Thesis Statement: * Topic- Yusef Komunyakaa “Facing It” * Critical Opinion-Viewing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial often brings back many real and uneasy memories for a Vietnam Veteran. The experience of being there, seeing first-hand the atrocities of war. As these things are relived, the experiences, while old, become new again.
Both speakers share the same sense of fear, sadness and guilt which is seen in both poems.
They differ, however, because they had experienced two very different wars and each of them has learned and lost and grown in their own way.
Turner, however, is telling the reader not to expect anything less than outrageous because there are no rules to follow when you’re at war. When you are battling something you never thought was possible, like a “twelve year old” that “rolls a grenade into the room” (lines 8-9), you are essentially fighting the unknown which is even more frightening than knowing your enemy.
The two poems are similar in the sense that both speakers have experienced horrible things and have lost many friends during their time in the war.
The typical Komunyakaa poem is often marked by a juxtaposition of apparently opposite elements.
For example, the more formal diction derived from the poet’s advanced education and extensive reading is often set against the regionalisms of the rural South or the jargon of soldiers and jazz musicians.The tone of the poem is very emotional, combining the speakers fear and sadness for what was and what could have been as he reads the names on the wall. I’m flesh.”(Line 5), he is comparing two things that are very different to one another.His vulnerability is illustrated as he says “I said I wouldn't, dammit: No tears. Stone is perceived as a strong, indestructible object where as flesh is easily penetrated and weak.To Komunyakaa, the poem is a mechanism for self-discovery, a means by which both the poet and the reader can probe the outer layers of any experience with the intention of arriving at some core meaning.Indeed, much of Komunyakaa’s work focuses on this desire to get at the heart of the matter, whether it is who humans are or where they find themselves at any given moment in their lives.In the poem “My Father’s Love Letters,” for example, the poet confesses his desire to slip a warning into the note he writes to his mother on behalf of his illiterate father that “Mary Lou Williams’ ’Polka Dots & Moonbeams’/ Never made the swelling go down.” This 1940 ballad, written by the team of Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen but whose performance by African American jazz vocalist Mary Lou Williams is remembered by the poet, captures the euphoria of a young couple’s first dance; its romantic imagery stands in sharp contrast to the bleak reality of a marriage after the magic wears off.The line also highlights the conflict between the boy’s desire to assist his father in his quest to lure his wife back to him despite his past history of physical abuse and his simultaneous wish that his mother would keep her present distance and stay safe.At the beginning of his poetic career, Komunyakaa’s vision was rooted most often in his race and gender, but even in his earliest work, there is evidence of his desire to incorporate the perspectives of other people.This tendency to seek the universal expanded over time as Komunyakaa studied and traveled.In Turners poem “The Hurt Locker”, Turner touches upon the same emotions as Yusef: fear and sadness.He opens up his poem by saying “Nothing but hurt left here.