Above you’ll find an except from Youri Mev’s upcoming show ‘Conversations’ and her interview with Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco. He’ll be at the Arsht in Miami this weekend, Friday the 22nd of Feb at 7:30. Details here. This interview will also be featured on WPBT2’s show Art Loft, in the coming months.
In the clip he reads Abuelo in a Western from his book, looking for the Gulf Motel, followed excerpt’s from Youri’s Q & A, but below is one of our faves, La Revolucion at Antonio’s Mercado, from his collection City of a Hundred Fires.
La Revolucion at Antonio’s Mercado
Para la santera, Esperanza, who makes me open new boxes of candles so she can pick out the red ones, the color of Chango, her protector spirit, and tutors me in the ways of all the spirits: Elegua, Ochun, Yemaya,
Para Josie on welfare, who sells me her food stamps for cash because she can’t buy cocoa butter soaps, Coca-Cola, or disposable diapers with them,
Para la Senora Vidal and her husband who came early in the 50s before la Revolucion, own the famous Matador Grille on Eighth Street, helped those who came later, who give me two-dollar tips when I double bag,
Para Elena who makes me sort through cartfuls of avocados to find the best one, her nostalgia-coated tongue complains that the fruit here can’t compare to the fruit back home — where the sugar was sweeter, the salt saltier,
Para Juan Galdo who remains unsatisfied with the flavor of los tabacos de Honduras,
Para Mrs. Benitez the only regular who buys broccoli, who takes English night class and asks me to check her homework,
Para Pepe who asks me to translate his insurance statements, immigration papers, and junk mail offers for “free” vacations in Mexico,
Para the cashier, Consuelo, who wants me to teach her daughter, Maria, English and love, and wants me to escort Maria to her Quinces debutante,
Para Migdalia Sanchez who forgets some labels are now bilingual and comes to me confused when she mistakenly tries to read the English side of the can,
Para la vieja Gomez who I help sort through dimes, quarters, and nickels — American change she has never learned to count,
Para los americanos who are scared of us, especially when we talk real loud and all at the same time, who come in only for change or to call a tow truck,
Para los haitianos who like us because at least we are Caribbean neighbors,
Para Pablito who likes his boiled ham sliced paper-thin like the after-school snacks his mother prepared for him before she was accused and sentenced,
Para Juanita who had to leave Enrique, her only son, in ’61, who carries in her sequined coin purse a scratchy photo of herself at fifteen to remind herself she is still alive, and shows it to me so I can acknowledge her lost beauty,
Para Carlos who comes in mid-mornings, leans against the cafeteria counter drunk with delusion, takes a swig of espresso like a shot of whiskey and tells me la Revolucion will die before the end of the year, who hopes to host Noche Buena at his house near Havana, next year,
Para la Revolucion, todos sus grandes triunfos, toda su gloria,
Para Vicente my best friend, who sneaked beers with me behind the green Dumpster, who taught me how to say really gross things in Spanish, who couldn’t get his family out, who had only me in the States, who put a bullet through his neck on the day of his anniversary, who left a note addressed to me in Spanish — “Para mi amigo.”
“La Revolucion at Antonio’s Mercado” from “City of a Hundred Fires” by Richard Blanco, (C) 1998. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Read more, including the lovely My Father, My Hands at: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/three-poems-by-richard-blanco-inaugural-poet-671241/#ixzz2LYBDZ92L