Justin Rogers

Justin Rogers is a poet, educator, coach and venue owner from the city of Detroit, Michigan.  Rogers is an advocate for literacy among inner-city youth, and the amplification of Black voices.  Still performing around the Mid-West and teaching poetry 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 APIARY Magazine, Mobius Magazine, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal.




After Aracelis Girmay


Five stories into dawning sky

here in the crusted bucket seat

of my cracking car’s catalytic converter

is a stolen hum. Here is humming

over the Detroit skyline­­

an orange pool of silk atmosphere

tainting a burning heap of rusted metal. Here

is the world’s largest incinerator

trying its flames damndest to

look like every lip pierced

purple haired penthouse

developed city it is not.

Here is ignoring waves of ‘good hair’

“pretty eyes with my glasses off”

“pale skin, even in the summer.”

Here is shopping for hipster clothing.

Here are closed family businesses

replaced by vegan chain restaurants.

Here is giving up meat.

Here is a love for coffee and

coffee houses and weed and live indie bands.

Here is forgetting my neighborhood and

being afraid to return there.

Here is realizing the blackness

ashing over my mulatto skin.

Here is being too ashamed

of my family’s Polish heritage

to take my grandmother’s invitations

to return home seriously. Here is

going home feeling like failing.

Here is avoiding anecdotes

referring to Poland or the Atlantic

or what owning a home in this neighborhood

used to mean or how women

didn’t go to college in the 60’s

or how my grandmother ran away

or how she had a little girl

by a black man in San Francisco.

Here is never hearing the relationship shunned.

Here is still checking “Other”

in the options for my race.

Here is Kielbasa and Fried Chicken.

Here is slavery and Holocaust

Catholic and Christian Jesus calling me

Here is no one knowing His race either.

Here is knowing my savior’s skin

would not help anything.

Here is my skin granting me

minimum wage temporary jobs

for which my degree claims I am overqualified.

Here is driving Interstate 94 daily

just to see the world’s largest incinerator burn

everything except my crack decayed city.

Here is gentrification.

Hoping I am mixed enough.

Here is not being anything enough.

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