Susan McLean


Dream in Which I Am Issued a Gun
at a Poetry Conference

What kind of fool, I think, would choose to arm
poets at a conference? Very few
have weapons expertise, and those who do
are no less likely, even so, to harm
anyone near them. Note the devastation
that William Logan wreaks with a review.
And have you seen a workshop? One or two
loaded remarks spark swift retaliation.

Carnage, of course, ensues. Going ballistic
is easier when firearms are at hand.
And when the disagreements are artistic,
the fight is to the death: ask any band.
We all fall down. As could have been predicted,
most of the injuries are self-inflicted.


For you, my dear, I will not bake a cake
or pen a schmaltzy valentine this year.
My heart’s stuck full of pins. I feel it ache
for you, my dear.

So, keep it as a bloody souvenir.
I know it will take more than one to slake
your thirst, so ravenous and cavalier.

I do not need it pooling its small lake
of crimson stains or pounding in my ear.
But, if you have a heart, I have a stake
for you, my dear.

Susan McLean is the author of two poetry books, The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife, and a book of translations of the Latin poet Martial, Selected Epigrams.