Justice Ameer

***********Featured Staff Member************



looking up “nigger” on dictionary.com


Usage alert

The term nigger is now probably the most offensive word in English.


good nigga.

and there ain’t no probably about it.


i grew up in a house

where nigger never meant endearment

nigger was my dad’s way of not apologizing after a fight

with all this freedom

he thought we might miss the whip

nigger always came out a muted tongue

an under-breath lashing

a means to turn our Black pride against itself

nigger brought white God in

to kick Black Jesus out


when a Black person calls another Black person


without the love

you can almost feel your ancestors

die again inside of you


i grew up hating every way to say nigger

the word sat like a hushed plantation brimming beneath my skin

my town was one where everyone could say it

as long as they used the proper -ga and the prefix my-

no one got questioned much, even the white kids

so i learned not to collapse at every mention of my lineage


i don’t remember clearly the first time

a white person called me nigger and meant it

i think i Blacked out


when nigga first made its way into my mouth

i don’t know who i betrayed more

but it felt like it must be treason

sporting a new-age branding-iron

even if my jaw could stomach the word

nigga was still nigger and no syllable would change that


and i spoke on it and fought about it

and i thought not liking a word

made me better than other niggas

my light skinned suburban ass really thought

i wasn’t just another nigga

like a different lexicon gave me more grace


and this is the real trick of whiteness

making a Black person condescend to another Black person

about the pain they’re both feeling

giving a Black person the language to scold another Black person

for the way they use language

now instead of white people using nigger against us

they got us arguing with each other over using it


fuck that.

this shit is for us. to only be used by us.

to find the beauty in nigga

i started looking at my people

and stop looking down on my people

i found that nigga holds a history

there’s a glottal unbirthing in nigga

an acknowledgement of the pain we have endured and are still enduring

a sorrow that’s lifted off the tongue realizing we are still here

a joy of survival in being able to see another Black person alive

nigga is a way we can hold each other when we need help

or hit each other on the head when we need honesty

nigga is the ultimate fuck you to everything that has been done to us

claiming our immortality

our supremacy

nigga is for Black people alone.

i have learned the power in taking a tool used to destroy you and saying

this is ours now. we’re taking this. you can’t have it.


so know,

don’t ever call me nigga.

unless you mean it.


cause if you ain’t Black

i will rip it from your tongue.


and if you are Black

well, i see you out here.

i love you too

throne / under / bus


hours / bus ride / pass

/  some beds never sleep /

a tweet / slap / attack / two girls

/  one a real / woman never sleep /

bus ride / platform / dress up

/  or nah / immaterial / a body /

not a real / one woman say

/ nah / you wrong / body /

i check / mine / field of vision

/ aware / never sleep / two attacks /

seven didn’t die yets / between

/ states / pass / i / don’t /

fakes never sleep / don’t have the right

/ anatomy / two many heads /

not enough / woman

/ bus ride / over / body /

corpse never sleep

/ must be / that kind /

a woman



Justice Ameer is a poet and spoken word artist who explores the way words and emotions refract each other. Xe is Uppity (as in Black with a capital B), Ultraviolet (as in femme as fuck) and Unapologetic (as in get the hell out my queer face with your hot breath). Xe has slammed for Brown’s CUPSI team for three years and at the National Poetry Slam repping Providence. Xe recently finished xyr first chapbook “Queer of Faith”. You can find more of xyr work as xe releases it…

Hallowed Be Thy Hood

The WusGood poetry editing team is excited to present the work of poets that responded to our inaugural general call for poetry. Hallowed Be Thy Hood brings together poems that explore, excavate, demolish and rebuild the worlds we call home. These poets take us to  Baltimore and  Jacksonville, into the bright lights of the beauty salon and into  the “beasts” of Bed-Stuy. The line between inside and outside is blurred Black. In these worlds, weather is man-made and woman is God.


This issue’s featured poet is Safiya Washington. A writer and performer from Brooklyn living in Philadelphia, Safiya received her Bachelors in English Literature in 2016 and is currently an MFA candidate at Rutgers University. She is the 2011 winner of Brave New Voices and is recipient of a fellowship and residency from The Watering Hole.


The staff poet featured in this issue is Noura Jaber. Noura is a Black- and Arab- American queer woman. She is a poet who writes to survive. She is also a Pink Door 2016 fellow, a Watering Hole 2016 fellow, and all her friends’ gramma. Noura is the head of Spokes poetry collective at Bryn Mawr College, and her work appears or is forthcoming in The Black Napkin, Crab Fat Magazine, Yes, Poetry, and Maps for Teeth. She is junior poetry and essay editor, as well as co-editor of Visual Art at WusGood. 


In addition to our featured poets, we are proud to publish the powerful work of Geoff Anderson, Jamal Parker, Rajah Reid, and Mia White. We thank the poets for contributing to our platform, welcome them into our family and look forward to supporting their work in the future.


Dig in. The hood is waiting.


-WusGood Poetry Editors

Miriam Harris, Kisha Nicole Foster, Siaara Freeman, Justice Gaines, Noura Jaber, Jonathan Jacob Moore, Brittany Rogers, Justin Rogers, & Kirwyn Sutherland



Safiya Washington | Hit ‘Em With The Left, Lessons from Lil Kim #1, Pineapples

Noura Jaber | A WarningTale of the Castrater

Jamal Parker | Reading, Jacksonville 

Rajah Reid | Brooklyn Mid-Fall

Brittany Spaulding | Scene Description, Home Sweet Hell, or It Goes Down in L-Town, Talkin About Chicago after Jayne Cortez

Mia White | Beauty Bucks’ Throne Room

Noura Jaber | Two Poems

A Warning

The name sing to us

from the bottom of the asphalt


an Aria

of last breath bubbling

to the surface


Keep the name

out your mouth.

Our dead don’t surrender themselves

that easy.




Tale of the Castrater

they say she

cut off a catcalling man’s

dick quicker than his tongue

make a mockery

of her holy


they say she

take i don’t fuck

with fuckboys

just a little bit

further they say she


make the boys cry

blood. i say the boys

not the point of the story tho.


around this neighborhood

people call her

ruthless/i call her

the brightest

guardian angel

on these streets

she say she

don’t want nobody

fucking with her

in these streets/he say damn!

that sundress

make yo booty look FAT.


he not from around here

he don’t know

her sundress

harbor a machete.

Jamal Parker | Three Poems


Each time I’ve tried to write this

A tombstone began to crumble / my mother’s tears resurfaced

My brothers became babies / in a car crash again

I can’t shake these images / there’s an abrupt death awaiting me

And it appears to be beautiful / my coffin is as black as I am


Each time I’ve tried to write this

I hear my mother’s abuse / over and over

I see police invading my home / like an ongoing wake-up call

My mother’s abuser is handcuffed / I see my brother’s father

He is a spirit of unresolved rage / he’s been buried for 14 years

And I have dug through all the dirt / I try to make him human in my poems


Sometimes I think of my birthplace

And acknowledge it’s lingering death sentence

in Reading my feet become cautious of the soil

each step is another name ground to dust





Jacksonville, Florida is where that boy hated himself

told his momma he was “colorblind” because he didn’t see race

and the next day a white called him “nigga”


that boy lived through Trayvon

that boy lived through Obama’s two elections

sat in classrooms as the complacent negro

saw white girls paint their nails the confederate flag

and didn’t move his mouth


that boy’s complacence fit all too well

behind an undead body

because he wasn’t murdered

he wasn’t fit for execution,

the soul gifted to that sky

or the son departed to the Florida grass

with bones swallowed in the swamp


that boy was me.
I let that white kid call me “nigga”





In the Book of Joshua

the walls of Jericho fell

after the people marched

after the trumpets cracked the air

a god broke through heaven

dismantled the brick and stone of earth

and the people witnessed an empire collapse

crumble in the daylight

and i ask, may i carry a trumpet too

fiddle an instrument to summon a deity to break the chasms

whether it be white supremacy or the white house

i imagine a congregation of praise and worship

once the foundation of a racist country falls to its knees

chokes on threads of it’s flag

while a joyous song sprouts from our lungs

and we sing a new anthem amidst the rubble

instead of the deceased names of black children

when your country falls

we will rise to take the mantle

we’ll dance in this newfound utopia

our feet won’t draw blood in the fields

we’ve adapted to survive

against the leather whip

the switch of an oak tree

and the white fists that had the audacity

to crack a black skull open

this is the uprising the slavers feared

when they sought to lynch a body

they saw the ferocity that lives in black eyes

the pent-up rage that had the potential

to burn down their settlements and colonies

the age of the passive negro is over

don’t dare throw your melting pot in our faces

when the Flint water isn’t fit to drink

the truth is- you can try to kill us

but your walls are crumbling

and it will fall soon enough




Mia White | Beauty Bucks’ Throne Room

Beauty Bucks’ Throne Room

Marmalade stucco with doily crowns.

An accordion divider that finally shutters

after a long, convincing kiss

from the tip of my boot.

A soap opera plays on the big box

outside. Tinny declarations of love

leak in through gossamer corners.

My quiet skin is whitened

by a chain of lights above the sink

that wink and stutter as they please.

The air is wet and flammable,

a bouquet of hairspray that sleeves my arms.

When I stretch I’m touching opposite walls.

Taped right to that coppery paint,

laminate slick in the dim light, a sign:


If you sprinkle when you tinkle

please be neat and wipe the seat!

Safiya Washington | Three Poems

Hit ‘Em With The Left

“We from Brooklyn my nigga,

Sometimes you gotta embrace the ratchet.”

L Ambitious

I like to pearl my Backwoods.

It’s an ego trip

when I’ve found a way to plug every hole.

Everyone else wanna quit,

Garnish that shit and start fresh with a new pack.

& Then there’s niggas like us,

Who have never had the luxury of quit

& Tarnish.

Who like fixing the impossible shit,

Take pride in the perfect pull

That can come from the rubble. – We come from the rubble.

The chard brownstones imploding on themselves still give us heat.

This is all we’ve ever known: to make magic of the black and burning.

The way the halo still sits pretty,

Even when its barbwire tented.

We’ve tried humans too,

The type with crowns that dissolve in strong wind.

Watch the smoke unwind every knot in brow & disappear.

We choose the ones oblivious to the holes in their overcoat

-That’s how we used to be,

Rolled up

At the bottom of the pack.

Watching Brooklyn overflow with new white and leaving brown,

Forget about niggas like us.

Until walking down Halsey Street felt too safe to be our home.

If you treat people like they don’t count

When they rebel they’ll act like it.

Y’all lined him up perfect:

Staggered,                                                                    spread,                             blending with the shadows

-The way they expect us to.

He hit the floor after a mollywop that woke Stuy’s beasts & we knew

From that & the quickness of sirens concerned,

He didn’t belong here.

This was one we could throw away.

Just maybe they’d think twice about taking the block we rode grocery carts up and down and calling them their own.

Just maybe he’ll know what it feels like to be selectively forgotten

& Think twice about coming out after dark

Unprepared to fight for morning

– The way we always have.

I understood.

So I did what I do best,

Pearled the loose ends.

Tucked tight all the things we didn’t want to come back to us.

Left him gutted on the corner like

Now, just maybe, he’ll go back to his own fucking neighborhood

and leave our hood shit alone.


Lessons from Lil Kim #1

When a man says he got you,

When he cleans the glass from your feet,

Unbraids every knot in back,

Pulls skeleton from department store

And swells belly full,

It is okay if he leaves sometimes.

It is okay to become stencil on wall,

Tracing of wallflower.


It is okay if he never comes back for you.



The first time, he said it was sexy.


Let his fingers cup my ass,

Ignored my mustache stained boxers

Thick and grey – they were supposed to be lace,

Supposed to be soft like inside.


He didn’t even ask whose they were.


It was the first time a boy hadn’t – that was the sexiest thing about him.

He licked his lips at the challenge of having to wonder, for once,

How this girl could gender-bend sexy and still get him hard.


He said it’s crazy but it suits you.


He let me siphon the moan woman

Pulls at the back of his throat.

Only when his roommates asleep could I

Pull his hair; revel in the twists his face makes.

You could tell it hurt and he could tell I loved it.


He hated when I slapped his ass.


It didn’t matter who was watching or how dark the room was.

He said it made him feel weird, gay.

I tried to tell him how sexist it is to not bend back and return the favor.


But this man is blues bruises

Knows love through hard and mouth


He leaves handprints everywhere he touches,

Tears open and listens for the sound

of snapping bones

backs, whichever goes first.

He wants to see what it’ll take to make me

Shudder and drown


He says it don’t feel the same when I keep my hat on.


Work down the shape of him and round my mouth gentle.

He almost forgets his eyes roll back and close, mouth hangs, whispers god.

When eyes open he tells me I have no chill.


I play too much coming in here all like a nigga, tryna fuck him.


It’s weird looking down and seeing me like that.

He can’t do it, fuck someone who looks so much like him,

Fuck someone who fucks him the way he fucks.

He feels taken from his own skin.


The image of what I’m supposed to look like bent over don’t compare to the ways I’ve learned to throw my legs behind my head

I tell him I ain’t swallowing shit and the splatter better miss me.


I’m not the type

To take pleasure in the rough of given

and ask for nothing in return.

-Because that woman is a good fuck

I’m supposed to want him in the guts, supposed to lay open and be taken.


He is a real nigga.

Sex ain’t hetero if his hair hangs lower than mine.

He tries to time out what weeks I’ll have braids.

Most times he ends up pulling them out the first day.

I spend the next morning redoing them before class or hiding the bald spots.


He says he needs something to pull.

I like pulling hard too.





Brittany Spaulding | Two Poems

Scene Description

Skyline. Dark moon. Blue police cameras. The projects. Roaches and rats. Or residents. Block parties. Or loitering. Gang graffiti. Or neighborhood welcome.

Explosive tempers. Or loose bowels. Counting sheep. Or gunshots. Peeling wallpaper. Shattered car windows. Dilapidated schools. Or futures.

Overcrowded subways. Long walks. Open parks. Or crime scenes. Broken tire swings and monkey bars. Step over beggars. Or cracks in the sidewalk. God bless you anyway. Or Fuck you too. Mouthful. Sunflower seeds. Whiskey breath. Pried-open fire hydrants.

The bodies of children floating in the water. Or lily pads on a warm summer morning.



Home Sweet Hell, or It Goes Down in L-Town

The first week of not being homeless anymore,

I slept atop a pallet of sheets on my wooden floor.

My sister brought home food from canceled

Papa John’s orders.

The neighborhood dogs bark

all night and I can never tell

if it’s because of the wind

or gunshots.


Brittany is a Chicago native, a Chihuahua enthusiast, and yo favorite cousin.

Brittany is a Chicago native, a Chihuahua enthusiast, and yo favorite cousin