Sundown Town

by Adrian Potter


Everything begins to feel like a sacrifice. Finding vague threats at the property lines – wilted Black-eyed Susans, dead blackbirds, empty shotgun shells. The wind becomes a caveat, a sign. Caution lodged under weary tongues, haunting the intention of every explanation. On the kitchen table, we trace highways on a roadmap, outline each stop before departing. The out-of-the-way detours that unravel our patience one by one. Mind the stream that traces its way back to its origin. The identities we must lose to get there. The women that go missing every spring. The strangers following us to the city limits from the farmer’s market. Their rage fills creek bottoms. Beware of truck stops, hanging trees, the ditches thick with fear and bluestem. Don’t be brown and around when the sun comes down. Places where the moon pulls darkness over us like a blanket until we escape or suffocate.


Adrian S. Potter writes poetry and prose in Minnesota. He is the author of the poetry collection Everything Wrong Feels Right and the prose chapbook The Alter Ego Handbook. Some publication credits include North American Review, Obsidian, Jet Fuel Review, and Kansas City Voices. Visit him online at http://adrianspotter.com/.


See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Sundown Town”?

“Sundown Town” developed while I wrote a series of Midwestern-based prose poems. The Midwest has a passive-aggressive practice of glossing over elements of its racist past. One part of this unmentioned history is sundown towns – towns where black Americans knew they weren’t welcome once the sun went down. Between research on sundown towns and accounts from older African Americans who experienced this scenario, I attempted to quilt together a mosaic of the angst and ache this form of hatred caused. I know the version of bigotry that I faced in my life doesn’t compare to what my forbearers persevered through, but I attempted to approximate their pain in this piece.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. The reading period for standard submissions closes again December 15, 2023. Submit here.


11/27 • Michael Mark
12/04 • Helen Beer
12/11 • Rachel Rodman
12/18 • Betsy Robinson
12/25 • Trish Hopkinson
12/31 • Kim Chinquee
01/01 • Jill Michelle