Miami poet Richard Blanco, the gay Cuban-American best known for reading at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremony, wrote a poem about the deadly shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
In it, he wrestles openly with the tragedy, with how to even begin to write about this month’s mass murder of 49 LGBTQ Latinx and their friends and loved ones at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, to “set the page ablaze with the anger in the hollow ache of our bones — anger for the new hate, same as the old kind of hate.”
Composed of three long free-form stanzas, the poem moves through them like stages of grief. The first one eases into the reality and gravity of the attack, opening with: “Here, sit at my kitchen table, we need to write this together,” and going on to channel the spirits of those who died.
Throughout, he deftly shifts the focus from the pain, suffering, and tragedy to celebrating the love and community that those at Pulse shared:
Stop the echoes of that merciless music with a tender simile to honor the blood of our blood, without writing blood. Use warm words to describe the cold bodies of our husbands, lovers, and wives, our sisters, brothers and friends. Draw a metaphor so we can picture the choir of their invisible spirits rising with the smoke toward disco lights, imagine ourselves dancing with them until the very end.
He ends with a call to action, of sorts: “Let’s place each memory like a star, the light of their past reaching us now, and always, reminding us to keep writing until we never need to write a poem like this again.”
Watch Blanco perform the poem below or read the piece at The Miami Herald.