The Second Front Door: A Poem

By Maureen N. McLaneOctober 27, 2018

The Second Front Door: A Poem

This poem will appear in a future issue of the LARB Print Quarterly Journal

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The Second Front Door

            — after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony


What is a house
if not a home a horror

a whore could leap out
any time from a virgin’s
skin            so they said before burning

the hand over her mouth

knock knock who’s there
what is a door
if not a way out
only a way in       oh you
can never leave     the way
you came
after we’re finished
the hand
over your mouth

what is an attic what
a basement and knock knock
the family room the trophies
the TV the hearth
in the ‘80s there are certain options
the cable box              knock knock

who’s there
no second door
and a hand over her mouth

no second door
& no clear way out
from the bedroom
on the second floor
and a hand over her mouth

the bathing suit a single piece                                 
the birthday suit a single piece
a butcher could scan for places to joint

knock knock
who’s there
a terrible thing
at the edge
of a laughing eye

even you see it
you there
in the room you there
looking away

can we work this out
at the gym 
can we score and score
again and always win

can we work this out
through the law
can we unveil a truth
in the agora

and when the architect says what
what do you want      & oh
you want an irrational thing
no design no plan includes it
never before
knock knock who’s there
at the second front door

there’s a tightness in my unraped chest
a drunken flex in his anus                                                   
the best of the best
what is between us
between men
& boys and girls
pejorocracy rising
polis oikos eros eris
why don’t you look at me look
look at me at look at this
second front door

I do not choke down
these words
the schoolchildren draw
a modal house
and never oh never
in the house that jack built
the schematic house
with one or two floors
some windows, a roof, a door
is there oh is there
a second front door

no no never before
had anyone heard
of a second front door

don’t you see it now
see it now
built in the mind
the second front door



Maureen N. McLane is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Some Say (FSG, 2017). Her selected poems, What I’m Looking For, is coming out from Penguin UK in 2019.  She salutes Dr. Ford, her courage, her integrity, and her civic commitment. 


LARB Contributor

Maureen N. McLane is the author of five books of poetry, including Mz N: the serial (FSG, 2016) and most recently,  Some Say (FSG, 2017). She has also published two critical monographs on British romantic poetics as well as My Poets (FSG, 2012), an experimental hybrid of memoir and criticism, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography.Her selected poems, What I'm Looking For, is coming out from Penguin UK in 2019. She teaches literature at NYU.


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