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.

Some People

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2014
Published in The Bolton Review, issue 1

This is a gay marriage poem and yes
we are shoving it down your throat.
Some people

are making a stink, yelling at you to think
and cringe. We’re on our knees, begging you to vote,
nudging you and slipping you the ballot for legalised
fudging and lady-things with fingering that
you don’t want to learn, just yet, and
asking you to tick it,
shoving it in your Facebook page, picketing
your inbox and sticking it in your head.

And we know you’re okay with the gays. You’ve no fear
if we’re here and queer, and everyone’s used to it
now but now we want you to thumbs-up our petitions.
We’re rubbing our issues on your television
screen, wiping your politics clean with Vaseline
and all because we want some dumb special day,
a ticker-tape parade with our balls and chains
and lips smacked all over it – ruin our lives, as you say,
be our guests, some of us want that, want you to
shake our ring-fingered hands, eat up our cakes
and just say live and let live. Say it’s okay

because it’s you that has to. At the end of the day
it’s still up to you to give us away, to give it up and
let us have our way, leave us free to do
whatever it is we really do behind closed doors,

without your eyes and tuts and paws and more
all over us.

That’s in your hands
and we don’t like it.
We don’t know where they’ve been!
It creeps us right out.

Some people want to get married.