Saturday, May 29, 2010

7 Day Writing Challenge - Day 6

1. When Magda speaks she tosses her long, blonde hair, primps her lips, tightens her eyes. Today she wears a fuscia pink shirt. Yesterday, a black Calvin Klein t-shirt. Her eyelids are perfectly outlined, an exquisite tick upwards at the corners. I can't help staring when she runs one hand through her hair, when she brings both of them together in front of her on the table. Still. When she looks at me I feel she is really listening to what I have to say.

2. grass cuttings and puddles over the paving stones the cat flicks its tail

3. On her 6th day in hospital my mother sounds tired but positive. 'No more sentiment,' she says, 'I'm getting rid of the walnut headboard and footboard and buying an electric bed.' The boards match the his and her wardrobes and dressing table, the bedroom suite she's had since she was married in 1952. The suite that I have always known in this house where I was born. The wood is smooth, rich and dark, the grain patterned with knots and whorls. My parents' bedroom is at the back of the house and in my memory it is always in shade. Walking in there made me feel like whispering.


Helen said...

1. Heavy clump of fatigue behind my eyes. Awake at 4am turning hot and cold. The light was grey but safe.
2. Living with choices you never thought you’d have to make. There’s a peace in choosing; letting the hand drop open and let something fall.
3. My daughter’s set of magnetic words. “love” rests right on top. Did it work its way up from the bottom of the box, knowing I needed to see it today ?

frankthepoet said...

1. This morning I am suddenly struck by the fact that another day has gone by. What did I do yesterday that was significant? Time is so relentless. It is almost June and I feel like I've hardly started the year. From my window the same sister towers, the same blond-blue sky. What can I do today that will make a difference tomorrow?

2. This is the window I come to most often, its dark pane brightening to my touch. Even at night it can shine light into the room. I can look out on the world of my friends and family, synchronize my window view with theirs, the way one train might pass another, its passengers' faces and journies touching mine before leaving me alone.

3. That bird came to my balcony rail again, ruffeled its feathers, swiveled its head and called into the morning. It had dark brown feathers that blackened onto its head, a yellow beak, yellow eye patches. It called out again and crooked its head as if listening. I listened too. There was no response. The morning ignored it, getting on with its own important business.

Glenn Buttkus said...

I actually started this challenge, impatient
as I am to rev up my writer's muscles,
on Sunday last, when the idea was first
proposed, earlier than some. Anyway,
today is my Day 7, and my observations
and reflections run on the long side, so
I will post each of them separately.
I remember the shock a few months
ago when I ran out of space within
the Comment box. Who knew?


During the winter of my content in
1972, that inexorable joy I always felt
waiting in the red wings of the Glenn
Hughes Playhouse during one of my
performances in MACBETH,
playing the wrathful Macduff,
wearing animal skins like the
characters in Orson Welles 1948 film
version of the play, bare-chested
with a Druid cross painted on it,
blue make-up smeared in a Celtic
war mask around my eyes,
holding a ten pound broadsword
tight across my shoulder,
the yellow leather wrappings on its
hilt pressing warm against my
clenched right fist, biceps buff,
tanned and taunt, black beard short
but matching my shoulder-length
hair, held out of my face with a beaded
deerskin head band, that had long
leather strands running down my back,
with a short golden cape--my only
tribute to Elizabethan tradition; knowing
that in less than a minute I would step
into the glaring performance lights
and challenge Macbeth to a sword
fight to the death. The tall muscular
actor playing Macbeth stood down
center on the edge of the proscenium
delivering his last soliloquy. We had
choreographed a seven-minute battle
royal. Moving through the much-
practiced dance of mock death, the
steel blades rang out like bellicose
bells, shooting out showers of sparks
as they clanged solidly together.
Even though I was predetermined
victor of this struggle, still I had to
earn that moment eight times a week.

Glenn Buttkus said...


I did well in college, placing first in my
class, earning a "Highest Scholastic
Achievement" award, and I was given the
honor of leading out the graduation
procession. But the graduation ceremony
was held three weeks post final exams.
I had already started my summer job in
a machine shop. The actual night of
graduation I was deep into my new
work routine and actually forgot about
it. I drove into Seattle and had gone to
a late matinee film; Anthony Quinn in
LOST COMMAND. I called home during
intermission to let my family know where
I was and my little brother answered the
phone. Very excitedly he reminded me
of where I was supposed to be, telling me
that the college had called the house
several frantic times. I dropped the phone
and broke into a dead run, thinking
"Oh Christ, tonight there will be a police
patrol car outside, and they will stop me
and ask me what I am running from."
But I made it the two blocks to my
1955 Chevy Bel Air in, and
minutes later was already on the
freeway headed south. I drove the 20
miles from downtown to my campus
in 9 minutes. Squealing into the college
parking lot, mufflers blasting, I was
met by two teachers, holding my cap
and gown. I pulled it on over my greasy
work clothes, lying about why I was
late. So on that eventful evening in
in 1966, as my mother lie dying of
cancer in the shadows of a nearby
hospital, Buttkus graduated last in
line, after Zumbrowski. I feel
embarrassed each time I open my
college yearbook, and under my picture
I read about my scholastic accolades.

Glenn Buttkus said...


Driving alone in my '64 yellow Pinto,
at 2:30 a.m. on Highway 395, a few
minutes north of Red Mountain,
California, headed for Ridgecrest.
It was a balmy night on the high
desert, and I drove with my window
down, letting the sage and cactus
flowers fill my nostrils. The star
map over Death Valley was awesome.
It was a Sunday night. I had made this
journey numerous times recently,
since our situation dictated that my
young wife and I work in different
towns. I was the opening manager
for a restaurant in Ridgecrest.
I was flying low in the sweet darkness
and I came over the lip of a hill,
and dipped into a wide basin that
spread out ten miles from town.
There were city lights glowing
northeast of me over at the China
Lake Naval Weapons Center.
Then I saw some other lights
ahead of me that looked like a
work crew. Coming closer I noticed
two strong searchlights moving
about, illuminating some old buildings
and a railroad car on a siding.
"What kind of work crew would be
out here this time of night?". The
big lights were mounted on some
kind of large aluminum water tower
perched a hundred feet overhead.
Confused, I speeded up toward the
strange activity. At one block's
distance suddenly I could see clearly
that the oval-shaped metal object
was certainly not a water tower;
there were no stanchions under it;
just 100 feet of bare air between it
and the buildings.
"Christ, that is a UFO!"
I heard someone say in my head,
thinking why do people always
witness such things when alone on
the desert at three o'clock in the
morning? I was terrified, the flop sweat
soaking my shirt, but still I pushed
down hard on the gas pedal heading
straight toward it. Was I losing my
mind? Was I hallucinating? Was I
going to be abducted? What would
they do to me? Two hundred yards
out the distinct saucer shape was
evident, with two rows of lights
amidship, red and green, oscillating
in opposite directions. In the space
of a breath the encounter was over.
The searchlights snapped off, and in
a blink the silver craft took off from
a dead stall to out past the horizon,
disappearing in the eastern ink.
Somehow as a reflex, I had jerked
my head to the right, and was able
to visualize its warp speed travel
path clearly against the white sands
on low ridge lines under a full moon.
It made no sound at all, probably
utilizing anti-gravity propulsion.
I stopped my baby Ford and sat
idling alongside the road, shaking
like a dog crapping tacks. There I
sat for five minutes, alone in the
night, 40 miles north of Edwards
Air Force Base, and a bare 50 miles
west of Area 51, in what later I found
out is called "The Triangle". Weeks
later when I began to tell a few
people about my sighting, I could
not shake the feeling that a craft
of that size and complexity could
not have operated so close to
three military bases without their
knowledge. Twenty years later
while visiting the UFO museum at
Roswell, New Mexico, I was asked
to record the event for their permanent
archives. I was happy to comply, and
as we talked--government
conspiracy was on all our lips.