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Adrian Matejka


Autobiography as Language


Blame military life, family scuttling

from Los Angeles to Germany,


back again before my words

could find the vocal fold of English.


Blame the bilinguality of chance.

German first-- ham fisted umlauts,


non-negotiable consonants stacked

by the hubbub of need.  Blame


the new neighborhood, four parts

Mexican, no parts half-blood.


Or blame me, cardboard color heavier

than a sneaker in the back, fist


that makes the jaw clack.  If the Mexicans

bum-rushing me before school


was bad, my mother making them

lunches was worse.  You know they


don't have any food, pushing me out.

Peanut butter and jelly in tow for Alex,


Chucho, and John: brawlers who would

rather swing than understand why I looked


like them, but sounded like the man

at the newspaper stand.  Blame pain,


turning everyone a ripe shade.  Language

comes before crawling.  Blame that.


Crap Shoot


Three of us, in a circle, shooting

craps.  Instead of crumpled bills

or food stamps, we used an army man,


a Dukes of Hazzard matchbox car

and Coca-Cola bottle caps, all

with "C" underneath.  Never the "L"


that would have won us a million,

that hook of phonics keeping

my friends from seeing Mo run


from the apartment next to us.

But they saw White Boy come

after, shotgun in the crook bursting


the door like Superman, wood

and hinges flying like a drunk dad after

kids.  They saw him aim that shotgun,


catch Mo's back with two.  They saw

that man break apart on the pavement

like a carton of milk.  White Boy: Bring


back my shit, muthafucka and Mom

dragging me inside, her sweating

fingers braceleted around my wrist.


Paris, Texas (1954)


White faces spring

                            from the crowd:

dandelions in the front lawn.


Ropes so tight I can

feel flies prowl fibers.

Their legs, a twisting frenzy.


Police uniforms in flies'

                eyes, floating like fish

breath from the river's


bottom, so I stay down,

            crumbs.  Someone near


hawks soda and beer

to white people splitting ribs,

            arms against the platform's


splintering wood.

Nose mashed into lip,

            unforgiving as the sticks


and fists spilling

            over my face.  You

            won't be touching

            another white woman.


A dirty child, dirty yellow hair,

perched on father's shoulders.


She licks a cone wet

                with sugar diamonds,

ice cream dripping

father's shirt sleeve.


Let me have five

minutes with that black

son of a bitch.

                    Re-routed trains

bloating the sweaty crowd.


Some woman curses my ape

mother.  Sheriff pulls a knife.


He cuts my arm.

My skin,

                the slow fire


around the break.  My arm.


The hangman: 

Nigger, you gonna die slow.


The man cuts my chest.


My heart beating,

                        hanging outside.

He starts sawing.

Pieces of skin in strips like bacon. 


          -from The Devil's Garden




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Agha Shahid Ali 09-14-07


Alice Anderson 11-16-08


Renee Ashley 04-10-2010


Christianne Balk 07-27-07


Brian Barker 07-07-07


Polina Barskova 09-13-2010


Bruce Beasley 11-22-08


Nicky Beer 09-06-2010


Nicky Beer 08-22-08


Nathaniel Bellows 04-27-09


Ciaran Berry 01-25-09


Linda Bierds 08-31-07


Kristin Bock 08-17-09


Bruce Bond 02-18-2012


John Bradley 03-12-2012


Brian Brodeur 03-29-09


Michelle Boisseau 09-20-2010 


Sophie Cabot Black 03-26-2012


Anne Caston 09-24-09


Anne Caston 02-27-2011


Elizabeth Biller Chapman 01-25-08


Nicole Cooley 04-05-09


Stephen Cramer 02-14-2011


Nicole Cuddeback 03-07-08


Steve Davenport 03-29-2010


Cortney Davis 05-03-09


Todd Davis 11-01-2010


James Dickey 03-12-2012


Stephen Dobyns 02-26-2012


Elizabeth Dodd 09-05-08


Karen Donovan 04-15-07


Mark Doty 04-11-08


Stephen Dunn 11-09-02010


Lynn Emanuel 08-30-2010


Lynnell Edwards 11-22-2010


B. H. Fairchild  09-04-09


Elyse Fenton 04-25-2011


Nick Flynn 01-28-2012


Nick Flynn 10-04-2010


Rachel Contreni Flynn 04-10-2011


Carolyn Forche 09-21-07


Carrie Fountain 03-21-2011


James Galvin 02-23-07


Margaret Gibson 01-24-10


Mary Jo Firth Gillett 02-22-08


Dana Gioia 08-23-2010


Eugene Gloria 09-20-08


Louise Gluck 03-17-2010


Kevin Goodan 08-29-08


Matthew Graham 11-28-2010


Robert Grunst 11-16-07


Bruce Guernsey 9-13-2011


Elizabeth Hadaway 06-15-07


John Haines 11-01-2011


Donald Hall 02-10-07


Sarah Hannah 11-25-2011


C. G. Hanzlicek 04-23-2012


Jeff Hardin 08-10-07


Elizabeth Haukaas 09-13-2011


Brooks Haxton 03-08-10


Seamus Heaney 09-11-09


Jamey Hecht 12-05-2010


Bob Hicok 10-25-2011



Andrew Hudgins 11-21-09


Lynda Hull 05-20-07


Henry Israeli 01-23-2011


Major Jackson 05-02-2010


Mark Jarman 10-19-08


Rodney Jones 10-26-09


Barbara Jordan 02-02-09


Ilya Kaminsky 11-18-2011


Daniel Khalastchi 8-30-2011


Brigit Pegeen Kelly 10-12-08


Jane Kenyon 04-01-07


Suji Kwock Kim 11-09-2011

 James Kimbrell 04-07-2010

James Kimbrell 01-19-07


Galway Kinnell 11-09-07


Yusef Komunyakaa 07-15-07


Phil Levine 06-03-07


Eleanor Lerman 11-02-08


Larry Levis 04-04-08


Larry Levis 02-08-2010


Lisa Lewis 02-11-2012


Sandy Longhorn 04-26-08


Corey Marks 10-03-07


Adrian Matejka 04-18-08


Davis McCombs 01-18-08


Jeffrey McDaniel 10-08-2011


Michael McGriff 02-22-09


Jay Meek 01-16-2010


Anne Michaels 01-18-09


Nils Michals 02-29-08


Keith Montesano 12-12-2010


Malena Morling 05-12-08


Simone Muench 02-08-08


Sharon Olds 02-22-07


Sharon Olds 10-19-07


Michael Ondaatje 02-01-2010


Eric Pankey 09-07-07


Gregory Pardlo 06-22-07


Ed Pavlic 09-28-07


Oliver de la Paz 02-15-2010


Lucia Perillo 12-04-09


Catherine Pierce 04-18-2011


Jon Pineda 04-09-2012


Donald Platt 02-15-08


Joshua Poteat 03-13-2011


Joshua Poteat 11-3-09


Wyatt Prunty 02-20-2011


Dean Rader 03-07-2011


Amy Randolph 03-01-09


Robert Randolph 12-12-09


Adrienne Rich 04-20-2010


Joshua Robbins 11-16-2010


David Roderick 12-07-07


Bobby C. Rogers 02-04-2012


Pattiann Rogers 3-21-08

 Steve Scafidi 10-09-09


Jim Schley 10-19-09


Tim Seibles 10-08-07


David Shumate 10-26-08


Dave Smith 04-10-09 


Katherine Soniat 01-21-2012


Katherine Soniat 11-30-07


Gary Soto 03-23-07


Mark Sullivan 08-28-09


Mathias Svalina 04-02-2012

Frank Stanford 10-25-2010

Mark Strand 02-22-2010


Mark Svenvold 03-23-09


Robert Thomas 05-03-2011


Brian Turner 05-13-07


Joshua Vinzant 01-30-2011


Tribute to Virginia Tech 04-24-07


Connie Voisine 10-1-2011


Charles Harper Webb 10-12-07


David Wevill 03-27-2011


C.K. Williams 05-25-07


Susan B.A. Somers-Willett 06-29-07


Charles Wright 01-27-07


Robert Wrigley 10-11-2010


Robert Wrigley 08-17-07


Robert Wrigley 04-09-07


Robert Wrigley 02-03-07