Presenting: David McLean
Stockholm feels sleepy today
for the morning throws
a cloak of sorrow and clouds
over our night
it is gray now and painful
to breathe, like the air
would be electric with tension
but the day is still medieval
and lit only by shallow
candles, the sky is a church
and we worship little here,
John Cale plays anthrax
absolution for me, his fingers
lead me through these keys
and mourning becomes sexualities
Stockholm does not stretch today
for the heavens are too gray,
the day is a child’s profligate cadaver
turning in his grave,
running to nimble dust in his grave.
there is mourning to be had here
better than forever
but memory seems ashamed
i might die some time in Stockholm
just not today
i have seen
i have seen the greatest minds of my generation
on The Springer Show high as kites
and nibbling the petite nipples
of reason, little unseasonable buds
of hell in heaven, like a cannibal
pizza eating me, tired dreams
and voracious torturers, kittens
and whores, i have seen all their dreams
but they were asleep
like a little old mad lady
night started sidling around like a little old mad lady
already, her age torn by the sullen degeneracy
of a god she knew never existed, she was “might be
ninety” but young as any junkie.
lively as night her insanity where loveless memory
torments the withered skin and nothing,
love just an empty carton of cigarettes tasty
on the wasted pavement
and a little bottle cozy as vodka in her pocket.
if god had ever spoken to her
she would not have deigned to answer
or feigned his insanity
but left him dead like a lozenge in her pocket,
half-hearted madness and a sensible
resurrection, she knows living was just
being dead again
days are made of
days are made of tiny crystals
memory and death, i hold them
loose in my hands
like a purely verbal
is nothing’s leverage
my mindless deliverance
wrapped in cans
as becomes a man
like the definitive pizza
the moon floats in the sky
innocent as the definitive pizza
trailing memory and pepperoni
where we worshiped her once
mad mother white stone
instead of beer and dead children
and it was time and night
whittling away the flesh
down to the complacent bone
that waits patient knowing victory
is inevitable already
the moon does not fuck around
with virtue and tolerance
and the bitch is not empathic
but unparalleled heaven
and words impossible to spell
the moon is like a beer can
in the sky she is thirsty for me
and kindly tonight beer cans
quiet as her lonely light
the ribs twist
the ribs twist in their arrogant knowledge
of the smelly eternity that will take the breath
from between them, their painstaking heaven
is that long wait to crumble under the mud
that dries under the sun that never loved anyone
for it is insensate as the wet flesh that sticks to them
and stinks under heaven. we are forgetful of death
when we are not gobbling dead men like the whores
we are, cretins and their sacred etymology –
just whores like any other piece of meat
a black son shines on our coffin’s sexy sheets
Questions and Answers
Q)You are going to release your second full length collection via d/e/a/d/b/e/a/t press later in the year, tell us more about how this project came to light?
DM)Well, I basically just asked them spontaneously and they said that they had already decided that I could. Jack Henry and Rob Plath are both favourites of mine. I also used a little voodoo doll I made to influence them. I got the idea from Moe Szyslak. I’m happy they are doing it and happy that Plath will edit it. He says we’ll do 666 rewrites, I’d thought more in terms of none. They are at http://www.deadbeatpress.com and if you only buy one book this month buy Jack Henry’s chapbook, unless you read this this fall, in which case buy my book.
Q)WhyVandalism.com published your collection ‘poems against Enlightenment’ as an ‘ebook’ earlier this year. What do you think are the advantages of releasing poetry in such a format?
DM)It seems quite a good idea since they are free and easily accessible so more people might read them. I have no idea if anybody actually has. Apart from my wife, who didn’t like them.
Q)At what age did you begin to write and who were your early influences?
DM)I was 34 actually. I regarded then Sylvia Plath as the summation of modern poetry. Apart from her Dylan Thomas, Eliot, and Auden. But actually the poems are not often nowadays influenced by anybody, except generally post-phenomenology and post-existentialism. Philosophers rather than poets. I have an MA in practical philosophy and have taken an MA course in theoretical. I wrote about the ethics of suicide in the paper for the former, Sartre and the unconscious in the latter. For some reason I babbled mostly on about Lacan. He’s sexier than Sartre though much more stupid. That sort of thing influences me. I studied modal logic a little. Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Nietzsche too. Now among poets I like mostly Trakl and Anne Sexton.
Q)‘Death’ seems to loom in the background of a number of your poems, is this a deliberate nod to the fragility of life or maybe even a morbid obsession that you have?
DM)I’m not obsessed with death in that sense, but I dislike the obsession with living that people have, it strikes me as so cowardly. Prolonging unworthy lives far too much. I just generally speaking agree with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, it’s such a sexy idea. The thought of my carcass decaying in the grave gets me going. It’s sweet. People seem afraid to discuss death. I have no direct plans to die, but I will probably as soon as my body gets worse at sex and things like that.
Q)Do you believe that in a time where there are many opportunities to get published widely both online and in print that it is imperative to be productive and pepper the market?
DM)It’s vital not to read the things first to tailor your stuff to them, just throw out emails like a monkey throwing shit, some will stick. I don’t read first too much because if I do I am often inclined to be dismayed by a particularly moronic submission guideline and just not bother. I also have a policy of never sending paper. I don’t like trees, either, so I agree with the anti-environmentalist policy of such editors, but stamp money must never cut into beer money.
Q)I’m aware that you currently reside in Sweden. What impact does the Swedish environment have on your writing?
DM)The environment in the sense of nature has some impact. If I ever went out apart from shopping and eating pizzas it would be much nicer than in the UK. The main impact is that i love it when it’s cold. I like the sterility and the foretaste of death, it makes me think of the ultimate victory of entropy, something of which I really approve. Stockholm is very beautiful. Thankfully, the Swedes are very secular. 70% are atheists. That’s quite nice. I feel much more comfortable in Sweden than in the UK.
Q)How do you cope with being rejected by editors?
DM)Seriously, I don’t really care. What annoys me is when they believe that I am showing them trust by submitting and imagine that we have any relationship at all. There just poems. Poems are entertainment, like music but not as good. I like messing around by trying to stick in some cognitive content, but I almost never take more than five minutes to write a poem. So they don’t mean a lot to me. Not that the feelings are not genuine, it’s just that I don’t really value my individual feelings very highly, I have so many of them and they keep contradicting each other. Like the poems, 500 accepted in eighteen months is quite OK I think. Almost all editors are very pleasant. Most are very professional. 98% are great. I’m not saying who the 2% are.
Q)Lastly, what do you hope to achieve by the end of 2008?
DM)I have no particular plans. I’d like the book to be nice this fall, but I am not unrealistic enough to assume that I shall be able to buy a palace with the proceeds. Other plans revolve around drinking and seeing Leonard Cohen. I’d like a much larger beer belly.