personal favorites / poetry collections… Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa / poem & video

Yusef Komunyakaa

Dien Cai Dau


“Report from the Skull’s Diorama”

Dr. King’s photograph
comes at me from White Nights
like Hoover’s imagination at work,

dissolving into a scenario
at Firebase San Juan Hill:
our chopper glides in closer,
down to the platoon of black GIs
back from night patrol

with five dead. Down
into a gold whirl of leaves
dust-deviling the fire base.
A field of black trees
stakes down the morning sun.

With the chopper blades
knife-fighting the air,
yellow leaflets quiver
back to the ground, clinging to us.
These men have lost their tongues,

but the red-bordered
leaflets tell us
VC didn’t kill
Dr. Martin Luther King.
The silence etched into their skin

is also mine. Psychological
warfare colors the napalmed hill
gold-yellow. When our gunship
flies out backwards, rising
above the men left below

to blend in with the charred
landscape, an AK-47
speaks, with the leaflets
clinging to the men & stumps,
waving to me across the years.

Komunyakaa reads “Facing It,” the closing poem in Dien Cai Dau.


~ by samofthetenthousandthings on May 8, 2012.

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