Saturday, April 30, 2011

afternoon shift

Too much morning is here in these liquid hours.
This morning exudes great liqueurs of lights,
and anyone who is unstable will lean sideways
under bouquets of early fullness like rapture.

It is simply and entirely too much --
an intoxication demanding movement.

Youth doesn't flinch. It pushes into morning
and soaks up the ripeness as fuel for action.
Youth transforms the dripping early lights
into solids and into flourishes of living art.

But if you wake up one morning and find yourself
a gypsy hermit dodging the morning's personality,
you must concentrate on what later will come --
the afternoon and its dry suspenseful character.

How affirming the afternoon's preposterous slant,
as if a tilted wing is slicing into the hours edgewise --
dividing the morning's mass and molecules of night.
The opened layer in between does not drip urgency.
The texture of an afternoon calls for stupefaction.
A fine afternoon tastes like the food after funerals,
astringently relished, these delicious servings of voids.

Well...that all sounds slightly ridiculous!

Yet...the years bring an attitude of afternoon ennui.
Suspended there, one need not bribe a croupier god.
Afternoons come bizarrely, halfway between living.

Morning is for dreamers, for action, for the hopeful.
Later is for connoisseurs of light sinking anciently.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck

to angels of distant mercy

They come with an odd self-possession.
They arrive almost waltzing in aloofness.
They surround me with eyes so weightless
that cradle my despond in wordless glances.
They don't come for lovemaking and passion,
as least not the kind that leads to a melting.
They come into my sleeping dreams helpfully,
and I enjoy their eccentric merciful company.
How kind of them to enter a sad falling dream.
What a miracle to see one angel in particular.

Sometimes she drifts into a dim room.
Sometimes we sit on institutional steps,
outside where many strangers are moving.
The space is always filled with odd meaning.
Yes, she sits beside me on the pausing steps --
half-felt symbols of very different elevations.
Steps urging a dubious fate on dense streets.

From distance come gestures so subtle.
She lingers with mercy and friendship.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When I Fell

One of my country twangers. :)

Words & Music -- Tim Buck
All parts -- also me

When I Fell

I can't recall the day it happened
or the exact circumstance.
It's in the nature of infatuation
that details melt in the mad dance.

I fell for you like an anvil
dropped in the vortex of romance.
Was it the way you smiled that made me gamble,
or was it a coy, flirtatious glance?

You didn't break my fall
when I fell for you
through gravity's law
without a parachute.
You didn't cushion the come down.
You didn't lighten the let down.
You didn't break my fall when I fell like a fool.

In Hollywood the heroes are so stoic.
Frankly my dear they don't give a damn
whether or not a woman loves or leaves them,
but I suspect pretense and flim-flam.

That old Charlie Darwin hit on something.
Survival of the fittest seems so true.
I feel myself fading out of existence
since you rejected my peacock plume.

You didn't break my fall
when I fell for you
through gravity's law
without a parachute.
You didn't cushion the come down.
You didn't lighten the let down.
You didn't break my fall when I fell like a fool.

hollowing out

Did the great poet ever dance
to spirits rising from fiddlewood,
while vodka was overbrimming
with many voices of counterpoint?

Or was he coiled in quiet observation,
sitting at a corner table in shadows,
pensive and clear on the large night
that grew sideways from a calendar?
And into that expansion of meanings
did sadness leave footsteps as words
or did the great poet trace stoically
the shimmering form of an ironic god?
Irony takes the edge off anguish.

If not dampened by vodka or broken tears,
did that poet of a mirror's glassy hysterias
and of organic moods within solid surfaces,
of shapes congealing into suggestive light...
did that poet instead hollow out a space
to catch subtle moments of clear trance,
mysterious results of human observation?

I think the poet indeed looked mysteriously
and in looking hollowed out a special space.

Then comes the compulsion of later night,
an uncoiling of impressions into his poems.
Great talent does not plan or unfold a map.
He flings his words like flat dynamic stones,
skipping them across the wet-curling fabric
of atavistic waters, and sometimes they leap
off the rippling page, later sinking to depths.

I enter again only to marvel at sunken depths
and the hollowing out of such subtle dimensions,
of quiet observation and great sober feelings.
Behind the words I hear muted strains of tangos,
almost superfluous yet contributing absurd spice
to the places where the poet sits remembering
not days but lustrous angles of simply being.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

in praise of youth

Younger men are so full of life.
Some are brilliant, all are teeming
with chemicals that burn through
the veins of time's green leafiness.
I said that some are brilliant, yes.
They have such extraordinary ways
of bringing structure to elusive forms,
wringing also elixirs of understanding
from the bitter fruits of profound poets.
How could some uncanny golden damsel
be immune to the subtle spoken magic
of a brilliant man, that younger man
who bestows phrases of knowledge
onto the spirit of a given green world?
Even young men of much lesser light
exude a vigor from thick black beards.
That is how it is and should always be.

Younger women are strange attractors.
A texture of spiraled light woven into skin,
according to an equation of great mystery,
creates an aura of something impossible
yet actually living in a grace of years.
Their eyes look directly at phenomena,
a fresh open vision forming true opinions.
To hear certain young women speaking
is an initiation into a rite of odd dreaming.
More than beauty, they exude knowledge
about things that farther aging must dim.
A brilliant young woman shines impossibly.
Even young women of much fainter flame
swirl in plasmas of time melted to presence.

But let us also give older age its due.
It has heavier eyes yet they also see
and appreciate the golden paragons.
The heart of later age can beat strongly
with passion thundering in uncanny silence.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

big rumor

If one were in his proper mind,
he might speak simply of an owl
dropping the same round tone
from a night limb to quiet water
that flows slowly past tangles
of roots, brush, broken rocks.

If standing on the opposite bank
while just listening and looking,
our good fellow would not dwell
on unsuitable themes for thinking.

But would he really be unwarranted
to imagine this night and its wild mood
were symbols of hermetic whisperings?
Things out here in the secret darkness,
beneath the rumor of an obscured moon,
might be aching inside wretched hours
to find a faint, organic sense of why
juices stream through bones and eyes
and push shuddering substance farther
into forms of movement and strong musk.

Even the pale bloom of a night flower,
blooming here amid yawning grasses,
looks almost embarrassed to be so open.

If he continued to wander dubiously
inside his own mind's evening regions,
he might see vast temples of obsession --
commerce, machines, politics, vast egos
deflecting the Question, twisting it harshly
into shapes of false bravado, benighted
conspiracies against the dream of an owl.

The birds of night are restless.
The water is flowing with a rumor
too shocking for most human ears.
Our good fellow is on his errand
of a fool, and a fool must riddle.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


On this night of Babylonian shades --
dark fabric, sarcophagus-blue draped
behind an enigma of too many stars --
comes fear of sleep, dream paranoia.

Too much has happened like voices
talking in a bazaar at cross-purposes.
Too much color has drained slowly
from the climbing blooms of temples.
Too much spiraling passion unhinges
one staring in a pool of bleeding desire.

So this bottle of half-drunk wine
will go all the way down to glass.
What else can one do with time
but turn it into a solitary dance --
a pirouetting on one piece of space?
Anything else would require talking.
A babel of tongues not cutting through
the frowning surface of a bronze god.

If you're alive, death seems ridiculous.
The shape of a woman deflects ending.

But the mystery of this dance is tiresome.

Maybe this wine will turn into a hardening salt.
A statue does not weep or have bad dreams.

one afternoon

I've reached the age of tumbling afternoons.
They jostle and jump on one another so fast
that it's becoming very hard to tell them apart.

How stuck in time, indelible that one afternoon!

The closed casket drenched in light
falling through the sanctuary window
and suffusing me in fatalsitic radiance.

This afternoon is suspended in amber.
I am inside this difference of daylight.
I am beyond nature and nostalgia.
I have fallen into a numinous well.
But it is not dark. There is such light
as to turn the eyes a color of sighing.
Few tears are wrung through irises,
but irises bloom to a vision of being.
A diiferent form of seeing, lingering --
how a ghost dreams in glowing space.

If I thought time at this moment was real,
I would say it feels like old music or 1957.

I drift on the amber light toward you,
where you surround me with a knowing
and with a familiar pillowing extravagance
that cushions my ache of natural bones.

But this strange place hurts with meaning.
Here, no breaths bring a flow of language.
Here, the light of you collapses into itself,
and I stretch out a hand to touch this air.

This one afternoon cradles me in the wild
and there is no way to properly describe it.
I can only allude to a deep flowering vortex.

Other afternoons will tumble and accumulate.
But I have sunk roots of eyes into this one,
a time as ludicrous as the soil of a heaven.

Friday, April 22, 2011

you were spoken of

This is not a stretching toward great work.
That can wait until green apples are hung
from branches in easy sunlight this summer.
Yes, that's the best thing about the future --
it holds great work redolent with dewy musk.

This is a stretching sideways toward you.
Or at least toward the fruit of other saying.
Worlds of crystal growth and night written
to hold the spell of your quiet consciousness,
to hold every contour of your alarming smile.
And capture my longing to hear your voice
drift through worlds made of my dark words.

You have brought the very best kind of joy --
one that is tortured with pinpricks of sadness.
Is that how a crystal begins to grow at night?...
through accretions of groaning liminal layers?
You have inspired a gleaming movement
from themeless being into solid substance.
Well, "solid" is too strong a spoken word.
Let's call it instead a direction for writing.

Oh, how I love those moments when I see you,
sitting there made out of my reaching language.

It is such a boon to living that a thought hides,
secluded perfectly behind the silk of far saying.
Death will not erase lines made of such longing.
You would, of course, look askance at all this.
That is why I scatter lines to deathless hours.
Let each one be a seed to bring a tear of crystal
into this or some equivocal world for great lasting.

So...this is just a summing up before stretching
toward a later, different work of summer verses.
Then a pruning away of myself from apple limbs
will let new green fruit begin to warm and flourish.
A ripening of words open to a different impossible.

Now, I take this silk scarf of sea-flecked blue,
sleeping mauve, soft-dreamng golden weave
and wrap it around your spoken-for shoulders,
shoulders covered with a glory of prophetic hair.
I have wrapped a scarf of my sad-joyful words
around you so carefully you never even knew it.


One can usually find a large stump
to sit on somewhere in Arkansas.
You can smoke a brainy cigarette
or gnaw a thoughtful bitter weed.
Here, there is time for thinking stuff.

A poet wants to do things with words.
Sometimes just to watch what happens,
like finger painting on the mind's canvas.
Lines can be psychotic jesters jumping
and surprising themselves with illusions
of symbolic frisson and important saying.
Sometimes, a few startling dizzy zingers
and broken-up lines can conjure a simulcra
of poetry from what is actually a blathering
of prose.

Oh well...

I've got nothing better to do these days.
I'll keep trying to make stuff from words.

But...what the hell am I going to write about?
This big joint -- from sea to shining sea -- is banal.
I would tremble and my brain would begin to dissolve
if all I could write about are people who don't know
about regions of great heresy, mountains of ennui.
Who gives a boring damn about American narcissists,
jazzy addicts, empty-hatted cowboys, loud dames
without a background in aesthetics or theodicy?

So...I usually have to go to somewhere else.
To find something on which to hang a poem.
I usually have to drift like smoke to Europe,
or a Europe of my fond, desperate imagining.
Over there somewhere, the trees know things
and the building stones have old stories to tell.
Culture of a certain sort springboards the mind
to think of sad men and of profound women.

I must hope to write a poem that touches fire,
that at least brushes against some far vision,
a theme of saying that is out of the ordinary,
a poem that Olga and Sofiya would appreciate.

I must hope that one day I can write a poem --
just one poem -- that does justice to language,
that taps into root-magic below barking surface,
that has words tracing faint rings of this world --
rings expanding like vibrations beyond mere ego.
A poem that might flame from the embers of Puskin,
that might burn from a kindling of pine stump pitch
deep in some Slavic realm beyond any banality.


To pick up a rock and look at it
returns a child through ritual.
Eyes fall innocently and open
onto the surface of held time.
There for a few open moments --
when sunlight brushes minerals
and hints of color free for anyone --
the mystery of early days returns
quietly many things nearly forgotten....

Other stones, minerals, and shapes come
to presence, signaling with light on surfaces
uncertain code about the passion of gravity.

That time crawling up an Arkansas mountain
and finding several quartz crystals gleaming,
ineffably mirroring the way a dream feels....

The stream-washed stones, rounded pleasantly,
retrieved to accent your flower garden, Mother....

Petrified wood in a forest, pastel bones of trees,
discovered on that outing to the lost cemetery....

They say the center of the Earth is magnetic.
I feel vibrations of seasons in a bloodstone.

This rock does not hold the texture of heaven,
nor does it manifest a brute totem for an atheist.
Nostalgia's mass and momentum are not the thing.
It's about what is squeezed between living breaths.

I feel you both, Mother and Father,
in the depth and heft of this rock
picked up at random on a planet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

do the bug

Small cockroach walking down
a wooden paint paddle ramp,
down into an empty dry bucket.

Now at the bottom Mr. Roach stares
at the blank white circular Kafka wall.
It's been said (now) that many shapes
make roaches dizzy, make them twitch,
bring on serious headaches and nerves.
So no paintings are hung in this gallery.
And no power-point displays on screens.
Mr. Roach is just sitting there, calmly.
Maybe philosophizing about pure form.
Roaches don't get hung up on details
or memory -- that is much too painful.
Instead, they wonder with antennae.

Or not...

Mr. Roach might be empty headed.
Hence Mr. Roach would be indifferent
to aesthetic mystery, his cousins dead,
the need for any kind of decisive plan.
He would simply sit and wait out time.

Or maybe Mr. Roach is shell-shocked.

Monday, April 18, 2011


חול המועד פסח

Because of the Diaspora,
when weary families trudged
and wept and found humor
and knew strength together...

Because they survived the pogroms
and felt flung stones, heard curses...

Because Martin Luther hated,
inspiring much Nazi doctrine...

I wish to be a Jew.

Because the subtle words I've loved
were wrought in dark Ashkenazi rooms,
where souls deeper than my fathoming
touched mine over candled time...

Because Mahler knows me more than angels
weeping blood on a mystery of crosses...

I wish to be a Jew.

Because of someone dear to me,
who graced me with an ancient smile,
whose name is fearless, making her
the tempered sister of Europa...

I wish to be a Jew.

* * *

This early April night falls cool
and dark on arid gentile land. I am
alone, but thought brings festival,
imagination unheard voices, candles
in my eyes from uncanny wishing.

I am content in my dispersal, breaking
off a piece of matzo, pouring this glass
of laughing wine, reclining with a sigh.

So let me, this one night,
pass over and be a Jew.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mother Darling

The images try to drift through,
but they are so fugitive, so vague.
This happening has begun and will last
a mysterious time. Clocks are ticking
with an echo...something else is there.
And time has become a bleeding vein
of many fluid impressions, yet so shy –
blood prefers to hide from open vision.

And speaking of time, Mother Darling...
maybe the present is an impasto canvas.
I'll scrape through the layers to find you
still in our first, as it were.

On this fresh hurting layer,
let me inscribe a little poem:

I think of you dreaming bluebirds
in a morning of soft flower smells.
I think of you without any words
while ringing slow immaterial bells.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

old light

She followed him into the great fog,
returning to the womb of everything.

I have only a few days here to recover
heirlooms, mementos from many rooms.....

Where are those boxes of thick Christmas?...
with ornaments and lights from a hazy era...
when time spiraled through the fifties, sixties...
when things had substance inside substance....
and when our large colored bulbs glowed
diffusely, strangely on the front porch --
hanging totems of a god's dreaming eyes?

The tree balls and trinkets have dimmed
from memory. Only large colored bulbs
are spiraling and glowing behind my eyes...
even back then glowing metaphysical rumors.
Yes...old Christmases were about freaking
myself out with colors and cult-like shadows...
and watching two people made out of magic.

Everything has always been about the strange.

I just can't find any boxes of Christmas.
I've looked through the stunned basement
and grieving shelves upstairs. Everywhere...

I'm good at finding things, as if I had some magic,
but I can't find any boxes holding strings of eerie life.

Maybe it's better this way – not recovering Christmas.
But I wanted to save one large enamel-red spiral bulb.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

contemplating a Dutch garden photograph

Let us not speak here by water,
here where the pooling bronzes
possible words into silent castings.
No, we should stand in late morning
and become as subtle as this light
that falls and hangs and floats godly,
here beside black trunks turning time...
here where grass drowses in moods...
here where bushes whisper in glints.

Metaphysics is implicit in the sense of this setting --
in the blooming of yellow, in the volume with shadows.
Literature could drift through, let's reach out to grasp it
and quill with feathered textures our verses after parting.
Old Romance hangs here like a canvas of touches,
but touches of souls that go deeper than the flesh.

Who needs heaven when a garden opens,
opening a vision of such water-laden light?
Who needs heaven if spirits are breathing
suspense and an unseen miracle of smiles?

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I dream, now... (a poem by Connie Stadler)

Every few months, I repost this poem by Connie. It represents an ideal for me. I don't wish to imitate Connie, but I do wish I could conceive and execute a poem with such distinctiveness, coherence, flair. To me, this poem is so beautiful.

I dream, now...

In the forest of blue heron
On the whitest of white nights
The moon clouds pass
As laden caravanserai.
Cedar shadow calligraphy
Communicates what no human can
Cygnets sleep in sepia wash
In fearless surrender.
Darkness and I stroll among these
gardens within myself.
Sip wine, exchange no thoughts.

Copyright © 2009 -- Constance Stadler


Pines trees thereabouts sneak up on you --
wandering lost martyrs bleeding warm amber.
They have sworn vows of tall rough silence,
but they're always there, needling shadows.
South Arkansas hides a shadowed small city,
leaning to the west, shoved by Highway 67,
which is breaking up, forgotten to weeds --
a vegetal jack-hammering of concrete hopes.
The old town square has been boutiqued.
The people hang on with fungal persistence.
But you can't cover up decades of mill smell,
and time can get bored enough to leave.
Those who never left have dreams at night
not like a cat, so where do they go dreaming?
Those who left have a cat's-eye perspective
and claw through old layers of visions running
inside shadowed cities becoming new realms.

It's almost telepathy to know of dull dreams.
It's almost psychosis to be gone like a cat.

And pines trees have a way of telling sermons.
They are bark-robed monks living as parables.
They gesture from silences and morning mists
toward a ritual of going and then doubling back:

"You must become as unreal as our gathering
to know anything at all of gods and of poems.
Roots must go somewhere to lap up dark tears.
Tread softly like a wildcat but go into gleams."

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck


Sometimes the wind
of a fresh warm April
blows a strange town
into sinking afternoon.

Houses make quiet agreements,
settle into their new locations,
even if askew and a bit jumbled.
Trees darker than usual trees
spread against the real sunlight.

I wait for this unknown town
to conjure up its own gravity.
And soon the doubling dusk
shades my eyes like dark glass --
a green drunken bottle melted.

Several people talk on porches
made of stone with rough arches,
swings hanging from hempen rope.
They don't see me standing here
eavesdropping on their murmurring.
They don't see me when this town
gets blown in wind on top of April.

A man slowly plucks ridiculous notes
on his rosewood teardrop mandolin --
random notes as if a wanton butterfly
were dragging a dry heirloom petal
across strings to breezing pulses.

But the wind has gone to sighs,
and a greenish dusk is settling.
The woman wears a silken scarf,
her dark hair flowing like laughter.
She shakes her head laughing gayly,
as he tells her of a bittersweet time...
when he mistook a boisterous parade
for a celebration of his one big dream
that ended in glory before he woke.

This place is becoming almost real.

The streets are canals of boullion water.
Gondolas pass steered by secret men --
men who know where they are going.
Their suave oars are rowing the literati
to a serious play premiering this night
in a theater built on undiscovered ruins.

Their silhouettes somehow hurt me.

So I wish to simply linger here
and listen to this pair a-sparking.
He has an audience of one soul
who cares enough to laugh gayly.

Their silhouettes somehow please me.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck

Sunday, April 3, 2011

listening to Harvard

Even I can hear one old wall
whisper to another at a corner.
They meet for evening tales --
a breathless text of serious bricks
carried on gray syntax of mortar.

This night's story is embellished
by a Greek chorus of shadows
drifting from weary street lamps,
shadows too curious to be held
by wan light no longer dreaming.

"Before tomorrow turns a sundial,
the marvelous one found hours
to unfold a fragrance of narcissus
and almost dance in beauty's form
on paths of wisdom now changed
to paths holding a residue of grace."

Even I can hear the soul of Harvard
offer evening paeans to your eyes.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck

Friday, April 1, 2011


Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin
(1872 -- 1915)

Alexander's eyes rarely moved.
They hung in a lowered gaze,
fixed on miracles he could see
moving beyond and within him.

Alexander's mother played piano.
She was talented, and the boy
lay under the piano absorbing.
Form and melody and harmony --
mixed liquidly behind early eyes --
sank strange colors into whirlpools.

Alexander must be music, and that is all.
What was latent became heard, known.
Rubles squeezed from time later flowed.

Someone flabbergasted realized music
walked the world in quaint human form.
Someone terrified that music was alive
yet might not reach many melting ears.

Alexander was music, and that is all.
So lift a crystal toast to his publisher:
Mitrofan Petrovich you!

The end.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck


It pleases me like that broken bone --
an impossible ache producing laughter
when I fell from a wild, youthful tree
and gasped, smiling at how strange -- pleases me to imagine a teenage girl,
who lives in an old mansion in Connecticutt,
who walks stiffly and uniquely amid gleams
from the oiled surfaces of heavy furniture.

She lives her way through a chronic illness,
something congenital, merciless, usurping
that makes her frail and drained to white,
her pale strings of veins greenish, apparent.

She has never tumbled in moist summer grass,
squealing and sweating on a merry-go-round.
Inside, she must move with a cautious grace
through the quiet halls of her strangeness...
and mold long time into an ostensible world,
one that has little to do with how we dream.

God! pleases me like a death wish
to imagine how odd she must be there!
All the things and tears that people do
crack and shatter before her difference.

Copyright 2011 -- Tim Buck