28 February 2016

Minor superheroes with no villains

                                              by Adrian Matejka

So Far to Go
              -- after St. Joe Louis Surrounded by Snakes (1982)
              Jean-Michel Basquiat

In the purplish clutch between evening & more
evening, boys smoked cigarettes down to their minty
ends & talked about ass like mad hams & hips

like pow, mouths curling with avid adornment & vivid
hands shaping the air – palms down to palms up
in half circles of perplexity. The C shape the tobacco

still glowing between fingers makes is the closest
any one of these boys will get to a girl's hip today.
Which is why these boys, in thin tanks & hopeless

shirts, cut conversations easily from Watch how I get
at her to Knuckle up, fool, throwing shoulders & fists
at each other like minor superheroes with no villains

to fight. No capes in bare knuckles. No saving the block
either because every swing breaks something.

Outta Here Blacks

As soon as mom married Pops: off
to the suburbs, realm of glamorously-

blue swimming pools & outdoor
recess every warm day. Carpools

& a spinning rack full of comic books
out front at the Village Party.

No doubt: we were out of Carriage
House like kids when the sub turns

his back. We were out like juice boxes
squeezed out during lunch. We were

nowhere near our old neighborhood
like a well-organized protest.

No moving truck coming out because
we didn't have anything to move out.

We were so out of there I had to dial
long distance to tell Garrett we moved

out. We were outside our chalk-outlined
piece of town like a bad pitch. We

outlied that old spot like perfectly-
spelled gentrifications. We were

as out of bounds as the how & why
of black kids with two white parents.

Desegregation out here. I got some
ice cream out here like a weak Eddie

Murphy impersonation at the water-
cooler. We were as far out & off-

color as a black joke in our well-
festooned, nearly new neighborhood.

From The American Poetry Review, March/April 2016.

07 February 2016

Suddenly lonely, desolate, desperate, lost

                                                           by C. K. Williams

The Vigil  

Often I have thought that after my death, not in death’s void as we usually think it,

but in some simpler after-realm of the mind, it will be given to me to transport myself
 through all 
space and all history, to behold whatever and converse with whomever I wish.

Sometimes I might be an actual presence, a traveller listening at the edge of the crowd;

at other times I’d have no physical being; I’d move unseen but seeing through palace or slum.

Sophocles! Shakespeare, Bach, Grandfathers! Homo-erectus! The universe bursting into being!

Now, though, waking, caught by some imprecise longing, you in the darkness beside me,
your warmth flowing gently against me, it comes to me that in all my after-death doings,

I see myself as alone, always alone, and I’m suddenly lonely, desolate, desperate, lost.

To propel myself through those limitless reaches without you! Never! Be with me, come!
Babylon, Egypt, Lascaux, the new seas boiling up life; Dante, Delphi, Magyars and Mayans!

Wait, though, it must be actually you, not my imagination of you, however real: for myself,

mind would suffice, no matter if all were one of time’s terrible toys, but I must have you,
as you are, the unquenchable fire of your presence, otherwise death truly would triumph.
Quickly, never mind death, never mind mute, oblivious, onrushing time: wake, hold me!

Times Literary Supplement,  2 February 2016.