Big Red Dog

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2018

It’s dog eat dog eat dog eat dog eat dog eat dog

up there and the last dog is massive,
pained with the weight of it, outstrained
and bleeding out, impassive.
Red seeping through and thickening the mane,
a Clifford of sin,
breathing breaths so deep to tear the skein,
stretch the skin.

One day blood will pour down redwood bark,
tons of it,
pour through the scratches and rain down thin

’til the ground is filth and the skies are cleansed
and the seas are filmed, filtered red
like the backs of breeching sharks
and the wings’ll be all too heavy to reascend –
unsolemn silence will smother the holes we open up –
and when no-one comes to help
no-one will cry again.

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Horrid Spider

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2018

Me dad he said
the horrid spider
comes
and takes your head.

Me dad he told me
it spits on your lips
then the horrid spider slides
its bulb from behind,
saliva squeezing hips
tight.

Horrid spider babies feed
inside you,
masticating rot, imbibing
dead snot, loosening clots
and lots of babies are freed.
Nose bleed.

Me dad he drew
his fingers through,
smells
of day-old dew.

Me Manifesto

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2017

Here’s a manifesto for the crowd
who’ve come to clap it –
and the rest of you can clock it
between laugh tracks and ad traps
and bulletins and sleep and shifts
in re-tweets and clips –

I’m a strong leader-

That’s basically it. I’m strong, like a bull
and full to the brim with it –
fit and trim, heavy with lustre so
big up my bluster and sing with it –
trust me –

Love me and I will love democracy –
stick with me and maybe
I’ll do something new –
lasso the moon and bring back the past –
lower your taxes too – maybe
whatever it is that you want –

You’ll see –

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.