April is National Poetry Month, and April 21 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Every year, people in the U.S. choose a poem to carry with them and share it with others. Read these poems below by Flint native poet, Sarah Carson, and share them with others throughout your day.
When a Man Flies
(originally published in Epiphany)
Tonight there are nine houses burning in the city where I was born. Last night there were eleven. The night before–thirteen.
The firefighters left town weeks ago. They told us we should go, too, but the people who leave never come back with good reports.
The cops said curved fingerprints are the most common and hardest to trace, and we tried to use this information to our advantage, but it was a lot to think about.
Then someone showed us a website that measured your annual income against the rest of the world’s. If you were an American you were, by default, in at least the 97th percentile—even the man down the street who tries to sell stolen lawnmowers for ten bucks or the best offer.
I was in the 98th percentile, but all I could think about was how to be in the 99th. I did things unbecoming of a young lady. I cut in a line. I said something rude to a cab driver. I did a shot of tequila and fell in a parking garage.
The next morning a bruise formed on my knee atop a scar I’d had for years. I was six. Dad had just removed my training wheels. The wound looked deep. It was the second time I’d ever seen a man fly.
Six Hundred Block on a Summer Evening
(originally published in Cloudbank)
He’s sitting on my front porch steps, taking big bites of the ham and sausage pizza in his right hand and wiping the sauce from his beard with the napkin in his left when he turns to me and says, “Girls love farmers,” like he read it off the stack of Monday papers by the Circle Seven door. I’m not so sure farmers do, but I say nothing and think about refilling the glass of Coke we spilled minutes before. Across the road in the lumberyard boys are unloading four by sixes by the armful and an Amtrak train is beginning its thunder through the junkyard. The radio says the Tigers are up by two. I think this could be a good evening, maybe even one of the best.
Perfectly Useful Front Lawns
(originally published in Spittoon)
We live now in a dream between who we are and what scares us. We count weeks by how often Trenell changes her clothes, how many fights she starts with strangers on our lawn, not hers. We follow Chevrolet Avenue across where the river used to be, where someone once decided to float severed tree trunks, consequently built a town, built the houses we split our time in, always scrubbing, cleaning, repatching, begging Paul not to use his bong in the yard. At the Family Dollar, Mom says not to gets the zebra striped microplush shorts, worried I’ll be confused for one of them, be dragged into one of their desperation scuffles that always end in fire. We sit on the porch and let them know we have not forgotten. We cheer the way the cops take notes on tiny sheets of paper. We drink from our tumblers; we send the dog out and we wait. We remember how there used to be all kinds of finished and polished endings. We tell passerbys how there used to be hockey and how there used to be baseball, that our uncles had lived by radio, by Detroit, by the Tigers on their own, perfectly manicured, perfectly useful front lawns.
About the Author
Sarah Carson was born in Flint but now lives in Chicago. She is the author of four chapbooks, including the forthcoming This is Tiny Tina (Dancing Girl Press), and two full length collections, Poems in which You Die (BatCat Press) and Buick City (Mayapple Press), about growing up in Flint. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Cream City Review, Guernica, the Minnesota Review, the Nashville Review and New Ohio Review. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, a recipient of a grant from the Illinois Arts Council and a finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. You can find out more about her work at sarahamycarson.com.