New Orleans Review 35:1 - Oni Buchanan
There’s a little portfolio of work from Oni Buchanan in the current New Orleans Review. Another example of some of the current tendencies in poetry done well.
The worms were tapping on my forehead.
They tapped with the blunt ends of their mouths.
They were testing the sturdiness of the ground.
They were testing the quality of the sediment.
Two worms crawled down my face to line
the lower edges of my cheek bones.
They drew a string they held between them.
A third worm plucked the string.
They were testing the pitch and tuning
of the gauntness of my face, of the tautness
of my skin across its scaffolding.
They were warming up the chorus and the soloists.
One worm shimmied under the string.
One worm hung its trousers on the string.
One worm balanced on the string holding a parasol.
One worm used the string to shoot an arrow up into the sky.
Shoot at the sun, shoot at the sun,
one worm bellowed into its megaphone.
One worm belted field positions.
One worm preached a sermon.
One worm placed a catalog order, artisanal handiworks.
One worm struck a hard rubber mallet on its metallophone.
Some worms listening to the sermon lay writhing on their sides.
Some shrieked like terrible children.
Some worms listening to the sermon lay draped limp over the dirt pews.
A worm listening to the metallophone tried to wedge its way
under the instrument, for an “intimate experience of the music.”
A worm in the dirt manse embroidered crosses on a worm stole.
I was lying on my back in the fluorescent
nurse’s room, a curtain drawn around my cot.
A worm-voice over the high school loudspeaker
interrupted the broadcast of my favorite
patriotic anthem. A crackle in its voice
made me long for dry cereal with profound
emptiness and irrational desire. The worm-voice said,
“Will Oni Buchanan please come
to the main office.” “Oni Buchanan.”
“Come to the main office.” Go
to the main office, the school nurse
said to me.