Published on Academy of American Poets (


          Dear Empire, I am confused each time I wake inside you.
                        You invent addictions.  
          Are you a high-end graveyard or a child?
                        I see your children dragging their brains along.
                        Why not a god who loves water and dancing
                   instead of mirrors that recite your pretty features only?

          You wear a different face to each atrocity.
          You are un-unified and tangled.
                        Are you just gluttony?
                        Are you civilization’s slow grenade?

             I am confused each time I’m swallowed by your doors.


Copyright © 2018 by Jesús Castillo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I liked the question Fady Joudah posed in his note about ‘Things You’ve Never Seen,’ recently featured in Poem-a-Day: ‘when is a poem more than the sum of our progressive, imperial selves?’ It made me think: can we get rid of socialization’s influence in us, or enough of it to allow us to determine the flavor of our own lives? My friend Omar Pérez said the job of the poet today is to have fun and to observe, and to have fun with what he observes, which I thought was great. Another friend, the Serbian philosopher Obrad Savić, once told me the highest task of poetry is myth. I agree. I imagine the task includes destruction as much as creation.”
—Jesús Castillo


Jesús Castillo

Jesús Castillo is the author of Remains (McSweeney’s, 2016).

Date Published: 2018-06-29

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