Track 1: Lush Life

The woman with the microphone sings to hurt you,
To see you shake your head. The mic may as well
Be a leather belt. You drive to the center of town
To be whipped by a woman's voice. You can't tell
The difference between a leather belt and a lover's
Tongue. A lover's tongue might call you bitch,
A term of endearment where you come from, a kind
Of compliment preceded by the word sing
In certain nightclubs. A lush little tongue
You have: you can yell, Sing bitch, and, I love you,
With a shot of Patrón at the end of each phrase
From the same barstool every Saturday night, but you can't
Remember your father's leather belt without shaking
Your head. That's what satisfies her, the woman
With the microphone. She does not mean to entertain
You, and neither do I. Speak to me in a lover's tongue—
Call me your bitch, and I'll sing the whole night long.

Jericho Brown, "Track 1: Lush Life" from Please. Copyright © 2008 by Jericho Brown.  Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press.
Source: Please (New Issues Press, 2008)
More Poems by Jericho Brown