Spirits

by Elizabeth Buckner

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56 pages, Published June 2016

A message from my memory and my muse:
Pregnant with poems
when will you deliver?

“Devour Spirits if you dare. Elizabeth Buckner’s poems are brave, dizzying explorations of the counter-culture. She spares us nothing in her unblinking testimony of the drugs and drink she takes—up my nose, down my throat, into my veins. We’re riding shotgun on this wild journey that takes us to Malibu, Haight-Ashbury, Oregon, Amsterdam and Marrakech. But it is Buckner’s interior journey that intoxicates — the snap, crackle, pop of a life surrendered to the psychedelic 60s—and ultimately reclaimed.”
— Deborah Tobola, Artistic Director of Poetic Justice Project

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Commune with ‘Spirits’ of the mind-altering kind in Elizabeth Buckner’s latest book

As Elizabeth Buckner drops acid for the first time with her friends in some 1960s flat near Los Angeles, she is taken on a journey into her future:

Suddenly I see a large doll house
on a pedestal, open at the back
revolving at great speed and
each room represents a year
I see my life pass before my eyes
too rapidly to focus on the details
I know that this vision is a gift
a preview of my life
and I know that soon I will travel
this psychedelic highway again

So she writes in “First Acid Odyssey,” one of the poems in her newest chapbook, Spirits, an exploration of the drug culture of the ’60s through Buckner’s eyes. The heights are breathtaking and dizzying, as when she tries Coca-Cola laced with cocaine, and the lows are brutal and devastating, as when an abusive partner forces her to take LSD, but every account is honest and unflinching.

For Buckner, who now lives in San Luis Obispo, the poems were an opportunity to heal through art, as well as encourage others to find healing in creativity, she says.

“That’s the beauty of this, is you can get through it,” Buckner says. “I did a lot of drugs but I’m still walking and talking. I’m not saying it’s good or bad but it went on when I was in my 20s, and here it is.”

Learn more about Elizabeth Buckner at her website.

Excerpt

PRETTY WOMAN

New Year’s Eve, ’67 is party time in The City
Some straight folks from the Avenues
and some not so straight from the Haight
mix and mingle downtown in an industrial space
located off an alley south of Market
The room is filled with balloons, bubbles
light shows, music and dance
There are two bowls of punch
one laced with acid, one without
We party for awhile then decide
to go home for a more intimate soiree
We exit into the alley on this cold night
to find a pretty woman, thirty something
in basic little black dress and high heels
clutching a purse, but not a jacket
hanging onto the side of a parked car
high as a kite, lost and scared
Either by accident, or on purpose
she is on her first acid trip
We can’t just leave her there
so we take her to our home in the Haight

She wanders about our railroad flat
which still retains its original
Edwardian interior of dark wooden walls
combination electric/gas light fixtures
fancy fireplaces, antique furniture and
the usual counter-culture accoutrements
She watches as shadows
cast from fireplace and chandeliers
dance up and down the walls
listens to psychedelic music
but doesn’t say a word

Even though I, too, am too high
I watch and worry about her
Who is she? Where does she live?
How can we help her?
About dawn she departs
She says, “Thanks, I’ll be fine
I can find my way home”
She opens the door
walks out into the freezing
foggy New Year’s morning
and disappears

Other books by Elizabeth Buckner