Fifth inaugural poet Richard Blanco joined Boston Public Radio Wednesday for another edition of Village Voice. This time, he shared poems to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, from an anthem to immigration and nationhood, to a retelling of the creation story, as a Cuban would have written it.

"The U.S. of Us"
An Anthem for National Hispanic Heritage Month, 2019
By Richard Blanco

O’ say, can you see us by the dawn of our ancestors’ light still breathing through the cities we forged from the wind of our wills, drenched in the rain of our dusty sweat, and christened for the faith gleaming in our saints’ starry eyes: San Francisco, San Antonio, San Diego?

O’ say, when will you have enough faith in us to meet the gleam of our eyes in your own, when will you see us as one in this one country we all so proudly hail, and tear down the ramparts that divide us from you, instead of raising new walls?

O’ say, when will you believe our hands across our hearts’ unwavering belief in those broad stripes and bright stars waving in the same sky above our same schools, churches, and baseball fields.

O’ say, when will you un-translate us, un-italicize us from the lands and mountains our lives rooted and named: la Sierra Nevada, la Florida, Montana, Sangre de Cristo, Tejas, Nuevo México?

When will you recognize the shared words of our shared history: say, rodeo and bronco; say, patio and plaza; say, bonanza and canyon; say that you hear our rivers gallantly streaming in Spanish: río Colorado, río Los Angeles, río Grande?

When will you stop drowning us, trafficking us like cattle in trucks, corralling us in kitchen alleys and musty motel rooms, scarring our children’s faces behind the stripped shadows of iron bars, rebranding our skin as rapist and murderers lurking behind you? When will our immigrant toil and struggling dreams not be your ploy for profit? When will you praise us as assets and allies?

We will not live our worthy lives in fear and shame.

O’ say—look at us: we’re the determination in our dirt-creased hands harvesting lettuce, and the firm handshakes of our mayors bestowing keys to their cities; we’re the silent chopping of onions you don’t hear at your dinner table, and the silence in the eyes of astronauts awing a nationless Earth.

O’ say—listen to us: we’re the snip-snip of gardeners trimming your hedges, and the rattle of our maracas playing on the radio; we’re the kind voices of bus drivers wishing you a buenos días, and the pop voices of singers stirring you to dance into your bodies; we’re the riveting of steel piecing cars together, and the beats of our poets’ pounding-out lyrics.

O’ say—feel us: we’re the strength of nannies pushing strollers up park hills, and the muscle of batters swatting home runs over stadium walls; we’re the prideful tucking of satin hotel sheets, and the pride of graduates in satin gowns.

O’ say—then why the bombs of slurs still bursting in the toxic air against us? Why the rockets’ red glare of your eyes aimed at us in this needless, perilous fight? O’ say let there be proof that star-spangled banner still waves for us, too. Let the land of the free count us in, too. Let the home of the brave remain our home, too.

By Richard Blanco

In the beginning, before God created Cuba, the earth was chaos, empty of form and without music. The spirit of God stirred over the dark tropical waters and God said, "Let there be music." And a soft conga began a one-two beat in background of the chaos.

Then God called-up Yemayà and said,"Let the waters under heaven amass together and let dry land appear." It was done. God called the fertile red earth Cuba and the massed waters the Caribbean. And God saw this was good, tapping his foot to the conga beat.

Then God said, "Let the earth sprout papaya and coco and white coco flesh; malanga roots and mangos in all shades of gold and amber; let their be tabaco and café and sugar for the café; let there be rum; let there be waving plantains and guayabas and everything tropical-like." God saw this was good, then fashioned palm trees—His piece-de-resistance.

Then God said, "Let there be a moon and stars to light the nights over the Club Tropicana, and a sun for the 365 days of the year." God saw that this was good, he called the night nightlife, the day he called paradise.

Then God said, "Let there be fish and fowl of every kind." And there was spicy shrimp enchilado, chicken fricasé, cod fish bacalao and fritters. But He wanted something more exciting and said, "Enough. Let there be pork." And there was pork—deep fried, whole roasted, pork rinds and sausage. He fashioned goats, used their skins for bongos and batús; he made claves and maracas and every kind of percussion instrument known to man.

Then out of a red lump of clay, God made a Taino and set him in a city He called Habana. Then He said, "It is not good that Taino be alone. Let me make him helpmates." And so God created the mulata to dance guaguancó and son with Taino; the guajiro to cultivate his land and his folklore, Cachita the sorceress to strike the rhythm of his music, and a poet to work the verses of their paradise.

God gave them dominion over all the creatures and musical instruments and said unto them, "Be fruitful and multiply, eat pork, drink rum, make music and dance.” On the seventh day, God rested from the labors of his creation. He smiled upon the celebration and listened to their music.