Omens

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
Her eyelids were painted blue.
When she closed her eyes the sea
rolled in like ten thousand fiery chariots,

leaving behind silence above & below
a thousand years old. He stood beneath
a high arched window, gazing out

at fishing boats beyond the dikes, their nets
unfurled, their offshore gestures
a dance of living in bluish entourage.

He was only the court’s chief jester.
What he said & did made them laugh,
but lately what he sometimes thought he knew

could cost him his polished tongue & royal wig.
He was the masked fool unmasking the emperor.
Forget the revelation. Forget the briny sea.

He had seen the ravishing empress naked
in a forbidden pose. Her blue eye shadow.
Aquamarine shells crusted with wormy mud.

Anyway, if he said half of what was foretold,
the great one would become a weeping boy
slumped beneath the Pillars of Hercules.


Source: Poetry (April 2012).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2012
 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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