Friday, September 18, 2015

A Tribute to Ernest Butts on The Occasion of His 70th Birthday

Editors note: Ernest "Sheik" Butts of Middletown died on September 6, 2015 at the age of 90.

By Susan Allison

There is a man in our town 
a host to strangers

who pass too quickly 
through the North End
in their cars on Main
He once said he wore funny hats 
just to scare those people off.

is always a topic of conversation in the neighborhood. Praising him, repeating
his stories and words. 
Someone might say 'he made me so mad the other
But of course they will go 
to his birthday party 
to honor him.

You might see him sometimes 
at the Town Hall 
and in the council chambers

when all the town leaders are talking about what to do concerning troublesome
this man will be the only one 
who uses the word love. 

If you're
riding high he'll bring you right smack down to the sidewalk. And if you're
lying on the ground 
he'll raise you back up on your feet. And if you are
simply content 
he'll make you hopping mad.

He says he is from Georgia 
no one knows for sure - 
the way he talks about angels and flying saucers,
other dimensions, and uncommon sense. 

He is looking beyond 
the here and
from the corner of Rapallo and Main. He is looking toward a time 
folks will realize 
what they've got here 
respect the life 
that has brought
them this far 
and be accountable for it.

He says look up to the skies to
uncomplex the complexity, 
look down to the ground to the bones
of those who've gone before you, 
and look all around at what is happening now.

Is there maybe a better way,
where community is the same as harmony, 
with equal parts to play, 
where everyone can have their say, and all get a
chance to have their day, where adults be adults 
so the children can play?

So if you're walking down Main Street and you pass Rapallo Avenue 
you just
might meet a man there 
who will tell you about the pain that most of the world
lives with, the strife, the absurdity, classism, racism, and just when you start
to get fed up, thinking 'why me, how come I have to do something about it, why
doesn't anyone else to something about it,' because you've already got too much
on your mind, 
then he will trick you and he will make you smile, 
and you'll
realize that you haven't done that in a while, 
and you leave that corner
believing that maybe

it's going to be a better day.

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