India Brown

Destiny DeFINEd

she never occupied the same

womb as I, we never hopscotched/skinned knees,

double/dutched/played hide and go seek/

but we have the same blood



the ink scrawled across scraps of paper

at our desks, leaking through dozens

of notebooks. warming the cool side

of our pillows and prayers whispered across

cotton sheets witness to my dirty laundry,

but bearer of what makes                clean;

she is iron sharpening wrinkles.


no passive participants

fights for our sisterhood

decries no new friends

1/3 joking, the rest

she meant it


destined for this.

we have the same Father

our blood types, His.


when it rains

she has our umbrella

otherwise we both run for it.

her tears are a reflection of mine,

her laughter, an echo. We did not grow

up together, but she is my sister by God’s

command. The promise is still

the promise.

India “DeFINEd” Brown is a graduate of The Ohio State University. She made it out of Dayton, Ohio, and then she came back home. In 2014 DeFINEd won the annual African American Heritage Festival Poetry Slam at OSU. She then published her book, “Shhh…” in March 2015, a poetic memoir of the things she was never supposed to say but spoke on anyway. In 2016 she released a chapbook called Questions of Blackness for the Dolezal’s of the world who keep asking ’em with her favorite of 2016 being “Dear Becky with The Good Hair”.

‘Brown Girls’ Interview with Fatimah Asghar

Interviewer: Ajanae Dawkins

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, performer, educator and writer.  Her work has appeared in many journals, including  POETRY Magazine, Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed Reader, The Margins, The Offing, Academy of American Poets and many others.  Her work has been featured on new outlets like PBS, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and others. In 2011 she created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-genocidal countries. She is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow. Her chapbook After came out on Yes Yes Books fall 2015. She is the writer of Brown Girls, a web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Currently she is an MFA candidate at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan.

Q: What role does friendship between women of color play in your web series, both in the fictional characters and in the women who are creating / producing the show? 

Friendship is at the heart of everything about this show. The show is based on my friendship with my best friend– I tried really hard to get the texture of our friendship down, and to show the ways that we ride for each other always. Friendship is huge behind the screens too– Sam Bailey (the director of Brown Girls) and I are really good friends. We couldn’t have this series without our friendship and our mutual trust of each other. Sam is an amazing artist and person, I feel like I’m constantly in awe of her.

Q: What has the creation of this show taught you about the necessity of relationships between queer women of color?

I created the show to reflect the relationships that I have with different women of color in my life. I’ve gotten so much from those relationships. I think this show, particularly its reception so far, has taught me that so many people feel the same way. I think that’s a beautiful realization.

Q: What are your favorite things to do with your best friend(s) and how have your favorite moments with your best friends influenced your writing of the show?

Really I just love to sit around and talk shit with my friends. And be silly and act a mess. I think thats one of the best things about friendships– they are people that you feel safe being messy around. You can be totally unfiltered and stupid. That’s great, because it allows you so many possibilities of freedom. This show is nothing if not messy. All the characters here are navigating their own messy ass lives, and how they can be themselves but still be functioning citizens of the world.

Q: Right now (and always) being a queer woman of color means being unsafe at the intersection of marginalized identities. How does creating work like this make the representation of brown girls joy, a weapon against those who look to oppress you?

I’m all about weaponizing joy through art. I think that joy and love are often our strongest weapons. As queer women of color we deal with so much shit everyday, so many people trying to rid us of our humanity. With this show I just wanted to carve out a small space of joy in resistance to that– to show black and brown people talking about mundane things like pink eye and stuff. I wanted to show that we are human, we who have complicated intersecting identities that America pretends to ignore. We are here, we exist. 

**FEATURED ARTIST** Rachel Wiley


The year our lord ripped the land  line from the wall/the year white men could time travel and their white wives used their lily soft hands to crank the dial backwards while the rest of us watched/the year my mother got my eye color wrong/ the year no one at all came and I sat in that empty parking lot for hours thrilling at the possibility in every oncoming headlight/the year hours felt like months/the year she left you anyway/the year without Sunday mornings and no absolution for anyone/ the year I got stuck with these sins dyed onto my fingertips, these transgressions a splintered chicken bone in my throat.



Ghazal for the White Girl I Keep Getting Mistaken For


People keep asking me for what you owe like I’m another, White Girl

Black father just happened to fall in love with a rather white girl

You unload your slur heavy tongue when you think the coast is clear

But I see you with that shit cause I’m undercover, white girl

You drink a venti soy latte with extra privilege spice (girl)

corn rows in your hair Columbus discovered , white girl

Swerve to avoid the black bodies on your news feed

but post up that new Iggy cause you’re hip hop lover, white girl

white girl tears heavier than history

Cause you’re not a racist just another badgered, white girl


Intersectional Feminism (aka Actual Fucking Feminism) Plays the Dozens with White Feminism


White feminism is about as feminist as Dr Pepper is a Medical Doctor

as Rachel Dolezal is Black

 as an orgasm with Donald Trump is real

White Feminism got 1 black friend (Raven Simone), calls itself intersectional

still show up at your Halloween party in black face though

thinks Beyoncé is overrated but Taylor Swift is a feminist though

thinks twerking is a revolution on Miley but wants to know why Nicki   “won’t respect herself” though

White Feminism, What’s Good?

White Feminism doesn’t appreciate being called WHITE Feminism.

White Feminism doesn’t understand why it’s always got to be about race, doesn’t see color and thinks your obsession with race is frankly divisive.

Besides, Meryl Streep says we’re all descendants of Africa, anyway.


White feminism swears it will unlock the door to equality and let us all in if we will just hoist her through this window

on our backs

and ain’t that just like white feminism always getting up on someone else’s back.


Prime Cuts


Every time I go thru airport security

despite their pervy x-ray glasses,

my belly gets an intimate blue gloved rub down

They say I alarmed in that area

and don’t I always?

Perhaps I should submit a butcher’s diagram of all of the things they might find in my fat.


The upper left quadrant is primarily made up swallowed bubble gum  and of the hearts of my enemies.


The bottom left IS actually made up of snack cakes

suspended in feelings,

a jello mold of angst and sugar,

if you are trying to find my shame it should be there somewhere but there are better things blocking the way.


A humble museum of loves lost and kept

occupies the upper right portion,

there is a gift shop full of shit lovers have left behind

it really is a must see.


The bottom right is where all of my awesome is stored

it looks like an illegal fireworks trailer,

if you jostle it too much there will be a loud

and beautiful explosion.

This is where I get all of that confidence you so are

perplexed by,

the very thing that likely sounded the alarm.


The fucks I give about what anyone thinks of my terrorizing body

are all stored in my bellybutton

notice how it is an empty bowl waiting to be filled.



For Dez


We are far and away from the days we were homecoming queens of the convenience store parking lot, fuel pump island girls who smelled of candy and gasoline, We welcomed in the cars whose bass shook the ground like furious dancing gods,

and offered ourselves up to them

when we knew what our youth and cleavage and the well-timed lick of a blow pop could get us,

but not yet what they would cost us

we never bothered to read the promissory notes we signed to be young

and girl

and without curfew.

We assumed the terms to be ours.


We could not know what we would leave behind in wandering naive from our hilltop

that we would come to know what it means to be debt-full

and woman

and still with no one is calling us home.


Girls are taught that our worth lies under the earth of another girl’s feet

and in the hot breath of men

You and I have managed a double knotted string from your tin can heart to mine

this guide line leads me back to all of our safe when I dive too far into the dark.

Again and again.

I thank the rumble Gods for you.


One of these days we’ll scrape enough gas money from the floor mats to run away

some place where we don’t have to wear this skin like bark.

We will not spend any more years piling on scabs until we are crab shelled laughter ghosts.

We will be unsalted hot pearls.

We will stand on a beach tasting a salt spray not made of Midwest wind and tears after everyone else has gone to sleep

we will peel down to the soft fruit

and it for once it won’t hurt

and for once it will be on our terms.

Rachel and The Bestest (Dez)- 17 years strong 
Rachel Wiley is a performer, poet, feminist, and fat positive activist from Columbus, Ohio. Rachel has represented Columbus at multiple National Poetry Slam Competitions and was a finalist twice in 2011. She is on staff at Writing Wrongs Poetry Slam and the co-host/co-founder of the Columbus Queer Open Mic. Rachel has toured nationally performing at Slam Venues, Colleges, and Festivals. Her first full length collection of poems, Fat Girl Finishing School, was published by Timber Mouse Publishing in 2014. Her work has appeared on Upworthy, The Huffington Post, The Militant Baker, and Everyday Feminism. She also really likes stickers.

**FEATURED ARTIST** Kearah Armonie

Dear Erykah

If you were to ask me my religion a year ago I would say baduizm. I’ve seen you live, twice. Both free, both restoring my faith. When you sang pack light I knew you were singing to me.

When you stated via twitter that girls should wear knee length skirts to school to avoid arousing their male teachers I knew you were talking to me.


Ripped booty shorts, choker wearing, crop-top rockin’ kind of girl whose demise will only be my own fault, who should know better than to slip up between the teeth of a hungry man, to walk not with fear of the attack but knowing I am to be attacked,

      preyed upon,


      gazelle in a lions den.

Every man be lion and every street be their turf.


That must be what you were saying,


That my body is not my own.
That your body is not your own.
That your body of music is not mine either.


Do you know of how many little bag ladies you have created now?

The weight so heavy of knowing your body is a police state you cannot flea?

Feeling refugee in your own home? Victim blamed by your own momma?


When you said it is in a man’s nature to lust after, prey upon, be attracted to, or sexually assault young girls once they reach puberty; This is not the first time I’ve questioned God…


but I haven’t listened to your music ever since.

Tankas for A Seat at the Table

I’m gonna look for

My body now she said and

Then I came to learn

My body was missing too

What I claim may not be mine


I guess to be Black

Is to lose your own body

Though it be stolen

and go look for it your damn

Self. I’ll be back, like real soon


I tell white not to

Say the word nigga, they say

It anway. This

Is an act of violence, but

When has white not been violent


I wake this morning

Feeling shattered, robbed and stolen

Yet, still I say

Daily affirmation: Don’t

Let anyone steal this magic


A white boy touched my

hair, I felt myself start to

fade, to dwindle a-

way. Less than, less than, sand in

The wind. Yet, I am still here


If celebrating

me seems to mean I am dis-

respecting you, then

so be it. Sit in the heat

of your anger while I shine

Love of My Life

I bump The Sun’s Tirade and wonder if every bitch and every hoe is me.


KanYe West called his own wife a bitch and I guess that’s cool now.

Knowing I could still get wifed.  Most inanimate objects get bought.

I can go from toy to trophy.


Me and my good homegirl skip this line in one of our favorite songs,

We gon’ play with the mind and run a game on her

And take shawty to the crib, put the pain on her.

Singing along would just make me feel dizzy, incoherent,

make me feel like no one will believe me.


The hottest rap song to come out of Brooklyn this summer was sung by a girl.

Not only a girl but a lesbian,




Tatted up, keep the hammer right next to her, probably rock your shit for calling her by the wrong nickname.

Not seen for how she deviates from this mainstream she riding now but used as scapegoat to carry misogyny on her back, just cuz they can’t lay her on her back?

As if the only room for a woman in hip-hop is if she objectifies herself?

Male interviewers question exactly what she means about a shorty giving her head then criticize her for treating women as if we are only here for sex,

and I am not too sure how the misogynist is here.


As if your fave ain’t been on that, as if your president’s fave aint been on that.

This is number 1 on everyone’s top 10.


But it’s okay because I love this shit

Because my father rep the bronx and I love that shit

Because hip-hop as my boyfriend is BDSM and I love that shit

Because before I had voice, I had this and I love this shit


and I have learned, being the Black Woman in the room often means

loving something that will never love you back.

KearahArmonie(Kearmonie) is a poet, spoken word artist, MC, Filmmaker, Blogger, and Writer from Brooklyn, NY. She recently completed her B.A. in Documentary Film Production at Brooklyn College, where she hosted and facilitated events as a three-time Brooklyn College Slam Team member, and their 2016 Grand Slam Champion. The team went on to rank 12th in the nation at the College Union’s Poetry Slam Invitational(CUPSI) 2016. Having been performing spoken word since 2011 she is now a mentor and teaching artist, continuing to perform all over NYC. Her most recent documentary short, “BLK GRL POET” a spoken word driven chronicle of the Black Lives Matter protests in NYC, has been featured in the Women of African Descent Film Festival and The 34th Annual Brooklyn College Film Festival.

Black in Costa Rica

Hitchhiking with my Intuition in Costa Rica


THUMB OUT to the road it’s time for an adventure. “Will I get raped?” It’s a damp day on the Caribbean Coast of the Costa Rican jungle as I stand by the road with an Australian I met just hours before. The bus we’re waiting on never shows so I decide we’re going to hitch a ride. It’s my first day off work from my random hostel receptionist job and he’s a guest continuing his journey. We chat the basic shit as we wait, and I think about the fact that country after country, hostel after hostel, none of the other travelers I encounter look like me. The cleaning people look like me. They my kin so we be vibin’. “I am a traveling Black Queen,” I tell myself. “I am an anomaly in motion.”

To travel the world as a Black Woman takes intention, knowledge of self and a special kind of patience  ̶  especially when ignorant travelers can’t seem to wrap their mind around how a Black Woman can speak fluent Spanish. I just want to scream, “The Diaspora Bitch!”, but I digress.

To travel as a Black Woman is also an exercise in fluidity; an exercise in how much you can challenge your mental conditioning and perceived inferiority; and an exercise in how much you are willing and able to trust your intuition. Us Queens are blessed with the unique gift of magically precise intuition from our ancestors, and on a journey away from all that is familiar, we learn to tune in to it in the deepest of ways.  I have a flashback to a meditation I practiced the night before on Uranus, the planet of spontaneity. I decide to let her be my guide today.

A car slows to a stop in front of me. I look in and see two young guys— the driver who I barely notice and a brown passenger with smiling eyes, shoulder length hair, and gauges in his ears.

“Where are you going?” He asks me.

Feeling poetic I respond, “To the end of the road.”

There’s only one road that runs the Caribbean Coast so he smiles knowingly and responds, “To Manzanillo?”

I say “Si.” He says “Si.”

The vibe feels Irie so I hop in the backseat with my trust in Spirit, and the Australian follows silently.

In the car I briefly start to question if I made the right decision but before I have the chance to go into a mental downward spiral the cutie with gauges whose name turns out to be Luis asks me if I have any papers to roll the Ganja {another word for weed ya lil nerds}. I laugh and tell him that something told me to get some papers earlier in the day but that I got distracted in the store and forgot. He laughs with me as he grabs a big bag of shaggy herb from under the seat. “Ayeee, I chose some weedheads?!” Intuition check—confirmed.



I relax in my seat knowing that I chose well as we ride through the jungle, crossing narrow bridges and having easy conversation until we arrive in Manzanillo, a town that I heard to have very strong Rastafari roots. I feel the town throwing me that ‘we laidback but have a rough edge’ vibe as we pull to a stop in front of the beach at the end of the road. I like it.

“Good vibrations,” I say to no one in particular. Gauged cutie smiles with a nod. We are here.

The Australian goes off to find the guy he’s couchsurfing with and I shake his non-melenated vibrations off my wavelength like a rattlesnake shakes off a layer of dead skin. I walk towards the ocean and dip my feet in the water as Luis and his friend Kevin find a spot on a bench nearby. It’s the same Atlantic from the States, but it feels so different.  I feel Luis looking at me as a light drizzle starts to drip from the sky. Insecurity creeps into me as I wonder, “Should I join them? Do they even want to hang out with me?” But I challenge myself to walk back. When I reach them, Luis smiles with a freshly rolled joint in hand and says, “Smoking timeeee.”  I chill out and get cozy on the bench. Kevin sits next to me as Luis sparks up.

It’s my first time in Manzanillo so I’m taking it all in—the crashing waves, the kids playing, and the black and brown sand that somehow seems to mimic the pigment of the locals I see hanging out in front of the seaside bars and stores.  This place is vibrant—antique and decrepit yet pulsating with a hidden life that I know appears once the European and American tourists riding around on their brightly colored rented cruisers are gone. I’m intrigued—Luis passes the joint.



We talk about the indigenous people of Costa Rica and how the Spanish colonizers raped them, figuratively and literally. We talk about how the United States is built on the backs of Black people. We talk about the Jamaican immigrants who came to the Caribbean Coast to work on the railroads.

“So were they paid?” I ask the guys, “Or were they slaves?”

They look at each other kind of bewildered, then back at me as they reply in unison, “They were paid.”

In my head I’m like, “Damnnn, so not EVERY place that has a Black population outside of Africa means that they were brought over in chains and whipped and tortured and raped for centuries? ”

Now don’t get me wrong, there Was slavery in Costa Rica, it lasted until late 1800’s, but this was my first time ever witnessing the setting created by a willful migration of Black people. No wonder the vibes here are so…different.



“You want to go to the lookout point then go for a swim? It’s about a 30 minute drive. ” I hear Luis ask me. “Mmmkay they haven’t killed me yet AND they are droppin’ knowledge, should I take a chance and trust them some more?”

I hit the joint and calmly respond, “Sure.”

At this point, I’m high as a kite and we all have the munchies. I run off to the ocean because I’m having one of those, “I can’t believe this is real life, the ocean is REALLY right here!?!” moments while Kevin goes to get sandwich supplies. When Kevin returns, he and Luis strategically assemble a delicious meat, cheese, spicy mayo, tomato and Dorito sandwich on a French baguette—right there on the bench by the beach.

I watch intrigued because this is clearly something they’ve done before. It seems like they’ve been friends forever. A handful of locals stop by to chat with Luis while we eat, and once we’re done crushing the sandwiches we wash it down with some random orange drink then head towards the point. We are back to driving through the jungle, now better aquainted and barefoot, sippin’ on some light liquor from Panama called Tamborito (Little Drum) which goes down suprisingly smooth.

Punta Uva literally means Point Grape  in English. Maybe it’s called that because there are a series of rocky points along the Costa Rican Caribbean coast that resemble grapes on a vine. I could be wrong. We pull up and get out.  Luis tucks the Tamborito in his swim trunks as we pass the tourists on the beach. I think we’re just gonna chill and swim when Luis looks back at Kevin and I and says, “Let’s go UP to the point.”  No more intuition checks. These guys are kind and genuine; my Spirit just trusts. “Let’s go UP!”

Tipsy, full, and still a lil high, we begin our trek through the jungle. Our feet gush in the mud as we climb and reach for branches to stop us from falling. We slip and laugh and grab each other’s hands when we’re about to bust our asses. Luis does a little double squeeze everytime he grabs mine. I giggle but then go back to focusing on the ascent.

There are points when we could literally fall off the cliff and into the crashing waves below so I take a moment to thank my body for coming through when I need it most. When we’re near the top, Kevin accidently drops the random orange drink chaser off the side of the Point — I take the Tamborito from Luis and tuck it in my sports bra to ensure that it doesn’t suffer the same fate. A last stretch and we make it to the top.

We reach Punta Uva and I am breathless. It feels like we are in the middle of the ocean. We can see the surfers trying to catch the massive waves to our left, but straight ahead it’s nothing but deep blue. It’s absolutely beautiful. We all take a celebratory shot of Tamborito then I chill and meditate while Luis and Kevin relax on the grass.



The guys snap me out of my meditation by singing my name. I rejoice in the sound of their lovely voices.

We drink more and talk about how they’ve been friends since they were 9, the hatred of the modern world, and my plans to escape the United States of Amerikkka. I tell them that I’m a creature of love just out here tryna vibrate higher. Kevin chuckles, Luis smiles, and we fist bump in agreement.

After a while we take a last shot of Tamborito to shake our nerves before making our way back down. This trek is just as slippery and hilarious as the climb up—mostly because we’re drunk and Luis is freestyling and singing Billie Jean by Michael Jackson every time we slip since we’re “moon walkin” through the muddy jungle.

When we get back to beach level, we peel off our sticky clothes and run our muddy bodies into the warm caribbean waters at Punta Uva Beach. Kevin is not a huge fan of the rocky bottom so Luis and I go in deeper and splash and float and play like kids. We laugh at the Europeans posing on the beach. We talk about souls and spirits. He spits a few bars and I act as his hype man as I float on the gentle waves.



Before I know it, it’s dark. We get back in the car and head to Puerto Viejo aka Old Port. This is the bustling part of town where precious cargo like food and slaves and later the Jamaicans arrived on the Caribbean Coast, and where there are popping beaches, bars, and restaurants. We bypass all of that and stop at a little food stand run by an indigenous woman to get spicy beef patties. They are delicious. I’m happily shocked by how the natives and Jamaicans have found a seemingly natural harmony. Luis leads us to a basketball court where black people are gathered playin’ ball and rhythmically beating on drums. He joins in on the game while Kevin and I chill back and watch.

I’m vibrating like the drums.

When he’s done, he sits next to me and rolls another joint, and then we walk a few steps to the beach to puff and chat and rhyme. There is majestic ocean energy everywhere and I’m in awe and thankful that my life is unfolding this way. It all started with my thumb out to the road.

Intuition Confirmed.


  • First appearance in Daughters of the Diaspora
Lennette Abad-Manzueta is an Afrikan moon child who lives her life in between the lines. Her life is anchored in the concept that we are born complete beings tasked with the challenge of digging deep within ourselves to uncover our truest potential — despite the forces obsessed with oppressing us. She hopes to use her words to empower and reinforce the Diaspora’s connection to Self, Spirit, and the Continent. Her outlets include meditation, yoga, cooking, and conversing with strangers. She’s also an avid explorer and warrior-in-training. Lennette earned her B.S. in Economics from the University of Delaware because it made sense at the time. Feel her vibes.



Rajah Reid


Granddad hit the track again
and bought lil’ sis and I a slurpee
Ma says he gambles all his money away
but when he wins, he treats us
like I imagine a father would
and suddenly summer has forgotten
itself. Sweat rolled off a plastic cup cools
better than my body
or the window a/c older than memories of heat-
heavy Baltimore
summers. Granddad left and the day has remembered
to be sap drooling down the chin of worn wood.
There is nothing better to do than go outside or
watch Jerry Springer, so, we watch
and learn to speak American dysfunction.
Ma won’t be home from work ‘til 6 so the day is ours
to waste. We find fun in the smallest
injuries and of course I am the dark
one and she is the round one. One push
too hard and one of us is falling off the sofa and ma
is coming home with that look
like, whoever ain’t hurt might lose they life
or at least a smooth patch of skin so now
we both straining our eyes for tears hoping that the
prelude to a bruise is enough. But ma
came home with that look like the world
sitting on her shoulders a little
too heavy. Cousin Wayne got locked up
again and now nobody feels
like cooking out for the
fourth and all I wanted this
summer was to eat burgers and go
see the fireworks fulgurate
the downtown skyline and know that
flashing lights don’t mean somebody got shot.
and pops don’t mean somebody got shot.
and now all I have is this dry 7/11
cup reminding me that my body
can’t produce enough wet
to make summer forget it ain’t summer
unless one of us gets stolen.

I am a black, queer writer and poet based in Brooklyn.

Joseph Harris

To My Four-Year-Old Son Zion


Zion, my son
When encountering police 
Try not to hold anything shaped like a weapon
So slip out of your skin boy
Shed that melanin like so many scales
Let it slide off your shoulders like your life depended on it
While pushing it past your waist, try a little shuck and jive
‘cause no one ever got killed for cooning
Big! Bright! till your gums swell to bursting,
Like they’ve been beaten with nightsticks
Let ‘em see your teeth
Maybe their whiteness will protect you better than begging 

But above all else remember
not to hold anything shaped like a weapon
So lay down your dignity 
Let it settle on the ground like lifeless limbs
Like mothers grief, like it’s just been choked out by the NYPD
Let it lay there dying, sitting in the sun, rotting like misplaced faith
While witnesses gather, maybe you could dance,
It serves the dual purpose of showing you are unarmed and happy

But first, make sure you’re not holding a weapon
So leave your pride at home, 
Sit it on the shelf next to your next of kin
Scrub all your online photos, 
Only take pictures of you holding: 
diplomas and kittens and sunshine and stuffed animals,
Don’t you dare grimace
Boy you better grin like rigor mortis has set in 

PANTS?? Hell no your can’t wear pants!
Don’t you know pants have pockets and pockets hold dangerous things like:
cameras, phones, gum, numbers to lawyers
Zion, haven’t you been listening?!
Boy you better put on something a little less threatening like:
    A casket, a funeral suit, a toe tag


Put on something that fits:
like prison jumpsuits,
like stereotypes 
like bullet wounds, 
like billy clubs, 

Something they can recognize like

like “he was coming right for me”,
like “he fit the description”
LIKE “he was reaching for my gun”
Remember anything dangerous you did in the last week 
can and will be used against you..
So make sure you don’t: breath, walk , exist…
As a matter of fact if you were so kind you’d kill yourself and save them the trouble 

They got better things to do
Don’t you know they got comedians to grieve and coffee to sip
Don’t you know they got lawns to mow?
Don’t you know game is on?
Zion, don’t you know?

They think…

you deserve this?

Joseph Harris has been writing & performing poetry for over 10 years. Ann Arbor was his first poetry venue and from there he has spread his particular type of logic far and wide. He has been published in MingleWood, Off the Mic, A2 Brute’and Anthrax is Safer than Poetry. He was on the Ann Arbor Slam Team from 2003-2007. He was the Rustbelt Individual Slam champion in 2005, He was the National Head to Head Haiku Deathmatch Champion in 2006. In 2007 He founded the Spitfire Poetry Slam in East Lansing, Mi. In 2008 he was part of Scott Woods national 24 hour poetry reading. In 2010 he hosted the Midwest regional Rustbelt Poetry Slam. He is currently a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Teacher Education Department at Michigan State University where he teaches among other subjects “Reading, Writing & Teaching Poetry”.
Last but not least he is the father to 3 wonderful children and was husband to a beautiful wife all of whom provide him with endless inspiration… whether they like it or not.

Deonte Osayande

The Liquid Dragon Speaks of Ares


I’ve watched my dad disintegrate,

a wicked legend

acting like a stranger

in the house he built. There is no easy way

to tell a man they treat beer

bottles like shining suns

and their sons like bottles

easily recycled. Honestly I love him

but he is the reason

I learned how to hold a broken women

long before I learned how to kiss one. I know

how this legend is supposed to end,

with a confrontation

and then replacement. His demons

make him drink

while mine steal away my sleep. The fire

stays in his chest, but I am quick

to spew out glacial lava. My tongue

can make men burn, and freeze

at the same time. I’m not biting at the hand that fed me

I’m trying to let it know I can feed myself. I don’t have time

to fight my father or his demons,

because if we were in the wrong location

there would be a witch hunt for us both.

Deonte Osayande is a former track and field sprinter turned writer from Detroit, Mi. He writes nonfiction essays and his poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, a Pushcart Prize and published in numerous publications. He has represented Detroit at multiple National Poetry Slam competitions. He’s currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College, and teaching youth through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program. His first full collection of poems entitled Class, is going to be out with Urban Farmhouse Press in 2017.

Hiwot Adilow



I draw a wedding scene &

My mother spies the page or

I tell her about the aisle.

Either way, she catches it &

spits stop. Warns dreaming

of a knot will only tie me to

a war torn home. I look

at the drawing & find blood

on the page, a ring around

the bride’s eye. I decide

to keep my finger bare

like my legs were once,

un-bristled, hinged tight.


Rigid, whiskey lipped,

gripped like a bottle’s neck

full of violence I cannot slip

into love. Verily, I am

my father’s daughter until

one day I bleed My mother’s

way—quick crying war.

My body becomes a boat

fleeing a rabid shore.

My skin is spanned &

I dream the distance


On Leaving


I can ice my own eye and fly I learned it

from my mother her late night going

under one July’s drizzle  through osmosis

and a shared twin bed I learned the body’s

rattle after ravage after rape she left and

I was left the only lady of the house no other

neck but mine to adorn with his hands no

other back to back against the wall but me



Hiwot Adilow’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Winter Tangerine Review, Nepantla, The Offing, and Duende Literary. She has been featured reading her work on CNN, NPR, and Wisconsin Public Television. Hiwot is a Callaloo Fellow and member of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born and raised in Philly.