Monday’s Verse 10/15/2018

Dear readers,

quickly this morning, no time for small chat, is a poem by Richard Blanco — you can look him up because he has been at least an inaugural poet, but was maybe also poet laureate for a bit? I forget. But in this 20-year-old poem I hear not only the bilingual symbols of ethnic american poetry, but also Wallace Stevens. Enjoy. -ed.

CONTEMPLATIONS AT THE VIRGIN DE LA CARIDAD CAFETERIA, 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 plantains

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.

-1998

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