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Poems. By David McLean


a dead calf in the vile Isis

i punted sometimes
on the Isis, like everyone else,
that's what you did then
when you were drunk

and summer. obviously there were swans
coloured like clayish shit, and ducks
and all that sort of happy

but what i remember best is
the corpse of a calf, or small cow,
floating as were it now
on the rain-swollen flood

behind my eyes, one leg raised silent
accusation to sighing heaven, the
indeterminate summer sky, and flailed
painfully slow, its dead resolved

motion in the faceless waters. so we
punted clumsily over, obviously, to
poke it, (nineteen year olds are children
too) and we just wanted to watch it

roll its stretched sorrow, a memory
the agony of its life in the green meaning
under the dreaming trees, but the
fucker just sort of fell apart,

and the disparate bits of the dismemberment
rolled slow back to the darkness of the
waters and to life's blind eye
that never saw the dying.

the dead calf turned its painful way
again to the future, and the fate that
awaited it, conceivably
a kebab in London,

conceivably gaily decaying nothing.
and even we shall be that calf someday -
falling slowly apart to mud and
amnesiac meaning, thus.

we shall be him or her,
death's son or daughter,
however studiously we avoid
the touch of our natures -

though death is painless,
our meaty erasure
that waits us
may not be evaded

nor should it -
we're fucked


a line




love scattered day

fragmentary lesson


a text is a bidet

to wash the arse of time


and memory, the sun has piles

today, and awaits


Nothing, its love a statue

and a statutory drug


that replaces us.

it is fun


and torture. night is done

already, and history


is love and meaning

and the Other’s fumbling touch


is incest and God’s black sun

is done


a line


mourning pyjamas


you wear mourning like pyjamas

already, and history is a ribbon in your hair

where ghosts go, uncaring


there, the fragile protention that projects us

nothing. light clutters this pavement

dusty as love,


the cast plaster that holds us

whole and memory



remains. the remainder that copes

with copious coffins, the departed therein

filled with duty


and duty’s dereliction. depiction

if truth. nights come

and days go lonely


their callous replacements

in this hallowed ground

loud the shallow coffin


that lies us. inside are dreams

and obscene reason, meaning

the moon is lonely as a star


tonight one where rats are

evil. fantasies replicate ruthless

dirges here


where elegies are cripples

for crippled Man

though God understands.


He lives happiest in kittens

his belief, and is a fish. His Son loves Him

and us.


night is pain today and day

is silent night, black as a sun if a sun were

white, darkness visible and bright.


so what is this, the fish

that records our blisses, missing kisses

“antinomy” she answers me.


a line


matutinal ablution


we wash ourselves in light tonight

that cursory ablution, mourning


matutinal, a God-box with dreams in

obscure as reason, a nipple


listens, dialectics qua truth deceptively lenient

its leniently deceptive shit


waters our weakness, insolent to dream belief

the placatory lie that is the


missive God has given us, Miss,

his bow coloured sluttish with hopeful lust


for we are full of needy meat

and the grave is full of dust


the veins are full of godding drugs

and the heart full of Nothing


and love



a line

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