Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've been reading Maureen McLane's debut book of poems, Same Life, published by FSG (no less). At first I wasn't that in to it, but the book has really grown on me. I especially like her balancing of the personal & the political, the elliptical & the narrative, the offhand image with biting social commentary. This poem gave me chills:


We heard of the massacres
far away in the interior
of that country an ocean
and a vast inland lake
away. The game was set
for Sunday, a special
program; children were going
to swimming lessons
and the homeless congregated
as usual over the steaming
grates. Those who wished
read the paper, others switched
on their TV's at 11. Dead birds
were the first sign; drowned
cows the second; children banging
their heads against walls
the next and no one
could stop them. In this country
those who could took care
of their pets. The year before
they'd concluded the study
so when the great ash fell
and dusted everyone who looked
unknowing to the sky
it fell on the heaps
of plastic rubbish we had learned
it wasn't safe to burn.

Maureen N. McLane from Same Life (FSG 2008)


In the book, there is a page break just before the line "so when the great ash fell" which I think adds to this image's surprise and apocalyptic menace.

Check it out: it's her first full-length collection. Though it appears (from her bio) that she has been writing criticism and essays on poetry for years.


1 comment:

Collin Kelley said...

I've never heard of her, but that poem is fantastic. I'll have to check that book out.