By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
Someone says Tristan   
& Isolde, the shared cup   
& broken vows binding them,   
& someone else says Romeo   
& Juliet, a lyre & Jew’s harp   
sighing a forbidden oath,   
but I say a midnight horn   
& a voice with a moody angel   
inside, the two married rib   
to rib, note for note. Of course,   
I am thinking of those Tuesdays   
or Thursdays at Billy Berg’s   
in LA when Lana Turner would say,   
“Please sing ‘Strange Fruit’
for me,” & then her dancing   
nightlong with Mel Torme,   
as if she knew what it took   
to make brass & flesh say yes
beneath the clandestine stars   
& a spinning that is so fast   
we can’t feel the planet moving.   
Is this why some of us fall   
in & out of love? Did Lady Day   
& Prez ever hold each other   
& plead to those notorious gods?   
I don’t know. But I do know   
even if a horn & voice plumb   
the unknown, what remains unsaid   
coalesces around an old blues   
& begs with a hawk’s yellow eyes.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Togetherness,” from Poetry (May 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Yusef Komunyakaa.

Source: Poetry (May 2005).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2005
 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Marriage & Companionship, Theater & Dance, Love, Living, Music, Realistic & Complicated

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