Susan McLean



If you plant lilies, deer
miraculously appear
even in the depths of suburbia
to disturbia
by munching every lily
And if you plant a hosta,
it’s just like serving football players pasta.
Deer are less wary than you’d suppose
of thorns on a rose,
but foxgloves, daffodils, or hyacinths
make them winths,
and they leave your fuzzy begonia

The Lord’s Prayer 2.0

Let’s skip the crap, Big Daddy up above.
We know you like to hear us sing your praise.
You’re number one in real estate, but love?
If you want that from us, you’ll have to raise
your daily wage. Give us a lot more bread
(I don’t mean sliced) and cut your rates on loans.
The friends who owe us money all are dead
(or deadbeats), and we can’t squeeze blood from stones.
What’s up with all these lures you throw our way?
Casinos, crypto, Tinder, porn—come on!
You can’t blame us for wandering astray:
you made us just like you, and you’re a con.
You rigged this game. You’ve run it since forever.
You own the house; the house wins. Very clever.

Arms and the Man

On meeting a woman you like, if you wish to be charming,
try disarming.
If I say “Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me, hon?”
I won’t be pleased if it’s a gun.
And if I ask “Do you have protection?”
don’t tell me about your assault rifle collection.
I simply don’t want to become a statistic
on the list of women whose partners went ballistic,
or the mother
of a toddler who finds your gun and shoots his brother.

Nor am I the only woman who cringes
when men like to play at being assassins or ninjas.
I’d rather date a wombat
than the world champion of Mortal Kombat.
I don’t need a well-armed bodyguard or Sid Vicious.
Do you do dishes?

Susan McLean, a retired English professor, is the author of The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife. Her third poetry book, Daylight Losing Time, will be published by Able Muse Press in 2023.