But My Chains

But my loyalty
       points—my purchasing
       power. Nothing.

But my economies
       of scale, my digital
       compression :: companionship.

But my all-
       loneliness, my rail-
       rapid integration.

But my market-
       driven love
       handles, my accrued

But my taste
       in artisanal

But my choice
       of protein, of pit-baked
       avarice, of indulgences.
       [CHURCH collects
       as does CAESAR.]

But my supply
       side floods, my O’
       so buoyant home
       staked and sandbagged
       on striving’s pebbly shore.

But my internal
       combustion, my miles,
       my carcinogenic
       Kingdom Come. Nothing.

But my fast casual
       history—every morsel
       wrapped in a bank
       notes’ blood-sketched

But my user-friendly
       righteousness, my Gross
       Domestic Amnesia.
       In place of the old wants …
       we finds new wants.

But my comfort,
       my tariffed aches,
       my engorged
       prerogatives. I made
       this money,
       you didn’t. Right, Ted?

But my ability to believe
       that what I’ve paid for,
       I have made. Nothing

       to lose, except ownership
       of this wallet-sized tomb—
       these six crisp walls.


Copyright © 2018 by Kyle Dargan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“When Terrance Hayes was in Washington, D.C. recently reading from American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, I was talking with him about how American poets—or even just any/many of us here—are using repetition (refrain, anaphora, epistrophe) as a means of coping with (or penetrating) the chaos and media assault of our times. I think this poem may reflect that aesthetically. Conceptually, the poem is an artistic byproduct of my current pining for an actual anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist existence (the title and refrain here being adapted from the closing of the Communist Manifesto). Figuratively and literally, how different, disorienting, or necessarily painful would that life be compared to my now? (Or not?) No answers here—not that I write poems to ‘answer’—but challenges to some popular and personal assumptions.”
—Kyle Dargan