Poem of the Week, by Yusef Komunyakaa

img_1857Hiking the other day up a steep and narrow trail, my eyes kept searching for where I should step next. And then my feet kept setting themselves down exactly where I wanted them to be. I didn’t have to look at them; they knew what to do. But how? How does this body of mine know how to do all the things it just. . . does? Dance and run and knead dough and type and shuffle a deck of cards and tell me when I’m hungry or cold or full or tired?  How do all those signals make their magic way from eyes to brain to nerves to muscle and bone? Even though I don’t play basketball I felt my own self moving to every line of this beautiful spin of a poem. My body, all our bodies, are wondrous. 


Slam, Dunk and Hook, by Yusef Komunyakaa

Fast breaks. Lay ups. With Mercury’s
insignia on our sneakers,
we outmaneuvered the footwork
of bad angels. Nothing but a hot
swish of strings like silk
ten feet out. In the roundhouse
labyrinth our bodies
created, we could almost
last forever, poised in midair
like storybook sea monsters.
a high note hung there
a long second. Off
the rim. We’d corkscrew
up & dunk balls that exploded
the skullcap of hope & good
intention. Lanky, all hands
& feet…sprung rhythm.
We were metaphysical when girls
cheered on the sidelines.
tangled up in a falling,
muscles were a bright motor
double-flashing to the metal hoop
nailed to our oak.
When Sonny Boy’s mama died
he played nonstop all day, so hard
our backboard splintered.
Glistening with sweat,
we rolled the ball off
our fingertips. Trouble
was there slapping a blackjack
against an open palm.
Dribble, drive to the inside,
& glide like a sparrow hawk.
Lay ups. Fast breaks.
We had moves we didn’t know
we had. Our bodies spun
on swivels of bone & faith,
through a lyric slipknot
of joy, & we knew we were
beautiful & dangerous.

For more information about Yusef Komunyakaa, please click here

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