Spirits

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.”