A Poem For Friday


“Hubert’s Museum & Flea Circus (1937)” by Adrian Matejka:

Below constellations of pool balls scattering geometry’s
grace. Below pinball machines ringing like telephones
full of congratulations & the streetcar stutter of a movie
viewer: Jack Dempsey clubbing Luis Firpo or being
clubbed by Gene Tunney, depending on the reel & the day.
Below the heavy bag that, with each amateur punch, pulls
down the ceiling like confetti at the end of a parade.
Behind the man with the sagging eye who makes change
for the 25¢ admission by touch, & past the turnstile
that sticks sometimes, so he pushes himself up, dusts
sunflower shells from blue trousers, & exits his smudged
booth to make it work. After Congo the Wild Man’s
caterwaul & Sealo the Seal-Finned Boy’s handclaps,
as slick as fresh meat on the butcher’s table, Jack Johnson
comes out. Dog-eared blue suit & blue beret. Red wine
sipped through a straw: What would you like to know?

(From The Big Smoke © 2013 by Adrian Matejka. Reprinted by kind permission of Penguin Books. Photo by Steven Depolo)