About this Poem 

“‘Slowly in Prayer’ was written one Sunday morning at Starbucks. The woman who took my order was angry, not at me, but at something, and it was all over her face and in her tone of voice. When I sat down I tried to write myself out of my own anger and into a more beautiful, generous, and, dare I say, sweeter place, so I could move on with my morning.”

—Matthew Lippman

Slowly in Prayer

Matthew Lippman

To be thankful for the Starbucks lady, Lucy,
who is pissed at me for asking too many questions
about my damn phone app
is one thing.
To be thankful for my wife plastering my face to the bathroom floor
with pancake batter
for missing the bus
is another thing.
I tried to be thankful for my eyes this morning
even though one of them is filled with puss
and the other with marigold juice.
Marigold juice is the stuff that comes from the flower
when you put it between your palms and rub, slowly in prayer,
even though nothing comes out.
It’s the imagined juice of God,
the thing you can’t see when you are not being thankful.
I try to be thankful for the lack of energy that is my laziness
and my lonely best friend with no wife and children
knowing I am as lonely as he
with one wife and two daughters.
Sometimes we travel five minutes to the pier in Red Hook
and it takes hours in our loneliness to know, in our thankfulness,
that if we held hands it’d be a quiet romance for the ages.
I’ll admit, I’m thankful for Justin Timberlake
because he’s better than Beethoven
and my friend Aaron
who lived in the woods with an axe and never used it once.
I try hard to forget love,
to abandon love,
so that one day I will actually be able to love.
Until then, I am thankful that Lucy wanted to spit in my coffee,
or imagined that she did,
and thanked her profusely
for showing me which buttons to push
and how to do it, with just the right amount of pressure,
the whole tips of all my fingers dancing like stars
through the blackness
of a mocha latte, black.

Copyright @ 2014 by Matthew Lippman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Matthew Lippman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2014.

Matthew Lippman

Matthew Lippman is the author of American Chew (Burnside Review Books, 2013).  He teaches at Beaver Country Day School and lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts. 

by this poet

poem
There is a sandalwood Buddha on the desk that has my stomach
and I don't suppose to call myself a Buddha
or even pretend to know much about Buddhist whirlings
but Rachel gave me the thing and it's got my belly
the one my father has got
and the one his father had
and I know this bulge the way I know my name,
and