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Two Poems

Map to the Stars

A Schwinn ride away: Eagledale Plaza. Busted shopping
strip of old 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—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. 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 beaming billboard above spotlights first one DUI
attorney, then another who speaks Spanish so the sky
is constantly chattering, like the biggest disco ball ever.

Outta Here Blacks

As soon as Mom married Pops:
       off to the suburbs, realm
       of glamorously blue

       swimming pools, carpools

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

& we were out of Carriage House
like kids as soon as math sub
       turns his back.

       We were out like juice
boxes after lunch.

       We were on the West Side—
nowhere near our old neighborhood—
like a well-organized poverty protest.

No moving truck 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'd gone.

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

We were outlying that old spot

       like perfectly spelled
gentrifications. We were as out

of bounds as the how & why

of black kids with two
       white parents now.

       Desegregation out here.

I got some ice cream out here
like an Eddie Murphy impersonation
       at the watercooler.

       We were as uncomfortable
as a black joke in our air-conditioned

& well-festooned new home.

Adrian Matejka

Map to the Stars

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