Word Cloud: Transformation


What’s in a name? Names are a symbol for who we are, but sometimes a birth name can feel like a once-warm coat we’ve outgrown: a little shabby, and tight in all the wrong places.

So it was for today’s poets. Both of them have taken distinctive names completely different from their original identities, new names which have meaning and power for them.

Yusef Komunyakaa (1947 – ) is a African American poet who was born as James William Brown, in Bogalusa Louisiana, the eldest of  five children. He served one tour of duty in South Vietnam during the war, and worked for the military paper Southern Cross, leaving the service in 1966. He earned an M.A. in writing from Colorado State University in 1978, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine, in 1980. He was awarded the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Neon Vernacular. Currently, Komunyakaa is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University.


I’ve been here before, dreaming myself
backwards, among grappling hooks of light.

True to the seasons, I’ve lived every word
spoken. Did I walk into someone’s nightmare?

Hunger quivers on a fleshly string
at the crossroad. So deep is the lore,

there’s only tomorrow today where darkness
splinters & wounds the bird of paradise.

On paths that plunge into primordial
green, Echo’s laughter finds us together.

In the sweatshops of desire men think
if they don’t die the moon won’t rise.

All the dead-end streets run into one
moment of bliss & sleight of hand.

Beside the Euphrates, past the Tigris,
up the Mississippi. Bloodline & clockwork.

The X drawn where we stand. Trains
follow rivers that curve around us.

The distant night opens like a pearl
fan, a skirt, a heart, a drop of salt.

When we embrace, we are not an island
beyond fables & the blue exhaust of commerce.

When the sounds of River Styx punish
trees, my effigy speaks to the night owl.

Our voices break open the pink magnolia
where struggle is home to the beast in us.

All the senses tuned for the Hawkesbury,
labyrinths turning into lowland fog.

Hand in hand, feeling good, we walk
phantoms from the floating machine.

When a drowning man calls out,
his voice follows him downstream.

“Confluence” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems,. © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa – Wesleyan University Press

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ON THIS DAY: February 22, 2018

February 22nd is

Cook a Sweet Potato Day

National Margarita Day

Walking the Dog Day

World Thinking Day *

George Washington’s Birthday


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ON THIS DAY: February 21, 2018

February 21st is

Sticky Bun Day

International Mother
Language Day *


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ON THIS DAY: February 20, 2018

February 20th is

Cherry Pie Day

Handcuff Day *

Love Your Pet Day

World Day for Social Justice *


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ON THIS DAY: February 19, 2018

February 19th is

Presidents’ Day *

Chocolate Mint Day

Iwo Jima Day *


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TCS: Spaghetti Westerns – Danish Style?

Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

“Maybe poker’s just not your game, Ike.
I know: let’s have a spelling contest.”

— Doc Holliday, in Tombstone


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ON THIS DAY: February 18, 2018

February 18th is

Battery Day *

National Drink Wine Day

Pluto Day *

World Whale Day

Crab Stuffed Flounder Day


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