Kenneth Carroll



a breeze in August nightly
thunder showers in July
silent politicians, loud bid whist games
my mother & your mother alive again,
laughing in our kitchens our daddies,
sober, locked in tonk games raucous
as a Georgia Avenue barbershop on Saturday
low blood pressure - low murder rates
Chuck Brown at da Panorama Room
Murrays’ steaks, cookouts, Rock Creek sodas in
Rock Creek Park, a seedless joint rolled
tight as EU in the pocket at Anacostia Park
Mrs. Teency's bread pudding, block parties
open hydrants, balling at Kennedy playground
Baggy John's jump shot before the drugs
Old heads hand dancing at the Chateau
us slow dragging in an unfinished basement
your brown arms around me, our hips in a
desperate grind choreographed by red light
& Skip Mahoney’s falsetto

safe neighborhoods with real neighbors
instead of arrogant urban pioneers &
third millennium settlers
the end to naïve romanticism about the
disappearance of crime & crack filled properties
front porch courting - corner debates with Marvin Gaye
wafting from someone's open window
you & I making out to a Quiet Storm at Haines Point,
oblivious to the parade of hustler's depreciating vehicles
shopping on H Street with Grandma, Eastover with mommy
musty rummage sales at First Canaan Baptist Church
U Street muted by four feet of February snow
watching fire works at Malcolm X Park
Pre-Korean Mambo Sauce on fried wings,
steak & cheese from Miles Long
Sal-mon & SWords
a bama-less world
swung to an Ellington tune.

Kenneth Carroll is a native Washingtonian. His poetry, short stories, essays, and plays have appeared in Black Literature Forum, The Lion Speaks: An Anthology for Hurricane Katrina, In Search Of Color Everywhere, Bum Rush The Page, and American Poetry: The Next Generation. His book of poetry, So What: For The White Dude Who Said This Ain’t Poetry, was published in 1997 by Bunny & The Crocodile Press. He has had three plays produced: The Mask, Walking To Be Free, and Make My Funk The P-Funk. He is executive director of DC WritersCorps and past president of the African American Writers Guild. He received a 2005 Literary Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, was nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize for Poetry, and received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Service to the Arts. He was named one of WETA’s Hometown Heroes in 2004.


Published in Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 2007.


Read more by this author:
Kenneth Carroll
Carroll's Tribute to Gaston Neal: The Memorial Issue
Kenneth Carroll: DC Places Issue