Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coffee Break

Coffee is something most of us could probably get along well enough without if conditions demanded it. Personally, I hope circumstances never reach that stage because I like coffee in all its forms and brews. Love iced coffee, am especially fond of espresso with thick cream, will always choose coffee ice cream and drink a mug of strong French roast every morning and night. Not normally a fan of Starbucks frappuccinos, this month they have one called Mocha Coconut that knocks my socks off. Coffee in whatever cup, bowl or glass is definitely one of the pleasures of life.

I came across a poem on Monday that put a new slant on the ‘coffee habit’ lifestyle we’ve nursed along to near fetish proportions. Some sly humor in James Tate’s observations of our addiction to the buzz of java. Below is a poem by him on the state of our caffeinated passion.


People in this town drink too much

coffee. They’re jumpy all the time. You

see them drinking out of their big plastic

mugs while they’re driving. They cut in

front of you, they steal your parking places.

Teenagers in the cemeteries knocking over

tombstones are slurping café au lait.

Recycling men hanging onto their trucks are

sipping espresso. Dogcatchers running down

the street with their nets are savoring

their cups of mocha java. The holdup man

entering a convenience store first pours

himself a nice warm cup of coffee. Down

the funeral parlor driveway a boy on a

skateboard is spilling his. They’re so

serious about their coffee, it’s all they

can think about, nothing else matters.

Everyone’s wide awake but looks incredibly


Poet, James Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri. His books of poetry number seventeen, most recent The Ghost Soldiers published in 2008. His collection Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and the 1995 book Worshipful Company of Fletchers won the National Book Award. Since 1971 he has been a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts. Tate has explained that in writing poetry he plays with phrases clipped from news items, history, anecdotes, or everyday speech, and through a process of assembling, cutting and pasting, ends with a collage of tightly written lines that hopefully reveal unusual insights into the craziness of human nature. “A New Lifestyle” is from his 2001 collection, Memoir of the Hawk.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America