Lou Lipsitz

Painting the Door

“Time, the punch line to God’s favorite joke, one we never really get.”
    Sy Safransky

this day

i may begin to

paint the door

maybe start with blue

wipe most of it off before

it dries

add an odd mildew-looking green

maybe something else—

no way to tell how it will

look until tomorrow

i remember how

after the party, about midnight,

we ran down to the creek

and, in our momentary

drunken frenzy, took off our clothes

and plunged in.

and there was Sara floating


her small pink breasts, belly

and freckled face

just above the surface

and there i was

stealthy as a submarine

in kafka’s the trial,

the main character

waited at a door, waited

and waited

sat for years thinking

his turn would come.

this door was significant.

he had to get in.

at last, he asked

the doorman

why no one else had

come to the door for all

those years and

the doorman said:

“because this door was just

for you.”

writing and understanding

poetry need not be

so hard

i’m stumped of course

by the bewildering



of colors and

subtle combinations.

but here’s one idea of it:

it’s the floor of the stock exchange

and crazed traders

are racing back and forth

pushing and yelling, holding

up those pieces of paper in their hands

and on each of those thousands

of sheets is a poem.

look closer, squint—they’re

small—see if you can read


—these are the stocks you’ve

accumulated all your life

without knowing it—

the writing may

be hard to decipher,

but it’s yours.