National Poetry Month Spotlight: Frank Matagrano


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.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: I was living in New York City at the time and this poem was written in my apartment, but I could not tell you the year, let alone what I did that day. At a minimum, I am fairly certain the day started with a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War by Paul Fussell.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: Most recently, a sausage pizza from Big Jim’s in New Jersey with my father.

Frank Matagrano’s poetry collection I Can Only Go As Fast As the Guy in Front of Me is available for purchase at Black Lawrence Press.