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The White Hat

by Yusef Komunyakaa

It rises out of a sunset
Slow as an omphalos
From submission, a hero
Cresting hills on his palomino,

Out of a denuded landscape
Whose citizens lost faith trying to coax
God out of good. Their hammers
Strike echoes of gold every eye

Lives for. Miss Kitty
Shuffles the cards. The proverbial
Gimp speaks folk wisdom, spooked
By a dead man’s face on a passing train.

The white hat is an outlaw’s
Cleansed by blood & the leading woman’s
Good looks, & he’s now a patron
Saint of precious metals.


Yusef Komunyakaa’s latest book of poems is Thieves of Paradise (Wesleyan, 1998), and he recorded a CD, Love Notes from the Madhouse with John Tchicai (8th Harmonic Breakdown). He teaches in the creative writing program at Princeton University. (1999)


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