Thursday Dec 07

DarganKyle Kyle Dargan, originally from Newark, New Jersey, is the editor and founder of Post No Ills online magazine and an assistant professor of literature and creative writing at American University.  His debut collection, The Listening, was awarded the 2003 Cave Canem Prize and his sophomore collection, Bouquet of Hungers, won the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for poetry.  Dargan's non-fiction has appeared in The Newark Star-Ledger and His most recent collection is Logorrhea Dementia

The Robots are Coming
with clear-cased woofers for heads. No eyes—
they see us as a bat sees
a mosquito—a fleshy echo,
a morsel of sound. You’ve heard it:
their intergalactic touring coach
purring at the stratosphere’s curb,
awaiting counter intel transmission
from our topped laps and our ear
pieces, awaiting word
of humanity’s critical mass,
our ripening. How many times
have we dreamed it this way,
The Age of the Machines—
five welded digits, tempered paws
wrenching back our roofs,
siderophilic tongues seeking blood,
licking the crumbs of us from our beds.
O, it won’t be pretty. Great nation,
why exhort you—fear-of-fear-only steeling your veins.
Would you trade land for lives? A game
you know—a treaty
inked in advance of metal’s footfall.
Give them Detroit. Give them Gary,
Pittsburgh, Braddock—those forgotten
nurseries of girders and axels. Tell them
we honor their dead, distant cousins.
Tell them we let the cities wither out of respect.
Tell them Carnegie and Ford were giant
men and war glazed their palms with gold.
Tell them we mourn them all the same.

The Simple Life
Let me savor a gourmet meal
with the same tongue as this young vet
besides me, choking down that same shame
he feels as he raises his face from the plate
to survey the dining room and ensure
none of us see him thinking
this meatloaf is better than mother’s
—she being the lone thought to buoy
his spirit through conflict’s brine of survival.
Somehow he drowned but did not die.
He split into two betta fish, one swimming
within each of his eyes’ twin bowls—
angry pupils watching himself
watch the world he knew, a rage
that whittles, a glass dam erected
between his body’s senses and the reason
god gave him senses. That is enough
to forget delectability, enough to feel shock
when a taste as strong as motherlove
blindsides him at the table adjacent to me—
so far removed from his childhood kitchen
and its greasy, flower-printed walls.
His mind repatriated from a place
of sand and shorted synapses,
he stares around then lifts the fork—again
swallowing, again shivering like a ghost
slipping his shoulders into a cold coat of skin.

Were I Poet, I’d now be asleep
atop a paper mound—each page which,
five seconds prior to being palmed and crushed,
would have been the opening of the poem
that would bleed forever on the crucificial
lips of lovers, the poem that would suffer
so longing would never need to
fumble with words again. My words
for you so given to the pulp's white void.
I would be serving that master, art,
who says, mold your soul into a cistern
then smash it.
But what I am is Lumberjack. I kiss an oak tree
and backpedal twenty feet. I practice
tossing my axe end over end—
the butt, the handle whacking the bark—
until its blade edge finally pierces the sapwood.
I toss the axe until I’ve struck deep
enough to know the heartwood will scar.