Skip to content →

Tag: @matthewlippman

The Ocean is a Flower Called Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente kicked my ass last night.

He came out of the darkness like a train whistle

with his 21 Pittsburgh jersey tucked in

and laid me out with a left hook.

I fell to the grass and screamed,

What’s your problem, Roberto?

Couldn’t sleep, he said.

Get a motel.

He said, My plane crashed. I am dead.

Go home.

He said, I come from Carolina, Puerto Rico.

So, what’s the problem?

He said, My name is Roberto.

I have three sons and three thousand base hits.

My name is Roberto Clemente.

And when his plane took off from San Juan,

overloaded with bananas and gauze

for the earthquake victims of Managua,

it was New Year’s Eve

and his eyes were bloodshot bullets

under the canopy of the Atlantic Ocean.

When the sharks got their teeth into him,

the turtles,

the manatees and sting rays,

the vapor trail of his gait around second base

brushed back the wind.

Ten hours later my father woke me to say, El Padré, Roberto,

no longer swings for the fences.

I was seven.

I have been seven ever since.

from Mesmerizing Sadly BeautifulFind more by Matthew Lippman at the library

Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

If You Don’t Want Your Kids to Have Sex Don’t Finish the Basement

This guy, Lev, at the dinner party said,

If you don’t want your kids to have sex, don’t finish the basement.

I don’t remember anything anymore, my fifty-two-year-old brain a

soggy piece of kale,

but I remembered what Lev said.

It’s because Lev is the heart in levov

where all the stories come from.

Here’s the story: we were eating the salmon and he was talking about

his kids,

all grown up,

and my kids were in the basement playing ping pong,

not yet thirteen.

There was beer and wine and gluten-free challah and gluten-free Tiramisu

and the walls were red and gluten-free.

That’s the whole story.

The other story is that when a guy says something like that

you have to remember where you were when you first had sex.

It could have been in a car, in an attic, between two trees, under the moon,

near the factory, inside the deep blue sea, in the onion patch.

Sex is an onion.

It’s translucent and sweet and will make you cry your face off.

It’s a swimming pool on fire and a gorilla who knows how to speak

seven languages.

If you are lucky enough to have sex in a finished basement,

this is a good thing.

If you have sex in an unfinished basement, not so good—all that dust,

those exposed water heaters, boilers, and rusted rakes.

So when Lev said,

If you don’t want your kids to have sex, don’t finish the basement,

I took a bite of my salmon and here’s the last part of the story.

My kids are going to grow up and have sex.

A sad and wide-eyed, ecstatic sex, if they’re lucky,

and so I left the table in the dark middle of winter to finish the basement—

buy some rugs, some cheap pillows, and a jukebox,

one of those old school Wurlitzers with the automatic eye.

Fill it up with all the songs that make your heart burst, I will tell them.

Play your music

till the needle runs those records bare bone beauty and glisten.

from Mesmerizing Sadly BeautifulFind more by Matthew Lippman at the library

Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.