This Blue

This Blue

by Maureen N. McLane

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Overview

National Book Award finalist

A vital, exhilarating new collection of poems from the National Book Critics Circle nominee

From lichens to malls to merchant republics, it's "another day in this here cosmos," in Maureen N. McLane's stunning third poetry collection, This Blue. Here are songs for and of a new century, poems both archaic and wholly now. In the middle of life, stationed in our common "Terran Life," the poet conjures urban pigeons, Adirondack mountains, Genoa, Andalucía, Belfast, Parma; here is a world sounded out, broken, possibly shareable, newly named: "Take it up Old Adam- / everyday the world exists / to be named." This Blue is a searching and a singing-intricate, sexy, smart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374275938
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.67(w) x 8.47(h) x 0.67(d)

About the Author

Maureen N. McLane is the author of two collections of poetry, Same Life (FSG, 2008) and World Enough (FSG, 2010). 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

This Blue


By Maureen N. McLane

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2014 Maureen N. McLane
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-7507-4



CHAPTER 1

    A SITUATION

    Everything bending
    elsewhere, summer
    longer, winter mud &
    the maples escaping
    for norther zones ...

    Take it up Old Adam —
    every day the world exists
    to be named.

    Here's a chair,
    a table, grass.
    A cricket hums
    my Japanese name.

    Skyscrapers
    are stars. Rocks.
    Those were swell,
    seasons. So strange,
    that heaven, that hell.


    WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR

    What I'm looking for
    is an unmarked door
    we'll walk through
    and there: whatever
    we'd wished for
    beyond the door.

    What I'm looking for
    is a golden bowl
    carefully repaired
    a complete world sealed
    along cracked lines.

    What I'm looking for
    may not be there.
    What you're looking for
    may not be me.
    I'm listening for

    the return of that sound
    I heard in the woods
    just now, that silvery sound
    that seemed to call
    not only to me.


    AVIARY

    Curmudgeon
    pigeon,
    iridescence
    glinting unlike
    granite,
    what common
    gullet did you peck
    that crumb down now
    you jerking thing
    some call a flying
    rat? Rats will inherit
    the earth's garbage
    dump and you
    may also flash
    on that trashheap
    called the future
    untransformed.
    Yet to the dove
    you're kin.
    If my love
    could sing
    like a mourning
    dove,
could ring
    the wrongs
    away in the wind ...
    Kind bird,
    do what's yours
    to do with every
    scrap forgot —
    the nightingale's
    not more precious
    than your idiot
    insistence to stick
    around and peck and look.


    OK FERN

    OK fern
    I'm your apprentice
    I can now tell you

    apart from your
    darker sister ferns
    whose intricate ridges

    overlay your more
    regular triangled fans.
    Tell me what to do

    with my life.


    BEST LAID

    it's clear
    the wind
    won't let up
    and a swim's out —
    what you planned
    is scotched.
    forget the calls,
    errands at the mall —
    yr resolve's
    superfluous
    as a clitoris.
    how miraculous
    the gratuitous —
    spandrels,
    cathedrals.
    on a sea
    of necessity
    let's float
    wholly
    unnecessary
    & call
    that free


    LATE HOUR

    isn't it time
    to say the garden
    is wasted

    on us? untended
    roses the japanese
    beetles gone

    apeshit the labor
    theory of value
    will not redeem

    the labor required
    to reclaim
    this. do I recommend

    nothing?
    I don't know
    what to say

    and go on
    saying it


    ALL GOOD

    a "beautiful day"
    nothing happened
    and nothing was going to happen
    the wind shook leaves
    that did not fall
    the moored boat did not sail
    & the rain fell
    on casual grass
    everything was full
    including the empty glass


    * * *

    a "beautiful rose"
    no sign of a woman
    but a boy's succulent anus
    in a Persian lyric
    call it ranunculus
    or camellia
    are they not more enfolded
    than the folded rose
    whose folds your nose
    now probes

    * * *

    the mountain's
    promiscuous
    any cloud can take him
    any sun have him
    it's all good
    today's assent
    and tomorrow's


    ANOTHER DAY IN THIS HERE COSMOS


    Stormthreat. Clouddarkened
    mountain, computer
    unplugged. Commuters
    to nature on a plain

    of grass the sheep
    munch clear of clover.
    A park's a way to keep
    what's gone enclosed forever.

    Rhyme is cheap.
    So is pop.
    Easy to be obese
    in a land fat with rape.

    Now the sun burns
    unprotected skin.
    Now the sheep dream
    of lanolin.

    To everything alive
    we're kin.
    Eat or be eaten —
    what the vegan

    spurns and the Jain.
    I saved a fly
    I baptized William Blake
    and released to the sky.
    Of course he'll die.

    The new grasses
    a brighter green
    than the older spears
    make this a scene

    of summer starring
    black butterflies. The Faerie
    Queene alights from her magic car
    a red convertible

    and she a glam tranny.
    The sheep don't care.
    The sheep don't mind.
    In three months the wind

    will blow these trees bare
    but for the tall pines
    littering the forest floor
    with browning needles

    gone soft in the slow trample
    of small creatures and long rain.
    A park's a way to keep
    what's gone enclosed forever.


    SUMMER BEER WITH ENDANGERED GLACIER

    My one eye
    does not match
    the other

    Corrective
    lenses regulate
    whatever

    needs require.
    Seeing?
    I was being

    being seen.
    Let be
    be finale.

    Let our virtues
    tally
    up against

    the obvious.
    If we
    don't believe

    ourselves
    custodial
    why all

    the hoobla-
    hoo, hulla-
    balloo?

    Passivist
    mon semblable
    ma soeur

    soi-même

    blow through
    this blue

CHAPTER 2

    WHAT'S THE MATTER

    Why the low mood,
    the picking at food?
    Maybe it's the weather.

    Maybe it's hormones.
    Explanation's cheap
    but sometimes hits the mark.

    I am the target
    of mysterious arrows
    I myself let sling.


    O that's your fantasy
    of omnipotence.
    You make everything
    your thing.

    All day I stayed in bed.
    It seemed someone else
    must have been alive

    have done what I did.
    Failed to do
    what I failed to.

    It's still in my head
    those things I did
    and said and cared for

    doing but it's all gone
    white like green hills
    in certain light

    as Dante says the hillsides
    can go white
    in the middle of a new life.


    INCARNATION

    Some are gay
    in an old way.
    It has its charms.

    The kids are like
    hey ... wassup ...
    except they don't say
    wassup. Hey.

    The women with children
    who are nonetheless
    virgins. Mrs Dalloway.

    The body a nest
    of sockets
    and unplugged cords.

    The body without
    organs has finally arrived
    its wireless folds


    almost tangible.
    Years ago
    I wanted to die

    when you made me feel
    we were fungible,
    everything repeatable.

    Later I floated
    like a spirit
    in a spirit photograph
    above my life.

    I shared a skin
    with my skin.
    I was in
    my life not of.
    I hovered above.

    Then I descended
    a millennial reincarnation
    surprising myself
    out of that ghost.

    Carnations grow
    in sandy soil.
    You can touch
    them. Hey.


    TELL US WHAT HAPPENED AFTER WE LEFT

    Ferns here ferns there
    I dream of my newest friends
    who will soon subside
    into near strangers
      — peculiar the sudden
    intimacies evanesced
    without a kiss ...

    Who went home
    with whom after the dance
    party's what we want
    to know. What century
    did seduction
    end in? Libertines
    linger in the corridors

    of the purely sexual.
    I pulled you up
    by my bootstraps
    & liked it. I licked
    you up & down

    & up. I poached
    eggs on your breasts
    and combed yr curls.
    There was nothing
    I wouldn't do
    with you & to.

    Let's go down
    to the river none
    returns from. O yes
    you swift diver
    you plunge good.


    THAT MAN

    That man over there
    looking sidelong
    as you sidelong
    smile I do not think

    he's a god
    or frankly that great
    but it's true he's glowing
    under your eyes &

    obliterating
    the sun that moments ago
    was shining on this bench
    where we sit across

    from him now
    flaring terrible
    as I think of your
    many rendezvous

    I desire death &

    I almost shove back
    in my throat the call
    to the Perseids calling them
    down now to shower

    him dead in their shower


    EVEN THOSE

    Even the places
    the sun doesn't reach
    in the deepest woods
    are hot. Even the places

    that never dry — the mosses
    creeping everywhere
    a damp carpet underfoot —
    are dry. Even the quietest

    places you've never been
    are disquieted by your cry.
    Even those places.


    LUNCH WITH MOUNTAIN

    The moss I ate
    revised my esophagus
    into a symbiotic system
    any lichen could live in.
    I ate too much
    you sd last night
    I could drown
    from this beer
    I can't finish.
    Give me that stick
    to shove down
    my throat.
    Give me your bow
    your arrow
    of burning burning
    throated green.


    THEY WERE NOT KIDDING IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY

    They were not kidding
    when they said they were blinded
    by a vision of love.

    It was not just a manner
    of speaking or feeling
    though it's hard to say

    how the dead
    really felt harder
    even than knowing the living.

    You are so opaque
    to me your brief moments
    of apparent transparency

    seem fraudulent windows
    in a Brutalist structure
    everyone admires.

    The effort your life
    requires exhausts me.
    I am not kidding.


    MORNING VANITAS

    Weeding
    the moss
    a local
    boy tends
    the folly
    the new gardener
    created on the patio —
    a loose
    quilt of greens
    the weeds' greens
    are seen
    to violate.
    Every day
    something
    to exclude
    to survive.
    I cut
    you out
    of this
    my life.


    MORNING WITH ADIRONDACK CHAIR

    The woods are winds.
    The rush of your mind
    plays against a rustle
    you could almost pitch.
    Clouds a moment's
    monument disperse
    into an ever whiter sky.
    Today you could be
    anyone. A dragonfly
    soars high above the grass
    infested with annoying
    flying beetles, bee-like
    things made to sting.
    You live your whole life
    backward the green
    chair always placed
    there on the lawn
    you long to flee.
    Here it is —

    another lawn
    become a field
    become a meadow
    hedged with trees.
    Why not sit forever
    in a weathered chair named
    for Indians you'll never
    meet? Why the stand
    of poplars marking the edge
    of the town you arrive
    at in dreams surprising
    you back to the drugstore
    the traintracks the road
    out of town and also
    back to its nuclear
    bicycled streets?

    Memory is boring
    but as measure.

    Everything is boring
    unless it replaces time.
    Music was making
    me crazy
    for a permanent
    song nothing ever
    unshaped I come
    when you touch me
    like that or like
    that when you
    move me into
    an unforeseen
    chair in your
    exploding heart


    GLACIAL ERRATIC

    Boulders flung everywhere
    signs of the glacier god
    marking the path you can't take.

    "I am in Brooklyn
    but not of Brooklyn."
    "Do you have an avidity
    for the new?"

    Some violence
    is very slow
    until it makes itself felt.
    Makes you feel it.

    "I need to write
    good fast music.
    All my good music
    is slow."

    How should a person be?
    "I am happy
    to be contemporary."
    "I am glad I will die
    before all this prevails."

    In child pose
    you breathe through the back.
    Then there's the rest,
    all those positions

    you flow or stumble through
    until that rock. That specific rock.


    ROAD / HERE NOW

    I think of you here
    because I thought of you here
    before. Otherwise
    I never think of you

    except on a summer drive
    that echoes the drive
    I took the day after
    I heard you died

    except when I see
    the red skirt
    I wore that day
    the day you finally
    kissed me

    a red skirt
    I now see
    only in pictures
    from a long-ago trip
    to the Pyrenees
    the skirt I wore
    to your party

    In the middle of the party
    here's death

    is what I thought
    when we saw our friend
    lying on the bare road
    by her smashed bike

    She's alive
    in the Berkshires.
    So many are alive!
    More are dead.

    Strange thing
    to survive to discover
    you will live
    till one day it's over
    no more to discover
    no more rounding back
    to this ongoing living
    avoiding till you don't
    that specific rock

CHAPTER 3

    TODAY'S COMEDY

    Why Dante in summer?
    Why not? The doctrine
    of purgatory's no more strange
    than nanotubes or Tang.

    I used to know
    its ins and outs.
    What we've abandoned grows
    higher than trashheaps

    in Naples. My love
    canal's clean and my heart
    in my breast
    is right dressed.

    No guide led me here
    but Virgil and everyone
    I ever met, in woods
    books dreams in suburbs

    the city the farm.
    Marcus Aurelius
    took a page
    from the town mouse

    and his country cousin.
    The lesson of fables
    is mutable, their structure

    not. Something
    must change. A hero
    must range in a land
    he also unwittingly

    charts. If many die
    not everyone can.
    Odysseus must reach
    if not Ithaca

    a farther shore
    and the little zygotic blip
    you once were
    must enter the world

    & its pure gore.


    MEZZO

    To choose
    not to translate
    heaven
    paradiso
    not so heavy
    so let it be
    & let there be
    a Golfo Paradiso
    sailed slowly through
    the day you arrived
    at the place the names
    made their way to your ears

    * * *

    did all this fall
    into the lap of the world
    protozoa pulsing
    upward from the slime
    complicating themselves
    into a sentience
    you'd recognize


    * * *

    the quilted greens
    an eye ascends
    the terraced steep
    attests the hands
    and feet of men
    who raised the sail
    & crushed the grape


    * * *

    Apennines scraped
    but for a few pines —
    man or sheep or time
    the denuder,
    stripper of scrub,
    flayer of rock —


    * * *

    that stone over there
    whitestreaked outcrop clawed
    by perpetual waves
    it too thinks
    a stone's stoniness


    * * *

    here it is ever
    mild and the faces
    show it gently
    lined different
    from the way
    a less temperate clime
    will incise you


    * * *

    below my neck
    a faint network
    the mirror reveals
    in the morning


* * *

    nel mezzo del cammin
    I was caught
    in a glass net
    what did the glass weave


    GENOA

    The merchant republics are done
    as is the nun
    who forbade us aged five to say
    we were done.
    The oven door opened
    in her mime
    the door to the oven
    where we were thoroughly roasted
    and done.
    If you are done
    that means I can stick
    a fork in you. You
    she corrected
    are finished.
    Finished
    with all that some days
    it seems a dream
    the long boredom
    in the schoolroom
    workbook assignments
    rushed through straining
    toward what weird
    consummation?
    Sister Lucretia —
    she was another one
    terrifying the children who braved
    the zenana of nuns
    pledged to Christ and torture
    of the wayward souls who ventured
    into the sanctum sanctorum
    the private apartment of six nuns
    for a weekly piano lesson.
    Bach had twenty children
    she declared. Her heart was given
    to a Texan — Van Cliburn.
    A wimpled nun
    one of the last
    thus to dress among the remaining Franciscan
    sisters. Excess
    daughters in immigrant families
    ready to give some
    aid and comfort to the Lord
    or the local monsignor —
    a special vocation —
    were they rotting away
    in their habits, were they
    the transfigured ones?
    I wanted once
    to become one.
    Those days are done
    and I am almost done
    almost historical as a usuried ship
    heading west and more west
    to find treasures
    for kings. Look in thy heart
    it is a treasury
    it was said
    Mary said.
    She was another one.
    Even now at the Brignole station
    we see flocks of nuns
    rope-belted, a crucifix flying in wind.
    A veiled woman
    might become another woman
    under a different sun.
    Even here the sisters
    have become Indian, Ethiopian,
    no extra Italian
    daughters to pay the godly sum
    of glorious renunciation.
    The Turks are threatening Christendom
    in old chronicles
    and today's European bulletin.
    Beware of falling under the thumb
    of Islam.
    It will never be finished
    said the Caliph
    to the Sultan.
    It is almost done
    this meal where I stick
    a fork in tomatoed squid stew
    called burrida its Arabic origins
    brining my tongue.
    I stick a fork in an animal
    fork in a soul
    and I eat and I eat
    until kingdom come.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from This Blue by Maureen N. McLane. Copyright © 2014 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

Contents

TITLE PAGE,
COPYRIGHT NOTICE,
EPIGRAPHS,
I,
A SITUATION,
WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR,
AVIARY,
OK FERN,
BEST LAID,
LATE HOUR,
ALL GOOD,
ANOTHER DAY IN THIS HERE COSMOS,
SUMMER BEER WITH ENDANGERED GLACIER,
II,
WHAT'S THE MATTER,
INCARNATION,
TELL US WHAT HAPPENED AFTER WE LEFT,
THAT MAN,
EVEN THOSE,
LUNCH WITH MOUNTAIN,
THEY WERE NOT KIDDING IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY,
MORNING VANITAS,
MORNING WITH ADIRONDACK CHAIR,
GLACIAL ERRATIC,
ROAD / HERE NOW,
III,
TODAY'S COMEDY,
MEZZO,
GENOA,
SAN FRUTTUOSO GLOBAL,
DRINK WITH MOUNTAIN, REMEMBERED, ANDALUCÍAN,
INSCRIPTION,
TO ONE IN PARMA,
LEVANTO,
IV,
TERRAN LIFE,
EMBROIDERED EARTH,
ICE PEOPLE, SUN PEOPLE,
BELFAST,
DEBATABLE LAND,
THINGS OF AUGUST,
REPLAY / REPEAT,
BROADBAND,
WESTERN,
V,
HOROSCOPE,
MOSS LAKE,
SKYWATCH,
QUIET CAR,
SONG,
HER SUMMERMINDEDNESS,
LOCAL HABITATION,
THE FACT OF A MEADOW,
MÄRCHEN,
ELSEWHERE,
ENOUGH WITH THE SWAN SONG,
ENVOI,
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
ALSO BY MAUREEN N. McLANE,
COPYRIGHT,

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