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 â€œSay Your Prayers, Bambi” exemplifies forced rhyming that destroys the message: â€œTruth is I don’t go deer hunting for the camaraderie / I can do that in a bar far more cheap-a-lee.” â€œAtoms in Love,” about the excitement of learning, is destroyed by its conclusion: â€œScience isn’t boring when it tells us the meaning of things thereof / That are involved in understanding the processes of atoms in love.” â€œModern Love” uses rhyme effectively: â€œSometimes she gives him some fake lame sex / He always gives her his overtime checks” (although the word â€œsome” is redundant). â€œEven Mad Dogs Have Rights” compels the reader not only with its resounding condemnation of excessive civil liberty but also with its satiric concluding rhyme: â€œWhat 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 â€œWar–The Stage Musical!”, a poem that emulates a cheer on an athletic field with its combined rhythm and rhyme. â€œIn the Republic” questions freedom in the United States: â€œWhen 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 Republicâ€¦” The title poem sardonically blasts the military, portraying a lowly soldier who dupes his superiors with a fantasy of â€œsnow snakes.” Certain poems, like â€œThe 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.