Notes on the Assemblage – Juan Felipe Herrera

Book cover of Notes on the AssemblageThis last poetry-related blog post of National Poetry Month is about our current United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.  He is the son of migrant farm workers and was educated at UCLA & Stanford. Herrera is a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is a performance artist, activist, teacher.

The Poet Laureate’s official title is “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.” The position “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.”

Rentschler Library has Herrera’s “Half the World in Light,” and “187 reasons mexicanos can’t cross the border.” Our featured poem by Herrera is “Almost Livin’ Almost Dyin” which was published in his collection “Notes on the Assemblage (jacket cover at left) and was also published on the Poetry Foundation website.

for all the dead

                                                                                           & hear my streets
with ragged beats & the beats
are too beat to live so the graves push out with
hands that cannot touch the makers of light & the
sun flames down through the roofs & the roots that slide
to one side & the whistlin’ fires of the cops & the cops
in the shops do what they gotta do & your body’s
on the fence & your ID’s in the air & the shots
get fired & the gas in the face & the tanks
on your blood & the innocence all around & the
spillin’ & the grillin’ & the grinnin’ & the game of Race
no one wanted & the same every day so U fire &
eat the smoke thru your long bones & the short mace
& the day? This last sweet Swisher day that turns to love
& no one knows how it came or what it is or what it says
or what it was or what for or from what gate
is it open is it locked can U pull it back to your life
filled with bitter juice & demon angel eyes even though
you pray & pray mama says you gotta sing she says
you got wings but from what skies from where could
they rise what are the things the no-things called love
how can its power be fixed or grasped so the beats
keep on blowin’ keep on flyin’ & the moon tracks your bed
where you are alone or maybe dead & the truth
carves you carves you & calls you back still alive
cry cry the candles by the last four trees still soaked
in Michael Brown red and Officer Liu red and
Officer Ramos red and Eric Garner whose
last words were not words they were just breath
askin’ for breath they were just burnin’ like me like
we are all still burnin’ can you hear me
can you can you feel me swaggin’ tall & driving low &
talkin’ fine & hollerin’ from my corner crime & fryin’
against the wall

almost livin’ almost dyin’
almost livin’ almost dyin’

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s