The Impaired Visionary’s Bluff


walking an invisible dog
high-tech duct tape at the tip
of a self-explanatory white cane
prosthetic for scratched corneas
I grope forth, a lurching tripod
“Do you have a tennis ball under there
or are you just glad not to see me?”


an impaired visionary’s bluff
sets the world pondering, “Where is he going
and does he sense obstacles enter the frame
of his purblind journey?”


cane became club as the traffic wore me
for a splintered second
at a stoplight
I banged on the windshield
shouted disdain and defiance
then the voice of the person
who nearly hit me
as I was passing
in front of her car
with all the street lights
in my favor
(as I pointed out)
in tones of high dudgeon
having first tried to place the blame
for our close encounter on me
rather plaintively, she cried
“So how are you blind?”


trying politely to ignore
the midday drunks who suspect a power
beyond their artless admiration
“You could market that thing, make a fortune”
one of them said as I waited to cross
an unusually busy intersection
“Dude, are you blind?” another asked, over and over,
as I walked past with my two anxious daughters


phallic forelimb running ahead
deictic marker, an avant-garde
receptor in constant contact with
the immediate future
a canine toy
glittering irresistibly
until the dust from a leaf blower
obliterates everything:
tears, and a double blur


undivining rod
silent metal detector
stupidly misunderstood mine sweeper
its drooping tap dowses for water
next to a curbside
leaf-clogged gutter


held like a poker
stoking a fire at my feet
it can stop short
and jam itself curtly
into my gut
like a blunted seppuku blade
I keep my steering hand
to one side
shunting the dangers
through which I must wade


a downed antenna still sending out
pulsations from the underground
to dogs and toddlers
and wandering elders
whose admiration turns to questions:
“What’s the bit at the end there for?”
“How blind are you? Legally?”
“No, illegally,” I want to respond


I bluff at the onrushing blessedness
of a destination with misrecognition
how I manage each trip without falling victim
to playful delusion is anyone’s guess
I shepherd myself with this crosier or staff
through a green, shifting scene
to a high wind’s rebuff






Brad Buchanan was born in Windsor, Ontario and now teaches British and Postcolonial Literature, as well as Creative Writing, at Sacramento State University. His poetry, fiction, and scholarly articles have appeared in nearly 200 journals, among them California Quarterly, Canadian Literature, Grain, Journal of Modern Literature, The Portland Review, The Seattle Review, The South Carolina Review, Twentieth-Century Literature, and The Wisconsin Review. He has also published two book-length collections of poetry, The Miracle Shirker and Swimming the Mirror: Poems for My Daughter, and two academic books. His third book of poems, The Scars, Aligned (A Cancer Narrative) is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press (2019). He was diagnosed with lymphoma in February 2015, and underwent a stem cell transplant in 2016 (leaving him visually impaired). He is currently in remission.



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