Sunday, October 30, 2016

First Lines Second Thoughts — William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist

photo © Mark Butkus 2012

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? What better time of year than Halloween to take a second look at the opening lines of William Peter Blatty's spine-tingling novel, The Exorcist.

The novel that changed the face of horror and has been scaring readers since it was first published in 1971. In as much as satanic clowns lurk around every corner in 2016, the urban legend of young girls in the 1970s defiled by Satanic cults can trace their genesis to the popularity of The Exorcist. Novel and film.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Dead of Terlingua

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
The cemetery at Terlingua, Texas.

The dead of Terlingua
call out to me
from under
weathered, wooden crosses
as I carefully tiptoe
between their souls
and the candles left behind
to remember them
from past Días de los Muertos.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Migrant Poem

Planting crosses in the desert to mark dead migrants.

One October day, dark and weary
We looked for migrants lost and weary
Through the desert we searched
Seeing many hawks and ravens perched
But of migrants there were none

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Russell Rosander's Boogey Man

photo © Mark Butkus 2008
Taking the lid off from our fears.

That ambiguous specter
who creeps up,
  from beneath our beds
  to clutch our hearts
in the darkest hour of the night,
the invader of our restful slumber,
  spoiler of dreams,

Monday, October 17, 2016

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — In A Little Room

In a little room like this, long ago,
phantoms were slain in the dark.

I stared into an abyss and
after I was less afraid.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Word Salad — Playing Bob Dylan's Tarantula

photo © Mark Butkus 2010

It's time to play Bob Dylan's Tarantula!

The object of the game is to complete an eight line poem of eight syllables each by reaching into a bag and grabbing 64 syllables and arranging them into a poem. The only words that are available for use in the game are culled from the 264 words that make up the titles of the poems in Bob Dylan's first book of poetry — Tarantula — published in 1971.

An alternate version of the game involves the use of any eight words per line regardless of syllable count. This could either sped up your play or slow your play depending on your play...or state of mind.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bob Dylan's Tarantula (Pointless Like a Witch)

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
A witch in Central Park.

In being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016, Bob Dylan's first and only foray into published poetry, Tarantula was invoked as an "experimental work."

Written at the height of his fame in 1965 at the age of 23, Dylan was given the galleys of Tarantula in June 1966, for his final approval before publication.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Times They Are A Changing — Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

"Dylan has published experimental work like "Tarantula" (1971)."

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".

Bob Dylan was born on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in a Jewish middle-class family in the city of Hibbing. As a teenager he played in various bands and with time his interest in music deepened, with a particular passion for American folk music and blues. One of his idols was the folk singer Woody Guthrie. He was also influenced by the early authors of the Beat Generation, as well as by modernist poets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mexican Rendezvous

El jardin is a popular meeting place in Barra de Navidad.

Latina cuties stroll the square
Abuelitas trail close behind
Protecting from the bad boy's stare
Macho bad boys, you know the kind

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Big Rock Candy Mountain Is Not the Children's Song You Remember

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Poetry Shortlist for 2016 National Book Award Announced

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Chicago is the setting for the shortlisted poetry of Daniel Borzutzky.

The shortlists for the National Book Awards were announced today and the nominees for the poetry award are: Daniel Borzutzky; Rita Dove; Peter Gizzi; Jay Hopler and; Solmaz Sharif. Tree Swenson who spent ten years as executive director of the Academy of American Poets leads a panel of five judges who will decide the 2016 honoree.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ginsberg, Whitman, Banned Poetry and a Supermarket in California

A supermarket in California.

Two of the more famous examples of banned poetry in America are of Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg. Whitman's Leaves of Grass was banned in 1855 for it's homoerotic overtones. Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems was cited for obscenity upon it's publication in 1955. It was deemed not to be obscene in a court of law two years later.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Sky Looks

photo © Mark Butkus 2016

The sky looks...
The sky looks the color
Of what the sky typically looks like
Standing on the Second Street Bridge at dusk
Looking south
It is the first evening
Of the first day
Of the first full month of autumn