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Richard Buckner's "Invitation"


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On workspace, becoming a teacher and getting used to

not getting used to anything



Richard Buckner's songs are the sorts of things I can recite. To me, at least, they're poetry in the best sense, building slow-burning ruminations on hurt and hope with perfectly defined details and moments of emotional sting that glance the mind like a hard blow misadjusts the body. "Ed's Song" from 1997's Devotion & Doubt defines emotional ambivalence and instability with a handful of careful words, while "Invitation" does the same for blessed persistence, using a perfect sequence of elliptical ideas to stand up to life: "I need the dance to slow, closing up/ And going out"; "You see, the walls are gone some times/ There's no other way/ Is looking down, still moving on?"; and the pinnacle, "I've been thrown before, I guess/ Put the bones to use!"

It's a bit shocking, then, when Buckner says flatly during a phone call, "Everything's kind of dried up for me." It sort of stings, like one of Buckner's best laconic laments. How could he? Why would he? What will we do when he's not framing feelings with three minutes of steel and spit? As he said from his new home in upstate New York, it's all just part of a bigger picture.

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