Frank Matagrano
The author of Moving Platform and How to Breathe in Case the Plane Goes Down, Frank Matagrano writes poems that, as he puts it, are "rather distracted by themselves." That's not to say the poems don't do something or get somewhere, just that they take an unhurried route. A native New Yorker who now spends equal time in Chicago, Matagrano's work demonstrates a kind of languid intensity that often takes a mundane or quirky moment and worries it into something surprising. His titles alone -- "Throwing a Shoe at a Branch," "Driving down Route 80 without a Radio," "Borrowing Kylie Minogue" -- indicate how nothing is safe from his attentions.

David Wright
READING A TRASHY NOVEL

I am renting a room for an hour, this time with a bed that vibrates
at the drop of a quarter, something radically different than the last
two hotels -- one called A Way to Raise the Dead without a Hand
from God, the latter named Etymology: Things You Never Wanted
to Know, where I learned that at least one Mother Goose rhyme,
103 Bible passages, 83 quotes from the works of Shakespeare
and 231 English definitions contain the word "book," a noun
when sitting in my favorite chair, a verb when trying to arrange
the perfect trifecta. I carried things with me I didn't even know
I still had into A Way to Raise the Dead without a Hand. I spent
a week there, channeling an ex-girlfriend and the uncle who threw
himself out of my life in the span of a phone call. The suite cost
everything I loved, not including tip for room service. I scanned
a list of wines as if combing a long row of gravestones for my name.



THROWING A SHOE AT THE BRANCH

My last ditch effort is to throw a shoe
at the branch before having to choose
whether to walk away in grief or climb
the tree and try to separate the tangled knot
by force from the rest. There will be a loss
of thread either way. If I leave now, I will need
to adjust my memory so that the kite comes off
as the last great image willing to make any risk

to live, even if for just a minute, so that when I return
to Astoria and sift for an hour in the thrift
shop a few blocks from Steinway for the right
pair of reading glasses to go with my unshaven chin,
I can let the acrylic pipes and pocket flasks on display
along the counter have their way with me without fear
of being watched. Everything that has made me will be
on display here, even the baseball cap and mood
ring, and I will be so overwhelmed by all of this

latitude that I won't notice which parts
of me have been wrapped in a paper bag and taken
away, not until I have returned home at least
a hundred more times with a little change, a pack
of matches and the front page folded under my arm;
not until I am doing the dishes before bed, slowing
my breath, making far-flung connections with a reel
of string, remembering how the spine and spar joined
in the shape of a cross, looking up, hearing the wind.



WAITING WITH ALEXANDRIA FOR HER MOM

I didn't take the bus to Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania and sit
with Alexandria in a booth at Ruby Red's for nothing.
She had no idea how much I adored the ride.   I carried
two books with me, one of them a dictionary, I didn't check
a word in it. I recited Lincoln. Of everyone that passed,
the kid in a mini-van made a point; with a finger he told me

to fuck myself. I think the white collar and the blue
tie pissed him off. I was trying to give one life a rest
and resume the other one, my top button was undone,
there's a start. I didn't understand how to open the window
in case of an emergency. I followed the lines along my palm,
one went back to New York, God knows where

the rest went. The other book had everything I needed
to know about protest -- one man stitched his lips shut,
another tried to drive a nail through his own palm;
they were heading to ministry; no one there could be reached
for comment. I want to describe the mouth as "tender,"
I mean well, there aren't too many other ways

to explain the white sores along the gum that come
with a denture, my Four score and seven years slurred,
the tongue caught in a small nitch between the plate
and the roof whenever it shifted to roll an "r." I loved
one phrase in particular, I was attached.





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Black Lawrence Press
FRANK MATAGRANO
Contemporary Literature & Non-Fiction
Poems from
I Can Only Go as Fast as the Guy in Front of Me
“Frank Matagrano is a poet of compassion, wit, and wisdom."
               — Denise Duhamel
              
ISBN 978-0-9768993-0-2     $14.00