Current Occupation: Writer
Former Occupation: Teacher
Contact Information: Peter Neil Carroll is the author of a new collection of poetry, A Child Turns Back to Wave: Poetry of Lost Places (Press Americana, 2012) which won the Prize Americana. A previous volume is Riverborne: A Mississippi Requiem (2008). His poems have appeared recently in HEArt Journal Online, Sand Hill Review, Poetry Bay, American Atheneum, and Written Rivers: A Journal of Eco-Poetics. He lives in northern California.
Workers in Paradise (Alabama)
No place to eat in rural towns
I pick apples at Piggly Wiggly,
distracted by loud shouts
as a cock-eyed, toothless man
disputes the register printout.
Where’s my buttermilk! My shrimp!
Two checkout women
One covers her mouth, whispers
I love Tuesday, he does this every Tuesday.
Not a shop seems open on Main
but three rusty pickups squat
outside a shuttered door. I push
inside. An elderly chef, her flowery dress
touching the floor, calls out
God bless! and dishes sweet potatoes
baked with pecans, collards,
ham hocks, beans, and gravy. Her partner
in Church of God T-shirt delivers dessert:
I sure hope this beats pie in the sky.
My lodge of choice might have at least one
working light bulb, one thin towel,
a plastic cup.
The harried manager, a newcomer
with wife and kids cramped rent-free
in a franchised dump, scrambles
to please a paying customer.
Poor man, we meet in every city,
over his head in cracks and grunge,
busy, busy, striving.