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I was so excited to learn that President Obama will have an inaugural poem. The poem will be written and read by Richard Blanco on January 21st at the ceremonial swearing in.

Blanco, of whom I had never heard, turns out to be someone I want to get to know. He is 44, gay, was conceived in Cuba, born in Spain, and grew up in Miami. He studied engineering in college and worked for a few years helping to design bridges, road improvements and other engineering things in Miami. Then in his mid-20s he decided to get a master’s degree in fine arts. He published his first book of poems in 1998. His most recent book, Looking for the Gulf Motel, was published in 2012.

Sadly, the university where I work doesn’t have any of his books. Thankfully, my public library has his second and third. However, other readers beat me to it. There are two copies of each one and they are all checked out with two hold requests for each title. No, not a lot when you compare it to the 188 holds for 273 circulating copies of Fifty Shades of Grey. But we are talking poetry here. Any hold queue is something to marvel at! I got in line for his second book, Direction to the Beach of the Dead.

But neither you nor I are out of luck because Blanco has a few poems available to read and listen to on his website. I have not read all of them, but so far from what I have read, I am very excited, they are great. Take, for instance, the poem “Somewhere to Paris.” The “I” of the poem is on a train from Italy to Paris and doesn’t know where along the way he is:

        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 like how he used being he doesn’t know where as a way to become something more essential instead of turning into something that is lost.

Also, don’t miss “Maybe.” It begins:

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.

So many maybes in the poem, so many possibilities.

So while Blanco is working hard to write a poem for the inaugural, I will look forward to hearing it.

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