after Lynda Hull
We ran Carriage House East
nonstop like a bunch of hungry mouths—
in jacking-jawing & ravenous orbits—
& the huffing in the throat stack
& double-ply knee cracks as we slid
Toughskin thick past the dented
buckets on blocks & lover-graffitied
walls, one after another in industrious,
planetary circuitry. All that symmetry,
all that sectioned happenstance
jangling our poked-out vertebrae
& empty middles & the sun shone
clearly against the plastic wrapping
the chocolate bar I slipped into
my pocket at the Village Pantry.
Garrett said, Man, just take it & I did.
My first disobedient accident.
My first calculable maleficence
back when I still wanted
to be an astronaut—in a space
shuttle jetting through stars strobing
as brightly as the front-row
kids we clowned habitually.
Right before my nearsightedness
made blurs from local brick,
extension cords & raised hands
from branches & leaves.
Right in front of my stomach’s
tricky punch, right below the busted
harmony of heart beats
where I sewed a mail-order NASA patch
thinking Cynthia might like it.
Even the front-row kids
made fun of me. None of it mattered.
I was in bed too early
for that hypocrisy or for burglars
doubled in their masks.
Everyone I knew was a trivial thief.
Even after our thin utilities
cut off, some more broke neighbor
tried to break into our slender dark—
window frame bent over
a screwdriver in a rusty frown
like the sad, redheaded guy—
no place to be, resting
on the same Washington Square
bench where we waited for the cops
to answer my mother’s 911.
After every break in, to the mall—
safety in the splendor of big cookies
& pretzel salt, that spinning
disco ball in Spencer’s window
the closest things to another
planet I can remember.
This is one of two poems by Adrian Matejka. Click to read "It's Hot in Indianapolis, Basquiat".