Toys in a Field

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
Using the gun mounts   
for monkey bars,
children skin the cat,   
pulling themselves through,   
suspended in doorways   
of abandoned helicopters   
in graveyards. With arms   
spread-eagled they imitate   
vultures landing in fields.   
Their play is silent
as distant rain,
the volume turned down   
on the 6 o’clock news,   
except for the boy
with American eyes
who keeps singing   
rat-a-tat-tat, hugging   
a broken machine gun.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Toys in a Field” 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, Living, Social Commentaries, Youth

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 . . .

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SUBJECT War & Conflict, Living, Social Commentaries, Youth

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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