Karl W. Carter

Karl W. Carter, Jr.

Volume 15:1, Winter 2014

Night Train

A forward passage into the night
The lonely whistle note rising into the night sky
A passage through empty stations
Past backyard fences
Row houses, parking lots
A night-time view and in unison
Of city streets, houses, warehouses
Lights atwitter in the evening air
As the door to the next passenger car
Gives back the song of the train’s wheels on
Steel track, the tramp of feet
A hollow stomping rolling away into the night
The clacking of the wheels across the
Open spaces in the tracks
The pitch of the train as it
sways like a dancer


The Hard Hours

It’s the hard hours we talk about
The times when our backs and
souls were bent to the labors
of necessity
The tense moments when our voices
welled up with pain and sorrow
Sang mournfully in the cotton patch
behind railroad shanties and in one-room flats
of the Blues and men long gone
with the passage of time
and the night train
The weeping hours of love lost
and sons dead
Somewhere in the dim perspective
of painful years now distant
It’s the hard hours we talk about
The time when a body can’t keep on, keeping on



for Leon Damas who drank from the waters of his people

I am this country
Singing my spirituals
into the southland
Speaking in the shadows
of the years
Spent under the
Poison tree
Moving closer to the land
Sinking my naked roots
into the fertile foreign
I am the wind
Weeping through my life
The blues of living close to
The bitterness of the
Long naked years
I am the rivers flowing onward
my song renewed by
fresh springs
Moving nearer and nearer
to my source.


Kathy Keler, "Heartflow," acrylic on cardboard, 2011

Kathy Keler, “Heartflow,” acrylic on cardboard, 2011


And the rain beats down
upon the earth
and the windows
Like notes from
Segovia’s guitar
Pronouncing in
Remembrances of loneliness
Like Miles lost somewhere
in a universe of sound
Listing through a muted horn



Through the rained out
tree top days
Pushing against the burned ruins
Thoughts dance in the limp silences
of forgotten dreams
Left at the corner pawnshop



Karl W. Carter, Jr. resides in Alexandria, VA. He is the author of two books of poems, Southern Road and Other Selected Poems (Create Space, 2014), and Sojourner and Other Poems (CreateSpace, 2010), and the poetry broadsides A Season in Sorrow (Broadside Press, 1972) and Three Poems (Broadside Press, 1972). His poetry has appeared in the journals Drum Voices Review, Chicken Bones, Delaware Poetry Review, Broadkill Review, and Journal of Hip Hop Studies, and the anthologies Understanding the New Black Poetry; Synergy D.C. Anthology; The Poet Upstairs: An Anthology of Washington Area Poets; Off the Record: An Anthology of Poetry By Lawyers; Freedom In My Heart: Voices From the United States National Slavery Museum; and Words of Protest, Words of Freedom, Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era.