IN DETROIT A CLUSTER OF BLACK FOLKS IS CALLED A HUSTLE

surprisingly enough it aint the two to the 

right or the two to the left that fucks

people up. it’s the spin. smooth swivel

instep turns morning dew into glitter. 

trick is you gotta remember to always

end up counterclockwise from where you  

started. mind which direction your big toe is 

pointed. it’s all in the hips. all about how well

you snake through small gaps. Black movement

is navigation. the north star is usually whoever had 

the loudest ayyyeee!! after the ceremonious beat 

dropped. follow the tallest pointer finger toward 

freedom. start movin on the split second before 

the first syllable. best to not put ya own sauce on 

it till you got the recipe down. careful cuz if you 

pivot when you supposed to turn you’ll open a portal 

to a universe with no seasoning salt or summon 

a drunken coalition of judgmental aunties to witness 

your ancestral disgrace or you’ll just flat out tangle 

the feet of whoever steppin’ behind you. huslin’ is an exercise

in trust. when i move you move. this here takes precision. 

takes patience. can’t go pluggin random steps in. like frayed 

wires this shit is dangerous. this shit is rebellious but still 

got its rules. like a riot. like it’s 2:45 a.m. outside Oakland 

county jail. where a judge authorized the detention of a 

15-year old black girl for not completing her homework. 

and seriously 15 seconds ago Emmy and Majae were 

snoring but now by the power of midwest obligation 

to jig to jit to stunt to stand at the front. here they

are still wrapped in blankets and leading us in 

procession. as one song blends into the asphalt they 

call out the next routine by name and you got

about 30 seconds to catch up or flat out admit

you don’t know this one. aint no such thing as sittin one out. 

catch your breath then catch the next upbeat or don’t even say 

you was out here with us. someone will always peel from the 

crowd to catch you but you got to be vocal about your needs so we know 

when you’ve left and when you’ve been captured. got to remember 

we are always escaping. lest you spin away from the pack into the cold

arms of prison industry and we won’t know which direction to send 

the search party.


Darius Simpson is a writer, educator, performer, and skilled living room dancer from Akron, Ohio. He was a recipient of the 2020 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, American Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review and others. Darius believes in the dissolution of empire and the total liberation of all oppressed people by any means necessary.