Two Poems

Justin Phillip Reed

THE DAY _____________ DIED

i disavowed “died” but didn’t mutter “murdered” in the direction of anyone who uttered it. i collapsed the umbrella of my shoulders into circumflex over a keyboard and clicked away morning. at lunch i was nowhere i could call you back from; there, i munched granola and grew miraculously blacker. my boss’s chin tilting collarward kinda meant to mean i matter, but i thought fuck if i’m two cool fingertips to the temples / i’m not fine but uncannily coarse as the mud-eyed jerk-bootied affect of a james brown mugshot / no thanks for the talk no tongues today counting downbeats we can syncopate tomorrow. anyway, the day after would be as gray and guilty as a hardwood-bound heartbeat’s corner-cobweb-throbbing echo. i requested a rain check. in the car at five, i crawled outta my business and cranked bass against three busted speakers. i remember there was a road.



Delmar Boulevard, Saint Louis


winter rain whips you into
cane shape

at the sight, something in you
crawled up

a cop’s spine & frisked every
damn where

benches clap on first & fourth
down here

your whole shitty block of trash
built beige

alleyway cardboard cuts out

heavy with living death, lungs

past a sack of centuries

your own blood hard up drops
black thud

traces yardbird song & thrum
been sad

as miles of revitalized

your stuck flash-wide sprawl, liver
gored on

your rouged-cotton infant coos

the watershed: alarms all

with bass in the waists of your

no rhythm nor blues but

cute cubicles like kennels
boxed up

your glare-proof pickets protest
big lip

service to a tranquil re-

bleating guilt, panhandle &

off your tempered glass, your cured
blonde grass

sound’s nostalgia you curate

sinking teeth deep in safe codes

your high-stakes crown, your goodness