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Ode to a City in 11 Haiku

These Haiku tell a story of a city built on community and perseverance. They tell a story of Durham.

This piece was contributed as a part of our African American Heritage Guide by Durham Poet Laureate D.J. Rogers.

Blossoms snow on the
bronze statue and spring stampedes
down these city streets,

a china shop to
lift up ev’ry voice and sing
a crackling, brilliant,

song of sharp people -
minds and edges and creases
black suits, black ties and

black hands, building walls
of trade and protection and
insuring ourselves.

When no one else would,
we had us. We had us when
the trials and hardships

tried to wash us all
Away. We found a way to
glow under the lights

we powered. We, the
beat, utility, water,
body electric.

Merrick to Murray,
Shepard shepherded a King
to the Hillside, high

and alive, always
alive and standing with hands
outstretched to us all -

Mechanic, farmer
banker, scholar and healer.
We are history.

We are running and
we will not be stopped we are
Durham. We are here.

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D.J. Rogers-Poet

D.J. Rogers is a poet, editorialist, essayist, activist, actor and educator based in the Triangle region of NC. Born in Raleigh and living in Durham, he discovered a love for spoken word while pursuing a degree in poetry from UNC Chapel Hill. After a career teaching, doing workshops and preparing college students for international competition, he has the honor of being appointed the inaugural Poet Laureate of Durham, North Carolina! His work can be found at FreezeRay Press, Wingless Dreamer Press, Black Nerd Problems and, now, Discover Durham!