Essay in THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2018;
(cited in BAE 2015, 2016); PUSHCART poetry finalist

Black History Month Author Highlights: Crushed

Toine has a new stereo. Mystikal grumbles
“Shake ya ass, but watch yo self. Shake ya ass”
into the street. A squirrel
crushed by a car, baking on the pavement—
you have a stick in hand to prod
the roadkill, but Chris passes grayscale porn
printouts, hot sauce stained.
You can’t see much because of the folds
in the sheets, the ink bled. Like the squirrel
flattened, spread, naked women displayed. You reduce
to a throb in your jeans.
Cynthia with the lazy eye rolls
up on her bike. Swishing her hips slow
as you all scramble to hide the pictures,
she tells you to turn up the music
so she can dance.
The song ends. She sits next to you.
You eye buttonholes
in her shirt, snaggletooth
behind glossed lips, slide closer.
She hooks an arm around Toine’s neck,
slips into his lap.
You stare at the squirrel, this mangled thing
you want to poke with a stick.
 

Quintin Collins (he/him) is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA Program assistant director. His work appears in many print and online publications, and his first full-length collection of poems, The Dandelion Speaks of Survival, is forthcoming from Cherry Castle Publishing in 2021. His second collection of poems, Claim Tickets for Stolen People, selected by Marcus Jackson as winner of The Journal’s 2020 Charles B. Wheeler Prize, is forthcoming from The Ohio State University Press/Mad Creek Books in 2022. See more of his work on qcollinswriter.com.

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