Wednesday Jun 19

brownjericho Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, Brown is an Assistant Professor at Emory University. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including, The American Poetry Review, jubilat, Oxford American, Ploughshares, and 100 Best African American Poems.  His first book, PLEASE (New Issues), won the American Book Award. His web site address can be found here.





Dear Dr. Frankenstein



I, too, know the science of building men

Out of fragments in little light

Where I’ll be damned if lightning don’t


Strike as I forget one

May have a thief’s thumb,


Another, a murderer’s arm

And watch the men I’ve made leave

Like an idea I meant to write down,


Like a machine that works

All wrong, like the monster


God came to know the moment

Adam named animals and claimed

Eve, turning from heaven to her


As if she was his

To run. No word he said could be tamed.


No science. No design. Nothing taken

Gently into his hand or your hand or mine,

Nothing we erect is our own.




Ganymede, on Heaven



            Forever, a family on earth who sell

A son. Forever, the threat of falling


From wide sky. Beautiful boys

Won’t complain, lest we lose our


Blessing. Our medal shine. Let me be

            Clear as I whisper to you who see


What’s missing— Some suffer

            The sin of birth,


And only God

Can punish us: I bow if he nods,


Fit lightning in my mouth.







I’m nine kinds of beautiful, and all my hair is mine.

The finest girl in Cedar Grove, all my hair mine.

My mama jumped in a river, so I don’t mind dying.


Mama named me Angel because of that war in heaven.

She opened her Bible daily, read about war in heaven.

Ask me how many fights I won before I turned seven.


When you got hips like these, men want to take advantage.

He called my hips a pair of shelves. Fool tried to take    

Advantage. Cops came after a bullet did its damage.


Some rules are schoolhouse. Some you learn in church.

I walk my kids to the bus stop, don’t miss Sunday church.

   What to tell your babies when a child steals their lunch?


Say: He hits you, hit him back. Never wait to punch.

Mama lost love, drowned, but taught me to punch. I hear

My man laughing above. I hit hard, but he won’t hush.