Blues Chant Hoodoo Revival

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
my story is
how deep the heart runs
to hide & laugh   
with your hands
over your blank mouth
face behind the mask   
talking in tongues   
something tearing   
feathers from a crow   
that screams
from the furnace   
the black candle   
in a skull
sweet pain of meat

    let’s pour the river’s rainbow   
    into our stone water jars   
    bad luck isn’t red flowers   
    crushed under jackboots

your story is
a crippled animal
dragging a steel trap
across desert sand
a bee’s sting inside your heart   
& its song of honey
in my groin
a factory of blue jays
in honey locust leaves
wet pages of smoke
like a man
deserting his shadow
in dark woods
the dog that limps away
& rotten fruit on the trees

this story is
the speaking skull
on the mantelpiece
the wingspan of a hawk
at the edge of a coyote’s cry
the seventh son’s mojo hand   
holding his life together   
with a black cat bone   
the six grandfathers   
& spider woman
the dust wings
of ghost dance vision   
deer that can’t
stand for falling
wunmonije witch doctor   
backwater blues
juju man
a silk gown on the floor   
a black bowl
on a red lacquered table   
x-rated
because it’s true

    let’s pour starlight
    from our stone water jars   
    pain isn’t just red flowers   
    crushed under jackboots

my story is
inside a wino’s bottle   
the cup blood leaps into   
eight-to-the-bar
a man on his knees   
facing the golden calf   
the silverfish of old lust   
mama hoodoo
a gullah basket
woven from your hair
love note from the madhouse   
thornbushes
naming the shape   
of things to come
old murder weapons   
strings of piano wire

    let’s pour the night
    into our stone water jars   
    this song isn’t red flowers   
    crushed under silence

our story is
a rifle butt
across our heads
arpeggio of bowed grass   
among glass trees
where they kick down doors   
& we swan-dive from   
the brooklyn bridge   
a post-hypnotic suggestion   
a mosaic membrane   
skin of words
mirrors shattered
in roadhouses
in the gun-barrel night   
how a machine moves   
deeper into piles
of bones
the way we
crowd at the foot
of the gallows

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Blues Chant Hoodoo Rival” 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)

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Poet Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947

Subjects War & Conflict, Music, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Love, Social Commentaries, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Yusef  Komunyakaa

Biography

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 . . .

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SUBJECT War & Conflict, Music, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Love, Social Commentaries, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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