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Down by the River

This city, while full of the impoverished and sprinkled with some middle-class families and abandoned buildings has some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. There’s literally nothing to do besides enjoy the beaches and parks, parking-lot-pimp, and walk or ride your bike to hang at your people’s crib. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do much of either while growing up, and the sheltered life caused deep-rooted issues that I could never get a handle on.

My dad was a single parent. His wife, our mom, died from breast cancer a few short years after they adopted us. The area we grew up in was a little rough, but I didn't understand why we couldn't hang with friends or do normal kid stuff. We found random things to do at home, like create court cases. I'd always be the lawyer, and we'd dress Trav up to be the defendant. I remember our favorite character to dress him as was a robust old man who was always caught harassing the neighborhood kids and screaming at them to go home and do homework.  We'd stuff a pillow under his shirt, make him wear suspenders and tie a white pillowcase around his head for gray hair.

Jersey's Lost Innocence

I opened my eyes and watched the shadows from the leaves on the tree outside the window dance swiftly across the ceiling. The pain in my stomach wasn’t as bad, but my mouth still tasted of bitter grapes mixed with the salty flavor of my tears. My tears began to fill my eyes and soak my satin butterfly-covered pillow, but I didn’t even bother to flip it to the other side as I wept in anguish and frustration. I sat up in bed with an anxious feeling in the bottom of my gut. My crying eventually slowed to a sullen whimper as I looked over to watch my two younger brothers sleep, trying not to wake them.

Composition de L'amour

Two Suns by Justin Copeland

Artwork by Justin Copeland - Two Suns

Composition de L'amour

An original piece by AJ Writer

My heart skipped a beat as it danced to the rhythm of his broken composition. Broken by the pain of his past, of love lost in incomplete incoherent sounds of sweet nothings and abstract promises. I want nothing more than to pick up those pieces and place them amongst the whole notes of my heart on a blank sheet of opportunity. Let's create beautiful music together. The melodic exoticism connected my Queen with his King as we peacefully grazed on the far-off land of our past while holding hands as we enjoyed the blessing of our creator to begin that which is anew. We are ever so blessed with never-ending eternity. How strophic this love as each tune repeats causing our love to float through time and space. The sweet sound of my treble clashes with the deep hard stroke of the bass that exudes from my King causing a dissonance that only our creator can put to rest by noting that it is our calling - to love endlessly & tirelessly as if we know of nothing else. Oh my love, how dreadful a sky without the stars. As am I nothing without the beat of your drum and the caress of your might. I am yours and you are mine. Allow your heart to bleed on my blank pages as our hearts intertwine and form a Composition of Love.



Justin is a Baltimore based artist who specializes in uniquely stunning portraits of Black/African American women. His work expresses black beauty and promotes self-love and inner growth. Please visit Justin's site to view and order one/some of his stunning pieces and support a black-owned business.

A Christmas Affair

I was almost sleeping when he began blowing up my phone. He called twelve times. Eleven times I hit the red button on my phone. The twelfth time I picked up and screamed at the remorseful voice on the other end. 

“Can we please talk?”

“Stop fucking calling me! I hate you! Leave me the fuck alone!”


"Daddy Dearest"

The reason why my Ma came home that day with swollen lips and singed eyebrows is because a fight broke out in the kitchen of the group home where she works and she got caught in the crossfire. Well, that's what she told my brother Charles. She said it with a look of aggravation, and it was as if her eyes were telling him to shut up and not ask another question. Everyone always says that I am my mother's twin. I'd happily accept that compliment if I knew for sure that I wouldn't grow up to be the type of woman that she is. Don't get me wrong. I love my Ma. Love her dearly, but she comes home bruised most mornings, 


Damn phone. The melodic sound of the repeating gospel ringtone was more like the plague at this point. I couldn't help but chuck it at the wall and watch small pieces of the screen fall to the ground. My brother Rick called me 20 times after I told him what happened. I plopped on the couch and grabbed the unopened bottle of Hennessy that sat next to the corpses on the floor. I chugged about half of the bottle and passed out shortly after the high kicked in.
Damn kids. I was awakened by their obnoxious laughs as they played outside in the courtyard of my apartment.


By Jasmine "AJ Writer" Rivers

He loves her. His soul burns for the passion that he can't reach and it seems as though he's fighting an endless battle. He won't give in to the cries of self-consciousness and abuse that have consumed her. Those cries hide her beauty and weaken the love that he desperately tries to obtain. He fears that she is no longer able to accept an untainted love. She cried out and her soul faded. Her light became dim and not even the stars could give way to the darkened path he would soon tread. She now swims in

Copyright © 2016 By Jasmine D. Rivers.

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