Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil's Garden available from Alice James Books

Matejka's poems online:





Adrian Matejka

Beneath the Bass Line
—for Charles Mingus

If claiming you retired 23 Mexican
whores in one night wasn't enough,

you used a conk to profile as south
of the border, to be even more

in touch with the culture.
Now, you're a handful of tap-dance

on the Ganges. Since mythology
is something ash likes to forget,

you are also part of the mulatto
revolution. For all those about to pass,

we salute you. Even if you played
the pimp and lied to your shrink,

thanks. Even if you watered up
like a baby because the Man asked

you to play “The Stars and Stripes
Forever.” Thank you for chords

so magnanimous, they step all up
and down like an asthmatic hoodoo.

“Sampson & Delilah”
—for Reverend Gary Davis

Blind or saved, the end is the same:
guitar pick circling its way down
the foxhole like the fingers attached
to the hand attached to the person
picking uneven bills from the collection
plate in the humidity of all things
sanctified and hungry.