Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Reading Yusef Komunyakaa in Strawberry Fields

You are worldly.

You are wise.

You have overcome your food-drug-sex-rock-music-politics addiction.

You are the quintessential park bench recluse.

You live by the Art of Solitude.

You memorize this poem

Nude Study by Yusef Komunyakaa

Someone lightly brushed the penis
alive. Belief is almost
flesh. Wings beat,

dust trying to breathe, as if the figure
migiht rise from the oils
& flee the dead

atirst's studio. For years
this piece of work was there
like a golden struggle

shadowing Thomas McKeller, a black
elevator operator at the Boston
Copley Plaza Hotel, a friend

of John Singer Sargent--hidden
among sketches & drawings, a model
for Apollo & a bas-relief

of Arion. So much taken
for granted & denied, only
grace & mutability

can complete this face belonging
to Greek bodies castrated
with a veil of dust.


Yusef! Yusef! Yusef! Mister Komunyakaa!


Two traveling companions paying homage to the


mosaic ask you to help them shoot a photograph. Having just read an excellent poem, praising anatomy,
you shout to the toursits, "Wait!" I have an even better idea. Why don't I slide this stone slab over here.
You step off to the side and grab a stone slab that just happens to appear because you


it appears.

You encourage the companions to transform into a Nude state.
(They are reluctant, at first, but then you recite them Mister Komunyakaa's poem).
They disrobe and pose with their muscles flexed for the next few hours while you chisel, carve, etch, sculpt, and sweat.

Only when you've finished the bas-relief that immitates the Tomas McKeller and the ancient Greeks, do you
and these good folks from Ohio
realize that they will have a hell of a time getting that souvenir into their suitcase.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a name I haven't seen or heard in a while. About a decade ago, Yusef was writer in residence at Indiana University. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him several times. He was primarily a customer (I ran a record store then and Yusef's quite a jazz and classical lover), but we also shared a mutual friend.

You won't meet a nicer person.