The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


David Alpaugh



I was three—and he is my earliest memory.
I felt something like love when he put those
big, teddy-bear arms around me. Then adults
screamed, and suddenly I was being dragged
through the water by that 450 pound gorilla,

Harambe. Such fun!—like my big brother,
swirling me around in our swimming pool.
Was I as mistaken as that president who saw
a kindred soul in KGB eyes? No. I was a child.
Didn’t know the difference between tame and




David Alpaugh



If Snoopy comes to mind the image I hope
to replace him with might make you gasp:
a real beagle, strapped in a halter—rubber
mask on forlorn face. Forget Snoopy. Time
to contemplate: The Incredible PUFFING

Beagle. Won’t ask you to imagine its filthy
lungs or how shreds of that organ ended up
under a microscope. Dogs toked (and died)
for mankind. Including those teens on their
break today. Outside Safeway. Joking. And




David Alpaugh



On the last day of class, Miss Menefee called
each 4th grader into the coatroom for a private
meeting. When she told me I’d be staying back
next year to work on—penmanship—my eyes
started to water. But I was just 1 victim of her

Sadism that day. She lied to 25 of 26 pupils—
relishing our distress. Till: “Don’t cry. You’re
not really staying back!” I wonder about that
boy who had to repeat 4th grade: Andy Booth.
Did Menefee get a kick out of telling him the





David Alpaugh



(Schopenhauer suggests) isn’t just a bad
dream in Dante’s mind—nor terror firma
south of Hades. This is it, pal. Saint Peter
examined your soul; pointed his piscatory
finger towards birth—and, yes, you are in

Purgatory. Earth’s a far cry from Hell.
Why bitch, as you expiate this & that?
Be you short, lovelorn, impoverished,
flat-chested, dying from Lou Gehrig’s
disease. Next to the 9th Circle, life’s a





DAVID ALPAUGH has published poetry, plays, fiction, and essays in more than 100 literary journals that include Able Muse, Chronicle of Higher Eduction, Evergreen Review, Modern Drama, Poetry, Rattle, Spillway, and Zyzzyva and anthologies that include the Norton Critical Edition Eight Modern Plays and the Dana Gioia edited California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present. His collection Counterpoint won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press and he has been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California.



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