“O Blood of the River of songs, O songs of the River of Blood,” Let me lie down. Let my words Lie sound in the mouths of men Repeating invocations pure And perfect as a moan That mounts in the mouth of Bessie Smith. Blues for the angels kicked out Of heaven. Blues for the angels Who miss
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To believe in God is to love
What none can see. Let a lover go,
Let him walk out with the good
Spoons or die
Without a signature, and so much
Remains for scrubbing, for a polish
Cleaner than devotion. Tonight,
God is one spot, and you,
You must be one blind nun. You
Wipe, you rub, but love won’t move.
Raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, Jericho Brown won the 2009 American Book Award for his debut collection Please (New Issues, 2008). He is also the author of The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), which received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.