Something about the name
by Justin Rogers
It is the rawest name
I know The Kool-Aid is sweet
when a nigga summons savior I know
the grandbabies gave their lives
to sin when granny whispers the Lord
over the belt before the beating
Maybe whosoever calls upon
the name shall be saved
from diabetes & child protective services
Maybe we waste our peace
praying His name will
be a fence where
it ain’t nothing but space & opportunity
Be a plate on a
passover our fridge can’t afford
His mercy a meal
His grace leftovers for breakfast
Oh I love
How the name is exalted
by the need of the nigga:
Be a bus pass
in the shadow of the valley
Be a nap after wine
Be a cloud keeping the bullshit at bay
Something about the Lord
always provides always
Be our basic needs
While many of my friends had been raised in the church, attending every Sunday out of obligation to their parents, I had the luxury of choosing where I fit in with God. I didn't begin an intentional journey with God until I became a young adult. Because of this much later, more voluntary engagement with church, I felt a freedom to consult and question theologies and practices rather than just go with the flow. My largest curiosity was not IF God was real, but rather in what ways is a spiritual God present in my normal mortal life? Is God present when I thank him for a particularly cold glass of Kool-aid? Is He really there when I'm $1 short on bus fare?
Through a church based in a Detroit living room and a Pastor with deep connections to his African American roots, I was able to see the first true example of not only embracing, but intertwining these themes. In everyday life in Detroit—especially among Black people—the name Jesus is often shouted in surprise, joy, or even despair. It becomes a cry to the Lord to show his presence in a particular situation, good or bad. In the church, "worldly" behavior is often condemned and made to feel like a separate life from that of the church and often comes with an air of guilt. Unfortunately, "worldly" behavior is often vaguely or extremely defined. My goal with this poem and many others in the series is to make a stronger connection between what is taught in the church and what actually happens in the world—no matter how small.
"Something About The Name Jesus" is a popular gospel song by The Rance Allen Group. In short, it talks about the power of calling the name Jesus. In my poem, I've spoken His name over some everyday experiences of many Black families to highlight how important having divine intervention is even in the simplest situations.
Justin Rogers is a Black poet and literary program coordinator from Detroit, Michigan, and an advocate for the amplification of Black voices. With InsideOut Literary Arts, Rogers coordinates after-school intensive creative writing programming. His work is published in Tinderbox, Verse Daily, The Metro Times, Detroit Action and on display at Scarab Club Detroit. Rogers is the author of Nostalgia As Black Matilda and Black, Matilda.