15-02-18

Richard Blanco, Stacie Cassarino, Elke Heidenreich, Chrystine Brouillet, Hans Kruppa, Douglas Hofstadter, Wilhelm Jensen, Demetrius Vikelas, Tobias Amslinger

 

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Richard Blanco werd geboren op 15 februari 1968 in Madrid. Zie ook alle tags voor Richard Blanco op dit blog.

Uit:For All of Us, One Today

“Days before our field trip to the science center, Mrs. Bermudez tells our class the sun is actually hundreds of times larger than the earth. We move around it. We’re nothing, zooming through dark space, she says, matter-of-factly, as if it didn’t matter that we were no longer the center of our own little worlds. We, with crayons in our hands coloring dittos of the sun and our nine planets. We, at our desks but also helplessly zooming through cold, empty space. I don’t want to believe her; the sun is the size of a sunflower, I insist. I draw lemon-yellow petals around it and color its center sienna brown. The first time I see a lion I am nine years old, my grandfather’s hands holding me back from the cage I want to open. I can still feel his grip and the lion’s eyes staring at me like tiny, amber planets behind bars, asking me to set him free. My first kiss was under the shade of moonlit palms in Janet Carballo’s backyard, exactly two days before the end of the school year. But I’m still feeling the powdery skin behind her earlobes, smelling her strawberry lip gloss and the orange blossoms in the air already thick with summer. I never saw a comet until I was twenty-four, cupped in the darkness of the Everglades and the arms of a man I loved. It was past midnight on a Sunday, I remember; I didn’t go to work the next day. I’m still sleeping with the mangroves and the ibis, under a masterpiece of stars. The comet’s tail a brushstroke of pure, genius light.
These are more than memories. They are what lives—and relives—inside our bodies, in every cell and heartbeat. The undiscovered DNA of our souls imprinted with the minute details of those eternal moments that change our lives, our stories, forever. Sometimes they’re subtle, sometimes dramatic, but we know nothing will ever be the same the instant we experience them. And quite often they are unexpected.
On the afternoon of December 12, while casually driving back to my home in Maine, I receive a phone call with the news that I have been chosen as inaugural poet. Bewildered, I first wonder if it could be some cruel joke a friend might be playing on me. You mean like Robert Frost? Like Maya Angelou? I ask, wanting confirmation that what I just heard is true. Yes. Yes, I’m told, as I keep driving down the interstate in a daze, trying to speak, trying to fathom what has just happened. But I know. My body knows it’s the most important moment of my life as a poet, a day by which I will mark the rest of my life, the day I learned that I will be named the fifth poet ever in our history to be US Inaugural Poet.

 

 
Richard Blanco (Madrid, 15 februari 1968)
Hier bij de 2e inauguratie van president Obama in 2013

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15-02-17

Richard Blanco, Elke Heidenreich, Chrystine Brouillet, Hans Kruppa, Douglas Hofstadter, Wilhelm Jensen, Demetrius Vikelas

 

De Amerikaanse dichter Richard Blanco werd geboren op 15 februari 1968 in Madrid. Zie ook alle tags voor Richard Blanco op dit blog.

 

Mother Picking Produce

She scratches the oranges then smells the peel,
presses an avocado just enough to judge its ripeness,
polishes the Macintoshes searching for bruises.

She selects with hands that have thickened, fingers
that have swollen with history around the white gold
of a wedding ring she now wears as a widow.

Unlike the archived photos of young, slender digits
captive around black and white orange blossoms,
her spotted hands now reaching into the colors.

I see all the folklore of her childhood, the fields,
the fruit she once picked from the very tree,
the wiry roots she pulled out of the very ground.

And now, among the collapsed boxes of yucca,
through crumbling pyramids of golden mangos,
she moves with the same instinct and skill.

This is how she survives death and her son,
on these humble duties that will never change,
on those habits of living which keep a life a life.

She holds up red grapes to ask me what I think,
and what I think is this, a new poem about her-
the grapes look like dusty rubies in her hands,

what I say is this: they look sweet, very sweet.

 

 

Contemplations at the Virgin de la Caridad Cafetería, Inc.

Que será, el café of this holy, incorporated place,
the wild steam of scorched espresso cakes rising
like mirages from the aromatic waste, waving
over the coffee-glossed lips of these faces

assembled for a standing breakfast of nostalgia,
of tastes that swirl with the delicacy of memories
in these forty-cent cups of brown sugar histories,
in the swirling froth of café-con-leche, que será,

what have they seen that they cannot forget—
the broad-leaf waves of tabaco and plaintains
the clay dust of red and nameless mountains,
que será, that this morning I too am a speck;

I am the brilliant guitar of a tropical morning
speaking Spanish and ribboning through potions
of waist-high steam and green cane oceans,
que será, drums vanishing and returning,

the African gods that rule a rhythmic land
playing their music: bongó, bembé, conga;
que será, that cast the spells of this rumba,
this wild birthright, this tropical dance

with the palms of this exotic confusion;
que será, that I too should be a question,
que será, what have I seen, what do I know—
culture of café and loss, this place I call home.

 


Richard Blanco (Madrid, 15 februari 1968)

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15-02-16

Richard Blanco, Elke Heidenreich, Chrystine Brouillet, Hans Kruppa, Douglas Hofstadter, Wilhelm Jensen

 

De Amerikaanse dichter Richard Blanco werd geboren op 15 februari 1968 in Madrid. Zie ook alle tags voor Richard Blanco op dit blog.

 

Since Unfinished

I’ve been writing this since
the summer my grandfather
taught me how to hold a blade
of grass between my thumbs
and make it whistle, since
I first learned to make green
from blue and yellow, turned
paper into snowflakes, believed
a seashell echoed the sea,
and the sea had no end.
 
I’ve been writing this since
a sparrow flew into my class
and crashed into the window,
laid to rest on a bed of tissue
in a shoebox by the swings, since
the morning I first stood up
on the bathroom sink to watch
my father shave, since our eyes
met in that foggy mirror, since
the splinter my mother pulled
from my thumb, kissed my blood.
 
I’ve been writing this since
the woman I slept with the night
of my father’s wake, since
my grandmother first called me
a faggot and I said nothing, since
I forgave her and my body
pressed hard against Michael
on the dance floor at Twist, since
the years spent with a martini
and men I knew I couldn’t love.
 
I’ve been writing this since
the night I pulled off the road
at Big Sur and my eyes caught
the insanity of the stars, since
the months by the kitchen window
watching the snow come down
like fallout from a despair I had
no word for, since I stopped
searching for a name and found
myself tick-tock in a hammock
asking nothing of the sky.
 
I’ve been writing this since
spring, studying the tiny leaves
on the oaks dithering like moths,
contrast to the eon-old fieldstones
unveiled of snow, but forever
works-in-progress, since tonight
with the battled moon behind
the branches spying on the world—
same as it ever was—perfectly
unfinished, my glasses and pen
at rest again on the night table.
 
I’ve been writing this since
my eyes started seeing less,
my knees aching more, since
I began picking up twigs, feathers,
and pretty rocks for no reason
collecting on the porch where
I sit to read and watch the sunset
like my grandfather did everyday,
remembering him and how
to make a blade of grass whistle.

 

 
Richard Blanco (Madrid, 15 februari 1968)

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15-02-15

Richard Blanco, Elke Heidenreich, Chrystine Brouillet, Hans Kruppa, Douglas Hofstadter, Demetrius Vikelas

 

De Amerikaanse dichter Richard Blanco werd geboren op 15 februari 1968 in Madrid. Zie ook alle tags voor Richard Blanco op dit blog.

 

El Florida Room

Not a study or a den, but El Florida
as my mother called it, a pretty name
for the room with the prettiest view
of the lipstick-red hibiscus puckered up
against the windows, the tepid breeze
laden with the brown-sugar scent
of loquats drifting in from the yard.

Not a sunroom, but where the sun
both rose and set, all day the shadows
of banana trees fan-dancing across
the floor, and if it rained, it rained
the loudest, like marbles plunking
across the roof under constant threat
of coconuts ready to fall from the sky.

Not a sitting room, but El Florida where
I sat alone for hours with butterflies
frozen on the polyester curtains
and faces of Lladró figurines: sad angels,
clowns, and princesses with eyes glazed
blue and gray, gazing from behind
the glass doors of the wall cabinet.

Not a TV room, but where I watched
Creature Feature as a boy, clinging
to my brother, safe from vampires
in the same sofa where I fell in love
with Clint Eastwood and my Abuelo
watching westerns, or pitying women
crying in telenovelas with my Abuela.

Not a family room, but the room where
my father twirled his hair while listening
to 8-tracks of Elvis, and read Nietzsche
and Kant a few months before he died,
where my mother learned to dance alone
as she swept, and I learned Salsa pressed
against my Tía Julia’s enormous breasts.

At the edge of the city, in the company
of crickets, beside the empty clothesline,
telephone wires and the moon, tonight
my life is an old friend sitting with me 
not in the living room, but in the light
of El Florida, as quiet and necessary
as any star shining above it.

 

 
Richard Blanco (Madrid, 15 februari 1968)

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15-02-14

Dolce far niente (Ludwig August Frankl-Hochwart), Richard Blanco, Tobias Amslinger

 

Dolce far niente

 

 

 
Dolce far niente door Sir William Quiller Orchardson, 1872

 

 

Dolce far niente

Alller Sorgen leicht entbunden,
Hingestreckt im weichen Moose,
Fliehen ungezählt die Stunden,
Gleich den Düften einer Rose.

Glühende Orangen hängen
Sonnenmüd vom Baum herunter,
Vögel singen mit Gesängen
Eingeschlafne Lüftchen munter.

Faul sich dehmnd schlingt die Rebe
Sich von Stamme hin zu Stamme,
In dem grünenden Gewebe
Kocht des Weines süße Flamme.

Und in heißer Sonnenhelle
Liegt des Meeres blaue Fläche,
Ohne Rauschen, selbst die Welle
Träge ist sie zum Gespräche.

Bläulich war der Himmelsbogen
Und nun ist er roth geworden,
Wolken kommen angezogen
Mit gemalten, bunten Borden.

Und es treten goldne Sterne
Ueber mir in dunkle Räume, —
Alle Bilder, nah und ferne,
Sind sie wirklich, sind sie Träume?

 

 
Ludwig August Frankl-Hochwart (3 februari 1810 – 12 maart 1894)
Portret door Leopold Pollack, 19e eeuw

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15-02-13

Richard Blanco, Elke Heidenreich, Chrystine Brouillet, Hans Kruppa, Douglas Hofstadter

 

De Amerikaanse dichter Richard Blanco werd geboren op 15 februari 1968 in Madrid. Richard Blanco was uitgenodigd om een gedicht voor te dragen tijdens de inaugurele rede van Barack Obama op 21 januari jongstleden. Zie ook alle tags voor Richard Blanco op dit blog.

 

 

MAYBE

for Craig

 

Maybe it was the billboards promising
paradise, maybe those fifty-nine miles
with your hand in mine, maybe my sexy
roadster, the top down, maybe the wind
fingering your hair, sun on your thighs
and bare chest, maybe it was just the ride
over the sea split in two by the highway
to Key Largo, or the idea of Key Largo.
Maybe I was finally in the right place
at the right time with the right person.
Maybe there'd finally be a house, a dog
named Chu, a lawn to mow, neighbors,
dinner parties, and you forever obsessed
with crossword puzzles and Carl Young,
reading in the dark by the moonlight,
at my bedside every night. Maybe. Maybe
it was the clouds paused at the horizon,
the blinding fields of golden sawgrass,
the mangrove islands tangled, inseparable
as we might be. Maybe I should've said
something, promised you something,
asked you to stay a while, maybe.

 

 

 

 

SOMEWHERE TO PARIS

The sole cause of a man's unhappiness
is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

--Pascal, Pensées

 

The vias of Italy turn to memory with each turn
and clack of the train's wheels, with every stitch
of track we leave behind, the duomos return again
to my imagination, already imagining Paris--
a fantasy of lights and marble that may end
when the train stops at Gare de l'Est and I step
into the daylight. In this space between cities,
between the dreamed and the dreaming, there is
no map--no legend, no ancient street names
or arrows to follow, no red dot assuring me:
you are here--and no place else. If I don't know
where I am, then I am only these heartbeats,
my breaths, the mountains rising and falling
like a wave scrolling across the train's window.
I am alone with the moon on its path, staring
like a blank page, shear and white as the snow
on the peaks echoing back its light. I am this
solitude, never more beautiful, the arc of space
I travel through for a few hours, touching
nothing and keeping nothing, with nothing
to deny the night, the dark pines pointing
to the stars, this life, always moving and still.

 

 

Richard Blanco (Madrid, 15 februari 1968)

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15-02-12

Richard Blanco

 

De Amerikaanse dichter Richard Blanco werd geboren op 15 februari 1968 in Madrid. Hij emigreerde naar Miami met zijn Cubaanse familie in ballingschap en werd daar opgevoed en opgeleid. Hij behaalde een bachelorgraad aan de Florida International University in de Civiele Techniek in 1991 en zijn Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 1997. De laatste studie volgde hij samen met de dichter Campbell McGrath. Vanaf 1999 reisde hij en leefde hij in Guatemala en Brazilië. Hij doceerde aan de Universiteit van Georgetown,aan de American University en de Central Connecticut State University. Hij onderzocht zijn Cubaanse erfgoed in zijn vroege werken en zijn rol als homoseksuele man in de Cubaans-Amerikaanse cultuur in “Looking for the Gulf Motel.” Zijn werk is verschenen in The Nation, Ploughshares, de Indiana Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly Review, New England Review en Zuid-Amerika Review. Blanco is lid van de online Letras Latinas Oral History Project archieven.

 

 

Looking for The Gulf Motel

Marco Island, Florida



There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

 

The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts
and ship's wheel in the lobby should still be
rising out of the sand like a cake decoration.
My brother and I should still be pretending
we don't know our parents, embarrassing us
as they roll the luggage cart past the front desk
loaded with our scruffy suitcases, two-dozen
loaves of Cuban bread, brown bags bulging
with enough mangos to last the entire week,
our espresso pot, the pressure cooker—and
a pork roast reeking garlic through the lobby.
All because we can't afford to eat out, not even
on vacation, only two hours from our home
in Miami, but far enough away to be thrilled
by whiter sands on the west coast of Florida,
where I should still be for the first time watching
the sun set instead of rise over the ocean.

 

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

 

My mother should still be in the kitchenette
of The Gulf Motel, her daisy sandals from Kmart
squeaking across the linoleum, still gorgeous
in her teal swimsuit and amber earrings
stirring a pot of arroz-con-pollo, adding sprinkles
of onion powder and dollops of tomato sauce.
My father should still be in a terrycloth jacket
smoking, clinking a glass of amber whiskey
in the sunset at the Gulf Motel, watching us
dive into the pool, two boys he'll never see
grow into men who will be proud of him.

 

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

 

My brother and I should still be playing Parcheesi,
my father should still be alive, slow dancing
with my mother on the sliding-glass balcony
of The Gulf Motel. No music, only the waves
keeping time, a song only their minds hear
ten-thousand nights back to their life in Cuba.
My mother's face should still be resting against
his bare chest like the moon resting on the sea,
the stars should still be turning around them.

 

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

 

My brother should still be thirteen, sneaking
rum in the bathroom, sculpting naked women
from sand. I should still be eight years old
dazzled by seashells and how many seconds
I hold my breath underwater—but I'm not.
I am thirty-eight, driving up Collier Boulevard,
looking for The Gulf Motel, for everything
that should still be, but isn't. I want to blame
the condos, their shadows for ruining the beach
and my past, I want to chase the snowbirds away
with their tacky mansions and yachts, I want
to turn the golf courses back into mangroves,
I want to find The Gulf Motel exactly as it was
and pretend for a moment, nothing lost is lost.

 

 

 

Richard Blanco (Madrid, 15 februari 1968)

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