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Published: Sun Jul 1 2007
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

This is how I learn envy. I watch the snow
_               _Getting gathered in a young man’s
Hands and thrown across the yard to become
_               _The sting in another boy’s face. Snow covers
The world whiter than you want when you clean
_               _The tub. Let’s be that cold. When we die, Rick,
Let’s leave the land wet without us. Say it, baby.
_               _Say you’ll die with me. Open your mouth. Say
I knock on your door in the midst of a blizzard
_               _Like those two Mormons you call
A couple of Adams, blond, clear-faced. I’ll be black
_          _With awful scars below my eyes. Say you let me in.
Say it like you mean it. I promise not to proselytize.
_          _We can stand in the kind of silence you always find
In another boy’s face. We can watch the snow
_          _Make everything right. Just the way you
Want it. Just the way I want to be. Tell me
_          _I’m not the black lines above your eyes.
What would you do with me, Rick, if I were white?

Jericho Brown holds a C. Glen Cambor Fellowship at the University of Houston’s PhD Program in Creative Writing and Literature. He is also a Cave Canem Fellow and the recipient of a 2006 James A. Michener Fellowship. He has an MFA from the University of New Orleans, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie SchoonerIndiana ReviewCallaloo, and Bloom. (updated 3/2007)

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