Danielle Lea Buchanan

I transgress. I bear witness.

Subversion is an intrinsic value inherited in order to survive. Growing up in adverse, violent, impoverished, transitory environments is to be a ‘deviant,’ which manifests into linguistic lawlessness. Tribulation affords me the ability to experience the jabberwockish, neologistic logic of the world. My diction ranges from fever-pitched vulgarities and bombastic colloquialisms to the stoic and academically austere: a lingual promiscuity. Chasms between socio-economic environments create an auditorium of aesthetics, textured dissonance, hiccupping cognition and lexical contortion. Institutionalized language is euthanized language; I tread nimbly. Language is a system to be deconstructed to decimate conventional history and recalibrate time—time into a velocitous verticality as opposed to plodding, horizontal progression. I twiddle with syntax to resuscitate. To think of a single letter as an organ, a word as an airway, the sentence as a respiratory system. To seal my saliva, my mouth against every stroke and blow convulsive rescue breaths until Lingua Franca gasps into re-existence.


       Close your town. Lock the poem away in a chifforobe till quarantine’s end. It’s contaminated with the plague. It begins bubonic. The key? Hide it. Abandonment sharpens objectivity. Even if the poem’s population is 215 in boonie, backsticks Ozarks. Even if you’ve just got a guinea, billy, donkey or rusted claw foot filled with radish and skunk nest. No one enters. No one exits. Outside, Canonic critics in Cadillacs carry canteens, binoculars, sawed offs. Gatekeepers shoot your heifer, noose your darlings. This all in the name of refinement, homogeny, de-clunking. You’ll try secretly hoisting rhubarb and limas to prepositions by basket and pulley. Don’t. Contagion is a risk. Let two months pass.

       Open town. Unlock the chifforobe. The poem: partition pages into hoods placed under authority of a syndic. Some stanzas are so dicey you don’t drive through after 7 p.m. and couplets are ply wooded windows. Lock doors at every enjambment. Silverfish infested couches are fire lit next to dumpsters that possums sex in. Your sestina smells homeless. Draft one is rough. Begin marginalization.

       Create a newly segregated word document titled “Section 8.” This is a form for the unformed. This is humanity’s orphanage. Better manslaughter in one’s own hands the neck of lexicons most loved. Duct tape mouths of dangling modifiers. Hogtie kicking and pulling adjectives, highlight them. Paste them into termite infested studios. Open new document after new document tabbed “Lower income,” “rehabilitation,” “alternately abled,” “mentally disordered.” There’s infinite megabits and white space for the oppressed to stagnate in.

       Construct as many literary penal colonies as needed. Alphabetic asylums where forced sterilization is performed on Lingua Franca. Rehabilitate lower cases. Douse them in ice baths after electromagnetic cognitive therapy. Machete limbs of metaphors that gangrene ate. There’s poetic images $1,340.00 past due in rent. Build payday loans on top of every comma. There’ll be barbequed squirrel and broken family reunions when you log out because these words do not doze: the mauled verbs that hobble on crutches, amphetamine addicted clichés, triolets riddled with head lice. Similes in perpetual states of existential crises.

       Take Draft Two to Salvation Army’s food pantry. Caucasian writer lore is anemic, severely iron deficient. File scribbled epiphanies in moleskin notebooks under “Juvenile Delinquent Detention Center.” Evict meth huffin’, country bumpkins from the sonnet. Too heavy, they bust convention’s bed springs. The mad, the vagabonds, the criminals, the beggars, the off-colored, lines that stumble drunkenly, the alliterated poverty. These literary influenzas epidemic elitist white pickets. Upload them to me. I’ll breastfeed neologisms. Somewhere, inside one of these decrepit homes, a little girl dressed in a fleece My Little Pony onesie wears brass knuckles to bed. Delete this documentation.

       Do I enact to language what life has dealt me? What to my body, I to the paragraph? I too slaughterhouse Britannica’s physique—just as he did, coming in at 4 a.m., rubbing a slippery cursor on my lips. Fragmented on a mattress, I scramble syntax outside these edits. It’s not experimental. It’s survival.


Danielle Lea Buchanan’s poetry, hybridities, collaborative art, fiction, book reviews, interviews, teaching guides and oddities have appeared or are forthcoming in McSweeney’sMid-American ReviewAnomaly’s Radical: Avant Garde Poets of Color, New Orleans, Puerto del Sol, New Delta ReviewNoemi PressPsychopompHobart, New York, and other elsewheres. She was shortlisted for the Master Review’s 2016 Fall Fiction contest judged by Kelly Link, and winner of Passages North’s 2017 Ray Ventre Nonfiction prize selected by Jenny Boully.