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Prisoners Analysis



Author: poem of Yusef Komunyakaa Type: poem Views: 6

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Usually at the helipad

I see them stumble-dance

across the hot asphalt

with crokersacks over their heads,

moving toward the interrogation huts,

thin-framed as box kites

of sticks & black silk

anticipating a hard wind

that'll tug & snatch them

out into space. I think

some must be laughing

under their dust-colored hoods,

knowing rockets are aimed

at Chu Lai—that the water's

evaporating & soon the nail

will make contact with metal.

How can anyone anywhere love

these half-broken figures

bent under the sky's brightness?

The weight they carry

is the soil we tread night & day.

Who can cry for them?

I've heard the old ones

are the hardest to break.

An arm twist, a combat boot

against the skull, a .45

jabbed into the mouth, nothing

works. When they start talking

with ancestors faint as camphor

smoke in pagodas, you know

you'll have to kill them

to get an answer.

Sunlight throws

scythes against the afternoon.

Everything's a heat mirage; a river

tugs at their slow feet.

I stand alone & amazed,

with a pill-happy door gunner

signaling for me to board the Cobra.

I remember how one day

I almost bowed to such figures

walking toward me, under

a corporal's ironclad stare.

I can't say why.

From a half-mile away

trees huddle together,

& the prisoners look like

marionettes hooked to strings of light.






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