Hi everyone! This week’s prompt is to select a poem or short story by a writer you are not yet familiar with (preferably one you have wanted to read and haven’t gotten around to yet). Use the author’s name as the title of the piece (and obviously you can change it later, if you’d like), and use one line/sentence from the selected piece as YOUR first line, or as an epigraph. And don’t forget to give credit!

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McKenzie tried out this prompt back in 2012–here is the resulting poem. She selected Jericho Brown, as he was a writer she had been interested in reading for a while, and the first line of her poem came from one of his poems in his debut collection, Please. She decided to maintain his name as the title, because she liked the conversation his name and all of our expectations of his name had with the poem itself, and how this new poem, even accidentally, converses with many of his poems. Enjoy!

JERICHO BROWN

Like hail from a blind sky,
the body falls. He drinks wine from broken
shot glasses and wears a goatee. This
is his appearance to some. For others, he continues
on his way in bare feet and white robes.
In either world, he takes his time.
Whether or not his words contain the rush
of truth and hard business is, for some,
debatable. But what we cannot ignore is this:
the woman floating down the Byway,
the healed cancer patient, turned vegan, and
our fascination with the Afterlife, put to the test
by all those mouths—gnawing and chewing
and somersaulting in the search of rest.
Whether or not all this meat ends in a place of
fixed healing or soiled bone
is yet to be answered. On his quest, this man
gathers what is left of all these bodies
and places them in a cellar, gives them the time
they need to age, to cure. What we know is this:
when he opens the door again, it will be light
and dirt-bodies, with eyes and open mouths
looking up.

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