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  • Venus's-Flytraps
  • Yusef Komunyakaa (bio)

I am five,      Wading out into deep           Sunny grass, Unmindful of snakes      & yellowjackets, out           To the yellow flowers Quivering in sluggish heat.      Don't mess with me           'Cause I have my Lone Ranger Six-shooter. I can hurt      You with questions           Like silver bullets. The tall flowers in my dreams are      Big as the First State Bank,           & they eat all the people Except the ones I love.      They have women's names,           With mouths like where Babies come from. I a five.      I'll dance for you           If you close your eyes. No Peeping through your fingers.      I don't supposed to be           This close to the tracks. One afternoon I saw      What a train did to a cow.           Sometimes I stand so close I can see the eyes      Of men hiding in boxcars.           Sometimes they wave [End Page 731] & holler for me to get back. I laugh      When trains make the dogs           Howl. Their ears hurt. I also know bees      Can't live without flowers.           I wonder why Daddy Calls Mama honey.      All the bees in the world           Live in little white houses Except the ones in these flowers.      All sticky & sweet inside.           I wonder what death tastes like. Sometimes I toss the butterflies      Back into the air.           I wish I knew why The music in my head      Makes me scared.           But I know things I don't supposed to know.      I could start walking           & never stop. These yellow flowers      Go on forever.           Almost to Detroit. Almost to the sea.      My mama says I'm a mistake.           That I made her a bad girl. My playhouse is underneath      Our house, & I hear people           Telling each other secrets.

Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa, the subject of this issue of Callaloo, teaches at Princeton University. His most recent book of poems is Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part I. The numerous prizes, awards and honors he has received for his poetry include a chancellorship with the American Academy of Poets, the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (Wesleyan University), the William Faulkner Prize (Universite Rennes, France), the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

From Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.



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