A Young Man
We stand together on our block, me and my son, Neighbors saying our face is the same, but I know He’s better than me: when other children move Toward my daughter, he lurches like a brother Meant to put them down. He is a bodyguard On the playground. He won’t turn apart from her, Empties any enemy, leaves them flimsy, me Confounded. I never fought for so much— I calmed my daughter when I could cradle My daughter; my son swaggers about her. He won’t have to heal a girl he won’t let free. They are so small. And I, still, am a young man. In him lives my black anger made red. They play. He is not yet incarcerated.
Copyright © 2018 by Jericho Brown. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“The state-sanctioned murder and capitalist-motivated mass incarceration of black and brown people makes it seem as if they aren't indeed people at all. But here we are, as resilient as the sonnet: fathers, daughters, sons... We survive knowing the imagination of this great nation depends on our demise.”
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.
Date Published: 2018-04-14
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/young-man