Kenneth Carroll



(for my father n nem)

my father n nem, roun the side of the house,
lyin, denyin, n signifyin (nigga I know you lyin now!)
n tellin the truth in its rawest form
chasin the shade to its sunny grave
while a july sun smiles, plays the bass line

my father n nem, almost alla them
roun the side of the house (must be saturday)
shooin away the listenin me tryin
to hear their songs, future songs of my life
"go play somewhere boy!" shouted daddy
but where else could an eight-year-old go n hear fathers
philosophyin in chords from a blues guitar
held tight roun the neck by life n stroked by an essence
as old as africa's rhythmic walk

double solos are normal roun the side of the house
& you gotta watch them changes:
"aw man, here I am,
look good, ball-fifty in my pocket,
plenny gas in na ride..."
"see dat's why king got kilt..."
"n she goin go out wit dis chump
whose face could take the
stink outta shit..."
"see we from georgia too, n my grandaddy always said..."
"fool was so ugly he could look through a keyhole n put
a blister on a brick."
"you gotta let dese crackers know..."
("go somewhere n play boy!")
"dat you'll clean ney fuckin suits wit dem in it!"
center stage is crowded by the loud & quick
barrel house piano voices
n twelve string men that talked as smooth as stride
tryin to keep sour notes of fear n frustration from
destroyin the harmony of the day's sultry session
wantin to say some n bout the condition
of their black lives
to be heard & understood as men
n judged only by a jury of blue peers

where are the critics to explain away the
meaning of my father n nem makin dat music
roun the side of the house

probably somewhere gettin they fuckin suits cleaned.



what drove me crazy was her kisses
(& lord 'ave mercy, she could kiss!)
she had the kind of kisses
that made blind men attend 3d movies
the kind of kisses that made
priests kick out stained glass windows
her kiss was a bassline
vibrating near a g spot

& i want her kisses
to fill this empty space that once held ......a heart
my lips offer no condolences, (they ......are very uncool,)
several times this week they have left my face to hunt for her

this is not progressive, i know
but i want to colonize her lips
i want to plant a flag on her tongue
i want to set up nominally independent homelands
that will surround her lips
i want segregation laws that will keep ......all other
lips away from hers
i want to force artists to write propaganda in support of her lips

but i must get hip about her lips
(a hip blues line here please)
i want to hold jazz festivals on her ......lips
where dueling tongues replace trumpet players
i want her lips all over me like .....coltrane's
fingers dancing wildly over them keys
i want to go to a dangerous after-hours joint with her lips

i can get reverent too, like
i want to erect a temple on her lips
& make hadj to her kiss
where i will become holy & wise & ......kissed
& write scripture that says, "& she kissed the sky,
& yea, the sky did drool for forty days & forty nights"
deliver me oh lord unto...her kiss

yeah it was her kiss that drove me,
all crazy like this
& good lord, i hope her kiss,
drives me back.


Eglon Daley
Of the People
150" x 90", acrylic on canvas

see more of Eglon Daleyr's work






it was right about the time they started drafting for the iraqi war
snookie came to sign up but he didn't walk through the door,

instead he leaped like a madman right through the plate glass
& kicked the recruiting sergeant square in his no-good ass

he said, "i wanna go to the desert, kill some arab chump
& drink his hot blood like water from a barnyard pump

i wanna get bit on my nose by a scorpion wit a bad attitude
i wanna smoke twelve packs a day & eat snake heart for food

i wanna drink poison gas with a side order of sand
& dance with a nuclear missile while digging the junkyard band

i wanna jump in an oil well & get real slick
then have me a party with some them mooslim chicks

cause i'm snookie johnson from a bad neighborhood
& when i get ciced up i don't mean nobody good

so sign me up sergeant & sign me up fast
i'm just raring to kick me some motherfuckin ass"

the sergeant looked at snookie with nothing but disgust
knowing he was the kind of nigga can't nobody trust

"you too damn crazy for the military," the sarge said wit a frown
snookie gave him a sheet of paper & said, "yo man, write dat down."


(or what happen to the dinosaurs? for my son, thomas)

they were crushed by a gigantic meteor
they froze to death
they starved to death
they didn't wash their hands
they didn't brush their teeth
they got really bad report cards
they believed in gods that did not look like them
they evolved
they assimilated
they died waiting for john brown/jesus christ/& forty acres & a mule
they died fighting someone else's war
they didn't eat their vegetables
they used porcelana & faded to death
they overdosed on activator
they wanted to be white or arab or greek
they wanted to be anything but dinosaurs
they never read dinosaur history
they never read dinosaur literature
they read ebony and thought they had it made
they read jet and thought they had made it
they joined the republican party
they kept shooting at their own reflections
they got nose jobs/lip jobs/hip jobs
they would do anything for a job
they were scared of revolution
they thought malcolm x was a fashion statement
they stopped shouting in church
they were mis-educated
they pissed off the great dinosaur gods
they wanted to be like the people who despised them
they were, when they were here, a strange species
they are long gone son,
but you can see them
at the smithsonian
just ask for the
negrosaurus wrecks.


Kenneth Carroll is a native Washingtonian. He is the author of a book of poems, So What! For the White Dude Who Said This Ain't Poetry (The Bunny and the Crocodile Press, 1997). Carroll is the DC Site Coordinator for WritersCorps, an arts and social service program founded by the NEA and AmeriCorps that was honored in 1999 by the national Coming Up Taller Awards. He is the past president of the African American Writers Guild, served on the board of directors of the Poetry Committee of Greater Washington, and was a founding member of the 8Rock Writers Collective.

Published in Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2000.


Read more of this author's work:
Carroll's Tribute to Gaston Neal: The Memorial Issue
Kenneth Carroll: DC Places Issue
Kenneth Carroll: Evolving City Issue
Kenneth Carroll: Audio Issue