S.u.s.a.n.. M.c.L.e.a.n

Post-Parting: A Villanizio

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Grieve for the memories of delights you've lost;
then light the pyre. Look in your heart and write

of heat his lightest touch used to ignite.
Enlightenment is yours, but at a cost.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

No more his mute, adoring satellite,
you won't take lightly being snubbed and bossed.
The light is gone. Look in your heart and write.

He was the lightning; you, poor you, the kite,
alight in one brief, shining holocaust.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Find lighter fluid, matches, dynamite
(it's no light matter, being double-crossed).
Then light the fuse. Look in your heart and write:

call him a lightweight, loser, parasite;
picture him lightly tarred or albatrossed.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Then lighten up: look in your heart and write.

Bright Girl

"Bright," like a light bulb, not "intelligent"--
as if the teachers know you're doomed to dim,
fizzling at adolescence as you're bent
into a shape that won't throw shade on him.
And if you don't fade out, it's just as though
you had. You'll shine on like a closet light
behind closed doors, or else they'll think your glow
is mere reflection, like the moon's at night.

But why should you cave in to condescension,
a covert thinker, playing dumb and blind,
dodging attack by drawing no attention,
converting slights to irony, resigned
to paradox beyond their comprehension:
your messy house, your origami mind?


Growing up, I tried on fantasies--
the princess costume and the peasant blouse--
but now I favor jeans and faded tees,
owning no mansion, just a modest house.

In scrimping youth I cruised the malls, with dreams
of stylish clothes I couldn't hope to buy.
Now that I can afford it, shopping seems
too great a waste of time to justify.

Not yet a crone and not a femme fatale
(although I have played both of them onstage),
I drink the wind and landscape as I fall
in the slow downward glide of middle age,
contented to be medium, not rare,
until I take this flesh off and go bare.


Susan McLean is a professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. She recently won the 2009 Richard Wilbur Award, and her poetry book The Best Disguise will be published this winter by the University of Evansville Press. Her poems have recently appeared in The Lyric, 14 by 14, Measure, and The Raintown Review. Earlier work in Mezzo Cammin: 2008.1 & 2006.2.


Maryann Corbett
Nausheen Eusuf
Anna Evans
Dolores Hayden
Luann Landon
Susan McLean
Annabelle Moseley
Alexandra Oliver
Wendy Vardaman
Doris Watts
Holly Woodward
Marly Youmans

Lauren Clay: Addressing feelings of lost cultural identity and sitelessness, this work investigates ideas of the self as discerned through the lense of place and site. The search is influenced by various mythologies of place, such as the inherited place, found through home and community; the internal place which exists in the psyche or imagination; and the discovered place, found through study or travel.
32 Poems
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