THE DAY I SAW BARACK OBAMA READING DEREK WAKCOTT’S COLLECTED POEMS

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    Yusef Komunyakaa
    (born April 29, 1941[1]) is an American poet who teaches at New York University and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Komunyakaa is a recipient of the 1994 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, for Neon Vernacular[2] and the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He also received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Komunyakaa received the 2007 Louisiana Writer Award for his enduring contribution to the poetry world. His subject matter ranges from the black general experience through rural Southern life before the Civil Rights era and his experience as a soldier during the Vietnam War. Yusef Komynyakaa visited Kolkata in 20005 and 2008.

    Was he looking for St. Lucia’s light
    to touch his face those first days
    in the official November snow & sleet
    failing on the granite pose of Lincoln?

    If he were searching for property lines
    drawn in the blood, or for a hint
    of resolve crisscrossing a border,
    maybe he’d find clues in the taste of breadfruit.

    I could see him stopped there squinting
    in crooked light, the haze of Wall Street
    touching clouds of double consciousness,
    an eye etched into a sign borrowed from Egypt.

    If he’s looking for tips on basketball,
    how to rise up & guard the hoop,
    he may glean a few theories about war
    but they aren’t in the The Star-Apple Kingdom.

    If he wants to finally master himself,
    searching for clues to govern seagulls
    in salty air, he’ll find henchmen busy with locks
    & chains in a ghost schooner’s nocturnal calm.

    He’s reading someone who won’t speak
    of milk & honey, but of looking ahead
    beyond pillars of salt raised in a dream
    where the fat bulbs split open the earth.

    The spine of manifest was broken,
    leaking deeds, songs, & testaments.
    Justice stood in the shoes of mercy,
    & doubt was bandaged up & put to bed.

    Now, he looks as if he wants to eat words,
    their sweet, intoxicating flavor. Banana leaf
    & animal, being & nonbeing. In fact,
    craving wisdom, he bites into memory.

    The President of the United States of America
    Thumbs the pages slowly, moving from reverie
    to reverie, learning why one envies the octopus
    for its ink, how a man’s skin becomes the final page.

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