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Two Poems

by Adrian Matejka

  • Sounds of Earth

  • In 1976, Voyager’s Golden Records were lathing up & some
  • egghead forgot Roland Kirk’s “Spirits Up Above”
  • between Bach, the crickets chirping, & the Pygmy girls’ initiation
  • song. The same way somebody forgot to warn the boy walking
  • his 10-speed along that Indiana road about the hooptie that almost
  • ran him down as the driver leaned to the passenger side to yell
  • nigger. The sounds of Earth: dragging tailpipes, gravel
  • scratching pavement like the g-force subjugating the middle
  • of a hateful word. A blind man playing 3 horns at the same
  • time, then dying from too much circular breathing in an Indiana town
  • 20 minutes away from the original Klan headquarters. After that,
  • evening’s easy spiral sent the boy trucking inside before dark.
  • No more constellations connecting the dots. No more crickets
  • or country headlights like stars shadowboxing their orbits.
  • The same sounds etched in copper & plated in gold for the long ride
  • out brought the boy to his bike & the racist to his Datsun: a universe
  • spinning so aggressively, we lose parts of our dignity between noises.

  • Countdown

  • Coltrane & the bell of his sax, the belle of the ball & her long line
  • of suitors wrapping the dancehall’s marble entrance
  • like a feathered boa dropped during the mad dash to midnight.
  • The dashes between those numbers look like wrong-shaped
  • letters in the flat light. Mathematicis mathematica
  • scribunter since we look alike with plus signs for hands
  • & minuses where our eyes should be. That late night on the Mercer
  • Island Expressway when the Jetta spun out in the misting & flipped
  • right in front of us, its tires spun in the air like a dog pawing
  • for a belly rub. There was gas dripping & visions of explosions
  • while we tried to get the driver out. The whole time,
  • “Countdown” riffed from the one speaker that still worked:
  • past trim mountains, the Pacific sounding somewhere
  • behind us, a Cadillac 8-tracking slick fabulousness past us without
  • stopping to help. On a raining highway in the middle of the night,
  • eyes can’t tell math from honey & every number equals
  • Coltrane counting it down from an upside-down car.

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