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Poem Resisting Arrest

By Kyle Dargan

Poem Resisting Arrest

This poem is guilty. It assumed it retained
the right to ask its question after the page

came up flush against its face. The purpose
this poem serves is obvious, even to this poem,

and that cannot stop the pen or the fist
choking it. How the page tastes at times–unsalted

powerlessness in this poem's mouth, a blend
of that and what it has inhaled of the news. It spits

blood–inking. It is its own doing and undoing.
This poem is trying to hold itself together. It has

the right to remain either bruised or silent,
but it is a poem, so it hears you'd be safer

if you stopped acting like a poem, ceased resisting.
Where is the daylight (this poem asks and is

thus crushed) between existence and resistance,
between the now-bloodied page and the poem?

Another poem will record the arrest of this poem,
decide what to excerpt. That poem will fail–

it won't find the right metaphor for the pain
of having to lift epigraphs from the closing

words of poems that were accused of resisting.
That poem is numb. This poem is becoming

numb, already losing feeling in its cuffed phrasing.
No one will remember the nothing of which

this poem was accused–just that it was another
poem that bled. This poem never expected to be

this poem, yet it must be–for you who will not
acknowledge the question. This poem knew

it was dangerous to ask why?

Added: Friday, July 31, 2020  /  From "Anagnorisis," (TriQuarterly/Northwestern UP, 2018). Used with permission. Kyle Dargan reads "Poem Resisting Arrest" on June 11, 2020 as part of Split This Rock's 2020 Virtual Poetry Reading Series.
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