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Yusef Komunyakaa's Facing It Poem Essay

1134 words - 5 pages

Many authors write poems based on experience. During a major event, such as war, authors have feelings that they want to express. African American authors were not able to express themselves throughout slavery and war. It would have been a dangerous thing to do. Therefore, they used music, writings, writing poems and stories was the best way to put out their situations.
In Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “Facing It,” he discusses his experience during the Vietnam War. Komunyakaa was in Louisiana during the civil War. During the Vietnam War, he joined the army as a correspondent (Poets). Later, he began writing newspapers for the military called The Southern Cross. The poem begins with the reflection of Komunyakaa’s face fading as he views the stone. Those lines read, “My black face fades, / hiding inside the black granite” (1-2). The black granite does not allow his skin tone to show. He emphases his ethnicity when he uses ‘black’ twice. Furthermore, Komunyakaa acknowledged himself as an African American and created a connection between himself and the memorial. Here I believe he realized he should be on the memorial. He is remembering an incident during the Vietnam War that should have taken his life. His fading face makes me assume that he realizes that there were no separate races in that war. They were all Americans. In the next line, Komunyakaa can not control his emotions. He rejects his emotions when he says, “I said I wouldn't, / dammit: No tears” (3-4). When Komunyakaa views the wall his past emotions rush back to him. As he struggles with the emotions his perception of himself and his surroundings change. At the beginning, his face was distant, but appeared as discussed the memorial and its meaning. He could now describe his face. It was now his own reflection. “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” (8-13). These lines indicate that Komunyakaa thinks he can turn and not be connected to the wall. When he turned he was still inside of the wall. There is no escape. Komunyakaa wrote, “I touch the name Andrew Johnson” (17). Komunyakaa touches a name and he recognizes it. He added, “I see the booby trap's white flash” (18). Komunyakaa suddenly remembers the way Andrew Johnson was killed. The poem continues, “Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse but when she walks away the names stay on the wall. Brushstrokes flash . . .” (19-22). The women, in the blouse, left the stone and the words. Komunyakaa was not able to leave them. Komunyakaa described beauty and violence. The beauty came in the shimmering of the blouse. Beauty is then destroyed by violence. Komunyakaa adds, “. . . a red bird’s / wings cutting across my stare. /The sky. A plane in the sky” (22-24). A bird interrupted him as he stared at the memorial. In the next line, a plane is the sky caught his attention. “A white vet’s image floats / closer to me, then his pale eyes...

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