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How We Heard the Name

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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
between me and a man
named Alexander, whom
all of you ba-bas
will hear of as a god.”

Alan Dugan, “How We Heard the Name” from Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry. Copyright © 2001 by Alan Dugan. Reprinted with the permission of
Seven Stories Press.
Source: Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (2001)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 1960 issue of Poetry magazine

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How We Heard the Name

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