Poetry Month

‘Note to the Addict Who Robbed Us on a Landscaping Job’

Civic poetry month curator Kyle Dargan in an online exclusive.

Note to the Addict Who Robbed Us on a Landscaping Job

April is National Poetry Month, and we’re celebrating by featuring examples of “civic” poetry from new and familiar voices. Throughout the month we’ll be discussing what it means to be civic through the art of words. Join us on Twitter at #civicpoetry.



BILL MOYERS: Suppose you read to those kids where you live this poem.

The “Note to the Addict Who Robbed Us on a Landscaping Job.”

Will they think this speaks to their experience? Read it.


Note to the addict who robbed us on a landscaping job
University Heights, Newark New Jersey

You could have turned to greed, tried to pull out
a lawnmower or tuck weed whackers under each arm.
The leaf blower was a cooler pot of porridge —
shoulder straps, a detachable chute.
We didn’t think twice as you zigzagged up the road,
mumbling to some muse. We turned our heads,
and you were wind, just like the machine on your back.

Any black comic will swear a dope fiend can’t be caught,
but you trailed an aura-wake — heat streaks woven
across South Orange Avenue, from University
Heights to the projects my mother once rose in.

Know that we could have pursued,
even brought back the power blower (and saved
ourselves) for a fix-worth of bills.
But, rightfully, you would have blown
if our rusty pickup truck came clanking your way.

We left it to the summer’s judgment — fearing
our small boss and sour there was likely
a man brown as all of us selling you
something so sick you would risk
stealing from we who carry axes,
steaks and blades for a living.

Kyle Dargan

Kyle Dargan is the author of four collections of poetry. His forthcoming collection, Anagnorisis will be published by Northwestern University Press. For his work, he has received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and grants from the DC 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 and the Young Writers Workshop. He is currently an associate professor of literature and director of creative writing at American University, as well as the founder and editor of POST NO ILLS magazine. His writing has been featured in media venues including Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed Reader, American Poetry Review and Callaloo. More information about his work is online at www.american-boi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Free_KGD.