Remembering My Time As a Student (For David Blair)
By Justin Rogers
You are a River Rouge stench
creeping like a grimy greyhound
from west to east. You are remembered
for how sweet that stench could become in your voice –
for making us all drive downriver at least once
just to compare its wasteland
to a dead dog’s ass.
You are looking back three years
remembering it like it was yesterday –
your perfect stubble scrubbing the mic
staining the radio with static.
you looked right at me
with a Kool-aid grin
and I knew everything was going to be alright.
Yesterday you were on facebook.
Yesterday you were performing,
everything a stage curtain inertia –
lights glowing your cheek bones
burning the curve of your eyes into crescent moons –
I cannot remember what song you sung.
You are songs I am afraid to remember.
You are the black in my skin.
You are the Detroit Institute of Arts.
I am just a student comforting your roommate
on a flight back to a room full of your empty clothes,
asking funeral ushers to double check the casket.
I’m still seeing a bronze smile
in every audience that consumes me.
I’m still swearing it’s yours.
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.