Adrian Matejka

SEROnline: New poetry from Adrian Matejka

 

Sounds in Sequential Order (Edit)  

 

after Ann Druyan’s classification of terrestrial sounds

for the Sounds of Earth record

 

 

Music of the Spheres

 

Frequencies get lean out here, echoing like abandoned ghosts

rattling the forgotten umbrellas & coatless hangers in the front

hall closet. Everyone just ghosted the minute the summonses

came & the exodus sounded like the stars Jansky didn’t mean

to record while he tried to fix the telephone lines. This part

of the sphere doesn’t have working phones, so where do we go

next? To the rooms of vacant advice & gilded paintings where

the have-it-alls live? To their quadrophonic systems & wood-

cheeked speakers? A golden record in a pulsar map & binary

arithmetic plays at 16 2/3 RPM as the record changer stacks

requests for traveling music. One LP settling on top of another

LP, a platter of orbits for the rest of the intergalactic Voyagers.

 

 

Volcanoes, Earthquakes & Thunder

 

The fact is the Earth doesn’t rest.

It spins & breaks like an LP stepped

on too many times. Polyvinyl chloride

backing up into itself—rawboned

slopes quaking in elemental underthings

when nobody is around to pray on it.

All of these migratory people—hymnals

in hand—who only know the chorus

& want to hear it again & again.

 

 

Crickets, Frogs

 

Chirping, again

& again

 

to the stellar back

fence where

some kind

 

of under-constellation

 

party happens

every night between

May & September.

 

Stars sequenced

in various poses

& frogs stretched

 

like hungry Xs

 

close to the pond’s

edge. But not close

 

enough: there’s a bridge

with caution cones

 

& a newly paved street

in between. & the pond—

 

twinkling as far

as the frog eye

can see—is really

 

a concrete bowl

full of rain water

 

in the middle of a future

office park.

 

 

Wild Dog

 

Domestication only goes as far as the last full

paycheck takes it in these new developments

& barking is an uncertain alarm when there are almost

six houses & one plugged-in streetlamp out here.

 

 

Footsteps, Heartbeats, Laughter

 

One high top after

the other, the floor

 

creaks like a concave chest.

 

One big, white shoe

in front of the other while

the music pushes

 

the sphere’s roof up

to its taller, more

celestial & cogent self.

 

One after the other

 

above the crack ups & giggles

of parent parties

 

& a refrigerator huffing, so full

of fresh produce & red meat

 

the whole, lit sky

 

sounds like a heart in love—

pressed into wax,

ready for the next question.

 

 

Fire & Speech

 

A lit match into the abandoned

house above the creek & the whole

sky gets as bright as a dashiki

 

out in the suburbs. All these colors

scaffolding bricks & the neat perihelions

of power fists in the air, for this

 

planet or the next. So many millions

of miles from the angry human sounds,

as heavy & magnificent as gravity

 

pulling on the walled shadow of a man

in a sideways Pacers cap. He’s unarmed.

Listen to all of the gestures that mean

 

discontent wherever they are said.

Listen as leather Africa medallions tangle

like big noises in a suburban ear.

 

 

The First Tools

 

Headphone to ear, a Radio Shack four-track.

Two borrowed turntables & a duct-taped

microphone: all of this ad-lib circuitry just

waiting for the break beat to open like clouds

over an undiscovered planet. Neither of us

rapped with bass in the voice yet, so DJ Glove

put Richard Pryor’s bicentennial questions over

a Mantronix beat to fill in: We offer this prayer.

& the prayer is: How long will this bullshit

go on? How long?…That is the eternal question!

Man has always asked, How long? Meanwhile,

the crowd that should have been head nodding

shepherds-hooked us off stage in angry brains.

 

 

Morse Code

 

Vernacular of questions

& hooks. Long & short

 

breaths instead of numbers

or letters. Orbits of digits

 

in the funky mind

of the wallet & bills balled

up like Tuesday afternoons

in the summer. Oxidizing

 

the ancients. Harmony

in the mathematic possibilities

 

of dashes & red blinks

stacked to the stratosphere.

 

 

Train, Truck, Tractor, Bus

 

The morning sky is stacked flatly on top of us, like vinyl

waiting its spin on the wheel. The bus stop still smells

like whoever peed in it, even in the upward-looking suburb,

where a tractor keeps ambitious corn in line on the backline

of the polished subdivisions & bulldozers declassify soil

& stubborn tree stumps. Trucks come & go payloaded

with couches & vacation photos & dishes in Bubble Wrap.

The observant, locomotive suburb where the conductor tugs

his train horn, waves back to the children stuck at the crossing

with soggy ice-cream cones & mostly attentive parents.

 

 

Mother & Child

 

The mothership is mostly

foil with four lights

unevenly blinking up

 

top like streetlights about

to go out. The mothership

has sixteen exhaust nozzles

 

underneath & a funky

side door with its own

cascading stair of keyboard

 

keys underneath ringed

fingers as it huffs & coughs

on the swing down to let

 

us ride. A chorus of drums,

undeniably on the one.

A chorus of harmonizing

 

women, gorgeous as comets,

& rows & rows of high-

stepping, glittery stacks

 

just waiting to step off

the ship. & the ship

is the only way any of us

 

down-&-out blacks are

going to ease on down

those future & celestial

 

roads. Remind both

mother & child: the whole

scene pinwheels around

 

us while we are stuck

in our tin-foiled

& ontological patterns.

  

 

Life Signs

 

If EEG patterns

can show fluctuations

 

of thought, then

thumb & finger

 

patterns on the piano

 

can show changes

of heart—from huddling

 

in the bare kitchen

waiting for Friday

 

to cooking up deep pots

of something

with real meat & onions.

 

From handclapping

locks on doors before

 

posting the chair up,

to roboting in windows

 

with pristine curtains up

& a field full

of corn on the other

 

side of the fence & a service

of stars up above.

 

We could take

all of it & nobody

would notice other

 

than the crickets.

 

A horn tapped politely

in the distance

& the mothership hum

 

waiting to flashlight

the brain-to-electrode

contraption sketching out

 

this whole heartfelt

thing for everyone to see.

 

 

Pulsar

 

Everyone, pick up that skipping record needle

for future times & future beings. It’s elocution,

only with more nomenclature static. We all

need to put on big sunglasses & cover our ears.

It’s a loud, phonetic sound. Neuron on neuron

sound. It’s hyperventilating in the stuck groove

again—word pause word pause static. We all

need to put on our sunglasses to cover our good

times from these loud habits. We need extra magnetism

to cover the hurtful ringing in our earringed ears.

 

 

This poem can be found in Adrian’s new collection, Map to the Stars. For more information and to preorder, visit adrianmatejka.com