The New Testament | by Jericho Brown

The New Testament by Jericho Brown
(Copper Canyon Press, 2014, 73 pages)

The poems in The New Testament deal with themes of family, friendship, ethnicity, and sexuality. Brown wrestles with the biblical tradition, reinterpreting the stories and the language of the Bible to create a truly new testament or witness to life. “Hebrews 13” contains some beautiful imagery, as Brown describes a time when “My lover and my brother both knocked / At my door like wind in an early winter”:

They drank with a speed that must have
Burned their tongues one hot cup then
Another like two bitter friends who only
Wished to be warm again like two worn
Copies of a holy book bound by words to keep
Watch over my life in the cold and never ever sleep

Here and elsewhere, the imagery is a powerful reimagining of a scriptural text. I also love the rhythm of these poems, especially “Host,” which pokes fun (I think) at the superficiality of online hookups and reads like a freestyle rap.

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