Poetry: By Matthew Lippman



Saw the dad of a kid I taught
who thought broccoli was god
and bowed down to it even when it was coming up
it’s all she ate and I said
you are so pretty you should just stop worrying

like I knew what food is
when it’s a truck through the Lincoln Tunnel,
the circus in town
and they’re trying to get the elephants
from Jersey to The Garden
after midnight.
What do you know about pretty?
she said
and I looked for a blade of grass in the classroom
to pick,
to suck on,
to take to Marconi beach, my surfboard of earth,
thinking the only way to get away from her love
was to try and make it to Maui
in the three days before midnight.
Of course she was right so I said to her dad
I’m sorry for all my indiscretions

and he said, Like my son, I love you like my son,
my fast car my garden of gardenias.

It made me buy him an iced coffee, which he drank with one eye
on the expressway
because somewhere no matter where he’s at,
he’s always at
with his kid
in the broccoli shop
trying to get her to fall in love with three a meals a day
staying downtown
for the duration,
where it gets really quiet, really fast, no matter how late
they keep the lights on.



I want to write a sonnet about looking someone straight in the eye
and having that be the whole thing
no matter how late at night
or even if it’s the boss who is blonde
and has a really fucked up past
filled with pain killers and priests
because no one ever taught me how to write a sonnet
or even to read
although I could read when I was six.
It wasn’t the reading that was the point
or the vapor trails above me five million miles,
it was the girls and their sweaty socks
that made me stupid and
I want to sit down in my kitchen with no lights on and pretend that one day
I’ll write enough Pulitzer prize winning sonnets that my breakfast table
will be filled with cara cara oranges
so all the little orphan children can join my biological daughters
and laugh out loud into the sunshine of our love
shared love love squared
which is what looking someone straight in the eye seems to mean for me these days
the way the high school girls and high school boys
still go to the dances together
stuck together
by high fi wires
even though the inner thigh is the thing
that gives off the rumba beat
of a thousand aboriginal horses,
but think, think really hard
and in there is a sonnet somewhere
of a thousand lines that do not rhyme
which the thunder is like
and the lightning is like
and the little mouse that scurries across my kitchen floor
on its way to the crumb behind the fridge
which I moved the other night
because the power went out
and it was an iambic beauty of ab love
followed by cd, ef desire,
that g spot thing giving up enough light to wake the day
in its already woken way.


All rights reserved to Matthew Lippman

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