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.





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