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Best Famous Yusef Komunyakaa Poems

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Written by Yusef Komunyakaa | Create an image from this poem


 Usually at the helipad
I see them stumble-dance
across the hot asphalt
with crokersacks over their heads,
moving toward the interrogation huts,
thin-framed as box kites
of sticks & black silk
anticipating a hard wind
that'll tug & snatch them
out into space.
I think some must be laughing under their dust-colored hoods, knowing rockets are aimed at Chu Lai—that the water's evaporating & soon the nail will make contact with metal.
How can anyone anywhere love these half-broken figures bent under the sky's brightness? The weight they carry is the soil we tread night & day.
Who can cry for them? I've heard the old ones are the hardest to break.
An arm twist, a combat boot against the skull, a .
45 jabbed into the mouth, nothing works.
When they start talking with ancestors faint as camphor smoke in pagodas, you know you'll have to kill them to get an answer.
Sunlight throws scythes against the afternoon.
Everything's a heat mirage; a river tugs at their slow feet.
I stand alone & amazed, with a pill-happy door gunner signaling for me to board the Cobra.
I remember how one day I almost bowed to such figures walking toward me, under a corporal's ironclad stare.
I can't say why.
From a half-mile away trees huddle together, & the prisoners look like marionettes hooked to strings of light.
Written by Yusef Komunyakaa | Create an image from this poem


 The old woman made mint
Candy for the children
Who'd bolt through her front door,
Silhouettes of the great blue

She sold ten-dollar potions From a half-lit kitchen.
Chinese boxes Furnished with fliers & sinkers.
Sassafras & lizard tongues.
They'd walk out Of the woods or drive in from cities, Clutching lovesick dollar bills At a side door that opened beside A chinaberry tree.
Did their eyes Doubt under Orion as voices Of the dead spoke? They carried Photos, locks of hair, nail clippings, & the first three words of a wish.
Written by Yusef Komunyakaa | Create an image from this poem

My Fathers Love Letters

 On Fridays he'd open a can of Jax
After coming home from the mill,
& ask me to write a letter to my mother
Who sent postcards of desert flowers
Taller than men.
He would beg, Promising to never beat her Again.
Somehow I was happy She had gone, & sometimes wanted To slip in a reminder, how Mary Lou Williams' "Polka Dots & Moonbeams" Never made the swelling go down.
His carpenter's apron always bulged With old nails, a claw hammer Looped at his side & extension cords Coiled around his feet.
Words rolled from under the pressure Of my ballpoint: Love, Baby, Honey, Please.
We sat in the quiet brutality Of voltage meters & pipe threaders, Lost between sentences .
The gleam of a five-pound wedge On the concrete floor Pulled a sunset Through the doorway of his toolshed.
I wondered if she laughed & held them over a gas burner.
My father could only sign His name, but he'd look at blueprints & say how many bricks Formed each wall.
This man, Who stole roses & hyacinth For his yard, would stand there With eyes closed & fists balled, Laboring over a simple word, almost Redeemed by what he tried to say.