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Review by Rachel Kendall

128 pages
ISBN: 978-1-906588-30-4

A signed copy of Pushing Lemmings can be purchased for £10.95
including p+p. Email
regnruta@gmail.com for details.

it's like the phallus in Lacan -
i'd rather have pussy -
like a woman does - than BE
a pussy, "like poets" are
(of pussy, and being a pussy)

You know you're reading a David McLean collection when the usual grizzly fare of death and entropy is deliciously served up with a seasoning of black humour, a side salad of irony and a sweet piss-taking dessert with a philosophical biscuit base.

The first poem in Pushing Lemmings, a long volume of mostly shorts, starts the collection in said vein and is a perfect precursor to a funereal procession:

love was a dead tree once
scarred in a graveyard
and stood stark against a mad sky
aborted in the mourning light
where no flowers grew on its branches
and few shoots
(love was a dead tree)

McLean's sombre musings always focus on a danse macabre kind of attitude. Hey, we're all gonna die, some more horribly than others, so lets just have a party. A carnival. Lets make every day a Day of the Dead. Subjects generally include cemeteries, ghouls, skeletons, memory, time, identity, entropy, insanity, reincarnation and the constant cycles of nature.

carelessly scratched in the feckless
flesh, and the children fell apart

when they thought there were rats
in their stomachs, ants under the wriggling
(the womb)

But Pushing Lemmings is more than this. It is about desires and flaws realised. Those memories and dreams and fantasies as dirty and sinful as you like.

My favourite poem in the collection - 'i want scales' says it well:

i want scales on my body and fangs
and several suspicious sexual
weapons, drowning policepeople
in a murderous sea of semen,

i want to make pregnant nuns miscarry
just by farting in the street, I want
to rape the murdered meat of kings
and queens - but I just don't want to sleep

i don't want to dream

Mclean is Ginsberg with twenty first century attitude:

i have seen the greatest minds of my
on the springer show high as kites…
(i have seen)

He is a second Earl of Rochester. A Sade. A no-nonsense lover of words with a wry, dry, sense of humour. We are all human, he says. We fuck, we shit, we die.

all the gods have killed themselves
now, because souls smell strange
to them and because words are aborted
fucking nothing, the taste of human flesh
is tortuous orgasms on god's stinking
breath, and the pope is not only beautiful
but incredibly sexy, like granny's gash
for dead men in their insolent ugly
heaven. they pretend to have been
children, but i don't believe anyone
who's been dead forever, zombies
are never particularly clever.
(all the gods)

Bring it on, this poem says, I give death and religion the middle finger. You can't intimidate me. His writing is that of a tongue-in-cheek, piss-taker of yore. The poem 'cum, muse', for instance, says it all:

come, muse and let us sing
of dildos and heaven
and their mythologies
of razors and absolution…

come, muse, let's not
give a shit about

muse, you old bitch,
let's just suddenly stop
this croaking singing…

But McLean is not just the architect of death and filth poetry. He is also a devilishly clever wordsmith and master creator of beautiful images:

the sky is scratched and buckled
like an ancient record
thirty three and a third

and the thunder-bird that wings across it
is this recalcitrant body
projected to its heaven,
pinned to mourning
with the bleeding needle
that scrapes tracks
across its palsied surface
(scratched record)

I have many favourite poems in this collection. Too many to mention here and I don't want to have to make the choice of what to share and what to leave for those who buy the book. I shall just finish with a kind of self-portrait - 'heart that' - which describes McLean's poetic persona to a bloody t:

the heart that pumps blood in me
is rather sarcastic
and appreciates irony
i do not like

it is deprecated
like each vessel's