Friday, November 29, 2013

When Black Friday Calls

The Ballad of Dave and Tina

Tina wakes him up before the dawn
Though he can't see her face
Dave feels her clutching at his shoulder
Shaking him to his senses

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Her Footsteps: A Native Prayer of Thanks

Kateri Tekakwitha — Noble Turtle, Mother Earth gathers her people.

Mohawk Algonquin Lily
filled with love
grateful woman
we honor you

Sister Turtle Clan
strong, kind and true
faithful woman
we honor you

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport

Happy Hanukkah! Tonight the first candle is lit on the menorah.

Here, where the noises of the busy town,
   The ocean's plunge and roar can enter not,
We stand and gaze around with tearful awe,
   And muse upon the consecrated spot.

The Road Home

It's 5 a.m. and today is a John Philip Sousa song of a sunrise.
I am driving 17 hours home from Louisiana.
As I leave New Orleans, Promised Land, by Chuck Berry,
As made famous by Elvis Presley, plays on oldies radio.

Nowhere Fast — A Thanksgiving Lament

It is nine in the evening
The day before Thanksgiving
The busiest travel day of the year
There is a fresh pack of smokes on the dash
A six-pack is nestled between the front bucket seats
Road maps of the Northeast are placed in order,
Geographically, from nearest state to furthest on the passenger seat
A man sits behind the wheel of his car and quietly closes the door
He can be at the ocean —
His hometown of York, Maine — by dawn tomorrow

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Song of Mexico

Children busking in Patzcuaro.

It was yesterday
that someone asked me
if I thought that there was
something different about Mexico.

Friday, November 22, 2013

W.H. Auden's Elegy for J.F.K.

President John F. Kennedy gives speech in Fort Worth, Texas November 22, 1963.

A nation mourned on November 22, 1963.

It's been said that out of great mourning comes great art. W.H Auden's Elegy for J.F.K. is a testament to that. Comprised of four haiku stanzas the elegy was written at the request of the composer Igor Stravinsky in 1964 for his score of the same name.

While Auden's verse is only four stanzas in length, Stravinsky repeated the first stanza at the score's conclusion.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mary Szybist Wins National Book Award for Poetry

Szybist's winning "Incardine" depicts the Annunciation in many forms.

Mary Szybist has won the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. In a ceremony last night in New York City, Szybist beat out a stellar group of finalists to claim the National Book Award for her brilliantly inventive volume of poetry — Incardine. Nikky Finney who won in 2011, led a panel of five judges and presented Szybist with her award.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Revolver

A newly discovered poem by Carl Sandburg on the power of a gun.

Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Four score and seven years ago
our fathers brought forth on this continent,
a new nation,
conceived in Liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bouteille à la mer

Mogador is the Portuguese name for the Moroccan town of Essaouira.

Le temps a mal tourné pour toi
a dit un de tes illustres enfants
c'est vrai
de la petite ville élégante
au charme discret
où il faisant bon vivre
ne restent plus
que les souvenirs nostaliques

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Barra Songbook: The Second Wind of Marc Pettigrew

For Marc Pettigrew life is good. The best is yet to come.

Marc Pettigrew has a new album out and no it's not his second album. The album is called Second Wind and could just as easily be called Second Chance.

Last year, Marc underwent a double lung transplant after being hooked up to bottles of oxygen since the late 1990s. The ever present bottle earned him the nickname 'Oxygen Marc' from his friends in Mexico.

When we communicated with Marc for this interview he was putting the finishing touches on the Second Wind disc.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quaint Sayings of Uncle Jeff: On Sorrow

Have you ever had your head bowed
Underneath some crushin' blow?
With the road ahead a twistin'
That you scarce knew how to go;

Monday, November 11, 2013


The water sings along our keel,  
   The wind falls to a whispering breath;
I look into your eyes and feel
   No fear of life or death;  
So near is love, so far away  
The losing strife of yesterday.

Two Years Ago Today

As the day began over Harlem, November 11, 2011.

Two years ago today
You took my hand on Writers' Walk
In New York's Central Park

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Story Poem for Chuck on his Birthday

photo © Mark Butkus 2008

The train pulled in and out,
In and out, of the station,
But it never seemed to go anywhere.

I sat in the old station for years,
In the middle row of empty seats,
Wondering what would happen
If it ever left.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Word Up! The Pilsen Poetry Slam

Pilsen gets Slammed by Poetry.

Chicago has a long history of promoting poetry. The Poetry magazine has provided poets from Kilmer to Trethewey with vital exposure for more than a century. The first poetry slams were created at Chicago's Green Mill by the legendary Marc Smith and still thrive there today. Saturday November 9 the tradition continues as the Nitecap Coffee Bar in Pilsen gets slammed with the latest round of the Word Up! poetry slam.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Library Walk: Albert Camus

Albert Camus: Born 100 years ago today.

Awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times" the Bar None Group recognizes Albert Camus on the centennial of his birth.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Worst Poem Ever?

Did this picture just give away the worst poem ever?

A lot like differentiating art from pornography you can tell good poetry from bad poetry when you see it. But more akin to music, the worst song, like the worst poem has to have been very popular at one point in time. And that brings us to Joyce Kilmer.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oraciones dela Santa Muerte — Domingo

Gracias Santísima Muerte
por estar cerca de mi
los siete días de esta semana.
Gracias por darme salud y prosperidad
y alejar de mi
y de mi hogar,
cualquier mal
que nos rondara.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Oraciones dela Santa Muerte — Sábado

Gracias Santísima mia,
por permitirme ver
la luz de un nuevo día,
como agradecimiento
te prometo pensar en ti.

Friday, November 1, 2013