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August 5, 2008 The Arsenal, Central Park, New York City From the Academy Audio Archive

Dear Lonely Animal,

Oni Buchanan
I'm writing to you from the loneliest, most
secluded island in the world. I mean, 
the farthest away place from anything else.

There are so many fruits here growing on trees
or on vines that wrap and wrap. Fruits
like I've never seen except the bananas.

All night the abandoned dogs howled.
I wonder if one dog gives the first howl, and if 
they take turns who's first like carrying 

the flag in school. Carrying the flag 
way out in front and the others 
following along behind in two long lines, 

pairs holding hands. Also the roosters here crow 
from 4am onward. They're still crowing right now 
and it's almost noon here on the island.

Noon stares back no matter where you are.  
Today I'm going to hike to the extinct volcano 
and balance on the rim of the crater. Yesterday 

a gust almost blew me inside. I heard 
that the black widows live inside the volcano 
far down below in the high grasses that you can't 

see from the rim. Well, I was going to tell you 
that this morning the bells rang and I 
followed them and at the source of the bells, 

there I found so many animals 
all gathered together in a room 
with carved wooden statues

and wooden benches and low wooden slats 
for kneeling. And the animals were there 
singing together, all their voices singing, 

with big strong voices rising from even 
the filthiest animals. I mean, I've seen animals 
come together and sing before, except in 

high fancy vaults where bits of colored glass 
are pieced together into stories. Some days 
I want to sing with them.

I wish more animals sang together all the time.
But then I can't sing sometimes
because I think of the news that happens

when the animals stop singing.  
And then I think of all the medications 
and their side effects that are advertised 

between the pieces of news. And then I think 
of all the money the drug companies spent
to videotape their photogenic, well-groomed animals,

and all the money they spent to buy 
a prime-time spot, and I think, what money 
buys the news, and what news 

creates the drugs, and what
drugs control the animals, and I get so
choked I can't sing anymore, Lonely Animal.  

I can't sing with the other animals. Because it's 
hard to know what an animal will do when it 
stops singing. It's complicated, you know, it's just 

complicated—

From Spring, published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2008 by Oni Buchanan. Used with permission.

From Spring, published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2008 by Oni Buchanan. Used with permission.

Oni Buchanan

by this poet

poem
Today Mr. Rufo died. During a game of bocce ball, 
he leaned on his friend's shoulder and died.
Just five minutes before we found out, Jon and I 
had been walking with our dumb, bourgeois fruit smoothies,
and we stopped by a bush that had all these purple flowers
bursting out of it, and I said, Look how the dead
poem
oni, u rancorous scam, u  r  no rare ace.
no common sense. no sure win.
no amour. no sex. no career.
no suave swimwear, size six.
no amazonian eminence.
no renaissance in consciousness.
mere ire over asinine nuance.
u  r  so mesozoic era.

u rinse romaine + secure onions.
u use sour cream on venison.
u season
poem
o canoe, maroon canoe 	
over mesmeric waves we row
over an azure ionian sea
over mariners' mum communion
over icarus's un-ascension
over men-o'-war + runner missions
over ice-run ruins, over anxious cruises
over seismic omens + vesuvian ooze 
we row, we row
ravenous sea, reassure me 
reserve me an amnesia,