Song for Chico

I am working on my good looks.

Marie Schneider and her orchestra are working on my good looks.

I’m on 128 between West and Wyman when the radio cuts out.

My good looks keep on going. They have to.

For my kids and my wife.

For the lawn and sidewalk.

This morning when I walked from my house

there was a Nantucket Nectars Lemonade bottle filled with urine on the sidewalk.

It was at the curb by the Highlander.

This is why my good looks are necessary.

So, I can clean up the world.

So, I can bend down with Marie Schneider

and deposit the waste of the world in receptacles marked recycle.

Marie Schneider “Aries de Lando” taught me to work on being pretty.

I was on 128 and the radio cut out.

She said, Stay with the music when the music cuts out.

When it came back on

Maria had vanished

but my cheekbones were in good form, cut and tight.

My pectorals were toned and I could hear the kettle drums in my calves.

When the music came back on Arturo O’Farrill had taken Maria’s place

in “Song for Chico.”

That’s me, I said to the highway.

I am Chico.

I am everyone’s beautiful boy to kick around,

to mess around,

to ring around the rosy pocket full of posy,


It felt good. To clean things up.

The morning was good and I kept feeling good.

So when I parked the car

I kept thinking about that bottle of piss at the curb

into Marie Schneider’s dissonant minor scales falling out of the sky

and into my abdominals,

my baby blue eyes,

to make my handsome features gleaming and glowing all day long.

Because on mornings like these

when the radio cuts out

I want to be in the static all the time

to keep my good looks going

so I can fetch the trash

and never let go.



Matthew Lippman’s collection MESMERIZINGLY SADLY BEAUTIFUL won the 2018 Levis Prize and will be published by Four Way Books in 2020. His recent collection, A LITTLE GUT MAGIC is published by Nine Mile Books. He is the Editor and Founder of the web based project Love’s Executive Order (