Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Her honors include NEA Fellowships in poetry (2003) and prose (2018), an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations. Her poems have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, and over thirty other anthologies. She is a professor at Colorado State University.
By Camille T. DungyAdded: Monday, June 30, 2014 / "Daisy Cutter" in Washington D.C. Poets Against the War, 2nd ed., reprinted on From the Fishouse. Used with permission.
Pause here at the flower stand-mums
and gladiolas, purple carnations
dark as my heart. We are engaged
in a war, and I want to drag home
any distraction I can carry. Tonight
children will wake to bouquets of fire
that will take their breath away. Still,
I think of my life. The way you hold me,
sometimes, you could choke me.
There is no way to protect myself,
except by some brilliant defense. I want
the black iris with their sabered blooms.
I want the flame throwers: the peonies,
the sunflowers. I will cut down the beautiful ones
and let their nectared sweetness bleed
into the careless air. This is not the world
I'd hoped it could be. It is horrible,
the way we carry on. Last night, you catalogued
our arsenal. You taught me devastation
is a goal we announce in a celebration
of shrapnel. Our bombs shower
in anticipation of their marks. You said this
is to assure damage will be widely distributed.
What gruesome genius invents our brutal hearts?
When you touch me I am a stalk of green panic
and desire. Wait here while I decide which
of these sprigs of blossoming heartbreak I can afford
to bring into my home. Tonight dreams will erupt
in chaotic buds of flame. This is the world we have
arranged. It is horrible, this way we carry on.