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Matthew Lippman is the author of four poetry collections.

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Two Poems  

Matthew Lippman

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The white holiday lights
hang from the window and won’t leave me alone.
Not even the cat.
The kids bang their cans.
The snow plugs in its upright base of melt and freeze
and gets in through the window,
under the door jamb,
beneath the sheets.
I think Chet Baker could help me.
I think the winter sky with its hazy pink and blue might do the trick.
When the world has it in for you,
the world has it in for you.
I read emails from Tina and Matthew.
They have it in for me
even though their love is a pillow that could be either set on fire,
or used to soften the blow.
Come morning the white, hot holiday lights will not have burned down the
The kids will demand bacon and pancakes.
The snow will tell me how stupid I have been.
It’s not that I don’t love myself; I love myself.
The world wants not to have it in for us;
it has it in for us.
I have made this mess and with the help of my snow shovel and fire
I try and clean it up.
Right now, it’s someone’s birthday and they are in celebration.
I am down on my knees
singing them a song.

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Live Things in the Road

There was a carnation in the road.
I ran over it.
Like the way my friend Jackson ran over the squirrel.
It was in the road.
He swerved left and smashed the thing.
Neither of us said a word.
The sky just kept on being the sky.
When I ran over the carnation
I wished I lived in New York.
I could get on the 2 Train,
take it from 96th Street to Borough Hall.
No more driving. No more
rolling over live things in the road.
It makes no sense to me,
the desire to run over things.
My whole life I’ve thought I was a nice guy.
A guy with radiators for lungs.
A guy with soft hands.
But there I was doing 30 on route 9
and the flower just showed up.
Gotcha, I said
looking in my rearview mirror
to see it flattened.
The way the squirrel was flattened,
everything red
and red
and even more red than red could imagine red being.
It’s a thing we all are at some point—
crushed on the roadway, crushed in silence,
crushed red in love.
This is the problem
or not the problem.
It’s the thing.
The thing in the roadway smashed
that has to be held.
You have to go to it,
stop the car, get out,
get down on your knees with it
hoping the oncoming traffic won’t get you in the process,
knowing damn well
it will.

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