Below is a video sample and selected poems

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All artwork by Pat McLean


by Pat McLean © 2000

Sometimes I sit old
with my youth held captive by a too eventful past
as I try to un-remember,
violations, confrontations and separations
caused by your frequent and always,
always unwelcome invasions
into my girl-child
never to reach adolescent virginity.
Your penetrations stole smiles
damaged dreams
and left visions vanished
of veils & flowers & pure white dresses.
I fight to forget images of my family
of which you too were a part
images of embarrassed eyes enveloped in anguish
and hurt
and fear.
Fear of not knowing
if they were more afraid of what happened to me
or to you.
Eyes that tried to look and see me still,
as their little girl
but, never being quite able to do it
and often after only hours never days
never weeks or years
of making myself not remember the pain
not relive the horror
not still feel the shame of your touch
I still sometimes cringe in contempt
not of you, but of myself.
Even now after all the years of
family & friends & therapy & even God
telling me that it wasn’t my fault
I still feel flashes of guilt.
Did I hug you too much?
Did I kiss you too much?
Did my calling out to you in the middle of the night
because I was afraid of the dark
or of something
mean that you should come inside of me
and tear up everything that I saw beautiful in you
and in myself?
Even now as I sit old
the little girl inside of me
never allowed to welcome womanhood
in the corner of my thoughts
and I wonder still
Did I love you too much?
Did I love you too much.


by Pat McLean © 1999

How does a mother tell her children, why?
Why she stays with a man who abuses her.
Slowly and maliciously stealing their mother from them.
What does she say in the aftermath
to inquiring little eyes
leaking in horror and fear
of the deadly dances of rage they see before them.
She can make excuses to everyone else
and even to herself,
weeping words like
"he love me"
"he doesn't mean to hurt me"
"he's always so sorry afterwards"
even as he strikes her without warning or reason.
what does she tell her child,
who is there during the rampage,
who is there
to witness the whippings
who is there
to smell the sorrow
to hear the heartache
to feel every blow
of his fist
beating her into submission?
How does she explain the emptiness
the bright ache of agony
they experience after?
What does she say to them each time
after the attack is over
and she is still there
sleeping with the enemy?
Children cannot comprehend
memories of magic moment
or days filled with desires and dreams
All they know
all they remember
is the terror that comes in the form of him.
What does she tell them of the fear
or the feel of someone's hands
wrapped around her throat of hope
choking it to death.
She cannot tell them of the screams
shouted into her spirit
scaring it into silence.
She has to leave
even when she feels that it is too late to matter.
She has to leave.
Confront her fear of having no place to go
of starting over
of being alone.
She has to leave
because she cannot tell her children
if she is dead.


by Pat McLean © 2000

Poetry Pulls Pain out of me
I mean without a haiku
don’t know what I’d do
no simile would be the death of me
I’d have no aim or destination
without the path of personification
I’m telling you
I’d rot to my core
if I couldn’t mix a metaphor
because poetry pulls pain.

Poetry pulls pain out of me
and when the world is raining down constantly
and other people are persecuting me
I write poetry

I write poetry
when I lose my job
when the bills are due
when the bus is late
making me miss that interview
already knowing that
I wasn’t even considered for the damn job.
I write poetry
when my man leaves
I write poetry
when he comes back
I write poetry
when I’m worried about my children.
I write poetry
because poetry pulls pain

I write poetry
when I stump my toe
hit my elbow
or when that bald spot in the back of my head
just won’t grow.

I write poetry
when I can’t sleep at night
when my shoes are to tight
when that man and I fight
and things just are’t going right
I write poetry
because poetry pulls pain

Poetry pulls pain out
you see
and when I don’t even know
what’s going on with me
or what the next move in my life will be
I write poetry.
I write poetry
Poetry Pulls Pain.


by Pat McLean © 2001

You ever ride?
You ever ride on a “Train” for “Miles”
until you got “Dizzy?”
Got so dizzy
it felt like you could fly
fly like a “Bird” man
fly so high and so close to heaven
you felt Godly?
Like, you was the
“Monk” of melody
the minister of music
serenading sermons of soul
into some righteous rhythms.

You ever hear
you ever hear, then listen
to the lyrical libations of “Louie”?
You ever shout salvation
while “Sachmo” blows into your being
narrating notes of rhapsody
into rhythms of royalty
making you feel like you was
a King, a Queen
the “Count” of “Basie”
the “Duke” of “Ellington”
or just some beautiful
“Lady of the Day.”

You ever clap your hands
to the soulful sounds of
sister "Shara", sister "Ella"
as they filled your sorry soul with joy?
Or stomped your feet to the magic of Brother "Tyner"
you know, the original
the real "McCoy"

You ever jump on a jazz note and ride the rhythm?
you ever jump on a jazz note and ride the rhythm?
ride so far and fast
you felt compelled
to never come back.

You ever slip inside of a sax
hover under a horn
peel off a piano
float on a flute
until you felt like a drum?
A drum beating
into the soul of the universe.

You ever jazz man?

you ever jazz?

you ever just jazz?


by Pat McLean © 2002

didn't sleep well last night
much tossing
thinking and re-thinking thoughts
that really should have been... forgotten.

so, today will be…variably cloudy.

precipitation caused by pending bills
chaotic conversations
or possibly that time of the month
expect thunderstorms
heavy water retention is inevitable.

alternating grays pierced by streaks of light
with sudden outburst of torrential tears
flood feelings
while waiting silent
and still for the storms to end.

brief intermitted periods of sunshine slip through;
ten minutes of me time...
lunch with friends...
a "I’m sorry" phone call...

merely momentary
calm came & went quietly like
summer rain

while cold front moved in quickly when
due to pending deadline
boss's frustration became mine and I’m sorry” turned gusty
bringing with it
bitter winds of accusations

and raging storms, causing all lines of communication

temperatures rapidly drop
turning colder towards the twilight
leaving arguments unresolved
with probable frost
which will make for another unsettling and unpredictable forecast
in the morning.


In The Company of Poets

In The Company of Friends

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