for discomfort. I’m tryna get blue blue. Blue
as a bounced check, blue as the niggas
who check the sea levels. Villain at the edge
of villainy. Ready to give up everything. Blue.
Jar of Blue Magic, 12” single by Blue Magic, blue,
like I be countin hundreds till my fingers blue,
like Robert-Hayden-in-the-cold blue, blue as the sky
that afternoon when I was 17, when I lost everything
and nothing all at once, when I saw fire dripping down
my windows like spittle and the asphalt glowed. When the soot
clung to the walls of my room, and all I could think was,
they used to be baby blue. Three stories up, the floor eaten away
and soft. Blue. We’re always losing the shit we live on,
and the world that drops the loss in our laps stays intact.
What does it mean if the overseer asks me for water
and I give him water? When I could have brought him
gasoline—what does that say about me?
This poem includes a quote from the song “Fingers Blue” by Smokepurrp, and references “I Asked for Water” by Howlin’ Wolf.
Justin Davis is a writer and labor organizer. His poems have appeared in places like Breakwater Review, Anomaly, wildness, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Apogee Journal. He’s published essays with Scalawag, Science for the People and Labor Notes. He’s been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.