Four Poems by Sarah Carson


I did not intentionally get drunk during the dinner cruise on the Great Zambezi. The meals were too small, and the beers were too big and that, my cab driver said, is what is wrong with all of East Africa. And so, when I found myself alone with the balafon player, and he asked me if I knew Jesus, I said I didn’t, even though we both knew it was a lie. His t-shirt boasted a picture of the Detroit skyline beneath the words “2006 World Champion Tigers,” and I asked him if he knew Lou Whitaker, and he said he thought he’d seen him on television, but that also didn’t seem like the truth. So I changed the subject and asked why in Zambia all the busses speak Japanese when the doors open, but I didn’t listen when he started to explain. Instead, I though about Ordonez, the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, the slow motion replay of the ball approaching the plate. Dad called and my phone was breaking up and I went out to the porch where even the fireflies knew it was a long time coming, where traffic was pulling off the highway to blare their horns, where through the window I listened reverently as Jim Leyland started to cry. I didn’t think to ask Dad if he thought they’d hear about this in Africa, what they’d do with the t-shirts should the Tigers lose.


You’ve been angry now for several hours on a bus, where the driver used his mouth to reverse the flow of coolant from the radiator and the Canadians in their fishing hats screamed at him to stop. One of them produced a wrench from a bag in an overhead compartment, went out to communicate in hand gestures with the men arriving with water from somewhere deep within the brush. Now you’re on a grassy median thinking about peanut butter sandwiches. You think maybe later you’ll pay a guesthouse busboy to go find you a Coke so that you can drink alone in an unperturbed silence something American, something else that was born at home. Until then you wait for the whole group of them to find a Crown Royal sack stuffed into a lamppost. They’ll put in a looney and take their pictures and hope someone else will come by to remember they were here. This has nothing to do, say, with how the world began. With how Eve split from Adam just miles from where you’re standing. Your sister will argue with you over a motel take-out menu that it didn’t happen that way. You don’t care that it didn’t. You just know it was either exactly like this or exactly different. It might be years before you decide you want to know which one.

One of Many, Many Things

When he brought his car back from the body shop, there was an odd goo dried precariously on the inner workings of his driver’s side hinge. He showed it to me as he smoked his cigarette, half his body in the parking lot, the other half leaned over the center console. He pulled a piece off and flicked it at me, and I ducked and laughed, and he exhaled. This was when things were still good, when he’d still call me at night from his backyard, describe to me the sticks he was burning, the colors they turned as they cracked, the pops of ash as they faded away. It would be sometime much later before anything would be different. Before the detectives would show up to try to collect samples—then, unable, would pack up and leave. It would be many more years until the local news would send a crew to find out what he had to say, if anything. When he answered the door, he would be missing a leg, a lung, half of an ear. Peggy Ann, the field correspondent, would ask him, but he’d say he didn’t remember. Most people around town believed him. I thought it was just one of those things.

Sooner or Later I Won’t Think About It at All

At our hearing, the universe says I ask too many questions. She says the phone calls are cutting into her family time, and I try to defend myself as best I can, but I was never much at arguments. The local media has worked the community into a frenzy, and my mother, who has driven across three states to be there, looks concurrently confused and embarrassed. I decide it is probably better just to take the deal, after all. Now I’m legally obligated to only walk west. No more driving into the mountains at two-thirty in the morning and shining my high beams into the asteroid belt. They say the best thing one can do in a situation like this is to find something new to focus on—a hobby, perhaps, or an expensive car. The best I could do on such short notice was this very tall man I found slouched near a dartboard.  He has asked me to take him to the ravine to pee, and I’ve obliged. In my rearview mirror he leans away from the stream—his head cocked to one side, watching a shooting star. He moves his lips as if he’s making a wish. I try not to let it get to me. Sooner or later I probably won’t think about it at all.

Sarah Carson was born and raised in Flint, Michigan but now lives in Chicago with her dog, Amos. She is also the author of three chapbooks, Before Onstar (Etched Press, 2010), Twenty-Two (Finishing Line Press, 2011), and When You Leave (H_NGM_N, 2012). Sometimes she blogs at