Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine for Richard Blanco

Four Hearts, 1969
artist: Jim Dine

One of our tribe is named inaugural poet. Richard Blanco. This is the closest I have come to feeling patriotic since I was a child and the government lied to us about the Vietnam War and almost everything else.

A gay Cuban born in Spain and living in Maine is on the steps of the Capitol reading his creation in front of war lords, greedy capitalists, power hungry politicians, and maybe, just maybe, a few compassionate souls. I hope they all hear him.


I order some of his books, find Youtube clips and watch him deliver his poem, which was not universally well received by the critics – whoever the poetry critics are these days. And I love him. I love him because he has heavy lidded eyes and eyebrows with a life of their own. I love him not just because he sounds so beautiful and looks so beautiful, but because even though he followed the practical career of being an engineer he didn’t give up on the crazy one of being a poet. How beautiful is that? A poet and an engineer! Precise and transcendent.

The photo on his second book of poetry makes him look barely an adult. Moody, and yes, so seductive. He is a man-boy. But when he reads that poem on Inauguration Day he is man-man who has not forgotten a boy’s love.