Oni Buchanan Poems







But from the outside it seemed

an acquisition, the populace confused by a hanging garden.

—The bucket full


then too full.  Then overflowing completely

into nothing, call it

a new hour, the bells starting over.  Each injured animal


accessible in the petting zoo; one limping. 

One with mange.  Others you could not tell

what was wrong exactly, but then,


there they were.  Crenels and merlons like a queen’s crown.

Except dulled flat, like a queen.

There were no such invitations to the surf nor also to the picnic,


the month coming to an end, and the cash cow dry in the udder. 

It’s been difficult to navigate my country

not speaking the language of my country. 


Only a few more washes of the silverware. 

Only a few more chargings of the nighttime dogs.

It will be a long life, I sometimes think, over my rind of melon.


I look then in my guide for the correct name to call it. 

Some sentinels converge and diverge in varying formations.

A grocery bag blows by. 


I want to present them with my shovel, but at last

know better, having learned something

from the pamphlets for God’s sake; the pamphlets.


The prettiest balloons light purple and dark purple,

and the eulogist in passing

having tied one to my wrist—There was proof of him


having been in the sea, I could taste

the sea salt in his salty hair.  It was time not

to alphabetize the shelves again.  The shelves of everything shelved.




Uncertainty Principle


The rather mottled pig

who peeks between

the pen beams whispered,

“Count the pigs out

playing in the field

and come to tell me.

I will fashion a beret

of plantain that rims

the fence rows and crown

you piglet of the hardest

hooves.”  Easy, but


the pig who ran so fast

could have been himself

and the pig whose tail

he chased, could’ve been

the pig who hovered

with his hooflets outward,

a funny trick, or

maybe it was me?

I counted two, then

counted three.  The vector

sum of pigs increased


as I approached, the blur

of legs and snouts, and

they themselves, however

many, chanted numbers

to each other, prime

numbers in four digits

was the pattern I perceived

before the wind shifted

and the pigs like tumbleweed

blew south toward

the equator.




Oni Buchanan’s first book, What Animal, was published in October 2003 by the University of Georgia Press.  She has poems currently appearing or forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, The Canary, Fence, Seneca Review, Verse, and other journals.  She is an MM candidate in piano performance at the New England Conservatory of Music.



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