Two poems from Kevin Lee McLary

Graduation Day


I feel a bit smaller with every passing Graduation Day

like I

was too lazy to get those C’s and degrees

withdrew from college

because I was

too sad

too low

all the while thinking I was

too dumb to make anything of myself


like that piece of paper was the key to ignoring my mental illness

and becoming the model citizen my parents always thought I’d become

but instead of growing up

I grew in

into the shoes of

can’t hold a job

can’t get out of bed

can’t pay the bills

can’t find my own pulse

because I figured my life was over,

I couldn’t fathom bouncing back

when I had no plan

no direction

nowhere to go but up

but somehow

I caught myself spiraling

convinced I was better off dead

I felt the coolness of the bathroom floor

and when it was all slipping away

I wished I could have done things differently

hoping to dodge my bipolar one way or another

I came to the conclusion that this is my life

there is no part of me that can exist without my brain

as imbalanced as it may be

It is part of who I am

and that is nothing to be ashamed of

I am more than my successes and failures

I have more in me than a college degree

there is no way that the best day of my life is Graduation Day


Value Meal

I hate hearing the term “value meal”

is there another expression that doubles as getting swallowed whole by American advertising and consumerism?

maybe “Refinance now”

maybe “Buy one, get one”

maybe “Payday Advance”

maybe “Zero down for those who qualify”

the ad men are angelic

and my nightmares are filled with nothing but dollar signs and prison bars


I can’t tell the difference between the two


let’s face the facts

it’s easier to get approved for a mortgage you can’t afford

than it is to cancel your Comcast service

but make a single comment about how little we make

and suddenly

we appear ungrateful for the duplex on California

the house too small to raise a family on National

the homes all over our city with more mice than food in them

I’m convinced that rich white men want nothing more than to rob us and be thanked for it

so thank you


I can’t wait to see the new Statue of Liberty

an assault rifle in one hand

and “The Art of the Deal” in the other

they look down from their ivory towers

and tell us to pray to their three dollar bills

printed with their white Jesus

with a silver star on his chest

And combat boots on his feet

God bless America

God bless the dead presidents

God bless the ad men

God bless rugged individualism

and consumerism

and competition

and minimum wage


leave the pitiful at your doorstep

leave the lost in your kitchen

take the hopeful to the bedroom

and wake them

when the American Dream is over–

One thought on “Two poems from Kevin Lee McLary

Leave a Reply