Surf Buddha

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 can't believe I've become the language of fat
that the boys in my family have kept quiet.

So I encourage my stomach out into the world,
rub it on a daily basis and think
that if I ever become a religious man
there would be god and glory to find there,
my rib cage distended,
my love of ice cream as sweet as my love of Rachel

who put the Buddha in my palm a month after we met and said, have this,
and I said, I already have this,
my hands in motion around my belly button and then today
noticed for the first time that the little bastard has got some serious nipples on him,
thank god, and breasts too,
he's the perfect kind of godlike statuette
even if I am a Jew

but the days have been glorious and people die in truck crashes
and men beat their wives and flowers bloom purple
and the cardinal I've named Jack always comes around my way at this time,
4:40 in Baldwin on the Island,
Wes Montgomery on the Sony
and I don't know if it's his song Cariba or the wind on my swollen toes
that makes me pick up the little guy, stick him in my mouth,
swirl him around between teeth and cheek,
place him on the edge of my tongue and let him surf there,
through the neighborhood of my white heat,
on the curl of my pink waves.

More by Matthew Lippman

Slowly in Prayer

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 pus
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.