Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two poems by Kath MacLean

You Spoke of Grapes

In my friend’s house
there are many rooms
with doors that open & close
& open.

I don’t want to explain the intricacies
of biology or elucidate
pathological impulses, equations,
I never had a head for algebra.

I was not jealous,
How could I be?
He was a Satyr.
Everyone knew it.

& I, just a girl he carried
into the forest.
(X & Y
& X squared...)

Even then, he did not
complete the metamorphosis.
Padding through the woods tenacious, wild,
his flowering rod a shrieking mandrake
knew no bounds.
Trees shook & bending their firm trunks
submitted to his whim. In my friend’s house,
walls would not fall.

Doors opened. I was the one --
(he opened the door)
& suffocating
(he opened the door)

I was not jealous,
How could I be? –

There was no naming this queer
quiver, this pulse,
& the mandrake shrieking --

Even the walls do not fall.

But you spoke of grapes
& I am starving –
In my friend’s house

there are many rooms
where even walls do not fall
even doors remain open --

These Roses, Those Thorns

Ask for anything:
trips to Europe, a grand piano
Walter Morse Rummel.
Even now I will not trade
these roses for those thorns
needle their way through a reluctant heart.
A rose is a rose too  --

We read in the dark at the British Museum.
Everyone enjoying the gloom
& he, stalking the aisles
a lynx among the statues
slashing his quill pen.
He was merciless,
& batting my poems between his great paws
shortened my lines,  poured me tepid tea,  & agreed
Hermes of the Ways a good fit.

There was blood on floor
where I’d struggled writing the dark & gloom
poems curled their lines, lingered,
a while in the margins of the page, breathless
began to cross, uncross their long limbs
& kick under the table declaring themselves roses
about to bloom –

I ran towards his perfection.
Quickly, unpredictably,
inchoate & awkward
he took my trembling hand
& signed my name
at the bottom of the page.

It was dark.
I was enjoying the gloom.
& settling in my chair the room smelled of roses
& blood & tea & roses
about to bloom.

The hunt over; the kill complete
limping towards perfection,
thorns in her thumbs –

That was the last I saw of Hilda.

  Kath MacLean is a multi media artist living in Edmonton.  She writes poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, reviews, performance poetry & drama.  Her recent work includes: Seed Bone & Hammer, (performance poetry with Lane Arndt (2009), There Was A Young Man (2009/2010), Kat Among the Tigers (2011), poetry based on the journals & correspondence of Katherine Mansfield, & Doo-Da-Doo-Da, a videopoem from Kat which won her the “Best of Fest” at its first national & international screening last fall. Fascinated by modernism, she returns to visit its early years in her manuscript in progress  -- poems on H.D`s sessions with Freud (1933-1934) & in her longer work of nonfiction on the Spanish flu of 1918. Her new poetryvideo, however, has nothing whatsoever to do with modernism, but instead examines the carnivalesque world of fashion, paper dolls, & self-love.


  1. Profoundly intriguing. Thanks, Kath.

  2. Thanks, Kath. I'm looking forward to seeing the HD work unfold. Fascinating.