Monday, November 28, 2016

Tania Bruguera — The Cuban Artist and a Mouth with Nails

Tania Bruguera's Untitled (Mouth with Nails) / Sin titulo (Boca con clavos), 2003.

While it is her art that Tania Bruguera is known for, it is her words that have struck a chord. Her words that have resulted in action and her words that have landed her in jail in her native Cuba. It is her words that we read at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach in the days after the death of Fidel Castro that stay with us still.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ode to a Pumpkin Pie

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pumpkin Pie is talking to me
From the other side of the kitchen table
The table that at this time of day is my office
Where I check my emails, catch up on the day's news
and map out my day of plans and procrastination.

Friday, November 18, 2016

It was Yesterday for Aïcha Amara

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
An artist's hues.

On Eid Al Istiqulal — Morocco's Independence Day — we cast a glance at Moroccan poet, Aïcha Amara.  C'était hier It Was Yesterday — is from her 1996 collection of themed poems, Mogador fille d'aylal Mogador: Daughter of Aylal. We came across Aïcha and her poetry in the coastal community of Essaouira, Morocco in 2011 and have been captivated by her words ever since.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Countless Nights

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
Supermoon over Long Beach, California.

Countless nights
I’ve covered you
in clouds and
slept nearby.

I dream
you are stoking stars within
and forming constellations
of a universe
that rushes to my arms.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Regular Sort of Guy — Eugene O'Neill Enters American Poets Corner

photo © Mark Butkus 2011.
American Poets Corner enshrines Eugene O'Neill in 2016.

Eugene O'Neill is being celebrated tonight with his induction into the American Poets Corner at Saint John the Divine in New York City. The author of 32 full length plays and 21 one act plays is probably best known for his four Pulitzer winning plays: Beyond the Horizon (1920); Anna Christie (1922); Desire Under the Elms (1924); Strange Interlude (1928) and; Long Day's Journey Into Night (1957).

America's only Nobel winning playwright — Eugene O'Neill — never thought much of his poetry. More than sixty years after his death we still do not have the definitive collection of his poetry. Though attempts have been made.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Palms in Marriage

Its a warm desert night
That is dark and still
We'll howl at the moon
Whats left of it anyway

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Paul Wilhelm, War, Poetry and an Oasis in the Desert

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
The view from Paul Wilhelm's Vagabond House.

So let me live where I may hear
The silken whisper of the sand
The singing music of the sphere
The light-wing feet, the unseen hand
Of pressing winds that murmur near
The pulsing spirit of this land!

Paul Wilhelm (1909-1994) described himself as "a naturalist who lives in Thousand Palms Canyon" in the postscript of his articles for the Indio Daily News. The plaque at the Paul Wilhelm Palm Grove dedicated to him reads, "This magnificent desert fan palm oasis is dedicated to the memory of Paul Wilhelm, desert writer, poet and naturalist. Paul devoted his life to the protection of these palms and the surrounding desert. Through his writings and conversations with visitors, he opened his arms and heart, passing on his deep love of the desert and its history for all who listened."

It was the part about his being a poet that piqued our interest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

And Yet There It Is!

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
CONFIRMED: The sun rose again. November 9, 2016 Long Beach, California.

It is the morning after
the night before
and I had filled up my mug
with my favored brown elixir
to walk the block to the beach
in the predawn light
illuminated by the moon, the stars
the sodium lamps
to stand by the shore of the Pacific Ocean
to sip and wait
— a man and his mission.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Day Before the Election 2016

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
"The heart holds it all."

I ride my bicycle to the store,
through this tiny village,
far from my birthplace,
that collective mind thing
called country, ourselves,
divided from the rest of humanity
by the flimsiest of imaginary boundaries,

On the Road: A Garden of Poetry in Palm Springs

One day she woke up...

We came across this poem and painting at a catered event in Rancho Mirage, California. The harried server didn't know the origins of the poem or the painting but said that there was someone who did. He turned to ask, but that person was no longer there.

Research would need to be undertaken to discover the artist. The poet.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Steve Goodman's Go Cubs Go Song Hits Home Run on iTunes

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
The ivy covered bleachers at Wrigley Field.

Hours after ending an 108 year World Series drought the theme song of the Chicago Cubs written by local legend Steve Goodman has cracked the Top 15 on iTunes. Go Cubs Go was one of the last songs written and recorded by Goodman before he died in 1984, two weeks before he was scheduled to throw out the opening pitch of a Cubs baseball playoff game.