Matthew Lippman

I did not ride my bicycle through the hailstorm for nothing,
I was trying to slam headfirst into a banjo,
see what kind of sound would happen, 

but there were too many fire trucks in the way,
too many peacocks without any feathers,

it made me sad
the way an investigation makes me sad,

so I got off my machine and took off my clothes
because I was near a tree
in the middle of the woods
that had no sound. 

There were leaves
but when the wind blew
I could not hear them against the pine. 
I thought it might be me
but when I stuck my finger in my eye
there was the sound of my flesh
against my blood
that rang in my ear. 

So I got back on my bike
and the hail continued to be an ocean
and I could not forget anything--
the blueberry stain,
the wall of broken needles
that hung between one side of the river
and the other.

The hail was insane, like monkeys,
and touched my head,
like fingertips.  

I could have stopped to think about guns
but there were too many deer tracks
to make me cry,
indentations in the earth
where they had fallen. 

I had fallen
and was off my bicycle. 
The hail fell for twelve days
and I did not move. 
When I moved,
my luggage was empty
and filled with the hot ghost breath
of everything that had tried to crash through a banjo
and finally, had. 






I don't remember much about writing "Banjo Land." I do have another poem, though, called "Where Are All The Puerto Ricans" that has a man riding a bike through hail. The two poems have nothing to do with one another. "Banjo Land" I think, was a rumination on an idea. That's all.