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Tuesday February 28, 2017
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Yusef Komunyakaa

 

continued

That vision has continued and expanded in later work. Komunyakaa has assumed the prophetic mantle of a Whitman or a Ginsberg, but his tone is more personal, more fragile. In Warhorses, his most recent collection, he balances his experience of colonial war against the wars our country has been fighting during the last decade. In "Clouds" he describes a moment of turbulence in an airplane about to land. The woman next to him is frightened, and he notices the cover of the magazine she is reading, one that shows a picture of contemporary soldiers:

I see my face among their boyish poses

reflected in the airplane window,

& then I hear bloody tom-toms

in a deep valley, as my mind

runs along with an ancestor's,

three steps into a moonless interior

before he's captured & sold

for swatches of bright cloth

& a few glass beads. A spear dance

awakens the daydreamer's blue hour.

What tribal scrimmage centuries ago

brought me here to this moment

where Georgia O'Keeffe's clouds

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