Saturday, February 6, 2010


The poems of Please are sneer & shudder, the twisted pleasure of a chokehold & a voice in your ear with demands, a dream moment in the hallway of someone's childhood home & the picture on the wall you cannot turn away from. The voice of Jericho Brown's sensuality is almost shocking, not in & of itself, but because I have not, in recent memory, read poetry with this type of sexual urgency. The sheer number of poems concerning homosexuality in Please compound into a type of ferocity, an insistence to be held. Brown never turns away from writing about race or sexuality, but his work carefully, illuminates & penetrates the everyday moments when society or a type of fear have created small moments of rejection & blindness. I... Actually, honestly, I don't even know what to say. Should I mention that Please is Brown's first book, that it won the 2009 American Book Award? All of that seems besides the point. Brown writes with the kind of bravery I would like to write with. Bottom line. Exhibit A:


Barefoot in the actual dark, I packed a paper bag
And found the way out of my lover's house.
I had only the glass coffee table as obstacle; I slipped
Around it without stump or stumble. I left
The door slightly open; no draft lives in Louisiana's summer.
And how could I not move so quickly and away
When twenty years earlier I had learned this skill--
How to shake the night's hand in confidence,
How to trust that no start will talk? I deserved this,
My anniversary--I had run from the sound of my father's sleep,
The front yard's magnolia, understood its promise to shed
And cover, that tree's duty to that
Smell and knew too my duty to tear like a switch through
Air, to strike the street's edge in a pair of tattered shoes,
Unconnected, alone. I made it
To Fairfield Street before the headlights of Daddy's pickup
caught me
In mid-blur. But I left my lover better: I knifed a tired before I went
So no light could find my back, no right hand could break from
Steering. One fist clenched
My brown bag as I sniffed for magnolia and made a deal with
the dark.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

I'm in awe of both, Sophie, your admiration for the poet and the poet's poem.

Both are wonderful.