I’ve been fortunate to close my recent nights with writers like Bettina Judd, Lucille Clifton, and Rachel Eliza Griffiths. The intersection of thought and craft feels raw with these poets, electric and breathing, which is a funny thing to say as I’ve been sitting with their elegiac works.I’m looking for the spaces in a poem filled with living tension. These are the moments that run through the powerlines of your limbs. They wake you from sleep. They whisper when you sit to write, and shout when you search yourself for truth. My aim is to develop poems like this, poems that live long beyond the page. Poems like Justin Phillip Reed’s.Last winter, a friend recommended I read Reed while I was working on a series of Loving poems, an endeavor I hoped could unpack my experience in an interracial relationship. At that time, my poems lacked confidence, and I came to my friend confused, frustrated, worried, so, she left me Reed’s A History of Flamboyance in my mailbox. I’m glad she did. Reed’s YesYes chapbook taught me that confident poems were, at once, reckless and cared for.In general, Reed’s poems build their own masculinity. These poems nick. They bruise. They are the needle sealing the wounded body, and sometimes the body is the speaker’s, and sometimes the body is our own. These poems demonstrate an awareness of the gaps in identity, how these gaps are filled by their surroundings. Place is an ever-present entity in Reed’s poetry. These places writhe and act. The self succumbs to these places. Like in Reed’s poem, “The Forgetting Episode,” place is often defined by the people and objects that inhabit it. Then there are times when place is more literal.“South Carolina Is / Shaped Like a Heart / Like a Fist” was one of my favorite poems in A History of Flamboyance. It demonstrates the living tension I look for in poems. Reed’s attention to craft and content is next level. First, the function of South Carolina, the “only one / who waits.” South Carolina refuses simplicity. It has all the traits of a problematic lover. Its intimacy is damaging. Men like South Carolina change the speaker to a rusted city.Then, of course, I return to craft, when Reed can turn even the simplest lines in a poem to a work of art. Reed writes, “in dreams my fist is just / a wrist” and how can you not fall in love? Not only is the enjambment flawless (the duality of the word “just”) the sonic play works its subtle overtime, the small, defusing “s.” I hiss like a balloon deflating as the line deflates from its whimsy. Reed’s poetry demonstrates that a critical eye cannot act in the absence of love, even as the speaker’s eye turns inward—“I wake and bully / my body head first / against their rhythm.” The speaker is at once playful, vulnerable, and implicated. The speaker splits open and, in so doing, our hearts split open too.