Saturday, May 11, 2013

Yusef Komunyakaa's "Gingkoes" (The Worcester Review, Volume XXXIII)

This month, we present you with the second sample poem from Volume 33, the latest issue of The Worcester Review.  The theme of this issue was "Chris Gilbert: Into the Emerging Landscape." 


by Yusef Komunyakaa

When I retrace our footsteps
to Bloomington I recall talking jazz,
the half-forgotten South
in our mouths, the repitlian
brain swollen with manly regrets
left behind, thumbing volumes
inscribed to the dead in used
bookstores, & then rounding
griffins carved into limestone.
The gingkoes dropped fruit
at our feet & an old woman
scooped the smelly medicine
into a red plastic bucket,
laughing.  We walked across
the green reciting Hayden,
& I still believe those hours
we could see through stone.
I don't remember the girls
in summer dresses strollng
out of the movie on Kirkwood,
but in the Runcible Spoon
sniffing the air, Cat Stevens
on a speaker, we tried to buy
back our souls with reveries
& coffee, the scent of bathos
on our scuffed shoes.

           -- for Christopher Gilbert

Yusef Komunyakaa has published extensively: Copacetic, a collection of colloquial and jazz poems, 1984; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Dien Cai Dau (1988), The Dark Room Poetry Prize; The Chameleon Couch (2011); Warhorses (2008); Taboo: The Wishbone Triology, Part 1; Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989 (1994), Pultizer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Magic City (1992).  His prose work is Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000).  He co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology (1991), and co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu (1995).  He received many awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999.  He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University's graduate creative writing program.


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