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 Wusgood.black.

Justin Rogers

Nymphadora Tonks Asks a Favor of Brittany Rogers

One day he will ask how he came to be orphaned- please, explain:

     His father had left twice already.
     You knew me then
     my skin a dry earth

     dead mice in my hair
     wand sprouting fur and
     forget me nots—

     Magical girls don’t die of broken
     hearts, but I came so close that the
     walls of our cottage

     began writing my eulogy.
     But then, he came home
     and Teddy grew a riot

     inside me. My hair
     bloomed violets again.
     I almost forgot the war

     until he marched off
     part beast, part fallible man.
     I would love to say I could

     have lived without him, but my
     Iips were already wilting
     and who knew what would come next?

     so I followed.

Portrait of a “baby-mama”— as displayed by ex-husband

She robot looking these days.
Dry, rusted metal.
I think sometimes that I broke her.

She jerk from my touch now.
Twists her peeling nose up
when she sees me-all knotty hair

weed smoke and 40’s in my
belly. Act like she too good
for me. Deprogrammed, like

she ain’t love me when she
was 14, back before her mama
and friends said I was a

malfunction waiting to happen.
My kid about 8 now, and don’t
know my name.

Don’t have my last name either.
And ain’t that something. That
you can just carve a man out

his own flesh and bones. Gotta
be gunmetal to do that. Some type
of steel gone wrong.

I keep my hands to myself these
days. Work when I can, like honest
men do. Tell my women up front that

I only deal in multiples. And ain’t
that enough? Don’t that church of hers
preach that all men can be born again?

She don’t even smell the same.
Now, it’s all strawberries and
vanilla and faint hints of her new

man. Once, though, she only wore
the scent of cucumber melon and
me. Most women wouldn’t have

stayed, but she did for so long.
Don’t know how to stop looking
for forever in her smirk. Except

she ain’t smiling no more. Just
a gargoyle face so strict it done
turned me to stone.

What is a relationship goal to a family of divorced women?

When I finally get the call my uncle is almost
a ghost. He is clothed in rusted needles and
surrounded by people whose names he can’t
say- only here by the grace of God, the doctors,
and the way my aunt calls to him like her voice
is the treasure chest he's spent
his whole life searching for.

My aunt holds his hand like tissue paper
made of gold- I remember every
summer at their house—the only one in
the hood with an apple tree.
We played each night like the streetlights
would never come on.

The year I turned old enough to understand the
rumors, the women told me ain't a man alive don’t
cheat; a good one will make sure you never
find out. When the marriage turned shipwreck
I decided there were no good men—just women
who pretended not to know. Got older still
and learned it all. The sickness. The cancer
on top of it. The wife in another state, even
though my aunt still wears his last name a
shiny medallion as if to say I won once
and it is still enough.

And the nurse says she’s never seen an
ex wife still anchored to a man already
at the bottom of the ocean where
dead treasure is just rot.

And my aunt, she smiles—so tired her muscles
just barely tilt. Wipes his brow. Tells every
questioning eye in the room that he can hear her.
Reminds us that she promised in sickness
and in health, once, when she was so young
she thought sickness would never come.
Tells me, the women in this family
we keep our vows.

Brittany Rogers

Brittany Rogers is trying to survive being a mother/educator/poet/Hufflepuff with her glitter and inner church girl intact. She gets joy from working with youth and dying her hair colors that black girls aren’t “supposed” to have.

Brittany was most recently on FreshWater Wordsmiths National Slam team, who placed 5th in group piece finals. She has work published or forthcoming in Mothers Always Write Journal, MoJo Anthology, undr_scr review, Eunoia Review, and is an editor with Wusgood.black, a magazine for artists of color. Brittany lives and works in her hometown of Detroit, and plans to do so forever.

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