Ricardo Blanco is a civil engineer, a Cuban-American born in Madrid a few short months before the Paris spring and its communist-led student riots in 1968. He is also a professor and a poet who has famously read his unreadable “One Today” at Obama’s second inauguration. He now will read another poem at the flag-raising ceremony at the embassy in Havana. Ricardo Blanco also happens to be gay and his poetry has been criticized by the muck-racking John Dolan as identity poetry “unsullied by one single stray thought or original turn of phrase.”

Had Ricardo Blanco’s parents been unable to flee, first to Madrid, then to Miami, and had Ricardo Blanco grown up in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, his being gay would have been a problem. His being a poet would have been a problem had he written anything original and un-bowing to the communist party line. Perhaps he realizes this, as his parents were anti-Castro exiles in Miami. Perhaps he realizes how fortunate he was to grow up in America and reap the bounties of its awesome generosity. Perhaps as the Cuban band plays John Phillip Sousa tunes to warm up the audience – I am watching the live feed as I write this – in the hot and humid Havana climate, he will be grateful for the freedom offered him by the Stars and Stripes and the Republic for which it stands, as he sees it raised in the re-opening of the American Embassy.

Whether his poem actually uses the word “freedom” – the band is now playing what is called “son” that’s Spanish – is another matter. One doubts he will actually use that word and instead paint a painfully detailed and trivial pastiche of what has divided America and Cuba and what will unite America and Cuba, using those 90 miles of open sea as a painfully long and drawn out metaphor. Maybe he could use one word instead: freedom. As in what divides the two countries. That simple and that powerful. But that wouldn’t make much of a poem. And we wouldn’t need Ricardo Blanco and his poem at the embassy opening.

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