Ode to a Drum by Yusef Komunyakaa

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Here is one of the finest poems I’ve read in a long time, Ode to a Drum written by American poet, Yusef Komunyakaa. Please accept it as a festive gift and pass it on.

 

Gazelle, I killed you
for your skin’s exquisite
touch, for how easy it is
to be nailed to a board
weathered raw as white
butcher paper. Last night
I heard my daughter praying
for the meat here at my feet.
You know it wasn’t anger
that made me stop my heart
till the hammer fell. Weeks
ago, I broke you as a woman
once shattered me into a song
beneath her weight, before
you slouched into that
grassy hush. But now
I’m tightening lashes,
shaping hide as if around
a ribcage, stretched
like five bowstrings.
Ghosts cannot slip back
inside the body’s drum.
You’ve been seasoned
by wind, dusk & sunlight.
Pressure can make everything
whole again, brass nails
tacked into the ebony wood
your face has been carved
five times. I have to drive
trouble from the valley.
Trouble in the hills.
Trouble on the river
too. There’s no kola nut,
palm wine, fish, salt,
or calabash. Kadoom.
Kadoom. Kadoom. Ka-
doooom. Kadoom. Now
I have beaten a song back into you,
rise & walk away like a panther.

 

Source: Internet Poetry Archive

For more works by award-winning American poet, Yusef Komunyakaa

384px-Yusef_Komunyakaa_2011_NBCC_Awards_2012_Shankbone[1]

Yusef Komunyakaa  Photo: David Shankbone, Creative Commons

Flickr Comments: Y words

11 thoughts on “Ode to a Drum by Yusef Komunyakaa

  1. This is a beautiful gift, thank you so much for sharing this with us, Tish!
    Our best wishes for a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!
    God jul!
    Dina, Klausbernd, Siri & Selma

  2. Oh, so masterful, beautiful work! I have seen this drum made, brought me back right there on the road to south Uganda. Happy 2015 Tish and TL!

    1. Yes, it was only in Africa that I began to learn what a magical thing is a drum, and the making of them more rite than handicraft alone. Happy New Year to you and your family, Tiny.

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