Red Foods
January 25, 2012

Lift me up, Severn, for I am dying. Do not be afraid. are good for us: beets, raspberries, tomatoes. Watermelon. Is this supposed to remind us of the blood and water of our beginning? Or of our end? Face down in a mess of noise, and light, and hair, I don’t like it. I bawl. The furball of memory and regret not yet stuck in my throat, unable to go up or down, I am an unplanted seed, all hope and striving. Later for angioplasty, ramipril, and tasteless cereal. Kashi Go Lean. My ataxia is normal.

From ‘Chinese Quatrains’
January 11, 2012

My grandpa was eighty    my grandma was twenty She cried for years    for the good life she was missing She faced the wall    until he finished his dying Then she polished his bones    for all of eternity  * Throw my girl into the river    she won’t drown Like her mother    and her mother’s mother Stubborn reed    hollow at both ends She’ll whistle and hum    and float into dawn  * The man from Worcester    wants to eat my sister He bends her backward    coats her in rice-flour Pinches her corners    calls her “sweet dumpling” Fries her in deep oil    then serves her on porcelain  * His lovero

New Jersey Journey
January 11, 2012

Spent two hours at the end of December on the Garden State Highway In the ancient Ford’s trunk nothing but my heart grown heavier year by year A protracted catastrophe: the constant river of traffic the endless business of overtaking vicious eye-contact with total strangers in the adjacent lane  Driven by yearning for its prehistoric brothers a Jumbo climbs out of Newark airport over marshes and lagoons a giant smoking mountain of rubbish and the countless lights of the refineries Mile after mile of stunted trees telegraph poles fields of blueberries a Siberian countryside colonized then run t

Richard Blanco, the Official Poet of Obama's Second Inauguration, in TNR in 2011
December 14, 2011

Here's a taste of the poet reading at the president's inauguration.

Another Childhood
November 23, 2011

He sloughs in his slippers to the dark bathroom and lowers himself to the seat as he has done all his adult life when, bare skin about to meet cold extruded vinyl, his most vulnerable self suspended above the water, dread creeps in.  Even so, with not so much as one light lit to constrict his sleeping pupils he sits, and his mind swims back fifty years to the campground in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where he bumbled with a flashlight to that wood maw grinning in the yellow light. He forced himself down, then popped back to his feet probing with the light down there for tarantula, alligator, snak

The Love Canal Presaged
November 23, 2011

              Dear Mamma, the great-coat has come, whose use, and my gratitude for it, will surely cumulate                      all winter long, if        the cold has not caused me to need it until now.                However, all the last fortnight floods of rain have fallen—the farms all look like lagoons,                      and even College        has turned picturesque, a sort of moated fortress,               or bastion, you might say, given our fashion of flinging a recusant gauntlet to Progress—some                      (though not you, mother)        would declare it quite the Old

But Waves, They Scatter
November 09, 2011

From beneath the icefield, longing looks up at the lovers who—variously meandering, stalling or not, fucking or not—guess nothing of him. Torturer sometimes. Known also to have been a savior eventually, hard passage to a life worth the hardness. You would think longing lived in a space warmer than an icefield, you would think so. Tragedies are happening everywhere in the world, beside things that aren’t technically tragedies, though they include suffering, pain, death in its more humiliating versions, to remind that some of us will be less spared, and some will not.

November 09, 2011

Except when he sleeps, I never get to see the crown of his head. He always wears a baseball cap.  His jeans hang low off his hips. This is the fashion. He holds his hands—as I do—as all the men in our family hold their hands—shyly. He’s a beautiful boy—smart. The two of us—we cannot say this  directly—we can only indirectly acknowledge how beautiful and smart we are through our mutual  admiration society where we speak in nods and grunts and mumbles from the crowns of our beautiful heads. This article appeared in the December 1, 2011, issue of the magazine.

From March 1979
October 26, 2011

Sick of those who come with words, words but no language, I make my way to the snow-covered island.  Wilderness has no words. The unwritten pages stretch out in all directions. I come across this line of deer-slots in the snow: a language, language without words. —Translated by Robin Robertson This article appeared in the November 17, 2011, issue of the magazine.

The Couple
October 26, 2011

They turn out the lamplight, and its white globe glimmers for a moment: an aspirin rising and falling then dissolving in a glass of darkness. Around them, the hotel walls slide like a back-drop up into the night sky. Love’s drama has died down, and they’re sleeping now, but their dreams will meet as colours meet and bleed into each other in the dampened pages of a child’s painting-book. All around is dark, and silent. The city has drawn in, extinguishing its windows.