“Facing It” on Veterans Day


(poetry diary 84) I wept when I read this poem by Yusef Komunyakaa today. The commonality of grief and war that it illustrates–through the image of the black veteran and the white veteran staring into the same American memorial–struck me hard. It’s a moving poem to read when grieving both for those who feel terrified because America seems to have said that they don’t matter and for those who voted for an inexperienced and seemingly hate-filled leader because they feel like the current establishment doesn’t believe that they matter.

Facing It

Yusef Komunyakaa

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears. 
I’m stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn

Read rest of poem at Poets.org 

For those interested, there’s a related essay up at The Poetry Foundation: American Service and a Citizenship Based on Hope by Paisley Rekdal. Rekdal mentions another poem, “The One-Legged Stool,” by Komunyakaa, “an African American who served in Vietnam, [who]writes explicitly about the costs of serving a nation that doesn’t recognize all its soldiers as its own.”


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