Ode to the Maggot
Brother of the blowfly
& godhead, you work magic
In slabs of bad pork
& flophouses. Yes, you
Go to the root of all things.
You are sound & mathematical.
Jesus Christ, you're merciless
With the truth. Ontological & lustrous,
You cast spells on beggars & kings
Behind the stone door of Caesar's tomb
Or split trench in a field of ragweed.
No decree or creed can outlaw you
As you take every living thing apart. Little
Master of earth, no one gets to heaven
Without going through you first.
To celebrate National Poetry Month we are again presenting an April Celebration: 30 Poets/30 Presses (#ArmchairBookFair21), a feature we initiated last year to help promote new releases whose publicity opportunities were thwarted due to the pandemic. Please join us every day for new poetry from the presses that sustain us.
“Ode to the Maggot” from EVERY DAY MOJO SONGS OF EARTH: by Yusef Komunyakaa.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux April 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Yusef Komunyakaa.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include Taboo, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, Talking Dirty to the Gods, Warhorses, The Chameleon Couch, The Emperor of Water Clocks, and Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2021. His honors include the William Faulkner Prize (Université Rennes, France), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award. His plays, performance art and libretti have been performed internationally and include Saturnalia, Wakonda’s Dream, Testimony, and Gilgamesh: a verse play. He teaches at New York University.
“A monumental collection . . . No matter how well you know Komunyakaa’s poetry, you’ll find this collection an illuminating retrospective, and if you’re new to him, this is the place to start.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"This dazzling collection makes a definitive case for the Pulitzer Prize–winning Komunyakaa as a monumental and singular American voice. A jazzy master of enjambment and arresting opening lines, Komunyakaa synthesizes natural history, myth, and wide-ranging intellectual curiosity into sensory acts of witness . . . In this roving survey of history and nature, violence often meets beauty, but Komunyakaa never forgets how ‘The body remembers / every wish one lives for or doesn’t.’”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred review)