'Joe stopped, stooped, picked a flower'

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It seems clear enough that Quincy Troupe wants his poem, 'Picking a Dandelion', to achieve the coveted status of “timelessness” while being rooted in a historical moment. Here are Joe and Jill, two people with commonly available American names, enacting an ordinary gesture of affection. Yet this instructive love is heightened by the context: love, in other words, in a time of hate (borrowing from Gabriel Garcia Marquez) is the theme and the optimism lacing this poem.



by Quincy Troupe

for Joe and Jill Biden, Cheryl and Charles Ward, and for Margaret


walking along together

in the nation’s capital

Joe stopped, stooped, picked a flower —

a dandelion to be exact —

then he handed it to Jill —

who smiled in her white summer,

dress full of pretty flowers,

and someone snapped a picture

of this sweet, simple gesture,

it revealed something deeper,

profound, beautiful about

their love for each other here,

that taught all of us watching,

how to reach across time, space,

with a tender touch, a kiss

for one another here, now

in this moment of hatred

before time on earth runs out


American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2022 by Quincy Troupe, 'Picking a Dandelion'” from Duende Poems, 1996-Now (Seven Stories Press, 2022.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska


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