Pick-a-Poem: “Those Minor Regrets”

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Welcome, dear blog readers, to another installment of our weekly Pick-a-Poem feature. Every week, we choose a new poem to feature in the hopes that you’ll find a new poet to read, or at least enjoy some poetry in your day. All of these poems come from Poetry Daily, which is a really great website if you’re looking for new poetry to discover. This week we’re featuring Those Minor Regrets by Adrian Matejka.

According to his bio page, Adrian Matejka has written several books, including The Devil’s Garden (2003) and Mixology (2009). His most recent collection is entitled The Big Smoke, and it was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. It was also a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. Currently, he is working on a new collection of poems and a graphic novel. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Those Minor Regrets by Adrian Matejka

after Lynda Hull

             We ran Carriage House East
nonstop like a bunch of hungry mouths—

in jacking-jawing & ravenous orbits—

& the huffing in the throat stack

& double-ply knee cracks as we slid
Toughskin thick past the dented

buckets on blocks & lover-graffitied
walls, one after another in industrious,

planetary circuitry. All that symmetry,

all that sectioned happenstance
jangling our poked-out vertebrae

& empty middles & the sun shone
clearly against the plastic wrapping

the chocolate bar I slipped into
my pocket at the Village Pantry.

Garrett said, Man, just take it & I did.
My first disobedient accident.

My first calculable maleficence
back when I still wanted
to be an astronaut—in a space

shuttle jetting through stars strobing
as brightly as the front-row
kids we clowned habitually.

Right before my nearsightedness
made blurs from local brick,

extension cords & raised hands
from branches & leaves.

Right in front of my stomach’s

tricky punch, right below the busted
harmony of heart beats

where I sewed a mail-order NASA patch
thinking Cynthia might like it.
Even the front-row kids

made fun of me. None of it mattered.

I was in bed too early
for that hypocrisy or for burglars

doubled in their masks.
Everyone I knew was a trivial thief

Even after our thin utilities
cut off, some more broke neighbor
tried to break into our slender dark—

window frame bent over
a screwdriver in a rusty frown

like the sad, redheaded guy—

no place to be, resting
on the same Washington Square

bench where we waited for the cops
to answer my mother’s 911.

After every break in, to the mall—

safety in the splendor of big cookies
& pretzel salt, that spinning

disco ball in Spencer’s window
the closest things to another
planet I can remember.

 

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more posts like this, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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