Shining Rock Poetry Anthology

"Trojan" by Jericho Brown


When a hurricane sends
Winds far enough north
To put our power out,
We only think of winning
The war bodies wage
To prove the border
Between them isn't real.
An act of God, so sweet.
No TV. No novel. No
Recreation but one
Another, and neither of us
Willing to kill. I don't care
That I don't love my lover.
Knowing where to stroke
In little light, knowing what
Will happen to me and how
Soon, these rank higher
Than a clear view
Of the face I'd otherwise
Flay had I some training
In combat, a blade, a few
Matches. Candles are
Romantic because
We understand shadows.
We recognize the shape
Of what once made us
Come, so we come
Thinking of approach
In ways that forgo
Substance. I'm breathing --
Heaving now --
In my own skin, and I
Know it. Romance is
An act. The perimeter
Stays intact. We make out
So little that I can't help
But imagine my safety.
I get to tell the truth
About what kind
Of a person lives and who
Dies. Barefoot survivors.
Damned heroes, each
Corpse lit on a pyre.
Patroclus died because
He could not see
What he really was inside
His lover's armor.

Jericho Brown, "Trojan" from The Tradition.  Copyright 2019 by Jericho Brown. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press,

Jericho Brown has been awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and The American Book Award.
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