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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tim Buckley Poetry

Tim Buckley Cancer Poems

John Bailes accompanying note at bottom of page.

Tim Buckley cuke page


'Tit Jean grew a moustache and his mother said
             "Oh No!  Take it off!"  "Aw Ma I was just
             having a little fun"


Hakuin is everywhere, on everybody's mind
parsing canned fruit on the supermarket shelf
and someone said "He looks just like Hakuin"
I finally chose Libby's Premium Fruit Medley

The Chinese waiter in the Japanese restaurant
probably had visa problems on his mind
or his girlfriend or no-girlfriend and his lousy
pay or maybe his china goddess of mercy
having fun playing around with the blues
He had cropped hair brought fresh water
eels and rice eels were all skin and fat
no meat.  Ate it and asked for tea
he said I saw Hakuin today and he says hi

His paintings grew on the floor like fungus
He read the Heart like the funny papers
while I was just minding my own business
shopping for what i wanted next.  Peaches or pears?
Put a can in the fridge eat them cold, drink the syrup

Hakuin was sick a long time.  He could not even see
the blind leading the blind and so on until
he got better. He painted with stones and tree trunks
wrote short letters like "Death" and added postscripts:
"The shortcut to life"  Old, he told everyone
Just pray to the goddess of mercy 300 times a day

Finally picked chard from the garden
and had a nice supper, 7pm


how tender in the light filtered
between great storm clouds--
the pale green leaves,
young magnolia in the dooryard


for Suki, Tracy

old man sitting on the stoop
with his death, a cup
of coffee, a forbidden cigarette.
trees are full-leaved
but they are falling
red oak, red maple, white pine
birch, the suschh of wind
no sound he can name
pervasive.  His uncle died
like this, in beauty
rising through the forest
the clear blue dark sky
autumn high pressure
wind northwest, rising
green to blue rising, breathing in
the crisp morning air


The Argument

North Atlantic Basin
             theater of life and death       the rocks
run out green from Campobello
             scatter me here

Snyder's right
             think of pterodactyl bones
spider mites, forget
             the hopeless invocations
of monks in coracles
             The Bay of Fundy stands steep
over Grand Manan banks on the ebb,
             wind southwest,
heavy helm in a hardnosed boat
             Island stones might run out
speckled white and aimed
             at the horizon, but let them go--
Irish monks, Northern, Basques,
             slaves in chains, the Italian
Keep the stink of cormorant shit,
             keep the breakwater, Point Judith
Harbor of Refuge down Little Rhody
             good hole
on a night like this.

Standing on the stoop watching the orchard again
             big apple trees
coming down
one by one     bark beetle
             they rot
from the bottom up  this morning
             two more
ready for the fire.
             Winter by winter
a small square meadow opens
             and I am desperate
for anything to leave
             to replace what I have taken.

I don't need these stories
             going round in my head
just tell it plain as possible
             like old Sarge said
--I was a kid, drinking--
             "Get out"         just flat
Trees fall         buck 'em up
             stay warm another winter.

Mizzen Head, the Skelligs, up past the SHetlads
             down to Sorlandet:
on Skjernoya cairns raised up old
             granite rain polished white
broad-based sea marks, Viking times
             Terns dart through long summer days
red-mouthed, agape.

Maybe there, maybe across Biscaya, in Galicia say
             or on the Algarve you see a conch
somebody's souvenir:
             polished ivory lip
pink depths swirl away beyond the sill
             where it sits on the edge of fall
in morning light
Or you see
             (past Porto Santo, Isla Graciosa, Sao Vincente, Barbados)
a thousand conchs covered in growth slime
             worm ridden
meld to sea garbage
             subside on Vieques'
coarse sand, rotting
             coconuts like skulls in windows
brown fronds
plastic sandal and a five gallon oil jug
             bleaching at tide line,
old stories under palms
             tangled as plague      Come home,
old net float hung for a swing
             orange going pink in the sun,
Rockland, Maine.

Well, that poly' line gets scruffy
but it don't break.

As The Crow Flies poems

Tim Buckley 2011  


The vivid  lives of insects
so complete and purposeful

Parachute spiders ride the afternoon breeze
back-lit by sun, they sparkle silver.
One sails below a roof corner
casts his thread and swings
like a buccaneer, going exactly

where he's going, above grasshoppers
patrolling the sidewalk cracks
systematically, others flying
on double brown wings, striped

and surprising. Wind-riders,
hoppers that go like butterflies,
the little nameless bugs bright in sunlight
we might have missed
if their bigger kin had not
drawn our attention,
our admiration


"This will not do!"
damp chill on his shaved head :  the dog digs for bone intently
             Daylight is sound music is light and God really loves you
mostly green and wet bushes

(the old man's stick strikes, strikes again
o tears of Kannon)

remembering high seas the waves traveling and not
--more like stone rows from on top of one

you can't get there from here

*           *           *

That about wraps it up for the day, boss
canned tomatoes
or it's all a mess! Want to go
fishing?   That ain't the half of it
             I'll just sit down here and not do anything
(the grey car was backing out the drive without him)
             until I know what to do
"or hemp oil or a Tibetan herb doctor.  Acu
the shore is gone


the tumble
sweet magnolia
heaving breath
ocean peace
jumbled heart
swamp maple
leaves falling


Three Men Dancing on a River Shore
(Ch'ing Dynasty Serving Platter, Blue-and-White Porcelain)
for Tim Buckley and Tracy McCallum

In the background, you can see the city they left behind
when they crossed the river to dance on this shore,
three gentlemen in mandarin robes and scruffy beards
now jigging on the sand under pines and willows
accompanied by hired musicians on trumpet, flute
and drum, and one plying a squeeze-box of some kind
for these scholars waving their hands above their heads.
This was the dharma field of their friendship, their
getting to the other side, however briefly.

Three men dancing.  Not drunk, just immensely amused
knowing that soon enough there would be only the wind
shushing its sad music through these pines on empty shore.


John Bailes writes:

Here are the entirety of Tim's "Cancer Poems."

We performed a Memorial Ceremony befitting Tim's stature. Peter Schneider, Joan Amaral and I were a Doshi trio.

Seventy or so people attended: family, friends and Buddhists. Everyone to a person to a person, Buddhist or not, offered incense at the altar kobaku after the ceremony. Service was followed by a social gathering whereupon, after some snacking and drinking, sharing of memories and experiences of Tim took place. Jorunn, Tim's wife started things off, followed by Jesse, Tim's son. John Balaban read a couple of his poems that were inspired by shared experiences with Tim and Tracy McCallum (who was married to Fran Keller for a long while), a brother to Tim from the time they were in their early twenties (before Zen Center) read a long poem entitled "The Argument" from Tim's self published book of poems "As The Crow Flies Poems." I also attach one of the poems that John Balaban read: "Three Men Dancing On A River Shore."