In The New Testament, Jericho Brown continues his tender examination of race, masculinity, and sexuality. These poems bear witness to survival in the face of brutality, while also elegizing two brothers haunted by shame, two lovers hounded by death, and an America wounded by war and numbered by religion. Brown summons myth, fable, and fairytale not to merely revise the Bible -- more so to write the kind of lyric poetry we find at the source of redemption -- for the profane and for the sacred.
In the world of Jericho Brown's second book, disease runs through the body, violence runs through the neighborhood, memories run through the mind, trauma runs through generations. Almost eerily quiet in even the bluntest of poems, Brown gives us the ache of a throat that has yet to say the hardest thing—and the truth is coming on fast.
Say the shame I see inching like steam
Along the streets will never seep
Beneath the doors of this bedroom,
And if it does, if we dare to breathe,
Tell me that though the world ends us,
Lover, it cannot end our love
Of narrative. Don’t you have a story
For me?—like the one you tell
With fingers over my lips to keep me
From sighing when—before the queen
Is kidnapped—the prince bows
To the enemy, handing over the horn
Of his favorite unicorn like those men
Brought, bought, and whipped until
They accepted their masters' names
Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans before earning his PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. His first book, PLEASE (New Issues), won the American Book Award. He currently teaches at Emory University and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.