January Poetry Blitz: Matthew Lippman


I got fat.
I don’t know how it happened.
I opened my pants one day
and a whole mess of stuff fell out.
One day my jowls were zeppelins and my hands floated to the ceiling.
I have enjoyed myself all the way to this fat spot—steaks and onion,
platters of shrimp in a nice cocktail,
some twenty-four thousand raviolis in fra diavlo.
What did it say about the world, my fat?
The guy down the block looked at me and said, only in America.
Goddamn right, I replied, go Bulldogs.
It was another in a slew of exhibitions that I had learned to put on
to keep myself from feeling slim.
When my buddy Mike called from the car-phone
he told me he was headed down the road for a couple of cheeseburgers at McDonalds.
We’ve always been on the same page like that.
Americans with a taste for a rack of ribs when the goings get tough
and somewhere out there in the green pastures
our mothers are feeling the hurt of another herd of violent men.
It’s a thought, you know, that we kept ourselves from inheriting the rage of our fathers.
By dipping into the Hollandaise.
That’s what I’ll name my son to keep him from destroying the women
that he will take to the dances.
I’ll name him Hollandaise.
Hollandaise, go do your homework.
Hollandaise, go talk to your mother
I got a ways to go before that.
Tonight it’s biscuits and gravy with a side of pork the Iowa farmer sent me from the middle of Iowa
just to make sure to get our USDA stamp of approval
on getting big.

By Matthew Lippman

(From The New Year of Yellow, winner of the 2005 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry selected by Tony Hoagland, Sarabande Books. Matthew Lippman’s most recent book is Monkey Bars.)

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