Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year y Gracias to the Writers of Bar None Group for 2014!

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Canadian headquarters of the Bar None Group is McBride's Organic Farm in Oro Medonte, Ontario.

What an incredible year!

The first moments of 2014 were spent ringing in the year with friends at the Sand Bar in Barra de Navidad, Mexico. The last moments of 2014 were spent with some of those same friends from Barra de Navidad at a farm in Ontario, Canada. Along the way their was an epic roadtrip to visit all 50 states in one calendar year.

After a lap and a half around America, with diversions to Peru, Columbia, Mexico and Canada to break up the adventure we managed to visit 47 of the 50 states. We came across some amazing poets and poetry and were happy to share their voice within these pages. Thank you to all who have read, contributed, inspired and shared their words within the pages of the Bar None Group.

Happy New Year to:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Eight Most Popular Poems and More from 2014

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Fire station 9/11 ceremony in Harlem, New York City. We will never forget.

These are the poems, essays and more that resonated the most with you, our readers, in the past year at Bar None Group.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Hammock

I love the sound of rain
Outside my window
Streaming past,
Down the cobbled street

Friday, December 26, 2014

Prayer for a Friend Suffering from Depression

I speak to the spaces between all things,
that timeless dimension where all things are possible
and ask for your assistance.
To help a friend who has lost his way
and become blind to your grace,
your unconditional love for us all.
I recognize my own helplessness,
my inability to help him alone.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Cremation Of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Chapbook — It is Night: Shall We be Together?

It is night:
shall we be together?

Shall we move into the flame
that reaches from your table
to a sky without a breath of God
but for what we make in genesis
when sleep is swept away?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Fourth Season

The ghostly birch extends it’s arms;
fingers protruding into the dark night
shadows — of geranium stain the ground.
A landscape so bleak it...
struggles against the thin air,
like shy lovers touching hands.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Look, pa, I got a bone
to bury with you. I dug

your grave all day just to do it
well. I practiced. Like you

taught me. With bruises
on my lips I sang elegy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas on Sugar Hill

There was a book written a long time ago
That talked about a new kind of sound
The pages between the covers
are now yellow and brittle

Staring at black vinyl
spinning round and around
In between the cracks and the scratches
Was that new kind of sound

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quaint Sayings of Uncle Jeff: On Regret

Uncle Jeff ruminated on thoughts and themes from sorrow to happiness at the turn of the last century. His niece Iva noted nine such sayings. As a young woman of 26 in 1929, Iva was determined to collect and write down the quaint sayings of her Uncle Jeff for posterity's sake. She wrote down his homespun adages within the pages of her second-hand copy of Three Centuries of American Poetry and Prose.

Uncle Jeff had this to say about regret...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Chapbook — We Trooped into the Countryside

We trooped into countryside,
walking behind tanks like children
trailing parents to a scene of petty
wrong. I was more exhausted
than I can say; I was tired of shots
and the substitute of guns for
the soundings of the sky and handsome
forks of gold like those back home
where storms are welcome to the eye.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Prayer for a Friend

Remembering Charles Longstreet (1947-2013) on the day of his birth.

Prayer For A Friend,
A Father
Oh Great Universe,
Our Creator,
We return your gift to us,
Our brother, our father,
our friend,
And thank you
For his presence
among us,
The love
and the life
that flowed through him.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Poem that inspired the title "Gone With the Wind"

A Roman poem written before the birth of Christ, inspired the title of a 19th century English poem that contained a line that was the inspiration for the title of an American classic novel of the 20th century.

The poem that inspired the title to Margaret Mitchell's 1936 classic Civil War romance novel Gone With the Wind comes from a line in a poem written by the tragic poet Ernest Dowson.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Good lord, grief. I’ve forgotten
to do my calthestics again.

My aesthetics are bundled,
bridled by the bunch, by the wing

of a wren. Take me down a peg.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Poetry in Motion Pictures: Dylan Thomas in Interstellar

Poetry has been making appearances in movies since the advent of motion pictures. Sometimes as a cameo (Yeats in No Country for Old Men), other times as a central plot point (Whitman in Dead Poets Society) and poems inspire titles of films (Dowson in Days of Wine and Roses).

A much talked about film in the waning weeks of 2014 that uses poetry to add textures and layers to a film is Christopher Nolan's blockbuster Interstellar.

The movie, set in a bleak near future, makes use of Dylan Thomas' Do not go gentle into that good night. Sections of the poem are recited throughout the three-hour film by Professor Brand, portrayed by Michael Caine.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


‘Meek-teka-see-wahdl’ or ‘Meek-teka-kee-wadl’, in Aztec mythology she guards over the bones of the dead.

She brews fruit on open flame,
calling souls of vanished loved ones;
gurgling marigolds and cockscomb
fill a dark room’s altar,
copal incense burning sweet
and thick encasing the air.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Life and Death

Ofrenda por la niña Marisol Nola.

On the road to El Aguacate
the dead sleep
next to their abuelos and primos.
A baby gone too soon,
A life lived a century ago,
watched over by Guadalupe,
under a palm tree,
next to a mountain of stone and sand
to warm them in their graves.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Galway Kinnell's Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight

“To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.” — Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)
    You scream, waking from a nightmare.

    When I sleepwalk
    into your room, and pick you up,
    and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me
    as if clinging could save us. I think
    you think
    I will never die, I think I exude
    to you the permanence of smoke or stars,
    even as
    my broken arms heal themselves around you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seeker of Truth Mural in Chicago Remembers James Foley

Life is often forgotten beyond the headlines. A nation recoiled in horror with the murder of journalist James Foley on August 19, 2014 and introduced a new word into our collective vocabulary — ISIS.

James' friends in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago sought to remind us and console each other that James was more than a statistic. More than a journalist.

James Foley was a poet, a drummer, a hip-hop performer, an educator and ironically enough an anti-war activist. He may have been born in Evanston and raised in New Hampshire but James Foley had called Pilsen home.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Chapbook — Picasso’s Guitar

Picasso's Guitar

Picasso’s Guitar is disassembled
and rebuilt on canvas
when figs are sugared and
clustered in the heavens
and the studio is silent;

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Woman Alone with Her Soul

A woman
is sitting alone
in a house.

She knows she is alone
in the whole world:
every other living thing
is dead.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Soledad Mexicana

Y soy un extraño sin felicidad
caminando las calles de México
Mis amigos, se me han muerto,
mis amantes desaparecieron,
mis putas fueron proscriptas,
mi cama apedreada y sacudida
por los terremotos y no tengo
hierba santa para volarme a la luz
de las velas

Monday, October 20, 2014

Openness — Love

Free flowing, like a clear mountain stream,
tumbling down unobstructed.
Open wide, like the arms of a tree,
to the heavens above.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rain Dance

It's nice to enjoy
What you are doing for a chance,
My very own new rain dance.

Bright lightning night.
Rolling thunder now.
Knowing my own answers, somehow.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Be not Defeated by the Rain

Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.

Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 National Book Award Poetry Finalists Announced

The shortlists for the National Book Awards were announced today and the finalists for the poetry award are: Louise Glück; Fanny Howe; Maureen N. McLane; Fred Moten and; Claudia Rankine. Robert Polito, President of the Poetry Foundation, heads a panel of five judges who will decide this year's honoree.

Library Walk: The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

"Writing your name can lead to writing sentences. And the next thing you'll be doing is writing paragraphs, and then books. And then you'll be in as much trouble as I am." So speaks the titular character in Robert Edwin Lee and Jerome Lawrence's The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.

The two-act play debuted at their alma mater during the height of the Viet Nam War in 1969 and was one of the most popular college productions of the time appearing on campuses coast-to-coast.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Chapbook — Pangea

We, in bed,
are an early Earth;
the Africa of me
is fitted to
the Americas of you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvest Time

Pillowed and hushed on the silent plain,
Wrapped in her mantle of golden grain,

Wearied of pleasuring weeks away,
Summer is lying asleep today —

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Poem That Speaks Your Name

There was a poem that spoke your name
I read it in another tongue
Reciting words before we fell into bed
laughing at my clumsy attempt
to be an overseas romantic
to be something more

Friday, October 10, 2014

Poet Blanca Segura Reflects on Vibrancy of Peruvian Poetry

It has been said that to find the soul of a country you must seek out its poets. When the Bar None Group arrived in Peru we put out a call for the poets — the soul — of Peru. Blanca Segura of the Grupo Parasomnia — a collective of poets from Lima — answered our call.

Blanca's first volume of poetry, La Brutalidad de Los hechos was published in 2011. Her poetry also appears in the Grupo Parasomnia's 2013 anthology of poetry, Al otro lado del verso. She is also the creator of an online multimedia poetry experience called Mis hombres y yo.

We put Blanca behind the proverbial eight-ball and asked her to answer eight questions as to the vibrancy of Peruvian poetry yesterday, today and tomorrow and where her own poetic journey will take her.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pictures of You

The first poem I wrote you
was just etched in my memory
depending on the circumstance
or wherever I was, thinking of you.

It was then transcribed
on the back of a napkin
where it changed some more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Excerpt of Roberto Bolaño's Prosa del otoño en Gerona

“This could be hell for me.”
The kaleidoscope shifts
with the serenity and boredom of each day.
For her, in the end, there was no hell...
She simply avoided living here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Another Tequila Sunrise

A yellow/orange tinge slowly stains
the hard edge of darkness
and dissolves into day.
18th St. awakens to a jumble
of color and sound.
Bi-lingual signs hawk tequila, menudo and a miracle or two.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Just a Date with Chicago Slam Poet Eric Sirota

Chicago slam poet extraordinaire Eric "MC Rota" Sirota is co-headlining the Words That Kill open mic and variety showcase at Multikulti tomorrow night, Thursday October 2, 2014.

Hosted by the Lethal Poetry Collective the monthly slams are an opportunity for Chicago area poets, musicians, storytellers, rappers and comics to flex their creative muscles in front of an enthusiastic audience.

Eric is a Chicago poet and rapper who has represented Chicago at three different venues in three consecutive years at the National Poetry Slam. He was Mental Graffiti's 2013 Grand Slam Champ and Lethal Poetry's 2014 Grand Slam Champ.

To give you a flavor for this event, this date, we share with you Eric's poem, Just a Date.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Chapbook — Midnight

I like when we are in bed
and I kneel behind you
and look out the window
at your dress
gold and stretched on ocean waves.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Life is Art for Chicago Artist Erick Roho Garcia

He has painted everyone from Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Marley, Frida Kahlo and Derrick Rose in bright colors on canvases larger than the lives his subjects have led. He is Erick Roho Garcia and this talented Chicago artist lives by the credo that "life is art."

Roho's art has been turning up in galleries and street corners throughout the city drawing on cultural influences that stretch from Mexico to the South Side. A Diego Rivera for the 21st century, we recently put Roho behind the proverbial eight-ball and had him answer eight questions as to what motivates his art...and his life — since they are one-and-the-same to him.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Library Walk: William Carlos Williams

Happy Birthday William Carlos Williams! Born September 17, 1883.

The William Carlos Williams poem, Poem is one of the few poems on Library Walk that is cast in its entirety. Available in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams: 1939-1962, Williams compares the life-cycle of a rose to the life-cycle of man and the importance of poetry in capturing those moments thereby rendering them immortal.

He does all that in 27 words!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Chapbook — Poem For My Brother

In the Fall, oak leaves blew as we
in the courtyard of the Art Institute.
It was afternoon now,
and my brother drew in charcoal.

In the morning we had flittered in the galleries,
and lighted on a van Gogh,
and pecked Vincent’s chairs of straw.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Empty Plate

I could tell you
that I'm fine;
that my smiles have meaning
and I live life with meaning
as well,
but I'd be lying if I told you
that that were

Friday, September 12, 2014

On The Road in Missouri: The Stranger Within Our Gates

We wanted to clear St. Louis having left Chicago too late in the day to make it straight through to Texas. Driving down the I-44 our eyes were peeled in the diminishing light for a roadside sign that would point us to a cheap sleep. Well, we found that sign and our budget lodging in Nowhere, Missouri but what we weren't expecting was another sign.

This sign was framed and hung on the back of our motel room door in St. Clair, Missouri. Was it a sign from God?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

W.H. Auden's 9-11 Poem...Written in 1939

As we  remember the horrific events of September 11, 2001 we remember a poem. In the aftermath of 9/11 people turned to poetry to express their anger, their grief, their disbelief at the madness of it all. One of the poems that people turned to in those uncertain times was a poem written by W. H. Auden. The poem was written in September...1939.

The poem, September 1, 1939, marks the onset of World War II and first appeared in The New Republic the following month and in book form in Auden's 1940 collection of poems, Another Time. The poem echoes the W.B. Yeats poem from another war, Easter, 1916 that brings to life the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland. Auden's poem earned the poet acclaim, especially for the line, "We must love one another or die."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Lines Second Thoughts — Ian Fleming's Goldfinger

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? Today, in honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month we look at literature's most famous spy. James Bond.

What? You thought Bond only drank vodka martinis. Not in Ian Fleming's seventh Bond book — Goldfinger. Published in 1959.

Monday, September 8, 2014

She Ain't Like the Rest

The heavens open
and allow me to view
inside the dream,
the dream that can only be seen
by staring through the gateways
encasing the soul of a queen.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Following Dreams

We were meant to dream.
It´s in our nature.
To hope, to wonder if,
to pursue.
Our dreams give our lives meaning,
our reason to be,
and yet,
there is a price,
they are not given for free.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pauvre Hobo — The Tale of a Cajun Song

Hobo art from the Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa.

Ca me fait de la peine de me voir
Mais comme un pauvre hobo.
Plus personne pour m’aimer,
Plus personne pour me soigner.

Ca me fait la peine de me voir
Mais comme un pauvre hobo.
Plus d’argent, plus de souliers,
Mais comment moi je vas faire ?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School — MOMA Offers Online Art Courses

Does the beginning of another school year make you fondly recall your favorite subject?

If your favorite subject was art then New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) may rekindle that passion with seven available online courses. Ranging from multi-media creations, experimenting with collage, through to modern and contemporary art, MOMA courses will allow you to connect with fellow art lovers on an inspiring journey while learning at your own pace.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Chapbook — I Wander the Beach Sometimes

I wander the beach sometimes where men stand with pants rolled,
fishing for shark. And I think I can find you in the wandering night
and set you close and kiss and, as we close our eyes,
make another universe in our private dark. And the sheets
will be like the linens dry upon the air and folded in the light when the
hurricane has gone away. You make words as I do. Make them into wings as I
will and meet me now.