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The Interrogation.

 I. Ecology
 In that world, I was a black man. Now, the bridge burns and I Am as
absent as what fire Leaves behind. I thought we ran To win the race. My
children swear We ran to end it. I'd show them The starting point,
but no one here Fights fire. The water infects us, The sky won't
allow for rain, and Every day, the air darkens ... the air, The only
black thing of concern-- Who cares what color I was?
II. Cross-examination
 Do you mean love?
Certainly a way of loving.
Did it hurt?
When doesn't it?
We'll ask the questions. Did it hurt?
When death enters a child's room,
The child feels a draft. You chose for it to hurt.
I chose my brother over my desire To be invisible, yes.
We thought Four brother was dead ...
He is.
And his death made you
You only see me When I carry a man on my back.
But you arrived alone.
That wasn't me.
That was the man who lost My brother.
III. Street Directions
Will black men still love me If white ones stop wanting me
Dead? Will white men stop Wanting me dead? Will men
Like me stop killing men like You? Which made us brothers--
That you shielded my body With yours or that you found
Me here, dying on the pavement, And held my empty hand?
IV. Re-direct
 Tell us, then, how did that man lose your brother?
I imagine
I lost him in the fire. The record suggests
 You lost him to a bullet.
The record was written
In my first language. The bullet is How I lost myself.
And this preoccupation with color,
 Was that before or after you lost yourself?
The women who raised me referred to Jesus As "our elder
And what about face?
What you call a color I call
Forgive us. We don't mean to laugh. It's just that
 Black is, after all, the absence of color.
 V. Fairy Tale
Say to me that the shame I see Inching like a white 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? And is that story in the fingers You place 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 master's
VI. Multiple Choice
Metal makes for a chemical reaction. Now that my wrists are cuffed, I am
 Not a citizen--Who will touch
 And not claim contamination?
A shame. When police come They come in steel boots. Precious
 Metal. They want me kicked.
 Kick me they do. I cannot say
They love me, so they seek me out As a lover would, each with both hands
 Bringing me to my knees, under
 Indivisible. I did not have to
Here. Men in every nation pray And some standing and some flat
 On their backs. Pray luscious
 Pray Christmas. A chain a
Even if it's pretty. Even around The neck. I cannot say they love
 Me with a fist in my new bald
 Pray platinum teeth. Show me
A man who tells his children The police are here to protect them,
 And I'll show you the son
of a man
 Who taught his children just
To dig. Not me. Couldn't be. Not On my knees. No citizen begs
 To beg, other than for forgiveness.
VII. Passover
 Which Angel of Death flies by each house, waving
 My brother's soul in front of windows like a toy,
A masked and muscle-bound action figure with fists
 We wanted when we were children, some light
 And pliable item our family could never afford? 

JERICHO BROWN worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. 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 the University of San Diego. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Fence, jubilat, Oxford American, Ploughshares, A Public Space, and 100 Best African American Poems. His first book, Please (New Issues), won the American Book Award.
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Author:Brown, Jericho
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Nov 1, 2012
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