Published on Academy of American Poets (

Strange Celestial Roads

There’s a father sleeping it off in every master bedroom 
     of the cul-de-sac the morning after, so Saturday
morning is a snooze. The moon is still out, eyeballing
     the quiet street like Sun Ra did his Arkestra. Somebody
has to be a father figure for all of those musical notes.
     No school busses to huff after, no mothers yelling
their children onward. The only weekend noise is us,
     kicking rocks—so bored we can’t even hear each other—
on a celestial swirl of asphalt that will be a playground
     one day. We stand, right feet extended in unison like foos
men, rock after rock arcing at sorry angles toward
     the open bar that hopes to dangle four swings. Some
rocks go through, some miss as we balance on concrete
    meant to backstop hop scotch & echo knock knock jokes.
Not somebody’s father, finally up & at ‘em, yelling,
    You got to be kidding me, after he opens the property tax
bill. Maybe these bars were placed here for some other,
    future kids to be dragged away from by big ears
or red necks toward the unavoidable arguments, fist-to-face
     noises & the bleating saxophones that come after. 


Copyright © 2016 by Adrian Matejka. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 9, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“When we moved from subsidized housing to the suburbs in the mid-1980s, I was overwhelmed—both by the economic contrast and by how incomplete everything was. The houses and streets were half finished, all the trees were saplings, and the neighbors hadn’t figured out how to be neighbors yet. This poem comes from that same transitional space in the continuum of adolescence.”
—Adrian Matejka


Adrian Matejka

Adrian Matejka is the author of The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), which was nominated for both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana. 

Date Published: 2016-09-09

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