Gumshield

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2015

The Kingston Crab Fighter was
a real contender, they said,
but I killed him on the sand.

The beach, they said, was what he had done
to shells, cliffs, cartilage,
maybe all beaches
with his hard, constant-curved
glaze cherry red
Everlasts –

he smashed the rocks, ground them
every time he chose not
to lift the fists above the land – –
imagine, they said:
every time he let his flex down,
beneath his heels,
sand in his wake.

I saw he was all glass jaw, I called him out of the
salt-grit water, sweating from somewhere soft.
I just roped a dope and
cracked him with a clench,
took my money and went.

Poseidon on an Oban Bench

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2015

She scraped the chippie box off her blue jeans,
squeaked the plastic fork from the polystyrene,
dotted the sea air with vinegar and steam
and parted the batter, slid it off like frogskin.

The antiseptic smell of exposed, white, hot fish
was everywhere along the pier. Haircuts began to itch
as the scents lifted. My neck went greasy and stiff
and she smiled cleanly, nodded past my face:

a seagull trod air behind my shoulder, impatient
with a slate-hard, orange, downturned bill waiting
for its moment. I was close to its eye.
I almost kissed the bird in fight or flight but then
with a sharp splash and a salt mist the girl was gone.

Brush

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2015

He stood rangy, stretched,
fur lining climbing from suede sleeves –
pale, rained clean.
He tilted his long head.

I’d been with better-looking guys,
he’d been with prettier-looking voles,
but this is to certify
that what I did with him was presentable.

The badger-man dug us up a jug, no cups
and an abandoned shed
and we did enough
to get four posts up.
We drew moonshine after dark and I drank
from his hairy back.

Grubs

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2015

Nob Ed.
He’s a grubby little bastard
and he lets the grubs out, dun E?
He wouldn’t keep the blood flow out
of his grubby little tuber spout if he could, wood E?

He likes to pitch a big top
tent and in his white make-up tin-pot head
it’s meant as a compliment. Ignorant
wanker is what E is innit? Wham bam thank you mammy
when his clammy little mussel’s slid its way down your neck
and you’re sleepin with the fishies swimmin in your keks,
hung out to dry like his shrivelled little swiveller,
grubby little fuckwit in E?
Not like me.

He let his little chicken-bobbing, apple-handed,
izzy-wizzy-let’s-get-jizzy, smutty, silly putty
bouncing turkey baster masturbater out din E?

Like that bluebottle you swatted but it didn’t go flat
on the window, did it?
And its abdomen cracked and a million grubs came out
and it was beggin to be burst.

A love poem by Steve Martin

“To be there when I need you to be there…
and to be out of town the rest of the time.”

Chris Buchanan writes

A love poem by Steve Martin: renowned comedian, banjo player and personal friend of Johnny ‘the casher’ Cash. Transcribed from Saturday Night Live (season 14, episode 20).

Every man needs a woman and I need you
to lift me when I am sad,
to comfort me when I am down,
to clean me when I am drunk,
to walk beside me when I want to look like I’m not gay,
to walk in front of me when I need someone to act as a human windbreak,
to kiss me when I’m horny,
to massage me when I am tense and / or horny,
to make me horny when I’m not horny
and then to watch me fall asleep.

I need you, darling,
to clean between my toes when they are not clean to my satisfaction,
to pick the nits out of my hair when I have head lice,
to…

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Dracula’s Really Dead

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2015

Dracula’s really dead this time
and he’s not coming back when
you bleed on his bones. He’s still
in his tomb this time, still as they
go and when the wind moans
on the mountainside no-one cares
but you and no-one’s behind you,
no-one’s there with a big
bloody
smile for you.
No-one knows that you got scared.

Dracula’s neat black suit is slung-up
and will never be steam-pressed again.
You can put it on and cry on the sleeves.
This time tomorrow you’ll be still
there by the window, still in a frame,
hunched in an arch, eyes red, rolled
back, scrunched-up deep in lid skin,
wishing on a certain
star
and thinking of him
and how he used to watch you sleep.

DRACULA (1958)

 

True Love

by Chris Buchanan
Flash fiction, 2015

Cupid lined up the sights of a crossbow that was wider than his body and almost as long, hearing the resistance from the wire against the metal and loving it. He felt that wire pushing the polish aside and gripping it, twanging off it like tiny guitar licks. Felt it right in his neck bones. He was like a part of it, squidged on to the end, the life hidden behind the trigger.

He loaded one bolt: ratcheted it up like a handbrake, like he could make it as tense as he wanted, like it would never stop getting tighter until he stopped.

Before it hit the back of the John’s head, the bolt got away from him.

Pasties

by Chris Buchanan
Flash fiction, 2015

She told me they were called pasties. Paste-ies. I’d been pronouncing it wrong.

It made me think of paste in my mouth. I couldn’t kiss her. I made up some excuse.

I say ‘some excuse’.

I actually remember the excuse perfectly. And the way she laughed, and put her hands on her hips like a mom in a sitcom, and how her mouth went from a soft, red, firm jello Betty Boop hillock to a big, creased, open hangar. Not who I’d wanted her to be.

I’ll never be able to forget what I’d said to cause it, or how I saw her jaw loosening. Or that feeling of helplessness. Trying to think of a way to stop it all. Next time I saw her she was brushing her teeth.

I Told Charon

by Chris Buchanan
Flash fiction, 2015

I told Charon when the ferry ride turned out to be longer than I expected, I told him – it’s not the voices that make the Sirens attractive. None of us appreciate good singing that much. And it’s not just because we’re sailors. Men might be closer to beasts than the rest, but we’re not dogs. We don’t just spend some time on a boat and then throw our pants off and lunge into the sea the moment we hear a high voice. There’s more to it than that, I told him. He had a skull for a head; he just looked at me for a second while his fingers silently rotated the coin I’d given him.

See I dived in before I’d heard their voices. I saw them there on the rock. And I won’t pretend I hadn’t seen their long hair. Good hair. And after a few strokes it became obvious that they were naked, and after a few strokes more they were swaying. I was doing the front crawl; apart from those few glances, I had nothing to go on. All I was sensing was salt, cold, seaweed.

I jammed my fingers in my ears, right, breathed, opened the eyes and shook my head. Took one look at the tits, the hips, then I dived underwater to see the horrorshow underneath. I wanted to know what was there, didn’t I?

People who go to sea say ‘indescribable’ a lot when they don’t want to describe something. It was mostly black, lots of parts to it, a lot of thickness, a lot of tendrils, something round and flat that it was all trailing away from at the surface. Something like wide muscles. No sound. No faces on it.

Their faces were up top. I went up, don’t know if I breathed even, just went back up. Their faces were up there. Just women’s faces, is all they were. Like the Cyclops is just a big ugly man. Just women matted together here, at the tails, like rat kings.

One of them saw me emerging: the brunette. I caught her eye.

Hatchets

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2015

The foundations of the house were brushed iron and wood
– hatchets we had brought and slung, then
dutifully buried, forced into the ground, pushed against
’til the bones in our palms were whittled weak,
and then stamped down by one of us
while the other stomped hard, must-covered soil
off the shovel.

The practice had made the walls stand strong and stay up
– the soil was thick as clay with hatchets
packed into space, lumped in, crammed like a pattern
’til there was no white left showing underground.
And we had made the minefield of their
edges – barely blunted, hardly missing their factory shine
– flat as a flag.