Wednesday, May 29, 2013


- Yusef Komunyakaa

Forgive me, soldier.
Forgive my right hand   
for pointing you   
to the flawless
tree line now
outlined in my brain.   
There was so much   
bloodsky at daybreak
in Pleiku, but I won’t say
those infernal guns   
blinded me on that hill.

Mistakes piled up men like clouds   
pushed to the dark side.
Sometimes I try to retrace
them, running
fingers down the map
telling less than a woman’s body—
we followed the grid coordinates
in some battalion commander’s mind.   
If I could make my mouth
unsay those orders,
I’d holler: Don’t
move a muscle. Stay put,
keep your fucking head
down, soldier.

Ambush. Gutsmoke.
Last night while making love
I cried out, Hit the dirt!
I’ve tried to swallow my tongue.
You were a greenhorn, so fearless,   
even foolish, & when I said go,
Henry, you went dancing on a red string   
of bullets from that tree line
as it moved from a low cloud.

from: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright 2001.

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