We Never Know

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
He danced with tall grass
for a moment, like he was swaying
with a woman. Our gun barrels
glowed white-hot.
When I got to him,
a blue halo
of flies had already claimed him.
I pulled the crumbled photograph
from his fingers.
There's no other way
to say this: I fell in love.
The morning cleared again,
except for a distant mortar
& somewhere choppers taking off.
I slid the wallet into his pocket
& turned him over, so he wouldn't be
kissing the ground.

Yusef Komunyakaa, "We Never Know" from Dien Cai Dau. Copyright © 1988 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Dien Cai Dau (Wesleyan University Press, 1988)

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Poet Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Living, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Elegy

 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 Friends & Enemies, Living, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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