the poetry that matters

J. S. MacLean

J.S. MacLean lives in Calgary but has lived and travelled across Canada. He won first poetry prize in THIS Magazine's Great Canadian Literary Hunt 2007. His work has recently appeared in Battered Suitcase and Why Vandalism. He moderates an online poetry workshop site to kep in touch with other poets.

Fire and Fury


Needles prickle to faraway heat,

footsteps heard under cover of sleep.

A grove of old trees hunker

on the flank of a forest inferno.

A hand seizing the shoulder

shakes the boughs of slumber.


Flames strike deadfall

in the ferny undergrowth.

“What’s your blood type?

The medics need blood!”

Hot-spots like nightmares

of forced marches and dogged fatigue

consume dry sticks lying

under a calm green canopy.


“B Negative.”

“Where’s you card?”


Fresh air floods the copse

sucked by a thermal draft.

“Show me your card”



In a livid instant

whole trees explode

like bombs in a silo,

or an urge to throttle

and still.

Easy fuel consumed, trunks emerge

scorched, scarred, and spared.

Sleep settles in old growth moss,

rage dank beneath the senses,

like that monster in fairy tales.





New Evolution


The new ocean is like the old one

we swam in and it in us.

Instead of ions and dipoles

we have discovered

a sea of microbes,

mutated and selected

in the old Darwinian way.


Once we emerged with scalding lungs

and later dipped dirty toes.

Now we now peer with fish bowl eyes

see the single cells and even in them

our seeds the ocean couldn’t hold.


We reach in to redial

genetic ciphers

guarantee designed survival

as we enslave them

to warm feed and repair us…

we really can’t imagine

all that they will do for us

before something stops us,

exploits us,

perhaps a rogue

from that old salt

seething from betrayal.


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