I am finishing my final papers of the semester today. While I realize how far I have come as a writer these past couple years, I am also learning that there are some writing skills that I just don’t have yet. I intend to spend the rest of this year — especially this summer — chasing down these skills.
On multiple occasions I have tried to write an ode to coffee. It is, in a very real way, the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Today my friend Sarah directed me to this poem by Marge Piercy: it is precisely what I have been trying to write for months, except better. This skill that Piercy has, whatever it is, is what I am seeking.
Here’s to finishing the semester strong, to finding what you’re looking for, and to coffee.
* * *
In Praise of Joe
I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.
Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—
but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,
I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.
Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.
Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed
but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.
You waken in me the gift of speech when I
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.