Matthew Lippman


So what if your kid has a case of the mongoloids,
what do they say you can’t say these days, retards?
So what if she comes out with five tongues
and can’t shut up,
can’t stop sucking on the teet, then the beef?


We have these notions in our heads
about what we can’t handle.
We can handle anything.
That’s why we are monkeys.
That’s why we are cougars in the jungle.


So what that the brain gets in the way
of what is right in front of us?


I hate other people’s children.
They scream too loud in restaurants and museums,
next to the mastodon exhibitions
like they are wild turkeys who have gone completely insane
for the air.
I can’t shoot them for dinner.
So what?
So I say shhh in the back of my head, I love you,
then run to the gyroscope room,
strap myself in and spin
around and around.
It doesn’t help but it helps and then I am dizzy.
But I was dizzy before.


In the mental institution
they give me medicine and my mind is a turnstile
that gets stuck
then unstuck
then stuck again.
I drool into my mashed potatoes
and the medication is like chocolate.
Or am I laughing again,
then peeing again,
in my pants?


What kind of life makes a man go insane?
It’s when you look at your mongoloid child in the eye
and want to throw him off a bridge,
onto a barge headed toward the toxic waters of China
and then you do it.
Maybe you are already insane.
So what if you are?


When I am in the supermarket in the produce aisle
and the woman down in butchery
wheels her retarded child in a wheelchair toward me
I wonder which one of us invisible.
I’m the one with perfect manners
till I get home
and fart in my child’s face.
It’s an abstraction of love.
It’s a marigold we share to rub out the sleep.


But that doesn’t make the one in the wheelchair disappear,
what you say, schoolyard hunk,
Retard. It does not make my desire to turn away,
make me turn away.


When I pick up my navels, the inorganic oranges from Mexico,
I am two parts bad man, one part crazy man.
I hope I can save the world. Bullshit.
The only thing I can do
is say the word retard
and not mean it.

Matthew Lippman