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.