“Tell them I found the Lord in this microphone
and I loved him,
I loved him fiercely”
Carvens Lissaint ‘Tell Them’
that I thought I found God in these words
but instead found an impostor
dressed with an iron vest
and arrows pulled into the curve of a bow
aimed to war with my heart
Tell them the only reason
I never backed out
was from of fear
of the rigid alleys
any other path would rape me in
with rules knotted like nooses
that only exist
as long as our dirty blue collars
follow them off of a white collar cliff.
Tell the people picketing that cliff,
still wearing their colors proudly,
that i tore my collar off,
committed it to memory
and built a plateau with the remaining fabric
so that i would be recognized
as an ancestor
who left a platform to build upon.
Tell my family
that i have been writing my obituary
since the age of 16,
so when i pass,
treat these poems as such.
give them to the media
and tell them not to waste time
creating something new
to account for what has already come and gone.
Tell them i did it for the children
who weren’t ready.
tell them there are more
than just children being left behind.
tell them there is a mother
in every abdomen
trying to beat her way out of a cave-
that there is a brother
on every tongue
trying to make arms out of teeth
to embrace the grandmothers
stitching together every backbone,
that every man is a third world country family
searching for someone to provide for them
and that i knew where to find their provider,
that i led them there
that i lost friends
and pride along the way
but i wouldn’t go back for them
even if the entire universe
was calling my name
Tell them i hated the pain
but loved showing my people away from it
compare me to Moses
the way my pen parted seas,
make me sound like Harriet
the way i kept going back for more souls
Tell them I had enough tears locked inside
to sink Noah’s Ark
and that you could see waves of the flood
crashing in my feet,
that you could hear its strength
ricochet off of my tongue
that in my presence
there was either silence or roaring
and no one could ever decide
which was worse.
Tell them i treated knowledge
like an unfaithful lover-
that some things are better left unknown
Tell them i believed love
is like a river in the desert-
that it has to flow from something
or someone higher than you.
Tell them i never found that person.
I never looked for anyone to be my everything
wasn’t enough to fill my empire of a heart.
Tell them that i was stubborn,
that i was determined to defend it alone
even if it meant being torn limb from limb
in the same rigid alley
that my detached noose lay
as a reminder of what happens
to anyone who may follow my footsteps.
Tell them i know i was imperfect
but i was never greedy enough
to claw at another man’s past
after he was too far underground to defend it
and i expect to be treated the same.
that my existence wasn't a blessing,
it was a response to a call for reinforcements,
and my life was just a term
in the line of duty.
"Justin A. Rogers (also known as "Jar Thepoet") is a Detroit poet, artist, and educator. His accomplishments include appearances at Youth Speaks Youth national poetry slam Brave New Voices 2009 & 2011. He has been recognized at well re-nownd venues such as the Music Hall Detroit, the Charles H. Wright Museum, and plenty more. He has been twice recognized at Detroit's Jazz Fest Rhythm, Roots, & Rhyme Poetry Slam. Rogers grew as a youth writer through Detroit's primary literary organization, InsideOut Literary Arts Project with outstanding writers like Cave Canem fellow Aricka Foreman, Internationally known Jamal 'Versiz' May, and Ann Arbor poet and educator Ben Alfaro. Rogers has been published in multiple InsideOut anthologies, the Detroit news paper 'Critical Moment', and Wayne State University's 'Wayne Literary Review'. He recently released his first Chapbook, "Sound Off" and returned from the Rhymes & Revolutions poetry tour beside Detroit poet, Deonte Osayande. Justin has also become a part of the Detroit collective known as Witness - a group of young artists dedicated to stimulating personal and community growth, providing safe spaces for artists and promoting creative self expression."
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