An Introduction to Detroit + Cleveland Week

I am proud to present a close circle of phenomenal people who happen to be just as amazing writers. Representing the Detroit and Cleveland literary areas, we have grown into a group who challenges one another to seek growth and community support. Collectively, we are national performers, published writers, Journal/Magazine editors, educators, & organizers. In addition to these accolades, we do not turn a blind eye to our hood, our urban, our wish-a-nigga-would, our belief in God, or our struggles, but we highlight them instead. This collection of work shares a few crumbs of our larger selves. We break bread with you—invite you in for a drink and a prayer. Learn more about the work we do at

Justin Rogers

Patriarchy as a Haunting (Or) When the God is also the Ghost (Final Draft)

The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man. —Huey P Newton

But what about the plywood women? Bodies
splayed to make your home a smooth floor.
What about the brick women whose faces
you chiseled with the back of your jack hammer hand?

Are they not too doomed?
Are you not the ghost that haunts them?

Huey. Black male God of Black male Gods.
Loved deeply by your people.

A line of children at your door
with open hands and empty stomachs
that may have otherwise been a
pile of starved flesh leaching the bone
On the other side-

a band of women with your mother’s
face, sewing each other’s mouths shut,
between tending your clothes and licking
the gore from the wounds.

Somehow you farmer too.
Grow empires from concrete. The seeds:
hope. Gashed flesh. Sovereignty. Loose teeth.
A crop of food and trampled bodies grow around each other.
Your hands at the helm and the women
praise you with with mouths full of bread and bone.

I am grateful for you the way I am
grateful for soured wine.
How it makes love to my blood
until it doesn’t.
Wrecking me from inside the body
I offered it to.

Someone could have done the work
without the drunken storm.
Without mothers of sons with
full stomachs who still wanted
to hang themselves.

But Huey,
wasn’t that what this was all about?
Burning the noose?

Your body was braided rope
you could not undo.

Trauma is a double hinged saloon door
you walk only one way through.

The women sat next to you
and the revolution, as handsome
as ya’ll were. Laughed with ya’ll
Until their breath caught.

And the whole world went-
And the whole world went-
And the whole world went-

Pulling Teeth and Answers Before Dying

No Grandma, dancing on the man’s
grave won’t stir his ghost.
You can’t get revenge on
the dead.

                                 All the women I know
                                 dance until their heels
                                 dig a charnel for their men.

Yes, Grandma
he still dead.

                                 I apologize to Christ
                                 for forgetting he is
                                 the only man who comes back
                                 to love us.

No, Grandma, think about it
like this. Without his jaw
locked around that whiskey
bottle, cooling and burning
his gums while his teeth
unrooted themselves,
probably wouldn’t be you
and your six girls in Detroit.
A house you bought
with your dime.
                                 Because of her, I sovereign
                                 myself. Cobblestone tongue
                                 build the road I walk on.

Probably still be Cincinnati. Still
be one bedrooms and
girls who flinch at the front door.

                                 Flinching is a generational curse
                                 I don’t blame her for.

Still a husband
who slurs his pockets
empty at a card table.
Debonaire and drunk on draining
                                 I loved a man like this once and left before
                                 a promise of forever I could not keep.

He so full of nothing he let
you have a clean
break. A step into a summer
night and none of him to take
with you.

                                 Every man I’ve loved left a state sized
                                 scab I am grateful to just pick. The way
                                 my Grandma talks, her whole body was
                                 the scar.

Grandma, you don’t think that a gift?
A missing body every night? When there, an unpliable
bane on the mattress.
To make slipping away easier than the knot
On the noose

Ajanae’s mouth responds to "What that mouth do?"

Bite. Chew. Swallow.
Blood diamond smile
my people mined for.
Suck the gristle. Lick
the rind. I’m an unrolled
Tongue. Everything that come
out of me is erotic. Everything I say
Baptize my kin in sex. My lips
a violent, obedient bitch. Slaughter
the looming street men with dumb questions like
why I’m here
and what I can do
Clearly, I eat.
Red lipstick make me think
I hunted the flesh I gnaw on.
Feed the instinct so I leave you
and yours alive
and useless

Ajanae Dawkins

Ajanae Dawkins is a Michigan Native. She is on a full scholarship for her poetry at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is the writer and actor of her her one woman show, Atlantic, and other collaborative theatre projects.
Recently, She has been published in undr_scr review, the blueshift journal, and word riot. Her work has also been featured on For Harriet and Button Poetry. She is currently acting as a Teaching Artist in Madison Wisconsin, in conjunction with finishing her degrees.

Ajanae has spent the past year living in Spain and Morocco, learning Spanish and Arabic, while conducting research on the role of God in feminism, and perfecting the art of being a care-free Black girl. The only thing she believes in more than poems is the transformative power of Christ.


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