Croom, Maryland: Poetic Hill

Photo: Courtesy Derek Baker

Kenneth Carroll is a poet, writer and arts educator. His writings appear in numerous journals and anthologies. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2022 “Blood Orange Review” short fiction winner. He has performed in readings and performances at the Kennedy Center, Nuyorican Café, Beyond Baroque, Gala Hispanic Theater and universities around the country.  He is former director of DC WritersCorps and the African American Writers Guild.

A native Washingtonian, Carroll grew up in Ward 5, where he was Sterling Brown’s paperboy and fell in love with literature at the Woodridge Library. He is the proud father of a daughter and two sons. This poem is from a chapbook, “A Jim Crow Drowning.”

For Great Grandpa Diggs a slave
For my father a sharecropper

i know these trees
how they speak
in a summer’s breeze
accompanied by twittering
birds & the neighing of
horses in distant pastures

i know these furtive
creeks & rivers that
wind past green stalks
of corn sweetened by
maryland sunrises

i know this dirt
that cradled my people’s feet,
that drained their sweat & tears,
that demanded blood & life
a sharecropper’s toil

i know this place
where my family demanded respect,
refusing to be silenced in a jim crow county,
where challenging evil could leave you hanging
like tobacco in a smoke-filled barn

i know this place
where black men kept their shanks sharp
their double barrels loaded
their minds on freedom

i know this place
i have been waiting for it to die
i have been waiting to reclaim it.

Poetic Hill curator Sandra Beasley, a resident of Southwest, is the author of four poetry collections. If you live in DC and are interested in being featured, reach her at for questions and submissions (one to five poems).