looking for the gulf motel

The countries I would’ve lost, or betrayed, 
the languages I would speak or not speak, 
the names that would’ve been my names —
I’d like to believe I’ve willed every detail
of my  life, but I’m a consequence, a drop
of rain, a seed fallen by chance, here

in the middle of a story I don’t know, 
having to finish it and call it my own.
—  Richard Blanco, “Of Consequence, Inconsequently” (Looking for the Gulf Motel, 2012)

For Poetry Month we’re revisiting our interview with poet Richard Blanco, who read a poem at President Obama’s second swearing-in.  He is the first immigrant, Latino and openly gay poet chosen to read at a presidential inauguration and, at 44, also the youngest. He is the author of the collection Looking for the Gulf Motel, which explores themes of sexuality and home.  

In the interview he compares being an engineer–as he is–to being a poet: 

“As an engineer … in your designs and whatnot, you’re trained to figure out what’s going to go wrong. That’s how you design a lot of things. You’re like, ‘OK, that’s a decently designed curve there in the road, but what could go wrong? What’s wrong with this design?’ And you’re constantly putting things up to the test and up to the test, and overdesigning and implementing things and safety factors, and if I wasn’t like that already, 25 years of engineering have pretty much reinforced that.”