In Honor of Veteran’s Day…

In honor of the holiday, take the time today to thank those who have served our country and to read a few poems/stories by some of your favorite veteran writers. Here is a poem by Vietnam Veteran Yusef Komunyakaa, whose work still breaks my heart every time I read it.

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.   
My clouded reflection eyes me   
like a bird of prey, 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
 
SUGGESTED READING: In Pharoah’s Army by Tobias Wolff (Non-fiction), The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (Fiction), Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa (Poetry)
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