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Richard Matta

Tipping Point

The specialist looked me over,

pointed his finger and said Look,

you’ve passed the tipping point

there’s nothing anyone can do,

sorry. I left, saw everything

through that lens—a hooked, flopping

fish, unable to breathe, soon slit open;

a yellowjacket drowning in a pool,

stinger looking for anything to blame.

Why hadn’t he mentioned tipping point

before now? I felt compelled to return

to his office, grab the sharp yellow

number 2 pencil on his desk,

and ram it through his pointy hand.

There’s your tipping point. Cancelled

my follow-up, called a palm-reader.

Flounder for dinner.

Duplex for cutting strings

this old playground slide steers my mind to childhood and breaks in the past

when I didn’t have a strong grasp on what seemed a safe path

I remind myself a strong grasp on a safe path can be an illusion…

my boyhood friend who said, hold the sides, it’s a soft landing

and he pushed me before I could hold the sides to a soft landing

the sledgehammer of his weight followed and broke me at the bottom

at the bottom under his weight, my broken leg, his sledgehammer laugh

and as an adult he still laughed as he handed the newbie another martini

he enjoyed getting me martini-drunk, and laughed about getting me sick

my friends aren’t lightweights, and then sent me home, in my car

I’m the lightweight friend who drove home drunk in my car

and a patrolman saw me swerving, he knew my dad, gave me a break

a friend of dads who saw me swerving and said, find new friends

this backyard slide steers my mind to the breaks I’ve had in my past


Richard L. Matta grew up in New York’s rustic Hudson Valley, attended Notre Dame, and now lives in San Diego with his golden-doodle dog. When not catering to the dog or spending time by the Bay, he writes. Some of his work is found in Ancient Paths, Dewdrop, New Verse News, and Healing Muse.


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