Saturday, July 30, 2011

"A Seasonal Affair"

Below is the link to a poem by Karla Bush (The Black Crow Writer). I think it is lovely and haunting...crafted with a natural flair:

A Seasonal Affair

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mozart and the Ineffable Priming

How silly to use the word “ineffable” and then to go a-yammering with words.'s what happened.

In 1980 (or thereabouts), I began to be “bothered” by classical music. Something was there in that stuff. It whispered seductions to me, but I was too rough and dull-brained to decipher the murmuring. I was also too stubborn to let it go. Something was there, and by god, I would keep listening, keep trying to understand, to become one with it.

(It would take another dozen years or so before that night, when Beethoven escorted me into a complete affective grasping of what great music is and what it communicates.)

Hard day at work. Then driving home. Car radio on the NPR station. To that regular afternoon program of classical music. Another Mozart piano sonata! And played again by Robert Casadesus, that light-fingered Frenchman.

It was all about the cascade. The pianist offered up the score with a delicate touch and tone. With verve -- ripples of notes, almost hypnotizing me as I drove through the Little Rock traffic. An inexpressible mood would wrap around me. I was getting close to real music but was still at arm's length from its deeper significance. I had not crossed over.

This ignorance is hard to describe. An attraction was there, but I didn't understand what I was hearing and experiencing. Those of profounder sensibility would say, “You're not supposed to understand.” But after my later Beethoven epiphany, I think they would be wrong. Later, I did understand, though that word is problematic. It's more like this: later, the music bonded with fibers in me that before had been merely burgeoning threads of significance.

The intervening years passed, and a few other pieces goosed the carbeurator of my curiosity, of my accruing response: Schumann's Symphony No. 1, Schubert's Symphony No. 8, Debussy's La Mer, Chopin's Preludes.

Mozart primed me with his liquid, dancing piano sonatas. And later, with Beethoven, my musical soul began firing on all cylinders.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We are serious!

You don't have to giggle a gaggle of words.
But almost-smiles do happen in the turning world.

Where is it frickin' written
that even blithe or blissy souls
must head for hell and black abysses
when sitting down to write a poem?

Egads!...I have no free will!
I was sipping wine pleasantly --
a bouquet of tremulous flowers
and vague indifferent visions
just hanging there in my head...
pushed me somehow into a poem.
And light instantly began a-moaning!

So serious. So serious. So serious.

Where is it frickin' written
that words must wear robes
like muttering morbid monks
with broken hearts or heads
filled with profound darkness?

Now of course one can go too far
and write a happy thing of horror --
no one wants to read vapid gushing,
a folksy wink makes a body shudder,
and a grinning poem is way grotesque.

But at least one poem in a thousand
might eschew a suicidal wallowing,
might almost smile at simple hours,
might give the fitful muse a night off,
might move in lines without a whimper.


At least one poem in a thousand
could be a Zen-like observation
of how luminosity touches objects
with its own moods and compulsion.

Damn...poetry is so miserably serious!
I think I'll jump and chort and snortle.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Lake (a ghost-story song)

Words and music copyright -- Tim Buck
All parts -- also me

The Lake

I float in my boat about one hundred yards from the shore.
I drift on the lake, drinkin' ten beers or more.
Summer sun cooks me up a serving of dreams,
and I drowse like that lazy faun by Claude Debussy.

Daydreams get stirred up with a relish of recall,
and I think about that time before the dam was installed.
All the homesteads were abandoned, the coffins disinterred.
Rites were performed so no curses would stir

stir the big water,
stir the big water,
stir the big water of Greer's Ferry Lake.

But sometimes the schemes of sincere mere men
get waylaid by unforeseen consequence.
I do believe that all of those cautions did fail.
I've seen things in the depths make a sober man quail.

Some of us folk got minds that are slightly free.
We don't mock our spirits, we don't chop down willow trees.
So what of those apparitions reported back then?
Has a liquid mausoleum sealed obsessions in

beneath big water,
beneath big water,
beneath the big water of Greer's Ferry Lake?

Sometimes when I peer down in the watery vast,
I see her mad spirit amid the crappie and the bass.
Not a-swimmin', she's a-swirlin', she's a-searchin' for God.
Gonna confront him for killin' her with diphtheria's blood rot.

Well, I ain't like those who have lost their inner eye.
My peripheral sight sees through what shadows glide.
Once as a boy jumpin' headstones, a spectre gave a fright.
Momma said that was a goat with long hair silken white.

So I am primed to see what lies beyond the pale.
Yes, I have a hoard of uncanny tales I could tell.
And I'll float upon this reservoir from end to blue end
until I can speak solace to my little restless friend.

Sometimes when I peer down in the watery vast,
I see her mad spirit amid the crappie and the bass.
Not a-swimmin', she's a-swirlin', she's a-searchin' for God.
Gonna confront him for killin' her with diphtheria's blood rot.

The waves of this lake lap incessantly.
Once into a lonesome cove at dusk I did drift.
The water transmogrified to mist eerily,
in the shape of a child, up through the pines she did lift.

Greer's Ferry Lake is in north-central Arkansas


When a cello plays
I think of you so fondly ~
moisture on my cheeks.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Every town grows slowly from the strange,
from a seed of harsh cells and owling nights.
In south Arkansas a town was peddler born --
a little trading post amid pines and Quapaws.
Sweating days and untongued bargaining
coiled into early years, into eyes like flint.

Every town has many years of frost and rain.
The congealing of a populace seems algorithmic.

How bewildering and good when wild visions come!
When they graze the surface of a coming town.
When a renegade imagination glances sideways
to dwell on faces long dead and stern women!

Urgent sex must have found convenient moments
to bring balm for lives poised on the fringe of fevers.
Brutal hours of labor -- felling trees and giving birth.
A town also born and human beings becoming neighbors.
Until the complex rhythms of gestures and superstitions
and weathers and deaths and dancing led to community.

Decades roll through fist fights, gambling, and a war.
Until oil is struck and the sky trembles over new people.
A square surrounds the merciless court house of judges.
Banks and shops rise on progress like opium-walled mirages.
And dark greenbacks of 1925 are magical with engraving.
The smells inside buildings are so fragrant with commerce.

Human beings move surely in hats and fashionable certanties
of what a day means and of what an unseen god expects.

A mile and time away a refinery blasts fumes and nightmares
for the boy who has seen it there and whose belly is filled by it.
Wraiths come at night from derrick woods tocking and conspiring,
making the days dubious and all the rooted people seem too solid.

And when the boy has become a twisting mass of years,
he almost smiles because he will never escape the strange.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

ole factory

Every night, the similar dull story:
dreaming down into vast buildings,
where experts of curious laws and logic
work amid configurations of substance
and glistening machines of entropy.
Every night, into the dense foundries
of malleable significance and rumors
that stream from sarcastic eyes removing
all knowledge and skill from my labors.

Then the day comes because the sun is surreal.
And the same day lurches through stricken hours.

Against the gods of time and predicament,
I pour red wine into this afternoon glass.
A pause to linger over the pungency,
and then I drink what tastes like lips.
And from that tasting comes aromas
gliding like silks dipped in frankincense.
Or from distant earthy villages heavy
with unknown smells from golden skin,
smells dusky and rich and deeply feminine.

I have breathed you in on a gasping desire,
imagined you on tilted planes of smiling lips
that blast the eyes of all my nights' accusers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

René Daumal

René Daumal lived from 1908 to 1944. He was a poet, editor, and allegorist during the French Surrealist ferment.

I've read his Mount Analogue and A Night of Serious Drinking. I have the biography by Kathleen Rosenblatt. Daumal was an interesting fellow. And like several others back then with an unusual shape of consciousness, he was drawn to the enigmatic Gurdjieff.

Daumal's story "The Great Magician" was made into a short film. It is available from the links below to Youtube. For me, there is something in this little story that resonates.

Okay. Now I want to digress a bit.

The real Surrealism (in Daumal's case, para- or pata- surrealism) had overtones of darkness and undertones of profundity ringing deeper than what latter-day American mystigogues have given us. I won't name any names, lest the shock offend sensitive admirers and devotees. Back then, the plunge into unconscious energies occasionally brushed up against the mystical, the harsh abyss. Now, we get a cheaper, diluted form -- self-pleased avatars produce effects for effects sake. Or ostensibly uproot the "cool" fibers of American pathology, as if that should be of interest to anyone. Their filmic (or whatever) effusions strike me as bathetic expressions concerned with a banal culture.

Real Surrealism went far beyond such trite cultural commentary. It was not interested in an oh-so ironic inventory, uprooting, and display of a self-important culture's sublimations. Now, we are given America as the exemplary enigma, the generative abyss. My word, what nonsense. Back in France during the '20s and '30s, truly bent minds were concerned instead with the dire-objective. Real soul-stuff.

Surrealism is authentic when concerned with the enigma of World, rather than with theatrics of neurosis.

The Great Magician (Part 1)

The Great Magician (Part 2)

Afterthought: This stuff in general makes me think about Surrealistic painting. What I see painted nowadays in that vein strikes me as 1) straining after effect; 2) displaying shallow sensibility. And even the old stuff -- the more I consider it, the more banal it seems to me. The masters like Dali, De Chirico, Miro, Magritte, and such...again, a straining after effect, though not nearly as off-putting as Contemporary Surrealism. The only old guy whose paintings seem to be genuine expressions of very deep sensibility is Yves Tanguy. A convincing subtlety breathes in his works.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


....upon a time, there was an anvil. It just sat there in the blacksmith shop all day, getting pounded on. It had chronic headaches. At night, it would try to weep, but it could produce no tears. "Woe is me! All I do is just get pounded on. What kind of life is this?"

And then one special night -- at the stroke of 12:16 -- a drunken, flouncing fairy stumbled into the shop. She was holding not a magic wand but a sword. She waved it around over her head rather incautiously. And then said to the anvil:

"Buck up, my dear. Things could be worse. You could have come into the world as a ship anchor. Always getting thrown overboard. That would suck. You would always get wet and always rust. But here, things are cozy, and you get to perform a valuable service to keep the world in balance."

The anvil would have scratched its head and said something, but it was an anvil.

So the hiccupping fairy kept on speechifying:

"See? This sword was wrought right here, years ago, right on top of your head. And then it went into battle. It was such a strong sword that it broke all the enemy swords. The knight who wielded it was a rebel, a champion of the peasants. They won the war, and the kingdom became all nice and stuff. Everybody was happy...except the former Lord, who got flung into the next province from a trebuchet."

The anvil started feeling a little better about itself. About its role in societal reordering and proletarian ecstasy.

So the fairy knighted the anvil with a tap of the sword. Instantly, the anvil became as light as a feather and began to levitate. Then it floated out of the blacksmith shop and onward...up, up over trees and under the moon. Soon, it realized its headache was gone. The magical flight had done wonders. But the anvil also realized the iron-y of the situation: a flying anvil is bad for uprisings.

It flew back into the shop, clunked down on its pedestal, and lived happily ever after.

the tank truck guy

Every three years out here the septic tank
fills up with "stuff" and rainwater seepage.
I phone the tank truck guy for unholy pumping.
He shows up, sitting high on the seat unsmiling.
He backs in the vehicle, jumps out, and does things
with levers and gadgets and hoses. Puts on his gloves.
The roots of his profession have gone down deep,
have become him -- this old guy is an artisan
of awful pumping. His eyes are beady and sure.
You see the same thing in electricians, plumbers,
carpenters, whatever. What they do becomes them.
I would imagine that holds true for the gentler arts --
what one gets too good at disposes of uncertainty.
No more room left for equivocal fumes, for doubt.

It's February and snow and ice cover the yard.
We slide off the concrete lid and he tells me
about roots, as if whispering esoteric knowledge.
He looks me up and down, sort of condescendingly.
As if I'd been born that morning and knew nothing.
But if it gives him meaning, that's okay with me.
I'll stand with a stupid look on my face, play the role.

I've always thought it was better to know a lot of stuff
half-assed than to become an expert lost in self-regard.

He scrapes his wrist and it bleeds. I go for disinfectant
and a clean wet cloth and a bandage. I fix him up.
He seems slightly crestfallen to have been wounded.

Afterwards, I pay him and he pulls out of the drive.
A few minutes later, here he comes back walking.
He drove the tanker off the side of the gravel road.
He was trying to radio in and took his eyes off the ice.
I offered to let him wait in my warm house for a wrecker.
I offered to pour him a cup of coffee. No to both things.
He'd just wait by the side of the road for an hour or so.

When an expert miscalculates his one big thing, the world sucks.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Love songs have been sung to death.
No more! For pity's sake, no more.
Love poems have gushed too much.
Deliver me from Neruda's stinking juices!

It's high time to catch God in a snare.
When he squeals we'll have our quarry.
A sky of stars is dumb and too much.
Why sing onto a canvas without context?

The plot is staggering. All are drunken.
It's high time to shoot a sparkle rocket
into Heaven and explode all the angels.
A shower of indignant, dumbfounded angels!
We'll gather them up for a hard interrogation.
However they answer, we'll have a verdict:
to sing and sigh and weep and gush?...
or to stand stoically in a pool of juices?

Love poems have gushed entirely too much
around the sealed lips of the world's presence.

Ha!...because I ache I turn to metaphysics.
I'll twist an angel's arm until I hear it squeal,
"It is written: one day you shall be met."

Oh, hell...there's nothing to be done for it --

Her eyes kindle the East of mornings.
Her silence holds the Source of rivers.
I've never heard her natural laughter.
But I know it would sparkle darkly
and cushion all of my fallen years.