Illinois Abe Lincoln’s Hat

by Adrian Matejka

Adrian Matejka

blacks painted onto bricks & split vinyl on the East Side,
jaws as tight as window locks with the curtains drawn
& behind that diligent fabric: blacks already tucked
into homemade forts—folding chairs, wobbly backbones
& the whole, snowy world waiting outside like ghost
stories whispered around the last sputtering match. & later,
top sheets pulled up over heads from fear of mirrors
at midnight or some backfired beater’s rusty pop pop pop
after the key twists at the edge of the week. No doubt:
Tuesday is the scariest day in Section 8, but Friday is right
after it in the suburbs. & after those trembling weekdays,
even more blacks with money disappearing & reappearing
as unexpectedly as poltergeists inside of TVs & haunted
trees with fast fingers in West Side yards. & still not
a wavelength of any kind for a black to put in the bank.
The inks in everybody’s hatted & contracting checkbooks
don’t change black. Some front-row architecture might.
Some guns, too, & their loud, colorful opportunities:
whatever version of black is inside a fist around a grip.
Not a color, really—more like the face a man makes in
the glinting face of a gun pointed at him every single day.

Last updated September 23, 2022