National Poetry Month Day 29: Alison C. Rollins





Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Because I could not stop for Death
I have traveled back to the future,
to the place where sound is
still a delicate horn.

At present—I ride shotgun,
Eliot at the wheel of an Impala
with suicide doors. Immortality
kicks the back of my seat.

She rolls down her window
even though the air is on.
We pause at Sonia’s house,
the one on the end with lions.

All the ghosts in her garden
have heart, the bees extinct,
& the Negroes high yellow in
pollen. ‘Twas mercy brought

me from pagan poppies.
‘Twas love that drove me
towards this climax of laden
light. I look away from

the pistil of war’s flowered head.
There were birds where questions
should have been, in this world
with no use for the body.

T.S. rolls slow with a gangsta lean.
He points ahead, calls my home-
town the waste land, kisses my head
& names me daughter of its dust.


Photograph of Alison C. Rollins by Maya Ayanna Darasaw.

Alison C. Rollins, born and raised in St. Louis city, currently works as the Lead Teaching and Learning Librarian for Colorado College. She is a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Literature fellow. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Poetry, and elsewhere. A Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow, she is also a 2016 recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. In 2018 she was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers' Award. Her debut poetry collection, Library of Small Catastrophes (2019), is with Copper Canyon Press. More from this author →