richard blanco | one today

24 01 2013

Richard Blanco

POETRY DISPATCH #388 | January 24, 2013

RICHARD BLANCO

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you missed President Obama’s Second Inaugural celebration on Monday, you missed a great moment in American history. The evening news is such a dumbing-down of major (too often minor) daily events, that anything the networks tried to report of the Second Inaugural in sound-bites was close to total failure.

If you missed the address itself, the singers and speechmakers alone, you missed much. Judging by what I heard and saw ‘captured’ in later news reports (which totally eliminated our present poet laureate, Richard Blanco,) you also missed a poem and presentation so perfectly pure and “American” in celebration of the occasion, that I feel compelled to spread the word–a poem that will inevitably find its place in the fabric of our American literary history. “Hail to the chief”—poet. — Norbert Blei

One Today

by Richard Blanco
(read at President Obama’s Inaugural Ceremony January 2, 2013)

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 behind windows.

My face, your face, millions effaces 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 twenty years, so I could write this poem.

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 keep dreaming, or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty 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 song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling, or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open for each other all day, 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 a 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.





norbert blei | it beats bush, mccain, obama, hillary…the war, gas prices, the economy—name your headache

15 03 2008

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NOTES from the UNDERGROUND… No. 133 | March 15, 2008

CRANE WATCH

Yes, there’s the darkness of life, examined, turned over and over underground, but life aboveground deserves our attention as well.

Here’s a little note, a reminder in mid-March, from a friend in Nebraska that some inspiring old patterns remain above us…that the time has come to look up, all around, partake in the wonder of some special winged creatures in her neck of the woods.

Open the link.

Enjoy.

(It beats Bush, McCain, Obama, Hillary…the war, gas prices, the economy—name your headache.) Norbert Blei

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Anyone interested in knowing what’s going on in our part of the world right now can plug into www.rowesanctuary.org through April 6th to watch the sandhill cranes on the Platte River. Early morning and late afternoon are when the cranes come in from the fields to roost on sand bars or in the shallow water through the night. They have protection there from predators. The annual Audubon Wildlife and Rivers Conference is this weekend in Kearney.

–Delphine

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Rowe Sanctuary


Site Description: Rowe Sanctuary has been owned and managed by the National Audubon Society since 1974. Located along the Platte River in central Nebraska, the site encompasses 1,300 acres of river habitat, wetlands, woodlands, and mixed-grass prairie.

Ornithological Summary:
The Platte River in central Nebraska is world famous for the sandhill crane migration that occurs early each year. Rowe hosts more than 70,000 cranes nightly during their northward flight to their breeding grounds. There have been more than 20 whooping crane sightings as well, usually in small groups. Other state species on concern found here are bobolink, northern harrier, dickcissel, red-headed woodpecker, and piping plover, which has been recorded using sandbar habitat.








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