Kong Versus the New Dogs

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2020

I saw them first, the dogs
with the eyes gone white,
eye muscles taught with fright
and hunger til they plinked, snap, flapped back
and couldn’t get back
the right way

I saw them at steel turnstiles
teeth bared at nothing,
nothing I could see, look locked on
at anything that didn’t turn back,
show its belly,
tails bristling, breaking brittle, little knuckle cracks
almost
like a laugh
just like in the history books

and I ran

charging, screaming past words, fighting like an ape,
powerful, King Kong pulling back the jaws,
taking in the claws, fresh wire shooting black to cover the scars
whatever

and I stomped them down and threw them downriver,
cracked their backs and watched them sink, slack,

breathless and done for
now and forever
and they’re gone

no not really

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.

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.

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.

Either Side of a Cow

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014

Our first date was in a field.
We were being quirky,
displaying our uniqueness
in a field.

Either side of a cow
we stood and made jokes,
tried to look natural, as easy
as it did:

this great slab of something,
chamois leather on shapeless
mass, like dropped cement
on stalks.

Its head was a bone shoebox
plastered with hard meat,
holding up a grinder
full of grass

and it got the job done.
We had a good time, laughed
and wetted our mouths
for the day.

Slug Guts, or Entosthia Gymnosalianga

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2013
From the collection Growing Up Too Fast

A boy spread strawberry jam on his toast, his father watched
and they stood a minute.
How come strawberries taste wet and bitter, he asked,
but jam is good and sticky?

The father looked over the tinged brown glasses he kept
from another century.
Because strawberry jam, he brass-rasped, nearly wept,
is raw slug slurry.

The stuff of ground, slain slugs is just too delicious,
so we call it squashed berries.
We grown-ups say it’s jam, tar our lives complicit
in sweet, shared atrocity.

Slugs’ organs are too tasty not to eat, the boy heard
and stale nose-breath eased onto him.
Strawberry jam is a clever word, lad. An old word.
A good word. A euphemism.

The father’s rusty eyes, round, brown, rested
and the boy glanced about.
His fingers stuck to the jar’s surface
where the juice had gotten out.

His flecked red tongue firmed in his mouth, clinging
at stained teeth like a prisoner.
The residue in his throat sucked, unreasoning,
begging for slime and moisture.

The father said, they bury the skins in the mud. His eyes
seemed heavy on his skull.
Each speck is scraped from flesh, slid off knives
’til the jam men’s pits are full.

The father’s iron, scratched hands scooped the toast
and the jaws did their lifework.
There are always good words, groaned his hard throat
with pip cracks and red slurps.

The boy reeled, reading ingredients, his father fed
and they stood a minute.
There were clever words in the kitchen and there was bread.
The jam was good and sticky.

Spider Spiding

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2012

I saw a spider spiding
and you know it saw me too.
You’re not supposed to see them spide.
They always know when you do.

You’ve seen them spinning thinning
wettened strands of flattened flax
and standing, guarding statue-still
like soldiers by their cracks,

those black cracks in your paint-peeling ceiling,
the ones that used to be yours
until the spiders came and stayed
and spided and left you the doors.

You know what spiding is to spiders
and you know you’d never admit it.
We all pretend they’re just trappers and catchers and
crawlers and creepers and nothing else in it

but they’re spiders. Voracious with it, traitorous,
pernicious and vicious inhuman little
blighters with their spiding, biding their time,
day and night as they wait, saving their spittle,

saving their flies, slavering hideous bile on their smiles,
disguising the spindle sharpened taloned legs they’re hiding
behind their manifold red eyes and fangs and other rattling swords,
there just to dampen the sickening silence of spiding.

If you see a spider spiding,
they’ll always see you too.
You know they like their spiding secret.
You won’t know what to do.

Dead Pigeon

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2012

Dear dead pigeon in the Longfield car park,
you’re not looking so good.
You’re spread-eagle, your neck to one side,
your deft little wings mechanically unveiled,
your collar cracked over, your beak barely perched
on the tarmac it scratched

I don’t want to move you.
It’s cold.
I

‘m worried about touching
your treadmarked breast, the rubber that stamped out
your pretty-in-miniature pastel painted entrails,
your swan-song, dashed through and sputtered beside
your squat, etched icon body.
Dead, bleached, ugly and unremarkable.

I don’t want to go on.
I just came to see if
Iceland was open at night.

The Wasp on the Window

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2010

he beats flaps of film,
no more than shed flakes of skin to Him,
more advanced,
He who wonders at his easy flight
and brushes breadcrumbs from fat lips.

He backs away,
as if that tiny blunted point of abdomen
could wound
this other, with eyes larger than his being,
eyes in subtle, soft, insidious colours.

The bastard takes mysteries for granted, guttering
loud, slow nonsense over sputtering.
Helpless scrabbling on invisible surface,
reflective, while he watches perfect.
he waits

and watches the fuck,
legs moving like tools to prime,
mechanical
lifts to lift him away
if He tries to crush his fragile shell.

If He tries then weak venom strikes, spikes,
spills his mind and fills his pike.
he moves in faster planes, HE flies!
He cannot fly! HE can fly, HE will FLY!
HE’LL kill!

A move is made and he backs back a bit
to the strange safety of confounding surface, flits
into air
unsweetened by jam and sweat and mammal.
he escapes, transgressing transfixing panel.

Tomorrow it will play out again.
He dares to take his air
and offer His sandwich.
Tomorrow HE’LL win!
He’s more scared of him than he is of HIM.