The Night Jericho Brown Won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
i am such a long way from home.
what could such longing be if not a heart?
today, fire ravages the wildflowers.
the sky is orange with smoky haze.
i knew it was true— my voice— a tattered
scrap of a name sold into slavery.
a country is some kind of blank page where
i say things to my only sister, then run around
my childhood searching for the last time
my mother held me. something calls to me
from a distance— which is a kind of mindfulness.
it’s a miracle to know your arrival & departure.
the thing is i want to love life, to greet myself arriving
at my own door. i want the better part of my poem
to be bare, human & imperfect— the immediacy
of a bad humor, more fit for a plain face than violet eyes.
your mouth opens to a glass that stores late winter’s rain
happiness is a solitary engine: survive & never say sorry
what is freedom if not a country of infinite soft lights—
love something better than you are. like twitching spider’s
legs, never remind yourself of violence or how it was passed
down to you not just from your uncle’s hands. & when it is too
difficult to hope for salvation. extend your body & draw a thick
red line—try not to remember how desperate you’ve been
for a miracle. nothing is better than to mispronounce grief
& laugh when people die. no one knows where you are
going. & where is your home? there is plenty to regret—
the weapon of your body & how it points back to itself—
the laws of physics curves with the weight of small birds.
anything is possible in a small capsule of courage
& for every battle, you lost, make another & another
birdsong until you can’t fathom anything
except the color of petals.
today, my room is warm & i'm thankful
i can't recognize my sorrows & i say alleluia
there are still songbirds outside my window
listen: in this poem, there are no grenades
only liquid days full of black humor. this chair
where i sit all through the slant rusty twilight—
it's a chair again i chose this morning. why does
joy follow trials & not the other way around?
i slush through my twitter feed & my mind
is clear to hear it— breathe. no one falls into
fire deliberately. i'd like to be a writer &
build a family. recently, i read when power
goes out, give your neighbor a hand, a mirror
& a paper bag— a surprise of goodwill
as it stands now here is a maize cob, slender in
my hand & this means it is June
Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian who uses poetry as a handy tool to write his frustration with society. He also makes use of collage & sampling techniques.
Kjell K Nkanza Hansen is a musician and visual artist from Maryland. They’re the producer and multi-instrumentalist behind queer metal project Spring Silver. They have a BFA in Visual Arts from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Follow them on Twitter @KjellKHansen1.