Home Literary Arts Four Poems by Kenny Carroll III

Four Poems by Kenny Carroll III

Four Poems by Kenny Carroll III

At the 94th Oscars Will Smith Smacks Chris Rock

I love us

Us was a glass bottle flying into a glass window

At the end of a night reviving memories we bled into

Like syringes

Our love – something greater than us

None of us – greater than us

I got cousins that’re cousins but don’t talk no more

Friends of mine I still can’t sit in the same room

I heard oil and water were once lovers

What to call – everything sitting between us

Static – Skin

Of course – ache and

Longing – for the vision

To see both sides – and the strength

To hold both sides straight – and still

A List of Times I’ve Seen My Father Cry

Before we were men / We were storm clouds
My father was a boy / And I was too
I was taught never cry / I always cried
I was a boy / If my father cries he is too
Dwayne writes / Boys hold oceans of tears
I was a boy / I was an ocean
My father was a boy / My father learned to swim
My father learned to swim / He wasn’t my father
I was a boy / I never learned to swim
My father / Took me to the beach
I can’t see / Through salt water
My grandmother died / And I cried
I’m still afraid / I’ll drown
We are hurricanes / We were storm clouds
I was an ocean / He wasn’t my father
When he was a boy / And I cried
Through salt water / I’m still afraid
If my father cries / He is too
I can’t see / My grandmother died
And I cried / And I cried
And I cried / Before we were men

A Rested Body

Yes / I know how long your nights have been

Little soldier always / at war / with yourself

It’s ok / the next line comes / the next day comes

It all comes and goes / and comes again

It can feel like / a tornado some days / can’t it

It can be hard / to feel some days / can’t it

Oh baby / I’m smiling cause I see all the blue sky

In your brown eyes / you want to go home?

You’ll make it there / for now you can lay here

Beneath my love / I’ll brush your hair with a breeze

You can tell me about this journey you’re on

You haven’t forgotten right? / you’re headed somewhere

Brave traveler / brave traveler / trying your best

In a world of heartless men / and flying monkeys

And Witches / not as fabulous as me

Tough cookie / strong as you are human

This isn’t a stop / or a setback / It’s what’s ahead of you

Its apart of this adventure / as much as a wizard / or a wish

Yes / there’s a long way to go / and the next step

Is to come here / and rest a while

Because a rested body is a rested mind

Because a rested body is a rested mind

Because a rested body is a rested mind

the way i’m flying

I’m just tryna get over to the hospital. Over to the VA.

the driver doesn’t say a word, but nods, so unc steps on the bus but don’t even come past

the yellow line. he puts both his hands on the rails and he’s standing before everyone -he’s standing like these buses wasn’t made to make you bust-your-ass when the light turns green.

Shiit, always tryna give me a hard time. See, people-

he looks out and his eyes are just shattered glass in a pool of something slick, but the night is too dark to tell what. he lays these eyes on the people and the people on the bus did not know they were a people, but now they do.

I have walked across all of creation. I mean every manner of place. I been up Hawaii, Georgia, Mississippi…

he’s listing avenues until you can’t tell if he is anymore.

See, way I’m flying, I may end up anywhere.

the people realize his hands -which are still holding the railings- are probably somewhere else. probably still rummaging through a duffel bag off somewhere far from where his mother was once alive, or hooking up with a rifle in some excuse of a war, or taking a shot of a lover’s lips.

See, way I’m flying you might never see me again. I got one bus ticket somewhere south of all this shit and I’m just waiting on the station to open.

no one knows what that means but the bus starts moving like a funeral pier and the people sit back in their seats while this man flickers like a lit match in a thunderstorm. and this woman in the front holding her son down to the seat with her peripheral starts saying “Watch my child.”

Always tryna give me a hard time…

he isn’t talking to her. you don’t know if she’s talking to him. she keeps saying “Watch my child.” i know she’s probably trying to keep the smell of alcohol from rubbing all over the open wound that is a black child’s body but it almost sounds like “Sir. I know where you’ve been. I know you do not come from a perfect home. From hands unburdened by the dirty work of a switch. But you come from survival…”

Shit, I know where I’m goin…

“…Watch my child. Please. At least till he’s old enough to know the wrong side of a streetlight. At least until he can be the monster they think he is.”

I know where I’m goin. I know where I’m goin…

he keeps saying it till i’m not sure if he’s trying to convince us or himself. it’s easy to get lost here. especially after all these years. new buildings. all the friends from around the corner now a eulogy. he’s standing before everyone -the whole city. a whole alive city and a whole dead city. a city of now and of then. he has that look, you can tell he’s watching the show, but also peeking behind the curtain.

The way I’m flying you might never see me again…

i try to get the nerve to speak up and say “This city is still the one you grew up in. Still the one you left. If you can live past today I promise it gets better. Come with me. I’ll take you to the corner store and get you a water. I’ll get you a shirt that says class of ‘none of your damn business’. I’ll remember your stories and write them down. I’m a writer. I grow stories in my backyard. We could share an orange. We could survive another night. Please, Sit down.

Enjoy the ride.”

but he’s already gone.

Kenny Carroll III (Hi!) is a writer, performer, teacher, and host from DC. He was the 2017 DC Youth Poet Laureate and in 2019 received the Thomas Lux scholarship from Sarah Lawrence. His work has been featured in the Split This Rock Quarry, The Hill Rag, Mixed Mag, and other publications. He’s been lucky enough to perform all over the country. He’s in love with pancakes, and he still can’t read in the car.

Image: Chuckwilliam07, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


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