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Video: Yusef Komunyakaa Reads “Facing It”

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

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.


Facing It 

.

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.

5 comments on “Video: Yusef Komunyakaa Reads “Facing It”

  1. Gary Fincke
    March 2, 2022

    this one, yes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    February 25, 2022

    There are names there I do not want to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Billy Clem
    February 25, 2022

    Yousef Komunyakaa ❤

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply to Billy Clem Cancel reply

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This entry was posted on February 25, 2022 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice, War and Peace.

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