David McLean (UK)


"WARNING: some of the material may not be appropriate for all audiences"

"all a poet can do today is warn"

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

David McLean is Welsh but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there on an island in a large lake called Mälaren, very near to Stockholm, with woman, cats, and a couple of dogs. He is an atheist, an anarchist and generally disgusting. He has a BA in History from Balliol, Oxford, and an MA in philosophy, taken much later and much more seriously studied for, from Stockholm. Up to date details of well over 1100 poems in various zines - both print and online, both degenerate and reputable - over the last three years or so are at his blog at http://mourningabortion.blogspot.com/. There you will also find details of several currently available books and chapbooks - including three print full lengths, four print chapbooks, and a free electronic chapbook. A new chapbook is due out in spring 2011.


(**all copyright remains with the author David McLean)


the clinic

the clinic is built with bricks
of guilt and insufficiency,
it is where words live
their weakness, forbidden to dream
or be; it is white and poison,
a bitter pill, childhood and Eden
and restitution, a paternalist dream
to believe; dreams do not come free



they suffer education


as a cruel but rather conventional punishment

to prevent recidivism in their infantile crime

of imagination, seeing solutions

where the problems have scarcely even started



refusing to notice souls within themselves

or be intimidated by intimations of morality

or immortality, they know they are short

of body and on empathy, they are children

and mean little;


they have bodies to be and need


after the darkness


after the darkness comes waking night

and worlds walking lonely on broken shoes

and worn feet, the words decayed

away and bare bone showing

white and unmeaning.


in the snowy gutters lies little

forgiveness, broken bottles and shattered

memories, glass and absences,

the refreshing corpses of cigarettes,

a tiny hint of death


after the darkness comes walking night,

a half-forgotten scent, centuries

to refresh, absences and futures

hollow in your hand, eternities to reject,

no words here, but flesh left to respect


it costs


a night costs a century spoiled

when the babies are all suicidal,

already sweating in the womb

their nightmare.


it costs a year

and a subliminal memory

to slice a cold growing

from a child's eye


when you have been that child,

when you like to assume

you are still, mostly,




insignificant pictures of the dead


the night is light like werewolves were coming

in a 1960s Hammer Horror where i stared for centuries

at insignificant pictures of the dead,


in the past wherein i dwell sometimes by preference.

the flesh grows red memory on their dusty bones,

gnawed to a script of cryptic glyphs by time's


tooth. they fold out their icy icons inside me,

a voice whispering chill from a peephole in a church

wall, numb oracle of death and no heaven,


because we are them, these insignificant dead men.

the night is bright like werewolves were coming

for us, i walk slow with the dog as cold as love



the dead sing


the dead sing of nothing, mostly,

of love and war, like Neil Young;

they are older than eternity, even

the children among them, these dead

men, for there was no forever for them

so they sing nowhere


or in the living. they sing in soil,

in everything that went missing,

like names and obligations,

like a sense of derelict duty.


the dead sing of nothing,

certainly not of beauty.



the opportunities


nature stands everywhere its appearance

thrust into nothing, like man is an ecstasy

made of stepping into it too like a shepherd

and a tender, not an impartial observer

because the scientific eye lives nowhere

in its absent engagement, struggling

to be better than every nothing


and it gives us opportunities to grow older

and die and rot and be missing forever,

but before that it gives us unconditionally

the full presence of everything, every

second. nature gives everything, for free,

it's not god, there's no question

of it just being lending



Cadaver unwashed


Cadaver rests unwashed in his sedentary home

where every spade is his importunate

futility, hands clutching absences

to his eagle breast, his mole eye

blinking confused for heaven

through the waxing branches

over his plot. His sublime plan


was freedom; a huge tower

tumbling its anxious glory

past every imaginable mourning,

every existential condition involving

decay and conditions worsening, slithering

past the loss of words and skin,

of words like “skin,” of everything.


here lies old Cadaver at the controls,

his manhood missing, timorous

dreams like mice running free

screaming under the self-same trees

he dreams, meanings

and seedy murder, semantics

splashing heaven in him


because every word praises

something, even Cadaver

dancing his death forever.

Cadaver in us is unwashed

everywhere, and memory screams

his ecstasy in the acquisitive dust

like nothing does,


this Cadaver i love




he announced himself as a handyman,
a demiurge, and he destroyed
the impulse to metaphysics
for centuries,

biting faith into the innocent brain
like bullets, thriving light in its weakness
for he was dreams
and salvation a telegram to be.

forlorn philosophy was sleeping
where the cracks came,
confidence forgotten,
so we can wake up one morning

and know we know nothing,
because this is human being
and Dasein drying cigarettes
on an electric heater.

no room for believers,
we noticed we were free


tension curls a worm

tension curls a worm in the blood
a sense of terribly wrong static in the skin
like a tinny transistor not quite receiving
meanings broadcast by pirate ships
lost at sea and sleepy;

tension curls a worm in the blood,
full of dust and a burning dream,
because man is ashes today and illness
is in him, the worm in us that gnaws the flesh
and bone, the homely proximity of death

and the heart of dark suns. these children
we were who have never been young
and have nevertheless grown up
old and alone, all their dead roads
go nowhere, there is no way home

for these children, dust and dry bone


the sensible sorrow

the sensible sorrow winds around the tree
like a cloak of leaves, like a child wound round
with dreams of leaving,

because a departure is just an absence
starting, a child's feet becoming a refugee
and standing alone in a gray station,

discouraged by preferences and identity
and unselective affinities, this sensible sorrow
winds around the child like a tree

that is dreaming of leaving, of leaves
falling, declining to other springs
and dreams of greening

sensible sorrow and empty meanings
just different varieties of being


under a broken sky

we sojourn here under a broken sky,
cracked like charity's bell tolling
for every body forgotten
on history's despicable battlefield;

the lightning cracks though it seasonal
as any terrible recollection, children
pulling their selves together
along the track of the humped spine,

amnesia and intimations of immorality
our glorious temporary mortality,
being meat a second under a sky
whence all the angels have fallen

eternities ago, to burn in us broken-
winged potential all their nothingness
we struggle to love. we sojourn here
under a broken sky, a promise torn to life


being hides supremely well

being hides itself cunningly
so the presence of the goddess unconcealed
needs cajoling an eternity,
though we live our few years
like rats in a cage

and can glimpse truth a minute
though the bars of books, our compassionate
sentences in the living prison, cruel cloister
compassed in the bones of this skeleton,
and only death to draw from us

the nothings our beings tell him,
he never listens



how dark can an animal be?

(for Jeffrey Lee Pierce)


“how dark can an animal be?”

he asked and the answer was in him

turning in its silent sleep

as he screamed,


his train was slowing, stopping

forever, it was his terminus

and love had grown a flower

a ghost alone


because nothing is forever

and we do not know

what to say about the dead

and nor did he,


he is dead now in our own darkness,

and “fuck it” is just another two words

Latest Gallery Updates

Visit Art Gallery
Back to Top