Thursday, May 14, 2009


Both poetry and psychoanalysis exist as locations for discovery. We may wonder: is there ever discovery without uncovering; uncovering without discovering something new? Consider the elements of both in the following poems:

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
this way—the stone lets me go.
I turn that way—I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

Rae Armantrout

The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
person. Each
has left something


Did the palo verde
blush yellow
all at once?

Today’s edges
are so sharp

they might cut
anything that moved.


The way a lost

will come back

You’re not interested
in it now,

in knowing
where it’s been.