STATE OF THE UNION
I live in a land called East of the River
—five miles from the U.S. Capitol
where, still, air space must be controlled.
No-fly zones. So, tonight, a helicopter freezes
into shallow a star blinking over my house
while our government is herded
inside the Senate chambers—
our Commander-in-Chief and all his cabinet
save one, traditionally one, who is charged
with exclusion, tasked with resurrecting
our country should Russia, China, Iran or
what’s left of Iraq try to bowl an atomic seven-ten
split, toppling the Capitol’s hollow pin. Tonight,
it is the agriculture secretary who will save us.
It should always be our agriculture
secretary. In times of crisis, a country needs—
before commerce or war or law—to eat,
and if we’ve allowed to be appointed
a Secretary of Agriculture who can’t grow a pea,
then might we not deserve oblivion?
But I prefer to think of the agriculture
secretary hunkered in his undisclosed location,
listening to the speech on battery-powered radio,
sifting seed through his dusty palms, deciding
what must grow first in the aftermath of fire.
Kyle G. Dargan is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently LOGORRHEA DEMENTIA (UGA 2010). His debut, THE LISTENING (UGA 2004), won the 2003 Cave Canem Prize, and his second, BOUQUET OF HUNGERS (UGA 2007), was awarded the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in poetry. Dargan’s poems and non-fiction have appeared in publications such as Denver Quarterly, Jubilat, the Newark Star-Ledger, Poet Lore, Ploughshares, TheRoot.com, and Shenandoah. While a Yusef Komunyakaa fellow at Indiana University, he served as poetry editor for Indiana Review. He is the founding editor of Post No Ills magazine and previously served as the managing editor of Callaloo.