Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2015 Poetry Challenge - A Coffee Poem

When Kind of a Hurricane Press put out a call for coffee-themed poems, I submitted three poems, including this one:

October Morning

It’s been months
since I noticed
                        from my coffee.
This morning, as I set            
the hot cup
                        on the table,
gray ascends
in undisciplined columns,
                        waving, folding,
so dramatic
I expect a genie to emerge.
            I hesitate to drink,
not wanting             
                        to interrupt
the lava lamp patterns,
                         amazed at how long
moist air rises
into dry, heated air.
                                                What will this crisp
cool autumn
                        draw from me?

~ Wilda Morris

I tried to make the layout for this poem reflect the steam rising from my cup.

When Sherri, my oldest daughter, was living with me a couple years ago, we had separate coffee pots. She says I don’t drink coffee. She says I don’t even drink flavored water; I just drink slightly tinted water. I say the coffee she makes doesn’t just crawl out of the cup, it jumps out and takes off through the neighborhood. She is so tied (may I say “addicted”?) to “high octane” coffee that her children once scolded me for saying the word “decaf.” Sherri had told them that "decaf" is a swear word, and they should never say it!

One of my coffee poems was as much about writing poetry as it was about coffee, but it also it certainly reflects my preference for flavored coffee. I’m especially fond of hazelnut, chocolate raspberry, and chocolate cherry, but I want the flavor brewed into the coffee, not added as a syrup. Avid coffee drinkers have their own favorites and their own coffee-drinking routines.

Morning Brews

Poems percolate like coffee
in this woodland hideaway:
French vanilla this morning
or chocolate cherry
to which I add a little sugar,
writing for someone I love;

potent expresso
as I pen lines about evils
reported on television news;

lattés after a porcupine
rattles branches and I watch
it climb a tree.

A doe slips into the clearing,
stands with ears perked,
almost willing, I think,
to listen to my latest poem
and sip cinnamon hazelnut
from my steaming cup.

~ Wilda Morris

For the same call for coffee poems, Karla Linn Merrifield submitted a poem with coffee and love intertwined. Coffee shared between lovers becomes part of their joint story.

Since Today is the First
Full Day of Summer I Envision:

            for Roger M. Weir

a kiss, my husband’s, dewy,
first thing this sultry morning.
one full of steamy promises & coffee,
two day’s whiskers, tongues, a tear.

& more coffee, then another kiss,
our ritual goodbye in the garage
before he motors off into the heat,
errands to run, doctor to see.

& because the first two kisses
of summer were so sublime (must be
the French roast java), I imagine a third –
a trio, trilogy, triptych, trinity kiss –

like a dragonfly’s to still water,
swallow’s to calm air,
the sun’s to his planet Earth,
my man’s to me.

~ Karla Linn Merrifield

Mary Jo Balistreri’s poem is also a poem of relationship. She focuses not on the coffee, but on what is shared by two women over a cup of coffee. They open up to one another, sharing their histories and feelings. They discover they have more in common than they previously realized. “Double Perk” may be the name of an actual coffee shop, or it may be poetic license. At any rate, serves a metaphoric purpose in this poignant poem, as French Roast Java did in the previous one:

Coffee at the Double Perk

Neither of us is prepared for the curve in conversation.
As my friend struggles with words, the story begins
to emerge. It’s as if an aftershock tilts our world.
It was twenty years ago. And it still hurts.

All the time we had mourned privately, got lost
in the questions:
Why our bodies betrayed us
How our boys were dying inside us, quietness
deemed normal because they were small,
with small heart beats
How the doctors were not concerned until it was too late

Fissures crack open. We exchange our boys’ names,
say them softly, almost shyly. Swapping stories, we begin
to interrupt each other, eager to share.
        Andrew comes to me when I’m doing laundry,
              sometimes in the garden.
        Danny visits when I’m making dinner or at the pond.
We both agree our boys like quiet and often come at night.

We walk toward the exit, arms around each other’s waist.
Halfway out the door my friend stops – Were we the dead ones?

The door bangs shut behind us and we start to laugh. The reservoir
we though empty begins to bubble like a fresh water spring.

~ Mary Jo Balistreri

All the poems in this post are from Something’s Brewing, edited by Al J. Huffman and April Salzano (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014).  Each poets owns the copyright on her poems.

Looking for a gift for a coffee lover? Package a copy of Something’s Brewing (ordered from Kind of a Hurricane Press) with a pound or two of organic fair-trade coffee. If you can’t purchase it locally, consider ordering from Dean's Beans (or google “organic fair trade coffee” for another dealer). I single out  Dean’s Beans only because my church has an annual fund-raiser during which we sell their coffee. We have found them very nice to work with, and their coffee (especially the hazelnut) is very tasty.

On-Line Coffee Poems (There are many - some good, some not so good. Here are just a few you might want to read):

A Prose Poem, The Morning Coffee by Ron Padgett 
A long narrative poem, Coffee by Richard Brautigan 
A  love poem, The Sun, the Moon and the Starbucks by James Novis 
A somewhat humorous poem with a surprise ending, Better Beans by Nick Usborne 
February Poetry Challenge:

You guessed it! The poetry challenge for February is to write a coffee poem. It may be a poem about coffee: how and where it is grown, how it is processed, decaffeination (no, “decaf” is NOT a swear word!); the senses awakened by a cup of hot (or iced) coffee; or even why you don’t like or drink coffee. But you can also write from a broader definition of what might constitute a coffee poem, as in some of the examples above. Coffee can be a metaphor for something else. But coffee must play a significant role in the poem.

Submit only one poem. The deadline is February 15. Poems submitted after the February 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t stray far from “family-friendly” language.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a print periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”) . Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

Poems shorter than 30 lines are generally preferred. Also, if lines are too long, they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to use shorter lines.

© Wilda Morris