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Ghazal Dressed as a Mid-2000s Snap Rapper

Justin Davis

Back in 2006, the stereo called out, Yup, in my white tee,

Lean wit it, rock wit it—I thought I’d look tough in a white tee.

 

Now the curb stays evangelizing me and I hate it. Go ahead,

keep hoping you’ll find me spotless, looking like a dove in my white tee.

 

You know I’m over it. I don’t linger in pools like that,

like when I was baptized, a dazed toddler stuffed in a white tee.

 

That’s not the wave these days. I put on songs about god and pine after

gold molars. I keep a starched anger in my neck like muck on my white tee.

 

My gut glows a tired blue. My rent props my eyes open. I’m in a city

where the river might cough up a body, cuffed in a white tee,

 

dripping blood in a white tee. All I ever wanted was enough.

I wanted my opps’ knuckles white as a country club in a white tee.

 

Ghazal-maker, my nigga, you were so naive. What did you think a poem

or a prayer would do? How much labor goes unloved in a white tee?

JUSTIN DAVIS is a cultural worker and community organizer based in Memphis, Tennessee. His poems are published in places like Anomaly, wildness, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Apogee Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and BOAAT. He's a past Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. He's an MFA student at the University of Memphis.

Header art: "Manakin" by Roger Camp.