Monday, December 2, 2013

Three Poems by Matthew Lippman


I’m tired of blogs. 
Taking off my pants and sticking myself in there. 
The ones about truck drivers and the ones about contemporary poets named Melissa. 
It’s so much goddamn work,
so many hours under the covers, 
the dim light, the darkness, the words and words and words
that remind me of ants at the ant hole,
going in, coming out. 
I know three bloggers.  They’re all dancers. 
One is an intuitionalist. 
She spends hours studying mental hospitals and schools, museums and The Capital Bldg
right there in the middle of chicken wing Washington. 
I said, “What’s the point?”
 She said, “The point is to get out the kinks.” 
I was hot for her and that’s the only reason I asked. 
Read my blog, she said, and you’ll get the picture. 
I didn’t want to get the picture. 
I wanted to be the picture.
I wanted her lips all over my chest and then a nice cold beer, a Schlitz,
from the ‘70s
when even telephones
were something everyone had to get used to. 
Now, I turn on my computer and I’m spent, blog-whipped and wet. 
I turn on the TV  to relax--
the Celtics, The Lakers,
those damn Yankees. 
But there’s no TV on the TV
just blogs about the blogosphere
zipping across the pixels-- 
twelve hundred postings on the second inning,
the fourth quarter, the missed layup at the buzzer. 
I get pissed,
throw my shoes. 
They bust open the screen
and there, in the back of the broken Mitsubishi
are a bunch of Polish people
dressed in black
dancing The Polka 
like it was Polka night
on the Lower East Side
years before the war.

(for Paul)

You can lose friends off of the backs of ships. 
You can lose them off of pine trees and the sides of toilets
after hours in front of the single malt scotch.
Some of them will make it to Iowa
and blow their brains out on porter house steak. 
Others will take their sweet time on the FDR
at three in the morning
as the Williamsburg Bridge turns lightly into a multicolored dinosaur. 
It’s a steel nail in the gut
and you move into the morning with your coffee
trying not to think about them. 
But you do, there at the copy machine,
in the middle of the meeting on higher consciousness
between business deals. 
Joey, Bobby, Billy, Miranda, Chloe.
Back home the wife takes her toast and brings the children to school
while on her way to work
texts back the billions of ones and zeros
that make up her sadness and joy
because she has lost them too.  We all have. 
It’s the world at work in its weird heart.
We lose them
off of blazing pink gladiola petals
and in front of empty t.v. screens. 
It’s a kind of easy destitution no matter how scarce oil is now
and water will be in three hundred years. 
Friends are lost to the steam of three hundred silent grasshoppers
and to the story you tell yourself every morning
about how it was her fault and his indiscretion and their madness. 
But they can come back,
like a busted guitar string, broken mid-song
as you flit with the morning crow.
You reach outside with your voice
and call out among the coils,
the spins of humdrum life.
You put on your mankind
like an over-sized cheap suit
and say, Hello, I’m back.
It was not you who was lost, it was me,
and I am here now, with my suspect instrument
caught up in the strings, one note at a time.


I wept in the barber’s chair. 
I wept in the dining hall. 
I listened to Van Morrison and I wept. 
I took out all my sneakers and put them in the rain. 
The rain went barefoot across my face. 
I wept in my face and I wept at home plate. 
When I wept in the box I was four for four. 
I struck out twice.  The game went hours
and when I got home I iced my knees. 
The dog wanted out and we wept under the tree. 
The tree said, go, go home and we wept in Van Morrison. 
My dog said enough
so we put on Sweet Baby James. 
Everyone weeps on Sweet Baby James, gets him all wet,
and if you say you don’t
you have no idea. 
It’s not a matter of taste. 
It’s just what it is,
the aching in your heart that you can’t hold back with words and books
and theories and language. 
You put the needle on the record and boom, you are inside out
with no lingerie on. 
I’ve wept in lingerie and I’ve wept under a bridge, homeless,
with four cents in my pocket. 
I’ve wept so much in the bathroom I couldn’t stop
and when I stopped
I didn’t want to stop. 
I did it some more.
I don’t care how many hours it took me to finish,
I never finished. 
I am weeping right now, in the attic, on the roof,
in front of the TV.
It is the only way. 
It is the most joyous of things, with a clear head,
it makes the head clear,
an ocean in Barbados, an ocean in your head. 
It is a love song of songs,
a weeping song, whale song, woman song
weeping inside her child. 
I weep for her. 
Who weeps for me? 
She weeps for the sun. 
Today it shines on the earth
and the earth weeps because it is happy,
even in its terrible sadness
it always has something to smile about.    

Matthew Lippman is the author of three poetry collections, AMERICAN CHEW, winner of The Burnside Review Book Prize (Burnside Review Book Press, 2013), MONKEY BARS (Typecast Publishing, 2010), and THE NEW YEAR OF YELLOW, winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize (Sarabande Books, 2007).  He is the recipient of the 2010 Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from THE AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW.