Village Voice: Richard Blanco On His New Book, ‘Homeland of My Body: New & Selected Poems’

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Uncategorized

Richard Blanco joins Jim and Margery on Boston Public Radio to reflect on his most recent collection: Homeland of My Body: New and Selected Poems. He reads a selection of new works and shares thoughts on the inspiration that kindled them, as well as the creative journey that led him to this mid-career collection.

“The new poems are, in a sense, a letting go of things…the ego-driven idea of finding home, all the homes I’ve had that still live in me.”

The final poem he read, “Become Me” is dedicated to his husband, Mark, as is the book as a whole.

Enjoy the poems as they are read and discussed. 


because I faithfully reply to every email from the absurd
gods of urgency who punish my good deeds by leaving me
empty when I empty my inbox … because I praise hating

myself, broken into my calendar’s time-slotted tasks, slicing
me thin with the thick duty of being everything yet nothing
to anyone, not even to me … because I remember birthdays

but forget my own and my mother’s … because she is bitter
sweet as the Cuban coffee she brews after Sunday dinners …
because she loves me only in the language of her cooking

my favorite dish: shrimp enchilados … because of my bland
father sunk in his armchair without me on his lap … because
he never told me the life story I read only in the half

moons of his eyes the morning he gazed into mine, then
died … because my brother and I need to drink to share
our shared hurt at happy hour, so unhappily grateful for

love’s wreckage … because my husband, who’s still scared
of his adoration for me as we embrace sleep, still doubts
how long I’ll nest my dreams in his arms … because I have

never quite told him: always … because I’m just as afraid of
needing him more than myself … because I’m not the one
I’ve curated on Instagram: oh so humbled by, so grateful for,

so many posted blessings with my posed selves … because
tonight I again remember I’m nothing more than a mirage
slowly disappearing on my porch, sitting with half the life

I have left, still trying to piece how I fit into the puzzle of
the constellations … because I’ve drunk their shots of light
and too many martinis … because I’m cheering mindlessly

to the moon, to my wish for immortality amid the clouds
of my own cigarette smoke … because I should finally quit
doubting my life will be more than these anonymous bones

… because I need to believe in something else, truer than
me … that’s why today I had to take myself away
to the beach … because I needed to imagine my father as

that father at the shore, handing a bouquet of seashells to
his son … because I needed to taste that love can be simple
as a mother remembering to pack sodas and sandwiches …

because I needed the seagulls tending the horizon to teach
me again to be as still as them, to peer calmly into the void
of the skies I face … because I needed to hear the waves

break and break me into the lines of this poem … because  
I needed to burn, to see myself shine just as beautifully  
as the rosy glow of the sunlight bathing my closed eyes.


When there’s nothing but a knowing, when
you wake up to the stare of your dog’s eyes
like tiny brown suns shining with the truth
of all you are before the alarm rings, when

you lock your door, turn up the volume and
dance barefoot, swaying alone with your eyes
closed, your robe open to the world and all
you lust for is a song to hold your body, when

you beam a Good morning at the post office,
or Great to see you at the market, meaning
every word, cut by your lips into little jewels
that sparkle with syllables of kindness, when

you toss your to-do list in the garbage, waste
yourself in the lazy beauty of being witness
to the gestures of an oak, a squirrel’s dramatic
pause, to the frenzy at the bird feeder, when

you sit under the clouds for dinner, filled with
gratitude for more than bread, and say grace
for dusk’s feast of savory hues and the dessert
of sugary stars that indulge your soul, when

you smile back at your smile floating in the fog
of the bathroom mirror, your faint yet fulfilled
eyes return the gaze of god within you pleased
with the honest life you’ve given yourself, when

all that’s left is a knowing that you don’t need
to know yet another home in some new city for
the love of something other than you, blanketed
in the peace of your worn bed, ready to die with

all you are or aren’t, all you’ve given or gotten,
all you’ve believed or doubted, all you’ve done
or haven’t done, ready to kiss the moon’s cheek
goodbye, forever, but the moon says: No, not yet.

        for my husband

Become the salt of my blood, my veins’
abating pulse. Become the soft alabaster
of my softening bones, the stale marrow
of this aging life. Become my dull teeth,
and faded lips, still glossing a smile when
you smile into my dimming eyes. Become
my eyes that’ve studied the anatomy of
our love: my arms in the arc of your arms,
my thighs knotted with yours, our fingers
woven into each other. Become my lungs,
their last gasp, my nerves firing through
every scene of our loving. Become the soil
of my soul. There’s nothing more blessed
than taking you with me into the ground.

This episode of “Village Voice” first aired on Boston Public Radio on November 20, 2023.