Susan McLean




A Poet’s Garden of Vices



Evergreen

Envy, I was wrong about you:
you’re the air a writer breathes.

No ambition thrives without you,

Envy.  I was wrong to doubt you. 

Even through the longest drought, you

stay as green as laurel wreaths.
Envy, I was wrong about you:
inspiration writhes and seethes.


Voracious



The pink half-moon,

the mango’s blush,

the scalloped dune,
the moss’s plush,

the cardinal’s call,

the opal’s shine—

I’ll swallow them all 

and make them mine.


Generator

If, like amoebas, we could bud,

there’d be no angst, no broken heart.

There’d be no wars, no rape, no blood.
There’d be no art.


Secretary of the Interior

We sit on an island, Pride and I,

and gaze at a page, in which I see

how—with each bend and trim and lie—
I’m shaping my self, like a bonsai tree,

to be the fairest of them all:
twisted and perfect and very small.


Trickle Down

The pot of honey,

the dangled prize,
the ones with money
who patronize.


Heartwarmer

Anger, you’ve spurred me on to fight,
with switchblades, bullets, and grenades
of words and wit. Through every slight,
Anger, you’ve spurred me on to write.
Your stubborn flame’s the pilot light
that fires me when conviction fades.
Anger, don’t leave: hold off the night,
which welcomes me with razor blades.



In Short



Given my indolence, I am

inclined to stick to epigram.



Susan McLean is a retired English professor from Southwest Minnesota State University. Her
poetry books include The Best Disguise (winner of the Richard Wilbur Award) and The
Whetstone Misses the Knife
(winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize). She has also published a book of translations of Martial’s Latin poems, Selected Epigrams. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.









                                    

 

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