She Loves the Earth Without Curse Words

by Matthew Lippman

Natalie says, “Dad, quarantine’s good for you.” 
      I say, “Why?” 
She says, “You only said the F-word twice last week.”
Fuck. I’m losing my shwing, I think. 
Then she steals the Spalding from right out of my cold hands
and lays it in the hole with a left hook. 
Every day we go out to the driveway and shoot hoops. 
We go out and smell the moon and feed the stars. 
Every day we watch the new cardinal land on the fence 
and each day we give it a new name. 
Yesterday it was Francine. 
The day before that is was Francisco. 
Tomorrow it could be Amira. 
The point is I don’t look at CNN or the Daily Guardian or reports 
      coming out of Italy or Detroit. 
I don’t read the New York Times or The New Yorker 
      or The New York Post or Boston Globe. 
I just go outside with my daughter 
and bounce the ball.
I know this makes me a bad man 
but according to her
I’ve only said the F-word twice in the last 7 days. 
Maybe that means I’m getting dumber. 
I don’t care that I am getting more stupid. 
It makes my daughter happy 
even though, for the past year, every time I’ve said the F-word 
she got a dollar.
Truth is, she loves money. Today, I realized, 
cardinals and stars are more important to her than cash.
A clean mouth makes her quiet in the way that a 20-dollar bill doesn’t.
And, of course, the left hook, outside of 12 feet,
nothing but net. 



Matthew Lippman’s collection MESMERIZINGLY SADLY BEAUTIFUL won the 2018 Levis Prize and is published by Four Way Books. He has published 5 other collections of poems including, The New Year of Yellow (winner of Kathryn A. Morton Prize, Sarabande Books), Salami Jew, American Chew (winner of Burnside Books Prize), Monkey Bars, and A Little Gut Magic. He is the Editor and Founder of the web-based project Love’s Executive Order (

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