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.

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.

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.

Bubblegum Pop

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

I want to pipe bubblegum pop through white headphones,
to you in one earbud and me in the other
then drop it on the tarmac as a permanent reminder
when your phone rings and I have to be off.

I want to spend more time in your mouth than crisps
and cling to your teeth at the back, out of sight
and make you crave unhealthy cravings
that your body was never meant to feel so much for.

I want us laminated. Shiny and bright, preserved
with a sun-bleached best-of date that doesn’t matter,
like the empty bag of sweets in your garden by the conifers
with only an out-of-fashion logo to show its age.

We can always see that bag there in the undergrowth,
past its best. Pale, plasticky rubbish wraps look ugly
in the soil, refusing to rot, but you still
don’t want to chuck ‘em.

Third Date

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2013

I took Mark to the old reservoir,
put him in the water
and looked for something beautiful.

He powered across the surface
like a Sea World seal
and smiled and made wide ripples.

The view reflected itself and the sun,
playfully shimmered
and it was fine for a few minutes.

His muscles swelled up, cut through.
He flashed and glanced
and tried to remind me he was handsome.

I’d seen it all from dogs and ducks,
diving and flapping
and following men on the bank.

The place was full of my childhood
until I was hungry
and Mark emerged on his own.

We got out some butties and pottered
in through the trees
and I almost forgot to look back.

Then he took me to some secret spot,
sipped at my coffee.
When he caught my eyes I stopped.

Man

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2013

When God saw the face of man
He thought the man had made the sun.
He knew better, but He swears He thought so
in that moment. He always remembers.

When God saw the man’s hands build
He thought it was magic and He gasped.
He thought there were wonders He couldn’t touch
and He thought He would reach forever.

When God saw the man’s eyes up close
He thought they were windows to paradise.
He saw a halo and the light of colour
and mused about what might be in the black.

One day God heard the man speak to Him
and He thought He would never be happier.
He waited to hear the secrets of everything
until He slept, and smiled, and it died.

Old Muse

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2012

Lately you’ve been on my mind.
I’ve been thinking of you
the way old speakers think of great speeches
and hold a smile at the wall, surface satisfied.

The kind of thoughts that start with smells
and grow with every thinking,
blue or bronze flat skies that grow beautiful
by what’s in front of them

and meals that become favourites,
films filed down as hidden gems,
mistakes maturing into tragedies
and memories murmuring to bits.

Do I get on your mind like that?
Do you talk about me as though I were
funny, and romantic or something,
and thoughtful and not

the kind of guy who’d talk to you
when you weren’t listening
and would paint you onto vases, later,
with silhouette arms that are just too

long, and really, you could be anyone,
anyone special?

To the good-looking girl on the train, drinking Gordon’s and singing along to Edith Piaf

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2010

No? You honestly have no regrets?
No, I guess you’d have no use for them.
You look near-perfect to me, well except
for maybe your singing, and even then
you do it stylishly. Everything paid
and sipped from tiny bottles, like your gin.
Yesterday’s losses loudly swept away,
your fleeting doubts banished with ‘no’ again.

I wish I felt the same about regrets.
I wish I’d stopped the trolley-bloke, just now,
and a had a drink myself, to just forget
like you with your rien. Perfect and proud.
But next time, love, I shan’t just let him go
with such a simple, sorry answer, ‘No’.

A love poem by Steve Martin

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 try milk for me when I am not sure of the expiration date,
to be there when I need you to be there
and to be out of town the rest of the time.

My darling, although it may seem sentimental
I want to take this moment to tell you I love you
because I don’t want to lose half my stuff

and even though you are far away across the ocean
I always have this to remind me.

Sorry.
Goodnight, my love.

Steve-Martin