Inauguration Poem – The Sequel

There has been quite a bit of debate banter about the Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem. While I think her delivery sort of undermined her writing, the fact that she’s started a national conversation about poetry is wonderful. Seriously, she was on the Colbert Report the other night and every blogger with at least a minimal interest in literature has had something to say. Anyway, I thought it was worth noting that Kwame Dawes also wrote a poem for the ocassion… “New Day” is written in eight parts. Here’s a highlight:

Already the halo of grey covers his close-cropped head.
Before, we could see the pale glow of his skull, the way
he kept it close, now the grey – he spends little time in bed,
mostly he places things in boxes or color coded trays,
and calculates the price of expectation – the things promised
all eyes now on him: the winning politician’s burden.
On the day he makes his speech he will miss
the barber shop, the quick smoke in the alley, the poem
found in the remainder box, a chance to just shoot
some hoops, and those empty moments to remember
that green rice paddy where he used to sprint, a barefoot
screaming boy, all legs, going home to the pure
truth of an ordinary life, that simple place where, fatherless,
he found comfort in the wisdom of old broken soldiers.

Go here to read the rest.


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