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 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.





Found In Volume 45, No. 02
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Adrian Matejka
About the Author

Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. His first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. His second collection, Mixology, was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was published by Penguin Books in 2009. Mixology was a finalist for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature – Poetry. His most recent book, The Big Smoke, was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He is a winner of the Julia Peterkin Award, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, two grants from the Illinois Arts Council, and fellowships from Cave Canem, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and United States Artists. He is the Lilly Professor / Poet-in-Residence at Indiana University in Bloomington. His new collection of poems, Collectable Blacks, is forthcoming from Penguin USA in 2017.