It ends because the beginning won’t jumpstart
again: red smudge of a mouth, lipstick everywhere
like the afterthought a comet leaves on its way
out. What makes this moment unfold like a fine
woman raising herself up from the bathroom floor?
Honky-tonk in the honeyed brown of an eyeball?
Perfume & its circus of heart-shaped introductions?
It ends because the needle always winds up in
the lead-out, like a man pawing around for broken
spectacles after he wakes in the circle city’s rubble.
Hand over hand he paws, through stilted guitar
picks & abandoned stilettos, raised skirts & rocks
glasses as chipped & smudged as the topography
of a skipping record. He could be Albright
himself, foraging the still life swish of low rise
tutus & skyscrapers cracked in the twisted
aftermath of a smile. Even without glasses,
he remembers her in high style: magnanimously
coming down the blue & violet threads of night,
her green dress clashing with the bathroom tile.
This poem originally appeared in Poetry.
Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003), Mixology (Penguin Books, 2009), which was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series, and The Big Smoke (Penguin Books), forthcoming in May 2013. He is the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Lannan Foundation. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2010, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among other journals and anthologies. He teaches creative writing at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Indiana Humanities is posting a poem a day from Indiana poets in celebration of National Poetry Month.