Heroes of Waterloo
Here’s the pub they conked drunks over the head & shanghaied them on carts rolled down shafts to the quay. After schooners of cider, I see the half-dazed waking to sea monsters outside The Heads.
Your hands anchor me to the antipodes as “Stormy Monday Blues” drowns the mermaid’s lament, & suddenly a man wants to bop me over the head. The night steals memories from sandstone walls the convicts cut.
Larrikins shout middies of Stronghow & point to the trapdoor where Captain Hook hides on the other side of jetlag. But with your fingertips at the nape, the blood’s sextant, I can’t move beyond the body’s true north.
Yusef Komunyakaa is author of six collections of poems, including Dien Cai Dau, Magic City, and Neon Vernacular, which received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and the Kingsley Tufts Award. He teaches at Indiana University, Bloomington.