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

Inside My Stalker's Religion

the person who stalks me has an illness. Paranoid
Schizophrenic has been institutionalized has heard the voices
say my name & it is the softest the voices have been
in the stalker’s head so the stalker thinks
that i am God

& the stalker loves God & wants to kill God
like most people the stalker wants to find God
& feel better the stalker wants to own God & feel
stronger the stalker wants to rape God & have Gods
the stalker wants to be God so it can belong to
someone the stalker wants to make a church
of my bones & hymns of my blood the stalker wants
to make me somebody's prayer

i treat the stalker like the stalker does not exist
the stalker rips their face into a colony of fire ants when i do not
answer the stalker stops taking their meds when the bugs won’t go away

i change my number & the stalker sends gifts shows up to my house a filthy heap
of deviant obsession the landlady asks me to move when it scares my neighbors out
of their normal i call the police i get a restraining order i quit my job i hide i move i live
off fear & ramen noodles for half a year i lose my hair & i wonder if my stalker is close
to the truth & i am afraid & i pray & I am afraid of how afraid i am
of this human

of what i will do if my stalker comes to me.
the stalker's life in my hands & my fear turning
into frantic rage & i pray & i pray & i am afraid
that i am talking to myself


                  … My Stalker’s Brain

the darkness is so dark at first
i think i'm dead

the stalker is not here — is scared
of this place or has no use for it
i guess — i can’t be sure of anything

i hear metal grinding
& get a mouthful of garbage when
i check to see if there is air —

i notice the clouds are familiar
— all of my goosebumps
in a freer state

a headless seagull swoops through a sky
made of moons & bursting veins

i shudder my stomach drops
like a grenade i know i am not
supposed to look down & i am
listening for the crash

it is as quiet as a stack of restraining
order requests when i look down i see
the dump trucks when they unload i understand
i am standing on piles & piles of my own rotting

                  ...My Stalker’s Love

is a trapped bird. the bird is
beakless & its feathers are glued w/
blood dripping from one eye.

the other eye is looking at everyone
but is trying to focus on one
thing. the bird thinks i am the one thing.
a shiny knife, the bird thinks I am a thing
that can release it.

i can’t. I tried to save a dead bird once
i was 11 & had more empathy
than i can afford at 26.

that bird looks
just like this

i want to show my mother, again
but I know what she will say.
that I bet not bring it to her

After My Cousin Quez Was Murdered

his daughter has her first candle light vigil and it is only the first
of many. She will have once each year                  a deathday party
with countless candles & only one wish. She will learn to hold
an obituary: delicately without it touching her, will hold everything
this way from now on.

Her mother is wondering if a bullet does not hit a child can it still reduce the child
to nothing but an ashtray - a place of stolen butts? A crystal container sleeping &
broken in a fight that was not its own ?

his younger sister is thinking about revenge                  & this is normal – for her to want to hurt
who killed her brother. This is normal                                  - her eyes boiling green granny
apples -her skin so brown she could be                                  next, looking like one of the last
Atlantians left still fighting to not become                                  a myth white people tell
to amuse their children.

& I am wondering about the Atlantains who killed
other atlantians in the last days. What it was like
to be so hungry you eat yourself out of flesh & bone?
To turn against yourself in the final bleak years?

The Signs Of The Negropocolypse

White Americans began transforming
their fashions back to the 1700’s. Vintage
is the new loophole. Clothes made without
work in mind – petticoats and pompadours
and mustaches that make you stop and think
of plantations with whipping post; magnolia
and bone receipts. Know it’s all coming back
in style and the Negros are back -out Black is
the old black.

The Negros notice it’s getting colder but white
folks still wearing shorts. White folks still white
-splaining the weather. White folks still scared
as hell when hell can’t control something like
black people really wasn’t already scared as hell
to wear a hoody and now it’s mandatory. White
folks need to feel safe and cold.

Negro children start dying by the bullet-full and no one
blinks an eye. This is cool. This is vintage. The women are
raped. Men are sold into cages. It’s freezing and all this goes
on un-blinked.

Spirituals are spun by the Negros with what little
sugar they have rationed. Hymns meant only to heal
black hearts, have the white folks up and ready to rage
and demand rights to the voice box. The voice box has
options. 1.) become the white folks trinket: dance and
praise the white folks. Learn their language, wear their
cast-offs. 2.) refuse the white folks and be treated like
the rest of the Negros, get the voice box snatched out
its own throat.

Rebellion bubbles back to the top layer of the Negros
blood. Sometimes it's art or protest or weapon or white folks
blood – but it is always rebellion and it always comes with
a price and we always pay it upfront with no guarantees.

White folks decide they no longer care for evolution. Does
nothing for them. They were a happier people once. There are
calmer days behind them and our progress is blocking
the view. They want to devolve, to be set back or sent
back to dixie and her sneaky pink tongue. They will gladly
give up technology in exchange for their former slaves.

And this is how the whole the dynasty will end. Negros
shivering and watching white folks close- never for a second
losing hope that white folks will look back so long they turn
into salt.

Siaara Freeman

Siaara Freeman is a friendly neighborhood hope dealer. She writes poems & performs them & publishes them. She has been published in the literary journals Elementz Review, Chicago Lit Review, TinderBox, Up The Staircase Quarterly, Texas Borderland Review, Rats’ Ass Review, and Freeze Ray.

She’s been on helly slam squads and even has coached a few.


She has made list of poets & tweeters & thrifters to watch! & has been interviewed by For Harriet on poetry as self care. She was nominated by Up The Staircase Quarterly for Best New Poet 2016.

She tries to feed people, including herself off this alone. She is a Slytherin & the current Lake Erie Siren.

She is a Connoisseur of Clap-back & Guilty Pleasures. I heard, she is growing her Afro so tall God mistakes it for a mic & speaks into her.

She is the Founder of, a magazine for artists of color.


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