A Young Man
We stand together on our block, me and my son,
Neighbors saying our face is the same, but I know
He’s better than me: when other children move
Toward my daughter, he lurches like a brother
Meant to put them down. He is a bodyguard
On the playground. He won’t turn apart from her,
Empties any enemy, leaves them flimsy, me
Confounded. I never fought for so much—
I calmed my daughter when I could cradle
My daughter; my son swaggers about her.
He won’t have to heal a girl he won’t let free.
They are so small. And I, still, am a young man.
In him lives my black anger made red.
They play. He is not yet incarcerated.
by Jericho Brown
from the Academy of American Poets