Tuesday, March 30, 2010


by the Gothic Rangers

The M.D. he said, "Who beat you up?"
I said, "Nobody that I'm aware of."
He said, "Your eyes are sunken like you've been through the grinder."
I said, "Well, I don't feel quite right, that's why I have hired you.
Things seem askew and I'm hurting all over.
Won't you heat up that stethoscope, this room is gettin' colder.
Something is up, might be an Asian virus.
I Googled that diagnosis, now I'm runnin' it by ya."
He said, "I've poked all around and performed all the tests,
but nothing jumped out, let me phone someone else."

The psychiatrist said, "What is your gripe?"
I said, " Everything's wrong and I can't sleep at night."
He said, "Why don't you take some of my thorazine?"
I said, "Set me right up with a full magazine.
And if you've got time for some talkin' therapy,
Please analyse my condition, maybe hypnotize me.
Because I think I'm in a dissociative state.
All my colors seem to have lost their smell and their shape."
He said, "Sounds like something really deep in your head.
If your wiring's shorted out, you'll need a specialist."

One doctor, then two, now I'm shootin' for three.
All of these referrals are starting to worry me.

The neurosurgeon said, "Just lie there real still."
I said, "Go ahead and fire up your Black & Decker drill."
He said, "We're getting close to cerebral paydirt."
I said, "Good, and don't forget to cauterize the hurt.
And as long as you're in there, please remove my libido.
I suggest you wear lead-lined gloves for retrieval.
I'm pretty sure it's toxic, maybe radioactive.
Just ask that interesting woman I found attractive."
He said, "You might not want to hear it, but I found nothing amiss.
At least physical, I'll give my Rolodex some spins."

The medicine man said, "Here, chew these peyote buttons."
I said, "That might do the trick, I'm runnin' out of options."
He said, "Soon as it hits, let me know what you see."
I said, "It's workin' already, she's right in front of me.
I might be hallucinatin' but I'll take what I can get.
It's better than reality, I think this is time well spent.
She don't want me in real life, so this world is cool.
She's smiling at me right now in her spirit substitute.
He said, "Let me prescribe you a supplemental thing.
Here's Roy CD, three times a day queue up "In Dreams."

One doctor, then two, then three tried out their skills.
But it took referral number four to exorcize my ills.

Words and music by Robert T Buck

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YOU LOOK GOOD TO ME -- Oscar Peterson

ICE CREAM FOR CROW -- Captain Beefheart


a new kind of art

The fate of an elusive section of reality depends on me today (yes, I sound like a preposterous megalomaniac, but sometimes a fact must be boldly stated). Something has happened in the world, its texture wrinkled wonderfully, its shape warped decisively. What we have here is a work of art by dreamer Kris Saknussemm. This dream shall not be interpreted (for the most part). As I said yesterday:

See...Kris needs no Freud or Jung. Those two chaps would be confused and just get in the way. The goings-on here need no silly interpretation, no filtering of the particulates. This is spirit-art...on soul-canvas. This is pure magic!

What can be done is an aesthetic evaluation. A commentary, as if I were discussing a canvas by a master painter or a film by a profound director.

Here is the text:


Another anxiety dream. Very vivid. I was working for the American military--or more precisely, for a PR branch of the military that was run like a public utility. I had a desk in an awful cramped cubicle with four other people--and the tiniest computer screens. Our work involved disguising the number of military deaths and a rash of related murders of civilians around the world. The actual bosses were never around but there was a female manager who had a huge beehive hairdo and pointed cat glasses, but was two dimensionally flat like a paper cut out, so that you could only properly see her when looking at her face on. My immediate superior was a 9 foot tall blonde Swedish lifeguard type. Despite the dreadful work environment, we were allowed to bring our animals in. The dingo was still alive in the dream and some of the others would give her bones. But the giant Swede brought in really savage animals--in particular, an enormous brown and white spotted lion that was always threatening to eat her. It was a dreary place to be and I felt this utter sense of defeat in having to work there. At lunch, we'd adjourn to a cheap little Mexican restaurant with a concrete patio (not a plant in sight) where it was always overcast. On the way back to work, I'd collect stones from a small attempt at a landscaping bed in the parking lot. I had a very specific purpose in mind for the stones. When the lion would approach and threaten me or my dog, I'd bait it to roar--then pop a stone down its throat. The despair at the end of the lunch hour was always acute--but I'd make sure that I stopped to collect some stones for the lion.

Here is my evaluation:

A PR branch of the military, run like a public utility. The background spreads in ambiguous focus. A sense of absurd milieu. And then people crammed in an office, twisting the truth. A heavy, conspiratorial shadow has quickly descended, dappling the background with an element of deepening plot. Of focused assimilation into components of a massive undertaking, a large deed. We are dealing here with a delightfully macabre census of death. Here, we have very serious dream-agents – an echelon of the wider corporate utility – who are probing the essence of doom as it leaks in from the waking world and interfaces with the marvelous one. This juxtaposition is conveyed skillfully by our dreamer. The jolt hits us without our being aware of it. We are propelled toward new complexity, without even stopping to consider the paradox of eternal creatures sweating it out over an aspect of mortal ones.

Enter stage left: a flat female manager, with a beehive hairdo and flared glasses. Kris does not specify this, but I envision her sort of occasionally curling up or warping in a long shimmy-scroll, like a thin sheet of aluminum being shaken out. She seems to be a floating, undulating presence. She seems to be very intense. You will not back-talk this one.

Next: a giant, svelte Swede. The “canvas” is now properly skewed toward asymmetry. Sheet-woman is balanced irregularly in our minds with Large-woman.

And then our dreamer correctly fills the environment with sufficient chaos – scampering, messy, duty-avoiding dogs. And then what? Our “director” layers into the proceedings a complementary death-and-doom panoply of threatening, savage creatures. The smaller, domesticated animals are now at risk from larger forces, as are we all out in the carnal world. A subtle compositional wizardry has been wrought here.

The Swede's own crazy lion wants to eat its “master.” Yes...the Nietzsche dialectic of master-slave. Just who is dominating who in this and in all the worlds of social relation? The atmosphere is saturated with existential and social futility, from all directions.

And the problem of time, of duration...of time's implacable, merciless pulse makes us very uneasy as we consider this dream. Things seem fixed, locked-in here, yet things are also moving the plot along. We suspect that nothing is going to really change, even as we observe shifts in the matrix of being – things are eventing, even as they are painted into unresolvable spaces.

An overcast Mexican patio. A choice move on the artist's part. An al fresco meal -- especially served in melancholy light -- is a perfect scene transition.

And then, as we move toward denouement, a particular, mystifying, and confident action is taken by our protagonist: the collecting of prophylactic stones (I picture them as smooth and polished, some dark brown and others whitish). The lion will roar, and vortexes of doom will spiral invisibly from its throat. Kris pops a stone in its mouth, interrupts the sonic pitch, changing it, pacifying it to a rumbling murmur. The incursion of outside forces – of tragic consequences – has been magically defeated by our stone-popper.

Death is not to be tolerated in this kingdom of wonder, even in this kingdom of frustration and sadness. This region has been set aside by nature and by the gods for deeper life. It is where unconscious frictions spark eternal fires of color and emotion and tragic beauty.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

morning thoughts about a friend

Sometimes in the morning while drinking coffee, I want to write something. If I can't think of a theme for a poem or a song, I usually pull a prose topic out of the air at random. I just like to write stuff sometimes. This morning, I thought I would write a little about a Facebook friend (well, friend...why qualify it with FB?). She fell into my head at random. Or did she? Who really knows the workings of one's own unconscious? Who knows what connective threads are weaving what kind of web? Or what associative neurons are pulsing with a subtle conspiracy?

Stacey Mangiaracina [Man--geeah--rah--seenah]

What a mystery this woman is! I don't mean “mystery” as in “veiled behind some dark, gauzy curtains.” Stacey emanates too much genuine light for that. I mean more like a paradox. It's how she keeps you slightly off-balance. Maybe even a little dizzy.

She seems like a living flower, a colorful blossom. Her words are fragrant with a smiling dew. And there is a seductive, fairy-like quality about her. I wonder if she shrinks herself down in the evenings and secretly rides dragonflies through the bayou cane fields? If she does, I hope she doesn't drink and drive. I'd hate for her to slip off and splash down into the water.

Stacey is a breath of fresh air in a world that is dulled with cynicism and self-absorptions. She is like a flute melody rising up distinctively from the general orchestral moan of souls.

But...the paradox. She is not all light and fairy mist. Something else occasionally moves through her words. A poetic sense of love's elusive weirdness and of death's residual effects is also part of her substance. And that makes me admire her so much. Stacey carries those secret soul-burdens with a stoicism that is not moody or even neutral. It is a smiling, forward momentum into life. And the light of her smiling words...the fire of her fairy eyes...those things touch all who are fortunate enough to be her friend.

Stacey's Facebook page

Friday, March 12, 2010


Look...upon this night
of murmurs and drifting smoke
from ceremonial fires!

Costumed figures gesture
from under feathered hats,
wide-brimmed and pulled low --
shadowed countenances,
veiling conspiracies,
obscuring dark motives.

And there!...through this haze,
seven ravens slowly flying
backwards in single file.

Who is that blond woman?
Is it Monet's dead wife?
She's wearing a dragon
sewn on her gown,
full-length, aggressive
on quilted red silk.
She makes me uneasy.
She glances so coyly.
She has some old power
from the womb of time.

Bread loaves and dark wine
arrayed on long tables,
where small waiter monkeys,
tuxedoed and yawning,
are pouring from bottles
while moving round vases
of glowing nasturtiums.

And there, gleaming lights,
soft colors rotating --
a great Ferris wheel,
with pairs of young lovers,
men speaking in French,
women laughing in Navaho.

A black hippopotamus,
standing forlornly,
is lost in the vast marsh
on the carnival's outskirts.

So many years are breathing and heaving.
So many years dolorous, withdrawn.
So many years here, looking for someone.
So many years in this swirling pre-dawn.

One armored samurai
demands that I drive now
that small locomotive
attached to ten cars.
That train is filled up
with passengers rattling –
boisterous, chit-chatting,
top-hatted skeletons.
I curse that dire warrior
because I'm distracted
and have no intention
of driving this transport.
I curse him and walk off
toward lonely gardens
and whisper to roses
night-blooming with secrets.
Those roses know rumors
about certain letters
and what was unspoken
between all the lines.

Politicians on stumps
plead with such passion,
plead with such fury
for votes that mean nothing.

The band strikes up!...
a tango for gypsies,
and everyone knows
how to dance except me.
That coy-smiling woman,
emblazoned in dragon,
sashays to the center
of all dancing couples.
She beckons to me
for one sultry tango,
then shows me the way
to move without thinking.

Soon disenchanted,
I go back to roses
to breathe in their wisdom,
to breathe in lost dreams.

Someone is missing,
someone important,
someone who knows me,
someone I love.

Here at this wild fair,
a subtext is pushing
like a tender new shoot
from the soil of old themes.
And here in these moments,
so heavy with meaning,
all of these characters
are in perfect place.
Here in this drifting,
pine-scented smoke fog,
something is leaking
out of my heart.

So many years are leaking and falling.
So many years of colors and lights.
So many years here, looking for someone.
So many years in this carnival night.

But let there be laughter
and moving absurdly!
Why wail and weep?...
it might wake the specter.
Carnivals are magic,
and moments are threadlike...
and time can be woven
as fabric for wishes.
Let dances go slower.
Let laughter now soften.
I'll drink unknown spirits
until she appears.
We'll hold hands for hours
and maybe forever.
We'll write living poems
on this smoke, in that fire.

Seven ravens flying
slowly and backwards...
who cares if that seems so
damn unusual?

Copyright 2010, Tim Buck

Monday, March 1, 2010


(a sci-fi micro novel)

for Beca

Chapter 1

On the planet Klargstüürn – where the air is blue – Beca sits before her open window. The breeze flows in, stirring her dark hair and the sheer curtains furled at her elbows. That breeze is potent with the magic pollen of boora flowers now maturing in the vast fields outside the city. She inhales deeply and feels the invisible substance going down deep into her lungs. The boora-effect gradually arouses to blessed melancholy the fractious chambers of her mind. It is good, she thinks, to enjoy this sadness. Only in this season is frenzied consciousness subdued and gentler emotions allowed to breathe.

But it is best not to sink too thoroughly into such trances. After all, this is the Season of Paradox. Even as the distant flora sends these sad luxuriant spores, other things stir. This is also the time of invasion. When the mawdøraks come drooling, come rampaging into the city from their far cave dwellings in the south. They come to reap the blood of citizens, which is now being refined and transformed into subtler concoction by the boora spores. And Beca hears, or imagines she hears, the faint howl of approaching beasts far away.

Slowly but with a renewed focus, she turns and moves through her living room and to the wooden chest, which doubles as a loosha-table. Removing the knick-knacks on top, she punches in the 5-digit code of the latch. A dull click. She then opens the lid and removes her weapon. It's the latest model – a ZZ55 fully automatic “Mawker,” framed in light-weight gornium. She lingers a moment to appreciate the feel and weight of this weapon in her right hand. Naturally black in color and with a low sheen, the “Mawker” is a powerful evener of odds. Beca flips open the tiny screen built into the frame to confirm the pulse-chamber is full and ready. She straps on the belt and holster and retrieves the knapsack of extra pulse cartridges. One last item – the pills. Then she lowers the lid of the chest.

Chapter 2

The blast-groover speeds across the expanse of cerulean sand, with the groover channel running in a straight line. It is one of eight grooves radiating in all directions from the city center. Reconnaissance patrols had spotted the horde earlier in the day, several miles out in this direction. Beca shoves forward on the power stick, while pushing the “extreme” toggle. A loud back-blast sends the groover into maximum thrust, and Beca is momentarily jolted back in the driver seat. Erul, seated next to her, exhales audibly:

“Beca...damn, woman. We were almost there anyway. Why the blast theatrics?”

She smiles without looking at him. “To let em know we're coming. Get em stirred up. I prefer my mawdøraks juiced up...with their eyes bulging when I send em to hell.”

“Now, Beca, you know the mission. No fireworks this time.”

“I can daydream, can't I?” She pulls the stick toward her, and the groover whines in deceleration.

Erul looks toward her and starts to say something. But just shakes his head, smiling himself.

The blast-groover slows to a cushioned halt. Beca flicks the off switch. The engine becomes silent.

Outside the vehicle, they check their weaponry and paraphernalia. Beca stares up through the blue haze and admires the twin moons now slowly arcing through the Klargstüürn night.

“Pill time.” Erul unzips the front pocket of his jacket and brings out a tiny container. Beca follows suit.

The two quickly swallow the black capsules – the prophylactic pills to prevent infection should they survive a bite by a mawdørak. The effect will only last four hours. Long enough, they hope, to complete their mission. Taking a second dose after four hours would prove lethal. It would take two weeks for the powerful drug to leave their bodies...for the possibility of another dose.

Bearing south-southwest toward a near hill, jumbled with boulders, the two set out on foot. The blue haze has become thicker with the onset of night, but they do not turn on any lights. They have trained in these hills for years and know the subtle aspects of terrain very well. They could walk it blind.

Chapter 3

They move like shadows in the blue dark, side by side...surveying peripheries and the spaces between great rocks in front of them. Their eyes are wary yet confident, dilated and reflexive.

“I think I heard something,” Erul whispers, more like a thought sent than words uttered.

“Heard it, too...on the right, up there. I'd say 50 paces.” Beca slips her Mawker from its holster. Her comrade does likewise.

After a dozen more paces, Beca stops. And stretches out her right arm against Erul's chest.

“Smell that?”

He sniffs the cool air. “Mawdørak.”

They kneel to the ground in unison. Erul quietly unzips his knapsack and brings out the “pink bomb.” He pushes the priming button on the metallic contraption. And a series of ziggy, fluoresecent-green lines moves across the tiny screen. Looking up at Beca, he jerks a quick nod. They retrieve gas masks from their knapsacks and slip them tightly over their heads.

“You think that shit will work?' asks Beca.

“Not a clue. We're just the delivery service. Sure hope so.”

A mixture of low- and high-pitched growls is heard in the dimness before them. And emerging from that haze are at least 50 mawdøraks – eight-feet tall and covered in a shimmering, stinking black fur. A fur so black that it almost glows in the night. Closer they shamble, until their open maws reveal silver fangs that drip with an oily white substance. The growls turn to homicidal shrieks. A frenzy of anticipation.

“Push the timer and throw the damn thing.”

As Erul engages the timer, two mawdøraks come lumbering from the pack, and straight for the two. Beca calmly dispatches them with single shots to the head...the bright pulse of lightning tentatively stunning the other mawdøraks to a halt in their advance.

Erul sends the object flying toward the herd, and he and Beca dive behind a large rock. Landing amid the confused beasts, the bomb explodes in a brilliant flash. And the air fills with a glittering pink fog, which blends into the natural blue Klargstüürian haze. The surrounding atmosphere turns a lavender hue.

Chapter 4

Four years pass.

Beca and Erul are blast-groovin' back to the mission site. During the intervening cycles, a gradual diminishing of mawdørak attacks in the city and the region. Last year, no deaths or mawlings reported at all.

Retracing their original steps – this time in the bright-blue of a Klargstüürn day – the two agents approach the decisive spot. Beca sniffs the air and is uncertain. Erul moves around the area, looking for sign.

“I'm going up to the top and take a look around. Okay?”

“Knock yourself out,” Beca replies, while lifting her sunshades enough to glance here and there between the boulders surrounding this clearing. She turns slowly around and looks back down the steep rocky slope they had just come up.

A sound. Behind her now. Something shuffling on the loose gravel. Her honed instincts confuse her: the quality and degree of sound is not right for a lumbering mawdørak. She stands still, while yet slowly moving hand to holster. In one move, she jerks the weapon free and swivels to face the threat.

There before her, a dozen paces away, is a toddler mawdørak, about three feet tall and now uttering a soft “oooh” and a peculiar “rrruuphh.” Beca can't refrain from smiling, a rare genuine smile. The small creature, trying to walk on two feet, loses its balance and plops to the ground. Its mouth forms an “o” shape and delivers another “oooh”. But this time with a question mark at the end.

“Hey, Erul! Get your butt down here and take a look at this.”

Beca approaches the young mawdørak until she is very close. She kneels in front of the black furry thing...and reaches out a hand. The creature gurgles and mews as she begins to stroke its head.

“What in the world?” Erul steps into the clearing, stops, and places hands on hips. He begins laughing, and Beca chuckles.

Before they can speak, a mature mawdørak shambles into the open from behind a great rock. Instinctively, Erul goes for his holster, but Beca waves him off. Something in the beast's demeanor alerts her to an absence of danger. The huge creature steps nearer. No growls, no projection of threat. Instead, its eyes are bashful, more uncertain than anxious. It stops before the toddler and then picks the young one up, all the time looking Beca deeply into the eyes. Turning, it carries its child back into the creases between gray boulders.

Chapter 5

That night of the first mission -- that chemical night -- replays in Beca's head as she moves southward. Farther than any have gone in generations. The ancient metal seam is still there, and her blast-groover is zooming at top speed. A lulling pulse resonates from the groove up through the machine as she glides toward her goal and glides into reverie.

The synthesized compound had worked. Worked perfectly. What brains those scientists had in their craniums! Citizen blood had been extracted and successfully grafted with boora-spore and then “weaponized” into aerosol form. It had taken a few years for the psychological transformation of the mawdørak hordes, for reproduction to yield a pacified specie. Luckily, those clans had stayed geographically close – all living in the vast complex of caves in the southwest.

Now, the mawdøraks ambled passively from cave to city, on seasonal jaunts. Many citizens had adopted them as something like pets. The city now certainly has something of a surreal carnival atmosphere to it.

As the blast-groover speeds deeper into unfamiliar zones, Beca feels a fluttering in her stomach, a thrill of expectation. It had been centuries since any citizen had ventured to the Gravity Sea. Not since before the mawdøraks had moved into the region so long ago. The holy books speak of lost times, when the old ones would venture undisturbed on pilgrimages to that mystical place of visions and wonderment.

She knows the reason why the pollen of the boora flower affects citizens so melodramatically. Why that time of year brings lethargy and dreaminess, sometimes tears: the people had once lived on the shore of the Gravity Sea, and that is where the boora-blooms grew naturally – nurtured by silent winds and electronic pulses. When the people had fled from the mawdørak invasion, they took boora plants with them...and transplanted them in sand fields not too far from what would become the new city. Twice a year, the gravity winds would pass through the precincts and nourish the boora flowers. Keep them alive and almost flourishing. The pollen wafted into the city – that invisible current laden with dream and tears – and became the only means of spiritual restoration. Those spores carried traces of visions from ancient times on the mystical sea shore. To breathe them in present times not only brings a forlorn yet sweet remembrance; it is an active communion with essential prophetic substance.

Beca decelerates the groover. Up ahead, she sees the swirls and whorls of charged air, air freshening with ions and leptons and dispersing the otherwise perpetual blue haze. Clarity! For the first time in her life...and not even in her daydreams or night dreams could she conceive of this...an expanse of clear space! A thrill runs up her spine as she disembarks from the craft and walks the hundred remaining feet to the shore line.

Stretching before her, as far as she can see left to right...as far as she can see toward the horizon...inferred waves of moving, lapping energy. Inferred because there is nothing – blessed nothing – to see. No blue veil to dampen perception. A vast churning sea of felt particles. A great Opening. And the clear extends into the air and sky above the Gravity Sea.

Beca closes her eyes and takes a deep breath of the clear, of the clarity. And when she opens them, she sees the images of all times and all places etched onto great translucent columns erupting from the surface and disappearing into the sky above. The columns turn...and spiraling up the surfaces are glyphs and creatures unknown. The runes speak inside her head, the creatures – alien citizens and strange animals – live somehow all at once. And these visions, mingling in her mind with the physiological effect of gravity particles, bring about an ecstasy beyond sex and beyond death.

She stares through dazzled eyes up, up, up and sees the twirling, animated columns moving past the blue sun. Here and only here in all the worlds – here on Klargstüürn – do the tubes of time connect all events and all spirits. Beca offers a silent prayer of communion and knows it will be swept up into those gravity coils...knows it will be carried into the hearts of others who are lost and displaced. Who need a boora flower planted in their existential hearts.