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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 1: Becomings

Oni Buchanan

Oni Buchanan
Whoso List
Not speaking the
language Not knowing
the city infrastructure
the grid of
streets the public
transport the currency
Not knowing a
single human If
I am unmanageably
sad If I
will find my
way home Night
Who list her hunt I put him out
Tell me again
Communicate it That
I taught you
what it is
The unit of
measurement A “cruelty”
of water I
require one cruelty
of water to
douse this fire
to obliterate this
miracle of fire
But as for me alas
Silence mirrors the
internal Excruciating I
have to dig
in Scalpel through
the layers to
excise the festering
to excavate this
pain this unbearable
pain Cavity straight
to the root
If I am
all optimism if
in vain And graven with diamonds
It’s sudden mandatory
workout time One
“discipline” of water
One discipline to
toast this level
of severity Total
deprivation Either you
can die or
you can do
these 1,000 sit-ups
If I do
these 1,000 sit-ups
I may no more The vain travail
That you love
me saying nothing
That you love
with such intensity
you are “speechless
with love” No
words If the
extant proof I
don’t deserve If
I am all
fear If I
am dreading it
her fair neck round about
Is there a
way for me
to see this
objectively Can I
“be curious about
this feeling” One
“curiosity” of water
to buoy this
divine this exultant
feeling You whom
I adore with
all my heart
though I seem tame
If I am
witnessing it alone
If the sun
scalds my tears
If it casts
a rainbow over
water Rapturous refraction
Truly it’s a
pleasure to meet
you It has
most sincerely been
a distinct pleasure
of doubt As well as I
What mythic future-
forecaster Not one
iota of focused
rage My pain
in flow terminology
We’re here Time
like a golden
river No decision
No quality of
choice Only a
raft All ease
All golden privilege
Yet may I by no means
Like the rest
who didn’t know
That is understandable
I thought Reasonable
Whose job is
it to know
It didn’t even
occur to me
I had not
held him I
had not held
him accountable Blamed
my wearied mind Draw from the deer
If I might
not Notice in
preservation time Is
it my fault
If I am
hostage to extremities
It’s a wash
One “punishment” of
water One punishment
I know you
experience the same
intensity of feeling
The vain travail hath wearied me
It’s not as
pretty as I’d
hoped I don’t
have the control
I need How
can I see
what I should
do and then
not execute Not
be able to
execute Not hold
onto it but
Fainting I follow
If I am
all anguish the
attempt to control
anguish causing more
anguish If I
am ashamed If
I am all
contempt How can
I live inside
each minute Pure
observation Wonder at
the world One
“wonderment” of water
Noli me tangere
If the stone
is too heavy
If the intake
protocol the calendar
of days that
without you How
you feel How
can I adjust
the frame of
my perception If
no one can
meet the level
I know where is an hind
People lived a
lifetime to get
to this moment
Geologic time Complexity
in a molecule
of water One
“lineage” of water
Drenched to know
what mindset to
navigate the difference
Use the sextant
the constellation map
but as she fleeth afore Fainting I
If I make
a balanced ask
past the compromise
you claim Deduction
The necessary scaffolding
An inquiry where
one outcome of
response won’t devastate
me I can’t
pry it from
your grip To
float this prospect
in letters plain There is written
How desirable it
would be to
privilege this over
Feel so easy
One “privilege” of
water I begin
with disappointment If
bourgeois law requires
What would it
feel like to
hold this lightly
as well as I may spend his time
I understand there’s
a chance you
cannot meet me
You’re running down
this mortal clock
How can I
learn in time
Unteach my cells
It will fall
into place more
beautifully than I
could have imagined
for Caesar’s I am
And somehow even
in extremes of
suffering How can
you not embrace
the same psychology
Infliction on the
most intimate alcoves
Thou shalt not
covet the wealth
of thy neighbor
One “covetous” of
water to smite
so sore I am of them
Pure agility Virtuosity
To achieve the
skill set the
writ cadenza plus
improvisation Not limited
by the initial
involuntary reaction This
obstinate insistence Muddied
waters But set
the fluency the
purity All is
free and ready
And wild for to hold
That’s the point
My heart is
braced against a
lifetime aching over
echoes The river
widens Here you
are How trustworthy
is this narrator
If I am
all flotation Swerving
between elation apocalypse
The river narrows
that farthest cometh behind
If I can
choose the shifting
degrees of my
character’s centrality Where’s
the threshold of
determination Prioritizing joy
I know you’ve
breathed this air
before You misled
me but clearly
I gave you
the wrong impression
Whoso list to hunt
A lifetime since
the overgrowth was
stripped away Only
the shadowed undersides
of ivy clotting
out the light
Diminishing radiant transmission
Mirrors the desires
of the people
One “desire” of
water If my
life were different
I leave off therefore
Something is communicating
itself to you
whether you allow
yourself to receive
Whether you can
access the full
palette of response
Moral constitution What
is real pain
What is self-
inflicted The sunsoaked
blue Chaotic ribbons
Since in a net I seek to hold the wind
Oni Buchanan is a poet, pianist, and the founder and director of the Ariel Artists classical music management company. As a poet, Buchanan is the author of three books to date: Must A Violence (2012), Spring (2008), and What Animal (2003). Buchanan’s poems have been selected for numerous anthologies, and have been published in many print and online literary journals. She lives and works in Boston.



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