I most likely would not be writing these words today if it weren’t for one man: Matthew Lippman. He was an English teacher of mine in high school at a time when I was looking for something to believe in. In his English and then Creative Writing classes I found something, something weird and wonderful that I didn’t know was there before. My early attempts at poetry were… not great, I hardly knew what the thing was, but that didn’t stop him.

Mr. Lippman (I will never call him anything but that) would throw his shoes across the room if someone wasn’t paying attention, or take a bite of a raw onion as a writing prompt. He introduced me to Neruda, Salinger, and ultimately myself. Because of his intervention and encouragement I went on to be Co-Editor-In-Chief of that high school’s literary magazine, Poetry Editor for my college’s, join and help found a Writer’s Club (where I would meet my future wife), and help start a completely student-run publication there, as well. I majored in English, and eventually, with his guidance, published my own poetry collection.

At the end of that year of school he went around and pointed at every student in the class, proclaiming what profession they would end up in. He must have been reading my eyes when he got to me, because he said what I was begging in my head for him to say, “Poet”. I don’t know if I have or will achieve that title as a “career”, but I will never forget how much that simple gesture meant to me.

Our writing styles are very different. He writes with a frenetic passion that is brutally honest while smacking you in the face as it goes by. It’s Mexican jumping bean poetry, words that bounce off the page, and always come back around for the heart in the end. I may have read poems before meeting him, but I have been, and always will be, proud to say that I was introduced to the soul of poetry by a published poet in his own right.

Thank you Mr. Lippman.



by Matthew Lippman

I wept in the barber’s chair.
I wept in the dining hall.
I listened to Van Morrison and I wept.
I took out all my sneakers and put them in the rain.
The rain went barefoot across my face.
I wept in my face and I wept at home plate.
When I wept in the box I was four for four.
I struck out twice. The game went hours
and when I got home I iced my knees.
The dog wanted out and we wept under the tree.
The tree said, go, go home and we wept in Van Morrison.
My dog said enough
so we put on Sweet Baby James.
Everyone weeps on Sweet Baby James, gets him all wet,
and if you say you don’t
you have no idea.
It’s not a matter of taste.
It’s just what it is,
the aching in your heart that you can’t hold back with words and books
and theories and language.
You put the needle on the record and boom, you are inside out
with no lingerie on.
I’ve wept in lingerie and I’ve wept under a bridge, homeless,
with four cents in my pocket.
I’ve wept so much in the bathroom I couldn’t stop
and when I stopped
I didn’t want to stop.
I did it some more.
I don’t care how many hours it took me to finish,
I never finished.
I am weeping right now, in the attic, on the roof,
in front of the TV.
It is the only way.
It is the most joyous of things, with a clear head,
it makes the head clear,
an ocean in Barbados, an ocean in your head.
It is a love song of songs,
a weeping song, whale song, woman song
weeping inside her child.
I weep for her.
Who weeps for me?
She weeps for the sun.
Today it shines on the earth
and the earth weeps because it is happy,
even in its terrible sadness
it always has something to smile about.


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