About this Poem 

"This poem comes from my recent attempts at making greater use of the metonym rather than the metaphor. Also, I’m asking myself new questions about how to allow poems I love to influence my writing. 'The Hammers' was written after asking myself, 'What if ‘We Real Cool’ were a horror film?'"
—Jericho Brown

The Hammers

Jericho Brown

They sat on the dresser like anything
I put in my pocket before leaving
The house.  I even saw a few tiny ones
Tilted against the window of my living
Room, little metal threats with splinters
For handles.  They leaned like those
Teenage boys at the corner who might
Not be teenage boys because they ask
For dollars in the middle
Of the April day and because they knock 
At 10 a.m.  Do I need help lifting some-
Thing heavy?  Yard work?  I wondered 
If only I saw the hammers.  The teenage
Boys visiting seemed not to care that
They lay on the floor lit by the TV. 
I’d have covered them up with rugs,
With dry towels and linen, but their claw
And sledge and ball-peen heads shone
In the dark, which is, at least, a view
In the dark.  And their handles meant
My hands, striking surfaces, getting
Shelves up, finally.  One stayed 
In my tub, slowing the drain.  I found
Another propped near the bulb
In the refrigerator.  Wasn’t I hungry?  
Why have them there if I could not
Use them, if I could not look at my own
Reflection in the mirror and take one
To the temple and knock myself out?

Copyright © 2014 by Jericho Brown. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 21, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2014 by Jericho Brown. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 21, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown

Raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, Jericho Brown won the 2009 American Book Award for his debut collection Please.

by this poet

poem
This is what our dying looks like.
You believe in the sun. I believe
I can’t love you. Always be closing,
Said our favorite professor before
He let the gun go off in his mouth.
I turned 29 the way any man turns
In his sleep, unaware of the earth
Moving beneath him, its plates in
Their places, a dated
poem
I spent what light Saturday sent sweating
And learned to cuss cutting grass for women
Kind enough to say they couldn’t tell the damned
Difference between their mowed lawns
And their vacuumed carpets just before
Handing over a five-dollar bill rolled tighter
Than a joint and asking me in to change
A few light
poem
“O Blood of the River of songs,
O songs of the River of Blood,”
       Let me lie down. Let my words

Lie sound in the mouths of men
Repeating invocations pure
       And perfect as a moan

That mounts in the mouth of Bessie Smith.
Blues for the angels kicked out
       Of heaven. Blues for the angels

Who miss