Kindness by Yusef Komunyakaa
BY YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA
For Carol Rigolot
When deeds splay before us
precious as gold & unused chances
stripped from the whine-bone,
we know the moment kindheartedness
walks in. Each praise be
echoes us back as the years uncount
themselves, eating salt. Though blood
first shaped us on the climbing wheel,
the human mind lit by the savanna’s
ice star & thistle rose,
your knowing gaze enters a room
& opens the day,
saying we were made for fun.
Even the bedazzled brute knows
when sunlight falls through leaves
across honed knives on the table.
If we can see it push shadows
aside, growing closer, are we less
broken? A barometer, temperature
gauge, a ruler in minus fractions
& pedigrees, a thingmajig,
a probe with an all-seeing eye,
what do we need to measure
kindness, every unheld breath,
every unkind leapyear?
Sometimes a sober voice is enough
to calm the waters & drive away
the false witnesses, saying, Look,
here are the broken treaties Beauty
brought to us earthbound sentinels.
Yusef Komunyakaa, “Kindness
Yusef Komunyakaa was born in 1947, the oldest of five sons of a carpenter. He later reclaimed the name Komunyakaa that his great-grandparents, stowaways in a ship from Trinidad, had given up. He grew up in the small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, before and during the Civil Rights-era. He served in the US Army from 1968-1970, serving one tour of duty in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War (1969-1970). He worked as a specialist for the military paper, Southern Cross, covering actions and stories, interviewing fellow soldiers, and publishing articles on Vietnamese history, which earned him a Bronze Star.
He began writing poetry in 1973 at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Campus, where he was an editor for and a contributor to the campus arts and literature publication, riverrun. He earned his M.A. on Writing from Colorado State University in 1978, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine in 1980.
Komunyakaa married Australian novelist Mandy Sayer in 1985, and in the same year, became an associate professor at Indiana University, Bloomington. He also held the Ruth Lilly Professorship for two years in 1989-1990. He and Sayer were married for ten years. He taught at Indiana University until the fall of 1997, when he became an English professor at Princeton University.
Yusef Komunyakaa is currently a professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University.
_____The Following is a film on Kindness____
Now…it is true that this film is actually a Vodka commercial, but if you can forget about that for a moment, I think it offers one of the best and kindest solutions to Capitalism that I have seen in some time. Besides, it features Louis Armstrong singing “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” What more kindness can you ask than that?