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WATCH: 'One Today,' An Inaugural Poem
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WATCH: 'One Today,' An Inaugural Poem



Today, the poet Richard Blanco joined an elite club, becoming only the nation's fifth inaugural poet. It's a tradition begun by John F. Kennedy, revived by Bill Clinton and carried on by President Obama.


Blanco's family fled Cuba in 1968. He grew up in Miami and he is openly gay. Earlier this month on MORNING EDITION, he said writing a poem for the inauguration is a difficult assignment. But, he added, writing about America is not an unfamiliar topic for him.

RICHARD BLANCO: It was subject I felt somewhat comfortable, but the challenge of it was how to maintain sort of that sense of intimacy and that conversational tone in a poem that obviously has to sort of encompass a whole lot more than just my family, my experience.

BLOCK: We're going to listen now to some of what Richard Blanco came up with. His inaugural poem is called "One Today."

BLANCO: 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 of faces in morning's mirrors, each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day. The 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 20 years so I could write this poem for all of us today.

BLOCK: Richard Blanco's poem concludes with this refrain.

BLANCO: 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, 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 name it together.


SIEGEL: Richard Blanco, delivering his inaugural poem today before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the National Mall.


BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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