a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
and had it framed.
It is water damaged, I could see the brown stains
that reminded me of the brown stains
that fly across the sky and the country
and the playground and the face of the guy next door
with all the rifles.
We had that poster, too, in our apartment in 1970 and 1974 and 1980 and 1986,
carried it around to remind us what needn’t be reminded;
I don’t know when my parents got rid of it but it never left.
When I was a kid we all wore the button on our jean jackets
even when we fell off the monkey bars and the pin rammed into our chests.
We didn’t care; we were that kind of kid.
We wanted to do something important, be important,
show the world that Orange Crush was the joint soda
and Whacky Packs and Marvin Gaye were the joint soda
and we meant something.
We did and when I saw the poster in the frame on Aliza’s wall
I was upset that it was not on my wall for my children.
Sometimes your parents can give you something and you don’t even know it
until you know it
and then it’s yours.
In 1972 it was mine,
we were children and we were other living things—
lizards and mosquitoes, we were frogs and elephants and sycamore trees.
We were our sisters and our brothers and our neighbors
and you know what, we fucking knew it
because every night when we turned on the TV to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle
or Adam West as Batman
there was Dan Rather and Peter Jennings from Hanoi or the rice paddies of hell.
I am sad tonight
that I did not save the water damaged poster of that flower
which my parents hung on our walls,
that sketch made by Lorraine Schneider,
she died of cancer in 1972 and I miss her.
We all miss you Lorraine.
Our posters are stained brown now on these walls,
on the backs of our eyes like tattoos
and we give them to our children,
we say to them, here, take this flower,
it is for you.
Matthew Lippman is the author of four poetry collections—The New Year of Yellow (winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, Sarabande Books), Monkey Bars, Salami Jew, and American Chew (winner of the Burnside Review of Books Poetry Prize). He is the Editor and Founder of the web based project Love’s Executive Order (www.lovesexecutiveorder.com).