Many Masks

How could you!

How could you
you are so sensitive!
ExTREmely sensitive
to the feelings
of others –
when You
cause me
such EXquisite pain?!

Don’t you know
the acts and deeds
done through love
infuse the soul?

Can’t you see
mere words
of love only appease
the mind –
and seldom convince
the heart..?

Sensitive my ass!

So long (gone) baby!

Carried you for far too long –
today awoke and put you down.
One looong last drag,
one looong last ring,
at last this half-life habit gone!


old man geezer neighbored ‘hi’
green teeth sugar smile on mutant head,
made me round up puppy dog
in shed that housed his dusty clunker,
made me think doggie a prize
to keep, if I would place the tie
around his neck “and just keep calm,
he’s a stray but he’ll make a fine pet”
said this farmhand, my young mom’s friend –
he knew about the wren I tamed,
and my bunnies from under the porch nest,
mom told him about my way with the wilds
so I knew why he picked me
child that I was –
it took awhile for that stray to gain my trust
“you’re a good girl, now hold him still”
I never saw it coming! but I can still hear it
reverberating off thin tin siding and, oh my God!
strange Elmer’s crazyface *flash* smokinghand!
frozen in time, this memory, this heart,
and the way its body went thump thump
on the gravel behind his truck to the dump.

Pax domini..vobiscum……..(Father)

You, mild mannered man…………(crave me),
your quick temper hid from all(save me),
watch communion plate pass hand to
hand Old Woman mutters what a good man
humble Loving Father lucky woman that she is –
forgive us our sins Preacher man!
Every Sunday starts out righteous – thank God!
for Wednesday nights are voices
crashing through closed doors
sharp as cracking! whips! and talk-in-tongues!
(heralding the binge once more)
O heavenly Jesus, save me
from your mild mannered man,
for I know only contempt
holding his false image to my face –
wear your mask.



  1. You’re right. Words can never touch the heart. Feelings have a knack of communicating without words.

    I’m happy to learn you think this way, too, worldlywise. I consider this one of my “attitude” pieces, so I hope you took it in that vein. :) And, thank you for stopping by to comment. I appreciate it; feedback helps me to grow as a writer (I hope :)

  2. your writing is special.

    So nice of you to tell me so, Jak. Although I’m inclined to think everyone’s artistic expression is special, it takes guts to let one’s personal feelings hang out there for all the world to see and scrutinize. You make me feel very welcome here in the community. I appreciate that. :)

  3. Hot rant at a pack of devils. “Tamer” was terrifying.

    Tamer is my take on an actual childhood trauma, sad to say. :(

  4. I had a childhood friend who could call birds out of trees. She would find them broken, take them in, heal them, and they would follow her around. Same with a dog named buckshot, who scared the hell out of everybody else. You have a gift. Sorry you had this experience though. Peace, baby.

    Wow. Sounds like your childhood friend might have been me, Rick, ;> because I also had a bird-friend that used to hang outside our back door waiting for me every day. It would hop up on my shoulder and just sit there for a while. I remember bringing it in one night to sleep in a little basket I’d prepared for it. Well, some time between my going to bed and getting up the next morning, my sister took the basket and put it up on the kitchen heater and I found it dead when I woke up. My sister had “tucked” it in to sleep, too. Sad. I also had some baby rabbits that we put into a little pen under the back stairs to keep them from wild animals at night and no one was allowed to go into the pen but me. A sister snuck into the pen and tried to catch these little critters darting here and there and in her clumbsiness stepped on and killed a number of them. (At that time, I thought of her as the Bad Seed;). As though these experiences weren’t bad enough pet-trauma to last a lifetime, years later when we moved from MN to CT (against our juvenile will), my parents gave each of us 4 sisters, all black kittens from the neighbors litter. We called them Black Midnight, Black Shadow, Black Princess, and now I can’t remember the last name. We had them for less than a year. One day while walking to school in the morning through the short distance of woods behind our house, we came across our cats, strung up on rope stretched between 2 trees on either side of the path. They were dead and charred. Some psycho had set our kittens on fire. We had nightmares for years over that trauma.

    The dog I helped kill as a youngster in Tamer poem above took a real toll on my sensitive soul. Elmer drove the dead dog a short distance from my house to the side of the ball park across the street and buried it but not deep enough. I went over there every day for a good number of days, sobbing and asking the dog to forgive me for what I had done. I can still remember all the stages of decomposition and horrible stench I sat through while crying and talking to this dead dog. Sorry if I’ve bored you with this background story, Rick. I guess it still isn’t out of my system after all these years. sigh.

  5. When I was 8 years old we were renting a small farm, and there was chicken ranch next door. A stray dog wandered in, and it became “my pooch”. It was part Shepherd and part mutt, huge and black, and I dubbed it Midnight.

    My stepfather was summoned next door one morning, and come to find out Midnight had gotten into the chicken house the night before and killed dozens of prize pullets. The neighbor told my Dad that if he destroyed the dog, he would not have to be sued of pay damages. Art came to me, with his rifle on his shoulder. “Put the leash on Midnight, Butch,” he said. We walked together up into the north pasture. We had brought a shovel. Art, who was very muscular, dug the grave. “Tell your dog to get in the hole,” he said. I did, and the dog complied. He licked my hand before I unhooked him and ordered him to leap into eternity. Art shot him with his 30/30 carbine. The barrol was only inches from my head. The shot was dead center between the dog’s eyes. He went down hard, with one quick yelp. Then Art stood there while I used the shovel and filled in the hole, the terrible shot still ringing in my ears. Sometimes late at night I still hear the shot, and the yelp, and my heart is torn asunder again.


    Glenn, I so wanted to write you last night after reading your dog (horror) story, but I fled in tears, instead. I could only absorb about a third of your story at a time. I literally had to stop reading so I wouldn’t freak out. I thought my experience was a horror, but I can’t even imagine going through what you did – at such a tender young age. I’d probably go catatonic on everyone and become the crazy aunt who lives in the attic. I’m sorry to be quick to interject myself into a personal story of yours, but what the ^%$#@ was your stepfather thinking!?! Was this the beginning of a downward spiral in your relationship with Art (I’ll bite my tongue at this misnomer..)? Again, I apologize for seeming so judgmental of your stepfather, but geezes, having gone through a similar trauma I’m pretty sensitive about the judgment of some adults. (I’m near tears again. Gosh, but it must be true that we relive things done to us in childhood – as a child – all over again.) May God grant you an end to your nightmares over Midnight, Glenn, and give you peace from an act of cruelty not of your making and powerless to escape. We have the power to make something good out of an evil so I shall find comfort in knowing you are the one person who has endured that which I have experienced and have to live with forever. I hope in telling your story the pain it holds over your mind ceases and becomes powerless, my friend.

  6. Yes, it helps to write about, to share these childhood traumas. Some say to relive them is foolish, but as Frederick Nietsche said, “Whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger.” Very nihilist, very practical, and very sad too for we sensitive types. I am sorry if my tale made you upset. Now in my 60’s, I too am moved to tears much too easily. I remember the interview with Dustin Hoffman on ACTOR’S STUDIO, and he could not even talk about his father without weeping. Emotion rides my shoulders like a feather cape, always ready to tickle my nose and prime my tear ducts.

    Your poem FATHER is also powerful, and angry, and held close to your chest. Too often the taciturn and the “mild mannered” do wear a mask for most to see. But the children, the wife, the pets–they see the other side of that one-eyed Jack. I have had to struggle most of my life with anger management. I move to anger as easily as I am moved to tears. Anger resides in my neck, close to my eyes. It began to live like a parasite within me probably as a defensive mechanism. I never knew my real father. I had a succession of stepfathers. We moved like gypsies, ten schools to get through Elementary grades. You develop into a Type A personality, who thrives on competition and conflict. And yet poetry also resided near the heart chakra, mighty and sweet poetry–there when I needed it when I was in the service during Viet Nam, there when my heart was broken by love, by disrespect, by apathy, and by non-communication. When I read Walt Whitman as a young boy, it was liberating. I never was a slave to rhyme again. My poetry winged its way wherever it wanted. Often I could barely write fast enough to capture it. When I read William Faulkner, his two page run-on sentences, his piognant clauses–that was liberating for my narratives, my fiction, and my manuscripts.

    You strike me deeply, Ms. Leigh. How wonderful that you have this forum to attract like minds, and others, and that you take the time to respond so very whole heartedly. I do feel welcomed.


  7. HOW COULD YOU speaks to many of us, the misrepresentation of those we try to get to know, or think we have falled in love or lust with. If a person “tells” you that they are sensitive, it is an emotional scam. Sensitivity becomes evident through acts, through responses, through kindness, tears, touch. I recall as a sophomore in HS taking a personality profile in a psychology class. You answered general questions, and your answers or responses were charted on a graph, to the right or left of a median. The right side were the masculine traits, and the left side were feminine traits. The feminine traits were much more prevelent for me, traits like sensitivity and creativity, honesty, etc. I was dismayed that my personality had so many feminine traits. I was a strapping 15 year old, after all. I took the teacher aside, and asked him, “Does this mean I will become a homosexual?” The instructor, who was gay it turned out, laughed, and said,”No, Glenn, it means you probably will become an artist.” And that was the first guidepost on my path.


  8. Janet:

    I just finished a poem about Alex. I thought you might like to see it. It, also, is on FFTR.

    Ferry Fugue

    Home again,
    home again,
    just morning till
    but still a delight,
    parting the gray green waters,
    churning up salty foam
    under the bow,
    passing fast
    through sun breaks
    and shadow,
    getting a faint whiff
    of the neighboring isles;
    their beaches,
    their forests,
    their farms,
    their kelp,
    their driftwood.

    There you stand,
    spread-legged against
    the wind,
    with the big white deck
    beneath you,
    and the Sound’s spring chill
    knifing through your long coat,
    spreading out the tassles
    on the end of your bright scarf;
    wearing stylish sunglasses,
    naively waiting for the sun;
    tall collar up
    like a spinnaker
    before the breeze;
    hands deep
    in your warm pockets,
    humming and smiling,
    hearing those lovely melodies
    winging to you
    with the gulls,
    and the soft thump-thump
    of the great ship’s throbbing engine,
    with the lilt of children’s
    and the high pitched
    woodwind bark
    of someone’s lap dog.

    Then you notice
    that old man
    in the Greek fisherman’s hat,
    sitting back on a bench,
    out of the breeze,
    holding tightly onto
    a colorfully wrapped
    cafeteria sandwich
    in his strong old hands.

    But for now,
    your dock
    is in sight,
    and you must
    descend to the car deck,
    and ready yourself
    to clank over the metal planks
    on your way
    to greet Charles
    and the cats.

    Glenn Buttkus April 2008

    I am tempted, with your permission to post more of your poetry on my site. Some of it I really respond to.


    Hello, Glenn! I’ve just seen this comment and read this beautiful lovely poem, but I’m going to have to come back later, it’s 3:30AM and I’m falling asleep here. I just wanted you to know I spotted it and will come back…) (And I’ll be by FFTR to catch up as I haven’t been for a few days. I haven’t been well.) Wishing you a perfect day.

  9. Janet:

    I have gotten myself worked up by high gas prices and Year 5 in Iraq. The following poetry came cascading out of me the other day:

    Four Buck Gas

    This morning
    I stood in the pre-dawn chill
    and pumped 4-buck gas
    into my pick up.

    Suddenly consumed
    with unspeakable anger,
    I shook my free fist
    at the Shell sign—
    standing there tall
    and sullen
    and silent,
    arrogantly golden
    its $4.15
    for regular gas

    I thought about
    The Bush War
    and what it is costing
    and about the fat cat
    oil barons
    who hang out with Junior
    swilling Lone Star
    and counting their tax-free

    The New Millennium Crusades
    suddenly swam belligerently
    into my cortical net,
    witnessing Bush stir up
    the Muslim wasp nest,
    sending our youth
    into harm’s way
    to face the barbs and stingers,
    RPG’s, roadside explosions,
    and suicide bombers
    who themselves
    are barely old enough
    to enjoy
    the promised 100 virgins
    in Jihad Paradise.

    A few yesterdays ago
    there we were
    post 9-11 in 2003,
    wanting to strike back,
    wanting revenge
    for the terrible toppling of our towers,
    and the callous crushing
    of the innocent thousands,
    as death was brought to us
    on our own silver wings,
    diving and plunging
    straight down,
    laden with high-pitched screams
    from jet engines pushed to full throttle
    and passengers hoarse from fear.

    Something had to be done.
    Who could we punish?
    Who could we kill
    to satiate our blood lust?
    George W. Bush, Jr.
    and all his father’s posse
    smiled like hyenas
    in a silent pack,
    and their greedy index fingers
    pointed back,
    straight at Iraq;
    telling us repeatedly
    that right there was the heart
    of darkness,
    the den of murderers,
    the scourge of the earth;
    plotters, terrorists, and enemies—
    that Bush was ready
    to lead us
    into a holy war
    that would finish the job
    left undone by his daddy
    in 1991—
    that as righteous patriots
    we should take on
    the rag tag Republican Army
    and run that ruthless fox,
    Saddam Hussein,
    to ground;
    for he was a madman,
    an abuser of human rights,
    a killer,
    a dictator,
    a womanizer,
    a sodomizer;
    and not only
    did he absolutely possess
    weapons of mass destruction,
    but he fully intended
    to send unmanned squadrons
    of drones
    to our eastern shores,
    that were fully laden
    with biological germ warfare payloads.

    75 senators were duped, cajoled,
    and convinced,
    thus launching
    Operation Iraqi Liberation;
    soon to morph into
    Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    During the one month assault,
    we overran Hussein’s finest troops
    like shooting coyotes
    from horseback,
    and it only cost us
    139 American lives.
    was on the commander’s lips,
    followed by,
    “Let’s stick around a while now,
    and assist the Iraqis into forging
    a Democracy.”

    We all recall
    the smirking grin
    and lying eyes
    of warmonger
    Donald Rumsfeld;
    and that late afternoon
    five years ago this May
    on the USS Abraham Lincoln,
    when Commander in Chief,
    President Bush
    emerged from a fighter
    wearing a flight suit,
    stood spread-legged on the naked steel deck,
    waving his thunder bolt helmet
    and declaring,
    “Mission Accomplished!”

    And presently
    here we are,
    knee deep in Year 5,
    fighting “asymmetric warfare”,
    without front lines,
    against a faceless enemy
    that hides in
    and melts into
    the civilian population;
    just like before
    in 1964—
    except now we are immersed in
    and surrounded by
    civil war and insurgency,
    as we are being branded
    the Occupying Force,
    once again;
    spilling blood for greed
    and democracy—
    being taught hard lessons;
    like we cannot curtail
    the flow of Jihad insurgents
    by cutting the head off the Hydra,
    or its whelps,
    or its lieutenants—
    for new warriors
    spring like cockroaches from the shadows,
    craving to join the resistance
    to the Infidels and Capitalists,
    arriving in dark clumps daily,
    like monsters rising out of the blood-soaked
    waters of the Tigris and Euphrates—
    making us pay
    every day
    for patrolling
    the Sunni Triangle.

    Oh God,
    when will the madness end?
    How much black gold
    has to be pumped
    into profit
    from the Iraqi
    fat oil reserves?
    How many more
    retired Special Forces
    will have to be recruited
    by Blackwater
    to protect Bush’s
    real agenda?

    The numbers for Y5
    are staggering!
    U.S. dead: 4,079.
    U.S. wounded: 30,000.
    Contractors dead: 1,028.
    Contractors wounded: 10,569.
    Iraqi death toll: 1,000,000.
    Iraqi combatants dead: 10,800.
    Insurgents dead: 22,807.
    Detainees: 43,000.

    Like in the 60’s
    when the carnage
    in Viet Nam
    was broadcast to us daily,
    splashing red and futile
    on our living room television screens—
    our forced occupancy
    of Iraq
    is beamed immediately by satellite
    to every home,
    for all of us to see
    and cringe
    as the pride of our loins
    are kicking down doors
    and pumping hot lead
    from their Mossberg shotguns
    into the Islamic populous—
    are being ambushed
    around every corner,
    green zone or not;
    witnessing the riddling
    of those poorly armored Humvees,
    those High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles,
    with bullets bought in black markets,
    originally manufactured by us
    and sent to Saddam
    when it was his job
    to fight the Iranians
    for us.

    Our young men
    and women,
    do their duty,
    without hesitation,
    becoming hard-hearted
    and stone-jawed—
    even though many of them
    may be stop-lossed
    or extended
    by their loving government
    to stay
    in the fray;
    professional targets,
    standing atop
    an M1 Abrams battle tank,
    or racing down some dangerous narrow alley
    in their M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle,
    or screetching through those
    mean Moslem streets in Strykers—
    the dead brown skies above
    with Apaches, Kiowa Warriors, Black Hawks, and Chinooks—
    the dirty twilight punctuated
    by the deep throb
    of dozens
    of .50 caliber lethal heavy machine guns—
    patrols partially protected
    by howling M249 SAWS.

    Yes, Lord,
    we see it all;
    and feel overwhelmed
    with intense grief and anguish
    as this cavalcade of cavalry and contractors
    are at this very moment
    toiling in the acrid white dust
    of the Middle East,
    providing the opportunity
    for the petroleum bullies
    to force me
    to have to pump their goddamn
    4 buck gas,
    and shake my inept fist
    at a stupid sea shell,
    and snarl terribly
    at those barons unseen,
    but most certainly

    Glenn Buttkus June 2008

  10. I am now doing my “thing” with some of the terrific prose and poetry that Rick Mobbs has offered up on his site, MINE ENEMY GROWS OLDER; that you introduced me to here on this blog. Anyway, I reworked on of his great narrative prose tales, and it now looks like this:

    You all have read A MOODY LITTLE PIECE OF NONSENSE as written by Rick Mobbs, because that form is how it appears on his site, MINE ENEMY GROWS OLDER. But his painting, his words, would not let things be, nor me–be, so I tweeked it, as I am prone to do, with Rick’s permission, astonishment, and gratitude.

    Moody Nonsense: Redeux

    Water is the sound
    of small boys
    throwing stones
    and chunks of iron
    and old bones
    into the ocean.
    Water is the sound
    of bones dissolving.
    Water is a black sound.
    Is there a blacker sound?

    “Who goes there?”
    asks the moon.
    The moon had been
    sleeping in the sun,
    just the crescent
    of its eye
    is open.

    “We do,”
    say the neck bones.
    “We do,”
    say the vertebra
    along the upper spine.
    “We do,”
    say the plates and blades
    and sticks of bones,
    the ligaments,
    the balls and sockets
    of the shoulders.

    “Hold us up,”
    they say to the moon.

    “I can’t,”
    the moon replies.
    “Your strings are broken.”

    The swish
    and swirling chuckle
    of the ocean
    as it sucks
    the marrow
    from the bones
    and grinds them down
    and pulverizes them?

    A distant sound,
    like church bells ringing
    from the sandy cones
    of anthills.
    A pure sound,
    with tiny undertones
    of gravity,
    and rain approaching?

    Rain through fig trees,
    rain through broad leaves,
    rain through palm trees,
    rain through sand,
    washing nutrients
    from tired bones.

    “What of our addition?”
    say the old ones,
    “Our subtraction?
    Our multiplication?
    Our division?”

    “Your calculus is sand,
    your sand is glass,
    your glass is time,
    your time is mine,”
    the wind hisses
    through teeth closed
    against the rain.
    ”I am coming for you now.
    Are you ready?
    Get ready then.”

    The old guys
    hoot and cackle
    so as the wind
    their arms and legs,
    their livers
    and at last,
    their heads–
    Without heads
    they can’t remember

    “Begin again,”
    the moon suggests.
    “Start with a rocking motion.
    One starfish from the ocean,
    two starfishes on the sand,
    three turtles
    and a house of glass,
    an hourglass,
    a box of time.
    A zero moving in a stream.
    A little thing.
    A rose.
    A rose is missing.”

    “Where is my rose?”
    I asked the moon.

    I was with the other kids
    tossing things into the ocean.
    I had found a piece of bone.
    Raised threads across
    an etched surface.
    Minute breaks and cracks,
    star patterns.
    One end sheared.
    Inside were hidden chambers,
    hollow rooms,
    supporting columns.

    I felt something.
    The wind laughed.
    I knew the moon
    winked at the wind.
    I chucked the thing
    into the ocean
    and heard the sound
    a grain of sand makes
    when it separates
    and falls,
    and mostly round,
    through the hourglass
    when the glass
    is opening.

    “Where is my Rose?”
    I ask again.

    The moon says
    it seems saddened.
    The wind puts bow
    to string
    nd turns.
    His audience
    is the universe
    that I am standing in.
    I cover my ears
    but I still hear
    the sound.
    Sad notes run down
    the string
    and I am crying.

    “Why am I crying?”
    I ask the moon.
    “Your Rose,”
    the moon prompts kindly.
    says the wind.
    The wind
    is always hushing

    Now the scene has
    The boys are gone.
    Gone the ocean, beaches, sand.
    Water is a black sound
    where creation was.
    Water is an opening
    in the wind.
    Water is a mindless thing.
    The wind is endless repetition.
    Water is oblivion,
    my hearts longing.

    “Chide me, then.”
    I say to the wind.
    “Say something.”

    Willows weep around me
    but they are water trees,
    like cypress.
    They were meant to weep
    and go on weeping.

    I can’t ask the moon
    for answers.
    The moon won’t answer
    direct questions.
    on the crashing breakers
    and the star
    above the sound.

    “I want to know who you are.”
    I say to the star.

    It danced
    with rose and amber
    through horizons
    layered without end,
    mists–the final breath
    of friends, enemies, lovers and companions.
    Endless generations
    and that single point
    which burned so fine
    an opening
    through every one.
    For a second
    the dots connect
    and then the mist rolls in
    I reach
    and see my hand

    “Dissolve the rest of me,”
    I demand,
    but the wind refuses
    to hold coherent sound.
    I have my thoughts,
    my emotions.
    I have my sense
    of dread
    and my well-honed sense
    of longing.
    I have air
    but it will not carry
    I was upset.
    It is so hard,
    using prayers
    when I want
    to tear words
    out of the sky.

    Every new horizon
    brings a concerto
    of popping strings,
    and each time
    I return
    I see my star
    and I say,
    “Come here,
    come home to me.”

    “I am home,”
    the star sings.
    “I light a world.
    I can’t leave.”

    “You are a coward”,
    I whispered
    into my tin can.
    “You are not brave.
    You should not
    do this to me.”

    She did not answer.
    She did not leave,
    she drew no closer,
    nor did
    the pattern of stars
    around her

    “Leave them!”
    I cried.
    No answer.
    I turned to the moon.
    I explained my situation.
    I said,
    “No power here,
    I have no power.”

    “Neither you,
    nor any other,”
    said moon
    to flower.

    “And I don’t feel much
    like a flower.”
    “You are,”
    the moon said.
    “You are.”

    Tell me,
    how can I believe
    I am a flower
    when the life
    I breathed for
    is such a dim star,
    so far away,
    over so much water?

    Rick Mobbs

    ***Gently rearranged by Glenn Buttkus

  11. wow- how could you leaves an impression on me- would you care exchanging links?

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