Yusef Komunyakka.

Posted on February 13, 2013


I first encountered the poetry of Yusef Komunyakka when he visited my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana to guest speak and read poems from his wonderful book of poems, “Neon Vernacular.” His poems, particularly the integrity in his short lined poems. I sat in the audience and listened to him with honor and respect. Though there are many of his poems I enjoy, today I think of his travels in southeast Asia when he was in the Vietnam war. Thankfully for all of us he survived.

Yusef Komunyakaa,

Yusef Komunyakaa.

Camouflaging The Chimera.

By Yusef Komunyakka.

We tied branches to our helmets.
We painted our faces & rifles
with mud from a riverbank,

blades of grass hung from the pockets
of our tiger suits. We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird’s target.

We hugged bamboo & leaned
against a breeze off the river,
slow-dragging with ghosts

from Saigon to Bangkok,
with women left in doorways
reaching in from America.
We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds.

In our way station of shadows
rock apes tried to blow our cover
throwing stones at the sunset. Chameleons

crawled our spines, changing from day
to night: green to gold,
gold to black. But we waited
till the moon touched metal,

till something almost broke
inside us. VC struggled
with the hillside, like black silk

wrestling iron through grass.
We weren’t there. The river ran
through our bones. Small animals took refuge
against our bodies; we held our breath,

ready to spring the L-shaped
ambush, as a world revolved
under each man’s eyelid.

To find out more about Yusef Komunyakka, you can visit the following link:


Posted in: 1. Poems