South Carolina Morning

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
Her red dress & hat   
   tease the sky’s level-
headed blue. Outside

a country depot,
   she could be a harlot   
or saint on Sunday

morning. We know   
   Hopper could slant   
light till it falls

on our faces. She waits   
   for a tall blues singer   
whose twelve-string is

hours out of hock,
   for a pullman porter   
with a pigskin wallet

bulging with greenbacks,   
   who stepped out of Porgy
at intermission. This is

paradise made of pigment   
   & tissue, where apples   
ripen into rage & lust.

In a quick glance,   
   beyond skincolor,
she’s his muse, his wife—

the same curves
   to her stance, the same   
breasts beneath summer cloth.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “South Carolina Morning” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947

Subjects Relationships, Love, Men & Women, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Yusef  Komunyakaa


In his poetry, Yusef Komunyakaa weaves together the elements of his own life in short lines of vernacular to create complex images of life in his native Louisiana and the jungles of Vietnam. From his humble beginnings as the son of a carpenter, Komunyakaa has traveled far to become a scholar, professor, and prize-winning poet. In 1994, he claimed the Pulitzer Prize and the $50,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his Neon . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Men & Women, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.