“Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa (Favorite Poem Project)


(helicopter sound) (gunshots) I first read Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “Facing It” in Best American Poems. For me as a veteran it’s a poem that pays tribute to
all the veterans. I was in Vietnam in ’65 for six months with
a tactical fighter unit; F-100
pilots. I had not been able to face the wall and that poem helped me I think unlock my emotions and it captures I
think the feelings of a lot of us but it also
interprets the monument the memorial for others to
help us see the integration I think of our atmosphere in our memories as well as that sea of names. (music playing) “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa. My black face fades, /
hiding inside the black granite. / I said I wouldn’t, /
dammit: No tears. / I’m stone. I’m flesh. / The profile of night /
slanted against morning. I turn / this way–the stone lets me go. / I turn that way– I’m inside /
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial /
again, depending on the light /
to make a difference. / I go down the 58,022 names, / half-expecting to find / my own in letters like smoke. / I touch the name Andrew Johnson; / I see the booby trap’s white flash. / Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse /
but when she walks away / the names stay on the wall. / Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s /
wings cutting across my stare. / The sky. A plane in the sky. / A white vet’s image floats /
closer to me, then his pale eyes /
look through mine. I’m a window. /
He’s lost his right arm / inside the stone. In the black mirror /
a woman’s trying to erase names: / No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair. / The Favorite Poem Project is made possible by The National Endowment for the Arts. Fostering America’s creativity and investing in our living cultural
heritage. Additional funding has been provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
and by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

1 thought on ““Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa (Favorite Poem Project)

  1. These poems are very important because anyone with a computer can read them But Trump is removing all funding from this program. How long will it take us to recover from this ignorant man?

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