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Yusef Komunyakaa reads his poem “Facing It” about seeing the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. through his eyes as a war veteran and contemporary poet.
Introduced by Garrison Keillor
Running time: 2 minutes
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BY YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA
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.
Yusef Komunyakaa, “Facing It” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Included in Vox Populi for noncommercial educational purposes only.
this one, yes
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks, Gary. Yes.
Michael Simms https://www.michaelsimms.info
Author of Nightjar Author of American Ash Founder of Autumn House Press Editor of Vox Populi
There are names there I do not want to see.
Yes, I know. Me too.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Yousef Komunyakaa ❤
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