This work was featured in Issue 18:2, Spring 2017 — Cave Canem 20th Anniversary Issue

Kyle G. Dargan

It’s Possible I’m Too Bougie to Be Free

These negroes keep messaging me,
attaching pig roast
invites that request my presence
when the skewered hog will baste
in juices of its own,
of signifying & laughter. In this new-
new century, we have left the so-called
plantation cuisine
behind us. Kale’s green claws
now grip the American palate (just
as they enchanted
our grandmother’s unsung pots &
recipes). Yet I’m worried I’m missing
a hint—that pig roast
might be code secluding the rally
point where hearts and hands knead
a strategy for education
reform, where blk wealth’s meager
carcass is stewed and stretched, ladled
onto plates faced with Fannie
Lou Hamer or Baldwin or Malcolm
X. I want a plate (in theory), but I don’t
want to wade into pork’s
social awkwardness, risk being asked
what’s wrong? What—you think you
too good? This meat
that saturated our elders’ hearts—
making of their lives incomplete
meals. I know code
switching. I know how a song
do and don’t tell. I’m tired talking
too. I want in on
a dark revolt that swings low
or sneaks up on Uncle Sam like high
blood pressure. It is
possible coincidence accounts
for these pixeled nudges alerting me
when another pig
will be undressed by flame.
Foodies deem it the it protein,
but maybe we gut
and roast pigs as idolatry.
They are sharp animals. Their noses
can pierce seven
miles of air for a morsel’s scent
or un-earth roots and tubers
like backhoes. Their minds
catalogue the ingredients of their own
faces as well as the eyes and auras
of others—biped or quad
—in their memories. Keener emotionally
than the cats and dog we shelter
as family. All that power
yet most pigs live and die penned in steel
quarters no broader than their bodies.
I have tasted constriction.
I know the spirit may be liberated
through fire. Maybe I want to be
hog-lead to freedom.
Remember, what sizzles on the spit
—hog maw, chitterlings and heart
removed—is not
the pig. The pig is rutting celestial
soil seven miles into the future—
foraging for truffle
stars it can taste but cannot see.

 

Kyle G. Dargan is an Associate Professor of Literature and Director of Creative Writing at American University, as well as the founding editor of Post No Ills. His four poetry collections are Honest Engine (2015), Logorrhea Dementia (2010), Bouquet of Hungers (2007), and The Listening (2004), all from the University of Georgia Press. His nonfiction has appeared in The Star-Ledger, Ebony and The Root. His work has been awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and he was named one of Washingtonian Magazine's "Forty Under Forty: Young Washingtonians to Watch." Dargan serves on the advisory committees of Split This Rock Poetry Festival, The American Poetry Museum, and Torch. To read more by this author: Museum Issue, Five Poems, Volume 8:1, Winter 2007, Wartime Issue