@ the Crossroads – A Sudden American Poem by Juan Felipe Herrera

The Friday Poem this week was posted on Sunday by U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

“The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress serves as the nation’s official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.”

With ‘@ the Crossroads – A Sudden American Poem’, Mr. Herrera fulfills his national role in memorializing and celebrating the lives of all…as a first step.

@ the Crossroads—A Sudden American Poem

RIP Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police
officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith,
Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa—and all their families. And to all those injured.

Let us celebrate the lives of all

As we reflect & pray & meditate on their brutal deaths

Let us celebrate those who marched at night who spoke of peace

& chanted Black Lives Matter

Let us celebrate the officers dressed in Blues ready to protect

Let us know the departed as we did not know them before—their faces,

Bodies, names—what they loved, their words, the stories they often spoke

Before we return to the usual business of our days, let us know their lives intimately

Let us take this moment & impossible as this may sound—let us find

The beauty in their lives in the midst of their sudden & never imagined vanishing
Let us consider the Dallas shooter—what made him

what happened in Afghanistan

what

flames burned inside
(Who was that man in Baton Rouge with a red shirt selling CDs in the parking lot

Who was that man in Minnesota toppled on the car seat with a perforated arm

& a continent-shaped flood of blood on his white T who was

That man prone & gone by the night pillar of El Centro College in Dallas)
This could be the first step

in the new evaluation of our society This could be

the first step of all of our lives

Juan Felipe Herrera,  July 8, 2016  (originally published on Poets.org)

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