Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Doug Anderson: On Sex, Politics and Poetry

My friend Jane Legrand has written “I must find something to do with all that I feel.” What a perfect expression of why we write act direct draw sing photograph. Those of us who do and continue to do these things are both gifted and compelled: we don’t have a choice.

Listening to the radio and thinking, again, how successful the Right has been in getting to people to believe that there is a difference between “government” (bad) and the private sector (good). Corporations run politics. When someone on the right is declaiming against big government he is really declaiming against anything that looks like regulation, laws and statutes that would interfere with his carte blanche to commit outright thievery.

Just shoveled out a horse’s stall and was set to thinking, what is the equivalent in poetry of the place where you can’t tell mud from shit? What fertile mingling is there we don’t have words for?

As young men we were satyrs at the gates of virginity,

single-minded but tender-hearted: it was possible

to be a seducer and still get a broken heart.

Life’s wanting-to-be rode us hard and we reveled

in our stallionhood, kicking out of our stalls,

romping in the green wherever we could find it.

We were threatened with shotguns and gelding irons,

encouraged to go die in this or that war,

and celebrated in the randiness called All-American.

We were sires of future Valhallas

and proud patriarchs
 holding forth over

all the world. And then we got old.

Now we are all those things women claimed they wanted.

Gentle, sensitive, made good listeners by the silence

of incipient self-knowledge and shattered pontifications.

In our new-found gentleness we ask

Where are you now?

Amused to listen to BBC story this morning about the sex life of Swedes. The study concluded that Swedes were having less sex and enjoying it less. The BBC commentator said that the study was intended to help Swedes “get on top” of the problem.

All around me

men are bitter as hemlock.

There is scarcely

a heart not slammed shut.

We learned to shake hands

to prove there’s not 
a weapon in them.

We haven’t changed much.

The cliff we keep running

grows its pile of skulls.

I have no interest in words

that slant away from the real.

The real is too luminous
 with hate.

Let us look down 
into it and bless it

that it may flower into something

we can’t name

and can therefore be humble before.

Re any number of recent tragedies:

When Congress claims to convene a committee or begin an investigation into some great atrocity, it means they will do absolutely nothing about it. But because they convened, they will be seen as having done something, and the country will go back to sleep, comforted that the planets are in their proper alignment.

Jacques Derrida: A French linguistic philosopher who wrote hundreds of thousands of pages of millions of words arguing that language cannot express truth.

After having lived a life as a sexually driven male shaped by my generation, I return to Freud, Jung and Marcuse for their wisdom. Freud cited sex as the main driving force; Jung said sex was but one manifestation of a larger life force and that Freud’s theory was reductive; and Marcuse accused capitalism of channeling human energy out through the groin via advertising.

 I have to admit I’ve long been bored with sex as packaged by popular culture. Silicone and botox and repetitive, mechanical sex as expressed in porn seem to be the somatic result of sex as sine qua non. And there is a great longing inside sex that cannot be satisfied by sex itself. We want to rut but we also want to have wings. Blake’s angel with the single cloven hoof. The grand dignity of Nessus the centaur. Athene the fierce, sublimated intellect. Medusa with a head full of fatal phalli.

 Yes, I want the wings. Poems may be as close as I come.

Copyright 2016 Doug Anderson


One comment on “Doug Anderson: On Sex, Politics and Poetry

  1. Sharon Doubiago
    September 16, 2016

    Thanks for this Doug. I’ve read it twice now and still have some difficulties with some of it. Now I’m going to print it out, meaning I’m going to study it. It is rare, and one of the great losses of our age, that we can’t have genuine and important exchanges. 000


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This entry was posted on September 16, 2016 by in Opinion Leaders, Personal Essays, Poetry, Social Justice, War and Peace and tagged , .
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