Friday, November 28, 2008

A poet lost... Terence Stewart McLain (Terry)

The late Terence Steward McLain: 5/24/51 to 11/24/08  was a poet and a host of the Wednesday Night Poetry Series (which at that time met at Molten Java in Bethel, CT), and a fan of poetry readings around the area.

 Terry joined the series around 2003 or 2004, proved himself to be a a caring individual and a man who thought deeply about both life and poetry. He often read not only his own surreal poetry, but poems by vetted “great” poets of many schools and would offer biographical sketches of the poets along with their poems.

 He was a former exec at a relocation company, then at an online electronics re-seller for a time before experiencing the leading edge of the great economic downturn beginning in 2008.  He was divorced, and had two sons he spoke of with great love.

During his time at Wedpoetry  he lived in what he called, “the stony ex-urbs of CT” in the “penthouse of a stable” where two goats, five horses, and six cats also lived. He occassionally putup out-of-state poets like Jack McCarthy at his diggs there. Terry was a member of the Marathon Critique and attended the Housatonic Friends Society. His death at 57 years of age, in Nov. of 2008 left us all scratching our heads, blowing our noses and wondering why. 

His obituary reads: Terence Stewart McLain passed away unexpectedly, November 24 at the age of 57. Terry was born in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1951 and then moved to Des Moines Iowa where he attended school.  After high school, Terry attended Coe College and received a history degree. Terry worked for many years in the relocation industry and later at Cyberian Outpost as a product manager. Throughout his life, Terry enjoyed playing and coaching basketball, as well as coaching soccer for his sons’ teams. In addition to sports, Terry developed a deep love for poetry and enjoyed writing and sharing his poetry with others. He was also an active member of the Toastmaster’s Club for many years. Terry was a loving and devoted father to his sons Kevin and Gregory of New Fairfield. He is survived by, his mother, Ailie McLain, of Minneapolis MN, his sister Judy (Bob) Dannenberg, of Burlington, Wisconsin, and Sarah McLain, the mother of his boys. Terry will be missed by his nieces and nephews in WI, VT and CT. He will also be missed by his close friends at the Molten Java Poetry Group and members of the Quaker Meeting Community.  Terry was predeceased by his father, Fred McLain.

Click here for the post with extensive comment on the Wedpoetry blog which contains a photo of  a comfort quilt maybe a few of the wed poets for Terry's girlfriend Pamela Yager.

A private funeral for family was held the week that Terry died at the St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Ridgefield, CT. Click here to visit the Cornell Memorial Website where you can read the obituary and light a virtual candle. A large memorial meeting held for Terry several months later at the New Milford Society of Friends Meeting house. It was attended by many area poets and by his friends at the meeting society.

The Window Accepts Its Brick
a poem by Terry McLain
Kiss me with all your approaching difference,
as you yourself keep arriving to me,
potent like the stone you’re not,
approximately edged like my rectangle
but with a roughed-up surface and
some necessity I have never met before.
Can you see me? A subtler presence, maybe,
in this fluid familiar world, clear
but with reflections of sunlit leaves, lawns, and hedges,
street traffic and birds above.
You come closer, as certain as my stance,
with no reason for doubt.
But I think I still do.
Apologies Not Accepted
a poem by Terry McLain
Never apologize
never say “sorry--this is a little poem”
when you mean this poem—“my poem
that I will now read”--something made
somewhere else, when it (the poem) is unaware
you would be reading it here, tonight. as if it
merely survives on paper
by the grace of me,
godlike, its deity and creator
judging it’s worthiness.
“sorry” implicates the audience
in this heresy, reveals
your willingness to ignore
the significance of your words
plucked by you from the universe of words—
you encourage us to ignore the hundred errands
you neglected to make this poem,
and that here, tonight, some word or words
you are about to read could change
someone who listens, who
will go home tonight with a new purpose,
living two generations away
from the inventor of healthy ice cream
or the orgasm bomb that will make armies
quaint and unnecessary.
when, later, historians consider how
this miracle happened, do you want
to be remembered as the one who
didn't understand the latencies in your poem?
to be forever derided for falling into that old trap
of saying sorry there will be no "peace in our time",
the "mission remains unaccomplished".
the germ might be hidden in a complaint about a boyfriend,
or the last time you kissed your mother,
or how teenage acne could be suffered easily
by retirees in group homes;
it might be an ode to a basketball, when
some words are united for the first time
and then get added to other lines of sublime words
until ignition so the genetic code of someone in this audience
moves north or west by a micron,
saying “yes” now to the future
saying “hold on for just a little longer”
and you want to apologize?
My Easter poem…
Judas Tells All a poem by Terry McLain
Before there was blasphemy, there was only the narrative
without inspiration or instruction, without purpose
or a reason for understanding the final words
of this dying man cleaned of any honor he could still lose.
He remembers the final week of life with Jesus
and the palm-strewn Sunday they arrived, the hosannah cries.
He murmrus of a lifetime and how three years of miracles and ministry
disappeared when He walked through Jerusalem gates, remade
into a series of imperfect guesses no closer to who he was -
not the rebbe or the son of god, not the new king
feared by Roman and clergy, not the son of god asking
each disciple to see him as more than them
not the leader who needed Peter's awkward sword
or a man defined by his denials, not the man scourged and beaten,
mocked before Pilate and washing his hands
certainly not the criminal slowly dying, or the son and friend
too soon taken, or lover of mad wantons, strangely unable
suddenly to make a miracle that would save him.
He understood this somehow, he told me that he was prepared to die
to be everything and nothing for this imperfect world
terrified by the perfect god who judged them always.
His place on the edge, between all mistakes and the only place
where none might be, a soft cold light within each of us,
turned into each imperfect vision, named god's will
in all this. He told me to honor him by never denying who he was
no matter who asked me. And when I did, I called him master and
kissed his cheek in the garden because he had taught me to be true
to that and to be his servant in even this. I took the sack of coins defiantly
before grief tore into my resolve, too late to change what he insisted I do,
and when I threw it away, I felt no cleaner.
After he died, for two nights and one dark day I sat alone
hiding from those who would not understand what I had done,
hanging one of the corpses the Romans were so good at making,
so that I was made dead, already knowing that I had one more miracle
to witness. One more mystery to produce. Not knowing what or anything
but the loss of a friend already lost that last week.
Some might say the miracle was the strength to move that stone alone
or when he vanished forever, his body in a light bundle on my back
to be buried in a secret place in the desert.
I say the miracle was the damning one of personal sight that let me see--
that let me know my name was a new scourge used for any weak traitor
crucified by an imperfect world unable to see he was a vessel of light
no more than anyone else, no more than me.

Halloween 2008 at Wed Poetry