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Oni Buchanan


Poetry Archive
  Oni Buchanan
Oni Buchanan
Oni Buchanan is the author of Spring, one of the 2007 National Poetry Series winners, to be published by the University of Illinois Press in Fall 2008. Her first poetry book, What Animal, was published in October 2003 by the University of Georgia Press. She is also a concert pianist, has released three solo piano CD's, and actively performs across the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Boston, maintains a private piano teaching studio, and serves as an online poetry mentor for the Anna Akhmatova Foundation.

What Animal



Oni Buchanan
Even in the daytime
the swabs of cloud
approach lower, lower,

the sky mixing in more grey, more grey
it is never the right color, the desired

what animal has a coat of the desired color.

The bridge strung up, suspended by its arms and arms and legs and legs,
its body the weight dragging,
foghorn blaring from the port, across, on the edge of the land,
blackbirds that cross the rooftop signal,
blackbirds rising at once
and their rising the signal to rise,
over the rooftops in a chain-link mesh,
mercury beads on the streaks the purple air weaves in,
mercury beads squeaking on the glass of grey air—

what glass animal smolders
what animal smokes from behind his coat of embers—

—unable to rise but able to count the numbers and the weight that piles
and the hours become the pillows underneath whispering sleep here,
sleep it away

what red animal in the sleeper car
what volcanic ash


The color of the forest dampens.
At the center, the stone,
and at the center of the stone—

Listen to me, I said.
(Wishing well with the ivy from the mouth growing.)

(Does the mid lie among the leaves here waiting, is it
still, is it still enough, the body
of the hollow bell,
does the mind swirl among the no-sound and the no-sound swirling?
The none and none a double helix runged by light seeping into the tower
through the arched windows, the vent above, through the pores of the
brick mortar.
The pestle-grind of the molecules of sky seeping and the blue dust,
the air scaling down the air, into air.)

the paring of the needs down to one, and what

ice animal
the center of a puncture that spilled
the center a star explosion, frozen
flash of light, a burst

First the nerves, (the layered transparencies,
one on top of the other), then the organs, skeleton, then
the muscles, the skin, first
the dirt, then the dirt, then the dirt, the dirt,
then the dirt spilling from the inside.
Breathe into my mouth.
Let the dirt fall into my mouth from your mouth

What animal can be built from the dirt.


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