Camille T. Dungy

Daisy Cutter

Pause here at the flower stand—mums

and gladiolas, purple carnations


dark as my heart.  We are preparing

for a war, and I want to drag home


any distraction I can carry.  Tonight

children will wake to bouquets of fire


that will take their breath away. Still,

I think of my life.  The way you hold me,


sometimes, you could choke me. 

There is no way to protect myself,


except by some brilliant defense.  I want

the black iris with their sabered blooms.


I want the flame throwers: the peonies,

the sunflowers.  I will cut down the beautiful ones


and let their nectared sweetness bleed

into the careless air.  This is not the world


I’d hoped it could be.  It is horrible,

the way we carry on.   Last night, you catalogued


our arsenal.  You taught me that devastation

is a goal we will announce in a celebration


of shrapnel.  Our bombs will shower

in anticipation of their marks.  You said this


is to assure damage will be widely distributed. 

What gruesome genius invents our brutal hearts?


When you touch me I am a stalk of green panic

and desire.  Wait here while I decide which


of these sprigs of blossoming heartbreak I can afford

to bring into my home.  Tonight dreams will erupt


in chaotic buds of flame.  This is the world we have

arranged.  It is horrible, this way we carry on.


“Daisy Cutter” was first published in DC Poets Against the War: An Anthology, 2nd ed. Sarah Browning, Naomi Ayala, Michele Elliot, and Danny Rose, editors. Argonne House Press (June 2003).