PHOTO OF A MAN ON SUNSET DRIVE: 1914, 2008 (Excerpt)
Groundbreaking Ceremony, City of South Miami, Sunset Drive Improvements
by Richard Blanco

And so it began: the earth torn, split open
by a dirt road cutting through palmettos
and wild tamarind trees defending the land
against the sun. Beside the road, a shack
leaning into the wind, on the wooden porch,
crates of avocados and limes, white chickens
pecking at the floor boards, and a man
under the shadow of his straw hat, staring
into the camera in 1914. He doesn’t know
within a lifetime the unclaimed land behind
him will be cleared of scrub and sawgrass,
the soil will be turned, made to give back
what the farmers wish, their lonely houses
will stand acres apart from one another,
jailed behind the boughs of their orchards…

Photo: ”Miami Sunset,” Bill Wisser Photography, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Blanco arrived in Miami shortly after his birth in 1968, the son of Cuban exiles. His acclaimed first book, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American, and received the prestigious Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press (1998). His second book, Directions to The Beach of the Dead (University of Arizona Press, 2005) won the 2006 PEN/American Beyond Margins Award for its continued exploration of the universal themes of home and place. In January 2013, he was invited to read a poem at President Obama’s second inauguration. Blanco’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly, Best American Poetry 2000, Best American Prose Poems, and National Public Radio. Blanco earned both a bachelors of science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (1997). He currently lives in Bethel, Maine, where he writes and works as a consultant engineer. (Source: