2 poems about coffee – always a good start




As a child, arms straining for leverage

Amid the jerk and imbalance

Of metal arm and timber box, round

And around, with trenched brow,

I struggled for consistency,

For the keen grain that would release

Character hidden. Periodically

I inspected the tiny, wooden drawer which

Never filled commensurately with effort,

The process long and arduous but rewarded

When he pinched the salt-sized powder

And winked me towards the percolator.


Saturday mornings at the merchant were

About exotic places held in glass boxes

On the wall: Kenya, Colombia, Brazil,

New Guinea, Sumatra, Ethiopia

And the slow, effortless toil and aroma

Around the ancient roaster: beans,

Like ground ploughed, rolled and folded,

Their sound like air through clenched teeth,

Their oily skins glistening in the heat.


He is long gone, but I had made it for him:

The blend that effused memory yet imbued

Quality, had found the tools that produced

The perfect grind, tamped

To a perfect press, extracted a flawless shot.

And I wondered as he drew in its careful

Disposition; did he stand again

Exploring distant lands, the boy beside him,

Steeping in the moment of decision –

Single origin, old blend, something new –

Both glad for this one thing that united them?

I stand there still.


Coffee Shop


At this hour, there is peace; even the sputter

And hiss from steam-wand in milk

Is a glissando on the morning’s theme.


It is a time to float and all who come

Find a table at which to anchor and ride

The gentle wash of the passing day.


Then comes one who motors to a stop:

A party-barge of a woman with hair

Like a judge’s wig dipped in tar,

Her face, a dragon boat of colour,

Her mouth, a foghorn of four-letter words

Refracted by her vacant cackling companion

(A sad, bobbing tender).


The swell, irregular now, slaps our hulls and

One-by-one, anchors are weighed

In pursuit of safe harbour.


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