Ian McRae’s Poems


Ian and Jon

“Do you think people will find my poem offensive?” Ian asked.  “So what if they do,” Jon said.

I asked to see the poem.  He sorted through the crumpled and stained papers that his poems were typed on.  Then he folded one in half and handed it to me.

Ian and Jon continued to talk as I read the poem.  I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, until I turned the paper over and saw the short poem on the other side.  I saw the line of words… “learned sugar ass cunt whore prick cock-” 

I read the poem over a few times and began to get a feeling from it.  That’s how Ian’s poems are, or how I perceive them anyway.  It’s unusual if I understand what they are about the first time I read them. But they are filled with feeling and imagery. The line “Preservative sugar rape of fruit.” caught my attention.

“I love the way you put words together,” I told him.

Ian didn’t want to read any of his poems out loud so I asked if I could read this one. A part of me wanted to let him know it was okay to say the “offensive” words out loud.  Although I didn’t understand their meaning in the poem at that point, I knew they weren’t gratuitous.

I was still vague on the meaning of the poem, but I assumed it had to do with having a tooth pulled.

Then Ian talked about how when you get certain things in your head, they are there forever.  You learn these words, and they change you. You get filled with dirt and smut and there’s no going back.  You learn those words and you can’t unlearn them.

“Like the end of innocence,” I said.

Ian smiled, “That’s it,” he said as if I’d gotten to what he was saying in fewer words.  But I only boiled the idea down to its cliche essence.  His poem was personal and powerful, the words evoking so much more than the idea I expressed.

I have come to love and trust Ian’s poems.  I mean, I trust that they are real,  that they come from a deep and thoughtful place inside of him.

One of the reason’s I feel this way is that Ian is able to talk about his poems, in a way that is intelligent, thoughtful, and original.

I’ve known artists, writers, and musicians who can’t talk about their work at all.  And others who can talk around their work for hours and when they’re done have said nothing to clarify their intentions. I’ve come to see this as bullshit and have little patience for it anymore.

But Ian knows exactly what he is writing about and with a little push, is willing to talk about it.  His poems aren’t linear, they are image and feeling, like an abstract painting.  I have to go to a different place in my mind when I read them.

Which is one of the things I love about them.  They make me think differently.   They take me out of my everyday way of thinking.  They bring me to another place, then when their meaning becomes clear, back again.

Ian McRae’s poem My Youth


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