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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

THE ONLY GOOD POET IS A DEAD POET

by Terry M. Dugan


“Nassau Rejects Poet Nominee Over Words About War in Iraq.” The New York Times, June 4, 2007: “I’m beginning to appreciate why poets are not celebrated till after their deaths.” --Wayne Wink, Nassau County Legislator


The war over the war
Rages right here on the shore
Where Whitman, once
Accused of barbarous, illiterate verse
Enshrined as a poet of note
by road, school, and mall.

A shoo in, they said
The nature poet
Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr.
Laureate for a once bucolic place
Gone to shopping centers and
Fenced fortresses.

Whitman shunned for
Making love to the human body
Wheat vilified for
Blaming war for the corpse of democracy.
In Iraq and Other Killing Fields
Pleading for peace, he wrote
“…black hooded prisoner
draped in a make-shift poncho,
On narrow box
wire his out-stretched hands”
Stand Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush
On either side to
“Warn him he will be electrocuted if he falls.”


Terry M. Dugan has won awards for her poetry and fiction about working in a pediatric AIDS clinic at Bellevue Hospital and recently had her essay about unethical clinical trials in Africa published in Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose about HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora. Her anti-war poetry has been published in Women's Studies Quarterly and Poetry Ink (Philadelphia). She is currently enrolled in a graduate writing program at Manhattanville College.