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Friday Feature: DeShara Suggs-Joe

DeShara Suggs-Joe is a queer, Black poet and visual artist. She co-founded Daughter’s Tongue (an all-women writing collective), worked as the Creative Director of Workshops at Winter Tangerine, and is a former member of the Youth Speaks Collective. She received her MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts and fellowships from Callaloo, the Poetry Incubator, and Pink Door. In 2021, she received a nomination for "Best of the Net." She has published poems in Apogee Lit, Voicemail Poems, Poet Lore, The Texas Review, and elsewhere. She has also been featured on Button Poetry’s YouTube platform and has performed at the likes of Spotify, Yahoo, and Pinterest. Her debut chapbook is forthcoming from Button Poetry in April 2024. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Ode to the People Who Have Touched the Bottom

I was born

in a brokedown city

some call it home

some call it rockbottom

bottom of the barrel

crabs laughing in unison

and me, I ran so fast

my feet dissolved or

dissipated the ground

It’s funny or generous

to be home and love

it  make it your own

wrap yourself in

til it stings

til your muscles remember

til your momma’s calling

cause your daddy don’t

know where the door is

it’s funny right   how home shapes

your insides til you’re outside

yourself wondering   what it takes

to survive a place

like this






& yet, a bomb never

searched for my blood, FREE PALESTINE

Never been trapped between

rival bullets & forced from home, FREE SUDAN

Never had a cell phone be worth

more than me living, FREE THE CONGO

Never had to fight over

the way the river flows, FREE HAITI

Never earthquaked & left


Never had fire sing her song

all over my land, FREE HAWAII



from the foot of the oppressor

& let our voices marry

into a weapon strong enough

to damage





And God?    

What is justice but a well wish?

An unsung lullaby? A tall tale?

An unleaked battle cry?

Waiting and wading?

A knife in a nuke fight?


And God?       

Are there black people in the future?

Are there poor people in the future?

Are there queer people in the future?

Are there trees in the future?

Is there fresh water in the future?

Are there poets in the future?


And God?

Is there a future that I should long for?

Is there a future that I should fight for?

When will the meek inherit the earth?

In this lifetime or the next or the next or?


Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, retreats, and special events. Donate to help Torch amplify Black women writers.


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