Matthew Lippman

The Insurgency of Tears is to Eradicate Sadness and Hold Joy as Close as the Moon
April 1, 2024 Lippman Matthew



I painted a picture of myself on my knees in front of my mama, and I don’t know why I painted that, but I just did and I know I cried on that. – Henry Taylor


Mike’s at The Whitney.
He sends me a text with the image of Henry Taylor, the painter,
kneeling before the likeness of his mother.
Michael sends me the little explanation that curators put next to paintings.
Then he writes, For your project.
I don’t know what my project is except that I like to cry.
It’s the crying project. The crying poem project.
The insurgency of tears is to eradicate sadness and hold joy as close as the moon.
Crying fills me up and when it happens the world is a decent place.
If I painted a picture of myself kneeling in front of my mother
I don’t know if I would cry.
I might cry if I knew she was close to death or her partner had died.
How could I know?
I know that I can’t paint.
In the self-portrait Taylor has painted you can’t see Taylor’s face.
He wears no shirt.
He wears jeans and you can see his butt crack.
The painting is a collage called Wegrett.
I don’t know what that means
but I could look it up
but then I’d start to cry so I look it up.
What I find is nothing so it must be the name of his mother.
All I see is the face of Taylor’s mother.
It’s stern and her hand is huge, like David’s hand, the Michelangelo one,
out of proportion, ready to take over the world
even though the man in the painting is a child.
Maybe that is why he cries.
Maybe that is why I cry.
I never became a man out of my mother
and it hurts me.
It’s not her fault.
It’s my fault and Mike roams the hills of The Whitney.
His middle name is Anthony
and I miss his mother
and all the mothers that wanted their sons to grow up
and then they did.
Today, I kneel before the deer in the snow, naked.
It’s 28 degrees outside
and in the museum of the world, naked, kneeling before the deer
they are the mother of the world
and I cry on that.

Matthew Lippman is the author of six poetry collections. His latest collection, We Are All Sleeping With Our Sneakers On (2024), is published by Four Way Books. His previous collection Mesmerizingly Sadly Beautiful (2020) is published by Four Way Books. It was the recipient of the 2018 Levis Prize.