roasting on an open fire, turning golden brown
Forty years on, that Twinkie can still be found

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Cotton Flower

Boll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
Failed in its function as the autumn rake;

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Graveyard By The Sea

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame —
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Smile Marker

What is it
about you?

It is the way
that you smile
as I lean in
to give you a kiss.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Farewell from Welfare Island

The past is only a shadow emerging from

Life was somewhere forgotten
and sought refuge in depths of tears
and sorrows;
over this vast empire of solitude and darkness.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Farmer’s Soliloquy

“Oh! for a thousand tongues to sing
   My great Redeemer’s praise:
The glories of my Lord and King,
   The triumphs of His grace.”

Oh! for a thousand cedar posts
   To fence my garden ’round.
To hinder the neighbors’ pigs and goats
   From rooting up my potato ground.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It Is What It Is

We build it all
To watch it fall
We take it away
To our next days
Something better?
More clever?
Who knows?

Monday, September 24, 2012


Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest—
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
The mate was fixed by the bos'n's pike,
The bos'n brained with a marlin spike,
And Cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped
By fingers ten;
And there they lay,
All good dead men
Like break-o'-day in a boozing-ken—
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

El Grito de la Independencia

On the night of September 15th, on the eve of Mexican Independence, officials lead citizens who gather in town squares throughout Mexico in a call and response that is familiarly known as El Grito — The Cry.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quand vous Serez bien Vieille

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir à la chandelle,
Assise aupres du feu, devidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous esmerveillant,
Ronsard me celebroit du temps que j'estois belle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beat-Bop Jazz

for Richie Powell

Lookin’ for a hat all beat up and torn
Lookin’ for a bed that ain’t never been worn

Up and down the highways, up and down the dial
Drivin' in the rain for a drink and a smile

Saturday, September 1, 2012

People by Jean Toomer

To those fixed on white,
White is white,
To those fixed on black,
It is the same,
And red is red,
Yellow, yellow-

Friday, August 31, 2012


Everything is calm
Outside of our breathing

In the distance
Away from us
The ocean kisses the shore

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Sot-Weed Factor

Condemned by fate to wayward curse,
Of friends unkind, and empty purse:
Plagues worse than filled Pandora's Box,
I took my leave of Albion's Rocks:
With heavy heart, concerned that I
Was forced my native soil to fly.
And the Old World must bid goodbye.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Letanía de la isla desencantada

Renuncio al sol y al mar y a todo lo que canta:
te devuelvo tu encanto tus sirenas y tus ilusiones
mi barco ya no naufragará en tu isla
sin playa rodeada de rocas serradas y promesa falsa.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Slap My Balls

Slap my balls
Paint them on those walls
They are pink, but no stink
Same color as my...
Maybe a little shrink
Slap my balls

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Exile

“Since that day till now our life is one unbroken paradise. We live a true brotherly life. Every evening after supper we take a seat under the mighty oak and sing our songs.” — Extract from a letter of a Russian refugee in Texas.

Twilight is here, soft breezes bow the grass,
Day's sounds of various toil break slowly off,
The yoke-freed oxen low, the patient ass
Dips his dry nostril in the cool, deep trough.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chavita on His Eighth Birthday

When I was eight
Someone also gave me a bicycle for my birthday
It was my grandfather
He made it from the parts of old bicycles
And painted it so it looked like new
I lived on a farm
And I rode it everywhere

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Nation's Strength

What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Christmas in July or Words from Some Guy

A token of appreciation...of amity
A wish list received in Chicago
Then a scavenger hunt in San Antonio
One Northern Santa on the precipice of sanity

Four simple items...nothing more       
When black licorice could not be procured
This plan of ease was now skewered
Six plazas later...roadblocks galore

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Women's Rights

The Women are Persons! Monument in Ottawa, Canada.

You cannot rob us of the rights we cherish,
Nor turn our thoughts away
From the bright picture of a "Woman's Mission"
Our hearts portray.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Poetic Edit at Austin's Texas Chili Parlor

The Texas Chili Parlor in Austin, Texas is not a place that a vagabond traveler will stumble upon. Unless that traveler veers off the I-35 to avoid evening rush hour with the sole purpose of chillin' with a chilled pint. The bar is lined with locals matching wits with contestants on Jeopardy and the beer is indeed chilled. A sign in the corner deserves a second look and that second look gives rise to a search for a pen and a piece of paper.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Jack Kerouac Bobblehead

Lowell Spinners to give out 1000 Jack Kerouac bobbleheads at August 7, 2012 game.

LOWELL, MASS. — The Lowell Spinners, Class-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, in conjunction with the UMass-Lowell English Department have once again teamed together to salute Lowell's own Jack Kerouac, announcing this week a two-part bobble head plan.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hating ≥ Opinion

So it seems we have somehow helped our society breed its own evolved version of an opinion, into what we have now termed “Hating.” Hating in every aspect besides what the dictionary definition describes as such. Was this meant to happen or has this new-age form of ignorance, that we see as the norm, been created in order to ensure that none of us are able to, together while assisting each other, achieve the goal of moving forward instead of against one another?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quietly An Angel Comes

Indoors, the wounded are bare and bloodied,
With cold hands...she washes away the blood
Beyond the perimeter of her skill, she binds them
Witnessing the full force of hatred and violence!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Yellow Rose of Texas

There's a yellow rose in Texas,
that I am going to see,
No other soldier* knows her,
no soldier only me
She cried so when I left her
it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her,
we nevermore will part.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mother Road

The remnants of the Mother Road
head out of Chicago toward Lake Michigan
A patchwork quilt now held together
by nostalgia and by-pass detours
in the shadow of the Interstate highway
Go west young man, indeed

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mile Markers

Jesus is alive
or so he writes
on rural rooftops
as a northern day
breaks in the rear-view
and the west beckons
one more road trip

Thursday, May 31, 2012


photo © Mark Butkus 2011
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! Up sprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
   unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and
   steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
   strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,

Friday, May 25, 2012

If Today is Your Birthday...

An exciting year awaits
Change is forthcoming
Taurus will play an important role
If you are attached
If you are unattached

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Whoso List to Hunt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Enjoy Cinco de Mayo with a Michelada Michigana

When the New York Times starts writing about micheladas you know that one of Mexico's favorite breakfast drinks is catching on North of the Border...or at least in the East Village. What's that you say? We're not supposed to be drinking micheladas for breakfast. How else are you going to get rid of your hangover?

As one of the Dharma Bums of Barra de Navidad is quite fond of telling me, "You don't drink beer to get drunk. You drink beer to get sober. If you want to get drunk you drink liquor."

It is why, when I am in Mexico, I will stop at the Kiosko once I stumble out of bed (or stagger home with the rising sun) and pick up a six pack of Modello and pay an early morning visit to my Guru of Grunge. A desayuna Mexicana so that they could prepare me a mornings worth of micheladas while I scribbled down their timeless koans and coax them back down to earth following the misstep of an acid trip.