The Tim Buckley Archives

The Fans

Elegy for Tim Buckley

by Bruce Bond

In the street we walk as beggars
In the alley faithless kings.
"The River"

Scat singing for the sleep deprived—
it's what the critics called his
final music, his ship that plowed

some great uncharted dissonance
as if that's where he was headed
all along, to the restless distance

between an ear and its pillow,
between the wind guard of the mike
and insomnia that whispered low

one moment, then rose, cried out
even, leaping five plus octaves,
he would say, though in truth about

two octaves less—still a journey
heavenward and back, a space that grew
wings on his feet, his voice. Joy

became the thread of mercury
in the mouth of a fevered man.
A lie then, the mythical cure

that aged him as he walked bent
high inside the city of angels,
a drop of midnight in his blood.

How he hated the confinement
of old tunes, of the small beach town
that was his bliss. These things he made,

they shadowed him inside the hidden
bungalow he painted black,
the morning nocturne of its curtains.

If no mythology would take him,
there would always be the starless
mandate of the unwritten hymn.

To sail off the edge of the world,
off the end of a spool of tape
where it fluttered on its needle—

tick, tick, tick. Picture a moon
deaf above the sirens of dogs.
It's here where the lost songs begin,

on the brink of a sleep that fears
no less, that closes its eyes to sing,
Here it comes, at last—no, here. Here.

Copyright © 2008 Bruce Bond
All rights reserved. Used with permission

Dr. Bruce Bond is a writer and poet, as well as a faculty member of the University of North Texas.
Elegy for Tim Buckley was first published in The Colorado Review.
It later appeared in his book Peal (Etruscan Press, 2009)

"I have been a huge fan of Tim Buckley since my teen years when 'Goodbye and Hello' came out. I went to a lot of sources and immersed myself in the music for months before writing this poem, deriving a lot of information and inspiration from Lee Underwood’s biography."

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