Slowly in Prayer – Matthew Lippman

To be thankful for the Starbucks lady, Lucy,
who is pissed at me for asking too many questions
about my damn phone app
is one thing.
To be thankful for my wife plastering my face to the bathroom floor
with pancake batter
for missing the bus
is another thing.
I tried to be thankful for my eyes this morning
even though one of them is filled with puss
and the other with marigold juice.
Marigold juice is the stuff that comes from the flower
when you put it between your palms and rub, slowly in prayer,
even though nothing comes out.
It’s the imagined juice of God,
the thing you can’t see when you are not being thankful.
I try to be thankful for the lack of energy that is my laziness
and my lonely best friend with no wife and children
knowing I am as lonely as he
with one wife and two daughters.
Sometimes we travel five minutes to the pier in Red Hook
and it takes hours in our loneliness to know, in our thankfulness,
that if we held hands it’d be a quiet romance for the ages.
I’ll admit, I’m thankful for Justin Timberlake
because he’s better than Beethoven
and my friend Aaron
who lived in the woods with an axe and never used it once.
I try hard to forget love,
to abandon love,
so that one day I will actually be able to love.
Until then, I am thankful that Lucy wanted to spit in my coffee,
or imagined that she did,
and thanked her profusely
for showing me which buttons to push
and how to do it, with just the right amount of pressure,
the whole tips of all my fingers dancing like stars
through the blackness
of a mocha latte, black.

starbucks disposable cup

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

…see the watery part of the world…

I was in grad school when my son, Ben, was born. We lived in student housing – an apartment so small that we had to move his little crib into the bathroom each night.
Since his mother had an actual job while I was busy becoming a serious poet (sic), I would often do the middle of the night feeding since I was awake writing serious poetry all night. I had just scored a remaindered copy of Moby Dick at the UNH bookstore and began to read it to him at night while I gave him a bottle.
That was 43 years ago today. Those nights were special. I remember them like it was last night. Quiet except for the little noises a baby makes and me essentially whispering Melville’s words…

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

I’ve read about the white whale every year since that summer of 1977. So today I happily (madly!) cast off again!

moby dick.png

I, Too – Langston Hughes

Screen Shot 2020-07-07 at 10.28.19 AM.pngI, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.