Monday, January 21, 2013

A Stonewall Moment and Richard Blanco Inaugural Poem

Richard summed up beautifully what the Obama Presidency is all about.  A lovely tribute to all of us, this diverse country and to his parents as well.  Thank you Richard.  And President Obama, the first president to acknowledge the struggle of LGBT community specifically as a civil rights issue - even mentioning Stonewall in reference to that struggle.  His embrace of all the diversity that is this country was a thing to behold. This is why we elected him and I hope and pray that he can move this country forward in the direction that he spoke of - for the rights of all of us, created equal, to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Here is Richard, a out and proud gay poet:


One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving across windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges, arrayed like rainbows,
begging our praise. Silver trucks, heavy with oil or paper --
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives --
to teach geometry or ring up groceries as my mother did
for 20 years, so I could write this poem for all of us today.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day,
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we all keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of 20 children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind -- our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected songbird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables. Hear the doors we open
each day for each other, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste; or buenos dias
in the language my mother taught me -- in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into the sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow or the plum blush of dusk, but always -- home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window of one country -- all of us --
facing the stars
hope -- a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it -- together.


Russ Manley said...

Yes a lovely tribute, and amen to all you said.

My God, Frank, can you believe we have lived to see an openly gay poet at the inauguration of a President? And the President himself upholding gay marriage in his speech? It just takes my breath away.

Frank said...

I actually had moist eyes a couple of times during Obama's speech and Blanco's poem. After decades, nay centuries, of abuse, rejection, hatred, and being relegated to the fringe, we are now acknowledged for the first time as possibly being created equal and deserving of equal treatment under the law. Amazing.

Frank said...

Russ, thanks for the link!


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