Nobody Wants To Go To Heaven…

……But Everyone Wants To Die

Nobody Wants To go To Heaven….But Everyone Wants To Die, by David McLean. Published Oneiros Books 2013.

Cover image is © Michael Mc Aloran.

Purchase link at Oneiros Books : Nobody Wants To Go To Heaven … But Everyone Wants To Die

like Bataille

the sun goes down like bataille, dying
laughing, he said, laughing at dying
and calling that religion, calling that
his nonsensical solar teleology –

because the sun does not give a fuck
where it goes, no more than a man should.

Like Bataille is © David McLean


Nobody Wants To Go To Heaven … But Everyone Wants To Die is David McLean’s fourth full-length poetry collection; a selected poems 1994-2013. The book is not subdivided into helpful dates to allow the reader trace the development of the poet over this period of 19 years writing. This decision allows for complete freedom to enjoy the book as it stands and to focus on the poetic works themselves.

shattered fuck

we throttle our shattered fuck
across the cancerous face of a moon

that ate our fathers.
the succulent inverted nipple

of life tonight
is mine


shattered fuck is © David McLean


McLean has also produced six chapbooks. He is currently writing a novel,Henrietta Remembers (for publication by Unlikely Books, 2014) 

David McLean acknowledges his poetic influences throughout Nobody Wants To Go To Heaven…But Everyone Wants To Die, In particular he names  Rilke, Sexton, Edith Sitwell, William Carlos Williams, and Gertrude Stein.


street song for Edith Sitwell


even the skeleton is not forever,
and the good night that flakes flesh
away, falling like snow to the decay
that eats the sorrow of tired life


and the death we store in our granaries
of weapons’ harvest – that night shall
gnaw the naked bone to dust, the bone
that hungers not for lithesome peace

but to feel the meat fall piecemeal
as it writhes to nothingness again ;
and the Bone is not silent but screams
in me its sadistic duty ; the dismembering

in its jointed sinews and that dull truth
that shall hang in the wounded dying sky
its pale lesion , white eroded beauty
eaten by its own truth –
our lives that die mad as the moon.

street song for Edith Sitwell is © David McLean


While Sitwell’s milieu was pervaded by the destruction of war, that cataclysm most eloquently voiced in Serenade, Any Man To Any Woman. McLean’s milieu is centred in the voice of a lost generation, his battlefield is psychological – the voice of The Wasteland. Many of us are unaware that we are daily negotiating this minefield. I’d add to that that very few people can write in a Sitwell vein, and that this particular poem is my choice of the above collection. Its utterly delightful.


While mentioning McLean’s influences, I would say that he is interested in the biochemical effect at cellular level on reading the Gertrude Stein poem, or the work of Edith Sitwell. McLean’s work is marked with the passionate interest of the true reader and thinker.


McLean is unapologetic about his atheism, it pervades the entire text of this selected work. To my mind this would put him on a par with Tony Harrison, the writer of V and of The Blasphemer’s Banquet. Whilst McLean’s intellectual influence and his nihilism find parallels in contemporary poetics, his expression and image making is quite unique.



the devil


the devil might be an old lady
in an apartment, with a cruel
and unusual cat, trapped,

a telephone of antiquated
design for plotting charity
and crime,

because a sandwich is dead animals,
a snack, a distorted pause
between pregnancy

and death. insanitary towels
and a meaty metaphorical
apostrophe, worms

and orgasms being
the better part of me.
an old lady might be evil

if anybody can be

the devil is © David McLean


Humility is not a McLean theme. He is an investigator and a rationalist in his modus operandi and in his poetic work. Whilst a sense of loss permeates the book , it is not accepted or acceptable to the poet to wallow in it but to investigate what it provokes in him as a writer.

This interests me, the reader is expected to engage in the book, and well if they are a true reader then they will go off a investigate Stein and Sitwell themselves. Too much sub-intellectual activity relies on spoon-feeding the reader. McLean is not of the indulgent  writerly class. A reader of poetry tends to work harder at the books. It is expected of you to attempt here.

Read the writing of Edith Sitwell, of  Anne Sexton, and of Gertrude Stein and become familiar with poetry as form. Too often poetry is judged to be fey or unrealistic. I suppose that depends entirely on what type of reality one builds. In many cases the political reality is just dead wood/dead words.


another truth the dead know

(for Anne Sexton)


and what of them then ? they need no blessing
but bless. stone lies long so lost and cold,
and their stone boats row better than our dinghy
against ingrown night. the dead are never old

but one day of love preserved in hopeful children’s
vinegar. bone fingers groping for the muddy sky
under an absent wonderland where life might renew
its lease, lands where even fearless death may die.

 (excerpt) another truth the dead know (for Anne Sexton) is © David McLean

I hope that McLean brings a new generation to the work of the greats, like Stein, like Sitwell. This is the work of poetry – a memory work. Politics and their ilk are consistently confined to the twisting of language from the root of its meaning.

The poet must ground the language before it flies off and loses all anchor to the reality of the world :



I do not know
or want to
you who may read this
or do

dialog is closed down
self-sufficient spirit
I never knew

I cannot live
or speak
or feel
I am a fool

I want the words
to make me real
to make me true



poem is © David McLean





Nobody Wants To go To Heaven….But Everyone Wants To Die , by David McLean. Published Oneiros Books 2013.

Cover image is © Michael Mc Aloran.

Purchase link at Oneiros Books : Nobody Wants To Go To Heaven … But Everyone Wants To Die