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Poetry reconnects us to the act of dreaming ourselves into existence, Komunyakaa once wrote. Once you pause a minute to consider the pain that has served as an outline in this poets life, and when you also consider the highfalutin awards and professorial prestige given to a man whom people still seem to refer to as a humble man and teacher interested in mentoring poets, you really see this statement for what it truly means. Dreams not only allow one to escape reality if needed, but they could also serve as tools for reshaping a life stolen or misplaced. The man nor the prestigious awards matter to me as much as I care about how his words make me feel on a silvery gray night when clouds threaten to clamp my conscious mind and take me back to that war zone, a journey that most will never understand, because theyve never been. I care about how these words bring me back to a present whose past threatens to mar all that is good, confusing reality with flashbacks of trauma, where the now is all distorted and unreal, the past is reality, and the future beckons ecstatically from around a corner, pleading that you look forward and only consider Safe Subjects:Say something that resuscitatesus, behind the masks, as we stumble off into neon nightsto loveless beds & a second skinof loneliness. Something political as dust& earthworms at work in the temple of greed & mildew, where bowed lampscast down shadows like blueprints of graves.Say something for us who cant believein the creed of nightshade.Yes, say something to us dreamerswho decode the message of dirtbetween ancient floorboardsas black widow spiderslay translucent eggsin the skull of a dead moleunder a dogwood in full bloom. However, subjects are not always safe when you are a war survivor, or, as is Komunyakaas testimony, when you are a veteran. I may not have lived around the gun like he did, but I heard and felt it. We all, victims and victors of war, carry bloodstains with us, treading life carefully around the ghosts following us daily, cooing their guilt to those who dared survive, reminding us of what the world has forgotten. Komunyakaa toys with an apt description in Fever, my favorite poem: Some nights I lie/Awake, staring into a promised land./A cold wind out of Wyoming/works the mind, like waves/Against stone, sand & willpower. Bring out the flashlights and probe for the truth cloaked in invisibility, for despite trying to mold a life into what seems deceptively normal, things are just as he says in 1984, we sleepwalk among black roses:Were stargazers, weirdos,prestidigitators in bluesybedrooms, on private tripsto the moon. The end of what?We lock our heartsinto idle, not sureof this world or the next.Some days, our beast & the burden lock-step waltz.I read these words for the truth they reveal, their suggestiveness, the imagery and music. Just as they did in Dien Cai Dau, his words slowly and soothingly won me over with rhythmic notes and subtleties. I read along, enticed by the caress of love-filled words, the hum of melancholia, and the poetic ambiguity that stems from a mind rife with memories that taunt. Somewhere in these lines, every soul sufferer finds solace and meaning because Komunyakaa has a way of making the ugly beautiful, of finding answers to the most complex questions. Somewhere within each verse, he has assurance for me, and with the creation of each stanza, the creation of his academic and creative trajectory, he has inspired me. Excerpted from: After Summer Fell Apart:I cant touch you.His face always returns;we exchange long looksin each bad dream& what I see, my God.Honey, sweetheart,I hold you against mebut nothing works.Two boats moored,rocking between nowhere& nowhere.A bone inside me whispersmaybe tonight,but I keep thinkingabout the two men wrestling nudein Lawrences Women in Love.I cant get pastreels of breath unwinding.He has you. Nowhe doesnt. He has youagain. Now he doesnt. My review of Dien Cai Dau=> https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
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