Poems: Mary Buchinger

[Excerpts from The Transformation of Material Things]

A famous dreamer
learned to fly
reliably each night

she tapped her toes
against the board
at the foot of her bed
rocking rocking

arms at her sides
she flapped her hands
and directed her flight
its speed its height

she learned what she needed
to do to fly low to bank
sharp over the butte
to follow the gleam
of the river


An aging Sunflower
angles out from
a sturdy vase

A black Dog
happens by
brushes against
the flower—

golden petals
fall to the floor

& the Dog
deciphers the configuration
reads its meaning to me


I sit in a hard chair
off to the side
against the window

As soon as I realize
they are herding people—
men women children

dressed in khaki
hands tied at the wrist—
up & up an open stairway

I close my eyes
keep myself dead-still
Don’t see me Don’t see me

I pulse at them
the men the guards
Still I see them behind my lids

I hear the shuffle of feet
up the stairs


I bought the alphabet

I hadn’t known this was possible
   until I did it

They are well-used
   the white cubes, dingy & dinged up
   the black letters (all lower case)
   chipped off in places
   but each is legible

They feel good
   sturdy as dominoes
   in my hands

Someone else had owned them before—
   used them hard—

   now the letters are mine
all of them in my possession


In my book   a small nation is dying
they wander a desert sucking on damp sand
stumbling on the occasional sick sheep
they chew on its stringy meat suck its bones
then roll into sleep that takes them away

I look up from the page
and see a tiny hedgehog
wrapped in paper towel
being balanced by careful hands
on a trimmed hedge
in the Public Garden

Today is Skipper’s birthday
the woman who’s holding him tells me
And this is his first time on a hedge!


Mary Buchinger is the author of four collections of poetry:  Navigating the Reach (forthcoming), e i n f ü h l u n g/in feeling (2018), Aerialist (2015) and Roomful of Sparrows (2008). She is president of the New England Poetry Club and Professor of English and communication studies at MCPHS University in Boston. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Diagram, Gargoyle, Nimrod, PANK, Salamander, Slice Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere; her website is www.MaryBuchinger.com.


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