The HyperTexts

Jim McLean

Jim McLean is a maker of "mini" harmonica USBs and strives for mini when it comes to his writing. In the past, Jim wrote for commercial radio and ad agencies. Back, back, before that, he was a storyteller on an NPR affiliate, WBAA, in West Lafayette, Indiana. His life with his wife now centers around their amazing twin daughters, black and white cat, and Afghan hound.



Necessary & Sufficient

Sufficiently redeeming. Life must be like that.
The curve of a woman’s cheek, the trot of a cat.

The sound of a child giving a loud shout.
A creaky gate with rusty hinges slowly swinging out.

This ringing in your ears, the coy curl of a smile.
The posture of a runner after finishing a mile.

A familiar voice on the radio delivering the news.
The rumble of a garbage truck grabbing refuse.

The memory of an article, or poem you once said.
Titles that escape you, but, that you know you read.

Crispy maltballs covered with thick chocolate.
The James Webb telescope on the tip of a rocket.

The universe expanding in more ways than one.
In our grasp. And in our view. Science on the run.

A haystack captured, by hand, by Monet.
All necessary, all sufficient, to live another day.



All For Naught

When perfection is all that's sought the deftness gained is all for naught.



A Smile Roars

Small as a finger, strong as a horse, a smile roars with a lion's force.



Authentically Simply Living Among The Many

I.
I am my parents’ son.
I am no one.
I grew up living on a hill.
I can see the place still…
I took a job selling ice cream from a little truck.
I remember now, one fine day, being quite struck
How among the rows of houses where I sold my wares,
Folks gathered in their drives in droves, in knit lawn-chairs.

II.
No Flash Gordon, no, the Merciless Ming,
I’ve won no Golden Fleeces, no World Series Ring.
The “what if?” so greatly appreciated? by leading entrepreneurs?
In me, is so great, I could give the world tours.
Engineers would like how my inner spring draws tight,
And yet, no top- or side-view could describe all my fright.
Sociologists would observe, in me, a common trait
And love that, from my lack, they might extrapolate…

III.
Thus applied, the standard for Everywoman and Everyman,
I would stand separate—the gray mean of a great plan.
I must live reconciled to a particular middle path of life—
Popeye, my hero, beautiful Olive Oil, my wife.
Not eternal Ulysses’, our house is more Achilles’,
In-between us and the neighbors grow some magnificent day lilies.
Even now, hearing music, I might run outside to buy
Ice cream from a jangling truck slowly rolling by.



A Parting Wave

I spent my life in a window well and then I lost the poem.
That's OK, I feel swell, 'cuz now I'm going home.

Home is where the heart is. And I think that's sweet—I do
That we want to be where we wipe our feet and try to live our truth.

Back to that poem penned in a tower and then so wrongly tossed…
I'm OK that now it's gone. I, now, as well, am lost.

It happens to the best of us. And the worst, too, truth be told.
We're born, if lucky, survive our youth, then, suddenly, we're old.

The cycle of life is simple, L'chaim! And all of that.
Yes, whether your ending’s loud or muffled, you have to tip your hat.

And so, to the moor I merrily go, merrily go, do I,
To sleep with the prehistoric, and the others lost to night.
To be among the ones I loved who put up the fight called life.



The Poet Speaks

The poet speaks! with an artist's tongue.
How comes this voice, what sanctifies its song?
It's a consensus of the senses with no body for a home,
It's a trade made by hand to grasp the great unknown.
There is a central sensuality that is deeper than our own,
Where truth and beauty lay as one, this is Sophia's home.

Sophia shows herself to all, do you see? This includes you—
The one made whole in beauty by the poet's spoken truth.

Sweet wisdom is that fine and private place
That seals tight every physical embrace.
We're just supposed to take her in,
Not touch nothin', it ain't no sin,
She's the light that holds eternity in place.
And I do believe she just ran out of space.

Yes, she's gone on up ahead (for tomorrow is her bed)
Leaving the illusion that we hold her in our head.



Penny’s Pet Name for It (a workplace ditty)

On the Friday that I’d planned, that would cause my own defeat,
I took Jake to lunch, but it was not to eat.
My intent was to enjoin him, to add his signature to mine
On a note card I would hand him that I knew that he would sign.
I knew that he would sign the thing because he knew that it was true
When I said, “This is going to hurt me, more than it does you.”

A few examples, now—to honor the despair
Of those whose names I herein change—those damaged there…

Jake’s wedding-night advice to Sue, to, "Put a Penthouse on your back,
Grab his balls; he’ll cum in a sec”—there were lots of words like that.
His predatory nickname—Penilingus—for the numb, twice aggrieved Penny.
Too drained to fight, she just laid low, as was the goal of many.
The hidden slide of Jake’s middle finger that ruined Beth’s presentation
In front of promising prospects brought her utter humiliation.

Yes, I had the goods on Jake, for his assaults on dignity.
Still I knew this “first shoe” would be no good for me.

And so, as planned, I dropped the card in the president’s inbox,
Then stood removed as the second shoe—my career—hit the rocks.
A week later, on the first day of the city’s coldest week,
The new rules on sexual harassment made the old rules antique.
As the foul air of “That Hellhole” began coldly to abate,
A new commandment, too, froze in me: Thou shan’t condone hate.



Because I am weak

Because I am weak, I must be strong
Without music, I sing the song.
Satisfied, I yearn for you.
The straight arrow, I turn to you.

A marathoner, I lose my breath,
Courageous, I fear my death.
Homeless, I know my place,
Out of reach, up in your face.

Unbroken, beyond repair,
Lacking sin, I despair.
Full, complete, I reach for more.
Open minded, I shut the door.

Hale, hardy, I fear all cancers.
All-knowing, I demand answers.
Chief and ruler, I fail my office,
Because I am weak, I speak—for all of us.



Feather

The truth may be why we do what is right
And beauty may come of living that life
But love is nowhere near so abstract
Love is the gentlest mental act.

Love is the quick mind slowed way down
Like a feather of flight fallen into down
That trembles where it comes to rest—
Love is proof of eternity's breath.



The Loyal Son

Born without a mother's love
Amid big, rough boys
With whom he grew to hold his own,
Living the leas of his life
With the love of his life
Seated on a throne,
In the end
Alone,
Gone off to a place to die
Without family close by
Inglorious...

What worse fate
(Or, better, deserved?)
Could befetter a father unnerved
By so timely a demise,
A father who above all
Loved poetry
But who wrote none?

And of whom I am the son.

A father called "the hero of a thousand tales" by you (tho, all the while, we both grew unimpressed)?

Do not grieve more, sister, mine!
Do not pine! nor
Confine
Your head
Remembering
But instead
Generalling
Your famous inner forces
Glance up, and see
The Rearview Rainbow—

The one you cannot turn to see
For you are driving
Carefully
Toward that bend
Coming, rapidly.

Lovingly—
Your Brother,
The loyal son of
Such a lover!
Of poetry!



For the Poet

The poet passed the man on the street peering into him, with longing, but the man did not see.

They passed in silence.

Moments later in the poet’s mind, he felt a strong hand upon his shoulder and turned, storing his thoughts.

"A lovely night. I'm sorry, I did not see you till we'd passed,” said the man.

To which the poet, surprised, off-guard, replied, "But I am the poet!”

To which the man replied, "But I bothered to say it."

Later, the poet cried, and the man met his lover by chance on the street.

The HyperTexts