Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Robert Lipton: A Complex Bravery

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Chafing, raw, reddened skin
from fiction the man tells me
all chicken fried and coated with sun.
I’m surrounded by him
like the atmosphere of a dying planet.
He was here before mathematics
before the first winter collecting
so many layers of blue
or before a brother had large teeth
enough to kill his twin.
I had little on offer
simply considered splitting the Pringles
and Slurpees, too shell-shocked to talk
or to feed my child the last little dollup
of Gerber’s yams.
The man was all sepulchral
as he described a war drenched in red sunsets
a “blood red that is not blood”
or of the mountain of three goddesses
sans goddesses.
He shakes his head as my child screams
Do you charge for that baby?
he winks, the baby starting to hum
not like an opera singer
but like a washing machine
something to calm the parents.
Even after all this
there is a singing about paradise.

Buy the book

“This is the book of childhood, love and war. Lipton’s poems are a gang that takes no prisoners: his voice is direct, his tone is clear, his diction is ironic — but his irony is earned and felt-through. The manuscript is a book of elegies that refuse to go mourning without at least a little bit of protest. Whatever his loss is, Lipton’s voice’s always quirky and alive, always ready to report the world straight to us, without patronizing, for “this battle is parent by parent / and I have homework to do.”
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa and Musica Humana

Robert Lipton is the author of Bearing Witness in the Promised Land. In: Live from Palestine (South End Press). His stories and poems have appeared in a wide range of literary journals, both on and offline, including Echo 681, Interbang, Jacaranda Review, Squaw Valley Review, King Log, Shades of Contradiction, The Texas Observer and Parthenon West. He has received grants from Berkeley Community Arts and Alameda Community Arts Programs, was for seven years poetry workshop leader at Berkeley Art Center.

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