Fives logo – a stylised number five

with Adrian Matejka

The last thing that made you smile

Car karaoke-ing Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ with my daughter this morning. The roof was open, the sunlight flickering in and out as we rode under the variously textured tree canopies on the way to her school. It seemed like the whole town (including all of those trees) was dancing with us.

A secret

My daughter and I crush the rap interlude in ‘Rapture’ in tandem almost every morning on the drive:

And you get in your car and you drive real far
And you drive all night and then you see a light
And it comes right down and lands on the ground
And out comes the man from Mars
And you try to run but he’s got a gun
And he shoots you dead and he eats your head
And then in you’re in the man from Mars
You go out at night, eating cars…

Basic and kind of confusing narratively, but it’s still classic.

The last thing you wrote

The first draft of an essay about stanza possibilities and right now, it’s just as boring as it sounds. There might be something salvageable in this part because it’s not clear actually a poetry craft essay yet:

Since the backyard trees are as new as the house and my mother hasn’t hung curtains yet, there is sunlight everywhere in the brand new kitchen: on the counters, the immaculate tile backsplash, the silver handles on the refrigerator that will soon be covered with fingerprints and ketchup. Different geometries of light lining up and off of the smudgeless edifices make the room seem even more transcendently fresh. Every unused kitchen appliance glows with newness and we glow being near the untouched buttons and knobs. That’s when my brother figures out that a small, silver door in the kitchen wall is actually a laundry chute. He keeps opening and closing it as if he expects something to magically appear inside.

Your favourite city

Seattle, with its blue, serrated skyline of mountains behind its real skyline of serrated and tech-filled buildings. My hometown of Indianapolis (Circle City represent!) is a close second.

What you’d place in a time capsule

John Coltrane’s Ole on LP and the wind-up robot on my writing desk. Gil Scott-Heron’s Black Wax on VHS. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai on VHS or DVD. The flower my daughter made for me out tissue paper when she was 5 and thought everything looked like a flower. Steven Hager’s Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music, & Graffiti—the one that includes the fold-out break dancing instructions. The igneous rock I stole from the Craters of the Moon National Monument on a dare from my friend Kevin. The “Yes We Can” T-shirt I got after donating to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and the Barack Obama “I inhaled. That was the point” refrigerator magnet that’s still on the side of the icebox. A PS4 with 2 controllers and Star Wars: Battlefront. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, and a handwritten transcription of ‘HUMBLE.’ I just realized I’m making a middle-aged, me capsule instead of a time capsule, so I’ll stop there.

Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award, Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His new book, Map to the Stars, was released from Penguin in 2017.