Peter Dugan Portrait

Peter Dugan’s ‘The Wake of the Flood’

When I was affirmed the Nassau County Poet Laureate this year, Peter Dugan, Nassau County Poet Laureate (2017-19), reached out to me. He said: “So, when are you starting your open mic?” If Peter hadn’t put the bug in my head, I am not sure the open mic or the reimagined Acoustic Poets Network™ visitation project would have manifested.
Our next open mic on November 9th at the Long Beach Library starts at six o’clock.

Peter has been the coordinator of many a poetry reading. Some recall he hosted a poetry series at the Starbucks in Long Beach, NY, and he also currently co-hosts an Oceanside, NY, Library poetry reading program. As a poet his poetry is often sparked by concern for social justice and equity. His work describes life as we live it.  Here is Peter’s poem about the flooding that occurred on the south shore of Long Island after Superstorm Sandy:

The Wake of the Flood

Boats from marinas miles away
washed across highways, carried
down Reynolds Channel, swept up
Mill River and Swift Creek
beached on fairways and bunkers
of Bay Park Golf Course.

Further up river at East Rockaway High School,
the newly renovated auditorium
lies in ruins, all seats submerged
except those in the balcony.
The gymnasium floor, its wood
warped, resembles ocean waves,
complete with fish and crabs.

Cars and trucks are immobile,
askew in parking lots and on lawns.
Sink holes erode streets;
branches and uprooted trees block roads,
crush cars and lean on homes.
Television, telephone, internet cable
and power lines torn down,
communication and information cut off
or extremely limited.

Up river and up the road
a woman finds her undamaged hot tub,
still filled with water, standing alone
in the center of Lister Ball Field.

At night total darkness envelopes
the neighborhood, save for the flash lights
and lanterns inside occupied houses.
The smell of low tide, sewerage,
and burnt gas and oil permeates the air.
The sound of autumn crickets drowned out
by the drone of generators.

The next day, piles of carpet, furniture,
and other remnants and wreckage
form mounds in driveways and on front lawns.
Someone plants the American Flag atop one.
Curbside I find a child’s index card
from school, labeled #10 and it reads:

“Fearing death for himself and the rest of the men,
they decide to build boats and float them down
the Mississippi in hope of finding a Spanish settlement.”


Published with permission from Peter Dugan. For more of Dugan’s work visit:

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