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A BLUES A BLUES A BLUES by Justin Phillip Reed

mostly i’m ashamed to have forgotten that these niggas like to dabble

in me. he came and i was reckless with my magic as if it were my blood.

afterward, the endless sailed in on swift hips. the world bowled

splits down the lane of me by the minute. men arrived unlubed

without apology while the pillowcase still stank of his head’s fabled

frequency. i was thirsty and then i was threadbare. i bawled

onto strangers’ jaws through pores in my back. their pelvises blued

beneath my mad hammering. my ego skulked the sidewalks bald

and ashy, slurred its damage. like a paper bag it leaned on itself. i lobbed

two fingers in the sphincter and swung J-shaped in the lap of my double.

no i couldn’t duplicate Justin into sufficient company. i spitballed

a fist between my own jaws and grinned discontent until my gums bled.

hello. there is no volta, if that’s what you’re here for. only more notes

on what wants to kill me. everywhere this song pretends to end it doesn’t.


JUSTIN PHILLIP REED was born and raised in South Carolina. His work has appeared in Best American Essays, Boston Review, Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Obsidian, and elsewhere. Coffee House Press will release his first full-length poetry collection, Indecency, in Spring 2018. Justin lives in St. Louis. Come see about him at


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