Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year y Gracias to the Writers of Bar None Group for 2018!

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Our journey this year began on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

What an incredible year!

The first days of 2018 were spent in Mexico along the Sea of Cortez and the last moments of 2018 are spent anticipating family visits. Thank you to all of you who have read, contributed, inspired and shared the words within the pages of the Bar None Group this past year.

Happy New Year to:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Max Ehrmann's Desiderata: The Christmas Poem that Wasn't

photo © Mark Butkus 2003
One time presidential candidate, Adlai Stevenson had planned to use Desiderata in his 1965 Christmas cards.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Eight Most Popular Poems and More from 2018

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Here's to smooth sailing in 2019.

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

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
A Christmas poem by Emily Dickinson.

The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman—
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen—

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Blues of a Young Woman or A Charlie Brown Christmas?

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
This is not A Charlie Brown Christmas character. We don't have the rights to them.

“I think there might be something wrong with me
Christmas is coming,
But I’m not happy
I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel

Friday, December 21, 2018

They Were Alone in the Winter

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
A poem for the first day of winter.

Each night, I braid my daughter's hair.
My fingers slip through the thick silkiness,
weaving the strands into a single black stream.

"The air feels like something will happen,"
she says. "Maybe it will snow."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Last Christmas

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Some locks open, some locks close. Some locks are found on bridges in faraway places.

I found a small lock
While rummaging through the toolbox
The three attached keys
Would give one cause to believe
That said lock could be opened
But one would be mistaken as I was

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Poetic Journey of Charlotte Green Begins Here!

An untitled poem by Canadian poet Charlotte Green.

I'm used to letdowns
and empty promises

Monday, December 17, 2018

John Greenleaf Whittier and The Mystic’s Christmas

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
The outward symbols disappear from them whose inward sight is clear.

“All hail!” the bells of Christmas rang,
“All hail!” the monks at Christmas sang,
The merry monks who kept with cheer
The gladdest day of all their year.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Paintings of Inner Meanings by Martha Kaplan

artwork © estate of Martha Kaplan
Winter Bamboo Labyrinth.

___ ___        ___ ___ kun
Kun ____ ____    ____ ____
___ ___        ___ ___     earth    female

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Louisa May Alcott has A Song For A Christmas Tree

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
From a Christmas long ago.

Cold and wintry is the sky,
Bitter winds go whistling by,
Orchard boughs are bare and dry,
Yet here stands a faithful tree.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Autumn Is a Painted Lady

artwork © Lois Parker

Autumn is a painted lady,
Bacchus is her god:
Over hills, through forests shady,
In vermilion sandals shod,
She comes dancing, ever swirling,
Gaily on her way…

Thursday, December 13, 2018

For What it’s Worth by Stacy Lake

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
A small open boat.

For what it’s worth
There's valuable currency in words
Words that support you to cash in

In a real dream, more vivid than technicolor
A being made of multi colored seashells placed three gold coins in my open palm
I felt warm energy, and a sharper friendship with the unknown

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The G Suite Blues

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Fifty shades of blue. Thirty-nine lines of  blues.

I've been building this site for many long years
A labor of love, of sweat and of tears
It's not a source of income
That's for those who are smart, not like me who are dumb
Every year I pay Google for my little domain
When they come a knockin' wanting pay for my name

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Unwritten Poem of Russell Rosander

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
To be as free as an unwritten poem.

My soul has wings
I flutter un-tethered
Drifting on the breeze
Chasing sunbeams.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I Am the Autumnal Sun writes Henry David Thoreau

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
"I am all sere and yellow"

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature
— not his Father but his Mother stirs
within him, and he becomes immortal with her
immortality. From time to time she claims
kindredship with us, and some globule
from her veins steals up into our own.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Things that Go Bump in the Night

photo © Mark Butkus 2007
A poem for Halloween night.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

On the Road: Grasshopper, Kerouac and the Vesuvio Cafe

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
Poetry on Jack Kerouac Alley.

When the shadow of the grasshopper
Fall across the trail of the field mouse
On green and slimey grass as a red sun rises
Above the western horizon silhouetting
A gaunt and tautly muscled Indian warrior
Perched with bow and arrow cocked and aimed
Straight at you it's time for another martini.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

For Lucas and Nathan and Nola

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
Boys on horseback in Mexico.

Baby goats licking the fence
A crab holding a Corona cap
Black iguana resting on a stack of tires
A globo with spines that would more than tickle you
Two parrots that don’t say, "Hola"
And a monkey dancing in a cage.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Dark Angel of Lionel Johnson

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
The minstrel of mine epitaph.

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust
To rid the world of penitence:
Malicious Angel, who still dost
My soul such subtile violence!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

On the Road: Rumi in New Orleans

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Rumi north of the Lower Garden District.

The wound
  is the place
    where the light
      enters you

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Neruda Pastoral

photo © Mark Butkus 2008
A Bar None Group translation of Pablo Neruda's poem Pastoral.

Looked always to the mountains, rivers, clouds
Picked up the pen to write about the soaring bird
or the spider in it's web

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Corrido por Juana Gallo

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
Chica Juana Gallo en Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico.

Entre ruidos de cañones y metrallas
Surgió una historia popular
De una joven que apodaban Juana Gallo
Por ser valiente a no dudar

Friday, September 14, 2018

Oh My Golly

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
Beyond the wall.

Mi hermano Juanito se murio en TJ
Shot in the back crossing the border Thursday
Vamos to Amerika
Trabajo en factoria
La puerta es abierto
Esta es para mi? Que?
Oh My Golly

Friday, August 17, 2018

In Search of Noah Purifoy

 photo © Mark Butkus 2016
In search of Noah Purifoy and his desert art outside Joshua Tree National Park in California.

The desert was your gallery
Roadside ditches were your palette
Repurposed mundane into art
A second purpose in your second verse

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Li Po is In the Mountains on a Summer Day

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
Get higher to stay cooler.

Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-tree trickles on my bare head.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

El Sol

photo © Mark Butkus 2015

This morn I took the time to watch the sun rise. This was not your regular sunrise – it was purely a Mexican one. In Mexico the sun does not pop over the horizon, but peeks over it. He does not rush into his workday. A peek and then he slowly stretches his rays over the horizon.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Word Salad — Playing William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
The Naked Lunch Cut Up poem.

All these jewelers standing around the
Diamond in their frock coats

Schizophrenic catatonia...
Instances of automatic obedience

Monday, July 23, 2018

On The Road: Ninety Miles with Jennifer Grafiada

 photo © Mark Butkus 2018
A pause of poetry at the Southernmost Point.

Oh Havana
Coffee-colored dreams of rainy streets
Boys playing with balls
La Playa Santa Maria
If only I could get to you
And your people could come to me

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Langston Hughes Implores Us to Let America Be America Again

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Mural on Harlem wall where Langston Hughes was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

On the Road in Nevada: Walter Zabriskie's Ode to the Jim Butler Motel

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Ode to the Jim Butler Motel in Tonopah, Nevada

Jim Butler is the place to stay.
It's really pretty nice.
It's clean, convenient, comfortable,
All for a budget price.

The P.O. is across the street,
The Mizpah is next door,
You're in the center of the town...
Now, who could ask for more?

Monday, June 18, 2018

My Birthday with Russell Rosander

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
The poet Russell Rosander and his friend Romeo.

I was born this morning
About one-thirty A.M.
It was cloudy, though I didn't know it
And it smelled like rain.
I had to pee,
So I got up and did it.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Fathers Day Poem: He Was There by Hannah Rodrigues

photo courtesy Hannah Rodrigues
A father's happy place.

He was there...
    Looking at me, only the way he could

He was there...
    Feeding me my first ice cream

He was there...
    Holding my hand

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — A Father’s Pen

photo © Mark Butkus 2009
Beholding in wonderment its vantaged range.

I weep as I write my remembrance of the hour
when I and my now-lifeless son
played inside the panes of an imperishable vacuum.
Upwards we climbed the sheer towers of its scope

Thursday, June 14, 2018

On the Road: Mark Twain and Lake Tahoe

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Where Taylor Creek empties into Lake Tahoe.

At last Lake Tahoe burst upon us,
a noble sheet of blue water
lifted some 6,000 feet
above the level of the sea,
and walled in by a rim of
snow-clad mountain peaks
that towered aloft
a full 3.000 feet higher still.

Monday, June 11, 2018

San Francisco Blocks — Around Union Square with Amos Gregory

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Finding Amos Gregory in a San Francisco alley.

"The road to peace is
narrow and long,
Amos Gregory wrote upon
an alley wall in 2017,
but my conviction is strong.
Upon it's path do my feet belong."

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

At The End Of The Affair with Maxine Kumin

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
The key to the beginning of the affair.

That it should end in an Albert Pick hotel
with the air conditioner gasping like a carp
and the bathroom tap plucking its one-string harp
and the sourmash bond half gone in the open bottle,

Monday, June 4, 2018

On the Road: A PW Covington Roadtrip (Paying for the Gas)

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
We were San Francisco curious and decided to commit poetry.

A tattered copy of Sirens of Titan
is chosen over bad motel TV
at the start of a five state road-trip

Coffee, sleeping pills and truck stops
four dollar gasoline
seems all too much to spend for poetry
and words of witness shouted into the irrelevant abyss

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Revolution on Canvas: Brian Martinez Pens a Letter to Dear Ginsberg...

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Poetry from the Indie Music Scene.

Dear Ginsberg...

I wrote a letter to Ginsberg and
and sent it to the sky,
through my eyes and to the
nearest stars and with pupils
opened wide, I cried and cried,
unashamed, uninhibited. the
angels read aloud to Ginsberg,
sitting in some heaven ness sky,

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Traveling with Chu Tun-Ru

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
That now the traveler has departed.

The red has parted from the green.
I'm half sober from my drink last night.
The horse in harness waits outside the door.

Friday, June 1, 2018

On the Road in Santa Cruz: Tilly Washburn Shaw Goes Vroom!

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Flagrant metal chains of gear.

Out walking in the fog on Westcliff Drive,
everything becalmed & muffled way high up
over the Pacific, when comes a rumbling

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Seattle Blocks — Madison and 6th

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Above all else.

It’s the ground floor
On the morning after
The year before
From the California desert
Of Palm Springs to
The Pacific Northwest
And Seattle rains.

Monday, May 28, 2018

On the Road in Seattle: Harvey Danger, Sean Nelson and War Buddies

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
Resistance is already forming.

Let's be war buddies
Waist deep in big muddies
side by side
I'd be the atheist in your foxhole anytime

Saturday, May 26, 2018

On the Road in Seattle: Love and the Pongo Poetry Project

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
The courage of the poet's pen is expressed in Seattle public art.

At the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle we came upon a booth for the Pongo Poetry Project. Pongo is a 25-year-old Seattle-based nonprofit that has helped more than 7000 teens inside jails, shelters and psychiatric hospitals heal through poetry. A flyer distributed at the booth had the following poem on love.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First Lines Second Thoughts — Philip Roth and Portnoy's Complaint

She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise.

First Lines Second Thoughts is an occasional look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? Today, on the day of his passing, we look at the opening lines of Philip Roth's controversial novel, Portnoy's Complaint.

Published in 1969,  Portnoy's Complaint is a continuous monologue of Alex Portnoy to his psychoanalyst. The novel was considered scandalous at the time for its explicit language and vivid descriptions of of masturbation. It was banned from many libraries, and Australia too.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Stacy Rae Lake is Something Current for Now

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Now I am a boat resting at a dock.

When I looked down at the beach
My toes were made of crumbling sand
Each grain of sand spoke to me
offering significant steps to unfoldment

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nora May French asks, How Ends The Day?

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
The end of day at the Mission in Carmel.

We wandered where the violets bloom,
    beside the sunlit stream.
We saw, where on the crystal waves,
    the water lilies dream.
Their gold hearts wreathed in leaves of
    pearl, all silvered by the sun,
We heard the brook laugh as it swayed
    their bright heads one by one;
Yet no smile dawned upon your face, to
    chase the tears away.
"The waters cease, the lilies fade, in
    darkness ends the day."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bar None — Brenda Hawley and Passing a Hangover

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
Remnants of the night before.

My mind is numb today
Everyday play, play, play
Need to take a break today
I declare today a movie day

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Harry Truman as a Child

Born this day, 1884, Happy Birthday Harry!

The fields were boxed into sounds, weren’t they,
as carefully as books beside your bed,
and a necktie draped for the next day on a chair?

And you owned it all, didn’t you?
You owned the priceless fields
and start of day as warm as Mama’s voice.