Portside Date:
Author: Peter Neil Carroll
Date of source:
This Land, These People: The 50 States


By Peter Neil Carroll

Bitter winter in the City of Lakes,  

a good car, a strong-hooded coat

separate life and death. Skid into

a snow drift, the cops won’t find

you frozen stiff until morning.

January, February, March, even

April before the noose loosens, boots

vanish, weight of wool lifts, bare

arms appear. By May, friends may 

pause to chat on leafy streets.

In the year of Covid-19, cabin fever

exceeds claustrophobia, even lawful

citizens crave escape. Masks hard

to come by, kids hang at corners

flirting; the aroma of grass drifts by.

At 8 PM a black man stops for smokes,

passes a fake bill. Cops do what they

do, cuff him, put a knee on his neck

and wait. It’s hard to watch, hard to

breathe, hard to believe it never ends.

Peter Neil Carroll’s most recent collections are Talking to Strangers (Turning Point Press) and This Land, These People: The 50 States which won the Prize Americana in 2022. He is Chair Emeritus of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.

Source URL: https://portside.org/2023-05-19/minneapolis