Sloth

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
If you're one of seven
Downfalls, up in your kingdom
Of mulberry leaves, there are men
Betting you aren't worth a bullet,


That your skin won't tan into a good
Wallet. As if drugged in the womb
& limboed in a honeyed languor,
By the time you open your eyes


A thousand species have lived
& died. Born on a Sunday
Morning, with old-world algae
In your long hair, a goodness


Disguised your two-toed claws
Bright as flensing knives. In this
Upside-down haven, you're reincarnated
As a fallen angel trying to go home.

Source: Poetry (October 1999).

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This poem originally appeared in the October 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

 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 Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Ode, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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