Two Poems

Justin Davis


We’ve Survived So Much to Get Here

While reading old
newspapers, I found
a story: one spring night,
the pigs raided a game
of craps, shook down some
niggas huddled up
in the back of a small-
town hotel. As they ran
off, a nigga shot at the pigs
five times. Every
bullet missed. He got
away. He had the same name
as my great-great-grandfather.
Do you think it could be him?
I asked my mom as I turned
the paper toward her. She didn’t
even look. She said,
How could you have any doubts?


Damien Hirst Says that Money is His Medium

for Hennessy Youngman

“As an artist, you always make work from what’s around you and, you know, money was around me.”

And me? Laundromats were around me. Stolen wages were around me.
M16s and velvet durags and Twitter spam accounts. Obviously, I’m no
Damien Hirst: when I yawn, I don’t swallow little droplets of money. I can’t
dip a shark in formaldehyde and call it “Money Suspended in Money.”
I can’t kill a bathtub’s worth of butterflies and claim their flight paths
in the gallery’s hushed warmth. I let my labor live so close to my chest
that the landlord makes me hiccup when he grabs it. Would the poem look
with a line of investors waiting for the turn? I’ll raise the capital to make
the poem what it could be. Money money money money money. I’ll write
a poem in Guapanese, encrust it in diamonds. Dip the poem in oil, occupy
a country for it. Can you really say you built a thing if you never touched it?
Is it yours if you don’t wake up with it pressing at your neck?



Justin Davis is a writer and labor organizer. You can find his work in places like Anomaly, wildness, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Apogee Journal, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. He’s been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and the Pushcart Prize, and he was a finalist for Breakwater Review‘s Peseroff Prize. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

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