The Poetic Hill - March 2017

Kenneth Carroll IIIwas selected by Words Beats & Life as the 2017 DC Youth Poet Laureate. He began performing as a sophomore at Wilson High School and continues to participate in poetry slams and readings throughout the Metropolitan DC area. Carroll, who self-identifies as “a total nerd,” is interested in issues of identity and social justice. Part of the latest generation in a tradition of the black literary arts movement in the District, Carroll’s work speaks to the inspiring resilience of DC’s cultural heritage.


Puddle Jumping
We grew up sucking our thumbs
Chewing on our bottom lips like salt water taffy
We grew up with our hands buried in our pockets like pockets of seeds
beneath the soil
We grew up with dirt between our fingers
We grew up biting our nails till they were stumps
We grew up stubbing our toes so often
Our soles cried mercy
Cried uncle
Our throats cried hushed curses with cracking voices
Back when corners were everywhere
And our bodies were still trying to find a way out of them
We grew up falling
Into, away from, and back again
Grew up trying to find the balance in the center
Where the scale don't tip like the seesaws on the playground
We grew up on playgrounds
Whether they were hard plastic, wood-chipped, or concrete
All you ever needed was a dream
And your creativity would grow wings and carry you there
Back when our creativity carried us and not the other way around
Back when we couldn't turn ourselves off
Couldn't be any less than who were
Back when we noone knew how to
Back when no one wanted to
How we seemed to overflow with the fruits of the world
When the world tasted sweet
Sweet enough to chew like bottom lips
We grew up overflowing
Brimming up over the bathtubs we once sat in
Erupting like the fountains that beckoned us to come dance in them
We grew up filling the world with our bodies
Always awaiting the feel of the splash
Loud and bold beneath our feet
We grew up puddle jumping
We grew up with wet shoes
We grew up with chlorine
We grew up with mildew
Whether we kept our chin up or our nose down
We all grew up smelling something
We all grew up smelling like something
We all grew up like something
Something good
We all grew up back when something was good


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