April 3, 2014

Scarred where the shovel struck, severing

your tie to the earth, the umbilical taproot

through which you feasted, you still smell

of the soil and haphazard stews concocted

in grimy railroad yards where hobos huddle

around a steaming caldron, anticipating

their lone, liquid meal.  You are

the prince of the dispossessed, sporting

your purple vestment like a spreading

bruise, the political prisoner sprung from

some dank dungeon to instill revolt

in sagging stomachs that long for richer

fare.  Member of the mustard family, relative

of the cabbage and cauliflower, sire

to the bastard rutabaga, you persevere

through drought and cold while lesser

crops wither or blanch, their lifeblood

clogged with ice.  You nourish Brueghel’s

peasant farmers and Manet’s stoop-backed

reapers who trudge home to partake

of your boiled, white flesh and rally

around your cropped, green flag.


-Chuck Wagner (Hamilton County)



Chuck Wagner lives in Westfield and teaches creative writing and literature at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. His poems have appeared in Cottonwood, Kansas Quarterly, Little Balkins Review, Hopewell Review, and the anthology, And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011).

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!

Posted In: Poetry

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