(April 29, 1947 / 1947)

Grunge

No, sweetheart, I said courtly love.
I was thinking of John Donne's
'Yet this enjoys before it woo,'
but my big hands were dreaming
Pinetop's boogie-woogie piano
taking the ubiquitous night apart.
Not Courtney. I know 'inflated tear'
means worlds approaching pain
& colliding, or a heavenly body
calling to darkness, & that shame
has never been my truest garment,
because I was born afraid of needles.
But I've been shoved up against
frayed ropes too, & I had to learn
to bob & weave, to duck & hook,
till I could jab my way out of
a foregone conclusion, till blues
reddened a room. All I know is,
sometimes a man wants only a hug
when something two-steps him
toward a little makeshift stage.
Somehow, between hellhounds
& a guitar solo made of gutstring
& wood, I outlived a stormy night
with snow on my eyelids.

by Yusef Komunyakaa

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