Confluence

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
I’ve been here before, dreaming myself
backwards, among grappling hooks of light.

True to the seasons, I’ve lived every word
spoken. Did I walk into someone’s nightmare?

Hunger quivers on a fleshly string
at the crossroad. So deep is the lore,

there’s only tomorrow today where darkness
splinters & wounds the bird of paradise.

On paths that plunge into primordial
green, Echo’s laughter finds us together.

In the sweatshops of desire men think
if they don’t die the moon won’t rise.

All the dead-end streets run into one
moment of bliss & sleight of hand.

Beside the Euphrates, past the Tigris,
up the Mississippi. Bloodline & clockwork.

The X drawn where we stand. Trains
follow rivers that curve around us.

The distant night opens like a pearl
fan, a skirt, a heart, a drop of salt.

When we embrace, we are not an island
beyond fables & the blue exhaust of commerce.

When the sounds of River Styx punish
trees, my effigy speaks to the night owl.

Our voices break open the pink magnolia
where struggle is home to the beast in us.

All the senses tuned for the Hawkesbury,
labyrinths turning into lowland fog.

Hand in hand, feeling good, we walk
phantoms from the floating machine.

When a drowning man calls out,
his voice follows him downstream.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Confluence” 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 Nature, Relationships, Love, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Desire

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 Nature, Relationships, Love, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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