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Two Poems

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what is the word for the realization that your language never loved
you? you are a red thing / scattered, sad map of

                  sacrificial fires                   nightly appealing

where is that word?

it becomes necessary to signify the passing sound of friends who
swear fidelity to oneself and in the same exchange refuse the weight
of one's brother's body, collapsed and dragged forward by its will
to keep running. it becomes necessary to signify the smear, the oil
of him slicked across blacktop, how at night he disperses in shine
and gas. you think the word is [lapse]: the illusion to which one
clings to keep from being both crazy and american, disrupted. glitch
and pixel–the eternally loading screen that is blackness waiting
to be called other than absence of. lapse / lap, which is—for the
mother—a sign of the child having lived.

maybe your friends cannot exist within the glitch.

there are lapses of justice / of memory / of time before the body is
covered / before those left to mourn lapse into savagery, which the
friends say they (just) cannot abide.

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel

a wasp’s nest of white men begins at daybreak
to break down and busy up the house next door
I hear them drone in my dead sleep hammering
my head against the brick chest of a bright morning
outside one heaves his whole belly beneath
a box full of toilet and another in the road yells
gotdamn his back hurts just watching and there's
a hole in the street beside him and inside that
another white man and don't you know
I don't care who he is or where he'd rather be
or how hungry his ragamuffins or how fucked up
his own toilet I want that hole to shut
him up and the asphalt to lick its lips and that
I don't care what wanting this makes me
looks like what they've called freedom I want
these holes in my back shut up I want the dead
boy inside me to bury white men alive yes
all of them in his gut I snap the teeth of my blinds
down because don't I know every white man
has a dead black child inside him bursting
with the desire to materialize in the street
as a manhole I want to keep someone safe I say
I used to feel safe and don't mean it I say
if I eat them all I am a cradle for
cradles but if I eat them all I am also just
a city full of white men I am sick with
revitalization I am such a sepulchre
if I eat them they will still be busy busy busy
as a virus trying to keep me alive just as long
as my body is the gracious host for their
buildup which you know has been
the longest breakdown gotdamn
I say it too my back hurts just knowing
what they wish it would still do

Justin Phillip Reed

Coffee House Press

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