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poetry Ganymede

“Someone with wings,” writes the critic Elizabeth Willis, “may be angelic, but the figure also embodies the predatory power of a country—the one we live in…”

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Ganymede

By Jericho Brown

A man trades his son for horses.
That's the version I prefer.  I like
The safety of it, no one at fault,
Everyone rewarded.  God gets
The boy.  The boy becomes
Immortal.  His father rides until
Grief sounds as good as the gallop
Of an animal born to carry those
Who patrol and protect our inherited
Kingdom.  When we look at myth
This way, nobody bothers saying
Rape.  I mean, don't you want God
To want you?  Don't you dream
Of someone with wings taking you
Up?  And when the master comes
For our children, he smells
Like the men who own stables
In Heaven, that far terrain
Between Promise and Apology.
No one has to convince us.
The people of my country believe  
We can't be hurt if we can be bought.

Jericho Brown’s “Ganymede” won the Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Award in 2017.

He is the winner of the Whiting Writer's Award. Other books include Please (New Issues 2008); The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014); and The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.