Maureen N. McLane: Two Poems


Why the low mood,
the picking at food?
Maybe it’s the weather.

Maybe it’s hormones.
Explanation’s cheap
but sometimes hits the mark.

I am the target
of mysterious arrows
I myself let sling.

O that’s your fantasy
of omnipotence.
You make everything
your thing.

All day I stayed in bed.
It seemed someone else
must have been alive

have done what I did.
Failed to do
what I failed to do.

It’s still in my head
those things I did
and said and cared for

doing but it’s all gone
white like green hills
in certain light

as Dante says the hillsides
can go white
in the middle of a new life.




Boulders flung everywhere
signs of the glacier god
marking the path you can’t take.

“I am in Brooklyn
but not of Brooklyn.”
“Do you have an avidity
for the new?”

Some violence
is very slow
until it makes itself felt.
Makes you feel it.

“I need to write
good fast music.
All my good music
is slow.”

How should a person be?
“I am happy
to be contemporary.”
“I am glad I will die
before all this prevails.”

In child pose
you breathe through the back.
Then there’s the rest,
all those positions

you flow or stumble through
until that rock. That specific rock.


from This Blue Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2014, Maureen N. McLane, used by permission of the author and FSG.


Maureen N. McLane grew up in upstate New York and was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Chicago. She is the author of World Enough (2010), and Same Life: poems (2008); and This Blue (2014); as well as the poetry chapbook, This Carrying Life (2006). She has also published two books of literary criticism, Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (2008) and Romanticism and the Human Sciences (2000), and coedited The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry (2008). Her book, My Poets (2012)—an experimental hybrid of memoir and criticism—was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in autobiography. World Enough was named one of 2010’s Five Best Poetry Books by Library Journal and one of the year’s 10 Best Books of Poems by Paul Muldoon in The New YorkerSame Life—finalist for both The Lambda Literary Award and The Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Award—was also named one of the year’s best books by the Chicago Tribune. This Blue is a longlist nominee for the National Book Award. You can read McLane’s On Reviewing which appeared on Lemon Hound in 2010.