Coffee and Carl Sandburg

I sipped my coffee, felt its burnt adrenaline ease its way into my mind, and once I was thoroughly steeped in what it had to offer, I set the mug down. Coffee takes on a different nature altogether when it is room temperature. And I most often drink it when it has reached room temperature. I cannot actually remember the last time I drank a cup of hot coffee. I have formed the habit, or way of life, really, in which I pour coffee for myself and set it on my desk or the coffee table or kitchen table or floor, and then scurry off and become distracted by at least twenty-six things before I actually return and get to the business of drinking my coffee. And drinking coffee stopped being an actual business long ago. No longer do I sit and savor every single ounce that passes through my lips, over my tongue, down my throat, into my stomach, my bloodstream, my heart. No longer do I revel in every hidden flavor, no longer do I play hide and seek in earnest longing to find something new. Coffee is my almost-constant companion, and I am disappointed to discover that this has moved its identity from that of “religious experience” to “commonplace.” Commonplace is not bad, simply different. It is somewhat like my siblings.  How when they first came into my everyday, they were new, undiscovered. How then I “oooed” and “ahhed” over every part of them, delighting in their cuddly selves, their gurgling mouths, their footy-pajamas. But their newness wore off, and they became a fixture – still wonderful, still complex, still mostly undiscovered, just usual.

My head throbbed now, tired of the coffee I was forcing into it at a relentless pace. I tried to apologize with large amounts of water, but the ache would not be so easily dissuaded. Headaches over the likes of coffee are a stubborn lot. I decided to try engaging my head in an activity other than aching in hopes that it would decide the other activity was more worthy of its time. Imaginary conversation. I have them often. I pride myself on being rather good at concocting and carrying them. Naturally, this was my distraction of choice. I whipped up the imaginary setting of a park and set an inquisitive, professional version of myself on one end of a green bench and a musing, mysterious version of myself on the other. The interview began.

“How do you write poetry?”
“As it comes.”
“And it comes?”
“Like the rain.”

That was as far as my cleverness would allow and the interview ended, the scene evaporated.

It’s really no wonder I am somewhat insane, I spend my days locked away in “The Nook with a View.” A cup of once-warm coffee, a glass of water, and music are my permanent co-residents. I imagine sometimes that this is how authors live – though, most of them probably have brandy or some other spirit in place of water. I do school work, here in my Nook with a View.

My current task? American Literature. I must study it. I view studying as diving into something and swimming around and choking on the water until I can emerge with enough knowledge to at least pretend I know about the subject of the pool. That was essentially today – splashing hungrily in American Literature until I could come out dripping and saying things like “did you know Emily Dickinson wrote over 1775 poems?” I’ve read many poems while fiddling in that pool. They’ve filtered into my brain and taken over my own poem-forming skills. My muse has been altered to resemble something not my own.

I sometimes write poems on coffee-stained index cards as the day goes on. This is for two reasons. One – that random flow of creative something keeps me from going completely insane, which would be the case if I kept it pent up. Two – it looks really artsy. Today I wrote two poems and both tasted of Carl Sandburg. I can’t say that I mind Carl Sandburg, it’s just that I’d rather he didn’t take over my poetry. He did, though. At least to some extent.  I changed tense and tone at least twice. Did any of you notice and think me an awful writer for it? I did make effort to include less run-on sentences and that should be counted in my favor. Here are the Carl-Sandburg-tinted poems:

The First –

Fly-away petals
Make spring-time snow.
My coffee-mug’s green,
its contents cold,
the radio plays January
songs, as if they belong.
Radio doesn’t know the weather,
unlike my neighbor,
taking advantage of March-time warm
to clean his car –
water finds its way
through my window,
a curious thing.
Competing with the radio
is a basket ball, and my brother’s friends
singing songs of their own.
They know the weather,
but care not for my cold coffee –
they did maim a flower
and mourned for its loss
by throwing the ball again,
singing their song again,
scuffing, laughing, lively
song.

The Second –

Giggles, squeals, and rain-drop footsteps
herald her sun-yellow hair,
sunrise-pink skirt, rosy-red face.
Behind her is a raspy-voiced boy,
well-dressed and short.
He tries in earnest to catch her,
but her legs are longer, her feet faster.
“This is fun!” she calls,
he wheezes in reply.
Down the hill, round the bend,
Up the hill, gone.

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