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poetry Situation Room

Northern California poet Dawn McGuire, author of American Dream with Exit Wound, turns a sharp eye on the American Nightmare: “Every bedroom ransom./Every day the war.”


Situation Room

By Dawn McGuire

This ransom idea has caught on.

The boot on your tire.

The loan on your home.

The war in your name.

Oh, and we have your daughter.

Her dinner is parsley and water;

her breakfast: Fitbit.

All day long in the mirror:

Scale and Gaze.

Your son’s in Khost Province

lugging ROTC debt and an 80-pound pack

that wrecks his knee.

Oxy works wonders in the field.

Back home, heroin’s cheaper.

Easier to get.

Rehab, relapse, rehab.

Every bedroom, ransom.

Every day the war.

Dawn McGuire is a neurologist and poet who is widely published and anthologized. She received the Indie Book Award for Poetry for The Aphasia Cafe (2013), and the Sarah Lawrence/ Campbell Corner Prize for "poems that treat larger themes with lyric intensity," among other honors. Her fourth collection, American Dream with Exit Wound (2017), is a Small Press Distribution best seller. She was raised in Appalachian Eastern Kentucky, and now lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area.