03.15.2019
Weekly poem on Trump Presidency

 

JERICHO BROWN

Good White People

Not my phrase, I swear,
But my grandmother’s
When someone surprised her
By holding open the door
Or by singing that same high C
Stephanie Mills holds
Near the end of “I Have Learned
To Respect the Power of Love”
Or by gifting her with a turkey
On the 24th of December
After a year of not tipping her
For cleaning what they could afford
Not to clean.  You’ll have to forgive
My grandmother with her good
Hair
and her good white people
And her certified good slap across
Your mouth. 
Crack the beaten door
To eat or sing, but do not speak
Evil.  Dead bad black woman
I still love, she didn’t know
What we know.  In America
Today, anyone can turn on
A TV or look out a window
To see several kinds of bird
In the air while each face watching
Smiles and spits, cusses and sings
A single anthem of blood— 
All is stained.  She was ugly. 
I’m ugly.  You’re ugly too.
No such thing as good white people.

—-

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.

illustration:  anna_croc01

illustration: anna_croc01