Yusef Komunyakaa
The Land of Cockaigne

A drowned kingdom rises at daybreak

& we keep trudging on. A silhouette rides

the rope swing tied to a spruce limb,

the loudest calm in the marsh. Look

at the sinkholes, the sloped brokenness,

a twinned rainbow straddling the rocks.

We can see how brave nature is.

She drags us through teeming reeds

& turns day inside out, getting up

under blame, gazing at the horizon

as a throaty sparrow calls a raft home.

A wavering landscape is our one foothold.

Are we still moving? This is an old story

behind stories, an epic season where

a tangle of roses is moved by night soil.

The boar, Congo snake, & earthworm

eat into pigweed. The middle ground

is a flotilla of stars, a peacock carousel

& Ferris wheel spinning in the water

as vines unstitch the leach-work of salt,

thick mud sewn up like bodies fallen

into a ditch, blooming, about to erupt.

Water lily & spider fern. I see the tip

of a purple mountain, but sweetheart,

if it weren’t for your late April kisses

I would’ve turned around days ago. 

Found In Volume 43, No. 02
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Yusef Komunyakaa
About the Author

Yusef Komunyakaa’s numerous books of poems include Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems1975-1999 (Wesleyan University Press, 2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989 (1994), for which he received a Pulitzer Prize.