Quote a Day 4 & 5


Sorry I missed the Quote a Day yesterday, I just didn’t have much time.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are my really crazy days, so I apologize.  But that’s okay, because I have found an amazing couple poems to share with you.  For my creative writing class, we have to review three books of poetry.  My professor gave me a book by Yusef Komunyakaa and I have been going crazy for it.  The book is called Neon Vernacular, and when I officially review it, I’m going to be singing its praises left and right and back again.  It’s SO good.  So good.

So good.

Really.  Go.  Read.  It.  Now.

Here are some examples to get you excited:

At the Screen Door

Just before sunlight
Burns off morning fog.
It is her, will she know
What I’ve seen & done,
How my boots leave little grave-stone
Shapes in the wet dirt,
That I’m no longer light
On my feet, there’s a rock
In my belly?  It weighs
As much as the story
Paul told me, moving ahead
Like it knows my heart.
Is this the same story
That sent him to a padded cell?
After all the men he’d killed in Korea
& on his first tour in Vietnam,
Someone tracked him down.
The Spec 4 he ordered
Into a tunnel in Cu Chi
Now waited for him behind
The screen door, a sunset
In his eyes, a dead man
Wearing his teenage son’s face.
The scream that leaped
Out of Paul’s mouth
Wasn’t his, not this decorated
Hero.  The figure standing there
Wasn’t his son.  Who is it
Waiting for me, a tall shadow
Unlit in the doorway, no more
Than an outline of the past?
I drop the duffle bag
& run before I know it,
Running toward her, the only one
I couldn’t have surprised,
Who’d be here at daybreak
Watching a new day stumble
Through a whiplash of grass
Like a man drunk on the rage
Of being alive.

This is a bit of the poem, it’s too long, but I love love love it.

Changes; or, Reveries at a Window Overlooking a Country with Two Women Talking Blues in the Kitchen

Heat lightning jumpstarts the slow
afternoon & a syncopated rainfall
peppers the tinroof like Philly Joe
Jones’ brushes reaching for a dusky
backbeat across the high hat.  Rhythm
like cells multiplying… language &
notes made flesh.  Accents & stresses,
almost sexual.  Pleasure’s knot; to wrestle
the mind down to unrelenting white space,
to fill each room with spring’s contagious
changes.  Word & music.  “Ruby, My Dear”
turned down on the casette player,
pulsates underneath rustic voices,
waltzing out the kitchen – my grandmama
& old friend of hers from childhood
talking B-flat blues. Time & space,
painful notes, the whole thing wrung
out of silence…

There are so many things that normally annoy me in this poem, like ellipses and ampersands and capitlization of every line and words like syncopated.  But here, here it is beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  I can’t talk about these two poems enough.

Favorite lines:

“Rhythm/like cells multiplying… language &/notes made flesh.  Accents & stresses,/almost sexual.”

“Just before sunlight/Burns off morning fog./It is her, will she know/What I’ve seen & done,/How my boots leave little grave-stone/Shapes in the wet dirt,”

Ah!  Ah-mazing.

Komunyakaa is an incredible poet.  He is also a Vietnam Veteran.  He is my new favorite poet.

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