Some Say

Some Say

by Maureen N. McLane


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A dazzling collection of poems exploring the mental landscape of our moment

Maureen N. McLane’s Some Say revolves around a dazzling “old sun.” Here are poems on sex and death; here are poems testing the “bankrupt idea / of nature.” Some Say offers an erotics of attention; a mind roaming, registering, and intermittently blocked; a mortal poet going “nowhere fast but where / we’re all going.” From smartphones to dead gods to the beloved’s body, Some Say charts “the weather of an old day / suckerpunched” into the now.

Following on her bravura Mz N: the serial: A Poem-in-Episodes, McLane bends lyric to the torque of our moment—and of any moment under the given sun. Some Say encompasses full-barreled odes and austere lines, whiplashing discourse and minimal notations. In her fifth book of poems, McLane continues her “songs of a season” even as she responds to new vibrations—political, geological, transpersonal, trans-specific. Moving through forests and cities, up mountains, across oceans, toward a common interior, she sounds out the ecological mesh of the animate and inanimate. These are poems that make tracks in our “unmarked dark” as the poet explores “a cosmos full / of people and black holes.” From its troubled, exhilarated dawns to its scanned night sky, Some Say is both a furthering and a summation by a poet scouring and singing the world “full // as it always was / of wings / of meaning and nothing.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374266585
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 07/03/2017
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Maureen N. McLane is the author of such poetry books as Mz N: the serial: A Poem-in-Episodes (FSG, 2016) and the 2014 National Book Award finalist This Blue (FSG, 2014). Her book My Poets (FSG, 2012), a hybrid of memoir and criticism, was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography.

Read an Excerpt


As I was saying, the sun

& the moon and all stars you can name are fantastic!

It's not cool to be enthusiastic not chill

to say hey!
over every goddam thing except what happens at night!
it's there the sun like god but more palpable

less responsible though both burn.
is flat until mountains and valleys and axes

tilt the models men make. If I say abstract

I don't mean ideal I mean real.
are fewer than cats'.
and what stuns is a sun stuck in the sky by no one.

OK Let's Go

Let's go to Dawn School and learn again to begin

oh something different from repetition

Let's go to the morning and watch the sun smudge

every bankrupt idea of nature "you can't write about

anymore" said my friend the photographer "except

as science"
in the school of the sky where knowing

how to know and unknow is everything

we'll come to know under what they once thought

was the dome of the world


Everything in the world has a name if you know it.
The fungus secreting itself from the bark is Colt's Hoof.

The dignity of cataloguers bows before code.

The thing about elements—
Every time I collide with your mind I give off—
Particles, articles this bit, a bit digital, simple fission, fusion
I saw the world dissolve in waves the trees as one with the sun and their shadows.

The trees on the shore The trees in the pond branch in the mind

The screech of the subway decelerating its knife into the brain of all riders

In the morning the hummingbird In the evening five deer

Why should I feel bad about beauty?

The postmodernists are all rational
in zany gear.
It turns out the world was made for us to mesh.

Some Say

Some say a host of horsemen, a horizon of ships under sail is most beautiful &

There you go walking in the woods as usual ignoring the trees ...

The fifteen kinds of trees you refuse to lodge in your skull.

Here's the stand of Norway spruce mostly dead.
We are going to monetize everything so value shines clear as the sun.

Just because,
Just because things happened doesn't absolve whoever's alive

The future's a lure
You want a solid Lutheran hymn to praise the given under the sign of salvation.

God an organ few now know how to play.

He knew all the names and if he appeared to the forest people he appeared as a rainbow bird on the supreme tree

There you go making images because you don't know the names.

Taking a Walk in the Woods After Having Taken a Walk in the Woods with You

Now I cannot not see the blight everywhere


Thus should have been our life sexual, untaxable ...

Once upon a time when everyone had pubic hair and read books and had been taught penmanship and bombs and oh good PB&J there was pleasure in things specifically now forgotten or rather abandoned Let's forsake the crusted nostalgia of the global ruling classes Go fist yourself a roasted duck on a warm spit


Let us be decorative and unafraid Let us approach the line at the edge of a margin of a bay

As I was saying, the sun

is my enemy One must not take it personally

It burns the skin years later the surgeon cuts off

O lidocaine muted pain

O the women in childbirth the soldiers amputations without ether

How argue against progress given this

In the mind's eye the scar that skirts the eye and dents the head

's a medal worn for all those once in pain now dead

Notationals / Songs of a Season III

a gull with a shattered wing ended the spring

• * *

a day without rain I'd almost forgotten the shape of the sun

• * *

today's reckoning one wasp freed & one wasp dead I am justice, blind

• * *

it is only recently humans think death final

• * *

Julys stack in the mind forty-five summers become one summer

• * *

I think of you
• * *

same orchard same grasses same bicycle you'll never ride

• * *

why not say I think of you more now you're dead

• * *

was it hysteria or simply being awake

• * *

to be calm and still as the Morandi bottles on the windowsill

• * *

If I wait long enough the hummingbird

• * *

this life a work-around death

• * *

your hands on my face if you were a blind woman you'd feel the new lines

• * *

I guess I'll have to live with this my face

• * *

bright morning sun through the slats but the sun in my head is dead

• * *

yesterday's neurosis looks judicious this morning

• * *

dream of a clear sky in a clear pond the mist on the lawn unchemicaled

• * *

it's not that I expect to touch the sky with my two hands

• * *

after a storm even you must concede the birds again sing

As I was saying, the sun

is a thin thing in a thin spring

this late fall day won't know.

Yellow gingko leaves on sidewalks

slip December nearer. I see

that death growing in you

as I never before saw

anything new.
brought to the horror-
herself into the real.

It's not the moral thing

that appalls but the thinking

I don't mind no mind

for it's minding that blanks

the world


november's embers leaves in the eaves forestall all winter inters wind in white height snowing knowing burial a real thing hinge creaking kings onward wards children run regal eagle's flight light over hover there here leaf if forever ever beckons kin home's own storm horn ending ding an sich such things sing seasons on

Mount Mansfield

The stream is frozen except what's flowing below what's frozen.

It will be snowing on the bare mountain long before what's frozen resumes flowing.

At the first sign of spring my long-lost cousin will go to man the fire tower on the clear mountain.

No cattle lowing but fat sheep penned in a hill crofting for a short season

as if nothing were ever frozen every path always open
Crux / Fern Park

In the otherwise untroubled snow I saw where I'd turned around

faint gashes the trace in the snow of the way my mind ran aground

on the question of which way to go There was no way to know the direction

from a thinning sun no way to follow the hum

of snowmobiles to a possible road The way I stood was pressed in the snow

the first ski marks almost effaced by a second and then a third guess

distressing the snow with poles and the old lust to move

even at 5° below and only a chickadee

and a black unidentifiable thing out of the corner of the eye

running through the woods clearly knew their own going

No roads diverged no ski trail split

the mind forked itself and doubled back

and back and back among the black spruce and tamaracks


There's a woman walks through me sits at the table reading Rumi You are in your body as a plant is in the earth yet you are yes the wind and she is bending into the wind her death and she is a thin tree and what she never saw this peony

Man in Field

The man who walked out of his body walked out into a field he once mowed avidly, crazily, with a headlamp at night because grasses are for mowing or not, and wood for stacking, and a meadow for springing into flowers an orange cat can sniff and browse for years after the man walks out into the field as ash on the field becomes the field

Fell for a Friend

fell, n.

1. Chiefly British. An upland stretch of open country; a moor.

2. A barren or stony hill.

— American Heritage Dictionary

Night fell.
You Would Have Liked It

You would have liked it the moss-sunk trail and sunshafts bolting the woods open. You would have.

Tips for Survival

In the Arctic wear only 100% wool.
Take a pole on a glacier.
In polar bear country sleep in the center of the ring your dogs make.
Don't date flyboys.
Antibiotics. Antibiotics.

If a giraffe is staring at anything but you, run.

Make eye contact on the subway only if.

Always have three plans.

Don't fuck people who don't read.

Accept no gift unless you want that relationship.

Need it. That ship will carry you.
or later. Now now now now now.


Dawn School

I'm going to go to Dawn School

to learn how the day cuts itself

out of the night that shelters

all sleepers and wakers

I'm going to remember the sun

in a blank cave this our world

said the fabulous sunstruck philosopher

who after all returned


while I slept the pears bloomed

while I slept the cherries

while we slept forsythias

while we slept crocuses

while we slept snowdrops

while we slept hyacinths

while we slept we slept

For You

It's been a long while since I was up before you but here I am, up before you.

I see you sleeping now that I am up before you.
How dare the sun be up before you when the moon last night promised to hold off the sun just for you!

I hear the church bells ring before you.
I should make the coffee, as I am up before you.
wake up. Let me look at you, since I am here before you.
The orange cat who'll soon wake you is always up before you.
And yes it's true most days the sun is up before you —
Shall I make it a habit to be up before you?
Shall I prepare the mise-en-scène for you?
Go back to sleep my love for you are only dreaming I am up before you.


Excerpted from "Some Say"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Maureen N. McLane.
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
As I was saying, the sun,
OK Let's Go,
Some Say,
Taking a Walk in the Woods After Having Taken a Walk in the Woods with You,
As I was saying, the sun,
Notationals / Songs of a Season III,
As I was saying, the sun,
Mount Mansfield,
Crux / Fern Park,
Man in Field,
Fell for a Friend,
You Would Have Liked It,
Tips for Survival,
Dawn School,
For You,
Girls in Bed,
Note to Self (Strandhill),
Notationals / Songs of a Season IV,
Party Dress,
White Dress,
Notationals / Songs of a Season V,
Black Bird,
Seal Cock,
The relativity,
What Can I Help You With?,
Folk School,
Real Time,
One Canoe,
Come Again / Woods,
Meditation After Berlin,
On Not Being Elizabethan,
Music Theory / Tuning,
Fairway Loop,
Notationals / Songs of a Season VI,
Against the Promise of a View,
Night Sky,
Envoi: Eclipse,
Also by Maureen N. McLane,
A Note About the Author,

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