Blue Dementia

In the days when a man
would hold a swarm of words
inside his belly, nestled
against his spleen, singing.

In the days of night riders
when life tongued a reed
till blues & sorrow song
called out of the deep night:
Another man done gone.
Another man done gone.

In the days when one could lose oneself
all up inside love that way,
& then moan on the bone
till the gods cried out in someone's sleep.

already I've seen three dark-skinned men
discussing the weather with demons
& angels, gazing up at the clouds
& squinting down into iron grates
along the fast streets of luminous encounters.

I double-check my reflection in plate glass
& wonder, Am I passing another
Lucky Thompson or Marion Brown
cornered by a blue dementia,
another dark-skinned man
who woke up dreaming one morning
& then walked out of himself
dreaming? Did this one dare
to step on a crack in the sidewalk,
to turn a midnight corner & never come back
whole, or did he try to stare down a look
that shoved a blade into his heart?
I mean, I also know something
about night riders & catgut. Yeah,
honey, I know something about talking with ghosts.

by Yusef Komunyakaa

Comments (4)

Ms. Whitley was a genius; she was ahead of her time. She is the original phenomenal woman.
Wheatley was a slave and it's startling to see how she uses classical mythology and ancient history as allusions. She must have been owned by people unafraid to allow her to learn not only to read but to write. But not many if any of her fellow slaves would have had a clue about ancient myths so this poem spoke basically to white people.
The virtue and boldness of Mneme shine through the words to inspire. Pleasant reading indeed.
Peace if the key about life. So, let us all live in unity. Nice work