Matthew Lippman



At the pond, the pond eats itself.
The gulls stand on rocks and watch the pond devour green.
Green doesn’t mind for this is green’s state of mind
in the absence of summer
as summer rolls up the windows on itself
and lets the wind blow.
It blows toward an opening near a ditch
as the gulls dip their heads under the heat and take themselves out of the picture.
Which is to say that lounging is a fitful mark of intelligence
under the droopy canopy of autumn
as green is eaten out of the picture.

Here comes the orange foreshadow and the arc of red
posturing themselves in the trees as the grass awaits a hell without solace,
of snow and devils on boots,
in something new and bright.

Meanwhile, the pond sucks itself up into the corners of its cut bank
and the fish starve.
The pond eats itself.

Which is to say that it takes itself out of the picture
to leave room for itself the next time around
when green, on top of green,
will once again have no time for the many sides of warring nations caught up in strategies and bullets
and sending their men to the cold ditches filled up with cold.



I'm with the waitress at the wedding and wondering where all my friends have gone.
Mike is in the can and Jeff is peeling onions in the kitchen;
Rose has got her eyes on a young lad in lavender
and Pearl is out back whisking her way through the last Tennessee Waltz she'll ever dance to
before crippling herself with food.
One way or the other everyone will get enough to eat tonight
and dance their way through two screams of what life used to be
and what the challenge was.
For me, I'm here with Estelle talking shrimp
and watching her pen work its way over an imaginary slip of paper that says,
get out woman, get the hell out of here as quickly as you can.
It's a circumstance of course,
the way any wedding will make you want to become something
you have always dreamed of or just dreamed of backwards.
Like, goddamn, maybe I just wasn't cut out for this type of dream
that demands ceremonies in mother's backyard
with fathers
and yellow cakes
and a best man named Mark or Mike or Michele
toting a ring the size of Africa
that put me in the red so deep
when all I really wanted to do was hang out on the earth
with the trees
in a pair of stained shorts and leather socks.
Maybe my dream was the dream of dingoes or daffodils
or of dialing up my woman Margo and saying, hey baby
let's go get us a five dollar shake at the luncheonette
and be chocolate all afternoon long.


"At the Wedding..." was inspired by a waitress I met in a restaurant in Seattle the day before my oldest-best friend's wedding. I imagined taking her to the affair. Weddings have always seemed to bum me out, almost piss me off. I was feeling all of that when I sat down to write that one. Funny, I'll be married in a couple of weeks. Not bummed or pissed at all. The other poem, "Droopy Canopy of Autumn," was written out in Sag Harbor. It was mid-October and I was thinking about the end of green, Autumn's arrival, and Wallace Stevens. Also, August Kleinzahler's great book of poems, Green Sees Things In Waves. Came out in 1998. A must read. Color is everything.