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You’re here again, old friend. You strut around like a ragtag redcoat bellhop, glance up for a shooting star & its woe, & wander in & out the cove you rendezvoused with Governor Phillip after Wil-le-me-ring speared him beside a beached whale. We’ve known each other for years. You’re unchanged. But me, old scapegoat, I never knew I was so damn happy when we first met. Each memory returns like heartbreak’s boomerang. You didn’t tell me you were a scout, a bone pointer, a spy, someone to stand between new faces & gods. I didn’t know your other four ceremonial names, hero in clownish clothes, till another dead man whispered into my ear.

Yusef Komunyakaa

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.

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