In the days when a man would hold a swarm of words inside his belly, nestled against his spleen, singing. In the days of night riders when life tongued a reed till blues & sorrow song called out of the deep night: Another man done gone. Another man done gone. In the days when one could lose oneself all up inside love that way, & then moan on the bone till the gods cried out in someone's sleep. Today, already I've seen three dark-skinned men discussing the weather with demons & angels, gazing up at the clouds & squinting down into iron grates along the fast streets of luminous encounters. I double-check my reflection in plate glass & wonder, Am I passing another Lucky Thompson or Marion Brown cornered by a blue dementia, another dark-skinned man who woke up dreaming one morning & then walked out of himself dreaming? Did this one dare to step on a crack in the sidewalk, to turn a midnight corner & never come back whole, or did he try to stare down a look that shoved a blade into his heart? I mean, I also know something about night riders & catgut. Yeah, honey, I know something about talking with ghosts.
Copyright © 2011 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted from The Chameleon Couch with the permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.