This week, a poem by Justin Phillip Reed.




Having been found guilty, seen assuming the shape most
unnerving, hulking starward, jacketed in alley walls, claws,
grill and grope, the twin glints that could be grief, hunger,
Venus, Lucifer— Having been conceived guilt itself,
I was not the bull thing saddled with shadows of corners,
misturns many, the crimson lyric from an ode its new throat
hummed twined around the fingers of a white boy-king.
I was perhaps the labyrinth: crook swagger toward the scene
and, passing myself, away from; wound, meaning once
there was no road
; vignette of false exits. Or, I was the blood.
What cardinal-pointed the would-be conqueror out to beach,
then became his mind’s unmooring, then the still black
sail, and then the night inside it. Have bent a shore’s knees.
Have been where day breaks like someone else’s father’s face.


JUSTIN PHILLIP REED is the author of A History of Flamboyance (YesYes Books, 2016). His first full-length collection of poetry, Indecency, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2018.

Photo by Jen Everett

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