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Dien Cai Dau - Yusef Komunyakaa We all have our ghosts.

So says Yusef, and with masterful language and imagery he, at once, invokes and exorcises one of his, the Vietnam War. I use the word invoke because all possible meanings apply: to call upon for blessing, inspiration, support; to make useful as pertinent; to summon or conjure a spirit; to solemnly plead or implore.

For all the frank brutality, sorrow and anger, this is poetic in the truest sense of the word. There's a narrative, but it's too deep and painful for straight prose. Exploration and explication are by way of the soul via supplication, inspiration, revelation and release.

Forced onward by some need,
some urge, he knows the pulse
of mysteries and diversions
like thoughts trapped in the ground.
He questions each root.
Every cornered shadow has a life
to bargain with. Like an angel
pushed up against what hurts,
his globe-shaped helmet
follows the gold ring his flashlight
casts into the void.
(from Tunnels)

I'm thinking about starting another shelf and calling it the poetics of war. The works of Yusef Komunyakaa will be among those that set the standard.