Poet Jericho Brown is one of the ten winners of the 2009 Whiting Writers' Award, which honors writers of exceptional talent early in their careers with $50,000. Jericho's poetry book, Please, is his first, published by New Issues Poetry & Prose in 2008. He lives in San Diego. The following poem appeared in HFR #41.

Track 3: (Back Down) Memory Lane

It’s Friday night
In Shreveport. Checks
Have been cashed, bills
Folded and stashed
Into wallets and bra straps.
Card tables, folding chairs,
And every gold tooth in town
Crowd our grandmother’s
Camelback shotgun house
Because she cuts
Only two dollars a hand
For every joker that slides
Into a queen. We don’t know
Minnie Riperton’s dead
Years now, buried
With one breast to her name.
School-uniformed in a corner,
We learn to listen to music
Over hollers, through
Smoke. Her soprano comes across
A photograph in giggles,
But ends up crying,
Save me. We think we’d like that
Kind of love, sad and steeped
In trumpets, though a block up
The entire decade shoots
For words to put in the dictionary:
Crackhead, drive-by. Loss
And gain. The bullet
Meant for a man named Money
Removes his baby sister’s chin.
Ask for horns in Shreveport
And sirens are on the way.
We can’t hear either, grandmama
Calling for us to change
The tape, No more slow songs,
Keep us awake, these years
Before surgeons slice her
In vain, and we drive
Away, our car stereos
Playing rhythm and blues.