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Yusef Komunyakaa: Online Poems Essay, Research Paper

Elegy for Thelonious

Damn the snow.

Its senseless beauty

pours a hard light

through the hemlock.

Thelonious is dead. Winter

drifts in the hourglass;

notes pour from the brain cup.

damn the alley cat

wailing a muted dirge

off Lenox Ave.

Thelonious is dead.

Tonight’s a lazy rhapsody of shadows

swaying to blue vertigo

& metaphysical funk.

Black trees in the wind.

Crepuscule with Nellie

plays inside the bowed head.

"Dig the Man Ray of piano!"

O Satisfaction,

hot fingers blur on those white rib keys.

Coming on the Hudson.

Monk’s Dream.

The ghost of bebop

from 52nd Street,

footprints in the snow.

Damn February.

Let’s go to Minton’s

& play "modern malice"

till daybreak. Lord,

there’s Thelonious

wearing that old funky hat

pulled down over his eyes.

from Copacetic. Copyright ? 1984 by Yusef Komunyakaa

Online Source

A Break from the Bush

The South China Sea

drives in another herd.

The volleyball’s a punching bag:

Clem’s already lost a tooth

& Johnny’s left eye is swollen shut.

Frozen airlifted steaks burn

on a wire grill, & miles away

machine guns can be heard.

Pretending we’re somewhere else,

we play harder.

Lee Otis, the point man,

high on Buddha grass,

buries himself up to his neck

in sand. "Can you see me now?

In this spot they gonna build

a Hilton. Invest in Paradise.

Bang, bozos! You’re dead."

Frenchie’s cassette player

unravels Hendrix’s "Purple Haze."

Snake, 17, from Daytona,

sits at the water’s edge,

the ash on his cigarette

pointing to the ground

like a crooked finger. CJ,

who in three days will trip

a fragmentation mine,

runs after the ball

into the whitecaps,


Copyright ? 1993 by Yudef Komunyakaa

Online Source

Facing It

My black face fades,

hiding inside the black granite.

I said I wouldn’t,

dammit: No tears.

I’m stone. I’m flesh.

My clouded reflection eyes me

like a bird of prey, the profile of night

slanted against morning. I turn

this way–the stone lets me go.

I turn that way–I’m inside

the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

again, depending on the light

to make a difference.

I go down the 58,022 names,

half-expecting to find

my own in letters like smoke.

I touch the name Andrew Johnson;

I see the booby trap’s white flash.

Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse

but when she walks away

the names stay on the wall.

Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s

wings cutting across my stare.

The sky. A plane in the sky.

A white vet’s image floats

closer to me, then his pale eyes

look through mine. I’m a window.

He’s lost his right arm

inside the stone. In the black mirror

a woman’s trying to erase names:

No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

Copyright ? 1993 by Yusef Komunyakaa



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