• Bill

What It Is

I warned you that this website would wander around the story of creating a new novel, analogous to the peregrinations of Leopold Bloom. Context is all, currently a nexus of a world epidemic and a world-wide reaction to an emblematic brutality.


While this goes on, writers' write. About what's going on, or not. What it may signify. Where we might be headed--chaos and violence, or loving peace and loving people and bringing them together in righteousness, (as paraphrased from Hillel). Nobody recently that I know of has expressed our hopes so well as Richard Blanco.


Say This Isn’t the End

by Richard Blanco

The Atlantic June 7, 2020


... say we live on, say we’ll forget the masks that kept us from dying from the invisible, but say we won’t ever forget the invisible masks we realized we had been wearing most our lives, disguising ourselves from each other. Say we won’t veil ourselves again, that our souls will keep breathing timelessly, that we won’t return to clocking our lives with lists and appointments. Say we’ll keep our days errant as sun showers, impulsive as a star’s falling. Say this isn’t our end …

... say I’ll get to be as thrilled as a boy spinning again in my barber’s chair, tell him how I’d missed his winged scissors chirping away my shaggy hair eclipsing my eyes, his warm clouds of foam, the sharp love of his razor’s tender strokes on my beard. Say I’ll get more chances to say more than thanks, Shirley at the checkout line, praise her turquoise jewelry, her son in photos taped to her register, dare to ask about her throat cancer. Say this isn’t her end …

... say my mother’s cloudy eyes won’t die from the goodbye kiss I last gave her, say that wasn’t our final goodbye, nor will we be stranded behind a quarantine window trying to see our refracted faces beyond the glare, read our lips, press the warmth of our palms to the cold glass. Say I won’t be kept from her bedside to listen to her last words, that we’ll have years to speak of the decades of our unspoken love that separated us. Say this isn’t how we’ll end …

... say all the restaurant chairs will get back on their feet, that we’ll all sit for another lifetime of savoring all we had never fully savored: the server as poet reciting flavors not on the menu, the candlelight flicker as appetizer, friends’ spicy gossip and rich, saucy laughter, sharing entrées of memories no longer six feet apart, our beloved’s lips as velvety as the wine, the dessert served sweet in their eyes. Say this is no one’s end …

... say my husband and I will keep on honing our home cooking together, find new recipes for love in the kitchen: our kisses and tears while dicing onions, eggs cracking in tune to Aretha’s croon, dancing as we heat up the oven. Say we’ll never stop feasting on the taste of our stories, sweet or sour, but say our table will never be set for just one, say neither of us dies, many more Cheers! to our good health. Say we will never end …

... say we’ll all still take the time we once needed to walk alone and gently through our neighborhoods, keep noticing the Zen of anthills and sidewalk cracks blossoming weeds, of yappy dogs and silent swing sets rusting in backyards, of neat hedges hiding mansions and scruffy lawns of boarded-up homes. Say we won’t forget our seeing that every kind of life is a life worth living, worth saving. Say this is nobody’s end …

... or say this will be my end, say the loving hands of gloved, gowned angels risking their lives to save mine won’t be able to keep me here. Say this is the last breath of my last poem, will of my last thoughts: I’ve witnessed massive swarms of fireflies grace my garden like never before, drawn to the air cleansed of our arrogant greed, their glow a flashback to the time before us, omen of Earth without us, a reminder we’re never immune to nature. I say this might be the end we’ve always needed to begin again. I say this may be the end to let us hope to heal, to evolve, reach the stars. Again I’ll say: heal, evolve, reach and become the stars that became us— whether or not this is or is not our end.


RICHARD BLANCO was selected by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history; he is the youngest and the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, he is the author of memoirs and many collections of poetry, including his most recent, How to Love a Country.





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