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Justin Danzy is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is completing his MFA. His poems have appeared in West Branch and Guesthouse among other places. He is a member of Westside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Justin is from Southfield, Michigan.
On Being Named the 2019 Gregory Pardlo Fellow
“I’m honored and elated to be named the 2019 Gregory Pardlo Fellow at the Frost Place, to have my name added to the list of poets who have been awarded this esteemed fellowship, and to share in the lineage of poets like Gregory Pardlo who have documented the peculiarities and generalities of being both black and American, in all its iterations, with fidelity, precision, and love. I look forward to meeting and working with my fellow workshop members and the Frost Place faculty who, from afar, I’ve admired for some time and have heard wonderful things about. I feel extremely blessed by this opportunity and will do my best to make the most of my time at the Frost Place, to extend both gratitude and grace for the duration of my stay.”
A Poem By Justin Danzy
The pool cue cracked as it connected with the wooden beam
which stood vertical in the basement. The cue’s top half
scratched the wall length mirror behind where the bar
used to be. A workout machine is there now. It is broken,
the cable snapped when I put too much weight
on the bench press, me and Caliph competing to see
who could lift the most. I was young then, bird-chested
but growing, growth spurt which brought my feet
back into proportion. My neck still skinny, wrist bone protruding
like my father when he walked around the house in his boxers.
He loved me then, my father, beamed when strangers told him
I played well, slung an arm around my shoulder
and said to get two girlfriends, if need be, to avoid more trouble
after all us ninth grade boys were reprimanded
for sexual harassment. I missed a day of school because of it,
and the breast cancer awareness game with the pink jerseys.
I missed the next home game, and the rest of my college career
once I stopped showing up to practice, class, the dining hall
and wasn’t sure why. I don’t know why I swung the pool cue,
broke it against that wooden beam, then flung a piece of it like a javelin
through the drywall. I put my face in my hands and cried
after I saw the damage.