Maximum Absolution, Oni Buchanan

Laurie Doctor, Once and Future Dream (Map of Regrets Series), 2016, Oil on Paper and Wood,
5″ X 5″



Maximum Absolution


The periodic crescendo                       into breaking The

long loop a liquid                                timekeeper Rack line

stinking on the sand                           Dismembered crabs

deserted by a wave                             Mussels pried open 

by gulls above the                               rocky shore Algae

baking in a sun-tangle                        My body is broken 

open freed from                                   the regimen of

minutes the tea-                                   timers the calendar

of days So much                                  maintenance! So much 

fury and fire! I                                     did it! I've got it 

down now! I                                        accomplished the thing 

the maximum absolution                  the total purge the 

stripping down to the                        studs I'm purified 

by fire by discipline                           by my labors by the 

holiness of the task                            I'm cleansed! I'm 

cleaned out! I've                                 scrubbed myself down 

whittled past scars                             My passion brought me 

to the marrow the                              meristem to my 

knees and now it's                             done and here I am 

the sun pours in I'm                          a hull of myself I'm 

free I'm sea glass                                from a passing ship 

Oni Buchanan


Review by Dennis Hinrichsen

Maximum Absolution,” is the winning close to this three poem set as it marries the formal gestures of the previous two poems—the single line and the half line patterns—with a wonderful rush of imagery and music and shifting dynamics. And all of this mapped—depending on your tolerance for fracture and incompleteness—as a contrapuntal. What also holds his poem together for me is that is informed by music theory / circle of fifths in way , i.e., with time and ocean and release as the core (chordal) ideas. What I admire most about all three of Buchanan’s poems is the formal imagination at work in them. I had the good fortune of being Poet Laureate for my community a few years ago and what I found is that some of the most interesting people to talk to about poetic form were musicians. Form for them was tactile and three-dimensional and percussive. And an entry point for experimentation. I will certainly check out more of the writer’s work.

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