The Miracle Shirker

Brad Buchanan

When a poet’s new to me, I start with the table of contents: Titles are invitations to a party. “Soap Opus” seemed to invite me to afternoon-television angst; instead, it was a delightful twist on a boring marital chore: doing dishes. “Idea of Order at Ocean Beach” had just a taste of Wallace Stevens rather than a mouthful: “A religion with nothing to give / may offer this selflessness, / and promise enough to keep you guessing.” Brad Buchanan’s poems are deliberately crafted yet unexpected. Yes, he does some name-dropping; witness “Pitying Nietzsche,” “W.B. Yeats in Front of the Wireless” and “From a Line by James Joyce.” But he always has an interesting twist, as in “My First Duchess”: “Desire / was hardly the point, and jealousies were / beside themselves / though you kept score / of even those.”