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 Wusgood.black.
I am astounded by the high volume and quality of work that Gramma has put forth since it's launch. Gramma has become an online presence where I am confident in finding the poem I need whenever I need it. We all found ourselves excited to provide work for this press and to contribute to it's vision. Huge thank you to this press and the pieces that make it spin.
For my little sister, Jazmin
You used to love me, ya know?
ran up to me and was a sticky bug
clinging to the front of my shirt—
you done stretched out so many o’ my shirts
wit ya long arms pullin
every time I try pushin you away from me.
I used to say I was watchin T.V.-
rushed you outta my room
jus to have you back in my face
two commercials later
talkin bout how bored you was alone
but you wouldn’t never get bored
was always talkin bout how you remember
doin’ dis an dat
Im eye ballin’ 40 pages of poems
an not a damn one of ‘em
remembers anythang bout you.
It took me half a manuscript
to realize I done forgot
bout all them promises I made
an all them things I said I wish you never do
that I bet you done done by now.
Fo what it’s worth,
in my mind
you was always locked in dat
abandoned building on the corner of our block—
you was all the shiny steel and copper
the scrappers come lookin to steal away
an I liked to think of myself as the landlord;
I’d protect ya,
make sure nobody come an strip you down.
when I come to visit,
I see dat building is still abandoned
windows broken, all them
people walkin past lookin right on in
hopin to see something they wanna steal
an I jus know every missin piece is my neglect
commin back to haunt you.
every boy creepin around yo edges
is a crime I coulda prevented.
I gots hope in you,
but I know yo long arms can push
just as much as they can pull;
an I hope you remember me
thirty years from now—
when I done wrote a thousand poems
an only one of em is bout you,
I hope you find me
still lookin for somebody to cling to me
an love me
like only you can.
“Of course if your listening
to Knuck if Your Buck
your spirit won’t be right.”
Like the church aint cross totin’
burden holdin’ niggas throwin’
bows getting crunk for Jesus
with our Sunday’s best praise
hand to sway & claim the saved set
Praise hands knuck to defend
the set Jesus blessed them with—
the niggas bows are thrown for
The niggas we become a choir of buck for
Many are the afflictions
of the buck;
The hood don’t care whose blood
is on yo’ front door,
either knuck or get stuck
either act a fool or get yo wig split
Knuck is a must
between bible studies
The saints come in the sanctuary shaking
they twist-out & throwing they thug to
God in thanks for the spirit
of survival in a
city that sings the street’s praises
“According to Lavender,
playing tricks is
what makes a heroine”
Lavender slips a newt into
Trunchbull thinks it snake.
Black Matilda tips the glass
& gets the glory
Maybe Matilda is snake-
a heap of muscle magic-
a venom of anger spilling.
Maybe Lavender is glass
catching the poison—
a breakable invisible thing
to preserve the Trophy
Justin Rogers is a poet, educator, coach and Pushcart Prize Nominee from the city of Detroit, Michigan. Rogers is an advocate for literacy among inner-city youth, and the amplification of Black voices. Performing around the Mid-West and coordinating after school intensive-creative-writing programing with InsideOut Literary Arts, Rogers actively shares poems surrounding living and growing as a Black man in America. Rogers most recently has work published or forthcoming in Tinderbox, Mobius Magazine, Apiary Magazine, 3 Elements Review, Skip-Fiction, Daily Gramma, and Public Pool. Rogers also is an editor with Wusgood Magazine and an Adult Advisor for the youth-led arts journal, Underscore Review.