Free Market Value, Oni Buchanan

Craig Goodworth, VČELA (graphite and shellac), 2019



Free Market Value

We heard a near bird | this morning “So near!”
            we thought in | unison Tracked

like stutters A series of | bleats Does this increase
            the free market | value of our

property? We’re cramped | inside the hovel
            sweeping it out | as best we can

Please give us a reasonable | 300-piece puzzle
            that we might | calm ourselves

with some achievement | Or we could bake
            snickerdoodles | A pizza slice

could be the apex of our | day We could take a
            painting class | All of us in

smocks “accidentally” | smudging paint on our
            hands and sleeves | Why yes I

took a painting class last | evening I took a serious
            beating I mean | we painted

harbor ships at sunset | copied stroke for stroke the
            heavy brushstrokes | of our capable

instructor Here’s what we | deny ourselves and here’s
            what we deny | each other

Oni Buchanan

Review by Massimo Fantuzzi

Parallel to our world ruled by the monetary laws of the free market, So near! another world lives and breathes and sometimes, whilst remaining hidden, makes itself heard.

So far so good. However, having cognition of it and being reached by its bleats can create confusion or even sheer panic and can potentially throw us into all sort of silly moods.

Silly is good, it makes the reality this side of the fence less obtuse and the neighbouring otherworldly reality less alien.

That said, we cannot always unravel its syntax or grasp its grammar. As suggested by Oni, the language of art could, maybe, perhaps, try to build a bridge and narrate the invisible realm living the other side of the partitioning wall.

Unfortunately, all poetry classes have been booked and self-isolating instructors speak to us via a link badly afflicted by a jolty connection. We’ll have to improvise and fill the gaps ourselves – and we only have our words for it.


Review by Mary Giudice

Oh, Oni. When I read her work I feel like I’m accessing a completely different plane of thinking and I enjoy leaning in to this arrangement of words that I could never, ever write. Buchanan’s background as a musician surfaces in this as in many of her pieces. The vertical dashes give the two sides of the poem a call and response feeling…and the look of music measures on the page. At least the dashes work this way for the first half of the poem–the one that is a jumble of capitalist, suburban, consumerist grasping for comfort in pizza and puzzles.

And painting! But something changes in the art class and the dashes start to feel more like slashes of the paintbrush as the words become more disjointed too. The rhythm and slashes feel more violent here, but also things get realer– at last it’s clear:

“…Here’s what we | deny ourselves and here’s

               what we deny | each other “



I want to know what these things are, and I want to see the painting.


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