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saturday afternoon

By Kenneth Carroll III

we ride in on the red line
our laces coming undone as we float over fare gates

                                                                            until we fall into a night

              with everything our tongues have been yearning for

the air turns to nectar in our mouths
             we spread our wings
                                                                                     like coat jackets
                                                        this city
             the canopy we fly over

                                                                       the soil our grandmothers live under
how soon we learn

what can become of these wooden bodies
in this city of   
                                                                                      ash and soot
how a night can dry into a flame
             and swallow us         whole

but that is not what tonight is
there are no shudders creeping
into jackets and under doors
there are no gods with trembling arms
from the weight of a handful of prayers

we all mean the world to somebody
and that is a blessing that is a comfort that is a long
hug before a bus ride to the station that is a lecture
that is pursed lips that is:
Don't wear that hood like that
Don't talk like that
Don't walk like that

that is until we turn the corner and
           flip the switch with our kicks
                                                                                 if we die tonight
it will not have been with our hands beneath our asses
we will not go quietly
we will go as we came
red faced and howling

find us wading in the brick and mortar
mixing in with the murals
find us caught in the concrete
find us touching lips with the sky
find us home in our city
reaching down into its crackling hearth




Listen as Kenneth Carroll reads "saturday afternoon."

Added: Tuesday, June 18, 2019  /  From "Making It Home," (Penmanship Books, 2018). Used with permission.
Kenneth Carroll III
Photo by Elilta Abraham.

Kenneth Carroll III wants to be the very best, like no one ever was. Poetry is his best bet, and writing is his heart. He has traveled across the land performing far and wide. He believes his art can change the world with the power that’s inside. Born and raised in Washington, DC. He has lived in Brookland, DC his whole life. Carroll served as the 2017 DC Youth Poet Laureate, and was the 2017 DC Youth Slam Team Grand Slam Champion. His first book of poetry, Making It Home, was published in 2018 by Penmanship Books. Carroll conducts writing workshops with youth throughout the DMV, and works as a Teaching Artist with Split This Rock. His love for pancakes is only rivaled by the love for his home and the people living in it. His writing is an expression of that love.

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