Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Daniel Johnson, "Do Unto Others"

Daniel Johnson's "Do Unto Others," presents a child's response to "getting tripped up on the mixed messages that one encounters as a child in church--those of the Old Testament and those of the New, some urging compassion, some revenge." Using a bible passage from the pastor's sermon (How many rocks would you stack on your brother's chest?), the young narrator answers the query with brutal honesty. Aside from the usual aggravations of a sibling, the narrator takes issue with that which makes his brother so different, perhaps mirroring (homophobic) fears about himself.

"How many rocks would I stack/ on my brother's chest? A rock/for his beauty, a rock for his trust,/and two for lips redder/than a boy's should be./...For singing on car trips,/...and flouncing/down Oak Street in my mother's dress"

"Do Unto Others"
The Best American Poetry 2007