Back in the whenever somewhere
In the sometime I grew up there,
If you wanted a coffee, to the diner you’d go.
You’d sit at a counter along a narrow row.
Into a crockery cup they’d softly pour the joe.
Or into paper cups in paper bags that’d tear
From the spills and splashes of the brown brew.
They might serve beans and potpie stew,
But there was no poetry.
In the shadow of Willie Penn’s city hall tower,
When I was a long-hair, yelling peace and flower-power,
Sitting nights in dim, dingy coffee shops
Pretending espresso was not bitter slop,
There’d fall a hush when all would shut their mouth,
And in air smelling of smoke thick and sour,
You’d amble to a two-foot stage, and rail
About injustice and pain and those who fail
To acknowledge poetry.
Now in seasons warm or seasons cold,
In the curt time I am growing old,
When we seek the juice of the coffee bean
We seek the malls and that neon beam
Of the bookstore wonders to which we stream,
Where for four bucks the coffee’s sold.
And in what moments we can glean,
Between the chugs of the cappuccino machine,
We still read our poetry.