And Other Poems of Social Satire and Commentary
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This anthology by Dowd attacks a multitude of social issues with meaty anti-establishment sarcasm.

From beer to the Cold War to relativism, no societal stone is left unturned. Dowd scrutinizes philosophy, politics, history, economics, culture and more with dark humor and burning rage, but uses the same end rhyme device for nearly every poem. It comes across as overkill and detracts from the seriousness of his themes. The poem “Say Your Prayers, Bambi” exemplifies forced rhyming that destroys the message: “Truth is I don’t go deer hunting for the camaraderie / I can do that in a bar far more cheap-a-lee.” “Atoms in Love,” about the excitement of learning, is destroyed by its conclusion: “Science isn’t boring when it tells us the meaning of things thereof / That are involved in understanding the processes of atoms in love.” “Modern Love” uses rhyme effectively: “Sometimes she gives him some fake lame sex / He always gives her his overtime checks” (although the word “some” is redundant). “Even Mad Dogs Have Rights” compels the reader not only with its resounding condemnation of excessive civil liberty but also with its satiric concluding rhyme: “What kind of tyrannical world would it be / If mad dogs couldn’t attack you and me.” The author denounces mishandled politics, government and war. The antiwar motif is aptly expressed in the great analogy “War–The Stage Musical!”, a poem that emulates a cheer on an athletic field with its combined rhythm and rhyme. “In the Republic” questions freedom in the United States: “When laws are up for sale / And the Constitution’s gone stale / Then it’s time to fight and see just who will prevail / In the Republic…” The title poem sardonically blasts the military, portraying a lowly soldier who dupes his superiors with a fantasy of “snow snakes.” Certain poems, like “The Fundamentals of Human Knowledge” don’t belong in the collection–poetry is not the most appropriate vehicle for philosophical analysis. While Dowd adequately expresses his beliefs–patriotism, faith in the common man, fighting against injustice; the inequitable division of wealth and the misuse of power–his execution relies on the same bag of tricks again and again.

Poetry that displays a rich ironic iconoclasm, but could use a shake-up in form and delivery.

Program: Kirkus Indie
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