ALAN DUGAN.

I’ve never been a big Dugan fan, his poems tend to be too obvious and too unmusical for me, but his recent death (NY Times obit, Washington Post obit) led me to investigate him further, and I did find some poems I liked. Here’s one, from Poems Six (1989):

On the Death of Norman Dukes
When the poet was dying of cancer
he had to get rid of his airplane.
He couldn’t fly anymore
and couldn’t keep up with the payments:
it would be a burden on Nellie,
so he had to get rid of his airplane,
he wrote it over and over
in the last month of his journal:
he knew he was dying of cancer,
he couldn’t fly anymore,
he couldn’t keep up with the payments,
so he had to get rid of his airplane,
he wrote it over and over:
after a note against suicide
it was his last journal entry.

Incidentally, based on poems such as “Memories of a Boss in an Ad Agency” (“He walked around dictating/ what could be his profit/ in his necessity, jingling/ the balls of his coins/ in his pants pockets. He/ was money and money talks…”) and “To a Red-Headed Do-Good Waitress” (“Every morning I went to her charity and learned/ to face the music of her white smile… There cripples must be bright, and starvers noble:/ no tears, no stomach-cries, but pain made art/ to move her powerful red pity toward philanthropy…”) I suggest he should be made poet laureate of Wealth Bondage, which struggles daily with the issues of hierarchy, philanthropy, and what morality requires in these hard times.

Comments

  1. He died? Well pfui. I was never all that crazy about him, but I did read that frighteningly apt poem “On a Seven-Day Diary” at boarding school when I was far far too young to understand it….
    Oh I got up and went to work
    and worked and came back home
    and ate and talked and went to sleep.
    Then I got up and went to work
    and worked and came back home
    from work and ate and slept.
    Then I got up and went to work
    and worked and came back home
    and ate and watched a show and slept.
    Then I got up and went to work
    and worked and came back home
    and ate steak and went to sleep.
    Then I got up and went to work
    and worked and came back home
    and ate and fucked and went to sleep.
    Then it was Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!
    Love must be the reason for the week!
    We went shopping! I saw clouds!
    The children explained everything!
    I could talk about the main thing!
    What did I drink on Saturday night
    that lost the first, best half of Sunday?
    The last half wasn’t worth this “word.”
    Then I got up and went to work
    and worked and came back home
    from work and ate and went to sleep,
    refreshed but tired by the weekend.

    Now I understand it all too well.

  2. Yes indeedy.

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