Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear A Brilliant Editor Editor,

I'm sending you some poems that I hope you’ll please consider for publication.

My poetry and essays have appeared in more than 160 journals worldwide, among them Canadian Literature, Fulcrum,Twentieth Century Literature, Grain, and the Journal of Modern Literature. I have published two books of poetry: The Miracle Shirker, which won an Honorable Mention in the 2007 Writer’s Digest awards, and Swimming the Mirror, which won a First Prize in the 2009 Writer's Digest awards. I also run a new operation called Roan Press, Sacramento’s Small Literary Publisher (website www.roanpress.com), and my most recent book, Oedipus Against Freud, has just appeared from the University of Toronto Press.


Thanks for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely, Brad Buchanan




Brad Buchanan




Swimming Lessons


Surviving water means ducking under

the surface tension to teach your breath

to accept the need for interruption,

acquainting yourself with the transparent

repulsion of depth. You see, death is patient;

as long as you can arch your back,

spread your arms, relax, and kick

for the least resistant pool of light,

you will never quite swallow it whole,

no matter how much you may drink,

shiver, complain, or howl with fright.

All you need to leave behind

is your sense that the heaviest thing

in the world is a single human soul;

drowning here means refusing to fall.



The View from the Grass

The view from the grass
makes the baby immense
as the neighbor's house
but not as nice.

It lends the trees
a fractal eye
around which to weave
a green hurricane
of stiffened juices.

It leaves the cat
no room to become
anything but terrifying.

When hunger threatens
the blades taste
sweetly sinister.

Heard from here
the street is an ocean
that gains in power
distantly and deafeningly,
invades with the curt slam
of a car door.


Cottage Country

The less you have, the more you want to keep
away from the government's flying eyes
under dog and tree, in the clutter and waste
of your shady rural sovereignty.

You honor appliances you have replaced
with undesired permanence.

Your marijuana patch has an air
of the accidental, inevitably.

Your vehicles cry out for uncontrolled
enjoyment, threaten a cynical world
with grease, ungainly godliness
and dangerous dirt.
The buxom girl
profiled in silvery chrome on your pickup's
wheel flaps traces the absolute limit
of the average male imagination.

The house your parents kept for vacations
has become a place you will die
defending to impatient girlfriends
almost patriotically.


A Dream of Two Daughters

At first she clung to my back like a leech,
of which there were many in that lake,
then she held me in a headlock,
choking me at every lunge
I made through the water. My spluttering lungs
and throttled limbs were a double life-
preserver till she leapt and slipped
under the surface. Though I slept,
I turned and dove—I felt the slime
of the distant bottom, which she had slightly
disturbed on her way to the shore. She slapped
at the edge of my hearing, reborn as an insular,
sloppy baby. Her fate so sealed,
she beckoned me closer, signaling still
distressed awareness of sinking slowly
out of sight under a soulless
natural spell, like a terrible solace.


Mating Season, in Grade Seven


That spring, the girls knew who was whose

before we did, and their choice was wisely

left implicit—the illusion

of freedom and competition remained,

but it was over with; we bragged

and fought and bartered, but none of it mattered.



The winners looked in vain for rewards,

the losers licked their wounds, which tasted

like strawberry lip gloss: the girls had seen

that coming too, had worn the war’s

sweet ravages before it was declared.



By summer, all uncertainty

was gone, and only the stubbornest fool

still hoped to meet an exceptional girl

who would break the rules spontaneously

and give him confidence for the next fall.



Nobody suspected that sex would change

so much when mixed with alcohol.