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

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.



I woke up about thirty minutes ago – 11:14 – I feel guilty about sleeping so long, but only somewhat. I have come to the conclusion over the past several days that I am rather lazy. I get up far too late and walk around in the doldrums for a while before actually doing anything productive. And I can  be productive, it just take prodding and getting over whatever mind-block that’s in my way and time, generally, lots of time. I opt lately for an episode –which generally turns into several episodes- of the Wonder Years (possibly one of the best television shows I’ve ever come across) over one of the many things that have been on my mental to-do list for at least a month now. This isn’t necessarily bad. I think that there are points in one’s life when it is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even very good, for laziness to be the general mantle worn. I don’t think that now is one of those points in my life, however, which means I have a bit of a problem. I know there are methods to fix this problem. I don’t really feel like employing them – I suppose this is a side-effect of lazy. I don’t really want to go on talking about it, however, because I feel that is just allowing it to prove its own point – talking about being lazy is, by definition, lazy. It’s still not doing anything. Still procrastinating.

So, I have half a mind to go for a walk in spite of the icy conditions – just to say to lazy that it has not won. I probably won’t. I have to study. I have a rather big test on Monday that I’m supposed to be studying for- right now, actually. I’m very bad at studying. That’s another conclusion about myself I’ve made over the past several days. This is kind of a large misfortune because studying is supposed to be my sole occupation for the next three years of my life. There is something in me that simply cannot wrap itself around the idea of sitting at my desk going over a said topic for hours at a time. I guess, or seriously hope, that I will get better at studying as time goes on – otherwise, I may just have to stop existing. I’ve justified my writing this because I’m eating breakfast. Before you deem me completely ridiculous, please allow me to explain. See, in the past, I would’ve watched the Wonder Years while I ate, so, the fact that I’m writing – something productive – instead of watching the Wonder Years – something mindless – is improvement and thus, acceptable. Okay, so I’m completely ridiculous.

I had planned, upon waking up, to come in here – to my sanctuary of sorts where my desk resides in front of a window outside of which is a tree where birds like to take curious little rests – and write a more narrative piece because I miss writing things like that and the icy morning lent itself perfectly to such a writing. But, then I came again to the conclusion that I’m lazy and it apparently so bothered me that I wrote about that instead. Someday – maybe even later today maybe even now – I will write about the ice and how it makes the magic once in the trees come back to the surface, and the miraculous, stirring quiet of a nearly empty house when you first wake, and how perfect oatmeal and a cup of coffee would’ve been, and why I had some healthy substitute for oatmeal and a cup of tea instead, and the fat birds that come to watch me work – or let me watch them sit – and slid around on their normal tree this morning because it was covered in the cursed, blessed ice. Or, maybe I will surprise all of us and study.

And after I wrote this, I did study – for 20 minutes. Then I messed around with the appearance of this here blog – nog – and added this new page for your enjoyment and my possible demise. And now, I’m really off to study… and get the mail… an maybe eat some food… and get a cup of tea… then study.