Every cell in this country looks like a choice you can walk in and out of

by Justin Phillip Reed


Does a man with no intentions know he means

you only harm? If lodged in the scar were a pearl

of such precise damage no tongue could lift it—


Either I am talking about my ex lover or

I am talking about the President. Every

choice in this cell looks like a country


he can walk in and out of. Here was a kind

of kingdom. If I call him King, then he is.

If he is late, it is the Waste Kingdom. If a king


then somewhere a slave and too a horse

the grass can’t grow quickly enough into

the mouth of. Beneath this same blood-


tooth moon I drop my body like an axe

head into a bed of blue-lipped weeds

the king’s highway rides its joys through.


A crisis at my own navel lifts the century

out of rotation. In the buzz of this country’s decay

I’m allied to the chaos. He loves to say


he hates me, meaning his need to use me

confuses him. I want to say I love me

in the language of a place where


it is possible; this is a stark mood with few

conditions. The kingdom wears a skirt

of woods, busy insects to signify health,


a flag crested with & Fuck That MF. —Yes

that should have been its whole name.

Yes, I am delectable, and therefore


a spiral of vultures descends in helix

or a whole horde of countrymen perfects

the custom of disorienting my flesh. He licks


the femur of a thing that many hands ago

was me, he says “If you want to be enough

be both.” He is talking about my bullet


casket carcass, or he is talking about how

fuckable I looked laid roadside in hues of maroon.