Skip to main content

Poetry

Photo by Sarah Rice

Richard Blanco’s Notes to Self

When Two Ponds Press, a fine-art press that produces limited-edition monographs, approached poet Richard Blanco and photographer Jacob Hessler in early 2014 for a theme on which to collaborate, it didn’t take them long to agree on a purpose. Blanco had spent the previous year working on several commissioned occasional poems and had been exploring the role of poetry in public discourse, “the idea of the civic-minded poet—the poet as the village voice, a poetry of social conscience.” Hessler, who uses large-scale landscapes to explore similar ideas of artistic responsibility, shared Blanco’s values and concerns. In light of recent schisms in American political life—eruptions over marriage quality, racial strife, and police violence, for instance—they landed on the idea of boundaries and borders. As Blanco puts it, they sought to examine, through image and verse, “narratives that are manipulated to separate—to divide and conquer. We wanted to investigate and expose those narratives that run counter to the idea of our shared humanity.”

State

your name for purposes of identification

how can I when it’s failed

better a border made of water

harder to cross

each seed is different

like each tongue

how many heads

was the right question to ask

Bottleglass

go ahead tread on me
see if I care I am already
unhuggable as a cactus
and too big to fit on any
lap keep your excuses
short or better yet keep
them to yourself any

Factory


We stack wafers the length of our arms
in half-hour rotations, inspect the chocolate coats.
You’ve eaten a Kit Kat before-—at least
you’ve seen them on newsstands next to gum,
but this isn’t about the finished product.
This is about the factory, the chugging machines

I Know

the back of my hand and this neighborhood,
which is devolving even now into
a semblance of Detroit. I know not
to lead a horse to water because
that won’t end well. I know my name
and to the mirror’s mute face

Pages