Maureen McLane: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

McLane Photo Laura M. Slatkin 2016 Paris  web




















Photo by Laura M. Slatkin, 2016 Paris




Your velvet hills came to me

last night in the pool

how they hugged the fraught city

the pubs filled and buzzing

the Europa unbombed now for years.

Your political murals are kitsch

and history’s a ditch

for lying if we let                                                                   

the gravediggers

name us. Let’s bury

our pseudonyms                     

all undisclosed.

Was Scarlett O’Hara’s father

a blustering Ulsterman

or was he a peasant                                       

like granddad from Wicklow

tender and fond amidst the riot                    

and kind to his slaves

but for the obvious?               

White people are weird

with their vitamin D

and sunravaged skin.

So far from an equator

it’s hard to walk the line        

in a cleaved world.                                        

Orange, green, navy blue

the colors are weapons

as were some horses                                     

in the 19th century.                             

Freed by machines

see how they race

on fragile ankles—

beauty a late flower

of disuse. Your storefronts

were boarded, your university

Victorian, the linen quarter

defunct. The solid brick

that shelters us unmortared

smashed a window.

Your sky hung low your beer

rode high your visiting Masons

sober and punctual.

A Days Inn here

is a Days Inn anywhere

but for the marchers gathering

their ribbons’ gaud at odds                                        

with their drawn gaunt faces

shut like a purse

around an old watch

that still keeps time


Maureen N. McLane is a poet, memoirist, critic, and educator. She has published seven books of poetry, including This Blue, Finalist for the National Book Award. She is also the author of an experimental hybrid of memoir and criticism (My Poets), two monographs on British romantic poetics, and numerous essays on romantic-era and contemporary literature and culture. Her poems have been translated into Italian, French, Greek, Spanish, and Czech. Her most recent book is More Anon: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021); her next book, What You Want: poems, will be out in spring 2023 from FSG. She is the Henry James Professor in English and American Letters at New York University.  [“Belfast” is from This Blue, FSG 2014]


Mural 4 best     Belfast mural


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Author: Terence Winch