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"June 2020: Alarm goes off" by Carla Sameth

June 2020: Alarm goes off

clutch wife, remember

to breathe, remember

George Floyd,

fear floods in, room congested.

A poet wrote me a poem

that tells me,

think of your son

when you first wake up

and I do but terror for

the risk to his soul,

his body, his

Black skin. This mom’s heart

is tumbling, even with

wife opening the curtain,

singing me good morning,

good morning, wild parrots

and cascading Pasadena

birdsong, cat kneading

and purring. Even then,

cannot calm when wife gets up to leave,

see three missed calls last night

probably just son telling me

about latest protest.

He made me laugh

at Highland Park march

when he said, Mom, look.

That white woman. Full Black

Panther regalia, knee high black

boots, black

coveralls and beret,

fist raised, standing in front

of that MLK mural on the wall

of that hipster coffee shop?

(Would this be her Instagram post?)

The woman, she looked at me, just said,

Your life matters.

Yes, it does, son

and I imagine

telling him this every day,

what I’ve always

told him:

his life matters.

Words sink into fear

stuck in throat,

legs still glued to bed,

gripped by galloping thoughts,

pull blanket over head.


Carla Sameth’s memoir, One Day on the Gold Line, was published July 2019. Her work on blended/unblended, queer, biracial and single parenting appears in a variety of literary journals and anthologies including The Rumpus, MUTHA Magazine, Brain,Child, Narratively, Longreads, Brevity Blog, Entropy, Full Grown People, Angels Flight Literary West, Anti-Heroin Chic, Global Poemic, and The Nervous Breakdown. Carla’s essay, “If This Is So, Why Am I?” was selected as a notable for the 2019 Best American Essays. A Pasadena Rose Poet, a Pride Poet with West Hollywood, and a former PEN in The Community Teaching Artist, Carla teaches creative writing to high school and university students, and to incarcerated youth. She has an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte (Latin America). Her chapbook, What Is Left is forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press. https://carlasameth.com/

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