Turnt Gospel

Sometimes the gospel is turnt–

the choir a synchronized dab

& the church bows their heads

over & over

on beat

like the war is over

or just beginning.

It’s something bout that bass line

behind an open bottle of hallelujah

that reminds all the saints

the devil is off beat


& grimy with it–

How is the war ever over

when saints still think Jesus

was off beat too? Like he ain’t prophesize

Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik &

gave it to the hood as gospel–

like these ebonics not sacred? A scripture?

How we stay saved?



Sometimes the turnt is gospel–

the twerk a ghost

that can’t be shook–

the block party a grill

filled with communion–

what blood have we shed to eat ribs whole?

How much wine is soaked up by graves?

When the beat drops

so do our burdens, the

code switches back to nigga &

some people think it don’t take all that–

think we need to behave ourselves

like God ain’t gift us survival instincts

like these hands can’t knuck and pray.

The turnt is testimony. The blessing

Is how God fills our cups to the brim &

we drink & lift every voice

in chorus.

Justin Rogers is a Black poet, educator, coach, and editor from Michigan. Rogers shares poems surrounding living and praying as a Black man in America. He most recently has work published in Rinky Dink Press, Gramma Press, and is the winner of Black Napkin Press’ inaugural Chapbook Contest. He is the coordinator of InsideOut’s award winning after school program, Citywide Poets and is on staff with WusGood.Black, 3 Elements Review, and Driving Range Review.