April may be over, but National Poetry Month kicks on for a couple more days. When it comes to calendars, we’re more descriptivist than prescriptivist.
Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James, 2003); Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series; and The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013) which was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. His new book, Map to the Stars, was published by Penguin in March 2017. Among his other honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Across the Universe
–after The Beatles
She rings the handlebar bell brightly, two times like the elevator before
it slips away, then pushes off: little mitts on grips, shell toes on pedals—
blue helmet, but no more knee & elbow pads to slow things down. Another
wobbly suburban morning trying to collect its sunny patches. Then, she’s
not rocking in the sunlight, she’s moving—one pedal after another, past
the rusting mailbox in its heart shape of river rocks & the low-hanging
hornet’s nest nobody knocks down because it’s symmetrical as summer.
She’s tells me something over one thin shoulder but I can’t hear it over
her tires crunching the acorn hats on the sidewalk. Her helmet to one side,
head leaned back as she skirts a curbed minivan, fire bushes red in splendor.
—after Mazzy Star
Even in the blustery, frosted St. Louis days
of red noses & snotted tissues tossed
into smaller mountain ranges along
the tousled edge of the rug, It isn’t true
but you follow still sounds like It isn’t
true about your father. On the purple couch,
bigger hand with a littler hand inside
like the surprise in a surprise—either feverish
or clammy & it doesn’t matter which
because both are true after each messy sneeze.