I begin with love, hoping to end there.
I don’t want to leave a messy corpse.
— from “Duplex”
What do we do when tradition no longer fits? When it can no longer describe who we are as a people? When it’s how others perceive us, but not us? We have reached an impasse where tradition and reality are no longer lovers. We have reached a point where “I don’t have kids / cuz I’d have to send them to school.” Where, maybe tradition just means our new reality isn’t so new anymore.
Jericho Brown’s The Tradition is a look at the paradox between what we seek from ourselves, and what we receive from others. It’s the love we can offer but will only be received until the morning. It’s a thoroughfare from male-ness to murder to family to queerness to love. It’s what happens when you are “sick of your sadness / Jericho Brown, your blackness, / your books…. / But that ain’t new. / Everyone you know is / just as cracked. Everyone you love is / as dark, or at least as black.”
This is beauty. It’s power. It’s uncomfortable because it needs to be. It’s timeless because tradition comes and goes and comes again until you can brush it from your teeth. This is where “God gets / the boy. The becomes / immortal.”