Derrick Weston Brown

Halo of Arms

Your body will not pucker and spoil
today, tonight,
I will not claim it.
I will not seek it
cold        frozen.
You will not be the newest
cut of meat on the coroner’s slab.
You will not be called    body.
You are here.
You are my warm laughing now.
You have a name that lives
in my mouth. Perched
on my celebrant tongue.
Let me hold your hand
And tell you I love you.
I speak for every halo
of arms you leave
as you go about your day
stepping certainly   surely
into this rotted maw of a country.
Come back to me child
Come back to me mother
Come back to me lover
God forbid
they tell me you’ve been halved.
I wish a motherfucker would.

At the VA
for Bermard Lee Brown Jr.

the man who shares
a room with my father
titters and jerks
under the covers of
his bed.

His hair is wet and silver
corn silk slivers against the
pillow. He dances under those
sheets like a thick cut
piece of bacon on a
skillet lacquered with grease.

He calls for his Mama.

This scares me and I watch
him from my chair where
I sit with Daddy.

Daddy barely notices.
I’m scratching the back
of his head, applying
lotion to his scalp
because his hands
don’t work.

I turn away from the man
in the bed who moans
“Cover me”
“Cover me”

And I don’t know if
this is meant for
the mother
or platoon
he keens for   as his dream-caught
legs churn his sheets
into white cloth froth.

I focus on Daddy’s scalp
and make this ritual my
sole duty. I watch his
eyes close. His creased
brow smooth. This is my
way I bring Daddy home
from war.

Derrick Weston Brown holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University. He is the founding Poet-In-Residence of Busboys and Poets. He is a graduate of the Cave Canem and VONA summer workshops. His work has been published and featured in such journals and publications as The This Mag, JoINT, Colorlines and The Tidal Basin Review. His debut collection of poetry Wisdom Teeth was released in 2011 by Busboys and Poets Press/ PM Press. He resides in Mount Rainier MD.


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