Janet Buck has a Ph.D. in English and
teaches writing and literature at the college level. Her poetry, poetics,
and fiction have appeared in hundreds of journals world-wide. In 1998, 1999,
and 2000, she has won numerous creative writing awards and been a featured
poet for Seeker Magazine, Poetry Today Online, Vortex, Conspire, Poetry Café,
Dead Letters, the storyteller, Poetry Heaven, Athens City Times, Poetic
License, 3:00AM e-zine, Poetry Super Highway, Carved in Sand,
PoetryMagazine.com, Beachfire Gathering, and Café Society. Two of Buck's
poems have been nominated for this year's Pushcart Prize in Poetry and she
is a recent recipient of The H.G. Wells Award for Literary Excellence.
Janet is one of ten U.S. poets to be featured at the "One Heart, One
World" Exhibit at the United Nations Exhibit Hall in New York City
opened in April 2000. Her poem "Acrylic Thighs" was translated
into five languages and paired with original artwork. The tour will travel
to France, Australia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Japan.
Visit Janet Buck at her website
Poetry of Janet Buck
Forgiving This Soil
You are face to face with old.
I need to forgive this soil,
this drought -- blades of our
mean flip words, lean
as a tenderloin
in order to sell
to the emptiness.
Our fat, our grief
turned upside down
so no one will see.
I grab the white, white flag
of a page, but it trips
intention into speech.
I will never have
a mother in you.
Its fabric goes raw and bleeds.
As a family friend trickles
her blood on the stone of her grave,
you babble about
something you bought
and can't exchange
at a Brooks Brothers store.
Is Palm Springs
the only well you know?
Where is the rain we deserve,
the desert our agony earned.
I turn to a bull
with pointed horns.
Wishing the skirt of your flesh
could promise me more,
more genuine color.
Immersion foot from petty ponds,
I swell with a tear,
tuck it in socks
that might have walked
through rivers of ominous chill.
© 2001 Janet Buck
It's the middle of a road
to nowhere really --
a weekend away from cluttered desks,
sirens of phones
ringing like buzzing flies.
Clunk, hiss, clunk.
"Shit," you say. "Merde," I say --
as if some French word
rolled off the tongue
can buy us a can of gas.
The cell phone reads: dead space.
A desert concurs
in unforgiving expanse.
I forgot my watch as well --
the one that came
with four leather bands
I could match to my clothes
like colors of cushions
to shades of a rug.
We steer the wheels
toward cardboard dust,
leaving a trail of tire teeth
wind erases instantly.
Brutally stung by an endless sky,
we limp along as tumbleweeds
enjoy their waltz.
A moon comes out
to tell us the sun went down.
I empty my pockets of change,
stare up at last, by force,
at bracelets of evening stars.
© 2003 Janet Buck
At the funeral the priest was speechless.
And so his brother said:
"George was strange.
Wouldn't write with ballpoints pens.
Preferred fountain pens.
Said they really scratched the paper.
Said he could always spill the ink bottle
and fill an empty moment."
George embarrassed Mother.
After they painted the old brick walls of City Hall
gray and white, George sanded for 48 hours straight.
Spent a month in jail for it.
In the white-paint dust on the sidewalk
"You ought to know you stupid pricks,
It's mortal sin to paint those bricks.
Had God wanted 'em seen in white or gray,
He'd simply have changed the color of clay."
What can I say?
George was odd.
Didn't like women.
Said they flawed his self-sufficiency.
Said there was only one way to spell principle.
In his last dying breath,
"Bury me with my books.
I can read while I’m waiting."
© 2001 Janet Buck
The Hope Chest
"No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne;
no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown."
Your hope chest was calling my name for years,
but I tottered on thresholds and wept,
too blinded by tears to look for the key.
Feckless and horny for angels to come
in a world just less because you died.
It was my job to sort the wreckage and live.
I gathered my wits, pried the obstinate lock
as if it were winter itself
and seasons were toys of my will.
I bounced myself like quarters
on a soldier's cot, drew a breath,
rifled through layers of dust.
Nervous talons of my hands
came across a hat pin and a letter knife --
sewing scissors, knitting needles --
every memory shaped into a lethal point.
Minutes passed in battle tiffs --
how do you describe a war with triumphs
in the summits of accruing grief
that rise to watch the sadness gloat.
Meadows of death are always coarse,
thistles digging tender feet --
they ache to have a compass there
that sends them home to better times
when smiles aren't mere photographs.
Bullets of gray hailstones fired rounds
against the window's dirty pane
like chopsticks clicking savagely
in protest of an empty plate.
I came across your diary, saved it
for the stalwart hour that never came
when pages would not cut my throat.
© 2003 Janet Buck