Monday, November 12, 2007

Review of Chapbook

I post this which Henry Long, poet and painter, just wrote a review of my chapbook that can be bought at Lulu

Review of David McLean’s “a hunger for mourning.”

By Henry Long

What may seem at first to have Dada acrobatics in mind, upon closer review reveals even deeper truths. Truths McLean allows himself to unapologetically poke at, have fun with,
challenge. Sometimes even strangle with his bare hands.

God comes up frequently. As does Derrida, Chronos, and, of course, Death. These are almost characters, part of McLean’s own fractured play of self, carefully reassembled, like a model airplane kit sans instruction sheet. His keyboard being the pungent narcotic glue, as in the poem “role playing:”

“we play ourselves as realistically
as we may, as though a second
could be chopped from chipped
time with some handy axe
and sculpted to cold eternity…”

This is in-your-lap poetry. In-your-head stuff. Under your skin. Not for the bar read, or the slam, or the spoken word album or the hip hopping hipster crowd. This is poetry pouring out the fatal wound, uncoagulated, at times mixed with semen, spit and bile. This is a good thing. A purging. The small green peas from Mclean’s Baudelairian liver strung together like fresh water pearls.

"a hunger for mourning" is composed of writing completed (in one take?) “over the last two or three weeks.” Along the way on his journey around the cave, Mclean makes pit stops at Infantilism, Psychology, The Greeks. He eats at dirty ideas of Manhood, Mankind, the “crippled oblivion” of Christianity, and finally shacks up for the night, embracing what seems to be an almost co-dependent love/hate relationship with Nature...

From “the crows 2:”

“…the animal finality
kind life
the black that dawns
her slaughter
tonight.”

There is a sweetness to these works as well, something which the poet himself might shrug off as a reader’s own sentimental prejudices, but it is there never-the-less. His empathies with the infirmed, for example, as in one of my favorites, “mental health:”

“…they are unhappy not
handicapped, they are just
human, these self-injuring children…”

And again, in the striking and powerful “my father in the trees:”

“…he is the leaves and branches and the
absence, the abhorrence in which I hold
nature and history. He would have answered
me, as well as the words given him at
least, but I demanded no
answers in his lifetime for I was
this memory already, and dead then
as now he.”


David Mclean is not an easy read. The cover (a wide-eyed grinning skull balancing an axis composed of three fading, somber, bearded McLeans) lets the reader know what kind of mirror work lies ahead. His disdain for punctuation and capitalization may even cause some readers to drag along the lines, trolling to find the right rhythm, or the author’s intended voice. This is of little consequence, as these poems are but a slice of the night. A few hours spent in conversation beside a slowly dying fire, the cold pressing in at the rattling cabin door, and our bellies rumbling, impossibly hungry for more.

Buy this book and read it. Share it with a close friend, perhaps. Leave it out so others will see it and ask, "What is this?" Then try to answer. It deserves your time and attention...

From “time melts:”

"...(and time dies
like these crippled children
that scream to God
“look, daddy, you beautiful bastard, I can forget you!”

just like poems do.)”

You will not so quickly forget “a hunger for mourning.”