Solitude Is Nasty Business: Three Poems by Matthew Lippman
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
Three by Matthew Lippman
My kids will be home in ten minutes
so I listen to Cheap Trick
and falling over the couch
like Bun E Carlos before
he stopped smoking
it’s a tattle tale kind of world
and that’s why I tell on myself
I ate the cookies
beat the dog
burned down the basement
three times in front of an open fridge
it’s that kind of day
and the school bus will stop
in front of the front door
of my mind
and then I’ll have to welcome them
with Rice Krispie Treats
and tables for homework
and house work
and Bun E Carlos will disappear
into the ether
but he’ll always be right under the rug
and my fingertips
I don’t know what to say anymore
except that solitude
is a nasty business
but the best business
and that is why I fail at everything
except running around the house naked
slamming into walls
the way those monkeys
slam face first
into their glass cages
at The National Zoo
when they want to go home
I want to go home
out there somewhere
into the middle of nowhere
where where is as obtuse as here
and no one in their right mind
would ever want you
to want me,
the way monkeys do.
Angel of the Electricity
The Eversource guy is outside
in his neon yellow vest
so the cars don’t hit him
and he goes flying
all over South Street
into a million parts
he’s got one positive wire hooked up
to a manhole cover
and the negative wire
attached to the fender
of his truck
I have no idea about
what he’s writing
on his clipboard
but the power has not gone out all winter
so he’s an angel
of the electricity
I want to run outside
and rub my balloons on his neon yellow
then stick them to my head
to heat up the 30 degree day
the truth is most times
when guys are outside in white trucks
you have no idea what they are doing
maybe wasting time
that’s the creepy side of me
the other side of me
is standing up right now
at my dining room table
with the wandering Jew
and it’s so warm in my heart
I can feel all my wires
sizzling and crackling
like they want to burn down the whole damn house.
The Mediterranean Sea
My publisher wrote to me, Dean Young just bought your book.
I felt important.
Then my kid spilled a glass of water across the floor and it was
The Mediterranean Sea
so I picked up my sponge and could have gone one of two ways with it:
thrown it at her head or jumped on the purple vessel with my paddles
knowing I had to row pretty damn fast,
the vessel taking on water.
I jumped on.
It’s important to teach your children how to be good people.
My problem is that I don’t know how to do that.
Either way I’m not the greatest father
because there is always the third option,
get a paper towel and clean up the mess that I never seem to get to.
I always turn everything into the Mediterranean Sea.
The phone bill. The cooking of asparagus and avocados.
Changing the windshield wiper fluid in my car
so the windows get clean in winter
when I drive behind semis and cry my eyes out for no reason.
Better to turn things into waves and salt water
and feel good about Dean Young washing his hands in my ocean
that spills out the front door
dancing with angel fish
and blue fish
and octopi so incandescent they turn pink in the night.