I will not shoot myself In the head, and I will not shoot myself In the back, and I will not hang myself With a trashbag, and if I do, I promise you, I will not do it In a police car while handcuffed Or in the jail cell of a town I only know the name of Because I have to drive through it To get home. Yes, I may be at risk, But I promise you, I trust the maggots Who live beneath the floorboards Of my house to do what they must To any carcass more than I trust An officer of the law of the land To shut my eyes like a man Of God might, or to cover me with a sheet So clean my mother could have used it To tuck me in. When I kill me, I will Do it the same way most Americans do, I promise you: cigarette smoke Or a piece of meat on which I choke Or so broke I freeze In one of these winters we keep Calling worst. I promise if you hear Of me dead anywhere near A cop, then that cop killed me. He took Me from us and left my body, which is, No matter what we've been taught, Greater than the settlement A city can pay a mother to stop crying, And more beautiful than the new bullet Fished from the folds of my brain.
The duplex is a form I invented. It's a fusion of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues. The video was taken in my den, which I'm mostly excited about because growing up I never imagined living in a space that afforded for two living rooms, one of which middle class folks like to call a "den."
-- Jericho Brown is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection is The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019). His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME magazine, Tin House, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.
I am sick of your sadness, Jericho Brown, your blackness, Your books. Sick of you Laying me down So I forget how sick I am. I’m sick of your good looks, Your debates, your concern, your Determination to keep your butt Plump, the little money you earn. I’m sick of you saying no when yes is as easy As a young man, bored with you Saying yes to every request Though you’re as tired as anyone else yet Consumed with a single Diagnosis of health. I’m sick Of your hurting. I see that You’re blue. You may be ugly, But that ain’t new. Everyone you know is Just as cracked. Everyone you love is As dark, or at least as black.