Yusef Komunyakaa


Griffin Poetry Prize 2012
International Shortlist

Book: The Chameleon Couch

Poet: Yusef Komunyakaa

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Yusef Komunyakaa reads Memory of the Murdered Professors at the Jagiellonian

Memory of the Murdered Professors at the Jagiellonian

          – AFTER HASIOR

They fired a bullet into the head
of each question, trying to kill Kant’s
unending argument with Hegel.
The burned laws, moral codes,
& the Gold Mean. Anyone
serving tea & cookies to Death,
looking or acting as if he knew love,
stood before the firing squad.
All questions had to go. Pronoun
or noun. If it crawled on busted kneecaps,
whimpering & begging for mercy,
it was still half of a question.


The little skyscraper of glass boxes
sunlight strikes the same time of day
at a certain angle outside Zakopane
looks like condos where nimble ghosts
still stand up to the darkest answers.
No, I can’t hear one voice pleading.
But I do hear gusts coming down
from the hills. No, you’re wrong again.
The crow perched on the totem is real.
Look at how the light lifts off its wings,
but I wish I could understand what it is
he’s trying to say. I think I heard a name.

From The Chameleon Couch, by Yusef Komunyakaa
© 2011 by Yusef Komunyakaa

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