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Matthew Lippman

There’s this woman I know--or knew.

We went to grad school together and she liked some of the women I liked


and I liked some of the women she liked,

and we probably had some asshole competitive thing going on.


She had a name that she changed because of her mother or some dinosaur in her dreams

that haunted her when she was a kid.


That, Hey motherfucker, this is America and I can be whomever I want thing.

I don’t remember her original name and now, sometimes, I look her up on YouTube.


There are videos of her talking about The Replacements and the 2008 economic crash

and nihilism and capitalism and the Black Panthers or maybe I am making this up


because the only reason I look her up is because we used to like the same women

but that’s not really true either.


I admire her. How smart she is. I listen to her words

and they are perfect, like Beethoven, how an existential follows a palindrome, perfect.


Oh, there is some digressive shit happening, too, maybe like Mozart, or even The Beatles,

but it all sounds fluid. Don’t get me wrong,


I don’t understand one thing she’s talking about it’s just the words

coming out of her face and her face isn’t even that glowing.


Once, though, we danced together in grad school at some grad school event,

to Prince’s “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man.”


That’s when I was having a thing with one of those women whom we both liked

and I only bring this up, these women, because my mother is dying and so


is the economic underbelly of the U.S. of A.

and it makes me feel more gorgeous, which is stupid


and sometimes I listen to her videos to figure out

when the next economic crash is going to take place, so I know what to do with my money.


Did I mention she’s a poet and that’s why we were at grad school together?

And once, she was in my apartment, and read one of my poems and totally liked it

and I got the feeling, kinda, that she kinda wished she’d written it

which made me feel good,


which makes me feel good, now, because I will never be as smart as her

or know as much about Jonathan Richman and Blondie


and how they represent the positive and negative space of a capitalist economy

driven by pork bellies and underwritings and futures.


We had futures back in grad school

and everything was beautiful even though everyone was drunk


and I always wondered if she listened to Pat Metheny’s album Travels

because it is super soft


and I wanted her to be super soft

the way, sometimes you can tell things about people,


that life was hard for them when they were kids

and so they needed to change their names because their parents did a number on them.


And sometimes I think she’s so smart and accomplished

because in the deep gut of her liver it was all about fuck you mother/father


I did this whole thing without you. I get that, I do,

and today I read something by her and it was like watching her YouTube videos.


Her voice was so beautiful even though I couldn’t understand ¾ of what she was saying

and what I’m saying is we need more people like her in the world


who can make tones and moods with their words, alone,

even though we don’t know what they are talking about


but at least we are held tightly warm

in our stupidity


because we all need to be held more

especially when the God Almighty Dollar


is blinding us like one of those yellow neon signs flashing in the rain on the highway:

Bridge collapse:


Caution Caution Caution.


Matthew Lippman’s collection Mesmerizingly Sadly Beautiful (2020) is published by Four Way Books. It was the recipient of the 2018 Levis Prize. His next collection, We Are Sleeping With Our Sneakers On, will be published by Four Way Books in 2024.

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