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Natural Causes

By Kyle Dargan

Naturally, the gun is purchased from a farm in Virginia—pulled from a bushel of barrels by a tremorous hand, a young man’s. His other fist proffers sweat-wilted dollars. The farmer, compensated, keeps his gaze down as to remember nothing of the boy’s face. A young face is another young face. His customers rarely return older. Seasons matter little to him—none of the guns he sells are grown from seed. Each a plug he only tends to until maturity, harvest. Naturally, he will not smell the fused aroma of smoke and spectres escaping the bodies of the boys this boy will kill upwind, upriver. In D.C. In Prince George’s. Leaves burn where the farmer lives. Deer and turkeys hunted, but never by the pistols he sells to these boys who trade fire with boys. Many of them will not live to see any creature of the woods, though their dumped corpses may share the woods with the deer and the turkeys. And the leaves. Every year the leaves bury memory of those juvenile graves—the crackling umbers and rusts muting to umbrage what otherwise would be rage.

Added: Friday, May 27, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Kyle Dargan
Photo by Marlene Hawthrone Thomas.

Kyle Dargan is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Anagnorisis (TriQuarterly/Northwestern UP, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and longlisted for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. For his work, he has received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. His books have also been finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Awards Grand Prize. Dargan has partnered with the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities to produce poetry programming at the White House and Library of Congress. He's worked with and supports a number of youth writing organizations, such as 826DC, Writopia Lab, Young Writers Workshop, and the Dodge Poetry high schools program. He is currently an Associate Professor of Literature and Assistant Director of Creative Writing at American University.

Kyle Dargan was a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (March 26-28, 2020) in Washington, DC which was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Split This Rock began a virtual poetry reading series in May 2020 which included a reading by Justice Ameer, Kyle Dargan, Trevino L. Brings Plenty, and Cameron Awkward-Rich on June 11, 2020.

Other poems by this author