Tag Archives: R.W. McLellan

Less and Less

by R.W. McLellan

It’s almost summer and I’ll see fewer
friends and fireworks this year. You
know you’re getting old when nights
on the beach mean less and less.

Everyone is sober and nobody goes
to shows anymore. I cough harder
each morning, my voice grinds itself
to dust. Everyone’s scars are worse
than mine, most of my stories have
happy endings. My poems do not
go over well when people ask me
to perform at parties.

We sit and wait for rain, complain
about the spring, declare droughts,
get a beautiful week and assume it’ll
last forever though we know the next
will remind us we live here and it’ll
catch you off guard on a night you
leave your coat at home.



by R.W. McLellan

The internet connection comes and goes.
I struggle to tell people I’m okay, fall short,

and grow frustrated with machines. I try to
write like a machine and communicate like a

HAM radio; I can’t hear anyone without the
right frequency and there’s only a few who

listen when I speak. They sit in garages and
basements, fiddle with knobs, and attempt

to pick up the signal. I flip a switch, clear
my throat, and begin to transmit.


by R.W. McLellan

In memory of Walter E. Butts

Grief crept through my window
and all I can think of is the last
feature I saw you do; tough old
poet with weathered face and
limited edition chapbooks, read
to a bunch of young open mic’ers
with dreams of being the next
big name. Funny in a fatherly
way; little smirks instead of a full
smile, winks instead of laughs,
then a lesson on life and love.

Though he’s gone now, he’ll keep
at it, the smirk of his titles, the wink
of words that follow, the lesson on
loss we won’t forget as we close
our windows –

Walter, we read for you tonight.
We read for all the former open
mic’ers now legends, now gone.
We read for New Hampshire, the
state I cut my poetic teeth in.
We read for you and we wept.
We took deep breaths and knew
the regulars would hold us up if
our legs went out on us. We read
for your side-of-the-mouth smile
and your kick-ass mustache.

The open mics will be somber
around New England tonight
but tomorrow we will wake to
your words in our heads, we
will wake to a fresh page and a
sunrise, we will wake to a new
drive, a new desire to write a
poem for you, we will wake
for you.


by R.W. McLellan

I sleep until 1 in the afternoon. It’s still raining. I
open a beer, feed our jack-o-lantern cigarette butts,
the smoke trickles upwards from between its teeth
and I can’t remember my last shower now that my
head is shaved, no greasy hair to flip out of my eyes.
I’m aware I’m only writing this because the weather
is bad but that doesn’t mean the poem is bad. The
poem may end up bad but for now it chugs along
and I let my beard grow and put on sad music and
enjoy the inspiration.

I sit in the living room and do a crossword puzzle to
wake up, only fill in half before I toss it on the table
and try not to cry as a song reminds me of people I
haven’t spoken to in a long time. My dad texts me to
ask if we made it through the storm and I don’t reply.
My brother texts to congratulate my engagement and
I don’t reply. I sip a beer, think of how to transition
to the next stanza.

I think about trees and then the last time I went for a
long walk…. When the foghorns sound in the harbor
I think about owls. I stare at the ceiling and emit a
long, slow, hoooooo before I realize this poem is on
the verge of coming unhinged, swinging outward
and letting the rain in.

In the window

by R.W. McLellan

The neighborhood is quiet with
the exception of  a group of young
twenties drinking beers on a stoop.
I walk home from a shift at the bar
and side-step patches of ice and
smoke my last cigarette, hum the
last song I listened to while I
mopped up and feel a strange sense
of pride. The driveways are empty
and I count three windows with lights
in them as I take another long drag,
imagine a figure in the last one,
maybe an old man at his desk
rereading the paper, or a single
mom up late to enjoy a glass of
wine before she settles into bed,
or maybe it’s you, up early to make
coffee and sit with me for a few
hours, ask me to read a chapter or
two from a good book while you
doze and I decide I love you.