Winter Prompts #4: Another Cup of Coffee


Winter Prompt #4


But this is my first—unless you count all

the cups I’ve had, starting when I was sixteen,

at church camp, tired because I’d been up late

making out with another counselor.

Then almost every morning for the rest

of high school—Dad’s strong stuff—A & P’s Bokar

was it?—made in a cheap percolator.

Then bad college dining hall coffee, and

during exams, instant made with tap water.

The last cup I had with Tom, in “The Den.”

The first cup I had with John, in “The Den.”

The coffee I made in the Corningware

percolator we got as a wedding gift.

Later, we got  a Melita, because

some cool friends had one. We drank their coffee

while we plotted the revolution that

never came. And then my dear French press.

How many cups in how many coffee

shops with friends, or alone with a notebook?

How many in diners and restaurants?

How many, early mornings, in camp grounds?

So yes. Another one, this morning. Blue mug,

dark roast. The old white cat, my silver pen,

the glass-topped table desk, the brass lamp. . .

Jan. 23, 2018




Do this first—this writing business. Sit here

with the starry-blue pen, composition

book. Every other thing can wait—laundry,

for example, paying the bills, thinking

about food for dinner. There are flowers

on the tables and the sills. The china mug

is green. The coffee is good, black, bitter.

But there is a problem today. The old

problem: the ideal place, the Time to Write

might not invite inspiration. You need

more than ink and time and sitting still

and black coffee. The muse feeds where she wills.

The hands on the tower clock move past ten.

You never know when she will come again.



~it’s like soldiers in combat—they’re scared, but they do their mission.

~a fragment overheard


It’s like that Hospice nurse with her to-go

latte. It’s like the pediatrician

with the plain blue mug. Who knows what they’ll see

today? It’s like that schizophrenic friend

of mine who time after time tells himself

the voices are demons Jesus casts out.


Look at them, will you? And tell me

you’re the only one. Oh somewhere in this

favored world the sun is shining bright—is

it here, where the north wind finally blew

away the ridiculous autumn heat,

where I can sit at a sidewalk table


and listen to psychobabble while I

pretend to be writing in a notebook?



September 10, 2015



~for Jennifer, who appeared to me in a dream


On my way to prayer

I stopped to honor a tree.

It toppled at my touch.


After I had set it right,

paintings sprouted everywhere–

feasts and flowers, long-gone friends.


All the streets were colored

and lined up the way I remembered

in New Mexico, or possibly Illinois.


I stopped at a diner to eat.

The poet who sat down beside me

showed me a notebook. She wrote:


Transitions. Before and after.

This is all metaphor 

for the thing that goes between.


This is where I need the earphones
that magnify sound:  that couple
on the sofa, somewhat entangled,
occasionally laughing, is talking a little
too quietly for me to overhear.
The help are talking, too,
as they clear the noon-rush clutter.
I catch one lover saying three quarters,
a customer at the counter the wrong time.

like the sixties  
North America
they all crashed into the rocks
day old bagels  
so it’s just you  

Always I want to know
the business of strangers,
their urgent lives nothing to do
with me.

any latté cups
rain.  And the kittens
too far to row
haircut, and pink handtowels
invited her to speak

I imagine they
want to know my business too:
who is that woman drinking coffee alone
and what is she writing in that book,
and why does she stop, stare
out the window at the river,
and why does she smile?

kept talking and talking
more fish except tuna
day Carol died
understood the agenda
expensive to fly

But  on my porch, with the earphones,
in the evening, in the rain,
everything is simple, clear.
I hear a hundred robins singing,
and the peepers in the pond
three-quarters of a mile down the road.

This is poetry month, so I’m planning to post One Poem Per Day.


I posted this a long time ago, but here it is again.  The sentiment is the same.

The Muse must be in Miami,
drinking sweet tough  coffee in a Cuban café,
laughing when a rat scurries across the  sidewalk,
listening to the brown-legged mothers scold.

She must be spending afternoons walking
where the água meets the blanca,
watching one porpoise cruising,
one small airplane dragging its ad,
one plump woman airing her tits in the sun.

Evenings she goes to the Italian Restaurant
where three waiters in tight black pants
attend to her.
They offer soft ripe cheeses and red wine,
lightly brush her shoulder when they pass,
tell her the tiramisu was made just for her.
When they bring the bill, they touch
her sunburned hand, sigh when she rises to go.
They promise her
they’ll count the moments till she comes again.

March 8, 2007


They were in a church for a couple of weeks
and then they replaced the angels.

Only a couple of weeks
so they must have been
very holy, very light.

Hard work:  on call at all hours
but beyond the concept of hour
since in Heaven there is no time.
Circadian rhythm shot to hell.

Great clothes, however, and,
though technically unnecessary,
haloes and gorgeous wings.

The fear aspect would be disconcerting–
always to manifest unexpectedly
and required to reassure:
Oh, don’t be scared.
I’m just one of God’s infinite Voices,
here to tell you something
that will forever invert your life.

So who would want it?
But then, the woman who shared this piece of news
with her companion didn’t say
if the angel replacements were pleased.

And–and this is my major concern–
what of the angels who were displaced?
Where–if there is a where–did they go?
Are they here, disguised in sweaters and jeans,
bemused at the effects of gravity?
Or are they there, speeding mysteries,
comprising the incomprehensible
energy of the Dark?