Three Poems by Sarah Carleton


Rolling down Nebraska Ave in the rain,
wiper blades and Drive-By Truckers fighting

for the beat, I drive by strip-joint
strip malls, warehouse churches, Salvation

Army-Navy surplus, minimarts, go-karts,
swim-in-place pools and kid carpoolers.

My route’s a seedy, soggy loop track
—a pink motel mushroomed five miles back

then popped up again another spot—
but the bumper stickers are all over the map:

I’m tailing a car with blue stars & stripes
while the truck zipping past flashes coexist.



The blinding-black night, the hotel drive
winding uphill, the creepy grime of the blankets—

where were we headed? No idea.
What was the year? Don’t recall.

The room had a hot tub with no water;
our little son pretended it was a bed.

The three of us lay on our backs
and looked at the mirror on the ceiling.

I do believe we were the only guests.
Our need for sleep was accidental—

the rental car, which should have been invincible,
broke down, setting us back several hours.

But our playlist made us bulletproof.
We laughed every time Ok Go sang about

the woman with lights behind her eyes,
and when the road grew squirrelly

we switched our brights on and off.



Cat Day Afternoon

Our backyard neighbor, kitty-corner,
is caterwauling on the phone.

I recognize the tone
—though not the raspy tongue—

and cut her slack.
We are all cat-smacked in this heat.

Even the feline guard no longer
pace for prey but drape themselves

on our screened roof
like snaggletoothed tarpaulins.



Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo and raises her son in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Off the Coast, The Binnacle, Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review and New Ohio Review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: