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Alan Dugan

Elegy

I know but will not tell
you, Aunt Irene, why there
are soap suds in the whiskey:
Uncle Robert had to have
A drink while shaving.

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Untitled Poem - II

Speciously individual
like a solid piece of spit
floating in a cuspidor
I dream of free bravery
but am a social being.
I should do something
to get out of here
but float around in the culture
wondering what it will grow.

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Nomenclature

My mother never heard of Freud
and she decided as a little girl
that she would call her husband Dick
no matter what his first name was
and did. He called her Ditty. They
called me Bud, and our generic names
amused my analyst. That must, she said,
explain the crazy times I had in bed
and quoted Freud: "Life is pain."
"What do women want?" and "My
prosthesis does not speak French."

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On Looking for Models

The trees in time
have something else to do
besides their treeing. What is it.
I'm a starving to death
man myself, and thirsty, thirsty
by their fountains but I cannot drink
their mud and sunlight to be whole.
I do not understand these presences
that drink for months
in the dirt, eat light,
and then fast dry in the cold.
They stand it out somehow,
and how, the Botanists will tell me.
It is the "something else" that bothers
me, so I often go back to the forests.

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On Hurricane Jackson

Now his nose’s bridge is broken, one eye
will not focus and the other is a stray;
trainers whisper in his mouth while one ear
listens to itself, clenched like a fist;
generally shadowboxing in a smoky room,
his mind hides like the aching boys
who lost a contest in the Panhellenic games
and had to take the back roads home,
but someone else, his perfect youth,
laureled in newsprint and dollar bills,
triumphs forever on the great white way
to the statistical Sparta of the champs.

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Poem

After your first poetry reading
I shook hands with you
and got a hard-on. Thank you.
We know that old trees
can not feel a thing
when the green tips burst
through the tough bark in spring,
but that's the way it felt,
that's the Objective Correlative
between us poets, love:
a wholly unexpected pain
of something new breaking out
with something old about it
like your new radical poems
those audible objects of love
breaking out through nerves
as you sweated up on stage,
going raw into painful air
for everyone to know.

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How We Heard The Name

The river brought down
dead horses, dead men
and military debris,
indicative of war
or official acts upstream,
but it went by, it all
goes by, that is the thing
about the river. Then
a soldier on a log
went by. He seemed drunk
and we asked him Why
had he and this junk
come down to us so
from the past upstream.
“Friends,” he said, “the great
Battle of Granicus
has just been won
by all of the Greeks except
the Lacedaemonians and
myself: this is a joke

[...] Read more

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On Being A Householder

I live inside of a machine
or machines. Every time one
goes off another starts. Why
don’t I go outside and sleep
on the ground. It is because
I’m scared of the open night
and stars looking down at me
as God’s eyes, full of questions;
and when I do sleep out alone
I wake up soaking wet
with the dew-fall and am
being snuffed at by a female fox
who stinks from being skunked.
Also there are carrion insects
climbing my private parts. Therefore
I would find shelter in houses,
rented or owned. Anything that money
can build or buy is better than
the nothing of the sky at night,
the stars being the visible past.

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Untitled Poem - I

Once, one of my students read a book we had.
She was doing a history assignment on
the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
and crying. When I asked her why
she said Because. All those people died.
I said that if you start to cry for the dead
You won’t have much time for anything else.
Besides, after all the city people were killed
or died off, because their cultures got too high,
the barbarians kept some peasants alive
for their food value. Some barbarian raped
some peasant woman who produced
a child who ultimately produced you
and me, so there is this family continuity,
so don’t cry, it’s obvious, look around!
This is the reason why we Americans
are a nation of peasants and barbarians,

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Prayer

God, I need a job because I need money.
Here the world is, enjoyable with whiskey,
women, ultimate weapons, and class!
But if I have no money, then my wife
gets mad at me, I can’t drink well,
the armed oppress me, and no boss
pays me money. But when I work,
Oh I get paid!, the police are courteous,
and I can have a drink and breathe air.
I feel classy. I am where the arms are.
The wife is wife in deed. The world
is interesting!, except I have to be
indoors all day and take shit, and make
weapons to kill outsiders with. I miss
the air and smell that paid work stinks
when done for someone else’s profit, so I quit,
enjoy a few flush days in air, drunk, then
I need a job again. I’m caught in a steel cycle.

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