A Poem For Saturday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Copper Canyon Press has just released a new book by Jericho Brown, welcomed by Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who is not given to exaggeration, as follows:

Jericho Brown’s The New Testament chronicles life and death, personal rituals and blasphemies, race and nation, the good and the bad, as well as illuminating scenarios of self-interrogation and near redemption. The lyrical clarity in this poignant collection approaches ascension. And here the sacred and profane embrace … The New Testament is lit by signifying, an anthem of survival and jubilation.

We’ll post three poems from this stunning book in the days ahead.

“Romans 12: 1” by Jericho Brown:

I will begin with the body,
In the year of our Lord,
Porous and wet, love-wracked
And willing: in my 23rd year,
A certain obsession overtook
My body, or I should say,
I let a man touch me until I bled,
Until my blood met his hunger
And so was changed, was given
A new name
As is the practice among my people
Who are several and whole, holy
And acceptable. On the whole
Hurt by me, they will not call me
Brother. Hear me coming,
And they cross their legs. As men
Are wont to hate women,
As women are taught to hate
Themselves, they hate a woman
They smell in me, every muscle
Of her body clenched
In fits beneath men
Heavy as heaven—my body,
Dear dying sacrifice, desirous
As I will be, black as I am.

(From The New Testament © 2014 by Jericho Brown. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. Photo of Jericho Brown by John Lucas)