Moonshine

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
Drunken laughter escapes
Behind the fence woven
With honeysuckle, up to where   
I stand. Daddy’s running-buddy,   
Carson, is beside him. In the time   
It takes to turn & watch a woman   
Tiptoe & pull a sheer blouse off   
The clothesline, to see her sun-lit   
Dress ride up peasant legs
Like the last image of mercy, three   
Are drinking from the Mason jar.

That’s the oak we planted
The day before I left town,   
As if father & son
Needed staking down to earth.   
If anything could now plumb   
Distance, that tree comes close,   
Recounting lost friends
As they turn into mist.

The woman stands in a kitchen   
Folding a man’s trousers—
Her chin tucked to hold
The cuffs straight.
I’m lonely as those storytellers   
In my father’s backyard
I shall join soon. Alone
As they are, tilting back heads   
To let the burning ease down.   
The names of women melt
In their mouths like hot mints,
As if we didn’t know Old Man Pagget’s   
Stoopdown is doctored with   
Slivers of Red Devil Lye.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Moonshine” 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 Family & Ancestors, Living, Love, Activities, Relationships, Eating & Drinking, Coming of Age, 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 Family & Ancestors, Living, Love, Activities, Relationships, Eating & Drinking, Coming of Age, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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