Love Song: I and Thou

By Alan Dugan 1923–2003 Alan Dugan
Nothing is plumb, level, or square:
     the studs are bowed, the joists
are shaky by nature, no piece fits
     any other piece without a gap
or pinch, and bent nails
     dance all over the surfacing
like maggots. By Christ
     I am no carpenter. I built
the roof for myself, the walls
     for myself, the floors
for myself, and got
     hung up in it myself. I
danced with a purple thumb
     at this house-warming, drunk
with my prime whiskey: rage.
     Oh I spat rage’s nails
into the frame-up of my work:
     it held. It settled plumb,
level, solid, square and true
     for that great moment. Then
it screamed and went on through,
     skewing as wrong the other way.
God damned it. This is hell,
     but I planned it. I sawed it,
I nailed it, and I
     will live in it until it kills me.
I can nail my left palm
     to the left-hand crosspiece but
I can’t do everything myself.
     I need a hand to nail the right,
a help, a love, a you, a wife.

Alan Dugan, “Love Song: I and Thou” from Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry. Copyright © 2001 by Alan Dugan. Reprinted by permission of Seven Stories Press.

Source: Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (Seven Stories Press, 2001)

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Poet Alan Dugan 1923–2003

Subjects Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

 Alan  Dugan

Biography

First books, especially volumes of verse, are often relegated to obscurity, but Alan Dugan's Poems was greeted with enthusiasm. Philip Booth saluted Poems as "the most original first book that has appeared on any publisher's poetry list in a sad long time," and the awards the book later received bore out Booth's appraisal. Poems was awarded the National Book Award in 1961 and the Pulitzer Prize. Many commentators felt that Dugan . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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