Friday, April 19, 2013


This is a portrait of real life; at least my life I have purposefully avoided using punctuation except where I thought it might be needed for clarity. I also did not use quotes. I hope that anyone reading it will understand who is talking.
I wanted this to be as stark, cold and raw as those February days were when this event took place.


I hadn’t seen Joe in years
I didn’t even know if he was alive
Kathy called late one night
Left a message on the machine
Your son’s in jail; he has a broken arm
They’re not doing anything to help him
He needs you; don’t call me back

Well I’m sorry daughter your message is too vague
You didn’t block your number
I hit re-dial; she picked up
I told you not to call back
Tell me, do you want me to help your brother
Yes I do, but I don’t want to talk to you
Well the two are bound together; she relents

Thursday morning it’s cold
Freezing rain greets a February day
Nine o’clock dentist appointment
Nine-thirty I’m on my way; Sioux Falls
Two hundred-fifty miles west
North of Albert lea truck spins
Stops backwards; in the ditch

One hour and one hundred dollars later
I’m back on the road
Trucks imprint still in the ditch
Seven pm I’m at relatives home
A sleepless night then I head to
Sioux Falls, county jail

Video conversation; fifteen minutes to the second 
Monitor goes blank and I curse
The jailer, Joe’s mother
The system, God and life

His mother says bail is two thousand
I donate five hundred; credit card maxed
She asks if that is all I’m giving
I become angry, but say nothing

Friday afternoon I pick Joe up from jail
He begs me to help his girlfriend
She is facing federal felony charges
Three year minimum
Once again I disappoint

 His car is at mom’s home on the way there
We pass a store; he asks if I can buy him
A bottle of pop; I buy a large coke
He stands by my truck as I approach
No coat, it’s cold
His broken arm hangs low
In obvious pain, but he doesn’t complain
I help him back into the truck

He drinks the coke; holds the bottle up
This is worth fifteen cents in California he says
He tosses the bottle on the floor
He goes on; out there I can live easy
Life is hard here; I wanted to see mom
So I came back; sorry I did

We visit with his mom one hour
He fights with his half brother
He says he needs two hundred
But, doesn’t say for what; I think I know
I have 350 in cash I give him 300
He hugs us all and drives away
I’m sure by that time Saturday
He was in San Francisco

I linger two more hours with his mother
She heaps blame after blame on me
I don’t argue
She goes through a twelve pack of Bud
Smokes close to a pack of cigarettes
With each beer she becomes mellower  
I get up to leave; she asks; why did you leave me
Bud, I say
What, you left me for a man
I meant, Budweiser
You left me because you like Budweiser
Her confusion showing sadly on her face
No, I say, I left because you like Budweiser
You son-of-a-bitch she said
I let the screen door close softly

I needed gas for the drive home
The coke bottle rolled around on the floor
I stopped for gas; removed debris from truck floor
Walked to the trash can; tossed the bottle in
Tears welled in my eyes as I did so
I retrieved it; filled my tank and headed home

   The bottle sits on a shelf in my home now
Along with other treasured family mementos
Sometimes I look at it and reflect
Joe’s words echo through my head
This is worth fifteen cents in California
Maybe someday I’ll go out there
Take the fifteen cent bottle to him
Maybe by then
it’ll be worth a little more

dale butler
April 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pride, Fear and Blame

Day 11  I'm a few days behind, hopefully I'll be able to make up ground later. In the meantime here's one inspired by Brad Paisley's new song "Accidental Racists." If you haven't heard it I encourage you to do so. It is very controversial. the messgae init goes so much deeper than mere racists rhetoric. 

Pride, Fear and Blame

I’m a black man and
All you see is a gangster

I’m a southern white man and
All you see is a racist

I wear my baggy pants in
Protest of your racism

I wear my rebel flag tee shirt to
Show ancestral pride

I’m suspicious of you
With that flag

I’m afraid of you
With baggy pants

You pack a gun under
That white hat

You pack one in your
Baggy pants

I am proud of my
Black heritage

I am proud of my
Southern heritage

I am stuck somewhere between
Pride and fear

I am stuck somewhere between
Pride and blame

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rain and You

Day 8  It's funny how when you are looking for a subject to write about, nature can just jump up and say."Hey, look here this should work."

          RAIN AND YOU

Last night I drove home in rain and I
thought of you
Each swipe of the wiper blade seemed to
whisper your name
Rain has no sadness for me It was raining
when we met
I thought of the many days we shared
in the rain
The evenings in the restaurants and theatres
around town
The way we burned up the back seat of
that Ford Falcon
The night the cop shined his
light on us
He looked so funny with rain dripping
off his hat
Yes these memories of us in the rain brings a
smile to my face
But I know tomorrow the sun will shine and
I will be sad
It was a sunny day after the rain that
we said good-bye

Dale Butler
April, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Day 7 This one is from a prompt at my weekly writing practice group.


Caffeine, caffeine you call to me day and night
Without you I couldn’t make it through a normal day
Alcohol, marijuana and nicotine
Hold no fascination for me

But you, dear caffeine, are my crutch in life
You creep out of that coffee bean and slink into my cup
You sit there on the table send your sweet aroma wafting to my nostrils
You call to me, “You need me, you need me”

You know me better than I know myself
You know I cannot resist your charms
You laugh as my hand reaches for you

You hold me as tightly as a gypsy woman once did
But she knew I could not let her go, so she let me go
I wonder what would it take for you to let me go?

Dale butler, April 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Harmonic Magic

Day 6   A Valediction

For two years she has been there every Thursday morning. Sitting at my piano, directing me, making me warm up my voice before attempting to sing. She stops me in mid-note, makes me take a deeper breath. Encourages me without fail, but also corrects me when needed. We performed in coffee house open mike sessions. I attended the gigs her band played and will continue to do so. But she wants to move on now to dedicate time to composing and promoting her music. I support her in that, but I don't know what I'll do with my Thursday mornings.


No matter the type of relationship
Be it of the soul, the heart, the flesh
When it ends the pain of loss begins
Short or long lived that pain is real

Ours was mostly professional, but at times
When a note was reached, a timing problem solved
A song jelled, high fives given
Professionalism transcended

Hearts touched, so briefly, so lightly
Tearfully gentle, heartbreakingly strong
In harmonic magic; nature ruled
Emotions flowed, like water over a smooth stone

Sometimes we harmonized perfectly
Laughed at mistakes, cried over a sad song
Our hearts reached out to gently caress the other
And for a brief moment we were of one mind and heart

But alas all good things must end
But I believe were it not for the chasm of years
The commitments we have to others
You and I could forever, sail on an ocean of song

Dale Butler
April, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013


 Day 5

This is my attempt at a cinquain. I’m pretty sure I got the syllables right. I’m not so sure about the stresses. I do know I became stressed trying to figure it out, but I’m alright now.

Ends and tears fall
The sun doesn’t shine
The children cry for dad
They lose

Dale Butler April 2013 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Observed At The Wall

Day 4


With stooped shoulders one hand raised above

his bowed head

He leans into the granite wall in his other hand

pencil and paper

One name among thousands

etched on the paper

a high school friend

an older brother

a prodigal son

a father never known

a fallen comrade

Tears pool at his feet as

the flag is lowered

The last rays of the days sun

dance across the sky

The final notes of retreat fade into

silence on the mall

He leaves a gift and

slowly walks away

The etched paper

heavy in his hand

Dale Butler
April 2013