February’s Featured Poet | Michael B. Carrol, Jr.

featured image | Gideon Rosenblatt


Interlude: Aren’t We Golden?

Aren’t we golden, my dear?

Look at the way our brown eyes shimmer,
on the cusp of freedom’s sunrise.

Isn’t our skin royal like bourbon in
a crystalline decanter?

Doesn’t our labor smell like victory,
and taste of sweet nectar?

Cocoa-butter-bodies glisten under moonlight
on a hot midsummer’s night—

clip-clop, rat-a-tatt-tatt! —look at the melanin
in our skin, breakdancing in the light.

The muscles beneath our skulls,
both clever and strong.

Aren’t we golden, my brother? —
my sister? my cousin?

Look at how the hardships of our past have
made us hang on more tightly—

to a future where love is the light that
shines, oh, so brightly. From the colorful
faces we wear, our lips, our hair:

Aren’t we golden, my dear?

Previously published in Michael B. Carroll, Jr.,The Dichotomy Between Light and Dark(Beaverton, OR: The Poetry Box, 2019).



Ever since you were a little boy,
you’ve dreamed of becoming a doctor.
Devoid of your two front teeth, you push-
ed your way to the front of the line at
Macy’s to sit on Santa’s lap, to ask him for
what you want most on Christmas Day:
A nurthing kit, pleathe.
You would trade your sister candy canes
if she’d be your patient, and lend you her
arm for a quick-stick.
You were a good kid, who never wished
for coins in exchange for your baby
teeth from the Tooth Fairy.
Instead, you asked for a white coat
because the vision of you wearing it filled
your heart with endless hope.
As you grew older, the lab coat became
your cape, and your desire to help heal
others was your superpower.
You found yourself battling demons,
but every time they were vanquished by
the orbs of light surrounding your dreams.
Though each time you faced evil, you
were left marred. And every time they
pulled—you pushed hard.
Over time, you grew wiser, realizing
that the people you so desperately wanted
to save would be saving your life, too.


Hootin’ ‘N’ Hollerin’

I took pop-pop’s hair pick to the fibers of my
roots and combed through decades of our heritage.
I could see through the pain, through the torment
of jilted hopes, and stifled dreams
of freedom.
I sat, intently, in the bleachers witnessing a history,
so vibrantly enriched with creative intention.
An endless sizzle reel of brown voices, afros,
and bright customs that shine.
Memories that shimmer like the belting of church choirs,
rejoicing on Easter Sunday.
Fierce and bold voices—hootin’ ‘n’ hollerin’ about
the luster, strength, and tenacity of an enduring culture.
Shoutin’ octaves way above the mountains,
and over hilltops.
Feet smashin’ on slabs of concrete, tribes steppin’
up and down the urban streets—parading around the
proof ‘n’ the pudding of Black invention.
Like traffic signals, clocks, blues, and ragtime jazz.
The imprints, footprints, and blueprints of a people
that will forever last.
Bruthas and sistas, hootin’ ‘n’ hollerin’ across city limits.
Tuttin’ ‘n’ struttin’ down the boulevard—singin’ and
spreadin’ the news. Drumsticks cracklin’, trombones
blowin’, and children goin’ “Pa rum pum pum pum.
With a cheery grin on my face, I took pop-pop’s hair
pick and combed in a forward motion.
Seeing stories of our future, the stronghold of our
endless devotion.

Previously published in The Esthetic Apostle.


About the Author

Michael Carroll is a poet and singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, PA. His poems have appeared in publications such as The Esthetic Apostle, Maudlin House, and Wingless Dreamer. His 2019 chapbook The Dichotomy Between Light and Dark is available now at The Poetry Box and Amazon.com. He’s a graduate of West Chester University and is currently studying to become a BSN-MSN/Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Michael can be found on INSTAGRAM: @sirdukeofwagadu.