Manly Man on Tarmac

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

Who’s the stubbly man with the big neck
and chest like a wardrobe full of wet coats –
Desperate Dan in all but name and desperation
and boots – and hot feet in his heavy frayed socks?

That’s me. Manning it up, manning what I’ve got

and what I’ve got is two thighs, weighty
as King Kong’s sinewy, salty grey eyes
and hailstones hitting my hard-up fatty tongue
more melting than bouncing as I wait to drink

what’s left of black crystal molasses
from a tiny red can, but it’s not Christmas Coke
not today at least, today
it’s a different bearded rogue spread out

on the front – Captain Morgan –
and what tastes like Panda Cola, his mate.
Dirty.
And you’re not supposed to drink outside.

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No Hallows

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

Tonight your kids dress their hooves and yellow their eyes
like Satan, like Pagans with tridents, like sirens and fallen,
begging for chocolate from strangers and secretly
dreaming of razors or hoping for razors
and wanting a razor
in the chewy black centre
waiting to cut their teeth
tonight
before the moon wanes and the wax pools and the wick is lit
for the slippery parades, the cold-curdled festivals of light.
One more night.
And elders – elder than eighteens – wait
in exhilarating silence
for realistic blood and a knife and a violin scream
and slashers and old Hammers and things that are alive
and wings out the window and living dolls that die
and the strength of the one girl
who reds
the plastic mask man and shames his dull white.
She’ll buy it in the sequel and he’ll be gone in the morning,
climb out from under the rock.
It’s all right.
There’s no fear of damnation tonight.

Shark Woods

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

I want to go to that shark infested forest –

you know the one?  The shark forest?

It’s in Guam or darkest Peru
or Vietnam or somewhere like that – the one
where stray knocked-off branches canopy the floor
like so many chopped-off bones and they’re covered
in shredded leaves and shark sweat and chipped teeth –
the one where thick finned beasts slink through trees
looking sideways like tigers and hammerheads wait
in the bits of the blue to sink quick onto your head,
split your cheeks and rip you from eye to chin and say
Smile you son of a bitch! and mash your pulp to
mist with the same serrated paper shredders they
use to say it. You know,

the woods where you look up and the sky’s sliding
with fat-middled bodies and lithe grey lumps with
empty eyes, a spring in their slide and nothing
in their mouths and I don’t know how they got up there
you know? Suppose they just push their way up through
the green-wreathed pale oxygen like human beings climb
into coral when their eyes slip back and their teeth are wet
you know the way I mean? The kind of feeling that
makes you jump backwards into the black and seeth,
I exist to eat smaller fish and mammals if I have to-
and you make your voice cut through the blue sap
inch by inch until you’re in — until you’re swimming in air,
breathing without thinking,

probably something like that.

I don’t know. But you know there’s no time to
work it out down there, deep in the reddening midst
of it, lost in the shark woods down where the bears
daren’t have their picanick, no bleeding body dare risk it,
and everyone knows the sharks don’t share their
splintered wood – if you step inside you’re after your
own hot blood, you’ll be tasting it in the great white’s
slipstream breeze – it’ll rush right through you,
tear you to pieces and scatter your scraps in the bracken
bits of stripped ribs and hands and knees on the muddy bed
below you, you’ll look like a lifeless mermaid lying
sidelong in an indoor fish tank, the paint licked off your
matt-black skin, and buried.

That’s where I want to go. The shark infested forest.

I want to sleep with the dead and live with the big fishes,
make people scream when they see my head crop up, chopped up
loose and changed, fleshy, hanging like languid meat in the
shallows, open like a doll’s eyes, like a dogfish flies – slack
maw, gulping gasps of air like water backed up to the stomach
and bounding up and down and every way through it just spitting
and swimming and chewing whatever I want. That’s what I want,
I want to meet the maneaters in no-man’s land and catch their eyes-
taking sick red chum in my hands and snow white flakes in my
fingers, and grind, like a mad Captain Birdseye who’s dived through
their table and shattered it, upturned the surface and wrecked it,
come to Hell with high water and sucked it in and sunk it down dry,
let it settle. And circled.

I want that. I want to feel as full as this and never have to talk.
I want to breathe in my sides and never see the tops of trees.
I want to swallow
deep and smooth
cool as a copse
and not have to stop.

Dirt

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

The man tying the bag over his head,
the small of his back sore against a stair,
his lips gone numb and white, waiting to spread,
his legs tight like a mystic’s crossed in prayer,
his words like pulses wrapped in too much wool,
his neck that sometimes nicks him when he swallows,
his past like something catching on his skull,
his train of thought too stop-and-start to follow –
this wet-nosed ass who can’t quite tie the strings
is going to do a really selfish thing.
Before he goes he’ll guess at what you’ll say.
He’ll try to count your grief in weeks and days.
He’ll scare you half to death. This one will hurt.
You’ll drop and look for answers in his dirt.

Yin Yang Man

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

Peering, I hold her like an alien,
trying to do that two become one, reunited
and it feels so good, perfect circle
made of cushioned angles kind of thing
in the dark.

A foreign nipple presses my front
and my cut wire hairs raise the silent alarm,
I uncoil, tense my thighs, black out my pupils
and stiffen like Juliet and think of Trojans,
not moving

until a breeze soothes my feet-skin
and hers, presumably. Her body – her small,
not mine, not brother, not male species –
willowy, pet, pettish, baby, honeyed, celestial,
prods at me.

She gives me a look I don’t know
and we laugh and kiss, shove our half-moons
back in, redouble our impression on the bed,
cover our mismatched colours, relax,
slip
away.

Zoe in Me

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

I used to gaze into my navel all the time. It’s deep
and big, and clever and quiet. It seemed
like I could never get enough, all warm guts
and playful, static fluff and special smells
that seemed to tell of things you could only see
from the inside of a t-shirt, sized XXXL.
It was the navel of a poet.

Some poets have holes in their hearts, empty
and sucking like wounds, lonely, hungry
and down in the dumps of their chests,
but my blood pumps fine. It’s just red wine
and pasta and pies that sluice through tubes
and patter on my breast ’til I come to rest
an eye on my belly.

But Zoe is stuck in the button. Five years
it’s been now, and I curl up and tell her,
get out! You’re the girl that got away, yeah?
So get the fuck away and get out my curly hair.
She’s cluttering up my space, living in my place
and lately every pissing poem’s still about her.
It’s just embarrassing.

I want my navel back, blissfully empty, mysterious,
black with the absence of certain knowledge –
serious, studious, moody as fuck and bleak
as an ink blot period – a great big belt line firmly
buckled under it and locked up. I want to look
under my skin, get wise, see it all, from A to Y
and write about that.

Let me gaze into eternity,
feel empty,
mutter wisdom and musty skin
again.

Perfect

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

I roll to his side,
to my elbow.
He warms the space
with some breathy
moment’s compliment:
he just now noticed
my eyes, my smile,
my place in his life.
He can barely mouth it.
I laugh
like a proud mother:
not a giggle, heavier,
more assured, assuring,
kiss his lips shut.
He mumbles a grunt,
token resistance,
exhales. His palm
touches some part
of me, his chest gives,
folds in, lets a scorecard
stick out from the skin,
halogen hot and tanned,
the muscle holds it up:
a ten.
I did this right.
He’s pleased.
Very good for me.