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Karl W. Carter Jr.

About the Poet

Karl W. Carter Jr. was born in New Orleans, LA and grew up in Los Angeles, CA. He authored two poetry publications in the early 1970s, A Season in Sorrow and Three Poems, both published by Broadside Press. His poetry appears in Understanding the New Black Poetry: Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic Reference, Stephen Henderson (1973); City Celebration 1976: Poetry Anthology (1977); Synergy D.C. Anthology (Ahmos Zu-Bolton, II and E. Ethelbert Miller, (1978); The Poet Upstairs: An Anthology of Washington Area Poets, (1979) and in Off the Record: An Anthology of Poetry By Lawyers. (Legal Studies Forum-Vol. 28, No. 1 & 2 - 2004). His work also appears in Drum Voices Revue, Vols. 15 & 17 ( 2007/ 2011-2012); Freedom In My Heart: Voices From the United States National Slavery Museum (Cynthia Jacobs Carter, National Geographic, 2009); and Words of Protest, Words of Freedom, Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement (Jeffery Lamar Coleman, 2012.)

Spring 2013 Poems »
In my mother’s kitchen
  there are no fresh springs
Just tap water offerings
  to yesterday’s planted crops
No pump bubbles and gurgles
  it’s primeaval song
Just a pail of placid water lies next
    to the old wood burning stove
Empty jugs litter the floor
  reminders of the days of moonshine
      and Adam’s ale
Remnants of our journey
    Up Route 13
To Indian Town Road
Ghosts walk the mist on Driggus’s land
His creek forever a part of Tom Savages’ Plantation
A place of old slave sales and freedmen’s dreams
Where Pa-Pa sharecropped
  to buy a piano and a Model T
Now we go there
Carrying jugs to fill
  with fresh water


There is an old washing machine
  on my Na-Nan’s back porch
  with the ringers –two rollers
    face to face -still in place
The squishing sound of clothes,
      passing through their
        middle passage
The spray of the water
      like water from the rock
        that Moses struck
In the back yard is an oak tree
And the folding table and chairs
The remnants of the card games and lemonade
The buzzing of mosquitoes and dragon flies
Songs sung on the back porch
      in the evening
    “ Laud I’ma gonna
      lay dis burdin down
    lay dis burdin down
  “Woke up dis
      mornin’ wid
        Jesus on my min’
  “Oh yes laud Jesus on my min”
The laundry hanging on clothes lines
  Sheets a-billowing- sails on summer boats
A memory afloat somewhere
        in the summer
  When I was small



Sometimes I sit smoking
    And Segovia’s guitar pronounces
    In staccato-like-phrases
    James Brown, Otis Redding
    Remembrances of sorrow
As the southern landscape
Bows her head beneath the setting sun.


      For Sterling Brown- The Blues Poet
The land bends beneath
      the weight
  Of the red dust and
      winding trails
  That lead to barren fields
      and empty plantation houses
  The soil echoes with
      blues chords
        and work songs
  Spirituals sung on
    Sunday morning
  African lullabies in the
    evening shadows
  And blood remembers
  As an old woman sings
      to her grandchildren
  The loneliness and pain

etched in the tenor

        of her voice
  Rising into the blackness
      Of a Southern night.


Karl Carter ~

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