Matthew Lippman

Al Dente Perfecto

I am half naked in the kitchen trying to kiss my Ashkenazi ass.
It’s an impossible task but I thought I’d have some fun
so I prepare the pasta in balsamic with a splash of lime
which is how I cooked the dish for my baby, al dente perfecto,
as the blue listless sky
danced for every kid on a bike between
dinner and midnight.


Even if my daughter does throw up five times before ten
like she did last night—
all that white bile and hack—
I’ll still love the sautéed mushrooms in garlic.
You find them in the woods, wild,
the way my chest burns in front of the stove
and my name is Pino
at a pizzeria in August,
in the Bronx,
en fuego.


When I had the kitchen close to scorch
and the dream of red wine in a river boat up The Charles,
I went to hell, and while there,
sucked the red hot heat
out of a chili pepper from Bologna.


Earlier I had cursed all the Episcopalians.
Their church-front on Main
was covered in blue tarp
like they had tried to stuff God back into its own throat
or keep out the congregation—
the ones who give money, the ones who are firefighters and social workers,
the ones who can’t ignore sin
even while they are in the midst of it.


I couldn’t figure out why
but the whole building had a sick blue tongue
that wagged itself in the faces of everyone who drove by.
Maybe it was God itself
in a schoolyard, second grade kind of taunt?
I said, Baby, that ain’t my God.
But what kind of mistake was that?
And how many more fights can I get in with my wife
over sponges and
before the next baby?


The whole thing got me down
so I took off my shirt and turned up the flame,
got out the broccoli and carrots
and cooked her dinner
as if the whole history of The Spirit
was right there
in the white hot onion.

Matthew Lippman