April 12, 2016
Map to the Stars

—Adrian Matejka
Posted in celebration of National Poetry Month

A Schwinn-ride away: Eagledale Plaza. Shopping strip of busted
walkways, crooked parking spaces nicked like the lines
on the sides of somebody’s mom-barbered head. Anchored
by the Piccadilly disco, where a shootout was guaranteed every
weekend, those gun claps: coughing stars shot from sideways
guns shiny enough to light the way for anyone willing to keep
a head up long enough to see. Not me. I bought the Star Map
Shirt for 15¢ at the Value Village next to the Piccadilly during
the daytime. The shirt was polyester with flyaway collars,
outlined in the forgotten astronomies of disco. The shirt’s
washed-out points of light: arranged in horse & hero shapes
& I rocked it in places neither horse nor hero hung out.
Polyester is made from polyethylene & catches fire easily
like wings near a thrift store sun. Polyethylene, used in shampoo
bottles, gun cases, & those grocery sacks skidding like upended
stars across the parking lot. There are more kinds of stars
in this universe than salt granules on drive-thru fries. Too many
stars, lessening & swelling with each pedal pump away from
the Value Village as the electric billboard above flashes first
one DUI attorney, then another who speaks Spanish so the sky
above is constantly chattering, like the biggest disco ball ever.

 

—Adrian Matejka (Monroe County)

This poem first appeared in Poetry.

Register for an InConversation with Adrian Matejka on May 25, 2017.

 

Adrian Matejka, a poet, poses for a portrait at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.

Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) and Mixology (Penguin, 2009). His third book, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. “Map to the Stars” is from his new collection, Collectable Blacks, forthcoming from Penguin in 2017.

Poetry Prompt:  A Childhood Place
Journey back to a place from your childhood or adolescence. It could be a place which introduced you to some kind of danger or a new aspect of the adult world. Did you enter this location alone or with others? Why were you drawn to this place? What details of setting stand out and seem to have particular significance? Discover what this place wants to say to you through the process of writing about it. Include at least two similes or metaphors.

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.

Posted In: Poetry