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By Yusef Komunyakaa

The river stones are listening

because we have something to say.

The trees lean closer today.

The singing in the electrical woods

has gone dumb. It looks like rain

because it is too warm to snow.

Guardian angels, wherever you’re hiding,

we know you can’t be everywhere at once.

Have you corralled all the pretty wild

horses? The memory of ants asleep

in daylilies, roses, holly, & larkspur.

The magpies gaze at us, still

waiting. River stones are listening.

But all we can say now is,

Mercy, please, rock me.


Yusef Komunyakaa, "Rock Me, Mercy" from The Emperor of Water Clocks. Copyright © 2015 by Yusef Komunyakaa.  Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Source: The Emperor of Water (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015)

  • Nature

Poet Bio

Yusef Komunyakaa
Yusef Komunyakaa’s poems are rooted in his experiences as an African American growing up in rural Louisiana and his service in the Vietnam War. Influenced by the jazz music he loves as well as by people’s everyday speech, his poetry has won a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. See More By This Poet

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