It's Not That
By Maureen N. McClane
It's not that I'm opposed
to poison in my lips
or pig in my soap—
it's not that I'm opposed.
It's not that I'm opposed
to plastic bottles that won't decompose
to malodorous phosphorus flows—
it's not that I'm opposed
to what you propose—
surgery on your imperfect nose
with hoses— it's not that
I'm opposed to opposing
the opposite of anonymous
neighbors, the nosy stargazers
who discover new celebrity planets
about to crash into your car. It's not that
I'm opposed that we drive
when it's not very far
to walk or bike not opposed
you're opposed to the subway
the stink of the general—
train 4, 5, or 6–not opposed
to the sex on Craigslist
to your pets' special tricks
to the organized slaughter of cows
by the tenderest machines—
not opposed to your dreams
to their screams to our hopes
not opposed to the hordes
with their ropes knives and bombs
set in desolate streets slums
and thrumming towns not opposed
to your proms and baptisms
to ongoing Christian schisms
most unopposed to fierce Muslims
Jews Baha'is and Hindus posed
in poses temples now oppose
the Kama Sutra too ooh-la-la
for the petit-bourgeois members of the BJP
—not opposed to a big GDP
to a loud ATV not opposed to anything
I can see hear or touch
to "enough or too much"—
It's not that I'm opposed
to whatever I should propose
knowing is thinning
in the species' extra inning
on a world slow spinning on an
axis slightly tilting
into folly so is it folly
to suppose you could oppose
proposing something to oppose
You Are the Penultimate Love of My Life
I want to spend a lot but not all of my years with you.
We’ll talk about kids
but make plans to travel.
I will remember your eyes
as green when they were gray.
Our dogs will be named For Now and Mostly.
Sex will be good but next door’s will sound better.
There will be small things.
I will pick up your damp towel from the bed,
and then I won’t.
I won’t be as hot as I was
when I wasn’t yours
and your hairline now so
When we pull up alongside a cattle car
and hear the frightened lows,
I will silently judge you
for not immediately renouncing meat.
You will bring me wine
and notice how much I drink.
The garden you plant and I plant
is tunneled through by voles,
we speak aren’t vows,
but there’s something
holding me here, for now,
like your eyes, which I suppose
are brown, after all.
The poem in which we drive an hour to the beach and Uncle Dave doesn't get out
of his lawn chair once.
The poem in which we left the yellow plastic shovel behind and everyone is bereft.
The poem in which I can't stop talking about how you walked deep into Lake Erie
and the water was still only up to your knees when you turned into a speck
past the rock jetty.
The poem in which everyone listens to celebrity gossip in the car on the way back.
The poem in which I pontificate on how ugly the fiancée of that Jonas brother is,
and how they're too young to get married, and how my grandmother's old
neighbor would have said, "Ugly? She can't help that she's ugly. It's that she's
so stupid," and I would have yelled at her for assuming that all former hair-
dressers are dim.
The poem in which I turn into my grandmother's old neighbor.
The poem in which I remember very clearly how they both stored tissues in their
The poem in which I think about how this would horrify your mother—the
pendulous breasts, the moist tissues, the dipping into the cleavage to retrieve
The poem in which your mother tries not to wince when I order whatever I want
from the menu despite her coupon for two medium 1-topping pizzas.
The poem in which I try to find a deeper meaning for why I notice the woman
ahead of us in line at Johnny's Liquor Store who buys a pack of menthols and
asks the guy behind the counter if he knows her good-for-nothing brother. She
has hair that looks like cats got at a skein of yarn, and a tattoo above her ankle
that's dark and unspecified. It's far enough above her ankle that it's nearly mid-
calf—like her ankle and calf are two different countries and the tattoo got lost
in the borderlands on the way to its actual destination.
The poem in which I am territory that is under dispute and no one will occupy it
because of fear and uncertainty.
The poem in which I reach the conclusion that this feeling is inspired by your
mother and the way she hums out-of-season carols while doing kitchen tasks,
though it's not really about the humming but rather the time she asked me to
light the Hanukkah candles in the attic because it would be better if they were
out of the way for the Christmas party.
The poem in which you and I are in line waiting to buy a mixed six-pack of Great
Lakes and I am staring at a stranger's tattoo and thinking about the fact that I
am not Anne Frank while the baby is in the car with your mother.
The poem in which I go into Walmart and buy the baby an olive-green cap that
looks suspiciously like Fidel Castro's.
The poem in which I could eradicate the fact that I ever went into Walmart and
bought anything so the baby can one day start a revolution.
The poem in which we see a couple on the highway median in a stalled-out Buick
and don't stop to help.
The poem in which the highway median looks like the spit of land between two
enemy trenches and I feel a deep longing for my childhood.
The poem in which I remember, for no apparent reason, the tornado instructions
taped to the sides of all the filing cabinets in one office I worked in that was on
the top floor of a mostly abandoned mall in Overland Park, Kansas. All that
was left: decorative fountains, floor tiles, mirrored ceilings, Nearly Famous
Pizza, the carcass of Sears.
The poem in which we leave Northeastern Ohio, The poem in which we return to
The poem in which it is night and we are lost in Northeastern Ohio and we keep
passing Amish buggies adorned with reflective tape.
The poem in which the moon is a vehicle for content, and is far less than a perfect
reflector of anything.
The poem in which we are all in some kind of limbo.
On an Acura Integra
Please think of this as not merely a piece
Of writing that anyone would fully
Appreciate, but as plain and simple
Words that attempt to arouse whatever
Appetencies you, especially, depend
Upon language to fulfill; that drench you
In several levels of meaning at once,
Rendering my presence superfluous.
In other words, welcome this as a poem,
Not merely a missive I’ve slowly composed
And tucked under your windshield wiper
So that these onlookers who saw me bash
In your fender will think I’m jotting down
The usual information and go away.
Poem in the American Manner
I dunno yer highfalutin' words, but here's th' way it seems
When I'm peekin' out th' winder o' my little House o Dreams;
I've been lookin' 'roun' this big ol' world, as bizzy as a hive,
An' I want t' tell ye, neighbor mine, it's good t' be alive.
I've ben settin' here, a-thinkin' hard, an' say, it seems t' me
That this big ol' world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin' little babies, an' its battles, an' its strikes,
An' its profiteers, an' hold-up men—th' dawggone little tykes!
An' its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An' I think, "Why, shucks, we're jest a lot o' grown-up little boys!"
An' I settle back, an' light my pipe, an' reach fer Mother's hand,
An' I wouldn't swap my peace o' mind fer nothin' in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an' you
Is a purty good ol' place t' live—say, neighbor, ain't it true?