Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

The Cup and Lip

The Cup and Lip

By Milton Kaplan

Somewhere—perhaps just as he sits down and
smooths the checkered napkin on his lap,
opening his paper to glance at headlines; perhaps
as he picks up his cup—a little after—
somewhere between suspended cup and lip,
just as he pleats his mouth to drink, snip
the string that ties the cup and lip, that ties
paper and eggs and butter to his eyes—

The string sings out and snaps; he sinks down slack,
his eyeballs bulging into white soap-bubbles
half-blown out of a toy clay pipe, and glazing
enamel-bring until he blears and doubles
the cup. It dangles from his finger, slips
and falls from circle, spinning through ellipse;
the morning paper spreads to polygon;
the words begin tot stir—the A’s and B’s,
uncoiling, moult familiar shapes and feed
upon the page; the pulsing eggs dilate;
the butter flashes neon-yellow, on
and off; on and off; the table whirls
and flickers white; the tilted room drips red
and blue and purple as the colors bleed,
and down he sinks and drowns as circles swirl
in whirlpool eddies close around his head.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Fall 1941), p. 160


Milton Kaplan was a poet from New York City. His work appeared in the New York Sun, Kaleidograph, and the New Republic.

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