Category: Poetry

COFFEE SHOP TALK-The Good and The Bad

I’m about to pay when a woman pokes in front of me, hands the server change and orders a coffee. The server who I called Shirley for years but whose name, I found out today is Marion, says, “You have to go to the back of the line.” The woman is in a hurry. She has to catch the bus. Marion tells her she doesn’t care. The woman leaves. “I know I’m being a bitch today but too bad,” Marion says. 

“It’s okay, sometimes dealing with people can be difficult,” I say. 

The perky woman behind me pipes in, “I worked in customer service for years and I loved it.”

“It’s been awful since early this morning,” Marion says. “A guy tried to pay with his phone but it wouldn’t work and he kept jiggling it and jiggling it and it still wouldn’t work. And he wanted me to call the manager. I told him it’s his phone. The manager can’t fix it. All the time the line kept getting longer and longer and he was getting more and more annoying.”

“Well, I’m a people person,” perky woman says. “I love people.”

I want to ask her if telling everyone in line about her people loving skills makes her superior and does she realize she’s made Marion feel worse. But I don’t. Instead, I pick up my coffee and take to the back. 

“Hi Sammy,” I say to the man sitting in my seat, then regret it.  A few years ago he bought the café where I spent every morning writing Sunshine Girls. He’d turned it into an old boys’ business club. They would spread their newspapers and work on two tables. Wouldn’t move it when I asked. Sammy told me they had the right. Turned out they were his friends. That’s how I ended up in Coffee Shop. Now here he is, years later in my seat arrogant as I remember. And I hate that I said hello.

“Sold the café,” he says when I sit down at the table two over from his. “It’s now a juice bar.”

I don’t care. I’m interested in what’s happening across the room. The man I call, Mafia Boss, is chatting up two elderly ladies. And I think: How come we can no longer be vocal about having a bad day? What’s with only positivity allowed and no negativity? Don’t they slide together? And how mafia can you be in a bright yellow jersey making two grey-haired ladies giggle like schoolgirls?  Who knows? All I know Marion is having a bad day. And I’m in Coffee Shop drinking from a red cup. 

Imperfect Perfection

When I’m working on a novel or short story and the words aren’t flowing I don’t see it as an obstacle. For me it’s a time do something different, something out of the ordinary, something wildly creative. It doesn’t have to follow rules or be correct. It is what it is: Imperfect and Perfect at the same time.     

Strawberries

Photo by Sheila Horne

Strawberries.

Take a bite, make a list, pretend I’ll complete it. Turn on computer, turn on music,

get into the groove. Check email, open pen, open book, scribble word. Search

for another pen. Write about obstacles, scratch out line, add line, gaze

outside—snowflakes float.

Strawberries.

Take a bite, check plant, check window, check paper. Write, about dogs,

about cats, about slippery with bad news rising. Count paper clips.

Strawberries.

Take a bite, stand at window. Look south, north, east, west,

shift from foot to foot. Sit down. Write Jasmine blooms: brilliant,

too brilliant, too too brilliant like desire, un-attachment,

aversion, lust, scratch out blooming Jasmine.

Strawberries.

Take a bite draw flower add stem and leaves. Scratch out flower.

Write about loves lost, beaches, Beach Babies they called us.

Summer Boys I named them—he laughed. What were their names?

Forgotten—so long ago.  Open holy water, sprinkle, make sign of cross,

visualize. Visualize what? Visualize chakra. Scribble word on new blank

page. Scratch word, scratch head, scratch arm. Write deluded deadline 

on calendar.

Strawberries.

Take a bite, move box black and white with polka dots. Climb in-jump out.

Write goals pretend I’ll meet them, meet, meet, meet who? Where? When?

How? Kill adjectives,adverbs, verbs. No. Need verbs. Prepositions maybe.

Strawberries.

Take a bite, look at John Lennon framed on the wall. Look at Bob Dylan

framed on the wall. Ask them their thoughts on stifling people at tables

in restaurants. Watch a man shake off winter and tramp through slush searching

for house number nine. Number nine. That’s it—Beatles. Number nine. Dig deep

into my soul, my essence, my being. Write about spades about shovels, about hoes.

The ho reached for the john. The john reached for the ho. No soul. No essence.

No being. No ho. No john.

Strawberries.

Take a bite, close pen, close book, shut down mind—Perfection.