If the Blues Are a Kind of Resistance, Then I Must Not Be Blue Enough

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, a black man with black hair, a beard and mustache. His hair is tied in a bun. He's wearing brown glasses, a black collared shirt, and a small gold necklace shaped like the "Prince symbol." He's standing outside in daytime; behind him is a building with grooved yellow walls.

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.