Dugan’s Poems Three (1967)

I’m finding Dugan’s Poems Three (1967) a little more depressing, perhaps more realistic, than his first two books of poetry so the reading is going slower than before.

Although “Adultery” was written during the Johnson administration it seems even more appropriate during the Bush administration, where Republican criticism of Clinton’s behavior seems strangely hypocritical when viewed in light of their international policy.

ADULTERY

What do a few crimes
matter in a good life?
Adultery is not so bad.
You think yourself too old
for loving, gone in the guts
and charms, but a woman says,
“I love you,” a drunken lie,
and down you go on the grass
outside the party. You rejoin
the wife, delighted and renewed!
She’s grateful but goes out
with a bruiser. Blood
passions arise and die
in lawyers’ smiles, a few
children suffer for life,
and that’s all. But: One memo from that McNamara and his band
can kill a city of lives
and the life of cities, too,
while L.B. “Killer” Johnson And His Napalm Boys
sit singing by their fire:
The Goldberg Variations.
So, what do a few crimes
matter in a neutral life?
They pray the insignificance
of most private behavior.

I doubt that it’s only the Daily Show that has noted the irony in the fact that Republicans were ready to impeach the President over his sexual acts but are incensed when liberals suggest that lying in order to lead the country to war and ignoring Constitutional Rights in order to protect us from terrorists are impeachable offenses.

Strange that those demanding a return to “traditional Christian values” find it acceptable to drop smart bombs on our enemies, even when they’re women and children.

To me, it’s even stranger that Conservative Christians have joined in an unholy alliance with Ayn Rand conservatives and Capitalists when it’s clear that most businesses are basically amoral, concerned solely with the profit margin. Few seem above pushing sex as a means of improving the bottom line.

Of course, if we do fall victim to this kind of mentality, then we run the real danger that “Blood/passions arise and die/in lawyers’ smiles, a few/children suffer for life,/ and that’s all.” In the grand scheme of things, personal indiscretions certainly don’t have the huge effects our government’s actions have, but I can’t imagine anything worse in my own life than thinking that my children would suffer for life because of my immoral actions.

As an INTP, I’d also suggest the possibility that such tears in the moral fabric of society threaten to destroy the social matrix that provides structure and meaning to our lives, which I hasten to add does not mean that I’ve suddenly joined Christian conservatives on a moral crusade.

3 thoughts on “Dugan’s Poems Three (1967)

  1. I totally agree that the Christian Right is being totally hypocritical by aligning itself with the “strange bedfellows” you mention. How on earth can anyone calling themselves a Christian think that this administration is upholding Christian values?

  2. Having just gone through yet another day of fasting and The Days of Awe (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), I add my voice to this chorus of those appealing to the loftier in us. We cannot sit by and do or say nothing, regardless of our affiliation, and expect to think and do better than we’ve been doing. We are not free to be silent, dispassionate and allow such unethical transgressions to go by. In our refusal to act, we become guilty as well. Dugan’s poem is especially compelling at this time; it reminds me of Roger Water’s Amused to Death and other statements critical of destructive policies, of ours and others around the world.

  3. If they can divert our attention from war and policy, and keep us hopping about sex, it is easy to slip their agenda in the back door. And it’s worked so far. Even when one of their own gets caught with his pants down around his ankles. What a brilliant diversion.

What do you think?