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“@ the Crossroads—A Sudden American Poem” by 21st Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

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A quick post to enclose the below, which was written by our Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and originally published as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series yesterday, July 10th.

@ the Crossroads—A Sudden American Poem
Juan Felipe Herrera, 1948

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

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



Comments (4)

  1. Thank you lord for blessing me with the honor of learning who you are and showing me i wasnt believing in fairytales but i was living one. And i am done living this and not truly living for i am yours take me for all i have left…

  2. This was so brilliant. I’m a teacher of young children. I want to teach children to live their lives with this vision and this promise for a better world. Let’s all be carried there….soon!

  3. Thank you for these beautiful words and thoughts! After hearing President Obama’s eulogy in Dallas today, I feel especially grateful to have you two as our comrade leaders in Washington.

  4. Looks like a word salad coming out of the mouth of an individual who has suffered a stroke. It certainly isn’t Yeats, Kipling, or Dickinson.

    Brilliant? The emperor has no clothes.

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