I’m Stone. I’m Flesh

if I had to give up the heavenly
taste of Guinness dark, I couldn’t
live another goddamn day. Darling,
you can chisel that into my headstone.”

Yusef Komunyakaa

We Never Know

By Yusef Komunyakaa

He danced with tall grass
for a moment, like he was swaying
with a woman. Our gun barrelsHe
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.

______________________________________________

Facing It 

By Yusef Komunyakaa

My black face fades,   
hiding inside the black granite.   
I said I wouldn’t  
dammit: No tears.   
I’m stone. I’m flesh.   
My clouded reflection eyes me   
like a bird of prey, the profile of night   
slanted against morning. I turn   
this way—the stone lets me go.   
I turn that way—I’m inside   
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light   
to make a difference.   
I go down the 58,022 names,   
half-expecting to find   
my own in letters like smoke.   
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;   
I see the booby trap’s white flash.   
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse   
but when she walks away   
the names stay on the wall.   
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s   
wings cutting across my stare.   
The sky. A plane in the sky.   
A white vet’s image floats   
closer to me, then his pale eyes   
look through mine. I’m a window.   
He’s lost his right arm   
inside the stone. In the black mirror   
a woman’s trying to erase names:   
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

America Explodes

I saw courage both in the Vietnam War and in the struggle to stop it. I learned that patriotism includes protest, not just military service.

John F. Kerry

March In Washington Against The Vietnam War

by Robert Bly

Looking down, I see feet moving calmly, gaily, 
. . almost as if separated from their bodies

But there is something moving in the dark just beyond
. . the edge of our eyes

A boat covered with machine guns moving downstream at night

No one can reach it – – – it is like the shadows
when the Puritans went out at dusk to kill turkeys

America explodes
On the ground, ragged metal riddles the underbrush

We do not respect ourselves!

It is a ceremony of self-abusement,
Like a man in the Assyrian desert
Pouring ashes over his head. . . 

We make war
Like a man anointing himself. . . 

 
 
 
 
 

 

[Sonnet] You jerk you didn’t call me up

By Bernadette Mayer
 
You jerk you didn’t call me up
I haven’t seen you in so long
You probably have a fucking tan
& besides that instead of making love tonight
You’re drinking your parents to the airport
I’m through with you bourgeois boys
All you ever do is go back to ancestral comforts
Only money can get—even Catullus was rich but
 
Nowadays you guys settle for a couch
By a soporific color cable t.v. set
Instead of any arc of love, no wonder
The G.I. Joe team blows it every other time
 
Wake up! It’s the middle of the night
You can either make love or die at the hands of the Cobra Commander
 
_________________
 
To make love, turn to page 121.
To die, turn to page 172.