Poetry at San Jose’s Mayoral Inauguration

InagurationReading InagurationReading2

Last night I read this poem at Mayor Sam Liccardo’s Inauguration and in so doing shared the stage with Aztec dancers, Spanish guitarists, Christian ministers, Buddhist monks and wonderful host Tamara Alvarado. Thanks to Mayor Liccardo and to all who were present. Here’s the poem! And stay tuned later this month for more laureate news and upcoming events!


I hear shouts issued from mothers, their chords tired and tuned, bidding
daughters and sons: Stop at the crossing and wait for the light

Cutting through St. James park
the voices of women in threadbare Starter parkas
recline on liberated Safeway Market carts
Greeting me with Pall Mall smiles
their cupped hands rise as if presenting
some delicate artifact for my inspection

Where north meets south First, I hear people whisper into palm-sized boxes
of pure obsidian, and the boxes whisper back. I hear it’s the future

I hear grunting men at the pull-up bars
tattooed pistons framed in Greek columns
the curve of every deltoid or trapezius
milled in the same jungle

It’s fight night, and they ask, “Yo, who you got?”
In San Jose, the answer to any sports question
is a simple multiple choice affair
Sharks, Earthquakes, Giants, Niners, or Cain Velasquez

I hear Ukuleles, jackhammers, and warnings from hard hats and blinding vests
directing traffic in a hand language everyone assumes I understand

The light rail squeals
clinging to a semblance of attitude control
And condos puff their chests and yawn
And hip hop sings from the chrome of youth
careless of the cruising ordinance

And a father’s ringtone drops like hail

He ignores it
kneels low
parts a girl’s hair from her eyes
He points to a Coiled Serpent
to a Rube Goldberg machine
to a Figure Holding the Sun
and speaks to her in a language I will never understand
but I know what he’s getting at

These voices swell with a power only a snake oil salesman would try to name
and with them my own trembling reed tells you what you already know

The town hall can be a palace
The east side sidewalk, the Elysian Fields
The theater, a cathedral
Any time you want



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11 responses to “Poetry at San Jose’s Mayoral Inauguration

  1. L.A. Kurth

    Oh, I LOVE it! Thanks for writing it and sharing it!Lita Kurth

  2. Bravo, David! You done us good.

  3. David, This is a great poem. Please bring it to your reading for us this March. The poem says so much in such a poetic way.
    Thank you for posting it,
    Dennis Richardson

    • Bev Lenihan

      You Poet Laureate’s enrich our community so much! Thank you for honoring Sam in this way-he deserves it-and so do you.

  4. Reblogged this on Cupertino Poet Laureate and commented:
    Our fearless Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, David Perez, wrote a beautiful and exciting poem for the city of San Jose. Last night he read it at the inauguration of San Jose’s new mayor, Sam Liccardo. Read it and be amazed. Read it and join in the celebration of civilization by great poets. What a tradition!

  5. it’s a poem San Jose needs NOW.

  6. Bravo, david, bravo! An beautiful pawn to San Jose and its people.

  7. David Perez

    Thanks so much for all of your kind words of support. I am so proud to be serving this community!

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